How I Built a Subscription Business that’s Made over $50k in 6 months

I built a subscription box business that’s grossed over $50,000 in 6 months, while working only 10 hours a week on it. Here’s how you can do the same.

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About 6 months ago, I launched a subscription service called Prospurly. For $44.95/month after a coupon, subscribers receive 6-8 full-size, artisan products from small businesses and passionate modern craftsmen.

I’ll be honest with you: this is not a full-time gig. In fact, I generally spend less than 5-10 hours a week running this business.

Despite the small time commitment, Prospurly has already grossed over $52,000 and is on track to take that to $60,000+ at the end of this month. On average, the business is making about $8,000/month in recurring revenue with a 20-35% profit margin, depending on purchasing:

Prospurly Historical Financials

Historical financials, ripped from Stripe. Period represents 3/9-9/9.

Customers are happy, churn is easy to manage (8-12%), and we’ve partnered with dozens of awesome small business while also donating to great charities. (In fact, we’ve planted over 2000 trees, helped protect clean water, and worked with a few great local nonprofit organizations.)

Prospurly Charity Partners

^ Instagram posts of our charity efforts. (And yeah, that’s a Mark Ruffalo tweet). 

So, how did all of this come together?

Step 1: I chose an idea.

The first step began about 2 months before I collected my first dollar.

Back in January 2015, I started thinking about how I wanted to learn the Cratejoy platform. I’d been involved with subscription commerce since my days as a founder of Conscious Box (started in 2011 in a tiny single room office with beds installed above our desks), which was originally held on a static site, then moved to Magento. After Conscious Box, I helped start a slew of other subscription business, which mainly used integrations with Chargify and WordPress.

Cratejoy was a new “all-in-one” platform, which intrigued me. Customer information, creating subscription products, one-time purchasing… all in one? I wanted to give it a try.

So I brainstormed. Why not start something new using Cratejoy?

I had never started a business alone. It was a scary, but exciting, thought. Questions started pouring in my head.

What interest would it serve? What would the curation look like? What would be the niche of the business?

I knew two things from the start:

First, it would involve natural products sourced from small, local businesses. My parents have been small business owners, environmentalists, and avid about conscious living their entires lives, which has served as a great source of direction for me (in both life and business).

Second, it would not deal with product sampling. This likely meant that I would be purchasing products.

While the juices were flowing, I was still struggling with the true inspiration for the project.

Then, one day, while reading ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ by Alain de Botton, I struck up a train of thought inspired by Epicurus. As de Botton explained, Epicurus was a far more modest man than many presume him to be. To him, happiness as an ‘acquisition list’ was actually quite simple.

No large villa was needed, no expensive foods or drinks were necessary, and no fanciful luxuries. It’s nothing like the modern understanding of ‘epicureanism.’

^ That guy is Epicurus.

Rather, to truly be happy and experience pleasure, all one naturally needed was flavorsome food, good friends, and an analyzed, thoughtful life.

Despite being in a marketer’s position, which in some ways ran contrary to Epicurus’ fundamental message, I was inspired by the simplicity: food, friends, and thought.

It’s here that I found the next nugget of inspiration:

I’d craft a subscription around living a life not just directed at happiness, but a life directed at prosperity.

After a few sessions of playing with names, ideas, and synonyms, I’d ended up with Prospurly – a play on living “prosperly”:

Prospurly's Beginning on Paper
^ This is the piece of paper I was using when I came up with the name.

I really liked it when it first came together on the page. It was short, felt clever, and it intrigued those around me when I pitched the idea. It was also fun to say.

More importantly, there were very few subscription businesses already started in the area of “small-batch, artisan lifestyle products for bath, body, and home.” It was something of a Crate & Barrel meets subscription boxes meets living well and subtle philosophy.

The idea felt awesome. I loved the direction, the name, and the implications that the niche would have on the business (like making regular donations to charities, as shown above).

So the idea was there: a natural lifestyle brand inspired by the experiences and simplicity of a happy life. The subscription would deliver the so-called “ingredients for a happy life,” the items and ideas that cultivated a life much like the one I thought Epicurus might’ve imagined, with a bit of an artisanal touch.

Step 2: I kicked off with a prelaunch.

Personal excitement aside, I needed to make sure that Mom wasn’t the only one that thought this idea was good. I wanted other people who didn’t know me at all to tell me this was something they’d pay for.

So I decided to run a prelaunch email gathering campaign.

A pre-launch email gathering campaign is a strategy used to test the market’s response and build initial buzz around a product. When it’s done right, you’ll have hundreds or thousands of emails from interested people, who will become your early customers should you decide to launch your product.

This is not hard to do. In fact, Cratejoy even includes a prelaunch theme now.

At the time, I chose to set up a Launchrock page. It was a simple platform, easy to customize, and had templates that looked good. It made gathering early emails and testing messaging, colors, and offers easy while I built the rest of the business:

Prospurly Launch Rock
^ This was Prospurly’s first landing page. 
I kept it simple.

I took a picture of a few items I thought would fit the niche, with a orange colored paper background, snagged from my local art shop. The goal was to keep the page bright, colorful and effective at capturing the “sunny” spirit of the business.

Next, I began building out my social channels, which would serve as my primary sources of early traffic. I started with the simple ones: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram:

Prospurly Social Media

To get these in front of people, I used the basic (and free) functions of these social media channels. I used hashtags, I invited friends and family to Like and Follow my channels, and I interacted with other users, by liking their posts, following them, sharing their posts on Facebook, and staying active with comments.

I also spent a lot of time on Instagram, building out ideas and testing branding:

Past Prospurly Example Posts

My prelaunch campaign ran on one thing: the natural reciprocation of social media users. I liked photos, they liked mine. I followed them, they followed me. It created momentum, the perception of authority, and helped me push traffic to my landing page.

And yes, early posts jumped around with branding, fonts, and wordings. Frankly, I was learning the ropes of actually applying creative design. (While I’ve been “creating” these for years, I’ve never actually been the one to hold the pen in Photoshop.)

Was I some experienced designer? No.

Had I ever launched a business completely on my own? Nope.

But the tools were there. I watched Youtube videos on design, scoured the internet for guides, and made a point to post a few times a day on my channels, openly asking people their thoughts. Slowly, things evolved and began to take shape.

Alongside learning the creative process, it was in this stage that I began to work out other customer acquisition strategies:

  • I brainstormed a blog called “The Prospurly Post,” which just became live in July (good for SEO purposes and organic traffic).
  • I began contacting bloggers, reviewers, instagramers, and other social influencers I planned to reach out to and offer a box
  • I began identifying niche-similar publications/pages that I might be able to trade exposure with
  • I started watching videos on Facebook ads and asked friends who had seen success for tips
  • I snagged a Google ads credit and planned an early campaign

Early on, the prelaunch began to get some traction:

Prospurly Prelaunch
The result of the prelaunch.

