Case studies on Instagram, Etsy & Gift Guides – Here are the results (so far!)

Last updated June 14, 2017

Over the last few months I’ve shared some cool case studies with you:

Each time I share a study, people invariably ask for updates. They want to know if contacting Instagram influencers pays off in the long run, if getting on gift guides is worth it, and so on.

And I get it – I mean, there’s no point in wasting time if these things don’t convert into sales.

That’s why this week I’ve done a roundup of some of my last few case studies to show you the real-world results we’ve gotten. You’ll see:

  • How many sales we’ve made (or not) with each case study
  • Exactly what products we’ve sold and where we sold them
  • Our total time + money invested for each strategy compared to the return

You’ll also learn about a couple new tools my sister found that I like even better than WordClouds.

Let’s dig in…

Case Study #1: Sending Samples To Instagram Influencers

I initially published the Instagram influencer post on April 26th. Since it was posted, another influencer asked for a sample so I’ve sent out a total of 5 mugs.

Of those 5, one person hasn’t confirmed if they’ve gotten the mug and four have posted my mugs to their Instagram accounts.

While it’s hard to completely track the sales on this, I believe the results in terms of both exposure and sales were well worth the effort.

Here are the posts people made…

The first post was published on April 28th:

Instagram marketing can be hard. There are some great ideas here.

1,944 likes, a link inside the description, and 34 comments—with lots of “I need this cup” type comments.

Here’s the second post (published on May 8th):

Instagram marketing can be hard. There are some great ideas here.

This person put my link in her bio (without me asking!), got over 4k likes to the mug (so far), and 29 comments—also mostly saying things like “I need this mug.”

Here’s the third post (published on June 4th):

Instagram marketing can be hard. There are some great ideas here.

This image has earned close to 400 likes. And although one of the comments said they’d prefer it if the real dog’s ears matched the dog’s ears on the mug, the Instagram influencer wrote a fun blurb about the mug and included a link to my site.

Here’s the latest post (published on June 6th):

Instagram marketing can be hard. There are some great ideas here.

This post was published only about a week ago, but it’s earned over 300 likes so far. Plus, the influencer included a link to my site in her bio and she posted to Facebook.

It’s hard to track sales, but considering we have things like retargeting software in place to keep marketing to people, plus an email list, plus the exposure, I’m pretty pleased.

Since the first Instagram post on April 28th, we’ve had 18 “pit bull” related sales.

While I feel confident that most if not all of those items were due to Instagram (I’ve barely touched Shopify lately), at least eight were the exact mug sent to the first two Instagram influencers (except in black).

MAJOR FAIL: For the first mug I showed you, the white mug was showing as “sold out” on our website! Who knows how many people came on for the white mug, saw it was unavailable, and left? We’ll never know.

For now, we’ll call those eight mug sales definite Instagram sales and the rest as gravy.


Time spent: Around an hour

Money spent: $49.5 (five mugs)

ROI: 8  definite mug sales, 10 other pit bull-related sales I’m convinced are from Instagram, close to 7,000 likes, and tons of exposure.

The consensus: Not too shabby. I think the exposure and sales were worth the time and money spent on this.

Case Study #2: Making word-cloud designs to sell

I originally published the post about selling digital “WordCloud” designs on Etsy (along with other places) on May 16th.

My assistant and I collaborated to make three dog printables that we put for sale on Etsy. And while we actually haven’t gotten any Etsy sales yet, on a whim, we also took the same three dog designs and put them on pillow cases and mugs, which we listed on Bonanzaand got a sale that way!

Etsy selling doesn't have to be crazy hard. This is a super easy strategy.

Since the post my sister told me about a few new tools:

  1. Wordficator
  2. Wordart

I found Wordficator to be much easier than WordClouds so I quickly made a design over the weekend and put it on mugs and tank tops to sell on Shopify and Etsy.

And guess what? We made 2 tank top sales already!


Time spent: Under 30 minutes

Money spent: $0

ROI: one set of pillow cases (minus Bonanza’s fees) and two tank tops

The consensus: Small results so far. I’m also not convinced that our initial printable test designs on Etsy were great. But with no upfront costs and a low time commitment, I think it’s worth testing further, especially using Wordficator.

Case Study #3: Getting Your Products Included In Gift Guides

I posted about how to get on gift guides on March 22nd.

Of the two positive responses I received, I heard back from one person two months later with an update letting me know that she had published an article featuring my products.

Want to give your sales a big boost? Get your products included on gift guides -- whether it's a gift guide for dad, a gift guide for teens...whatever type of gift guide works best for you!

In her gift guide, she featured not one but TWO of my pit bull mugs! Plus, she shared the guide on Facebook and Twitter, and to her 30.9K Instagram followers.

Want to give your sales a big boost? Get your products included on gift guides -- whether it's a gift guide for dad, a gift guide for teens...whatever type of gift guide works best for you!

She even used a photo featuring one of my mugs for her Instagram post, which generated 707 likes and also included my link in her bio.

Again, it’s hard to track sales for this. But since Laura posted her gift guide, I’ve gotten five Amazon sales for the two mugs she featured.


Time spent: Around an hour

Money spent: $9.95 (one mug)

ROI: five mug sales, over 700 likes, and however much traffic she got to the gift guide she published

The consensus: Not too bad. Minimal costs and time commitment. Could definitely be worth trying again.

I hope you found these updates useful. Let me know if you tried any of the strategies described in the case studies and the results that YOU have seen so far. 

Instagram marketing and Etsy selling can be hard. There are some great ideas here, including how to get your product added to gift guides.

Great video: “Simple On-Demand Selling That Works In 2017”

Rachel RofeI hope your day is going great! I’m actually writing to you from an airplane today because I’m enroute to Chicago for some training. Fun times! :)

The picture to the left is from yesterday morning. Don and I both missed my nephew a ton so on Thursday I texted my sister to see what her plans were for the weekend. Luckily she didn’t have much planned so we flew her and my nephew out from FridayTuesday.

As always, we had a great time. Some highlights: we visited the toy store a couple times (I was unprepared with new toys due to the spontaneous trip), went to a Medieval Times-esque dinner, and my sister and I went to an escape room on Sunday night.

Don and I were both so sad when they left. We get so attached to my nephew!

And speaking of Don, I’ve been wanting to share a presentation of his with you. I was going to share it last week but knew some of you were excited to hear about the Instagram results so I waited. ;)

The presentation is called “Simple On-Demand Selling That Works In 2017” and is available 100% free on Facebook. Obviously I’m biased, hehe, but I think the presentation was really useful (and so did other people in the thread).

In it you’ll see a case study that Don went over explaining how he sold 7k units of a color changing mug. You’ll also learn:

  • Why you need to make your selling model as simple as possible
  • The top on-demand niches based on more than $35 million in data
  • What sells best on mugs and necklaces
  • His favorite advertising strategy – it’s “dirt simple” to steal one of his catch phrases ;)

This is very step-by-step and is 100% free, no opt-in, all available on Facebook. Check it out here: