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How to Automate Your Business as Fast as Possible

Stickers designed by Blank Tag Co.

Remi Silva and Alondra Carbajal were vacationing in Japan when inspiration hit. While most visitors to Tokyo are busy seeing sites and indulging in the local delicacies, Remi was mesmerized by the wide selection of stickers and wondered why the U.S. lacked behind. 

Once back home, the couple put the idea into action and started Blank Tag Co. and has built the stickers company to a six-figure business while still having day jobs. 

In this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll hear from Remi Silva of Blank Tag Co. on how he automated the business and why keeping his day job helps the business as well. 

A lot of little things that trouble businesses and take up a lot of time, you can actually automate it or build processes around it.

Tune in to learn

  • How processes remove motivation from the equation
  • Why you should not start with Facebook Ads first and where you should start instead 
  • What you should test tweak within your first ads
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Show Notes

    Transcript 

    Felix: Today, I'm joined by Remi from Blank Tag Co. Blank Tag Co., sells high-quality stickers to help people express themselves. And was started in 2017, and based off of Los Angeles. And is a multiple six-figure business. Welcome, Remi.

    Remi: Hey. How's it going, man?

    Felix: Good, man. So this idea behind this business, everything all started with a trip to Japan. Tell us about what happened there.

    Remi: Yeah. So, my girlfriend and I, Alondra. She lives in LA and I was living in Maryland. So we were long-distance for a while. I was actually originally in LA and then I moved back to Maryland. And so, in order for ways to us meeting up, we just met up in different cities all over the country. So Seattle, or Portland, or Austin. Things like that. But then one year... Actually, in October we decided, "Hey. Let's go to Korea." And then, while we decided to go to Korea, she also said, "Hey. Let's go to Japan as well." And I think it was early October, we flew to Japan.

    Remi: And then we were just walking around. And we noticed this big store called Tokyu Hands. And we walked in, it was a huge arts and craft store. And then we saw this one stand. And it was nothing but stickers. But it was just so unique. It was the goofiest stickers. It was like a coffee cup, just random objects. And this guy naked, but with just socks on and weird poses. And because they were so goofy and interesting, I just had to grab one. And bought one. And then, thought of nothing after that.

    Remi: And then, eventually, Alondra and I were just walking around in Harajuku. And were walking and we noticed the same store that manufactured the stickers. They're called B-Side Label. And, first, I was shocked that there's a store that heavily just sells stickers. And they're on a really popular street in Japan. So I'm just shocked they're selling so many stickers to sustain that store. So we walked in. I was just amazed by how many stickers they had. But the only problem I noticed was it was all just purely Japanese culture-based. All the wording was in Japanese.

    Remi: So it was super interesting to look at as a tourist. And I'm sure if you're Japanese it makes way more sense. But I just kept thinking about it. That there's nothing really like it in the US. And so, I talked to Alondra about it. And she wasn't a big fan of the idea. But I just like to do things either way. So I started the business. And that's the super beginning of what happened. So we basically saw stickers, got super interested, wanted to try it.

    Felix: Yes. I think a lot of people will something like this when they go on vacation. Or they'll see something that catches their eye. But they're not going to immediately think, "Oh. Maybe there is a business opportunity behind this." So have you started businesses before? How are you perceptive to business ideas as you are traveling, seeing stores?

    Remi: Yeah. So, at the same time, I had this website called Sunday Meal Prepper. And it's this website where you go to the website, you purchase. It's like a subscription where you get weekly emails of food recipes for meal prep. And there were basically two versions of it. One is weight loss and one is weight gain. And that process was automated. And I really enjoyed it, but I felt like I hit a wall. I couldn't grow anymore. I wasn't running paid ads behind it.

    Remi: But I knew I wanted to do some kind of business outside of this. And this one wasn't going to sustain over time. So I kept thinking of ideas. But not specifically during that trip. I just happened to see the sticker business and I was just super excited that I wanted to try it. So I had a good understanding of what to do to start a business. So like LLCs, building a website, and automating a lot of functions.

    Felix: Yeah. I think when people have a business already, or something that's going already, they can either choose to go deeper down the same category, down the same route. Or do something completely different. And you, obviously, this is stickers versus recipes. It's totally different. I guess, what made you comfortable? Or what made you desire to step outside what you were already doing?

    Remi: Honest question, I was bored. I wanted to do something that was super exciting for me. So I've always liked stickers but I wasn't absolutely obsessed with them., until I saw these B-Side Label ones. I was so excited about how interesting these are. And the other pieces. Alondra and I, we're both super deep into our culture. So, Alondra, my girlfriend and business partner, she's 100% Salvadoran. I'm Korean and Mexican. And we love our culture, we want to showcase it. But we just didn't know the best way how. And we thought this process through stickers makes a lot of sense.

    Remi: Because stickers are a way to express who you are, and introduce yourself to the world of what you're interested in, and your culture as well. For example, you put a sticker on your laptop, you're not going to put one that makes absolutely no sense and doesn't relate to you at all. You want to see something related to you. And so, that's why it made perfect sense for us. So the stickers are super interesting as a product. But also, it ties to our culture as well. And the US is a huge melting pot. Everyone has super diverse backgrounds and cultures. We also want to help people express that as well.

    Felix: Makes sense. So what did you learn from your past business that fast-tracked your success in Blank Tag?

