State of the Union 2018

Well, since it’s about the holiday season and I don’t know anyone who’s going to be out reading blogposts, I’ve decided to make one that is more for myself than anything else. A long time ago, I used to write these “State of the Union” posts at the beginning of each year that would go over what I planned to do for that year, as well as going over last year’s goals for what did/didn’t work. Not sure why I stopped; in my opinion, it’s still a pretty good idea. That is exactly why I’m going to try to bring it back with this post. Since I don’t have any goals to go over for last year, I’ll start this fresh by giving some new goals for 2019.

The Blog/Website

I definitely want to get back to writing on a weekly basis, and I’ve already started it back up a bit as of recently. I think the most important thing content wise for the blog is just to keep the posting consistent for all 52 weeks of next year; a feat I’ve never been able to accomplish, but would love to finally hit.

In terms of actual data on views and followers, it looks like the website has around 18 followers with 137 views for the year (and 76 unique visitors). As I began posting weekly only in September, I’d like to see an approximately 4x increase in these numbers for next year (correlating with the other 3-month periods). So, let’s go for ~550 views, ~300 visitors, and ~70 followers added on for next year. For the Medium blog, we currently have 370 views, 203 reads, and 7 fans. So, let’s apply the same logic as last time, and go for 1,480 views, ~820 reads, and ~30 fans.

Astukari & Friends

For the podcast, I think qualitatively I’d like to pin a solid structure for the show down and start consistently getting ~1 hour episodes in every week. When it comes to collecting data, this is a bit harder to pin down; there’s about 172 views in total for the new series for far, with 26 episodes (that’s an average 6.6 views per YT podcast). In contrast, the original AstukaGaming podcast had about 808 views with 36 episodes, bringing it at 22.4 average views per podcast. This increase can be seen due to a couple of more popular videos in the bunch as well as (I believe) the fact that the podcast was a YT exclusive compared to Astukari & Friends which is not just on YT but also on Twitch and Podbean. Incorporating Podbean views, we have 341 additional plays for a total of 513, bringing the average up to 19.7.

For next year, I’d like to see this average increase to go beyond the average views per podcast of the original. I feel like this is definitely possible – AG was around for two years with minimal advertising, vs. A&F which has only been around for a few months with some more focus on tagging – and I’ll try to keep best practices forward when it comes to the podcast and hopefully due to this we’ll see an average increase.

Social Media

There’s a few major focuses on the social media front: We have LinkedIn, my personal Twitter, the AG + BDC Twitters, and my Instagram. Honestly, not too sure what I want to do with the AstukaGaming twitter anymore, but it does have around 330 followers so I figure I might as well use it to retweet some of my other content. I feel like advertising LinkedIn content has been pretty helpful so far, so I’m not really interested in cutting it off either; though I don’t really have any defined goals set in place for it. That leaves the personal Twitter, BDC Twitter, and Instagram.

For the Instagram, my follower count has been levitating right over the 190 – 200 range for a few months now, and I’d love to break that sometime soon. To be fair I haven’t been posting as regularly recently, and that has caused it to fall into the 180s, but at the same time I feel like if I have to post on there every single day I’m going to go crazy, so I’m going to at least one post every week or so. For the BDC twitter, I’m not quite sure what I want; it’s been a few months since Season 1, and so I’ve mostly been advertising my podcast and blog content on there. However, as I prep for Season 2 (which I’ll go more in detail about in the “Other Projects” section) I’ll try to post specifically BDC content. Finally, for the personal Twitter, my main goal is focused on getting the follower count up to 200. It seems to have been increasing pretty nicely by itself, so I plan on adding a bit more advertising of it to content as well as using it more actively.

New Book

In terms of big projects, another book is on the way. This will not be a compilation piece like the one released a few years back, but rather a brand new full-length piece. I don’t have much to share about this just yet since I only just finished the first round draft of planning (not writing), but I’ll put out a tentative release date of summer 2020. More information on this can be expected soon.

BDC LLC

As I mentioned before, BDC Season 2 will be coming at some point; likely around November 2019, which will match up to about a year after Season 1. In the meantime, I plan on throwing on a few sales (or perhaps inter-Season shirts) and advertising them on the BDC twitter to try to get some more sales in. No specific milestones for this one either – just want to see what ends up cookin’.

Well, that’s all for now. As always, check out my personal Twitter for more content in the future!

Startup Challenge, Week 8 – The End (of the Beginning)

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We developed our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided to launch the week of 10/8 – 10/14

Now, for the newest updates:

 

Post Analysis

The work that we’ve been building up to for eight weeks is finally done! On Tuesday, October 9th at approximately 10:30am, the first official season of BOYS DON’T CRY LLC launched. At the end of the day I’m glad it got done – and I’m also glad that the shirts actually turned out relatively good. Anyway, since this is a pretty small launch, there’s not a lot of analysis to go over, but I did promise it and so we are going to go through a few points.

Sales and Traction

Our total number of sales for the first week of the launch is an epic, phenomenal, whopping… zero. Which, if you’ve ever launched something for the first time (like I have) more than not that’s what’s to be expected. Unless you’ve gotten previous traction (or have a budget, like I did not), more often than not you’re in it for the long game. I knew this going in, so there’s very little disappointment here – overall my prediction for December 31st is to have at least 2-3 sales.

