How To Start A Decorative Pillow Business

Start A Decorative Pillow Business
💡 Introduction To Starting A Decorative Pillow Business
🎬 How To Start A Decorative Pillow Business
🚀 How To Launch Your Decorative Pillow Business
🌱 How To Grow Your Decorative Pillow Business
🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Decorative Pillow Business

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You've stumbled upon the idea to build a decorative pillow business and now you're ready to take the next steps.

There's a lot to think about when building a business, so we put together a guide on how to get started, launch, grow and run your decorative pillow business.

We also provide you with real-life case studies and examples of founders running successful decorative pillow business (and how much💰 they're making today).

market size
$15.6B
avg revenue (monthly)
$27.5K
starting costs
$28.3K
gross margin
35%
time to build
8 months
growth channels
Email marketing, Advertising on social media
business model
E-Commerce
best tools
LeadDyno, Sales & Orders, BigCommerce
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
12 Pros & Cons
tips
5 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting A Decorative Pillow Business

Is Starting A Decorative Pillow Business Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a decorative pillow business.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting a decorative pillow business

• Flexibility

You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

• Ability to start your business from home

It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

• Little startup costs required

The cost to start a decorative pillow business costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 1,542 to 50,119.

• Quick build time

The average time it takes to build your product is quick - typically around 8 months. This will allow you to bring your product to market faster.

• Rewarding work

Starting a decorative pillow business can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.

• Scalable

With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features, products and services within your decorative pillow business. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of customers.

• Easy to encourage "impulse buy"

In the decorative pillow business, you have a much higher chance of encouraging your customers to buy on impulse - you can easily alter the price, placement, packaging, and promotional value to influence the decision of your buyer.

Cons of starting a decorative pillow business

• Crowded Space

Competition is high when it comes to your decorative pillow business, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.

• Finding The Right Supplier

Most businesses in this space go the supplier/manufacturer route, which isn't a bad thing! However, finding the right supplier can take a lot of time, energy and trial/error. If done properly, this process can save you months (if not years) of time and energy. More on this below in the "finding a supplier" section.

• Motivation of employees

If you plan to have a sales/content team on board, finding creative ways to motivate them can be a challenge. It's important that you're able to offer great incentives and a good work environment for your employees.

• Low margins

The gross margins for your decorative pillow business are typically around 35%, which can make it more challenging to incur new expenses and maintain profitability.

• No safety net

Typically, as a decorative pillow business, you do not receive a consistent pay-check and instead earn money based on your transactions each month. During the slow periods, you typically take away less since the job is based on commission. It's important to budget accordingly for the slow times.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for decorative pillows over the last year:

How To Name Your Decorative Pillow Business

It's important to find a catchy name for your decorative pillow business so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your decorative pillow business

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your decorative pillow business so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your decorative pillow business.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your decorative pillow business:

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Read our full guide on naming your decorative pillow business ➜

How To Create A Slogan For Your Decorative Pillow Business:

Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.

The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.

Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.

Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your decorative pillow business:

1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words

A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.

2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different

There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:

  • Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
  • Do you make people more successful? How?

3. Be consistent

Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.

It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.

4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan

Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.

When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.

5. Consider your audience

When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.

It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.

6. Get feedback!

This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.

Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.

Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your decorative pillow business:

A More Bold Decorative

Tasteful Cosmetic, Bold Porcelain

World's Creative Decorative

Brilliant Decorative - A New You

Get Your Tasteful Decorative

World's Beyond Decorative

A More Luxurious Decorative

Confident Decorative, Satisfaction Guaranteed

Experience Classic Decorative

Beyond Porcelain, Lush Corbel

Beyond Decorative, Take A Seat

World's Fresh Decorative

Experience Confident Decorative

A Elegant Decorative

A Fresh Decorative

World's Amazing Decorative

Amazing Decorate, Amazing Sculptural

Fight for Elegant Decorative

Confident Decorating, Amazing Handmade

Elegant Cosmetic, Confident Sculptural

The Brick & Mortar Business Model

When deciding whether or not to start a decorative pillow business, it's important to first decide what type of business model you want (brick and mortar, eCommerce, or both)!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a Brick & Mortar store:

If you do plan to open a physical store, it's important that you find a spot in a high-traffic area. This is a great way to gain exposure for your business and also get new customers.

It's also important to consider the higher costs associated with operating a physical store (ie - employees, rent, utilities, etc) and the long days/hours associated with running a store.

The main benefit, however, is that customers love being able to see products in person. It's important to recognize that although some people enjoy shopping online, there will always be the shopper persona that likes to touch, feel, and see the product they're buying.

The eCommerce Business Model

One of the main benefits of operating online is that you are exposed to the entire world, versus just one local area. Rather than depending on foot traffic, you have all the tools at your disposal to create exposure for your store online.

Additionally, there are much lower costs to operate an online store - fewer employees, you can operate from your home, and you get to create your own schedules (yes, holidays included!)

Although you are operating online and have the ability to connect with people all over the world, it's important to consider that you will need to invest marketing money upfront in order to promote your store to the right audience.