    Remi: A few things I'd say. One, it's automating functions. So a lot of little things that trouble businesses and take up a lot of time, you can actually automate it or get close to it. Or build processes around it. For example, let's see... Well, what I do now here... Shopify, I love the product. But there's one thing that I think needs to be tweaked is in the emails.

    Remi: Where it's when the customer wants to switch their order, I constantly get emails saying, "Hey. I want to switch my order. Change my product. Or increase the value on something." You put a little thing in the email explaining how to exactly do it in their confirmation email. Since I did that, it basically cut down my time to zero for editing orders.

    Remi: So it's looking at all the things... I basically track all the things I do with my business and how much time it takes. And see how I can automate it. Or build processes around it that the customers can actually do it themselves.

    Felix: Got it. Yeah. This is definitely an optimization that can save you a lot of time, money, and headache. So when you are looking at your business, what is something that you try to look to automate right away? Like any business, in the most part, what is an area that you like to focus on that can give you the biggest win?

    Remi: Hm. Man, that's a tough one. Maybe audience creation. So, this is what I mean. So I actually do digital marketing as my day job. So this is actually more of a side business. For my day job, I do analytics at a marketing agency. And one thing we're really focusing on is audience creation and the feedback of that.

    Remi: Meaning that, if you have a group of people that buy stickers, or buy products from you, you get that list of customer data. And feed it back into Facebook. Or your ad platform. And if you continue to optimize, not just based on the actual conversion, but the audience is converting well.

    Remi: So for a new business, first, I would say, a big win is getting some first-party data. Like really good customer data. And feed that back into your ad platforms. So it becomes automated. Or, sorry. So it becomes more optimized. And then you got to automate that process. So, eventually, audience creation becomes less of a time-consuming thing. But more of when you continue to optimize and you get more customers, you get better conversions. And then your spending becomes more efficient.

    Felix: Got it. So just an example would be if you're running Facebook Ads or something. You're talking about making sure that you have your Pixels set up on your set? Is that the idea behind what you would do to make sure that you're building your audience in an automatic way?

    Remi: Yeah. Facebook Pixel is one. But, also, if you want to use first-party data like emails. Finding a way to get that level of data and pushing it back into Facebook. So it becomes even more targeted.

    Felix: Got it. Because you're saying that, right now, you might collect their emails. And then, just let them sit in a separate system. Let's say you Mail Chimp or something set up. And you collect the emails. It's sitting in one system but not being fed back into your ad platform. What do you do to automate that piece? For getting those emails that you're collecting back into your ad platform.

    Remi: Yeah, that's a good question. So, it's almost automated. But, for example, so my email processor is actually Klaviyo. And I think they're a really strong email platform that can segment people that visit your site. So it's like an attraction.

    Remi: So what I do is I automate emails of the collection... Oh, not collection. Like the compiling of first-party data, my email addresses. And then, get that sent to me over every month, at the end of the month. And that's studying by high, versus mid, versus low-value customers.

    Remi: And then all I got to do is really just pop it into Facebook. So it can start creating these audiences. And I can update my ads a little bit, and target even further. So the actual grabbing of the first-party data from the email platform, that's the part that's actually automated. I don't have to actually go in every month to do it. I just create these rules, so it sends an email to me. I grab the data, push it to Facebook really quick, and it does the function.

    Felix: And these are existing customers?

    Remi: Correct. These are existing customers. Or people that are potentially showing high interest to purchase on the site.

    Felix: Got it. And has that been automation? The optimization that you've made, that has had the biggest impact on your business? Or is there something else that has had a bigger impact?

    Remi: The biggest impact on the business, I'd say it's two things. So, one, is actually moving over to Shopify. So I was using a whole different e-commerce platform. The Shopify checkout function, I think, is one of the best around. It's just really simple. I think it's three steps, but it's super simple. And the e-commerce rate actually jumped. The conversion rate jumped after moving over to Shopify because of the speed and the simplicity of the site.

    Remi: Also, the audience targeting. So, because I have such a wide range of products... For example, going from Mexican food stickers to Korean food stickers to flags. Based on what people buy, I can actually segment audiences. And say, "All right. I know these people bought X. These people bought Y." Put that into Facebook. And then say, "Hey, Facebook. Find me people just like them."

    Remi: And then, create ad copy around that. And so, the ad becomes super specific. Not just in product, but in copy and audience. And so, because the ads have become more targeted and optimized, the returns on AdSense has grown. And from there I can spend more on ads, and just continuously grow.

    Felix: Got it. Yeah. If you can pay more for a customer, or you can drive down your costs, you can scale way faster. So how do you personalize your ads? Is it done in an automated way? Or do you have some kind of template that you work off? Or you do that part manually?

    Remi: The actual ad creation part, the ad copy, I do it myself. So I have a spreadsheet of like, "Here's the audience I'm testing. Here's the image set. And here's the ad copy I'm testing." And from there I just... I spend enough to where I hit a point of statistical significance, saying this ad is better than the other one.

    Remi: And I continuously test that to see which ad that works really well with this group. I'm to the point where it's so good that I constantly try to find new... Or I do another test to beat the one that's doing really well. And if I can't beat it, then I just say, "This is the one. I'll keep it going until it's stagnated, and then try a new one."

