Brand, Build & Launch Challenge: Introduction

Brand, Build & Launch Challenge: Introduction

One of my goals with this blog was to not only share with you how I built my own brands, but to also guide you in building your own. People often get stuck even before they begin because they lack the tools and confidence to take action.

Don’t be scared. We’re in this together.

This is where the Brand, Build & Launch Challenge comes in.

I have a great idea for a new brand that I want to launch. I will show you step by step what I’m doing before I open my new online shop.

I will break down each step and dissect what tools or methods I use to complete each task. Weekly I will post about my accomplishments and failures.

We will keep each other motivated. We’ll be virtual accountability partners.

Just a few notes before I begin. Initially, I will NOT be sharing the name of the eCommerce site I’ll be building. The name of the site will be revealed at the end of the challenge. During the challenge, I’ll be only showing screenshots of stats.

Why?

I want to preserve the integrity of the online shop while in building mode. I can’t have my stats compromised because people want to check it out. To be clear about what I’m doing, I’ll need to start from zero, find a new audience and grow a brand with no help from my followers. However, I will be detailing every step along the way. I hope you guys understand! :)

Who is this challenge for?

  • Anyone that sells tangible products online.
  • People that are interested in learning how to market a product before launching.
  • If you need help growing an audience for your product.
  • Individuals who understand basic concepts like purchasing a domain and hosting.
  • People who know how to navigate online services like Gmail and social media platforms.
  • Self-starters who want tools to build a brand online and grow a tribe of passionate buyers.
  • Shop owners who have trouble marketing, but have a great idea.
  • People who are willing to work hard to see results.

Who is this challenge is NOT for?

  • Anyone selling digital products. Of course, some of the content learned can be used for digital product sales, but that will not be my primary focus.
  • People who are not technically inclined and need hand holding to navigate internet based applications (Gmail, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  • Internet marketers who are more interested in making sales, than building a community.
  • People who are looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.

Goals

  • Purchase a domain
  • Set up an online shop using Shopify
  • Create and set up an account with The Printful
  • Build a brand before launching
  • Find a niche and followers
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Design products
  • Create basic marketing materials
  • … all in 6 weeks.

A long term goal is that if this venture is successful, we’ll move the printing, packing, shipping, and processing in-house to cut costs and increase profit.

This is How I Began

I launched my first t-shirt shop on May 29, 2014. I started on a Thursday so I could send an email to my subscribers on Friday. Stay with me. At the time that made sense. :)

Day one I sold nothing. But I wasn’t disappointed. I was waiting for Friday (payday).

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.01.46

On Friday, May 30, 2014, I sent an email to 83 people who had subscribed to my MailChimp list.

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.03.27

A person on my email list bought two shirts. Day two I sold $64 in product.

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.01.14

I was excited and scared at the same time. This was really happening.

Someone bought something.

From my shop.

They just gave me money.

For something I created.

They liked it and bought it.

O-M-F-G.

These were literally my thoughts. At the time I had about 600-800 Instagram followers, from posting and engaging other pages. I had approx. 1,500 Facebook followers from running $5 “Like” ads. My Twitter followers were non-existent.

I posted on all of my pages that I was having a grand opening sale, but you could ONLY get the code if you signed up for the newsletter. I felt that was pretty crafty and I patted myself on the back.

I sent another newsletter. On day three I sold exactly one shirt for $34 (plus shipping).

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.01.31

What was I going to do next? While building, I made a list of people I wanted to send product to while I was preparing for the launch. Now was a great time to contact them, since clearly, I was B-A-L-L-I-N-G!

One of the first people I contacted was Claire from Fashion Bomb Daily.

I sent her a simple email telling her about my shop. I didn’t ask her for anything. My only goal was to send her free product. If I was lucky she’d post it on her blog. But I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

I sent that email Sunday, June 1, 2014.

Little did I know, Claire loved my site. She posted about it on her Instagram page with hundreds of thousands of followers that same day. On day four I sold $648 in product.

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.15.42

Then she wrote a blog post one day later about my shop. I was in shock. How in the hell was I going to fill all these orders? On day five I sold $1,422.

Screenshot 2016-02-11 16.15.52

Everything took off from there. I continued to market, post images, send email newsletters and submit pitch letters to every fashion editor I could find.

One month later I sold a little over $9,000 in products.

Screenshot 2016-02-11 15.44.27

This didn’t happen by accident. I’m not lucky. I worked hard for 6 weeks before the day of my big launch prepping and growing an audience that would buy my products.

That’s how it works.

There is no big secret.

No gimmick.

No magical fairy sales dust.

Just me, my computer, and the determination of a person with no other options with bills to pay.

The Brand, Build & Launch Challenge will show you what I did, so you can apply those same concepts to your own online shop.

Are you ready to get started?

Currently I have nothing setup, however, I do have a domain purchased. In my first post, I’ll go into detail. But here are a few things to make sure you’ve done before we start.

