Well hello, my Brilliant Business Moms friend!
I'm so excited that you're joining me for another episode of the podcast. I don't take for granted that you're spending your precious time with me. I feel so lucky!
Today I'm talking with Ashley Monda of Sunshine Sticker Co. I have known Ashley for quite a few years in the online business space, and I've watched her grow this business from the ground up.
Ashley started Sunshine Sticker Co. in 2015 and is currently making a steady income from it!
She has had such incredible focus: She hasn't veered off course, she knows who her customers are, and she serves them by continually creating and giving them all the planner products that they want!
Ashley has used her Facebook group to build really strong relationships with her customers and earn more sales in the process. You're going to love hearing about that, because Ashley didn't have to build up a beast of a Facebook group to see results! Her group has about 3,200 members and is the lifeblood of her business.
I just love her focus on taking care of her customers. We all know that is the very best way to build your business. So let's dive in!
Press Play on the Podcast Player below to hear Annie’s story.
Staking a Claim in the Planner Sticker Niche
Sunshine Sticker Co. was born in 2015, after Ashley organically stumbled across the planner sticker marketplace and community on Instagram. She started the company with another Brilliant Business Mom, but after a few months they decided to part ways.
“I was like, ‘I can make planner stickers, I can do this!’ And I feel really blessed to have gotten in when I did, because it's blown up so huge now,” Ashley says.
Ashley Shares Foolproof Instagram Strategies and Hashtag Hacks
Ashley posted consistently on Instagram during the early days of her business, when it was much easier to be seen by her audience.
She tries not to overpost about her own products, but also mixes in other people's products that she uses.
Ashley's lifestyle posts tend to perform a lot better, because she lets her audience see her personality, what she believes in, and just how she rolls! She gets the best interaction and connection with her customers this way, too.
Ashley finds that she's able to draw in new viewers with the hashtags she uses! She has two sets of hashtags, one for her regular Sunshine Sticker Co. posts and another for bullet journaling posts.
She uses a keyboard shortcut to automatically populate all of her preferred hashtags! (This is brilliant!)
Sometimes she'll switch things up by deleting a couple or replacing a couple just to keep things fresh.
Using hashtags on IG Stories has helped boost Ashley's views there too. She tested this out during a promotion she was running, and the IG Stories that she used hashtags on had a couple hundred more views than her regular IG Stories!
(Instagram hack: Put hashtags on your story and then cover them with a cute GIF!)
Fun Promotions Are a Great Incentive to Buy
Ashley likes to run fun promotions for her customers, because she's noticed offering an incentive to purchase increases her sales. A couple weeks ago, she offered a free “It's a Planner Thing, You Wouldn't Understand” pinback button with purchase. It's so cute and it makes sense because it's such a perfect fit for her audience!
I think sometimes people tend to overanalyze the scarcity factor and think they need to do something fancy or a big sale.
But I love that Ashley just did a fun free gift that was so on point for her customers and — BOOM —they rushed over to buy because they really wanted to get their hands on the free gift!
Know What Your Product is Worth and Price Appropriately
Ashley has learned that pricing her products appropriately (not too low!) lets people know that she values her product and knows what it's worth. She credits this approach with how she has retained her customers.
“I'm literally the only person in here from start to finish. I'm making every single thing, and so when I offer you a 30 percent discount, that's 30 percent off of what I'm paying myself!” Ashley says.
Instead of offering a lot of sales, Ashley uses a Shopify app called Smile.io to give rewards points to her customers.
They can earn points for every dollar they spend at Sunshine Sticker Co., following Ashley on social media, reviewing a product, and sharing things on Facebook. You can even earn points for your birthday!
I love Ashley's system because her customers get rewarded for doing things that build up her following.
Currently, Ashley has 772 members signed up for her rewards program!
Ashley Uses Her Facebook Group to Connect with Customers
Ashley says the best place to connect with her is in the Sunshine Sticker Co. Facebook group, which has about 3,200 members.
She loves to interact with her fans there and engage in fun conversations, encouraging posts, and lots of creativity. (Insider tip: This is where Ashley shares what she's working on, too!)
“I love my Facebook group, they're just so awesome,” Ashley says. “You can post something and get instant feedback on something you're working on or build excitement right away because people are always there no matter what time of day. There's always somebody up in the world somewhere!”
Ashley started her Facebook group when they were starting to become popular in the planner community. To build up the group, she invited her Instagram followers to join and also did a couple joint giveaways with some of her planner community peers.