Over about 12 weeks, the page saw the following:

  • 2679 total visitors
  • 209 total shares
  • 597 total signups
  • Total Conversion Rate: 22.28%
  • Total Share Conversion Rate: 7.8%

For a total of almost 600 presubscribers and a conversion rate of 22.28%, I felt AWESOME. (One Quora reported that most people see between 9-11% conversion rate, with the occasional answer in the 20s and 30s.) Most of this traffic was from social media, so the early design work I played with felt validated – it piqued interest and pushed qualified traffic to my landing page.

I made a point to keep the list “warm” over the weeks, sending out updates and sneak peeks. This was a big asset for the launch, and I hoped it would yield a strong customer base. Here’s an example, we had a sneak peek of the types of items subscribers could expect:

Prospurly Sneak Peek

Step 3: While prelaunching, I developed tools.

From past experience, I knew I needed to spin up some foundational tools for the business before I reached my official launch, namely a CRM to keep track of merchants, a customer support platform, accounting software and cash planning, and an appealing invitation for brands.

But wait, Jesse, what even is this stuff?

  1. CRM: This stands for a Customer Relationship Management tool. It’s like an electronic rolodex. It’s super useful for keeping track of vendor partners (not subscribers) when “sourcing,” aka the continuous process of finding products for your box. You can catalogue leads and add notes, along with a bunch of other cool features. Part of running a subscription business means servicing brands, and CRMs make it simple(r). 
  2. Customer Support Platform: It’s a waste of time to deal with support requests in a regular email client (like Gmail or Hotmail or whatever you normally use). These platforms take emails from a support address and feed them into a system where you can apply tons of features to speed things up.
  3. Accounting Software: If you’re starting a business, you need to keep your books straight. This means reconciling transactions in your bank account and accurately measuring expenses, revenue, and profit.
  4. Cash Planning: Outside of accounting software, using a cash planning spreadsheet makes projecting much easier. This is done within Excel, and you can use templates, like Cratejoy’s budgeting tool.
  5. Brand Invite: Brand invitations are PDFs that you attach to your sales emails. They quickly provide vendors with more information without you having to type it out. Like the CRM, these are useful when servicing your second type of customer: brands.

So let’s jump into it:

First, the CRM. I decided to use Solve360. I’ve seen this CRM in action, used it before, and it fit in my price range, so it felt like the right choice.

I kept the entry process simple: basic company information, tagging based on product category and location (I try to mostly source local), and notes for when I contacted someone or received replies. I also learned how to use other features, like scheduled emails and events. After finding businesses on Etsy, Google, or at my local stores, I’d enter them in:

CRM Contact Page

^  CRMs make it easy to track emails, replies and procurement progress. 

The first month, I added about 150 qualified leads. These were businesses who fit the niche and had applicable products. As part of this, I decided a theme for my first box – “Awake with Spring” – which was general enough to fit many types of products. When it came to choosing products, all I needed to do was ask, “Does this fit a spring/awakening theme?”

Next up, customer support. Even though I didn’t have customers yet, I was getting inquiries from potential customers. I also knew that setting this up ahead of time would save me time down the road.

For the platform, I used Zendesk. It’s affordable and has easy-to-develop tools, like macros, triggers, and automations. (I currently have one person managing it, and it usually takes less than part-time.)

Zendesk Screen Shots

^ A quick illustration of a basic Zendesk setup. Little things save a ton of time!

For accounting, I’d be using Xero. I rarely “owned” this task in past ventures, so this took a bit of learning.

To keep me crisp on the process, I set up a weekly reconciliation meeting in my Google calendar. Every Friday, I start my day by linking up transactions from my bank account in Xero. This makes taxes, cash planning, and keeping my books straight much, much easier. You can also create rules in Stripe, which makes reconciliation faster.

Xero Reconcilation Example

It was also at this point that I really started to drill down on pricing and the unit economics of the business.

I began by assuming a pricing scenario that allowed me to purchase slightly below wholesale. To start, most businesses will offer products for bulk orders at wholesale, which is usually 50% MSRP. Wholesale is rarely (in my experience) a negotiation, too: all you need to do is ask. From there, I took the total MSRP I wanted to see in the box, and worked backwards to find my budget for products. I assumed average prices (like the one’s you can find in the Subscription Business Calculator at Cratejoy), and made a projection:

Prospurly Financials

^ My early cash planning (mostly accurate) based on my assumed business’ unit economics.

After adding a few dollars for shipping, packing, printing, and services, I had a cash planning worksheet I could use alongside Xero.

The final item on my list was building out a sales deck – a PDF with basic information about Prospurly and reasons why brands should join. Sales materials are helpful because they allow you to keep intro messages short – just a few lines asking about product availability and wholesale cost. If a merchant is interested, they already have a resource to read over. This also helps add a level of professionalism to your business, which always helps during negotiations.

Prospurly Business Invite

^This is the top fold of the Prospurly business PDF.

From there, I enlisted the help of a local developer to customize my Cratejoy website a bit. To find him, I simply posted an ad on Craigslist. It took me sorting through about 5-6 people, but I eventually found someone with a decent portfolio and super competitive rates ($35/hr).

For the work, I knew I wanted to add more dynamics to the page: a few sliders, a custom pop up (I use Opt-in Monster), an Instagram slider, a better footer…you get the idea. I didn’t spend much – about $200 for the work.

Here’s the evolution:

Prospurly Site Edits

(Some of these are featuring newer photos I took after the launch and first 2-3 months) 

When it came to spec’ing this all out, it was pretty simple.

First, I made a mock up in photoshop that looked exactly like the above. I took a screenshot of my current website, moved things around, added in exactly what I wanted, and added red arrows, just like you see above. Because I have worked with developers before, I knew I needed to draw this out, not just explain it in text.

Next, I listed out specific directions to the developer. This didn’t mean I wrote the code or made specific code related suggestions (after all, I’m not a developer). Instead, I wrote out the changes I made in picture form in an itemized list. Here’s an example of some early requests I made:

Sample Developer Text

He’d make an update, I’d check it out, and he’d add more changes if I had any. We also collaborated a bit on what he thought would look good.

In addition to the tools and website, I had also been designing custom boxes. This was probably the most tedious and time consuming process of my launch, since I had literally never opened Adobe Illustrator (the program I used to hold the pen on design) ever before.

Here’s the rough order of operations I tackled:

  1. I decided a box size. I wanted to ship in the USPS cubic .2 range, and I maxed out the size possible for that. You can go with a “standard box size,” which a box manufacturer can suggest to you (as they have different standard sizes manufacturer to manufacturer), or you go with a completely custom box, like me. This means I’d have to buy dies (for cutting the cardboard) in addition to the plates (for the custom colors). (Ps. You can use the Cratejoy Shipping Calculator to learn more about cubic pricing)
  2. With a box size decided, I went to local box manufacturer NW Paper Box to talk about type of cardboard and pricing. I had used them in a previous venture, Escape Monthly, so I had rapport with them. (If I didn’t know them, it’s as simple as making a cold call and setting up a meeting to talk about needs).
  3. I decided to go with a kemi or “white top” board, so when I printed orange ink on the box, the background would be white
  4. I spent a few dozens of hours on design, usually iterating 2-3 times on each version. I applied subtle changes and focused on refining my skill set early on. Once I felt comfortable, I’d work on adding more unique design elements.

