12. How to get to the 10,000 tier through outsourcing with Daniel Caudill

How to get to the 10,000 tier through outsourcing with Daniel Caudill. Learn more about Daniel’s process in his Merch by Amazon Advanced Strategies course HERE.

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Elaine: This is the Merch Entrepreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Elaine Heney, and today we have a very exciting guest. Daniel, welcome.
Daniel: Thank you for having me.
Elaine: No, I’m very excited actually. First of all, I have to say that back in February of this year, so over half a year ago, I was just starting out in t-shirts and I was trying to figure it all out. I had a coaching call with Daniel, who at that stage, I think had been doing t-shirts for 4 or 5 months or something, which was really helpful. First of all, Daniel, I want to say thank you for helping me out then.
Yeah, I guess for the people listening, where are you from and what were you doing before you started Merch by Amazon?
Daniel: I’m from Northwest North Carolina, here in the foothills of Appalachia. What I was doing before I got into Merch was actually selling FBA, or selling on Amazon through their Fulfillment by Amazon program. I had been doing that for approximately, well I want to say about 2 years I guess at that point, if I’m not mistaken. I had been familiarized with Amazon throughout that process. The process switching over to Merch by Amazon was an easy one.
Elaine: When did you actually get started with Merch? Were you one of the first people in, back in the day?
Daniel: Yeah, I would say I was one of the first, relatively. I got started, I think November 8th, maybe, of last year. I just recently hit my 1 year anniversary of being on the platform.
Elaine: Ah, congratulations.
Daniel: Yeah, so I got in before you had to have an application and all that. I had my account as soon as I logged in. That was really a great opportunity there.
Elaine: Yeah, that was definitely a lot different to how it is now. It’s a lot trickier now. I know it’s hard to have patience when you have to wait so long just to get into the system. Actually, out of curiosity, what tier are you on at the moment? People start off at the 25 tier.
Daniel: Right now I’m at 10,000.
Elaine: Oh my God.
Daniel: Yeah, it’s actually it should be higher than that, according to what my understanding is of when you get tiered up, but I haven’t been tiered up in probably over 2 months, nearly 3 now. I think I would be applicable for a 16,000 tier if they had one.
Elaine: Oh my God. Have you heard of anyone that’s been tiered up over 10,000, or do you think there’s a cap on it?
Daniel: I haven’t. I actually haven’t heard of anyone else being at 10,000, so I’m not sure if they only make rare exceptions, or maybe it’s just I’m one of the ones that have made it known that they’ve sold that many t-shirts. I’m not sure.
Elaine: Oh yeah, because it would be good, obviously, if you could keep, as you sell more t-shirts, keep tiering up the whole way and really expand it. I guess fingers cross that when they start tiering up again, because I think it’s stuck. It’s definitely been stuck for a month and a half anyway, for me and for some other people. Hopefully they’ll do another tier up again before Christmas.
Daniel: Yeah, for sure. That’s definitely important, when you are at a lower tier, definitely. When you’re up in the range where I’m at right now, I’m having a little bit of difficulty keeping that many shirts in there, especially with the new 60 day removal process. That’s making it a little more difficult, but I’m up for a challenge.
Elaine: That’s good. Did you end up with many of your t-shirts due to be deleted after the 60 days?
Daniel: Well, [inaudible 00:04:04]. I counted them all, the ones that were supposed to be deleted yesterday actually, was the day. I had approximately 3,000 that was going to be deleted, which seems like a lot, but that’s less than half. They were supposed to be deleted, but what actually ended up happening is I only had about 700 deleted. The others are still there saying pending removal. I’m not sure. Maybe they’re like, I heard someone on a Facebook group earlier say it’s sort of like the pardoned turkey on Thanksgiving. Maybe that’s what going on.
Elaine: Yeah, it’s a bit strange, right? They’ve deleted a few of mine but most of them are still there. I’m not too sure. I’m sure they’ll get around to it eventually. We’ll just wake up and we’ll be wiped out, you know?
I guess with so many t-shirts up, do you spend much time every day on Merch to kind of keep the whole thing on the road and keep uploading t-shirts and finding designs?
Daniel: Well actually, I’ve hired my future brother in law to do my posting. He, right now, especially if I give him a good goal to work towards, he can post up to 3 or 4 hundred a day for me. That really helps me be a little hands off on that side of things, but I do have a lot of other things I work on, sort of background stuff that’s necessary. I work on that stuff on pretty much a daily basis.
Elaine: I guess your 1 disadvantage to Merch, because it’s so new, is that we only have 1 login to the account, so you can’t set up a separate login with limited rights for a VA or something. You’re really lucky that your brother in law can help you out. Do you think it could be a good idea for people to try to go faster to try to get a VA, or something like that, to help with uploading? Do you think it’s something people should outsource if they can?
Daniel: If they can, I think it’s a good idea. I would be, since the beginning I’ve been very, very leery of using anyone that I don’t know, because you are having to give them your account details. When I created my Merch account, I created it on the account that is my FBA account as well. If I gave them the login to that, they would also have the login to my FBA account. It’s just a lot of things there that I didn’t want to complete.