Gia Paddock, founder of Boutique Rye explains the 3 reasons why she decided to build an online store:

I wanted to find something I loved but also allowed me to stay home at the same time. While I was working at this local boutique, I realized that there was a lot of sitting around during the day when other people were out working. Therefore, an online business seemed like the best route for a few reasons:

  1. We didn’t have the extra funds sitting around to pay sign a year or two-year lease at a brick & mortar location.
  2. I realized the opportunity to reach a wider audience online compared to the audience of this small local boutique. For us, it seemed like hitting two birds with one stone.
  3. And finally (maybe the most important of all), running it as an online-only business would allow me to stay at home with Riley!

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Gia Paddock, on starting Boutique Rye ($10,000/month) full story ➜

🎬 How To Start A Decorative Pillow Business

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Startup Costs For Your Decorative Pillow Business

If you are planning to start a decorative pillow business, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a decorative pillow business and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $1,542
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $50,119
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a decorative pillow business. Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.
Website Costs
Website builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article. $15 $100
Web Designer: If you have the necessary skills to design your website, then it may not be necessary for you to hire someone. However, if you do decide to go that route, make sure you establish an understanding of upfront cost, design and what the ongoing costs will be to manage the site. Here is what to expect when hiring a web designer. $0 $6,000
Email hosting: Email is a critical piece for running your business. Once you have your domain name, you will want to set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are GSuite (typically starting at $6+ per user, per month) or Microsoft Office (typically starting at $5+ per user, per month). The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $5 $75
Register Your Domain: Once you decide the name of your business, you will need to make sure the URL is available and purchase the domain. You can check availability and register your domain here. $12 $75
Server Hosting: To start a decorative pillow business, you will need to set up and manage a server. The cost for this is typically billed monthly and depends on the platform you choose (typically ranging anywhere from $0-$50/mo). $0 $50
Website chat function: If customer service is a big piece of your business, you will want to consider implementing a chat bot on your website. Typically, there are different tiers of pricing and some businesses even offer freemium services. To find what chat software is best for your business, check out this guide. $0 $75
Total Website Costs $32 (min) $6,375 (max)
Office Space Expenses
Rent: This refers to the office space you rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space. $0 $2,000
Utility Costs (office space): This refers to the first month's utility bill for your office space. If you are not responsible for this bill, this would not apply to starting your decorative pillow business. $0 $150
Office Supplies: Although these may seem like minor costs, things like your desks, chairs, pens, paper, filing cabinets do add up. To avoid these adding up too much, try to be as lean as possible and go paperless! $25 $1,000
WiFi: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is an expense that's tough to avoid. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month! $10 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $35 (min) $3,250 (max)
Retail Business Expenses
Shop Decor: If you plan to operate a physical store, you may want to consider decorating the place with wall decor, furniture, plants etc. $0 $5,000
Utilities (storefront business): This refers to the cost of monthly utilities for your storefront location, which is typically based on a per-square-footage rate. $0 $1,000
Total Retail Business Expenses $0 (min) $6,000 (max)
Inventory Expenses
Upfront Costs For Inventory: This includes all upfront inventory you will need in order to launch. Be sure to compare prices of wholesalers to ensure you're getting the best deal and margins remain high. $300 $5,000
Labels & Packaging: A critical step in starting your decorative pillow business is getting the package and design right. This will be your customer's first impression of your brand, so it's important you spend time and money getting this right from the start. $50 $500
Total Inventory Expenses $350 (min) $5,500 (max)
Equipment & Supply Expenses
Cleaning Supplies: To get started, you may want to consider getting basic cleaning supplies. Note, that you may not need to buy all the cleaning tools and supplies at first. You can consider purchasing in bulk down the road. $25 $500
Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time. $500 $5,000
Total Equipment & Supply Expenses $525 (min) $5,500 (max)
Software Expenses
Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo. $0 $50
CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software is used to track your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your decorative pillow business, implementing this in the beginning may set your business up for success and save you a lot of time later on. For a full list of best CRMs to use for your business, check out the full list here. $0 $250
Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here. $0 $25
Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms. $0 $20
Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your decorative pillow business, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business. $0 $50
Accounting & Invoicing Software: When starting your decorative pillow business, it's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here $0 $100
Online data storage: It's important to make sure the information for your decorative pillow business is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article. $0 $299
Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses! $0 $200
Total Software Expenses $0 (min) $1,044 (max)
Training & Education Expenses
Online Learning Sites: With a decorative pillow business, you and your team may not know all the steps for starting and growing a business. There are plenty of resources out there to help you, such as online courses or learning platforms, but they aren't always free! Starter Story is a great resource for case studies, guides and courses for starting your business. $0 $1,000
Total Training & Education Expenses $0 (min) $1,000 (max)
Advertising & Marketing Costs
Business Cards: A decorative pillow business involves quite a bit of customer interaction, whether that is attending tradeshows, sales calls or simply having face to face interaction with prospective clients. Business cards are a great way to stay front of mind with your clients. $0 $50
Total Advertising & Marketing Costs $0 (min) $50 (max)
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll: This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K. $0 $4,000
IT Support: You may find yourself needing IT support when starting your business. It may not be possible (or necessary) for you to hire someone full-time, but hiring on a freelancer platform such as Upwork is a great way to save money and resources. $0 $500
Other Employee Expenses: Aside from payroll and benefits, there are other costs associated with hiring employees. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any potential turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate. $0 $1,000
Employee Reward Ideas: It's important to recognize and reward employees - whether they hit their goals or are doing an exceptional job. This doesn't have to cost you a lot - simply taking them out to lunch, giving them a gift card or offering a pay-check bonus are all ways to recognize your employee! Here are 65 ways to reward your employees. $0 $500
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $0 (min) $6,000 (max)
Business Formation Fees
Trademarking: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700). $0 $700
Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your decorative pillow business. $50 $700
Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses. $0 $1,500
Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business + which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business. $50 $500
Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Obtain a patent: Securing a patent can be a very valuable tool, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if you may not be ready quite yet. A basic utility patent typically costs anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to file. Here is a great resource to walk you through the entire process. $0 $10,000
Total Business Formation Fees $600 (min) $15,400 (max)
Total Starting Costs $1,542 (min) $50,119 (max)