What’s really impressive here is how much traction the BDC twitter got in such a short time. Using some simple growth strategies, BDC broke 100 followers about twice as fast as the Astukagaming twitter did. In terms of other statistics, we got about 2.4k impressions over the month (pretty standard from what I can tell) and got about a 6.6% engagement rate which is actually really nice. And yet, I still see something to be desired…

Throughout the process of BDC, I felt a little confused as to who my target audience should specifically be. I started off targeting people who were followers of Redbubble and other related shops, but these tended to be other creators and thus had much more trepidation in following and sharing BDC. So instead, I decided to go for luxury brands… people who were interested in things such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. etc. And while this gave us our current stats, I do wonder how willing these people would be to buy Redbubble designs. So… who should be the target audience of BDC?

Lessons Learned

This takes us into lessons for the next season. First of all, I think experimentation with finding perfect product fit is key here, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. Luxury brands somewhat work, because the buyers are willing and designs are relatively similar, but many members of this audience buy luxury brands solely due to prestige, not design. What I’d like to target is individuals who are love good designs but at the same time wish to go cheap.

I also think doing some tests on performing discounts in the future would be interesting – the “limited time” methodology tends to have high success in fashion and so I’d like to test it for the shop. Finally, I think continuing to build traction is also very important. Staying consistent with promotion and growth is definitely something I want to do going forward.

Looking Forward

And so while Season 2 probably won’t come any time soon (I have a heaping of other projects I have to get on), I’ll continue with passively marketing BDC as well as experimenting with the things that I had mentioned. I think overall there was a lot to get out of this project even though it wasn’t tech specific, and so I’m glad it happened.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 7 – The Launch

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Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We continued to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We struggled to find some time to work on the project

Now, for the newest updates:

 

It’s all done

So this is probably two weeks overdue, but the most important part is that we finally got to the point where all shirts are now finalized! Will they look good on a person? No idea, the designs are only simulated – but they appear that they’d look good, so I think it’s now time to get passed the product stage and on to our final stage: launch.

It’s clear that my window for launch is either this week or next week. I know that, personally, I won’t be available from Friday Oct. 5 to Tuesday Oct. 9. Now the question is whether I should do it before the break or after the break…

Benefits of before: I get it out fast and wake up to the results on Tuesday. Benefits of after: I can spend even more time refining and answer any questions that might arise as soon as I get them. It seems like my natural (though limited) entrepreneurial experience is telling me to go for the latter; it might be more time to wait for a launch, but at this point I think the only person who is anxious about it is me, so the further delay shouldn’t affect anything.

As you could probably tell by the dates which I won’t be available, there will be no blog post next week. Instead, the week after that, we’ll do a post-launch roundup as well as some key takeaways and next steps for the launch.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter , which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 4 – Startups are Hard

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We began to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided that we would launch at the end of the fourth week, though things are about to change…

Now, for the newest updates:


A Small Delay

As work continues on the t-shirt designs, I’ve begun to realize I might not quite hit the launch milestone we were planning on after all. In response to this, I’ve decided on three different things: a) I’m going the lower the number of shirts released in Season 1 from six to four, b) I’m going to release all the new shirts at once, and c) Season 1 will be delayed by at least one week.

My reasoning for these moves is this: first of all, I want the release to be based more on quality than quantity; this is especially true if more seasons are planned for the future. I definitely need some more time with some of these shirts to make sure the concepts translate well (they often don’t!). As for releasing all the shirts at once, this is more of a personal decision. I think it makes more sense to release all of a season at once, then allow a couple of months to pass, rather than to consistently be posting new shirts.

This is really the only update I have for now. You might have noticed that the name of this series has changed from 30DayStartupChallenge to just Startup Challenge; that’s because this will no longer be within 30 days! Whoops, sorry Ben Tossell. However, I believe good things are ahead. At the very least, I’ll get these shirts out god damn it.

 

As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

30DayStartup, Week Two — Design and Marketing

[Didn’t read part one? Check it out here!]

Okay, I hinted at this before, but its official – I literally have no idea where I am in this challenge anymore. Pretty sure 30 days is relatively 4 weeks, so I figure on the 4th post we’ll just launch then.

As for the startup itself, we’ve been making good progress. Concept art for the season 1 designs are now made, and an early-stage marketing campaign has been started. So let’s talk about progress:

Making the Designs

For the season 1 designs, I wanted to focus on a couple of principles that would specify the type of shirts we were going for. The main principle is that we are making art for shirts, not shirts with art. A lot of what I’ve seen on Redbubble is just various pieces of art that are slapped onto whatever items they can put it on. Instead, I want my focus to be starting with the type of clothing (e.g. t-shirts) and making art specifically for it.

Another focus I want to have is in relatively minimalist designs. This should be a given, speaking that I have like zero experience in art and design. I also feel like minimalism is a pretty good style to use for t-shirt design specifically, as too much clutter on the shirt causes your eyes to be distracted.

Early Stage Marketing

In addition to setting up the first set of shirt designs, I also went ahead and made a twitter account for the store. I plan on primarily using the account to: a) market new season 1 designs as they come out (duh) and b) post/retweet interesting pictures that have the same sort of artistic style and “feel” that I’m going for in my shirts. I’m hoping that this helps develop a community that will both enjoy the shirts as well as showcase their own creativity with others.

 

For next week, I’m hoping we build some more followers/engagement with the twitter account, as well as start converting concept art into real, solid designs. If you want to continue following this journey (or look at last week’s issue), I’d recommend checking out my profile and following the blog. You can also follow my twitter – whichever one works best for you!