How to Start & Run a Successful Subscription Business From Home
Sponsored by Cratejoy
Subscription boxes have been growing in popularity over the last year, with both consumers and small or home business owners, for a while now. The end of 2015 saw a rapid increase in overall interest: Individuals starting, buying and talking about subscription commerce as a new and exciting way of doing business.
So what makes subscription boxes a good idea for you?
Think of it this way: One of the reasons subscription boxes are so popular is that it feels like a little surprise gift — from yourself, to yourself — every month. You know you’ll like the stuff, since you signed up for the subscription, but you also get the experience of opening it up every month.
If you like the idea sending yourself a little gift from the future every now and then, you probably have some great ideas for what would suit you perfectly all lined up and ready to go. The great thing about starting a subscription business is that you already know your audience, and it can be as small as you want and still see a profit, if you price and present it right:
Thanks to the internet and modern technology, you don’t have to need a billion-dollar idea to make money as a subscription box merchant.
You just have to know what you like.
For example, my stepmother has been a career nurse and hospital administrator for nearly thirty years. To instantly make her into a subscriber, I would design a box to serve her value not just as a nurse, but as a sophisticated and appreciated individual: Something the world tends to forget.
I would pack it with comfort necessities like gel insoles and pain relief samples, and humorous stickers or magnets, but then I’d balance that crate out with more urbane treats like exotic teabags, reading supplies like bookmarks or gadgets, and travel-related knickknacks.
Boom, that’s a box.
FINDING YOUR NICHE
Nurses would love what it says about them, and those of us who love the nurses in our lives would love to show appreciation for the whole person. That shows we recognize them as very special, unique people.
Identifying an underserved community, or reaching them in a new way or a way that plays against stereotypes or assumptions, has given many of the most successful subscription boxes, like Fandom of the Month and BattleBox, all their popularity.
Fandom of the Month is for women who are geeks, and love the jewelry and treats from their favorite geeky brands. The Butter Box caters specifically to bath-and-body enthusiasts who love food flavors like sugar, vanilla and chocolate. Cruelty Free For You & Me delivers a high-value mix of vegan, natural pet and beauty products. In all these cases, the market seems obvious after the fact, because all it took was one smart merchant to prove the point.
STACKING THE DECK: PRE-LAUNCH
By getting the word out early, you can get people onboard before you’ve laid out a single cent. When you’ve had your great idea and can’t wait to get started, waiting for subscribers can be the toughest part. But if you do the work of finding them and getting them all stirred up ahead of time, you can cut down on that stress and use that time rather than just waiting on orders to roll in.
Subscription commerce is one of the lowest-risk home businesses we can start, since you have time to grow an audience and still make a profit from the start. That means the more effort you put in before officially launching, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Plus, it gives you a better estimate of your needs before you even start looking for products to stock your crates with, which can help when you have to put your “buyer” hat on and start making deals with suppliers.
SUBSCRIPTION MERCHANT: THE PERFECT FIT?
There is a bit more to subscription commerce than with some other side or home jobs — although not as much as you might think, thanks to companies like Cratejoy, where I work, and free apps and sites online that can help ease the way.
We make it easy for you to create a storefront, manage customer accounts and transactions, and even enable you to purchase and print postage from within our platform. This last year, we’ve gone a step further and started helping merchants find subscribers through our new marketplace.
That means the fun part is all you really have to focus on: Deciding what goes in your box this month, and making connections with all your subscribers as your business grows. This means you’ll have the chance to stretch the muscles you choose, depending on how you want to work or how large you want to grow. Ultimately, subscription boxes could be a great way to make quick money from home if you…
- want a creative outlet for your skill at curating and finding cool or beautiful things
- have a skillset that differs or transcends the “sell from home” category
- love the idea of sending a stranger a little pen-pal letter, full of tastes and smells and even durable art — objects people might keep in their homes for years
- want to develop marketing, design and logistics skills in a low-risk setting
- are looking for a business that can be quickly tested and validated without excessive upfront costs
- want to operate a lifestyle business that provides a sustainable income
One thing you don’t need to worry about is a drain on your time or finances: Since you can do all your pricing and planning ahead of time. Cratejoy has a great tool, the Subscription Box Calculator, if you’d like to see how easy it can be, but think about it this way:
If in that first month you only have to source products for 100 subscribers, you can put your profit into infrastructure, design and other one-time costs. Then, as the business grows, you you can improve on churn, get better bulk pricing for products, and so on. The recurring aspect of it makes it the perfect choice for home business – as it grows, the business becomes easier, more profitable, and less time consuming.
While the initial outlay and time management are negligible for starting a subscription business, the rapid growth that’s possible can come with its own challenges: Finding a place to store your stock once the orders outgrow your workspace is the most common complaint. But any of us would count ourselves lucky if the problem with our side job became too much demand, and frankly, there are tons of fulfillment companies that accommodate subscription services.
If you’re considering jumping into the subscription space, here’s the best way to get started:
- For a great roadmap full of tips, takeaways and inspiration, check out how this merchant went from $0 to $50,000 in revenue in just six months
- Check out the “The Right Way to Start a Subscription Business” webinar, one of the great resources available at Subscription School
- Start a Free Trial at Cratejoy to start getting familiar with the resources available to help your subscription business succeed
Work on finding Your First 25 Subscribers and locking them down.
This post was sponsored and written by Cratejoy. Please be aware that we can only promote advertising from companies that we feel we can legitimately recommend to our readers.