Raising Money For Your Decorative Pillow Business

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your decorative pillow business:

Bootstrapping

You may not need funding for your decorative pillow business.

In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.

So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?

This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**

Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business

Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:

  • Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
  • Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
  • Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
  • Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
  • Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!

Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed For My Decorative Pillow Business?

With a decorative pillow business, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.

Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:

Design Skills

Whether you are the one designing the product or the decision-maker for the product, an eye for design is critical when starting a decorative pillow business. Here's what this looks like:

  • Creative Thinking - the ability to develop or design different products or ideas
  • Visualization - being able to imagine or visualize how the product will look
  • Articulation - the ability to communicate what the design will look like and how it will be executed
  • Detail-oriented - paying close attention to all of the small pieces when designing or working on a project
  • Some technical skills - knowledge of the design software you are using to create the product or build prototypes.

Other skills that may be valuable to have when starting a decorative pillow business include digital marketing skills, branding experience, and basic business knowledge.

Advice For Starting A Decorative Pillow Business

We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

Here's the best advice we discovered for starting a decorative pillow business:

Danielle Oakey, founder of Danielle Oakey Shop ($45K/month):

Work on your business every single day. Even if it is the smallest addition, these small improvements will slowly add up to something better.

Read the full interview ➜

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Danielle Oakey, founder of Danielle Oakey Shop ($45K/month):

Building a business has taught me more than I could ever have imagined. I have learned a lot in regards to working with people and setting proper expectations from the beginning. Whether it was an with an employee or a fabric company, I learned that being upfront with expectations is very important.

Read the full interview ➜

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Tracey Wallace, founder of Doris Sleep ($10K/month):

Not all days will be winners in the beginning, but you are building something. You are breathing life into something. That takes time. That takes focus. That takes work. Give it everything you have!

Read the full interview ➜

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Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your decorative pillow business.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?

Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).

But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.

There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:

1. Owner's Draw

Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.

At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.

As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.

This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.

2. Salary

If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.

The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:

  • Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
  • Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
  • Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
  • Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
  • Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.

https://media.giphy.com/media/xT0xeLTRncS90ptpfi/giphy.gif

To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your Decorative Pillows

One of the most challenging and critical pieces to starting your decorative pillow business is determining how much to charge for your decorative pillows.

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your decorative pillows, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your decorative pillows so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your decorative pillows may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your decorative pillows, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your decorative pillow business to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your decorative pillows is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your decorative pillows fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your decorative pillows, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Understanding Your Costs

Example from Ishan, founder of Ugly Duckling

First objective: profitability

Our profitability is OK at this point but definitely not where it should be yet. To this day I have not paid myself a regular salary yet...and it’s been 4 years!

The problem is not the cost of goods which are well under 20% of sales, which is good by any standard. The problem is fulfillment costs. In 2018 we transitioned from our first fulfillment company to a much bigger company. We did this because we wanted to provide faster shipment speeds and a better quality of packaging. In hindsight, we chose a company which would have been more suitable for a larger company with bigger volumes. We ended up being tied in with some pretty large minimum monthly payments. So currently fulfillment costs are currently around 45% of sales...way too high.

We are now looking to transit to another fulfillment center. Our target is to get our fulfillment costs down to around 30% of sales which I believe from what I have researched, is possible.

Just to be clear, when I say fulfillment that includes transportation costs also - FedEx, USPS, etc. Not just storage, picking, and packing. I am pretty sure that it is possible to get fulfillment costs down even lower, and I suspect that some large pro sellers on amazon.com work with around 20-25% of sales.

So our target P+L for 2020 looks something like this:

  • Cost of goods, including inbound freight and clearance - around 22% of sales.
  • Fulfillment - around 30% of sales.
  • Digital Advertising & Promotion - around 15% of sales.
  • Other marketing and office costs, including salary costs - around 10% of sales.
  • That would leave us around 23% of sales - enough to pay me a liveable salary and for the company to make a profit and finance future growth.

That's the first objective for 2020: to right-size the P+L so that we are profitable at our current sales level

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Ishan Dutta, on starting Ugly Duckling ($50,000/month) full story ➜

What Type Of Customers Will Buy Your Decorative Pillows

It's important to first establish who you will be selling to, whether it's to businesses or consumers.

Typically, in this industry, products are sold to B2C markets (business-to-consumer).

Let's take a look at what this means for your decorative pillow business:

B2C (or business to consumer) is a transaction where businesses sell their products or services to the consumer directly.