For the template, I simply grabbed a blank box design from online. You look closely below, you’ll see the actual dimensions of the box outline changed twice before landing on the correct size. In this final case, I was provided with an Illustrator file from my box manufacturer. Here’s the initial template I used:
Box Outline
With my hands on a template, I began working on the design:

Prospurly Packaging Evolution

 

(You can click to enlarge, then zoom for better detail)

After design was decided, I put the order in for a few thousand boxes.

NW Paper Box would then split payments for creating the custom plates and dies, and I would use the boxes as needed each month, while storing the excess in their facility. Splitting payments, with 1/3rd of the total plate and die costs (about $700 each payment) paid over the next 3 months, helped cash flow during the early months of the business. Paying for boxes as needed also helped smooth out COGS.

Check out the standard Cratejoy boxes or design your own custom boxes through the Cratejoy box program! We offer high-quality boxes, fast shipping, and special prices, only for Cratejoy sellers.

With a decent site in hand and custom boxes on their way, it was time to launch.

Step 4: Launch time.

Weeks of work lead to this.

I had no idea how the early adopters would come in, and with the investment for custom boxes, I was starting to sweat about expenses (I was about $2000 in, which included boxes, services, and everything else).

Fortunately, the first box came together nicely:

(The first ever printed box)
The First Prospurly Box

(Inside the box) 
March Prospurly Box

I was confident once people received it, the momentum would be on.

I started with a countdown on social media. We were giving away boxes, doing shout outs, and working hard to interact with the community online. We did this across all our social channels. Here are some examples from Twitter:


Twitter Examples
 

We also led a countdown on Instagram everyday before the launch:

Prospurly Launch Countdown

(We went with a cutesy, orange fox oriented countdown)

I also sent updates to the leads lists, which was now at its fullest. I scheduled 4 emails for the week of the launch for my leads list. The emails would go out every other day leading up to official opening of sale. They followed basically the same verbiage in each email, and looked like this:

Prospurly Launch Email
Within the first day, we saw results. For starters, the emails saw decent open/click through rates:


Early Email Results
 

Social media was also abuzz, and we rocked a few of our simple promotions:

  • We had been holding a contest for a lifetime subscription, which people entered via presubscribing on our launch page. It was easy for people to enter: all they had to do was just presubscribe on the launch page. I would then random choose an email from the list, contact them, and announce them on social media.  After the launch, we announced the winner and got some decent sharing for doing so.

Lifetime Subscription Example

  • During the launch month, we ran contests for reposting our photos and tagging friends for chances to win one-time boxes.

Prospurly Contest Examples

  • We released a special coupon for “founding members” – aka our first customers – for 10% off for life + a bonus in their first box.

In the first 30 days, I sold over 120 subscriptions and grossed a little over $5,600 – more than enough to cover products, shipping, and start paying back the investment I made for custom boxes (which is completely optional, but I think very valuable).


First 30 Days of Prospurly Revenue

(From Stripe, 3/9-4/9. This does not include the first re-billing, which occurred on 4/10 the first time around). 

Considering that I’d been working full-time, exiting another business, and was basically a novice on most of the early operations, this felt like (and was) a huge launch. I was super happy with the results, and best of all, this gave me a platform for a highly sustainable, rewarding business.

Now it was time to grow.

And grow we did.

In the last six months, we’ve effectively doubled in size, grossing about $10,000/month with about 200-220 subscribers. On a monthly basis, that comes out to a 10.14% growth rate, on average. In other words, by dedicating just a portion of my schedule, I’ve been fortunate enough to capture back the number of churned customers each month, plus track down some additional customers. To date, I’ve never netted a negative number of customers, ever.

Step 5: Keeping at it.

These days, I’ve templatized the business enough that the little down time I do have can be spent thinking of new ways to get customers. While I don’t “need” to work everyday, my daily schedule is mostly focused on procuring the next month’s products, tinkering with emails, and improving my skill set on core tasks.

One example is with branding and general creative skills:

Prospurly Branding
^ Good example of how I grew with my business. Cleaner, better performing branding. 
True, my branding and creative skills still have a ways to go, but it goes to show you how much one person can improve with a little concentrated effort.

And this was true across all operations.

  • Procurement has become easier: Prospurly has worked with dozens of local companies and artisans across the US, and people are taking notice. We’ve been featured in a few decent sized publications and online outlets, like Buzzfeed, and work with dozens of social influencers a month. This adds a really unique marketing perk to our business for brands.
  • The sales deck has improved: I’ve redesigned it, added more features, and profiled more brands. This makes for a more compelling pitch to my partners and helps speed up conversations.
  • Accounting is Quick and Easy: With Xero and a cash planning sheet in Excel on lock, I can quickly budget and forecast growth, making this once scary operation simple and manageable.
  • Shipping is a 60-minute task: With Cratejoy’s platform and easy-to-manage batch shipping, this operation boils down to a 60 minute or so task each month. I send a PDF right to my fulfillment partner and never have to worry about labeling, packing, or shipping boxes.
  • Social Media is Growing: With over 5000 people across channels, social media is gaining natural momentum and requires less work. People are more inclined to repost photos without us directing them to, because they see so many people already do it, every month.

So what about financials? While I have decided to reinvest as much capital in the business as possible – a decision that’s delayed my total payback amount, leaving me technically in debt – I have been able to pay friends and family members for work, ultimately giving myself greater control of life and more importantly, a better quality of life. At any moment, I can easily scale back spending and decide to put money back into my own pocket.

The financial security this offers is extremely stabilizing and rewarding. I can start taking a few grand a month if I’d like, and in a year’s time, it will likely rival the pay of my full-time job. In a year and a half, I could be looking at nearly a six-figure salary from something that requires only 40 hours of work a month.

In all this, the first lesson I learned as a student of business remains true: trying to run a business (mostly) alone is difficult, difficult work. Ignoring the actual tasks you need to execute, the mental and emotional commitment it demands is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s a test of your hard work and your willingness to accept failure.

But it’s possible. And by following the model I’ve presented, chances are you can develop something similar with a bit of hard work, time, and a dose of good luck for measure.

To see the continued evolution of the business, check out Prospurly.com.

Now, I’ve got to get back to work.

Jesse Richardson Founder of Prospurly

You can also keep up with Jesse at his blog, jesserichardson.com.

Cratejoy includes all the tools you need run a subscription box business: secure checkout, shipping tools, analytics, marketing, and listings optimized to bring you sales.

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About Jesse Richardson

Jesse Richardson is an author, educator and co-founder of several successful subscription businesses. He focuses on building engaging communities and has been described as "insanely customer centric." Find him in the Subscription School group or at his blog.

171 Responses

  1. SL Sheppard

    I don’t often comment online, but what a comprehensive, well-thought out, and valuable contribution for both novice and experienced subscription box entrepreneurs.

    I have bookmarked this page and will be referring back to it often!