    Felix: Yeah. I think this is an important point about statistical significance. I think a lot of people that are going on a strategy of using paid ads to drive traffic and get sales from it. It's hard to understand when to give up and when to continue pursuing. So I would love to hear more about your strategies. So how many ads do you test with to start? If you have a new product that you want to test with a new audience.

    Remi: Yeah, some. That's a tough one. It depends on the context. There are so many variables that come to play. If you have a high-margin item, you have a bigger margin to play with. So someone buys, let's say, one product. You can actually use the profits from that to target more customers. Or the low-margin item, like mine.

    Remi: I actually recommend not going with ads immediately with Facebook Ads. But going first with influencers. So what I actually did originally was because I didn't know what I know now. About how to a specific target with these stickers with people, with specific ad messages. I actually contacted a few influencers that I thought were in the market to what my product was, or close to it.

    Remi: So, one, work with them to start running... Get them to do a post. Drive traffic to your site. Once people purchase on your site, then you start collecting first-party data, which is the email addresses. And then, pump that back into Facebook. So you can start creating new audiences. Saying, "Hey, Facebook. Find people just like these. So I can run ads against and test." And from there, you can maybe do two ad sets. Or, sorry, two ads. A versus B. And just see which one works.

    Felix: Okay. Definitely want to get back to that first step and the second. About getting the first-party data through influencer marketing. Before we get there, once you start with those ads, what do you start tweaking first? Let's say, it's kind of working, not really. And you want to redo another round with testing. Do you change the copy? You change the images? What's the first thing that you recommend? What do you change? Everything? What is your approach towards to making tweaks to determine what's beating the control?

    Remi: First, it would be probably an image. Not in Facebook Ads. That's the first thing people are looking at. It's not the ad copy. So, one, test completely different images. Because you want to see which direction are people more toward. For example, with mine, the original set I tested was these stickers on just a random background.

    Remi: And it was actually through, I think it was... Oh, what's it called? It's some image software where you just put the image on top of a background. So the sticker was on some kind of background. It didn't look like I took a picture with my phone. It just looked like I made it on the computer. I did that the first [crosstalk 00:14:30].

    Felix: So like Canva, or Snappo or something?

    Remi: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It was Snappo. Putting the image in Snappo. And then, taking the ad out of that. Versus me physically just holding a sticker and taking pictures of stickers. And so, what I found was the image of the actual sticker, not the proof it, not the one on the Snappo background, that one completely beat out the Snappo one. The one I'm actually holding the sticker.

    Remi: So I think ad image itself should be tested first. You should do two completely different sets, and then see which one wins. And then, from there you start optimizing. Because if I know if the physical image works, try different versions of a physical image. Like me holding a sticker. Or multiple versions of the same sticker on the floor, and taking a picture of it. And see what works from that.

    Felix: And do you ever then switch to copy? Or you're just constantly sticking with how to tweak and try different images out?

    Remi: I definitely test copy. That's once I've determined a winner. Like, what is a really good type of image? So, with ad copy-

    Felix: That it just can't beat for a long time.

    Remi: Yeah, exactly. It's hard to beat it. At that point, I let it optimize a little further. And, for me, it was actually the ad copy that said, "All these stickers are weatherproof and waterproof." And so, providing immediate value. Well, people that don't know my brand or don't know my stickers, it's showing them immediately what I'm selling. And, why buy these stickers compared to other stickers?

    Felix: Got it. Right. Get right to the point, essentially. Okay, that makes sense. So let's talk about collecting the first-party data. So you mentioned to me that, "Hey. You don't actually want to go to Facebook Ads first." Which actually is the approach that a lot of people do. And you think that's a mistake. You're saying, "Go first with influencer marketing. Buy sponsored posts."

    Felix: And you're recommending that? Is that because you're more likely to get sales right off the bat that way? What's the significance of going with influencers first? Rather than running the same amount of money, essentially, into Facebook Ads?

    Remi: Yeah. Well, also, it just depends on what your product is. If you're like mine with stickers, I couldn't find an audience on Facebook that made total sense in the very beginning. So, for example, well, with me I found a group of influencers that I thought were in my target demographic of my sticker products. And so, paid them. And then, I asked them to basically drive traffic to my site. These people came to my site and bought.

    Remi: And from there, you... Well, one, you validate it in the Facebook analytics. Saying, "All right. Tell me what kind of demographics are buying on my site." And then, also, grab that first-party data and throw it into Facebook to create lookalike audiences of these individuals. And so, Facebook is really, really good at creating lookalike audiences.

    Remi: And so that's one...Well, actually, that's multiple things. One, it helps you get first-party data so you can create audiences. And, also, one, it's... I'm sorry. Another thing is it's basically validating that your product has some kind of fit in the market.

    Felix: Got it. Okay. So you're saying, basically, it's easier to target your demographic by going with an influencer that you believe has your audience? Than to try to find... There's probably no Facebook Ad targeting. And inside the Ads Manager says, "That targets going to like stickers," right? So it's probably hard to find that. So instead you look for the demographic that's represented in one of these influencers. So how do you target based on the influencer? What are you looking at? I'm assuming you're doing this on Instagram?

    Remi: Yeah, on Instagram.

    Felix: Okay. So what are you looking for on their Instagram profile? Their following? What are you looking at exactly, to say this person's a good fit to pay for a sponsored post?