In this market, consumer behavior is the primary driver for your business decisions - so it's important that you truly identify who your customer is, and what their buyer habits are when building your product/service.

The advantage

B2C is that you are able to cast a very wide net when targeting your customers. Your product may interest a large number of consumers or a specific niche.

The disadvantage

B2C is that consumers hold all the power - so if your website is not the most user friendly, or does not rank in the top search results on Google, chances are, your customer is going to shop elsewhere.

When building your decorative pillow business, it's critical that you hone in on who your target audience is, and why they need your product over your competition.

Here are some items to consider when identifying your buyer persona:

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Design A Prototype

Turning your idea into a reality can feel like a daunting task - but it's critical that you have an idea of what your product will look like (even if it's just a sketch) prior to finding a manufacturer.

Here are some common ways you can design your prototype:

  • Draw Your Initial Design on Paper
  • Form pieces of fabric together
  • Consider Taking A Generic Product And Putting Your Own Brand On It
  • Try Making the Product Yourself
  • Consider Building A Prototype With A 3D Printer

To learn more about how to design and prototype a product, check out our latest guide here.

Tracey Wallace, founder of Doris Sleep dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

I’ve been sleeping on these pillows my entire life. I didn’t need to design or prototype them.

My family’s manufacturing company is a no-foam plant, for all the reasons described above, so that’s a big win. I did test out different fill types and weights, which got me to the 3 I offer today.

Look for other channels and opportunities. Cost of customer acquisition is so high on Facebook and Google right now. What else could you be doing to start small, grow an audience and loyalty, and win customers without the high price tag?

My brother was a huge help in that. My whole family likes different fill types, so there is no real standard. And because they sell B2B, businesses can request whatever they want.

Beyond the pillow itself, there was a lot to think through design and branding-wise. I look at brands like Andie Swim, Hubble, and Rothy’s as brands doing great work with beautiful and simplistic design.

Those were a few of the sites I used as inspiration. Beyond that, I built out a 6-page document highlighting the history of the brand and ideas, competitors in the space, target audience (including brands that audience likes), and more.

I handed that off to the design firm (I worked with Arctic Leaf) and they built out a website design based on that document.

It included a table of contents which had:

  • Basics (brand name and URL)
  • Why this brand? Why now?
  • Benefits of the product
  • Target customer values
  • Competition, broken down by well-known DNVBs (like Casper or Parachute), well-known more legacy brands (like West Elm and Crate & Barrel), smaller folks going hard on PPC, and other eco or sustainable pillow competitors.
  • The brand goal and vision, including specifically why no foam.
  • Brand look & Feel, which was mostly a list of sites of I liked like Clare.com, Hubble Contacts, etc.
  • Phase 1, which included all products and SKUs, site build out/messaging framework (I provided all copy prior to design), and launch plan which included details about content marketing & SEO, affiliate work, influencer marketing, and paid social advertising.
  • Phase 1, which included where the brand was heading, a road map if you will.

They said it was the most comprehensive business plan they’ve seen!

So, I worked on that throughout Thanksgiving when I was home with the family. Testing pillows, getting everyone’s opinions and then saying OK. I’m launching with these!

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Tracey Wallace, on starting Doris Sleep ($10,000/month) full story ➜

How To Find A Supplier For Your Decorative Pillow Business

Here are the steps to consider when finding a supplier/manufacturer:

Know your design

One very critical step to finding the right supplier is having an initial idea of what your design/product will look like.

Sketching is one of the most simple ways to get started in the design phase.

What's great about sketching is that you can practically do this anytime, anywhere - even on the back of a napkin.

To get started, all you need to do is pick up a pen and paper and start drawing - or if you are working on a virtual/software product this can be a diagram that outlines the user interface or experience.

Decide your supplier type

You'll want to identify the type of supplier you are looking for.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself prior to searching for a supplier

  • Are you looking for a manufacturer to produce your product idea?
  • Do you want to find a supplier that can simply purchase existing products for you?
  • Do you want a drop-shipper to supply and fulfill orders?
  • Do you want a domestic supplier or an overseas supplier? Read more about the pros and cons of each here

Where to start your search

Once you have an understanding of what type of manufacturer/supplier will be best to bring your idea to life, there are several areas you can start your search:

Domestic Suppliers

Overseas Suppliers

Manufacturing Your Product In House

It's also very common to manufacture your decorative pillows on your own - either from your home or in a commercial space.

In order to get the product right, you may want to consider experimenting with different designs and recipes until you find the perfect one.

Some founders choose to manufacture their product in-house so that they can control quality, manage costs, and easily handle production/logistics.

Down the road, you can always choose to outsource your decorative pillows.

Leslie Eisen, founder of AlmondClear discusses how to manufacture products in house

If you want to start a line of unique products, then you have two basic options: you can make them yourself, or you can find a manufacturer to work with that creates custom formulations for their clients.

I knew that I was trying to build a larger-scale business and that the home-made model wasn’t right for me, so I had to find the right manufacturing partner. It took a lot of research, phone calls, and emails before I found the laboratory that met my needs.

I wanted to create unique products (as opposed to private label), so I worked with the manufacturer’s chemist who specializes in skin care formulations. This process takes some time!

First, you have to tell the chemist what kind of product you’re looking for, the ingredients that you want to include or leave out, and what you want the final product to look like/feel like/smell like, etc.