    Kind Regards,
    SL

  2. Arnold

    Well written, inspiring, and very useful. Straight into my bookmarks – will use for future reference.
    I’m in a similar position as you were when you started Jesse, so this is very very helpful indeed.
    Thanks!

  3. Marcus

    Another amazing article Jesse. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and tips with the community. I’m nearing the launch of my own subscription box company and your information has been invaluable in getting this far. You should consider coaching or mastermind opportunities around subscription box businesses. I’d definitely be interested.

    Many Thanks again,
    Marcus

  4. Astrid

    GREAT ARTICLE!! Really enlightening post. It’s pure gold. I have a couple of questions:
    1. When you are going on you own, I feel like it’s a little overwhelming because there are a lot of important tasks to do, you are the only one who can do it, how did you prioritize?
    2. How did you know which tasks to do by yourself (even if that implies learning how to do it first) and which tasks assigned to another people (and pay them for it)? For example, I have no skills on Design, should I learn how to use Photoshop to do my logo and creatives pieces? or should I ask a friend to do it for a good price? That kind of situation is happening to me a lot, not sure how to decide what to do.
    Thank you so much! I have subscribed to your blog and social media channels.

  5. Kelene

    Hi Jesse!

    Thanks for sharing your experience, very inspirational!
    I was wondering, what program did you use to create the email you posted leading up to your launch as well as the instagram post for your June Sneak Peak?

    Many Thanks!

    Kelene

  6. Pia Cato

    Hi Jesse,

    I have just come across your article. It is great. Really, really helpful and informative. I am planning my own subscription business that will sell mainly digital products and your article has so many great tips. So glad I found it!

    Keep up the good work!

    Pia

  7. Leigh

    Hey Jesse,
    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring experience.
    I am a brand owner of a natural and organic skin care. We would love to work with Prospurly. Where do I get more info about becoming a merchant for Prospurly.
    Best,
    Leigh

  8. Renee

    This is incredibly helpful thanks for sharing! I am starting up a new subscription box and am finding it very difficult to try and predict how many subscriptions might sell, have you noticed any trends in sales? Do you tend to get a peak at launch and then a plateau thereafter?

  9. sue

    hello Jesse I am in the process of creating a subscription business I would like to aks you ? how many boxes should I make for the launch ?

    I am thinking of creating 500 to 800 boxes do you think that is to much ?

  10. Shawna

    I’m not in the subscription box business, but this is a very thorough and inspiring post. Thanks, man! And congrats on your success.

  11. Jason

    Can you further explain your fulfillment partner’s role in shipping?

    Can you explain who your fulfillment partner is? Is that like fed ex or ups?

      1. Kim

        Hi Jesse. Awesome write-up. Very inspiring. For the fulfillment partner, I know you have worked with them before, but what volume did you have to get to in order to make the cost per box affordable? Are you able to share the cost per box for fulfillment?

        Thanks so much for your time in sharing this great info!

  12. Ed

    Hi Jesse, I’m just interested to know what was the cause of the spike in signups on the graph you have shown? It was generally consistent but then you got a huge 200 emails in a day or two…? Cheers

  13. Nick

    Hi Jesse – great article, as everyone mentioned. I had a quick question about your fulfillment partner – NW Paper Box. If I understand you correctly, they pack all your boxes and just have USPS pick them up. Would you be willing to provide the typical cost of this service? How much per box? I’m trying to gauge my potential costs for a similar service. As someone who also works full time, I want to streamline everything I’m doing so its as efficient as possible.

  14. tamara

    Wow! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I want to hug you! This article is comforting and honest. The pictures showing the development of your packaging and website are so helpful. I added this to my bookmark page. I hope you continue to have great success!

  15. Amanda

    Hi Jesse very inspiring story I have a simple idea for a subscription box. I am located in Ontario Canada and am currently scouting local artisans in my area. Are you in the US?

  16. Francois

    Jesse, I had to comment. Such a good post, so thorough. One point which I was not to clear about was your subscription growth rates. You mention you had 597 signups from your prelaunch, then you discussed that you had 200 to 220 subscribers.
    If it is not too bold could you give me an idea of how your subscriptions grew over time?

  17. Debbie

    I’ve never really left comments for most sites i’d visited but i’d make an exception for this one ! Such awesome write up. Comprehensive, clean cut- Love it !!
    -virtuallydebbie.com

  18. Paul Towers

    Hi Jesse,

    Thanks for putting together such a comprehensive post on what it takes to create and build a successful subscription box business. I have been working my way through all of the guides you have written along with Jameson and really appreciate the insight and clear instructions you provide.

    In particular I found this post a real eye opener on the importance of design. While I have run a few other businesses in the past I am approaching my next venture, Vita Box, with a much greater sense of importance on design and making sure there is a consistent brand image across everything we do.

    If you did have a few minutes spare i would love to get your feedback on my landing page (http://www.getvitabox.com.au ) Once I start taking orders I will be moving onto Cratejoy given all the great insight you have provided into the platform and its ease of use.

    Thanks again

    Paul

      1. Paul Towers

        Hi Jesse,

        Thanks for your reply and sorry I didn’t see it until now. I don’t think I got notified via email of the reply?

        I saw you had entered you email on our landing page 🙂

        We are directing traffic to the landing page via paid Facebook ads and are converting at around 20%. I’m continuing to try and find “free” traffic sources, however, the number of blogs and instagramers open to getting the world out seems to be a lot less than the US (based on case studies and anecdotal evidence).

        The one part of the funnel I am working on next is the “refer a friend” section. While we are offering 50% off the first months box + a kicker if you invite 3+ friends it doesn’t seem to be resonating as much as I hoped. I am going to test an alternative by offering a $ coupon. While the value will essentially be the same it will be interesting to see if people relate more to a $ discount, rather than a %.

        Thanks again

        Paul

  19. Miranda

    Wow what a great article! I’ve had a few subscription ideas bouncing around in my brain and this feels like just what I needed to get started and understand how it can all work! Thanks so much!

    A few quick followup questions — How do you figure out how many products to source for the box each month? Do you often / did you ever have leftover or not enough product for the boxes? What do you do with the leftovers?

    Also, for fulfillment / shipping, do you use a fulfillment center and how is it working with them when you have different products coming in each month?

    Thanks again!! 🙂

  20. Jasper

    Hey Jessie. Great post. I was wondering what resources you used to get your hero banner done. I love your current site http://www.prospurly.com‘s hero banners. They’re well edited and contextual. I would like to get something similar done.

    Thank you!

  21. Michael

    Hey Jesse, I really appreciate your article it’s helping put me on the right track. I love your business, I’m very into conscious living! I’ve actually been trying to think of something to do with the boxes that I mail, like a way to entice people to recycle them or even mail them back for a discount. Mailing for a discount is all I can think of that is enticing but it would be too costly on my end. But that’s neither here nor there lol. My question is this, how do you factor in your donations to charity? Are they a flat payment per box each month? Also how do you decide what charities to work with?

  22. Louisa

    Amazing detail and story I can relate to. Really appreciate you taking the time to write this, its restored my faith in self-employment because its so tough working alone.
    I hope to hear you grow and grow!