  1. Check NameCheckr to make sure your domain and social media pages aren’t taken for the domain you want to buy.
  2. Next, do a quick Google search to see if anyone else is using that brand name or something similar. It’s also a good idea to conduct a search on the USPTO website for any similar trademarks and/or contact a trademark attorney.
  3. Purchase a domain. I suggest Namecheap. They offer private registrations and have a nice iPhone app to manage your account on the go.
  4. Open a free Gmail account with yourshopname@gmail.com
  5. Claim all associated social media pages. I typically create a Facebook page, then setup Instagram and Twitter. If the niche is for fashion I’ll also setup Polyvore and  Pinterest.
  6. Open a MailChimp account.
  7. Open a Shopify store. Start with the free trial.
  8. Set up a shop on The Printful. They will be our fulfillment company for products.

None of the above services need to be configured immediately. Simply having created the accounts and purchased a domain is enough to begin.

PS. I’ll be launching a private Facebook group for everyone following this challenge. It will be a way I can answer specific questions about each step and provide additional feedback. Sign up for the newsletter to be notified of updates.

Till next week!

  • C.D. Beatrice Clay

    You’re an inspiration Arsha! And so generous for sharing what you’ve learned. THANKS!

    • I appreciate your kind words. It’s taken me a long time to get this blog back on track, but I look forward to what the future holds. :)

  • Curvy CEO

    Ok, Arsha Jones…I see you! And I am ALL IN!!

  • Danielle Taylor

    I am so hyped to learn from you and it came right on time for me.

    • Thank you! This is my first time trying something like this. So I’ll try to break down what I do into small actionable steps.

  • CandidBelle

    Talk about perfect timing. I’ve actually done the steps above and am planning to launching in the coming weeks but felt stuck when it comes to marketing, building my list, etc. I am excited about this. You inspire me so much. Thank you for doing this challenge!

    • Then you’re a perfect candidate for this challenge. Once I show you what I do, you’re going to say WOW … that was easy. LOL!

  • I’m so in!!

  • Shantae Pelt

    So looking forward to this !

    Thank you !

    • Thanks! Me too. LOL :) I’m nervous about moving forward, but happy to be challenging myself with something new.

  • I’m in! I’m planning to launch my own journal line in 2016 so perfect timing. Thank you!!

  • Mandi Buckner

    Uh! She finna!!!! Arsha, I am so hype about this! Congratulations! I’ve always been intrigued by your boss moves, and I can’t wait to learn!

  • Super excited about this! Thank you for being willing to share!!

    • No problem! I’ve been there alone, trying to figure it out with no help. I consider it paying it forward. :)

  • I truly am honored to be included to receive from someone as gracious as you. XO

  • Julija Gifford

    Wow, looks great! What’s the URL of the store? I’d love to check it out.

  • I need this challenge. Ive set everything up for my store and now I just need to get started. Thanks so much for doing this

    • No problem! I look forward to your big launch!

  • YESSSSS!!! Lol, I’m ready!

    • Hey Sasha! Thank you always for your support. :)

  • Go Arsha! Go Arsha! You know I’m all in!

  • Thank you for this! Right on time. You have no idea. Well, yes you do. lol

  • Helena Morera

    thank you Arsha! Looking forward to follow this! :)

  • Date Night Tees

    I cannot tell you how many times I keep reading this email. Thank you for doing this. I cannot wait to see the transformation my business will take after this challenge. Thanks!

    • Same here! Customers are willing to BUY. Most people just need the tools to help their products be found. We’ll do this together!

  • Thanks for sharing all this knowledge

  • Ashley

    Hi Arsha, how do we join your FB group? Also, is this the only Brand Build Launch post on your site, or are there more? Thanks

    • I’ll be sending an email on how to join this week! Thanks for asking.

  • Danisha

    Arsha I saw your live chat today on The Making of the Brand and wanted to cry. I’ve been praying that God would open doors since I know nothing about this process, and look what happened. I’m so excited about this challenge! Do we need any license to sell, tax certificate, or any type of certificates for eCommerce? Specifically shirts online? Thank you for giving back!

    • Hi Danisha! Thanks for stopping by. Usually online retailers don’t need a license to sell, but if you want to sell items locally and in person, you may need to check with your local state regulations. A tax certificate would be helpful of you need to buy supplies that will be resold to customers with tax added. So really, NO! you don’t need anything to get started except a computer, internet access, a few dollars and tons of creativity. :)

  • Danisha

    Thank you for your response! It was truly appreciated. For those who are not screen printers do your recommend using drop shipping to fulfill orders? I work full time and was weighing the pros and cons to be housing my own inventory or using this method instead. I can’t wait for your challenge to start! God Bless

  • Hi Arsha! I’d love to participate in the challenge. Has it started already?

    • Thanks for being patient. I’m working on the next post right now! :)

  • Chiereme Fortune

    I am getting READY for this! So excited! This is has been on my list of biz goals for the longest. Excited to join the challenge!

  • This is exciting, just the kick in the pants I need! All the best to everyone!

  • Stephanie Plush Size Dillard

    I wish I could have find this sooner. I need a boost and hope that I can do this. I have been wanting to give up in the last weeks.

  • Stephanie Plush Size Dillard

    How do I signup for the challenge?

  • Anita Onakpovhie

    How do I signup for the challenge?