    Remi: Man, it ultimately comes down to a hunch. So like what you think. So, for example, I'm a huge fan of Tecovas episode. It was really good. But if I was Tecovas owner, early on I would have probably found some influencers that are country-based. Or country outfit-based. Talk to them to get a sponsored post. Get them to drive traffic to the site and then purchase.

    Remi: And you get that first-party data. So, ultimately, it comes down to a hunch. I don't think there's an exact platform that directly matches a product to an influencer. If there's one out there, definitely use that. Because you know your product best. Find an influencer that you think would be really good as a fit.

    Felix: And it's not just... I guess, in your case, because you have so many different products that are... it's actually targeting different interests. You are looking for an Instagram influencer that matches specifically with a product, right? Not with your entire website. You weren't looking for an influencer that talked about stickers, right? You were looking for influencers that maybe post about Mexican food like you mentioned as one of your stickers. Is that the idea?

    Remi: Yeah, exactly. So, mine early on was more about culture and food. When we first started, we only had three stickers. It was the Comida Callejera bundle. So it had the concha, tacos, and elote. So there's no Facebook audience saying, "Hey. Find me all concha lovers or elote lovers." So I had to get a little more creative.

    Remi: And then, so, I found an influencer on Instagram that talked about these foods. They eat these foods and have pictures with them. So it's sending them the product, getting them to take a picture with it. And from there, I... it's only to drive traffic really.

    Felix: Got it. So, now, how do you begin this relationship with an influencer? For anyone that's never done this before. Let's say, you're following them now because you're interested in working with them to start. You're sending them a direct message or something. Or an email. Walk us through the steps that you recommend someone takes if they find an influencer that they think is a good fit for their product.

    Remi: Yeah. So a lot of these influencers, like the bigger ones that have a million following. Or 500 to a million. 500,000 to a million. They usually have an email in their bio. And it's a business email. Email them first. Because they probably get so many DMs that it might get lost. So email them first. If they don't email back, just try one more time. Probably a few days later. And then, DM as the last result. So, that's the last option.

    Remi: And then, they usually get back to you with their rates. And so, ultimately, it just depends on what are their rates. How much are you comfortable spending as a first try? Because you might get just really a low volume of sales that it's not even worth it. So it's how much you're willing to risk. Early on, I was willing to risk a decent amount because I thought it would work.

    Remi: So we worked with an influencer who had a million followers. And we worked with her. And then, she brought me, basically, a huge bump in traffic early on. And then, because I got so many sales, I could actually use the profits from that original campaign, and also the first-party data, to create lookalike audiences. Start running tons of ads.

    Felix: And that was the snowball effect that kicked everything off for you?

    Remi: Yep, yep. And, also, these influencers usually have other media companies watching them. So this influencer had a few publications that I wanted to work with. They saw that she's working with us and posted these. And so, the media publication saw that and started writing about the product as well.

    Felix: I got it. So you would recommend, then, for people to go for these bigger influencers? Like 500,000 and above? Versus another strategy is to look for micro-influencers with 50,000 or less.

    Remi: It really depends. It depends on how engaged are they with their audience. Is it a good fit for you? And how much does it cost? There's an influencer I wanted to work with. And her price was just ridiculously high.

    Remi: So early on, I wasn't willing to spend that much. So if you're just starting, I'd probably recommend working with someone under 50,000. Just to validate your product. To see if you can generate sales.

    Felix: I got it. So, at first, are you looking to always make a profit with this strategy? Or are you just looking to pay for the first-party data?

    Remi: That's a good question. I'd say both. I'd say, well, validate product-market fit to see if you can get sales. Also, get some revenue back so you can use to get new influencers. Generate revenue so you can use that profit to make new products or run more ads. And then, also, getting the first-party data so you can start creating audiences to do lookalike. So it does multiple things.

    Felix: Got it. But you, typically, would recommend someone to try to make a profit on this. And not just to do this, to follow that strategy of getting that first-party data. You actually want to validate it. Get some sales. But not just validate it with sales. But, actually, make your money back on the investment you put in for the sponsored post?

    Remi: Yep. Exactly.

    Felix: Got it. Okay, that's cool. So, now, you've got the first-party data in. So, now, you have actual buyers and lookalike audiences on Facebook. You can start driving ads towards them. So that takes everything off for you. I want to actually jump back to this question of automation. So, as you're automating... this sounds very automated so far. I mean, there's the outreach part.

    Felix: But, then, once you started getting data in, you're really feeling the system of your ads. And making sure that you're optimizing it. I want to talk about what is something that you actually would never automate. Is there something like that? That you would never automate. That you feel like just you cannot be done through automation?

    Remi: Yeah. It's reading the comments of the ads I'm running. Sometimes, there are so many ads I get a lot of comments in the actual ads themselves. And I read through every single one. Because they'll even throw some insights in. Or, some of them may ask a question that I never thought a customer would ask. And that can actually be immediately be answered in the ad copies itself.

    Remi: So, for example, early on, when I was running the ads, a lot of people would ask, "Are these stickers waterproof?" And that I cannot automate, reading the comments. So I read the comments. And soon as I got so many of those questions, I put that. Say, "These stickers are waterproof," based in the ad copy. And I stopped getting that question. And, basically, the ad's performed better as well.