Then, the manufacturer sends you the first sample, you try it out or give it to others to try, and then provide feedback for revisions. In my case, the first two products came together fairly easily because I only needed to make small changes to stock formulations.

There are many, many rules and regulations around cosmetics and skin care products. If you want to sell products that contain FDA regulated ingredients then you have to register and get a permit.

My products aren’t FDA regulated, so I didn’t have to go through this step, but I did have to be aware of the many guidelines and standards around labeling and safety warnings. Some people hire a lawyer to help them through this process, but my manufacturer was able to guide me through the regulatory process.

The entire process, from researching labs to work with to having the first finished products shipped out to me, took around six months.

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Leslie Eisen, on starting AlmondClear ($15,000/month) full story ➜

Purchasing Inventory For Your Decorative Pillow Business

When first starting out, it's important to start small with your overhead to get a gauge for what people want.

Just remember - if you order a line of items that don't sell, it's nearly impossible to recoup the money lost.

Buying the right inventory takes research and planning in order to get it right.

  1. Identify your target audience: Identify the age, gender, annual income that you will be selling to. This is a defining factor in ordering the right inventory that will sell.
  2. Research your competition: Conduct market research and identify the different types of styles, price points, and materials being used. This will help you see what's trending and ways that you can improve/stay ahead of the competition.
  3. Create an inventory wishlist: Identify what you need for the launch of your business and create a budget that you will stay within. Remember, it's okay to start small.
  4. Find a supplier Make sure to first compare prices and analyze different options.
  5. Delivery timing: Schedule the inventory delivery to match with seasonality and trending buying seasons

Pro-tip: It's easy to become biased based on your own fashion preferences on what types of shoes/apparel to purchase. This is where a lot of fashion businesses go wrong. It's important to base purchase decisions on current buyer behavior, trends in the market, and specific to your niche.

Erin Hooley, founder of Bailey's Blossoms tells us how poor inventory projections led her to lose over $2M

When we first launched Peyton Bre we did so in a social or direct sales model.

Through poor inventory projections we were forced to change models but only after losing $2 million dollars.

It was a devastating time for us and one we were not sure we could survive.

I have since become very intentional about the way that we project our inventory needs and we continue to refine that quarterly and even monthly. We have created a KPI for the cost of goods sold to help us hold ourselves accountable.

Ultimately, the better we manage our inventory the less we have need to discount and the healthier our profit margin becomes.

This is, of course, a very high-level overview of the importance of inventory control.

To see the full breakdown on how to manage inventory, check out my guide over on my blog..

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Erin E Hooley, on starting Bailey's Blossoms ($750,000/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Decorative Pillow Business

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Marketplaces

There are various different marketplaces that you can effectively sell and promote your decorative pillow business, whether that's local or online!

Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Your own website! Shopify is known to be the best for e-commerce stores
  • Local places! Gift shops, farmers markets, festivals, grocery stores etc
  • Etsy - E-commerce website for craft supplies
  • Craft is Art Marketplace to buy and sell handmade crafts & fine art
  • Aftcra Online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade products
  • Storenvy Marketplace for authentic brands
  • Amazon

Etsy Tips From Founders

Etsy is one of the most common marketplaces for this business type, however, there are some tips and tricks from other founders you'll want to consider prior to listing:

Financially speaking, Etsy is a really great way to start a business because it’s essentially free until you start selling. It cost nothing to launch besides my 20 cent listing fees.

Etsy has been encouraging free shipping with a lot of pushback from sellers, but I built everything into our prices about a month ago and introduced free shipping shopwide, which seems to have improved conversion rates and search visibility already.

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I honestly attribute the bulk of my success to photography. I was a photographer first so obviously very lucky to have no issues launching with great images and it’s something I consistently produce.

With Etsy especially, there are a ton of mediocre amateur photos so it was an easy way to set myself apart from the start, and I don’t think Etsy themselves would feature my products and market them so often otherwise. We’re also able to compete fairly well on price because 80% of customers are American, and our dollar is much weaker.

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Sasha Weekes, on starting Timber Grove Studios ($6,500/month) full story ➜

One big mistake I’m seeing from other people selling handcrafted items is regarding Etsy. I’m seeing people do one of two things:

  1. Under-utilize the platform
  2. They are solely using the platform

What I mean by this is that I’m seeing a whole lot of handcrafters that only use Etsy because it’s easy. But referring people to an Etsy page as your webpage isn’t as professional as a dot com webpage, plus, Etsy’s fees are much higher than Shopify. Also, when Etsy makes changes to its marketing structure, I’ve seen people who have no other website get absolutely screwed and their shops go under.

The other camp is those that refuse to use Etsy at all. Etsy is a marketplace, with a built-in audience that is often searching for exactly the product you make! Both camps are making the mistake of not diversifying their markets. Use Etsy, it’s an amazing sales tool, but don’t rely on it solely.

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James Wolfer, on starting Valhalla Wood Forge ($8,500/month) full story ➜

Launch Strategies For Your Decorative Pillow Business

There are various different ways you can launch your decorative pillow business successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your decorative pillow business.

  • Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
  • Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your decorative pillow business, and possibly even go viral
  • Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
  • Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
  • Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your decorative pillow business is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.