  23. Jessie

    Hi Jesse,

    Thanks for the thorough sharing. Very insightful! I’m curious if you have ever been involved with a subscription box business which also offers other non-subscription items for purchase? (For instance, if the overall brand itself were to offer a subscription box line, plus a line of wearable goods or any other items of that nature – for individual sales.) I’m wondering if this approach would lack focus needed to drive sales… But maybe it could be a possible brand expansion after a couple years of successful growth from subscription boxes alone?

    Thanks again!
    ~Jessie

  24. Samuel Urbain

    HI Jessie,

    First of all, great webinar this week. Second, I’m about to start my sub business and i was wondering, is it ok to receive my product at home, assemble the boxes at home… do everything from home or should i be looking for a space to work from ?

    Thank you Jessie, have a good day.

  25. Lucky

    Hey Jesse – Reading the post for the second time (after 2 weeks) to deeply embed the learnings. This is like a holy grail.

    Could you shed more light on how things are organized on the back end..
    – Is your landing page on CrateJoy itself? (It is very customized.)
    – Which portal have you used to set up your blog?
    – I have read on the CrateJoy forum that it is more beneficial for SEO purposes to have the blog as a part of the actual website (www.prospurly.com/blog) rather than another pseudo-website (blog.prospurly.com). However, you have mentioned in your post “good for SEO purposes”. Is the blog created on Cratejoy too?

  26. roland perry

    Wow, you (if you haven’t already) should definitely launch a product on one of the crowdfunder sites. Great fun read.

  27. Farah Nerette

    I notice at the top of your page as incentive you have “join now and get 10% off…” If this page is solely collecting emails how are people “joining” ? does the page direct them to another page to submit actual payment information ? And lastly, while the splash page is up should the othe actual site be up and running accepting payments as well? I’m a little confused. Sorry for the long winded question.

  28. farah nerette

    I posted a couple questions they seem to have disappeared…Lets see.

    On the example you have as your launch page as incentive it says ” join today for 10% off your subscription for life” – now since this is just a page for the purpose of collecting email I don’t get how the incentive to “join now” works?!

    Is the page set up to collect actual payment in the background? or once email is entered are people re-directed to another page for payment?

    thanks in advance for your reply. love this post BTW.

  29. Ellen

    Jesse, thanks so much for taking the time to write this. It’s incredibly useful to me as I get ready to launch. One quick question: Did you use a social media management tool during your launch? Do you use one now? Just curious if you have a recommendation that works well for a subscription startup. Thanks!

      1. Ellen

        Thanks, Jesse! That looks like a great article! I plan to pore over it the same way I did this one of yours. It’s fascinating to hear that you keep things organic (no pun intended!) with social media. I’ve spent a lot of time researching Hootsuite, Sendible, and other social media management tools but I don’t want to create unneccessary layers in my business either. Thanks for your insight.

  30. Williamners

    Whats up! I simply want to give a huge thumbs up for the good information you’ve here on this post. I will likely be coming again to your forum for extra soon. Schayer

  31. Bailey

    Hi Jesse,

    Great article…wondering if Zendesk is what you use to send your new subscribers the automatic welcome e-mail??

  32. Leonardo Machado

    Hi, very usefull article. I am curious about how you handled the taxes and invoices part of the business. I am from Brazil, but planning to launch a subscription service model in US. Can you provide more info about that? or point me to where can I find those info?

      1. Arie

        Hi Jesse

        It has been 2 years now..mind if I ask, how many subscribers you have now at cratejoy ?

        And instead of prelaunch, can we just straightaway open cratejoy store and launch? Don’t want to wastey time building the list becoz some people would lose interest after waiting quite long for he launch? 🙂

        And instead of spending $2-3 to customize the packaging/box, can we just send the item in a normal envelope?😉

        1. Felicity Fromholz

          Hi Aire,

          I wish I could share that with you but, I’m not at liberty to…I can tell you that it’s multiples of thousands and that the number is growing all the time! Hooray!

          You can totally start your business on Cratejoy without a prelaunch but, I highly recommend one – that way you know what you’re sourcing for and can gage the overall interest in your product.

          While you can send your subscription any way you like, people expect custom packaging in this day and age…and it’s a big part of how they see the quality of your brand. I’d HIGHLY recommend using some sort of custom packaging – it really does make a difference in your customer LTV.

          Best

          Felicity

  33. Jojo

    Hey Jesse great article! I have a couple questions about the fulfillment. I’m blown away on how you can run Prospurly while working full-time, kudos to you! I want to do the same, if possible… It seems like the best route is to do a fulfillment/packaging. My question’s are if I do decide on fulfillment/packaging how would I know my items are laid-out presentable and not dis-organize? Also, if I don’t go with the fulfillment route, would I save money doing it myself? Before reading your article, I was set on doing everything myself. I’m really looking for the best possible way to avoid stress and being able to keep my day job. Thanks in advance!

    -Jojo

  34. Hana Banana

    Hi Jesse! I’ve been reading many of your articles published on this site, and this was my favourite thus far! It is so comprehensive and your engagement with commenters is inspiring. Thank you!

    I am based in Canada, but am thinking of starting a subscription mystery box business using (sample and full sized) products shipped from abroad, to satisfy a niche market here.

    Any advice on:

    a) Writing a procurement request to a company to ask for product samples? (i.e. an example letter, etc)
    b) Shipping options for Canada/US (what have you found to be the best shipping option and price per box that would fit into a regular mailbox?)
    c) fulfilment centre options for non-box products (i.e. our “box” will be a padded “pouch”) that would be willing to put together monthly boxes using a year’s worth of stock (we would provide the names of products to put in each monthly “box”)

    Thanks a bunch!!!!
    I will be using your website. You won me over. The monthly orders will serve as special occasion gifts for friends 🙂

    Hana K

  35. Erick R. Lacayo

    Hi Jesse! Really enjoy reading your articles and I am deeply appreciative of you sharing this knowledge to us newbies. I am thinking about starting a subscription box service, however I currently live abroad (in Honduras). What advice can you give me in order to test the waters first to see if people would actually be interested before deciding on moving to the US to actually start and operate the business? (I have a place to stay if need be in Miami, FL). I am also interested in know more about working with a fulfillment partner? How does this work with perishables? Do you know of any fulfillment centers in Florida?

  36. Scott

    How do you keep track of your subscribers? I have started a subscription business and with popularity growing I am having trouble with labels. I get alerts for new orders with monthly and new sign ups but having trouble staying organized with 3 month, 6 month and yearly subscribers.
    Any insight on this?

    Thank you

  37. Louise

    What an excellent read! Thank you so much for sharing. How do you find working with smaller, independent companies in terms of purchasing products in time for posting the products out? Many of the retailers I am speaking with have up to 3 weeks lead time as they are handmade products and therefore planning how many I need and ensuring they arrive in time could be difficult. Especially if I want to pay for the products out of the money I receive from subscribers each month. Do you have to pre-plan for some of the retailers and give them longer than a couple of weeks notice in order for them to be able to produce the product and ship them out? If so, how does this affect your cash flow?

    Thanks!