    Felix: That makes sense. I think that's important. We actually did a podcast recently. Though, I don't believe it's out yet. About running ads. And a lot of people will run ads and just move on. They'll run ads and never look at their posts. And the guy that I interviewed, he was basically saying, "You spend so much money on these ads. There's so much valuable insight in there," like the way you mentioned.

    Felix: But, then, also you can engage with your customer on there. These people spent the time to actually post a comment. They are going to be your most invested customer. So don't run ads and just ignore them. That's only a part of it. The bigger part is looking at the comments like you're saying.

    Felix: So you strike me as a methodical and quantitative person. Is there any quantitative analysis that you do on these comments? Or you're just reading them, and internalizing them, and then over time you start recognizing just in your head some pattern that appears? That you can then use to change your messaging? Or, maybe, eventually change your product even?

    Remi: Yeah. Appreciate the nice comment, man. But these ads, so when I read these comments, I don't jot them down somewhere saying, "Hey. This is the amount of times I got this comment." It's just more of a gut feel at that point. I'm getting this so many times that I'm recognizing there's that something people want to be answered. So, I changed the ad copy.

    Remi: Then, I'll actually even go to my site to see, like, "Am I missing this on site?" Early on, it didn't even say the stickers are waterproof. And then, later on, when I started getting all those comments, I went to the site and saw that there's nothing on the site explaining that as well. So making that change to the site... Actually, that's a slight increase in conversion rate as well.

    Felix: That's awesome. Okay. So that makes sense. I think that a lot of people would think, "Oh, man. That's such a big undertaking to read these comments." But I think if you just surround yourself with these comments, you will be compelled to take action on them because they become so...

    Felix: If everyone is asking you, "Is it waterproof? Waterproof?" over and over again, it's hard to ignore that question. So that makes sense. You don't actually have to do anything special with the comments, just read them. And then, you'll get guidance out of it. That makes sense. Okay.

    Felix: So you mentioned that the way that you decide what to automate is by tracking what you spend your time on. Tracking the processes. Or, tracking things that you're doing. And then, seeing what can be turned into actual automation. Or through some process. So, talk to us about this. How do you track this? How minute do you get with your tracking of the activities that you spend on your business?

    Remi: Yeah. So there's a tool out there called Harvest. And Harvest is actually, I think, it's for contractors or freelancers. You can see how much time they're spending on certain clients with certain tasks. Well, for Harvest, the way I set it up, I consider my business my client.

    Remi: So for each task, I spend the most time on, there's a button you just click to see how much time you're basically spending on it. And so, I've been tracking what I'm doing for the past few months. And then, I see like, "All right. Here is where I'm spending way too much time on. It's not really driving much growth or revenue. And then, here's where I put in."

    Remi: Basically, how much would it cost to outsource this? So I don't spend time on it. And then, focus that time so I can do the things that actually help grow the business. It gets down to that level for me.

    Felix: What is something that you would prefer to spend your time on, then? That would grow the business. What is the most high-value thing that you're doing these days to grow the business?

    Remi: Man, it's probably... See things going on. I'd say testing, creating all these micro audiences on Facebook. Because my site is so big... I mean, sorry. Because I have so many views now. I have tons of variations of products that I started creating all these audiences separately. And it's just, basically, creating different ad sets. Tweaking them, tweaking messaging, across tons of ad sets. I think that would make a huge difference. Well, actually, it does make a difference in growth.

    Remi: So, for example, I'm testing, now, people that are interested in particular sports. So I have a set of stickers that are fitness based. For a protein shaker, squat rack, a flat bench. And using those images. Just holding them up, taking a picture of it, and then running those ads across people that are fitness enthusiasts.

    Remi: So that would be an ad set. Another one would be people that are bowling fans. I have a bowling pin sticker. Took a picture of that. And then, run the ads against people that are bowling fans. So it's creating tons of ads, and tons of variations, against tons of audiences. That, actually, it takes a lot of time. But, I think it's probably the most effective way for me to spend my time, to grow the business.

    Felix: I got it. I bet your Ads Manager must be cryptic. I'm imagining seeing a beautiful mind where there are just numbers floating everywhere and just all over the place. How do you keep it all organized? I'm sure you have a thousand things on there. How do you understand what you put into there? Because it sounds like there are so many slices of your audience that you try to break down. And so many different ads that you're testing beyond that.

    Remi: Yeah. So I hold everything at the ad set level. Especially for the audiences. At the campaign level, I just do more about what I'm driving towards, and it's conversion. At the ad set level is where I'm working on the audiences. So within the conversion based campaign, there are hundreds of them, audiences, that I'm working with. So like bowling fans, like fitness enthusiasts. Yeah, just tons of audiences within the ad sets. And they all stood out separately.

    Felix: I got you. Okay. And so, the last thing. Last question about the idea of focusing on your process. You mentioned that the processes take motivation out of the equation. Because there are just some days that you are not motivated at all to work on your business. What does this mean to you? What do you mean when you say the processes take motivation out of the equation?

    Remi: Man, that's a great question. All right. So, there's this book I read called The War of Art. And anyone listening, I highly recommend it. There this one section that talks about the professional. And it's, basically, the professional just gets up and does the work, no matter what. And that's the way I precede it. I just go with it.

