Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Tech We Use

January 27, 2020 Episode 10
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Tech We Use
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Tech We Use
Jan 27, 2020 Episode 10
Julie Ball

#010- In this episode, Julie dishes about all the tech they use at Sparkle Hustle Grow. This episode will save you hours of research and will prevent you from getting decision fatigue.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
Subscription Box Bootcamp
Cratejoy
Stripe
Paypal
Pirate Ship
Help Scout
Voxer
Canva - Earn 1 free Canva credit with our referral link
Word Swag
Typorama
Snapseed
Adobe Lightroom - also available in App Store and Play Store
Screencast-O-Matic
Quik - also available in App Store and Play Store
Buffer
Mailchimp
Vistaprint
Sticker Mule - Get a $10 store credit with our referral link

Show Notes Transcript

#010- In this episode, Julie dishes about all the tech they use at Sparkle Hustle Grow. This episode will save you hours of research and will prevent you from getting decision fatigue.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
Subscription Box Bootcamp
Cratejoy
Stripe
Paypal
Pirate Ship
Help Scout
Voxer
Canva - Earn 1 free Canva credit with our referral link
Word Swag
Typorama
Snapseed
Adobe Lightroom - also available in App Store and Play Store
Screencast-O-Matic
Quik - also available in App Store and Play Store
Buffer
Mailchimp
Vistaprint
Sticker Mule - Get a $10 store credit with our referral link