I actually bought him a laptop specifically for the posting process. I bought him the fastest one I could find. It’s actually, it’s touch screen too, so he actually has a process where he goes through and uses the touch screen and the keyboard, and he can fly through. He can get a design posted in about 52 seconds, so he’s pretty awesome at that.
Elaine: Oh my God, that’s crazy. How does the touch pad make it faster? I think my fastest is like 2 minutes or something.
Daniel: Yeah, well the screen being touch screen really helps because he has some keyboard shortcuts he uses for some things, but then also he can just use his right hand to slap the buttons basically, and use his left hand to paste in information and all. He can just fly through it. I’m not entirely sure how he does it. I know I couldn’t do that. He’s one of those type of people who, when he puts his mind to figuring something out, he really, really figures it out. That’s a benefit as well.
Elaine: Oh my God. He sounds like an absolute machine. Does he have brothers or sisters?
Daniel: Yeah, well, I’m hoping one day to take a video of him doing the process so I can upload it and just show people just how awesome he is at doing what he does.
Elaine: Wow, that is amazing. I guess, so if he’s doing all the uploading, do you spend, is this a full time job for you?
Daniel: I have a software on my computer called Rescue Time. It actually monitors all of my activity on my computer, so I get a report at the end of the week saying that I spent, say, 3 hours on Facebook, 2 hours in Microsoft Excel, et cetera, et cetera. I can look at that on a broader view.
The other day, I guess it was about 2 weeks ago actually, I looked for the past, since January 1st, I had only spent a total, and this was being generous because I added in things like my email, which isn’t all used for Merch. I spent a total of about 406 hours since January 1st. I think that averaged out to less than 10 hours a week that I spend on it personally. Thankfully I have a lot of outsourcing processes for a lot of the minute time consuming details, and so I can sort of work on running the business.
Elaine: Wow, 10 hours a week is fantastic. You mentioned there that you outsource. What other, do you have any other team members aside from your brother in law who’s doing the uploading? Do you have artists doing work?
Daniel: Yeah, the primary thing that I outsource is the designs. I have no knowledge of how to use Photo Shop or anything like that. I outsource that completely. Ever since the beginning I’ve outsourced it because I didn’t really have a desire to learn. I’m not a very artistic person. I outsource that entire process, so that saves me a lot of time.
Elaine: Oh my God, yeah that’s really good. Definitely it can be daunting if people want to start but they might think they need to be a graphic designer or have that kind of background. It’s really good to hear that it’s not something that you need.
I’m curious actually, are there any kind of apps that you use, or particular types of softwares or trackers that you use to … well I guess you don’t create the designs yourself, but maybe like track things?
Daniel: I actually don’t. Everything that I do is fairly simplified, pretty straightforward. I’m trying to get caught up on, I’ve seen some really cool tools come out and all, but then I think about it in terms of, will this actually make me money. If the answer’s no, then I’ve not used it. I don’t have one Chrome extension that relates to Merch directly, and I know there’s a few out. That’s nothing against them specifically. It’s just they don’t really help me in my process because I have my process already laid out.
I actually don’t. The only tools really I use is Google Drive. That’s the major tool anyway. There’s a couple minor things that help me along to make some things easier, like with outsourcing and things like that. Just as a whole, Google Drive is about it.
Elaine: Okay, do you not even have the ca-ching sound on your computer when you tell a t-shirt?
Daniel: I don’t.
Elaine: Oh my God.
Daniel: It would drive me crazy. Right now I’m sitting on about 600 sold this week, so I would be forever distracted.
Elaine: Yeah, you’d probably want to turn it off at that stage. That’s serious. I would enjoy it though if I was selling 600 a week. I would have it on just for a day. I’d just listen to it. Then I’d get annoyed and turn it off.
Daniel: Yeah, yeah.
Elaine: Oh, that’s really funny. What was the one thing that’s helped you with Merch?
Daniel: The one thing, well definitely being introduced to Merch in the beginning was a big help. I can thank Chris Green for that. Really, learning how to outsource has been my biggest asset. Just learning how to outsource, really. Prior to working with Merch, I really was never even aware that you could go onto a site like Fiverr.com and get somebody to do a design for you for $5, or just about anything you can think of, you can get somebody to do it for you, as long as it’s accessible through the internet. I think that’s awesome. I never had any clue about that prior to last November. Now that I’ve learned how to do that and learned how to truly take advantage of that, that’s probably been my biggest asset overall.
Elaine: Daniel, back when I was starting off, we had a chat together. One of the really strong points that you mentioned today is how you built up your outsourcing team and the VAs that you use, or the designers and the whole system that you set up, because like you said you haven’t actually created or designed 1 t-shirt. You outsource everything, and how you keep it all tracked. If you’re in the 10,000 tier, that’s just thousands and thousands of t-shirts. I found that information really useful, because there’s very few people, I think, now that have actually got so far so quickly.