    Remi: So there's processes or data, I don't want to do certain things. But I just consider myself like that book. Like the professional just gets up and does it. So, I agree. It's not really about motivation at that point. It's just, "This is what I need to do. To serve my customers as well. And to grow my business."

    Felix: I got it. Okay, makes sense. All right. So let's talk about the approach towards releasing new products. Do you actively try to... because you have so many SKUs, so many categories. And you also mentioned that you also have a day job which I want to touch in a bit in a second too.

    Felix: Is how do you make sure that you are not overwhelming yourself with all these new product releases? And then, of course, having to test them. And testing ads and validating them. How do you make sure that you are growing slow enough so that you're not driving yourself crazy?

    Remi: Yeah, that's a good one. It's all a process at that point. So, when I get at home, I have a five-hour window of exactly what I could work when I can work my business. And I set that time exactly how to do things that will move the business forward. So I'll spend an X amount of time on the audience, like Facebook Ads. And then, just see what's going on. Tweaking little things.

    Remi: Then, I spend the next few hours on, let's say, packing stickers. Next few hours are planning emails. So I, basically, schedule everything on my day when I come home. And this is when I cook, this is when I work out, this is when I do stuff for the business. I have that all, basically, planned out for the week and the weekend as well. Ultimately, it's just because I'm limited in time. Because I do have a day job, I have to get a minute to what I'm spending my time on.

    Felix: That makes sense, yeah. I just recently read this post about this concept of having a sacred time. Where you cannot do anything other than the 100% of the tasks that actually drive revenue for you. And it sounds like you've carved that out. And you show up. Like you were saying, you're the professional in your business. And it's interesting because a lot of people are professionals in their day jobs. And are willing to show up, even if they're not exactly motivated.

    Felix: But you can apply the same line of thinking towards showing up for your business. And I'll talk about this. So, again, we mentioned early on about how it's a multiple six-figure business. I know many people that come on this show, many people that I've spoken to, that quit their day job way before this point. You still have yours. What would make you go full-time into this business?

    Remi: It just comes down to the point where if I can no longer sustain my job and the business, then I would have to really consider the options. But, for now, it's to the point where I can still manage both. I really enjoy both. My day job's actually really interesting. I work with a team of people that are super smart. And they motivate me as well.

    Remi: And so, they got me thinking about audiences in a different way as well. So, we're talking about prospecting audiences. People that have never been to your site. And how you can, basically, find them. So with clients, I work with at my job, and the team I work with, we think about audiences like the internal audiences on your site. So people that went to your site, this specific action that didn't convert. You can create an audience pool based on them.

    Remi: So it's, basically, tagging your site super sophistically. So when people come to your site, you know exactly what they did. And you can remarket to people that did specific actions, but did not convert. So I'm just really motivated by both things. My job and my business. And they work well with each other, so...

    Felix: Yeah. I'm sure you're learning a ton of things at the job that you can apply in your business. And vice versa. And I feel like this is a very interesting dynamic that you must have at work. And I think it's also a goal that a lot of people want to get to. Where they're almost untouchable because they have multiple revenue sources. Not their day job, of course. But, then, you don't need your day job. Right? You are safe if something at works ever happened.

    Felix: But what is that like? I think a lot of people have this as a goal in mind. Where they want to get to a point where they can pick and choose what they do at work because they're not held at the mercy of requiring a paycheck. So I would love to hear your perspective on what that's been like. Since you do have a multiple six-figure business. And, of course, your day job.

    Remi: Yeah. It's an interesting dynamic. Because, yeah, that's one way to explain it. It's untouchable. But I feel a little different. It's more like I have the freedom to do, really, whatever I want. And because of the freedom, I intentionally chose to be here and to stay here, actually. I really like my team and I learn from them constantly. And they bring me a ton of value. And I bring them a ton of value as well. So that relationship's really interesting.

    Remi: The really good thing is it gives me the freedom to fail at work. I've always felt like I had that freedom. But, especially, when you have another job on the side, basically, I can get a little riskier of what I'm willing to do. Take things a little further with clients. And taking it to the next level. It's a higher risk. But these risks will pay out further for them as well. So, I guess, it's being less afraid to do things that are riskier? 

    Felix: Yeah, that makes sense. No, that makes total sense. I think you are going to be a better employee. You will perform better because you are, like you said, willing to take these bigger risks. Which will, typically, yield bigger rewards. And then, on top of that, you are probably making choices at work that are more aligned with what you truly want to do. And then, obviously, that makes you a happier employee. And actually, work on things that you care about.

    Felix: I think that's just, again, a goal a lot of people get to. But it's interesting to hear you talk about how you want to balance both for as long as possible. And a big part of that for you is because you are getting inherent value from... But, then, also it's just such a job that's so aligned with your business. Where you're learning things in that field that you can apply towards your business. And, again, vice versa. So that's cool.

    Felix: Okay. So let's talk about the releasing of new products. Because you have a lot right now. And it sounds like you're always constantly releasing products. So what is your process for determining what category, what products, to focus on next?

    Remi: Yeah. That was tough early on. But it's getting a little easier now. So, first, we wanted to find a group of products that just sell and drive revenue. So that we can, basically, make more stickers. Now, we're to the point where we have a little bit of everything. And, now, I'm basically... I look at my analytics and see what categories are doing really well. And the ones that are doing really well, what have I not made yet for them?