Here are a few popular sites to launch on:

Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here

Tracey Wallace, founder of Doris Sleep dives deep into the process of launching the business:

The process of launching a business is so much harder in practice than in theory. And I would know! I research, wrote on it, educated folks about it and more for 10 years. And still, I overspend on Facebook Ads (by $500, which is no small amount when you are self-funded and only a month or two in!). I forget to make sure my advertised coupon code is turned on for folks to use! I am still figuring out affiliate marketing.

It is hard work, y’all, and I am even more amazed and in admiration of all the folks who have already done this and continue to decide to do it. It is not an easy path. I’m even more struck by how hard this must have been in the late 1950s when my grandfather did it without any of the modern conveniences or tools. I don’t know if I would have had that resilience. So, that thought keeps me going on hard days! Keep it up. One step at a time. That’s the mantra.

In terms of financing, I’m 100% self-funded. I have already had a few investors inquire, but I want to stay self-funded for as long as I can. That gives me more control to grow as I need and make the right decisions for Doris –- not the best ones for the board or the investors.

I ended up spending about $10,000 on the entire launch –– much of that to the site design. I figured that if I could get a site designed incredibly well, that I could make everything else work. And that’s partially true! The design definitely leaves an impression on folks who think we are a much bigger company than we are.

But, if I could do it again, I’d build out on WordPress rather than BigCommerce -- or Shopify for that matter -- and plug BigCommerce in (They have a WordPress app). That’s because I can control more on the WordPress side. With a super customized ecommerce platform website, there is so much I have to reach out to the developer’s to help me do –– and their time isn’t cheap. On WordPress, I can work with developers to make sure that everything is easy to update or change based on what they build in. Perhaps this is just my own comfort level with WrodPress since its’ the tool I’ve been using for a decade.

That said, BigCommerce’s new widgets API is promising. I’m working with an agency now to build off of that so I can customize everything in the future -- very similar to how it might work on WordPress.

Overall, that spend isn’t so bad, I hear, but definitely not cheap. I was also paying for a wedding at the time. And a house. I lost my mind at the end of 2018! These days, I’m just working up to be able to be in the green. We haven’t passed that point just yet between advertising and inventory – but we’re close!

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Tracey Wallace, on starting Doris Sleep ($10,000/month) full story ➜

Make Sure You Get The Package Design Right

The way you package your decorative pillow business is often the first impression your customer has - so it's important to get it right.

You may want to ask yourself these questions:

If my product is on a shelf next to hundreds of other similar products:

  • Will my decorative pillow business stand out?
  • Will the branding/packaging create a connection with my customer, and hence, lead them to buy?

There are hundreds of tools you can use to help with packaging and design:

  • Canva - Allows non-designers to create beautiful Instagram/Pinterest posts, flyers, business cards, etc.
  • Stickermule - High quality custom stickers you can include on or in your packaging.
  • Noissue - Custom tissue paper and compostable mailers
  • Rollo Label Printer - A great tool to print all shipping labels at home

Sheets & Giggles explains the motive behind their "Premium Unboxing Experience"

I had a particular vision for our packaging centered around one goal: because we were a DTC company and wouldn’t do physical retail in year 1, we needed to focus entirely on an incredible unboxing experience that made the product feel as premium as possible.

Outside: a white box, nice wax coating, logo front and center with no other copy, easy to open, nice and sturdy.

Inside: make people smile from the get-go, have a social call-to-action, include free extra surprises (a knapsack that wraps the sheets and an eye mask), put funny copy all over the place, and add a donation bag that people could use to donate their now-defunct cotton sheets (sheets & blankets are the #2-most-requested item at shelters behind socks).

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Colin McIntosh, on starting Sheets & Giggles ($200,000/month) full story ➜

🌱 How To Grow Your Decorative Pillow Business

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Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to decorative pillow business.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:

The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.

We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.

Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:

  • Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
  • Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
  • Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
  • Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

Host A Social Media Giveaway

People love free stuff and love competition. Giveaways and contests are a great way to create awareness for your brand, grow your email list, and eventually convert leads into customers.

If your goal is to gather email addresses, make sure the entry criteria is to "enter your email." You can do this by leading customers to your landing page where they can then enter their email to be in the giveaway.

One of the most important aspects of promoting a successful giveaway is having an amazing prize. The better the prize, the more engagement you'll get.

This doesn't necessarily mean choosing an iPad or an expensive/trendy watch, but instead a prize that is actually relevant to your brand/target audience.

Giveaway Example and Tips

Example from TJ Mapes, founder of RIPT Apparel

Our most recent successful giveaway was when we gave away a PS4 + the new Spiderman game. I hosted the giveaway on our site and then let our audience know about it via email/social channels.

Entrants earned different amounts of entries for entering in different ways (tongue twister!), for instance; enter via email, get 10 entries. Follow us on Facebook, get 5 entries. Subscribe on Messenger and get 25 entries.

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

I also built out a drip sequence in Klaviyo that contained four emails to encourage entrants to take more action, like referring friends and liking us on social.

Email #1: Thanks for entering!

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

Email #2: Explained how to earn bonus entries:

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

Email #3: About us

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

Email #4: Coupon for entering

This last email in the sequence just thanked them again for entering and also included a coupon to a specific (related) collection of designs with an expiration date on it to incentivize purchases.

