Evan and Katelyn have been growing as an entertaining youtube channel for a while now, and if you have been watching you’ve probably noticed a few episodes that involve them doing things for their retail side. They have products sold in local stores around them, and have gained some pretty good insight while growing their retail business.
They are always happy to share what they’ve learned, and in this video they’ve rounded up some useful tips on doing your own small scale manufacturing at home. In the comments to this video, there were some pretty good additional questions that the duo were happy to expand upon here:
Q: Have you guys found any resistance from customers when you scale up your production? Especially when you bring in outside sources? People really like the one-off handmade products, but that isn’t always practical. Curious where the line is between handmade and Walmart.
A: We haven’t found much resistance yet, and we’ve seen other people bring in outside help really well. I think communication and setting expectations are VERY important when you do that both with your supplier and your customers. I think the main line between handmade and cheap mass produced products is pride/quality in your work and the connection with your customers. Even if you’re getting outside help, you still have control over your quality, and you can maintain that personal connection to your customers the same way you were before bringing on the help: for a lot of people that’s social media, but it also might be attending local craft fairs here and there. I think if you can keep that up, you’ll be good.
Q: Do you have any advice for what products to make?
A: We would suggest focusing on areas that you are familiar with. Look for a pain point that you experience that other people might experience too and try to come up with a solution for that. If there aren’t any pain points, you could also look for anything that could improve an experience further. This could be especially effective if you find a solution for a niche product. Even if the niche is 0.5% of the population, that is still a HUGE amount of people that could be reached.
Q: Would you recommend Etsy for people wanting to get into selling? Are you ever planning on moving all the products to the store on your website?
A: I think Etsy is a great place to dip your toes – we still have an Etsy shop and it’s just really easy. The main downside is you don’t have control over what people see so they may leave your store and explore. Once you have the photos and descriptive text for your products it is not hard to setup multiple stores and see which works best for you. These days we still do have an Etsy shop, but we direct people to the separate shop we made by integrating Shopify (shopevanandkatelyn.com), which is a great next step if you want to devote a bit more time into getting your site set up. We started it mostly for merch, but we recently added a product and it works really well!
Q: So do you primarily live off of YouTube money? I’d love to see a breakdown of what YouTube actually pays some of the bigger channels vs what could be made by selling products like this.
A: The income from YouTube advertisements is a smaller percent of our income. Our primary income source is from working with sponsors. We could probably do a whole video on working with sponsors, but we try to make it a win/win/win by showing viewers products and services we believe in, which benefits our viewers, the sponsor, and allows us to make better and more videos. We also are very generously supported on Patreon as our second largest consistent income. After that it’s Google AdSense, products/merch sales, and affiliate links which vary per month depending on multiple factors. This varies greatly from channel to channel though and from what we’ve found, the more time you put into something, the bigger revenue stream it is.
Q: When working with a 3rd party, how do you maintain your intellectual property? Sending the cad/cam file to a manufacturer seems to open the door to them to “steal” your work and make it their own. Do you do contracts?
A: You should definitely have an NDA in place with a company before sending over any confidential data. If you’re particularly concerned about your IP and are worried about it being copied then you can do two things. If your product has multiple parts you can spread them out over a few companies. If there is a very clever feature in your parts you could send them out to be manufactured to 90% and then finish them in house with a specialized jig or machine to keep costs down.
Q: Do you ever want there to be a point where you have no part in the making process where everything is outsourced and you only focus on the designs?
A: We’ll always want to do the prototype and refining of the design. Once everything is ready to go and all that’s left is repetition we think our time is best spend making new things, but that is more of a personal preference.
Katelyn and Evan will be giving a talk at World Maker Faire New York this coming September 22nd and 23rd. Be sure to get your tickets so you don’t miss out.