    Remi: So early on, it was the Comida Callejera stickers. Like the Latino foods. Once I knew that was working, I completely made stickers for every single category I could think of. And once that worked, I was willing to test other images. I think the next set was nature, like the flowers. Or the rose and the sunflower. I started getting a lot of messages saying, "Hey. Can you make a rose and sunflower?"

    Remi: Well, because I'm getting those messages I was willing to make this product. I made the product and it started selling. And then, I completely made almost every essential flower I could think of. And then, I started getting messages saying, "Hey. Can you make..." I think it was a taco truck. Saying, "Can you make taco truck stickers?" And then, that created a whole new category. And then, it was like, "Can you make coffee?" We made a whole new category.

    Remi: So when people started messaging us and leaving sticker ideas, submissions, that's when we're willing to look at what we currently have. And if we don't have it, we're willing to test it if we see a lot of those same messages. And that can open up a whole new category for us.

    Remi: The one, actually, we're working on now is, basically, a lot more animals. Animals and dinosaurs. Someone asked us, "Hey. Can you make a T-Rex sticker?" Basically, one person asked. And I was willing to test it. I made the sticker and that became one of our big hits. And from there, I just basically made all the really popular dinosaurs. Like the brontosaurus and yeah... I forgot what the other's one called.

    Felix: Yeah. I want to clarify this. So you're saying that the way that you release new products, you look at the categories that are performing well and you ask yourself, "What am I not? How else can I serve them? What else can I give them what they're asking for? Or that they may want?"

    Felix: So when you say category, do you want that category to have just one audience? Or do you expect that category to span multiple audiences? I think the part that confused me was, let's say, that someone asks for a food truck. A food truck could be in multiple cuisines. And I'm assuming that could mean multiple audiences. What do you define as a category?

    Remi: Yeah. So if you go to the site, every sticker falls into some kind of category. So a rose falls into a nature category. Tacos fall into the Comida Callejera. A flag falls into the flags category. That's the way I think of all the categories.

    Felix: Okay. But you're, typically, looking to build more products for just one type of audience? Or are you looking to build a product that can expand to multiple audiences?

    Remi: That's a tough one. It's, one, we have a decent following on Instagram. So I'll make the product, I post it on Instagram. And then, hopefully, the current fans like the sticker. And if they buy, then I know this is a good product. And then, I'll start running ads against it.

    Remi: So the thing is, since I have all these other stickers that are selling well. If I make a new product that flops, I'm okay with a loss. Because I'm willing to risk making new images. Constantly make new images to find ones that are going to be home runs.

    Felix: Got it. Okay, that makes sense. So touching on this a little bit more, you mentioned to us that the riches are in the niches. And it's much better to go deep into a category, which is what you're explaining now, than to go broad. And you mentioned this applies to the focus of the product.

    Felix: Like, in your case, you're focused on stickers. But someone could easily focus on t-shirts or pins. And, also, the content of the product itself. So, again, the content of the product itself, I think the example is just different designs, basically, of stickers.

    Felix: So talk to us about this more. When you are thinking about picking a niche, I think a lot of people are worried about picking the wrong one. I guess, what is your response to that? If someone is just really hesitant about moving forward because they're worried about investing their time or resources into quote, unquote the wrong niche.

    Remi: And by niche, you mean a product? Like pins versus t-shirts?

    Felix: Yeah, sure. I think that's definitely something I see a lot. Where you go to a site and they have lots of different types of products. So how do you decide which ones to go with first?

    Remi: Oh, man. If I'm recommending to someone, I would say don't make a product purely because another company is doing it really well. It's going to be incredibly hard. You have to tons of passion into it. So make a product that really... you know there's definitely an audience. Or you're just really excited about it.

    Remi: And then, really it's just constant testing iteration. As long as you have one or two products that are absolute home runs. That you know are going to sell constantly. From there, you should be willing to test new products. Take the profits from the ones that are home runs and try to find new home runs.

    Felix: And how deep do you go before you decide, "Okay. I hit the bottom that I'm willing to go. And I'm going to start branching into the right or the left"?

    Remi: Oh. For me, I didn't care too much about making a profit early on. I just wanted to constantly grow. So as soon as I made my money back, I make a new image. I told my designers, "Hey. I want a new one." So the bottom was as soon as I made enough profit to make a new image, it was basically that.

    Felix: Okay, got it. Okay. Let's talk about the actual design process. So you are not designing it yourself. You have a team of designers that are creating stickers for you?

    Remi: Yeah, a few designers. They specialize in a few different things. So one person focuses on, let's say, food. One of them is characters. One of them is cityscapes. So they all have their own specialties.

    Felix: Got it. And how did you find your designers?

    Remi: There's a website called Dribbble. So, D-R-I-B-B-B-L-E.com. And there's a ton of great designers on there. So all you've got to do is just message them. And then, negotiate a rate.

    Felix: What's your role in working with them? Do you have a background design? Or do you have an eye for design? How important is that? If you want to go down this route. But, maybe, you don't have any formal training on design. But you're looking to hire someone. Can you still get by, by just hiring someone? Or do you need to have some, I guess, guidance for them?