Do you have, I don’t think you’re doing your consulting anymore, but is there anywhere that people could go if they wanted to literally learn from an outsourcing pro in terms of how to get set up doing t-shirts? If they’re getting tiered up to the bigger tiers, and they want to actually set up a proper system and do it properly?

Daniel: Yeah, definitely. Me and my buddy Dave Espino put together a course. It’s, like you said, I did use to offer a consulting. It was an hour and a half, hour, hour and a half, where I would just go through absolutely everything that I knew in that one session. Everything that got me to the point that I was at. I wanted to put that into a course so that it would be more easily accessible.

I contacted Dave, he’s a friend of mine who actually has been making courses since the 90s, if I’m not mistaken. He used to make a lot of things about Ebay. I contacted him and we put it together where it’s everything that was in my consulting, and then a little bit more in terms of, there’s actual spreadsheets and stuff. Stuff that I use that you can actually see exactly what I use, and you can use it yourself.

There’s lots of stuff wrapped into that. That was really great to put together. That’s something that I think could be a strong to asset to anyone. Of course, I can’t guarantee any results from it, but I think you might would be willing to speak to the fact that some of the things that I teach are, or some of the things that I show, that I don’t actually leave anything out. That I taught everything that I did. Basically I lay out the ingredients, and it’s just a matter of putting them together and baking them.

We have that, and then also we have a Facebook group. Dave and me run a Facebook group, Merch by Amazon Success. Anybody can get in there and then contact me. Find me on there, or post a question, post a comment, anything like that. They could message me directly on Facebook even, if they would like to. I don’t mind that at all. I check my messages about every other day, so I definitely get back to anybody who would want to do that.

Elaine: That’s great, Daniel. I will link to your course in the show notes, askmerchentrepeneur.com. To wrap up, Daniel, what are you excited about for the future?
Daniel: Oh, that’s a big question. Well in terms of the future of Merch, I’m excited about new products being added. I would imagine that Amazon has a lot of things in the works if you look at the site like Red Bubble. They have many options of products that they sell that you can put a design on. I can only image that Amazon will be doing something similar down the road. That will be really great.
In terms of my business ventures as a whole, I’m excited about getting my designs up on other websites. That’s something I’m hoping can be a big, maybe not a huge focus, but a larger focus in 2017, is getting my designs up maybe on Red Bubble, Teespring, et cetera. That’s really great.
Yeah, so I think that’s 2 major things that I’m looking forward to.
Elaine: That’s great, and thank you so much for joining me, Daniel, on the podcast. It’s been a pleasure.
Daniel: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

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