  38. Kim Van Nordstrand

    Hi Jesse,
    Being that I am not a techy person (hey, I”m from the 70’s) means that I have some creative ideas for a couple of subscription boxes, but have no skills. I wish you could write a “How to Build a Subscription Box for Dummies” for me. For instance, I’ve visited Launchrock today and have no clue where to start. So what I guess I am asking is , Did you build your first page on Photoshop or Indesign and then put that on a blank Launchrock template? Because it seems like all of your online presence doesn’t fit the mold. Even CrateJoy is crazy hard for me. I”ve been working on my site there for two weeks and I’m not even close… Help!! (and Thank you) Kim

  39. Casi

    Jesse,

    First and foremost, I want to THANK you for creating such a wonderful and resourceful website. I have learned so much within 24 hours my head is gonna explode!!! I LOVE IT!

    I have thought about this kind of business after reading various articles and then a LIGHT BULB flashed on! AN IDEA!! I have this awesome IDEA already for a subscription business, but I have a couple questions and I am sure you have answered several people and maybe I didn’t quite get it the first go around:

    1. When start a pre-launch, what do you recommend to how many boxes I should prepare?
    2. Do I HAVE to use a fulfillment company to do my pre-launch boxes?
    3. With the idea I have, I already reached out a company with the webinar video you posted on how to begin the process and how you should approach companies. I emailed said company and they responded relatively fast and asked what exactly I was going to do because they never heard of the “subscription” company promoting products concept. How can I do a formalized letter explaining my intentions so they feel more comfortable in offering me a good price for bulk buying? I honestly can’t wait to get a plan going! It’s super exciting to think about! 🙂

    Yes, lots of questions sorry!

  40. Chris

    What an awesome article Jesse thanks so much for sharing this! Two questions please, 1. the items you used in your prelaunch on Launch Rock and on your social media platforms, did you acquire these through contacting suppliers/manufacturers and asking for samples? If not, how did you acquire the items? 2. Should I start contacting some suppliers and manufacturers to know their pricing before my prelaunch to have an idea for pricing and sales projections for my business plan? Thanks for your help!

  41. jawaher

    hi Jesse am from Saudi Arabia i had this idea in mind for the past 3 years i had no idea how to start like no clue at all just an idea i was passionate about reading your words got my head 3 times larger !!! so informative and helpful thank you for taking the time and effort to help others !
    i got few questions and i hope its not too much of me to ask since you already explained alot
    subscription business doesn’t exist in middle east yet its a fresh idea is there anyway i can test if it will be a huge success or great failure ?
    keeping in mind Saudis like to pamper themselves yet are very careful with trying new things what would be the best way to approach them and make the idea more likable ?
    i heard its a lot cheaper printing boxes in china it costs about 0.2 per box would you recommend going with it and saving cash or be save and stick to local printing companies even though its expensive ?
    what is the total budget spent on establishing the websites + design + printing + preparing products for the first month of the launching ?
    and finally i know you teached us a lot about what to do to start but can you tells whats Not to do as a new business owners ?
    THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH

  42. jawaher

    yes you helped thank you
    i was wondering whats the dimension of your box
    and do you think i can make US box through crate joy and manage it from home ?
    crate joy told me they cant help me since my country is not listed

  43. liza

    hello, thank you for the thorough writeup! before you had your website, did you source products first, or its the other way around?

  44. Crystal

    Thanks for the post!
    I am at the very beginning stages of starting my own subscription Box! How much money should I have or invest in the beginning? Should I pay for the first couple months of sub boxes and the items in it until I start having enough subscribers to cover costs of all??? Please help with start ups!!

  45. Kayla

    Googled “how to start a subscription box” and man oh man! This was a great help and the details of everything really helped with my what I think to be “silly” questions. Thank you! I would love to present my idea to you and get feed back.
    Thanks!

  46. Matt

    Hey Jesse,

    This was such a great read and very informative. I am thinking about starting up a sub box company but the big concern i have is perishable food. So a few questions i have are: 1. Would you recommend using homemade foods or already sealed? 2. How would I go about using a fulfillment center with the fear of foods spoiling?

      1. Matt

        Thank you for the reply. That definitely did help. In terms of what will be packaged would be desserts that are already made from a local place. So getting the product to the shipping center and out of there asap would be very important.

  47. Shabreka

    I have a question around determining a signup window for your subscribers. How long should you allow subscribers sign up for that month’s box?

    Thank you!

  48. Lauren Harnagel

    Hi Jesse,

    What an inspiring read! We are looking into a subscription business and your article gave me such happiness!

    A couple of questions for you regarding website, landing pages and payment providers.

    – I noticed in an earlier question you said you used LaunchRock, was this just to start with the pre-subscribers?
    – I went on your website and love the look and feel – is this through WordPress or Cratejoy?
    – Do you utilize the marketplace through Cratejoy or have you enlisted your own payment provider?
    – I currently use zendesk in my “other” professional life but wondering how complicated it was to integrate?

    Thank you again for the wonderful article – looking forward to reading more!!

  49. Christian

    I find Launchrock to be quite confusing to use. I can’t place an image wherever I want, it’s got this strange design page that I’m struggling to use! Help Jesse!

  50. Jozell Green

    I am a 18 year old college student and I’m starting a subscription box, my niche being children. This article was very inspiring and helpful. It made me believe in myself and my idea more, so thank you for this. When I get my business up you will definitely be in my mind of people to thank.

  51. Alerion

    Hello Jesse,

    I usually would not drop a comment. I found your post very insightful and inspiring. I also like that you are taking out time answer every question dropped in the comment box.

    Thank you.

    All the best.

  52. Marek Czubala

    Hi Jesse,
    The article is truly incredible, inspiring and very much eye opening! Couldn’t thank you enough for taking the time to spell everything out.
    I have a quick question. I’m based in the UK and want to open up a monthly subscription box business based on prepacked snacks from around the world. Is that feasible? I guess my question is, have you ever tried sourcing your products from abroad suppliers and if so, how much of a set back are the international shipping costs? I want to start as ‘locally’ as possible, so products from say Belgium one month and then France the next and then gradually introduce to my subscribers products from around the world, for example, from Thailand etc.
    Thank you again – I will be joining Cratejoy very soon (btw I hope it’s not a problem being in the UK?)
    Regards!

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Marek,

      Thanks so much for reaching out! I’m sure Jessse would appreciate your compliments!

      As someone who’s sourced items from across the globe, I will tell you that it’s completely feasible! Shipping, however can be a tricky for a number of reasons. First, transit times vary WIDELY depending on where items are coming from, their weight, etc. As such, it might be difficult have a solid idea of what your overall costs might be every month AND with lead times varying, you’ll have to be vigilant about placing your POs in a timely manner. …and know that, if your items have to come thru customs (especially if they’re food-related) that they might get held up and that there are fees involved.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions – and yes, you’ll be able to leverage the Cratejoy platform in the UK!

