I'm so proud of this number. While we've definitely had our ups and downs this year, I find it extremely motivating to see that we're making a difference in the lives of our creators.
$550,000 is just an incredible number to me. We've taken a WordPress blog from nothing to where we are today and creators are able to both live off of and supplement their income with real money. This really inspires me to keep going and we'll be aiming for the next massive milestone of $1,000,000!
In the eyes of many, this might not seem like an impressive catalog, especially when you compare it to some of the other marketplaces out there. The key difference though is that our marketplace is fully curated.
10,000 curated and hand-picked products from over 1200 creators.
One thing that we have had to change is the focus on consistent thumbnails. We've had to move away from making custom thumbnails and proofreading all descriptions. With the influx of creators we've seen, this just hasn't been feasible for a team of 3.
That doesn't change how we evaluate products or creators though.
I can't believe that we're here. 3 years ago my business partner Henning Sanden and I launched the first crude version of the FlippedNormals Marketplace. Just a few weeks later, we quit our jobs in professional VFX to pursue this full-time.
So many things have happened in those 3 years and we've learned so much about what it means to run a startup.
We set out on this incredibly ambitious journey with little of the knowledge we have today. And like most founders, I find it hard to believe that I would take the plunge had I known just how hard it would be. At the end of the day though, it's all been worth it.
3 years on we have more than 10,000 published products and over 1200 creators that are selling through the marketplace.
At the end of the UK fiscal year, we also crossed that magic number of more than $1,000,000 ARR. An absurd number I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.
While covid has definitely impacted the earnings, I'm optimistic about the rest of 2021 and the exciting things we have planned.
Not something that's been accomplished, but more of a realization. Over the past 3 years, as we've continued to build our site, it's started to become slower and more crowded with different developers' code. This is the result of not being able to code yourself.
We've reached a point now where we spend maybe an average of 3-5 hours a day on just keeping the site alive. It periodically goes down, images that should be cropped no longer do. Even our payout system is struggling which means we're forced to do this manually, despite spending a fortune on an automatic system that was supposed to take the load off of us.
We've started looking into alternatives and have started having chats internally about re-building from scratch.
At this point, the current site is so incompatible with itself, that when we add new features we have to do so much more testing to get things live. Even menial tasks that should just be a button click away, ends up taking weeks.
I'm still proud of what we've built. And we've done what we can with the knowledge we have available. But it's time for things to change and we'll see how we get on over the next year or so.
I recently did an interview with Indie Hackers about the growth of FlippedNormals. If you're interested in a condensed version of how we built a marketplace with no coding ability, check it out :)
The nerves are always high whenever we launch a storewide sale. We know that we generate more revenue, but it's always a question of growth. Ideally, you would want to see growth year over year and the same goes for sales. This year was no different. What was different this year was the pandemic.
I don't want to focus on the pandemic too much, but you have to recognize that it played a role.
By this point, people had been home for a long time. At the beginning of the year, I think people were more optimistic. They had a lot of time on their hands, many still had jobs and so were willing to spend more money. Especially online.
This became the big question, would people still be willing to invest in their education while the prospect of landing a job anytime soon looked slim.
The answer is yes.
We didn't treat this sale all that different than we had in the past. What did change was our involvement on social media. Previously we've been pushing a lot of content to platforms, especially YouTube, during the sale. We backed off a bit this year as it's become pretty taxing to create videos every day.
Another small change was advertising. We haven't had much luck with paid advertising in the past, but during this sale, we decided to buy some ad space on 80.lv. It's a platform frequented by students and people interested in game development. From that, we saw a big uptick in US visitors, a market we've had a hard time getting a foothold on. Going forward, we'll try to pursue paid advertising in short sprints and see if we can't retain some of the momentum we've gained from this sale.
Now for some numbers.
It's always a little strange with numbers from this period because we look at the Black Friday/Cyber Monday days which bleed into December for a few days.
Our sale ran from the 23rd of November until the 2nd of December.
