Building Letter W

I am starting a new side/passion project. Building a brand and store around my photography. This post is going to walk you through how it started and bootstrapped to the first sales.

Background

Photography is something I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember. It was a hobby that was taken a little too seriously. Investments in camera equipment, being fanatical about organizing and storing images, and constantly having a camera with me.

This has resulted in having a large archive of photos from years and years of learning and travel.

I have made some money with photography to keep the investments justified (in my head at least). Being paid to take photographs at functions and selling images through RedBubble and Society6.

This new project will be about formalizing everything, building an actual brand around the photography, and setting up a passive income if I’m lucky.

Getting Started.

This project started with how most of my projects start, finding a domain name. The domain name will be the brand. It will be how people find it. You need to come up with a name based on what’s available for a domain. It wouldn’t do any good to decide on a name then find the domain names and social media accounts are already taken.

I use Hover for domain registration, so let’s start there. After a few searches I decided on Letter W Photography or just Letter W and bought the domain www.letterw.co.

I next went to Instagram and registered the username letterw.co. Instagram seems like the best platform for promoting photography and it’s one I rarely use. It’s a bonus learning opportunity.

Total Investment: $25.99

Next it was time to build an actual store front to sell the photography. I am using a combination of Gumroad and Printful. Both are services I’ve used in the past, and both I would highly recommend.

Gumroad let’s you get started with no money upfront. I was able to register my user name, Letter W, and get a basic site up and running. For the time being, I am just forwarding the domain name to Gumroad. I may upgrade to the paid version of Gumroad in the future, but no need to start there.

Total Investment: $25.99

Next I needed to add some product to the shop. Printful is a print on demand service that has some really great built in features. And being print on demand, I don’t pay anything until a product is sold. They handle the production and shipping. It is completely passive for me.

Printful has direct integration with Gumroad, so that every time there is a sale on Gumroad, Printful is automatically notified and begins fulfilling the order.

The next great feature of Printful is the mockup generator. Using the mockup generator I was able to create different products from my photographs that are ready to display on Gumroad. I made a few product mockups and added them to Gumroad.

In Gumroad, I add pricing, description, and shipping. Then it syncs back to Printful and the site is finished.

Total Investment: $25.99

The entire project took a few hours spread over a couple days.

Future Plans

I would like to build a more robust web presence for Letter W. Have the website actually hosted on the domain name and be able to add more products. I have a few option I am considering.

  1. Upgrade Gumroad and continue using that platform with upgrade features.
  2. Move to a WordPress and WooCommerce set up. This would be the most customizable and feature rich option. It would also take the most amount of work.
  3. Move to Shopify, a proven ecommerce solution. This would be the most expensive option.
  4. Move to BigCartel. Another e-commerce solution popular with independent artists and very affordable.

I am leaning towards BigCartel. It is a platform I have always been interested in, but have yet to have a reason to use it. This side project seems like a good opportunity to learn.

This would of course cost extra money and I don’t plan on investing more money until Letter W is able to pay for itself from sales. Keeping this simple and bootstrapped.

There are many other products that Printful is able to handle. I currently only using it for basic photography prints. I would like to expand to iPhone cases, bags, and maybe a few others. A better website is needed before I have too many product options though.

Wrap Up

This entire project so far has cost me $25.99 for the domain renewal and a few hours of my time. I am happy with how it turned out.

If you have any questions about the project, send me a message on Twitter or Instagram. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Some of the links in this post are affiliates to the services I used. A small incentive is provided if you sign up using the links.

Want to discuss? Message me on Twitter (@swoicik) or at stephen [at] woicik.me

Sunday Conversations

Every other Sunday, I send an email about interesting topics to discuss and think about. Enter your email below to be included in the conversation.