Hey, thanks for tuning in to another Partner Interview at EcomBalance. At EcomBalance, we’re all about creating win-win partnerships where we are able to grow with other companies in the ecommerce space.
In this exclusive interview, we have a conversation with Travis Ross from Make Your Mark Design.
Travis Ross has always had the entrepreneurial bug, but early in his career could never find the perfect fit.
After being laid off in 2015, he jumped headfirst into selling physical products on Amazon using arbitrage, wholesale, and private label, as well as launching the Rocky Mountain Reseller Conference in Denver.
In 2017, he began experimenting with POD and now owns and operates Make Your Mark Design – a company with over 100,000 print on demand product listings across multiple platforms.
He also co-hosts the Print On Demand Cast each week with Josiah Sifuentes and has spoken at different events about the Print On Demand industry. Travis currently lives just north of Denver, CO with his wife and five children.
Connor: Hey Travis, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. As a company, one of our goals is to highlight our partners so that our clients can benefit where it makes most sense. To get started, can you give us a high-level introduction to Make Your Mark Design and a little bit about how the company got started?
Travis: I actually started the company prior to MYMD and was selling on the Amazon platform. We sourced products in all sorts of ways from arbitrage (retail and online) as well as private labeling products from China.
As we grew, I partnered with another seller to start the Rocky Mountain Reseller Conference in Denver, CO. At one of the after hours events, I heard about how you create coffee mugs with some basic equipment.
Since I had already created many designs for my Merch by Amazon account, I started creating coffee mug listings on Amazon. Years later, MYMD is now a print on demand fulfillment company with 5 different digital printing methods.
Connor: Thanks for sharing that! Can you dive a bit more into the fulfillment, account management, and other products and services you provide? Our audience is always looking for reputable companies that they can lean on for specific parts of their eCommerce businesses.
Travis: Basically we can integrate with nearly any sales channel and automatically import print on demand orders. We then take care of the creation of the final product and ship to your customer.
It’s very similar to drop shipping, except the products don’t exist until they’re actually purchased. Since everything is digital, we can produce one-offs such as t-shirts, embroidered hats, laser engraved wine tumblers, full color coffee mugs, skinny tumblers, wooden framed signs, and much more.
Connor: Jumping off of that…when you’re thinking about your ideal customer, who is that? Where are they selling online? Where are they located in the world? How much sales do they typically have in a year? If there’s any other qualities, please include them as well. We’re all about making introductions where it benefits both parties.
Travis: We have a few “ideal customers.” One would be somebody who already has an audience and simply wants to start monetizing it via a Shopify, Squarespace, or WooCommerce site. We can help come up with initial designs and products that fit with the demographic and handle all the fulfillment for them.
Another great fit is somebody who has a Merch by Amazon account and also a Seller Central account. We can take those MBA design assets they’ve already paid for and repurpose them on the Seller Central side with products MBA doesn’t currently offer.
Connor: For our audience to truly understand what makes you stand out from other companies in fulfillment or account management, can you share a story of how Make Your Mark Design truly helped one of its customers?
Travis: We have a client that has a huge YouTube audience, but wasn’t monetizing it with merch. We came in and helped them with initial designs and all of the backend work to get their merch site integrated with our workflow.
In April alone, this customer has sold over $20k in product that we fulfill for them. All they have to do is promote and we handle everything else for them.
Connor: As you and your company think about the next year ahead, what does it look like? Are there any specific initiatives that you’re working on as a team to better your products and services for your customers?
Travis: We continually test new products and make them available to our clients. We plan to do monthly sales on certain products so our clients can make more money per sale.
This incentivizes them to market to their audience with specific products and they can even run sales themselves without having to sacrifice margin. We’re also testing out new marketplaces to see which ones offer the best return on the time it takes to onboard with them.
Connor: How about this…everyone loves a company’s growth story. We all naturally go through ups and downs as a company. What was one of the biggest challenges that the company faced in its growing stages?
Travis: When we first moved into the space we’re currently in, we didn’t know how to run some of the machines. I hired three techs that had little to no knowledge in the print world and had to depend on the training we got from the company we purchased the equipment from.
They came out and stayed with us for about 30-45 days teaching us how to run the machines. Compounding how difficult it was to learn everything was the fact that we moved in on November 2nd, right before the huge Christmas rush. We had to hire temporary workers on top of the employees who had just started. It was quite literally the blind leading the blind!
That said, we got through it and now have many SOPs in place to help us in the busier times and specifics on how to train temp workers, as well.
Connor: Thanks! Let’s talk some eCommerce! Where do you see the industry heading in the next 1-2 years? Any big changes that you’re predicting for the industry? How can eCommerce companies prepare for it?
Travis: Artificial Intelligence is already making a huge mark in the ecom world. The ability to create titles, descriptions, etc with ChatGPT or make images with MidJourney is shaking things up quite a bit.
I fully expect an SEO company to eventually train a chatbot specifically on SEO to where you can tell the AI what you want to rank for and it will spit out not only keywords, but an entire SEO marketing strategy.
That’s likely already happening somewhere and it’s only the beginning to how AI will impact ecommerce in the next few years in my opinion.
Connor: Changing gears a little bit…When it comes to bookkeeping and accounting, what do you think the biggest pain points for eCommerce business owners are? Feel free to speak from personal experience as well.
Travis: First of all, deciding which methodology you want (or need) to use in your bookkeeping. There are many schools of thought on this, but which methodology will help you, the business owner, to understand your business in the most concise way?
Questions such as: How will you split out variable and fixed costs? How will you handle inventory? Which expenses will go into your COGS? Will you estimate employee time for each widget sold/created? If you don’t, how will you know at what point you can sell no more and need to hire in order to scale?
There are so many ways to skin this particular cat, it’s important that you have the support you need to get your questions answered and move down the path towards having books that actually help you make solid business decisions.
Connor: Okay, here’s an open mic opportunity. If there’s one thing that you’d want the EcomBalance community to hear from you, what would it be?
Travis: Like I mentioned earlier, if you have assets that could be used in multiple places, it’s always in your best interest to do so. That’s how I got started in printing – I took existing assets and found ways to monetize them in other places.
So specifically, if you have design assets already, a designer in house, or an old Seller Central account, do yourself a favor and start creating new listings to sell print on demand products. There are many ways to automate and accelerate your growth with assets you either already have or can obtain easily.
Connor: As we close this out, I just have one more question. Where is the best place to find and follow you and the company online? Also, if you have one, is there any special offer that you’ll be offering to the community today?
For the special offer, I’d be happy to offer a free consultation on your business and if there’s a way to monetize your existing assets via print on demand. Send me an email and we’ll schedule a call. If you already have a website, I can also offer 3 initial t-shirt designs to kick start your POD business.
I also co-host a podcast all about the print on demand world called the Print On Demand Cast (the PODCast.) We have over 140 episodes and publish weekly on most major podcasting platforms. Check out our site at http://printondemandcast.com.