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EXECUTION Building a brand


New Contributor
Sep 14, 2019
Hi everyone,

I’ll be using this as a progress thread and space for me to collect feedback / sanity-check what I’m doing. I’ll be very happy to hear any and all feedback you have for me. I’m a first-time entrepreneur so there is a steep learning curve here but I’m also very excited and not afraid of hard work. Like many of you, I was hugely impressed with and inspired by MJ’s book.

What is it?
My business is focused on creating a strong brand with an internet following for a very unique music and culture niche.

More context:
The niche is somewhat obscure but not entirely unknown. The first hit on YouTube using the genre name returns a music mix with about 8m views (over ~4 years), and the same search returns a genre with 37k followers on Spotify, to give a sense for how popular (or not) the scene is. There are a number of musical artists that fall under the genre that have millions of ‘listens’ on their top songs. Full disclosure as well, I’m personally very interested in the genre and have been for 4 years or so, so I’m somewhat of a subject matter expert on the content.

Monetization, there are two avenues:
  • T-shirts and related apparel sold through Shopify and facilitated with a print-on-demand (POD) service.
  • Site advertisements (on forum pages, etc)
  • ??? Something else, not sure yet?
The competition:
  • There are two other websites that are selling merchandise related to my niche, neither of them are knocking it out of the park as far as I can see (based on the quality of their work, and level of polish on their websites). Then there is a short tail of other sites that rapidly decrease in quality which I’d consider virtually non-competitive.
  • There is a record label that has a pretty well established presence online, with merch for sale. They have a facebook page with 90k likes. Probably the most well known single entity for the niche.
My goals with this business:
I’m honestly unsure how far this business can go given that it may be somewhat underground in nature from the perspective of mainstream consumers. I’ve run some back of the envelope math on profitability with some assumptions: 20k site visitors / month with a 2% conversion should net about $2k in profit revenue… and an additional ~1k from site advertisements. At that level the business itself would be worth $75k, which would be a “not bad” place to land. Still- it doesn’t really unlock the Fastlane that MJ writes about, so I wouldn’t really be satisfied until I can start earning upwards of 500k+/year. But again, I don’t know if this is the vehicle that can take me there. Since I am not making large investments of cash to get this going, I have been entertaining this project as something of a learning mechanism for me since I need to learn quite a bit about advertising, etc, if I am to reach my ultimate goals with online businesses. I would still love to see it become a financial hit of course.

Where I’m at right now (Sept-Oct 2019):
  • Logo and branding created (wife is a great designer, so that was fast and free)
  • Instagram account created and daily postings created by me
  • Domain name purchase, WIX subscription purchased and site launched. The site has a shop section, forum section, link to my brand’s instagram and some music players they can click on.
  • 4 T-shirt designs created by me (not for sale yet)
  • 1 sample ordered and shipped from a POD vendor- unfortunately quality was poor.
  • 1 identical sample ordered from a different POD (yesterday, will arrive in ~7 days)
My next steps:
  • Working on more shirt designs. I want to have at least 5 before I subscribe to Shopify. Short term goals to have five designs by mid Oct, ten by Nov 1 and fifteen by Nov 15.
  • Finalize a POD vendor, pending the second sample. If that one also sucks I will investigate more expensive vendors, but I really don’t want to handle my own inventory!!
  • Learn more about SEO and social media advertising (to bring visitors to the site), brain storm other ways to better establish my new brand.
  • Get feedback here :)
Requests for input / feedback:
  • I want to make coming to my site a valuable experience for my visitors / customers, and give them reasons to return often. What’s the best way to do this? I imagine the answer may be blog posts which I do not have time to create. I can look into hiring someone to do this but I’m uncertain I can find someone who can write about my niche specifically. Will investigate.
  • I’ve also been thinking about interviewing music artists- which may be possible since the niche isn’t so huge that musicians / artists aren’t possible to get in touch with.
  • Right now I’m designing all of the shirts myself. I enjoy it, but I’m also not the best artist and my time is the limiting factor. I want to partner with some of the more well known artists who are already creating amazing work. But I’ve hesitated because I can’t see why they would want to work with me- when they could just create a site and market their own work by themselves. I’m likely overthinking that part, since obviously they are not doing that already (but they might as soon as I tell them I want to make shirts from their work?). Also, how would I pay them- split the profits maybe? But that will also erode my bottom line. The other option is to farm the work out to freelance sites like 99designs. Probably the smartest move, I can probably get a design for $50. But I’m not sure yet how that will play out since they may create designs that aren’t to my satisfaction- for that matter I haven’t completely industrialized my own process so I’m not sure how well I could instruct someone else to make art with a creative brief, etc. Looking into this more.
Thanks for reading. Looking forward to your replies.


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the man, the myth, the Pseudo-Apollodorus
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 17, 2016
Sahuarita AZ
Is the niche big enough to support a weekly podcast? , Maybe a quick 5 minute interview and then the artist lays down some tracks?


New Contributor
Sep 14, 2019
Is the niche big enough to support a weekly podcast? , Maybe a quick 5 minute interview and then the artist lays down some tracks?
This is actually a great suggestion, thanks! I only worry about the "T" in the "CENTS" model, it could end up being a time drain, but I can't argue that it would make my brand / site stand out and begin to make some ripples in the niche community.

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