Etsy Dropshipping Startup

Start a phone case business with $14 using Etsy5 min read

If I told you, you could start a phone case business with as little as $14, would you believe me? I’ve done it, and I believe anybody can do it. It’s not as hard as you think it would be.

Start a phone case business with $14 using Etsy5 min read

If I told you, you could start a phone case business with as little as $14, would you believe me? I’ve done it, and I believe anybody can do it. It’s not as hard as you think it would be.

There are four main steps and one essential requirement for the process of creating a phone case business for under $14. There is also has a massive potential of becoming passive income for you.

The 4 main steps:

  • Creating designs,
  • Finding a suitable marketplace,
  • Having a social media presence,
  • Using influencers.

The Key Requirement: Your time.

If you’re not a designer, do not worry. Many people have used similar techniques without the use of design skills and succeeded along this path. As long as you’re willing to put in the work you should be fine. Also, if you’re wondering how is it even possible to start a phone case business with $14, you’re about to find out.

What phone case do you want to design for?

When starting, I like to concentrate on one specific type of phone. In my case, I choose the iPhone. You see, there are so many different types of phones in the market, which comes in all shapes and sizes. But the iPhone has one design template dimension that can adapt to all the variations of the iPhone without changing it. So I establish all my designs using an iPhone and then later adapt it for other smartphones.

“I don’t have an iPhone, what shall I do?”

You do not need an iPhone to design for an iPhone. It’s the same way you don’t need stocks of new phone cases (to be printed on) or a printing machine. We will be using a template guide provided by Printful to create our designs.

Download the Guideline files for iPhone and Samsung Cases

The guidelines come with a Photoshop file and PNG. You can use it in Adobe Illustrator, but for this tutorial guide, I’m going to make it necessary so that everybody can execute it. We will be using a free online tool called Canva.

Two design techniques for your phone case business

In this guide, I will mention two design techniques, including one that can be done online by anybody.

Design Technique #1 – The first design technique involves some technical skills, using Illustrator, Inkscape, Photoshop or any other digital design application. You can use those applications along with the guidelines to create your design.

Design Technique #2 – The second design technique I recommend, its the easiest and quickest out of the two. It involves using a free application called Canva and Vectr. Below is a video going over how you can create a phone case design ready for printing using Canva.

  • Sign up to Canva for free,
  • Sign up to Vectr for free to save designs or use as a guest,
  • PNG to SVG converter,
  • Freepik for Vector Resources.

Once you make one design, make another ten more. The reason I recommend a minimum of ten designs, it’s because it is a significant number to get started with and found through the marketplace search engines. Also, make product pictures, using Canva, so you’re ready for the next step.

Create a social media account

This step is significant because it allows you to connect with potential customers and your audience. Social media is a powerful tool. Use it to your advantage and create excellent customer relationships. When used correctly, it can give you great exposure, leading to sales and fans of your brand.

I prefer Instagram as my social media of choice because of the visual graphic nature of the application. It’s also easier to find others who like pages similar to yours and copy followers and make them interested in your brand.

Sign up for a print-on-demand service

There are many places where you can turn your designs into actual products, and have them shipped to your customer. One method is using print, order, and fulfilment, also known as print-on-demand. It’s one of my favourite ways to get started and is brilliant for validating new design ideas and building your brand from budget or scratch. You can check out which services I use on the resources page.

Join a marketplace

If you want to keep within a budget for launching your phone case business with $14, then it’s best to use a marketplace to get started with rather than building a website. I do recommend creating a website later on the line as you grow but to begin and validate designs, we will stick to Etsy. The brilliant perk of using Etsy with Printful is that they seamlessly integrate. Which means when you get an order on Etsy, Printful will detect it and automatically pick it up and be ready to fulfil your request, if you choose to. Thus taking it away from your hands and creating passive income for you. It also allows you to concentrate on other things such as marketing and designing for your store.

There are reasons why I prefer Etsy over marketplaces such as Amazon, Zazzle, eBay and the others. Etsy is a marketplace where handmade and vintage items can make a killing. The quality of customers on Etsy tend to pay more for things than places such as eBay and Amazon.

On Etsy, they have customers ready to buy and communicate with you. It’s easy to rank in an Etsy search than Amazon and eBay, and customers expect to pay more for a handmade or well-designed product.

Once you join Etsy, upload your products listings. A tip I would like to share is to add keywords to your title as this will help rank better in the Etsy search engine. Don’t be misleading, however, for example, if you’re listing a case for iPhone, don’t put “Sony Phone Case” in your title or description. Also, the longer the report, the better. Shoot for at least a minimum of 150-500 words; buyers love a story and stories sell.

Negotiating free shoutouts on Instagram

After signing up, you can edit the description of your store, create an about you section, add Printful as a production partner, set your policies and so on. While you wait for yourself to get discovered by customers on Etsy and for orders to roll in, you can go back to social media and start marketing.

I like to fill my Instagram page with images of my products as well as the design and printing process behind it, to create some sort of story. I also find pages like mine and influencers related to my page and copy followers. If you want to stick to a budget of under $14, you can search for influencers with followers under 20-50k. You will need to find a lot of them and contact them to negotiate a shoutout for free. How do you do that?

It can be challenging to get a shoutout, even if you paid an influencer, so getting one for free will take a significant amount of work and communication. Build a list of potential influencers with a following of 20-50k. Message them with the formula below.

Send them the message “Selling shoutouts? What are your rates? :D” – This gets straight to the point and gets the influencer’s attention. You will usually get three types of responses:

  1. Influencers send their shoutout price list.
  2. They ask you what you’re promoting.
  3. The influencer asks for your budget.

Regardless of the response, respond to them with the following:

“We want to test your page and would like to partner with you for our next [product name] launch. We don’t know how well your page will perform; we usually partner with pages with over 450K. But we would like to offer you a [insert %] bonus on sales, from your page, for posting our [product name] for 12 hours. If it goes well we will continue to buy shoutouts every week. We decided to message you because your page looks like a winner.”

Try this message formula on small influencers and hopefully you should get some free shoutouts and the influencer feels involved and part of your brand too. Don’t forget, when targeting an influencer, choose one related to the niche of your store. Don’t spend money on shoutouts on a dolphin relevant page when your store is about kittens.

Handling objections: If the influencer is unsure of the deal, you could reassure them be willing to continue doing business with them if their channel does well. You could either pay for shoutouts or set a commission of sales made from their channel.

To see a collection of my best resources used for creating a phone case business head over to the resources page.

Hey! I am Captain POD, and I want to tell you about all that I know about building a successful business using Print-on-Demand! Whether it's a side hustle, full-time job or a hobby.