(They shared about Ashley's group inside THEIR Facebook groups! Hello, brilliant way to earn new group members!) Ashley found this approach to be really effective!
I love hearing that Ashley's group is so active and vibrant! I think that's encouraging for my podcast listeners, because you don't have to build up a ridiculously massive Facebook group to be successful.
Treating Customers Like Friends Builds Community + Sales
Whether it's a promo, a funny anecdote, or a giveaway, Ashley posts in her Facebook group every day. She's found that treating her customers like friends and sharing life with them has made the community so special.
Consistency and commitment are so important to business growth, and Ashley's group is working because she's showing up there and building those relationships with her customers.
“They know when they purchase from me, my hands are on it from start to finish and their order makes a significant impact in my life and my kids' life and my family's life. It's just more meaningful, and I want them to know how much I appreciate that,” Ashley says.
I love that! When I'm thinking about a product that I need in my life, I think, “Who are all the awesome shop owners that I love to buy from and would they have what I'm looking for?”
I always think about those people first because they feel like friends, right? You get to know who they are! That's the secret sauce that a big company can never have.
Partnering with Other Business Owners Builds Customer Confidence
Ashley partners with other planner-related business owners to build relationships and to support them in their craft.
Purchasing and sharing another company's product or doing a collaboration on a product is so huge. Not only do you build up a rapport with each other, you give confidence to your audience that you're promoting each other's quality products.
“It's just so important to share other handmade business owners. Everybody works so hard and they're so amazing at their craft, especially all the people that draw their own stickers. I only do that a little bit, and I'm just like, ‘Holy moly, I don't know how you do that all the time!'” Ashley says.
Ashley has worked out a deal with a few companies where they buy something from each other each month. If it's a product she can't use, she'll use it as a giveaway in her Facebook group to give back to the people who support her.
I love that Ashley cheers her community on instead of competing with it. People can be so weird about the whole online competition thing, when in reality, there's enough room for everyone!
Staying Organized Helps Ashley Stay on Top of Her Business
Ashley does all the order fulfillment herself, and she has a LOT of products in her shop! I'm amazed at how she keeps track of it all!
To keep inventory organized, Ashley assigns a serial number to each sticker set and stores them in plastic bins with dividers.
She keeps 5-6 of each sticker sheet in stock to make them easier to pull.
To keep all of her digital files in order, Ashley uses Dropbox.
Ashley says serial numbers also make customer service easier. If a customer messages Ashley with a question about their order, she can ask for the serial number and help that customer quickly and efficiently.
Ashley uses Etsy + Shopify to Reach Her Audience and Generate Sales
Right now, 60 percent of Ashley's sales come from Shopify and 40 percent come from Etsy.
When Ashley promotes her products, she typically shares her Shopify link, because she makes more money there. But she sees the convenience of having an Etsy shop, too.
So when people ask her, “Shopify or Etsy?” her answer is, “Both!”
Ashley Outsources Tasks So She Can Focus on Her Designs
At the beginning of this year, Ashley spent 2 weeks just hammering out new designs.
A new sticker design is typically released every Friday, and Ashley puts out a mini kit on Mondays. She tries really hard to stay at least a month ahead of schedule, but sometimes that doesn't always happen!
“I try to give myself grace when I fall behind by my standards,” she says.
Another thing Ashley did this year was invest in people that can help her, because she’s too busy to do everything herself.
She hired someone to help her cut stickers, employed someone to do a lot of the product listings (she says that has been absolutely priceless), and outsourced her bookkeeping.
It can be a big step for a business owner to hire outside help. It's also an extra expense! But Ashley has found that her revenue is higher this year because she has focused on putting out quality products and designs.
It has also saved her sanity and helped her be a better mom, because she's not stressing about little details while she's at home with her kids.
Knowing that the details of her business are done right and done by someone Ashley trusts is amazing. To her, it's so much more rewarding than taking home $200 more a month!
Giving away tasks that felt overwhelming to Ashley actually helped her get ahead! It has freed up so many hours for her to be able to focus on her main job: Creating designs.
Connect with Ashley
And in case you were wondering, Ashley designed the Brilliant Business Moms stickers!
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I love Ashley's focus on serving her customers, taking care of them, using that Facebook group to let them know about new products, and just becoming friends with her customers.
Now, Ashley is kind of a beast when it comes to releasing new products. I mean she releases new designs every single week. She is so focused and just amazing at what she does!
If you don't have the margin to release new designs every week, but you would love to build more excitement around your design releases, your product releases, or even your digital product, I've created a Brilliant Marketing Plan that'll show you all the steps you need to take.
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