In that 10 day period, we generated $176,000.
One figure I'm very proud of is how much we paid out to our creators. Around $77,000. That's 43% of all the revenue generated. We're constantly seeing this number go up. And more and more of our creators are making real money with us. This is a topic that I'm extremely passionate about. 2021 will the year of the creators. We have a lot of very exciting things scheduled and with the way the world is shaping up it's becoming feasible than ever, to make a living online.
Our highest earning creator during the sale made over $4000 and we had more than 15 creators make over $1000
Let's have a quick look at how that compares to our previous Black Friday sales.
BF 18 - $24k
BF 19 - $117k
BF 20 - $176k
From our sale in 2019 to our sale in 2020 we increased revenue by exactly 50%. That's definitely an increase I'm proud of, but I know we can do better and that's what we'll strive for in 2021.
Our conversion rate during the sale was pretty much in line with what we've seen during past sales, 10.26% of visitors became paying customers. That amounted to a little over 5000 purchases. Not all were individual as some customers bought multiple times.
Despite focusing less on YouTube, we still pushed a lot of content to the rest of our social media platforms. Time and time again I'm reminded why these are key in this day and age.
Our combined social media efforts made up around 20% of all direct sales, that's not taking "stragglers" into account who might see some of our content and return to the platform a few days later to purchase.
All in all, this was a success. Tensions were high as always, you never know what to expect. The problem with previous growth is that you become accustomed to it. You expect it to happen again. I'm becoming more aware of this and try to have realistic expectations.
We're expanding our team! Today, Emiel Sleegers, an environment artist from the AAA games industry is joining. This has been underway for some time, and I'm thrilled to have another member joins the ranks.
Emiel will assist us with making AAA focused courses as well as write articles and spearhead our challenges. Both articles and challenges are something we've done very little of in the past, simply because we haven't had the time. All of that changes now.
Moving your company from one country to another is not something I can recommend. While I knew it would take time and a lot of effort, I severely underestimated the task.
From start to finish, we've been at it for about 9 months. 9 months of dealing with lawyers and accountants in two countries.
The official transition date was the 25th of September, but it still took a while for trading to completely halt in the UK.
There are still minor challenges ahead when it comes to bookkeeping, but most of the bigger tasks are now complete!
I've been following the guys over at Blender Market and CG Cookie for quite some time. And when I saw the updates coming from Jonathan about their marketplace I decided I wanted to share our experience as well.
It's always been a dream of mine to be as open as possible about our platform and our journey so that others may learn and be inspired by it.
I've gotten a lot of inspiration from them, as well Pieter Levels who founded Nomad List, the guys over at Envato, and let's not forget, Gumroad.
Every time I've read an update from them about how they've grown, and what they're doing next, it inspires me to do better and keep pushing through.
And if these posts can be of value to just a single person out there who goes on to create something fantastic for themselves, then I'll be happy.
This July was an unbelievable milestone for us. Up until now, the best we'd ever done was just shy of $100k in a month.
We don't do a lot of sales, but when we do, we want them to count. So like with our previous sales, this was a storewide sale that included more than 3,500 products and generated more than $162,000.00 in gross revenue.
It's no secret within the company that I love stats, I'm a sucker for metrics, and sometimes vanity metrics. I love them all equally.
And events like these tend to blow all of my predictions out of the water.
I find it incredible that we've been able to create something from the ground up, with no knowledge of programming, just hard work and a good bit of luck.
As always, a lot of traffic came directly from YouTube.
We had over 110,000 visitors, 20,000 of them directly from YouTube. That's over 18% of visitors.
Reinforcing that what we do on the platform is crucial.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram brought in around 12,800 visitors, combined.
That's around 11%.
And last but not least, our newsletter.
Currently, we sit at around 24,000 subscribers and that's increasing every day.
3,700 visitors came directly from the newsletter.
FlippedNormals is a curated CG marketplace that takes a quality over quantity approach. We filter everything but the higestest quality tutorials and resources, so our customers don't have to.