Speaker 1:
0:02
So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place! I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun. Hey, friends! I am so glad you are listening to this episode because it will be one of the most useful ones yet. I'm Julie Ball, your host here at Subscription Box Basics and today I'm dishing some secrets. I'm going to tell you the tech we use here at Sparkle Hustle Grow. Yup! No need to try and reverse engineer my six-figure subscription box business. We are pretty much an open book and I'm going to share it with you today. In fact, I love sharing this type of thing because I know it will be useful to your decision making.
Speaker 1:
0:56
I want things to be easier for you. I know decision fatigue all too well. You know when you get so exhausted from researching options and you can't make a decision. So get your pen and paper ready as I'll be going through the tech pretty quickly. But don't worry, we'll have all of the links in the show notes too. The biggest tech question I get asked over and over again is what platform do we sell on? And that one's easy. We use Cratejoy, which is an all-in-one software platform for subscription box businesses. Not only can we manage our inventory and our customers, but it also sends out emails like renewal reminders and sales receipts. And you can also build your entire website using their easy to customize template on Cratejoy. So in fact, when we launched back in October 2016 I used one of their templates because I had limited time to do it and I had a limited budget.
Speaker 1:
1:56
In other words, zero dollar saved for a web designer. And so their templates came really in handy. So after I'm started making some money in the business though, I hired Carmen Vermilion of Vermilion creative agency and she created a beautiful WordPress website for me that we integrated with my Cratejoy products. And that's still how we manage the website now. WordPress on the frontend and Cratejoy on the backend, it's pretty easy. So on top of that though, Cratejoy has this marketplace for vendors. Think of it like the Etsy marketplace. It's filled with goods from vendors worldwide, but the Cratejoy marketplace is filled with only subscription box businesses. It's a great place to shop, yeah. But as a future box owner like you, you can do some really great market research in there. And as a seller on Cratejoy's marketplace, you pay a fee for any sale that you get through that marketplace.
Speaker 1:
2:56
And some people kind of feel negatively about this, but hot dang people, it's pay for performance. Meaning you only pay the fee when you get a sale. Let me say that again. You only pay the fee when you get a sale. I wished Facebook ads work that way. Seriously, what other marketing channel only charges you when they make a sale on your behalf? Not many. I digress. One last thing about Cratejoy is that they have a built-in referral program. There is a monthly fee to use it because it's kind of like an upgrade. Um, and but I don't recommend that you pay for a referral program until you have about 50 or a hundred subscribers because it really won't pay off when the audience is small unless of course you have an unlimited budget and then go for it. But I started my referral program when I hit a hundred subscribers. At that point I felt like I had enough subscribers for me to put in the time, the effort and the budget into creating this referral program.
Speaker 1:
3:55
So with any e-commerce cart software, you still need a payment processor, whether you use Cratejoy, Shopify or whatever else. A payment processor is the actual company that collects the money on your behalf. Since you run your business online, you obviously can't take cash on your website. So instead we use both Stripe and PayPal. They're both industry leaders, have very competitive transaction fees. And are user-friendly for both me as the business owner having to integrate it into my website, but also for the end user and using their money accounts to pay pretty simple Stripe and PayPal. Next, let's talk postage. So when you run a business online and you're selling products, you do not want to go to the post office to buy your postage. You are going to be paying way more than if you bought it online for commercial purposes. So my absolute favorite shipping service provider is Pirate Ship.
Speaker 1:
4:52
It's a free software that uses the power of aggregated volume. In other words, lots and lots of businesses using it together gives them all collectively more buying power. The software's really easy to use. It provides the best United States Postal Service, the USPS rates that I've seen anywhere. And a bonus, it integrates directly with Cratejoy. So when I ship a package, it updates Cratejoy automatically with the shipping status and tracking number. There's no extra steps in there. It will even let me schedule out automated tracking emails, which is great because I typically process my batch postage a few days in advance of our shipping day and you guys want to know the best part. Their customer service is phenomenal at Pirate Ship, not only do they answer support tickets very fast, they do so in pirate, they are there for you, if you know what I mean. I kind of loved captain Jack Sparrow, so it's a huge win to that little bit of joy in an otherwise mundane task.
Speaker 1:
6:02
Okay, moving on. When I buy labels through pirate ship, I then print them on a Dymo 4XL printer. It's super fast and efficient and it's a thermal printer, meaning it prints with heat rather than ink, so you never have to worry about running out of ink. I got mine on Amazon and it is doing great even after three and a half years at the time of this recording. All I have to do is buy labels on a monthly basis. Okay, moving on. Let's talk about customer service. As you continue to grow your box business, you inevitably will experience higher volumes of customer support needs. Trust me that you do not want these all routed to your personal email inbox. You will be pulling out your hair and that's why we use Help Scout. It's a software as a service. All emails sent to support@sparkle hustlegrow.com are dropped into our Help Scout account where my team can then respond, delegate and track support tickets. And help scout has a useful app so you could even manage it on the fly, which is great because we'd like to do a lot of travel on our team. And that leads me to team communication.
Speaker 1:
7:19
If you have anyone else working on your business with you, like team members or contract workers, maybe a virtual assistant, you gotta be able to communicate with them. For our team we prefer Voxer. It's V as in Victor, O, X, E, R. Voxer is sort of a walkie-talkie style app. You can text message, send audio or video messages and you can send pictures. And if you are both on it at the same time, you can communicate in real time as if you're like on a walkie talkie and if you aren't on at the same time, the other person can listen to the message when they log on next. It's so super helpful and really fun to be honest with you. I use the Pro version because it archives your conversations for you. In other words, um, the free version doesn't save all of your old messages to a certain point.
Speaker 1:
8:13
So the Pro version archives your conversations and with Pro version you can also recall messages if you've made an error or you know, if you sent a message to the wrong person. Whoops! I've done it before. Um, yeah. All the cool kids are using Voxer. So you should too. So far we've only talked about the operations side of the business, so let's switch it up over to marketing and what tech we use for marketing. By far, our favorite graphic design software is Canva. I prefer the desktop over the app, but they do have an app version which is pretty handy. So Canva is where we do most of our social media and email imagery. But for quick text overlays we sometimes use phone apps like Word Swag and Typorama. For actual photo editing, like if you need to lighten something up or if you need to change the saturation or you know, those types of things, I prefer Snapseed and Lightroom apps. One thing about Snapseed is there's this cool function, I can't remember what it's called off the top of my head, but you can make whites whiter, like you'd tap where the white looks kind of gray and then you can slide it up on a scale of intensity and it really helps products pop off of a white background if your lighting's not amazing. So that was Snapseed. And then with Lightroom, I have some presets in there that help with dimly lit photos and you drop it in light room, use the preset and you're good to go, super fast. There are a couple of video apps that I like to use and honestly most of our video marketing is either Facebook lives or prerecorded videos that I do using Screencast-O-Matic. I really liked that software. It allows for easy video editing for those of us who don't have a video editing background.
Speaker 1:
10:08
So Screencast-O-Matic and then the apps, the video apps that I like most are Canva, Quik and Legend to use to make short animated images. So you know like quick little videos that will be on a loop. I also like Boomerang, which I recently found out that the kids call them Boomie's. So of course now I call them Boomie's too because it's fun and if you want to make a fun stop-motion unboxing video, for example, check out the app just simply called Stop Motion for social media. I've heard that the best way to post is to post natively in the platform. So for example, posting right in the Facebook or Instagram feed and that the platforms can reward you with visibility when you use their native apps. But we sometimes really, really need to schedule posts in advance. And for that we use Buffer. I've been using it for years and we may switch in the future.
Speaker 1:
11:06
But for now we post natively and in Buffer. Okay. Let's move on to email marketing. I mentioned earlier that Cratejoy sends transactional emails like receipts and renewal reminders. But we don't use those emails for our marketing and subscriber communication emails. We use MailChimp. I'll be honest, it's not my first choice for an email marketing service provider, but it has built-in integration with Cratejoy. Why does that matter? Well, it means that the two softwares can sort of talk to each other. For example, when a new customer subscribes to my box in Cratejoy, it automatically gets added to a list of subscribers in MailChimp, which then triggers a series of welcome emails for the new subscriber. So I love automation. It makes my life so much easier. And when there's a software integration, there's less room for errors. That is, you know, compared to if you are piecing different softwares together with zaps and such.
Speaker 1:
12:11
And the last bit of tech I wanted to mention, well they aren't so much tech, but we order online. So I wanted to mention where we get our print pieces done. For packing lists and any other postcards we print for the box, we use Vistaprint. They're quality and prices are good, their customer service is good and they're just overall really reliable for us. On the other hand, we use Sticker Mule, uh, for any stickers, decals. And then for our poly mailer that we ship our monthly minis in, we call them the mini mailer and Sticker Mule prints those poly mailers for us. And they are self sticking. So you just pull off the little tab and it closes and you don't have to use tape, which is really nice. And they are this shiny, I guess you would call them some sort of poly material, but the print on them is super vibrant.
Speaker 1:
13:04
So we'll make sure that we put in our link to Sticker Mule where you can get a deal using our referral link and put that in the show notes. Oh, okay. So that's a pretty comprehensive list of the tech we use here at Sparkle Hustle Grow. So betcha 10 bucks that you'll spend the next hour Googling these apps and softwares signing up for free trials and such. And I don't blame you one bit. I hope that this episode helps you make decisions swiftly so you can continue with your forward progression on your box business. And how about this? If you found value in this episode, even if it helped you make one decision, just one, would you please give me a great review so more people can find this podcast? I will do a happy dance when it comes through and we'll celebrate you here at Subscription Box Bootcamp headquarters. Thank you guys as always, for spending this time with me and know that I am cheering you on and I'll see you in the next episode.
Speaker 2:
14:15
[inaudible].
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