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel (this screenshot is actually a flow from when we gave away an xbox, but you get the idea - huge open and click rates 💯💯💯)

PS4 Giveaway Results:

We ran it for 2 weeks and recorded results in a meticulous spreadsheet to analyze the data. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Giveaway page pageviews - 67,355
  • Total entrants - 26,137
  • Conversion rate - 38.80%
  • Total entrants in Klaviyo (not suppressed) - 24,515
  • New emails acquired - 16,363
  • Emails we already had - 7,521
  • % of new emails - 66.75%
  • Cost of item - $350
  • Instagram visits - 10,618
  • Instagram followers gained - 3,496 ( total followers lifted by 6.9% )
  • Twitter followers gained - 4,194
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TJ Mapes, on starting RIPT Apparel ($200,000/month) full story ➜

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:

We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.

We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

Add an exit-intent popup to your online store

A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

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One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($1,500,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Abandonded Cart Flow

The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.

Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.

Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."

Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.

Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.

Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:

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Things they do well:

  • Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
  • Offer a small discount + free shipping
  • Great design + clear call to actions!

Improve your SEO

SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."

Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your decorative pillow business.

Publish Great Content

Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.

There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.

So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"

  • Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
  • Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
  • Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
  • Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
  • Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).

Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.

If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.

Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.

Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:

  • Trello
  • Airtable
  • If you prefer to keep it simple, your average spreadsheet is just as useful!

Backlinks

Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.

Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.

Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.

For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.

Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:

  • Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
  • Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
  • Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
  • Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
  • Leverage existing business relationships

Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here and check out Neil Patel's 3 Powerful SEO Tips below

Build A Blog

One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.

We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:

Consistency and Quantity

Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.

What’s more important is consistency and quantity.

Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.

This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.

Oversaturation

The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.

This is nonsense.

There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.

For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.

You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.

Patience & Persistence

Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.

The only thing you have control over is your content.

You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.

So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.

Where to share your blog content

Mailing List

I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.

Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.

Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.

An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.

Reddit

Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.

It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.

Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.

Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.

Facebook Groups

When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.

Consider Working With Instagram Influencers

Partnering with like-minded influencers (within your industry) is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media organically.

Industry influencers already have an established and loyal following. With one post, your product immediately establishes a connection with a brand new audience. It's that powerful.

When finding influencers to promote your product, do your research and make sure that their following will actually be interested in your product.

It's easy to be blinded by any influencer with a huge following, but if those followers don't resonate with your product, there may not be any value there... so make sure you do your research!

Evan Marshall, founder of Plain Jane discusses how "micro-influencers" have impacted his business:

Influencer marketing has been huge for us. Our approach is pretty simple. We give out samples of our products and ask people to post about us on social media aka a micro-influencer strategy.

We really like this approach because we get authentic stories and content. We cannot really control the messaging so the product has to speak for itself. We don’t really take product photos at all. Our customers take the photos and we ask to reuse them.

With any influencer strategy, you have to be very sure you’re targeting the right people and engaging with them. You can make sure you’re targeting the right influencers by looking through their posts and then looking through the profiles of their engaged followers.

It takes more time per influencer but the payoff is certainly worth it. Make sure their followers look like your existing customers.

It takes a ton of time and work to grow a social media following this way but it’s worth it. Other accounts have tried to grow themselves through botting or other manipulations. As a CBD company, we didn’t want to give Instagram any reason to shutdown our account so we’ve done everything through content and real engagement. It’s not magic to make this happen. You just have to post consistently and then reply or like every single comment you get. It takes months but it works

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Evan Marshall, on starting Plain Jane ($275,000/month) full story ➜

Consider Selling On Amazon

In addition to selling your products directly on your site, you may want to consider selling on Amazon to reach a wider audience and attract new customers.

Here are some pros and cons of selling on amazon:

Pros

  • Easy and seamless process to get your product listed on Amazon
  • There are roughly 100 million thoroughly committed prime customers, so you're bound to tap into new business
  • Can help grow your business exponentially and reach new audiences

Cons

  • You may encounter some "copycats" and counterfeit products
  • Amazon owns the relationship with the customer (you lose control over product reviews + customer service)
  • If you already have a low-markup, amazon may not wrth your while and you could end up losing money
  • Commissions and listing fees are high - it's easy to lose control of your offering

Follow these instructions to get your product listed on Amazon or check out the video below on how to get started:

Cory Stout, founder of Woodies ($250K/mo) provides us with specifics on how to rank better on amazon:

Our main product is walnut wood sunglasses that I sell for $25 on Amazon and Woodies.com.

I dedicated myself to becoming an Amazon expert. I listened to all the podcasts and read all the blog posts I could find. Shoutout EcomCrew I took the basic fundamentals that are out there and I added a couple of my own twists.

Amazon brings me, 100 brand new customers, every day for very little acquisition cost. If I tried that on my own, it would take a TON of work and it wouldn’t be nearly as effective as Amazon, so I took the easy road on this one.

