Chris from MyBadgeApp had a day to day job but decided to plunge onto making a side eBay business for some extra cash, starting from purchasing a £100 badge maker and some tough work, he now has over 30,000 total sales. Ranging from nearly every type of button design available Chris runs a successful eCommerce business. He made his eBay store in 2005 but didn’t actively use it for his MyBadgeApp business until 2012 to the point where he takes 1000 orders a month easily.
Some thoughts from the interview
“It was by accident really. I started on eBay just trying to supplement my income when I was working full time selling odds and ends”
“It started off by popping into the pound shops and having a look to see if there was anything on the shelves that looked more than a pound but that was just for a tiny bit of pocket money really.”
“My wife suggested why don’t you start making something because the overheads are a lot cheaper than buying ready made products. So I got thinking all about what would be something fairly cheap to make, also cheap to sell but if you sell enough of them would actually turn a fairly healthy profit. So I came up with the idea of selling badges.”
“I purchased a badge making machine for £100, a few bits and pieces to make them and started off quite small. I would come home from work and do an hours work after getting home.”
“Month on month it was getting busier and busier. I added a few more extra things such as key rings and fridge magnets and photo clocks and such like. Eventually it got too busy to do the two jobs side by side so I took it on as a full time job.”
“I do it all myself. Just by pure luck I think it has managed to get to a stage where I have always been chasing the hours in the day and whenever it has got to a point where it looks like I don’t have enough time to do it by myself I have always found a way of time saving. So, I have managed to keep it just me at the moment. But from an hour a day it now is roughly half 7 in the morning to 5 o’clock in the evening 5 days a week and a little bit at the weekend.”
“I didn’t actually start doing this particular business until the start of 2012.”
“I was a standalone job since May 2013. I have doing this as a job for about 2 years now.”
“I’ve tried not to be too broad because once it gets to a certain stage it would get too confusing for people to choose a design or actually look what they want. I have found some of the eBay shops are too big and I don’t know what they are selling because there is too much going on. So I have tried to stay within certain categories and expand within those categories.”
“It is supposed to be quite a quick process going on to eBay and buying a badge because if you spend all your time trying to look for what you are looking for you might give up in the end. I have tried to keep it simple.”
“I have looked at Amazon and I have had offers of people to build a website. I did dabble with the website when I first started but I found that it was getting next to no attention although that may have been down to me not advertising all that much. I thought to myself that if I were to go on to the internet and want to spend £1 or £1.50 on a pin badge I wouldn’t want to spend all day trawling Google for that I would just go straight to eBay. So at the moment that is still the only place I sell but it has been good to me so far so I haven’t had any major urge to change that yet.”
“No there is not a lot of returns. Mainly if I get anything back it is because someone has bought by mistake or changed their mind it is not really a case that they have received it and they don’t like it. If there is ever a problem if it doesn’t arrive or it gets lost in mail and things gat damaged in the mail occasionally although not too much with these items as they are so small, it’s really hard to damage them in the mail. If they contact me I always send out a free replacement or a refund anyway so it’s just a case of making sure that their happy because it’s really not worth arguing over something which has cost £2 as the feedback is much more important than a couple of quid here or there.”
“I have got a Facebook page, there is a link on the flyers that go out with every product to have a look at it. I have found that it is mainly friends or friends of friends who have liked the page. I haven’t got anything on twitter but that is just because I am not a twitter person. There is a social web shop type of thing on the Facebook page so they can buy straight from the Facebook page though I have not found any way of finding how successful that is.”
“To be perfectly honest with you it just kind of happened. I think that having been a member on eBay 7 years previously to when I started the business, I had used it just purely to buy odds and ends that you couldn’t find in the shop or selling random things from the house to make some extra money or clear space. It wasn’t something that I had seen myself of going into full time it kind of just happened by itself. If it hadn’t have taken off and it had all sort of fizzled out I wouldn’t have been back at the start, I wouldn’t have been totally disheartened as I hadn’t expected it to take off as it has. Now it is the main source of income so it is very important.”
“I like the ecommerce side of things I think that is important obviously it is the way it is going but I do tend to keep one foot in the real world and visit actual physical shop too and see what they are selling and to offer them some of the products too.”
“The orders are coming in 24 hours a day not just from the UK but the around the world anyway. So trying to make sure that balancing my own time which is important with the time that I spend on the business is the number one thing because it is very easy to let it run out of control.”
“If you want to go away for a couple of days you must make sure that you either close the shop or make people aware that you are not there or plan ahead for when you get back.”
“If you don’t plan you time very well, things will go out late, people won’t be very happy and you will spend most of your day answering complaint emails.”
“I have looked at other things and I have dabbled in other bits of pieces.”
“It is always going through my mind trying to think of new things but it would have to be something to work around my current job.”
“It’s hard to tell how busy you are going to be, so taking on other people isn’t necessarily something that I would be 100% comfortable doing because I couldn’t guarantee how busy they would be or how much money I would have set aside to pay them.”
Best advice: “Don’t necessarily expect it to work as I didn’t have a plan from the beginning, there is a certain amount of luck involved. To start with don’t try and make tons of money from the outset because it is not going to happen. Be prepared to be looking at something that is quite small and not necessarily that profitable to begin with. If people like it they will start coming in in trickles if it is successful enough it will work. Not to try it for a couple of months and give up because it looks like it isn’t working. Not to throw too much money at it to begin with.”
What do they offer?
MyBadgeApp offers a huge selection of 25mm (1 inch) button badges or design your own custom badges. As well as badges MyBadgeApp also offers a range of fridge magnets, key rings, clocks and stickers.
How to contact MyBadgeApp!
Check out my list of resources, free tools and great advice: Resources Here
I offer strategic consultations for your own eCommerce business: Consultation Here