    Remi: So I have no formal training in design or artwork. I'm just a big fan of it. I've always been a fan of pop art. Like Roy Lichtenstein's kind of pop art. And so, I wanted to make stickers in that style. So I looked at Dribbble. Tried to search for keywords like pop art, or stuff like that.

    Remi: And I found a few designers that had a similar feel to what I thought would work. I reached out to them and then we worked out a deal. It just depends. There are so many designers out there. And Dribbble has just so many good ones. At that point, it's just finding the one that you think would draw your product the best way. That represents how you want your image to be.

    Remi: So, for example, my taco plate. The designer I work with, she made it really well. I saw her work, her profile, on her site had a ton of images. It didn't have a taco plate, though. But I thought that her style of images could work well for the taco that I was thinking about. So, again, it's just more about gut feel.

    Felix: Got it. So when you were going on Dribbble and you were messaging them, what is the... Talk to us about it. Because I think most people here are more familiar with other more generalized platforms like Upwork or Freelancers. Something like that. But Dribbble is specifically for designers. What is the typical, I guess, the process for... let's say you identified cool people. You're messaging them. What are you sending them initially? And how does the work begin, essentially?

    Remi: Yeah. So super early on, when I first started, I messaged a few. And there were a few really popular designers. A ton of followers on the site, tons of likes. I reached out to them and I was asking how much was the rate. Are you willing to work with me? Even though I don't have a site yet? Basically, all of them said, "No."

    Remi: So I had to find a few that are underappreciated. They don't have a ton of followers but their work is extremely good. So just reaching out to them. And saying, "Hey. I really love your images. I'm starting a business. What are your rates for, basically, a new design?"

    Remi: And, also, to protect yourself as a business owner, get a lawyer and get out a copyright agreement. So that when you do purchase these images, that you are the full owner of the images.

    Felix: And, usually, these designers are cool signing something like that?

     

    Remi: Yeah. Most of them are. If they're not willing to sign it, me personally, I would move away. Because that might cause some problems. Because legally, in the future, at that point, it's actually their images. You're just using it. So I don't want any miscommunication there. So I want to be able to own the actual images. And just, basically, trade, "Here's X amount for the images. But I want to own the images outright in the future."

    Felix: And do you look for a designer that's created art in the, I guess, category that you are looking to hire them for? Or is it more important to look for the design style? Or the aesthetic, I guess, that you're going for?

    Remi: Aesthetic. There's a lot of designers that are t-shirt based. But I think they can be stickers or pins. So I go with, in terms of ranking, it'd be aesthetic first. And then, look at the colorway. Some of them, they use colors that are not super vibrant and don't fit well with me.

    Remi: And then, they don't add... I don't know the exact terminology but like texture. Where it looks like they're shadowing the images. Things like that. So, one, make sure the images are just really good. From there, you can actually just get them to design in a way that fits your medium. So it could be stickers, or pins, or t-shirts.

    Felix: Okay, got it. And what direction do you give them once you hire someone? How much input do you give?

    Remi: So, I usually just give them... well, I guess, it depends on the designer. But if it's like food, I can just Google something and find a really good image and say, "Hey. Give me something close to this. I don't want the exact one." And, also, give them some additional references. Like, "Here's how we eat it. Here are some YouTube videos. Here's what I think should be on the image."

    Remi: Because like the tacos, I couldn't find a perfect image of tacos. So I provided a few examples saying, "Hey. I want tacos to look like this. But on a paper plate that looks like that. And in soft cups that look like this." So I just give them as much direction as you can.

    Felix: Got it. Now, let's talk about the design of your store, of your site itself. Is that done by you? Or did you hire for that one too?

    Remi: That was all me. So I, basically, found a theme. And then, put it on a Shopify site. And then, tailored that more towards my style. Like the colors, the logos, the wording. All that.

    Felix: Cool. Do you remember the theme that you chose for your site?

    Remi: I think it's Empire.

     

    Felix: And what about what applications you use? Are there any apps that you use that you recommend others check out?

    Remi: Yes, definitely. So there's a few I think are really good. So I've heard from your podcast that someone else recommended it. It's called Judge.me. That's probably my favorite reviews one. So, these are for reviews. And you can, basically, request reviews as well.

    Remi: LoyaltyLion, if you're willing to make a loyal customer base. So once they buy products or do certain actions, you give them more points. You incentivize them to buy more. And gain inside that process.

    Remi: Another one is Orderify. So Orderify allows users to basically edit their order after they make a purchase. So they don't have to contact you to make any changes.

    Remi: And then, lastly, it's not an actual app. But it's a platform. So Klaviyo, the email-based platform. So that one, basically, once you use the plugin on your site, it starts tagging your site. So you can start creating very specific audiences. And remarket email to them.

    Felix: Awesome. Awesome. Okay. So thank you so much, Remi. So blanktag.co is the website. I'll leave you with this last question. What needs to happen this year for you to consider the year a success?

    Remi: Man, that's a tough one. So the benchmarks we set for ourselves is 750 SKUs on the site. So just tons of stickers. And we really just judge our success metric is really just how many happy customers are there? And we judge that based on reviews. So, as long as we get above 4.95 on our site over the year in stars, then I'm happy.

    Felix: Yeah. So far, as of today, there are almost 500 reviews. It looks like it's an average of five stars. At least five stars. So, yeah. So really appreciate you coming on. Remi, again, thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Remi: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

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