      Good Luck,

      Felicity

      1. Marek Czubala

        Thanks so much for your reply Felicity – it got me thinking how to get around the whole customs and international shipping hurdle – especially it being my first business being set up on a very small budget, so I’m trying to minimize the costs to minimum, at least for the first few months. There are international foods wholesalers in the UK as I’m sure there must be in the States, who source all types of foods themselves. Did you never just go through them to avoid the customs and international shipping? Or from your experience, is it always better and cheaper to deal with individual companies/suppliers around the world and negotiate delivery and prices with them?
        Thank you so much again.

  53. Hi I really enjoyed your post. It is very detailed and descriptive as far as tools and steps to launch a successful sub box. I just have one question, where did you design your box? I really like how you designed your box. I’m not sure if you used a program or had some outside help?

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Karen,

      Jesse is no longer managing this community so I wanted to get back with you. I’m not sure where he had his box designed but for the two I’ve worked on we had our in-house graphic designer put the images together. If design is not your speciality, I’d highly recommend reaching out to someone for help. I’d start with reaching out to friends or to folks on the subscription school Facebook group.

  54. Amanda W.

    This was a great walk through of your process. My question comes from the launch portion of the article. Did you use fulfillment services from the very beginning, or were you packaging boxes in the beginning then moved to fulfillment services?

    Thanks again for the article. I feel I’ll be referring back to it throughout my own process.

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hey Amanda,

      Glad you like the article!

      For Lilee, (mentioned in the articled) we used a fulfillment service from the get go. However, that was because we already had Beauty Box 5 and an established relationship with a fulfillment center. With BB5, we packed boxes in a strip-center warehouse by hand until we were around 2K boxes and then moved to fulfillment.

      Best,

      Felicity

  55. Shawna Daye

    Hi Jesse, I found this article very helpful I have a question regarding certain legalities of starting a subscription box business, at what point was your business copyrighted? and do you recommend an llc. Should this be done in the beginning process?

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Shawna,

      I’m glad you found Jesse’s articles so helpful! With regard to an LLC, it’s completely up to you how you’d like to establish your business – but whatever you decide, I recommend doing it as you’re beginning your business – it helps you cull out the costs, etc. While I don’t think can copyright your business per say – I do believe you can copyright your box name – again something I would do in the initial phases of setting up your business.

      Best of luck!

      Felicity

      1. Josh

        I’m also interested in how subscription box companies (for instance, on Cratejoy) move not only from an idea to a subscription business — but create an actual legal business in the process. I don’t see a lot of help re: setting up a business, taxes, etc on the Subscription School and would really love to see it. In the meantime, could you point me to anything I might have missed?

        1. Felicity Fromholz

          Hey Josh,

          Setting up the business is actually pretty easy – you can apply to be an LLC and get a DBA. Typically that’s a simple google search – but make sure to be specific to your state. With regard to taxes, I do believe there are some resources under the “resources” tab here on Subscription School – and I’m working to add more.

          Hope that helps! (…and I’ll work on getting a post together about all this, too!)

          Best,

          Felicity

  56. In terms of fulfillment– did he start out receiving the products + packing them himself/ and who is his ‘fulfillment’ partner? I’m worried about how much time and labor will go into 1. receiving and taking inventory as well as 2. shipping.

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Grace,

      There are a lot of sub. boxes that start this process by packing boxes themselves – and yes, it can be VERY time consuming – and can also take up a lot of space. I have also seen boxes launch using a fulfillment company from the beginning – which can be somewhat expensive. In the end, it has a lot to do with how much space and time you can dedicate to packing your own boxes AND, how many steps are included when a fulfillment company does it. Most of these folks charge pick and pack fees so you need to know what charges you might be paying based on the number of items in your box each month, etc.

      We’ve got a great list of fulfillment companies in the “resources” page on Sub. School if you want to start looking!

      Best,

      Felicity

  57. Marek

    Hello, once again very interesting article! Very helpful indeed.
    Just one question, the ready Prospurly box on the picture held by someone in the car, is that how you ship it with the address on it or is that packaged into another shipping box?
    Thank you!

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Marek,

      I believe the Prospurly box is shipped as is. When you add in the cost of another shipping box or even a outer polly shipper, you’re adding to your bottom line and in my opinion that’s an unnecessary expense.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,

      Felicity

  58. Matthias

    This was seriously awesome, thank you so much! I am currently working on my own subscription business and had a few questions if you wouldnt mind helping me on them.
    1. I noticed in some of the emails it said “hurry only a few spots left” etc.. Is this because you purchased just enough wholesale to supply a specific number of boxes? As in, for the first month, did you only fill a pre determined amount of boxes and then people who signed up afterwards started on the next cycle?
    2. In combination with the email above, when do you start preparing buying goods for next month? If you dont charge until around the middle of the month, potentially people could cancel 2 days before it renews and then you could be left with too much product.

    Thanks Jesse, again this was super informative.

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Matthias,

      I’m sure Jesse appreciates your feedback!

      To answer your questions…1) Yes, fill a pre-determined # of boxes – for each month, really. It’s extremely hard to get out ahead of knowing how many subs. you’ll get each month and the last thing you want to do is NOT be able to fill orders. You want to grow by a set # each month – it makes sourcing easier, too! 2) Sourcing is a difficult game. I recommend having an e-comm store that coincides with your subscription to sell off excess goods. You can do things like offer limited edition boxes to move that inventory, too. You will get left with product some months – it’s just a reality.

      Best,
      Felicity

  59. Jane

    Hi Jesse,
    I really appreciate you sharing your details, I refer to it many times as I’m starting my subscription box business. I want to ask in regards to the pretty pictures you took, how did you get pictures of your box or items if you have not started sourcing them? For example on your launch page? Also, what is the typical mark down % to ask vendors to get your cost as low as proposed?
    Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  60. Frank Martinez

    When you started your subscription box company did you file anything legal before launch of your business? such as contacting an attorney? copyright or trademark logos?

  61. Matthias

    Hey Jesse,
    Regarding Launchrock, what are your thoughts on the free subscription vs the professional? In my opinion, the major benefit would be a custom domain without the .launchrock attached to it. Thanks!

  62. Traci

    Thank you for this amazing article! The software recommendations are fantastic. Along that line…what kind of product tracker can you recommend? There are certain companies that I like, certain products I want to order, and certain products I just want to remember they have for future reference. Do you know of anything (other than Google Sheets) that can help me track and sort?

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      As of right now, I feel like Google Sheets is probably your best option. There are trackers out there but they’re expensive and bulky. I used Sheets to order for thousands of subscribers and it worked out pretty well.

      Best,

      Felicity

  63. Stephanie Szewczyk

    Hi Jesse…great article. Appreciate you sharing all the details of starting up…it is so helpful. I have a question about sales tax. Do you buy your product wholesale with no tax? If so, how does the tax work to the consumer? How do you report sales tax to the state if you purchase goods with a resale ceritficate?

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Stephanie,

      I’m sure Jesse would appreciate your compliment!

      With regard to sales tax, no, if you buy wholesale, you shouldn’t pay it. …and since you’re not technically selling the items, you don’t have to pass on the tax – you just have to make sure your tax ID info is up to date. I would however reach out to the tax folks in your state and make sure you’re doing what’s right, there.

