Prayer Prints Case Study

My goal for 2017 is to start generating income from the sale of digital products on my own website.

I acquired the domain name PrayerPrints.com in a dropped domain auction. I plan to use images that I've taken over the years, add text to them, and sell the results as digital downloads for use in calendars, books, wall posters, etc. This eCommerce section Writerville will detail my entire process. 

When you acquire a new domain name like PrayerPrints.com it's always a good idea to do a little research before you put any real effort into doing anything significant with it. My first stop was the United States Patent and Trademark Office (www.USPTO.gov) to look and see whether there was an existing trademark on the term prayer prints.

I found there was an expired trademark for prayer print, singular. Since it expired several years ago and wasn't an exact match I don't believe I have any potential trademark issues.

The domain name prayer prints.com was first created in 2004. Because of the way I acquired it from a dropped list before it actually went through the entire redemption process, it maintained its original creation date in the WHOIS database records. That means that from the standpoint of SEO it has a 2004 creation date.  That makes it look like a long established registration, which helps to ensure that Google doesn't think it's a new spam site.

My next step was to see how much competition and how much success is being had by others who are in the printed prayer niche. I did a Google search for prayer prints and found that the number one site is allposters.com. Looking through their offerings I see that none of them have a photo background. All their poster offerings are text on the a plain background or text on a graphic kind of background. There are no prints with a photograph background and text applied to it.

The number two result was at ETSY. Their offerings don't have photo backgrounds either. All the ones I saw were text on plain paper or something with a pattern but no photographs.

Of course, I don't know if this means that products based on a photograph don't sell or that for whatever reason they don't find it profitable to offer them. I can't believe that they haven't really thought about it. That suggests I need to keep that in mind and and watch my products carefully to see which kinds of posters and prints actually sell.

Where do I plan to get my photographs.​

We have been taking pictures for years and have several thousand high-resolution images stored on SmugMug.com. Many of these are just ordinary snapshots. However, some of them are excellent scenery pictures and pictures of the Rocky Mountains that would make good backgrounds for many biblical quotes.

My second source will be repurposed photographs I've taken as part of selling antiques and collectibles on eBay. Part of the reason I've not sold much on eBay is the effort required to take good images that help the item sell. It's painful to simply throw away really excellent pictures when an item sells. I think there may be a market for some of them as calendars and wall art for people who were collectors of the kinds of item that sold.

Finally, the stock image market is changing. For many years the stock image sites wanted a lot of money for their images and their terms of use were really restrictive. The terms of use are written in page after page of dense legal language that was impossible for a non-attorney to understand. I never felt that I really could afford to use those images without having to worry about possible repercussions from copyright violations.

These days stock photo sites like Pixabay.com offer totally free even for commercial use photos. I've used Pixabay on images on several websites and find that I can generally find a large image that is acceptable for the use I'm looking for. I think the same the same thing will be true for Prayerprints.com.

There is no shortage of text to put on these pictures. The Bible is a source. Since the Bible is available in many different translations it will be possible to make products that have the exact wording that appeals to different individuals. With modern software it's easy to add text in very fancy formats. I can make sure it is easy to read, matches the color of the photograph displayed behind the text, and is unique to my products.​

Marketing my products will be the big challenge. Technology is developed to where creating these kinds of products is not hard. With the right software and a minimal amount of technical skill, creating hundreds of possible products will happen quickly. Getting those products noticed & getting those products placed somewhere that potential buyers can see them is a much bigger challenge.

I've seen suggestions that product creators should spend 80% of their time on marketing and only 20% on product creation. The usuals split between creation and marketing is more like the reverse. 80% of people's time goes into creating their products and 20%, usually as an afterthought, is spent on marketing.​

Since I'm in no way, shape, or form a marketing expert, I will have a lot to learn. I have some ideas for using multiple niche websites to present products to people who are likely to be interested in them. My reading tells me that Facebook advertising may be a good way to reach small specific niches. I expect I will try some paid Facebook ads as my first effort to sell some of these products.​

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