Here's an article I wrote on how to rank better on amazon (30+ Tips):

5/5: ESSENTIAL

  • Beautiful images (minimum 5 images) especially lifestyle images I use UpgradedImages.com for product photography (hey Ken!)
  • Keywords in your title (but it still needs to sound human)
  • Competitive price (contributes to high conversion rate)
  • NOT having 1-star reviews
  • DON'T STOCKOUT: it's such a killer and if you DO stockout, definitely DON'T raise your price right before you do, if anything LOWER your price for the last 10-20 units before you stockout, each ASIN has a 'memory' for when you do get back in stock so that will help you regain ranking quickly
  • DON'T VIOLATE AMAZON TOS: just don't
  • Perform QC on your stock before you send it in (I sent in a wrong box once and I had to 'remove' over 3,000 pieces so I could sift through them and remove the 150 contaminated pieces 0/7 would not recommend

4/5: Pretty Friggin Important

  • Minimum 10 5-star reviews (do this before you do anything below this)
  • Well optimized PPC campaigns (could do a whole post on this, keep ACOS under 40%) here's a screenshot of some of my campaigns I use a combination of manual campaigns with exact phrases and high bids...and auto campaigns with a broad range of products and very low bids
  • Turning on FeedbackGenius for auto review requests (it's not as good as it used to be, but it's still worth it)
  • Get a trademark and get Brand Registry, this protects you from hijackers and other unscrupulous sellers
  • Quick response to customer messages (under 12 hours) here are my stats my mom does all my customer service "Employee of the Year" status
  • Drive outside traffic (amazon loves outside traffic because they don't have to spend so much to acquire customers) Facebook, Instagram, and Google Adwords are the usual suspects
  • Use ocean shipping to save mucho $$$ on unit costs (use flexport)

Read more about amazon tips here.

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Cory Stout, on starting Woodies ($250,000/month) full story ➜

🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Decorative Pillow Business

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How To Retain Customers For Your Decorative Pillow Business

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your decorative pillow business.

Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your decorative pillow business:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write a hand written thank you note
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Tracey Wallace, founder of Doris Sleep dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:

To attract customers, recommendations from others has been the highest converting. I don’t do too much to enable this. Honestly, pillows are something folks struggle with –– to find one they like, that is cozy but firm, that doesn’t have zippers –– whatever it is.

People are very particular about their pillows. And they should be! You spend a large amount of your life on a pillow! I have reviews set up 14 days after the order, and it’s so fun to wake up with new 5 star reviews. We’ve only had 1 return so far, and 1 exchange. The return was because the pillow wasn’t “firm,” and they suggested I market it more as “thick,” which I decided to do.

That and organic traffic. For organic traffic, there are a few strategies here. First, I’ve written a few blog posts on the Doris site.

This Pillows Materials blog post has been the most successful, which I expected. It’s super educational, includes a quiz, and has easy graphics to help folks make the right decision.

This one highlighting lifestyle benefits is great, but I really need to focus on continuing the series. It didn’t get nearly the traction the first blog post did –– which has me focusing a bit less on interviews with folks right now, and more on writing educational content around pillows, fill material, and sleeping habits.

Beyond that, I need backlinks. So, I’m beginning to write on home goods blogs and lifestyle blogs about pillow material, sleep cycles, whatever I can. It’s key that I get as many backlinks from relevant websites as I possibly can. What has been the most successful so far in at least getting the email address of a PR person or someone who runs a blog at these organizations is, surprisingly to me!, Facebook Messenger. That was a tip an SEO friend told me, and it works! Pitch them on FB Messenger, and most often, you’ll get an email address.

Now, you just have to properly pitch the org!

I’m lucky, though, because I have written so much content in my career that I have *tons* of links already from tech websites. That has gotten Doris to page 2 on nearly every keyword or query. Now, I need related backlinks so Google can push me to Page 1.

Facebook Ads aren’t really working for me. Plus, to my understanding, you need to have a larger budget to test a bunch of different things to figure out what does work, and I’m not there right now.

I landed a feature in The Hustle, which drove great traffic and sales.

how-i-launched-a-direct-to-consumer-bed-pillow-business

I’m working on hiring a part-time PR person to help me pitch. I’m a writer by trade, so I can take the writing of pieces on as needed. I’m launching a blog series and kickstarting organic activities –– which means paying for graphic design. And I have already launched a partnership with an Austin-based brand (Highway Robery) which also has sustainable sourcing and creating roots. Partnerships like these help me get in front of new audiences in an organic way, plus it gets me tos of social photos and I get to split the cost with the other brand.

how-i-launched-a-direct-to-consumer-bed-pillow-business

In terms of retaining customers, that is something I need to work on. A pillow is something people buy maybe once every 5 years – though technically you should every 2 years. Eventually, I’ll expand my line so upsell to other goods, but right now, I just want to get the pillows under people’s heads and start collecting feedback and reviews! It’s one thing for me to have loved these my entire life, but I need other people to, too!

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Tracey Wallace, on starting Doris Sleep ($10,000/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Word of Mouth

The most tried and true way to grow a decorative pillow business is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.

Why you should focus on word of mouth:

  • Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
  • 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
  • 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing

Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜

Build a Referral Program

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.

A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.

A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.

Provide Great Customer Service

Providing exceptional care and creating relationships with clients is a great way to build your reputation and retain customers.

Whether you are an online business or a physical business, it's highly important to communicate with customers and make them feel like they are the priority.

Just remember: customer service represents your brand, values, vision and YOU as a person.

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your decorative pillow business.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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