      Best,

      Felicity

  64. David Pierce

    Hello Felicity,

    This was a great article and very informative. It has given me ideas on starting my own subscription service. I really appreciate the detailed information and the tools that were used. I wanted to ask some questions:
    – How did you decide what vendors to use for your products?
    – Would you mind sharing the name(s) of vendors that you used for your products?

    Thank you,
    David P.

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Thanks, David! When looking for vendors, it’s a good idea to find brands who align with your own – they have a similar audience – similar brand image. I did a TON of Instagram stalking and looking at which brands other boxes in my vertical were using. Etsy and Alibaba were handy too – especially when I wanted to manufacture something unique. I also use to curate to a theme every month so, that helped me purchase as well.

  65. Umy

    Hey Jesse,

    Very interesting and informative article! Very helpful indeed.
    Also, I have a question to start a Subscription website do I need to hire some professional Cratejoy development company like https://www.mysubscriptionbusiness.com/ or I can edit the Cratejoy myself as I am already working on my blog which is in WordPress?

    Best,
    Umy Willis

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      You can edit Cratejoy yourself, so an outside party isn’t necessary. You might however need some help if you’re trying to link in your blog.

  66. Wow! This is such an amazing post! So much valuable information. It’s very rare that I find a post that I am led to comment on, but I had to leave a post to say thank you. I’ve searched all over the internet for information that you’ve compiled into one solid post. Currently I’m at the stage that involves looking for vendors. This has been the toughest part of the process for me. I don’t want to use samples, but finding pricing for the included items that makes sense is hard. Do you have any additional tips with this step?

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Put together a media kit and your marketing offerings and use that as leverage! There’s a great post about it in the blog!

  67. Michele

    Jesse

    I am so appreciative of your thorough and detailed descriptions of your launch and your business infrastructure. Giving back to help others thrive and prosper -ly 😉 is very good business and I am inspired to move forward with my Sub box business, thanks to your excellent teaching!! Cheers to your continued success… 🙂

  68. Lavina Johnson

    Hi Jesse! I truly love your advice! So many business people can be soo stingy with information, but not you. I appreciate that.
    I am starting to approach other businesses aboit buying their products in my box. I know you showed a small portion of your email of “Your Invited” etc in an article and I was hoping you could share how to do that. Is it a composed template which is changed per prospective vendor?
    Thanks so much,
    Lavina

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hey Lavina,

      That’s a great question! I always just sent an email stating how I found their product and what a wonderful fit I thought it would be for my subscribers. I included my media kit (which you can read about here) and then asked if they’d like to set up a call so I can discuss the details of participation and marketing we offer our partner brands.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,

      Felicity

  69. Joseph

    Hi Jesse and Felicity,

    First of all, I wanted to congratulate you for your successful business and thank you a lot for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!

    I’m starting a wine subscription box, similar to Glassful or Winc, and am currently on the planning/forecasting stage (I’m forecasting the ‘early stage’, i.e. 24-36 months). I would love your feedback on the following questions:

    1) What do you think I should forecast as a churn rate? From what I’ve googled, while vague, has led me to forecast a 10-15% churn rate, but yours was lower. Also, I’m not sure churn should be as low as yours given the different business niche and price of the box ($50 range).

    2) What are your views on Cost of Customer Acquisition (by this I mean the amount of advertising dollars that need to be spent in order to acquire a new customer)? For now I’m sticking with a default value of $10, but I really haven’t found any info on ad conversion rates for subscription boxes.

    3) What do you think is a realistic growth rate / growth cap for a subscription business, supposing I outsource fulfillment as you did and thinking on the early stage?

    Also if you had any further tips that come to mind for my wine box, I would greatly appreciate them.

    Thanks again for this great post!
    Best,

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks so much for the compliment and congrats on getting your business up and running!

      To answer your questions…

      1. 10% – 15% is pretty solid standard to shoot for. And you’re right – churn does tend to vary based on niche and price. Either way 10%-15% is a safe bet.

      2. While CAC can vary widely, your goal should be a 1:3 CAC:LTV ratio. Here’s a quick blog on calculating LTV.

      3. Growth rate is a BIG unknown for a ton of reasons – what vertical are you in? How are you advertising? Is it working? What is your LTV? Do you have a referral program? For example, book subscriptions tend to scale slower than say women’s lifestyle boxes – and it’s my experience that alcohol boxes (in general) scale slowly as well.

      Hope that all helps!

      Best of luck!!

      Felicity

  70. Stuart

    Hi Jesse and Felicity,

    Great article! In regards of accounting, I am using quickbooks online. Do I have to manually create every new invoice for every new customer? Quickbooks allows me to set up a customer on a recurring schedule which is really good, but just wasn’t sure how it works when a new customers subscribes?

    Appreciate your comments.

    Thanks,

    Stuart

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Stuart,

      Great question! You’ll want to check with an accountant on this. While Cratejoy does have reports you can pull with this type of information, what’s more important is how you (or your accountant) want to report when tax time comes.

      Best,

      Felicity

  71. This was an awesome article and totally answered a lot of the questions I have been having. Can you clarify whether or not you asked brands to donate or to sell items to you at a very low price? My subscription service is only $10/month for consumers so I am needing advice on how to keep cost of goods down without jeopardizing quality. Thanks in advance!

    1. Felicity Fromholz

      Hi Mercedes,

      Great question! Having brands donate is always a great way to keep costs down but usually doesn’t happen until you have a large following/subscriber base. Brands see sub. boxes as a marketing tool so to give you free goods, they want exposure in return. While I’d always ask for free product, I’d recommend having a small budget with which to help your vendors offset their production costs.

      Best,

      Felicity

  72. Thank you for this article, it is very comprehensive and I appreciate the energy you must have spent working on it. I was wondering what sort of profit, one should aim for per subscription. Please excuse the question if you have already answered it. Thank you for you time.

  73. Monica

    Hello Guys
    Lots of amazing advice and steps. However I keep coming back to the same question. I have read several of the articles on this blog and all of them say to look for the products and then contact the Brand. My questions is more like a what comes first the kitchen or the egg. Because in order to setup a price for my box and see if the business will work i need to know in which price i will get the products from the brands before even having a website or anything? no? But all article and recommendations indicates to contact them and provide the name, website etc to request wholesale price. I just a bit confused on that. Do you recommend i contact the brands first just to get quotes and an idea of shipping times to my country? Help!

  74. Hi Jesse!

    Awesome article, and extremely helpful. I feel a lot more ready to start my business! Just a quick question about the packaging – How does NW Paper Box receive the items to put in your boxes?

  75. Kasia L.

    What an insightful article! I’m in the process of narrowing down my idea and concept for a subscription box, and I’m sure I’ll be coming back to this article many times. I do have a question, how do you actually acquire the products for your box? Do you approach the local businesses and purchase items wholesale on the spot and store them somewhere? How would you decide how many items to purchase each month? I think at the moment that is the part that feels the most overwhelming to me, stocking up on products and figuring out where to store them as I build the boxes.

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