Obviously we love all things subscription box related and we're here for supporting Black businesses and entrepreneurs driven towards creative freedom. We're loving that all these subscription boxes are popping up and we thought it would be great to outline steps towards starting your own box! These tips are not exhaustive or extensive but we think this could be a good place to start.
Corny we knooow! But breathe. This process, moving towards an independent business can be overwhelming and stressful at times. So our first tip is to take a step back and breathe. Things change every day, you can be taking one step forward and then three steps back. It's important to remember that this process takes time to take off. Subscription boxes can be difficult but once you find your groove, it's all worth it.
Be a creep - do your research
So you have an idea for a box - where do you start? We found that it was helpful to start following subscription boxes that we liked, whether that meant signing up to their newsletters or Instagram. What are they doing and how are they attracting their subscribers? It's a great way to do some market research - seeing what subscribers respond to, what type of products you could feature and overall what the subscription box market looks like.
This research can help you define your niche. This is incredibly important given that there are a growing number of subscription box businesses. Doing some research (and some scrolling on IG) can help you determine how you differentiate your box. It can help you determine what you could be doing differently and what your target audience looks like as well.
Finally, feel free to reach out to potential vendors, customers and other subscription boxes that serve your target audience. We've been happy to find that potential vendors and customers are more than happy to speak with you. They are your target audience, and obviously would love to see you grow. Speaking with them can provide valuable insight into perfecting your subscription idea. Other subscription box owners can help to! The subscription box community is friendly so you will find someone willingly to talk to you.
Secure the bag - pricing your box
So you've done your research, found your niche and narrowed down your target audience. Next step is to start thinking about the pricing of the box. How much are you willingly to charge for the products that you curate in your box? This can be dependent on a variety of factors. One is how often you plan to send a box. If it's a monthly box, maybe you charge less because you're receiving more monthly payments. However if your box comes out quarterly, it might make sense to make the boxes a bit more expensive.
Also think about the products that you want to feature. Since we buy from individual businesses, we had to estimate how many products we would purchase and at what price. Other subscription boxes purchase from larger companies wholesale and what they spend on products depends on the bulk amount that they are ordering.
We also found it was helpful to create a budget - if you plan on spending a certain amount of money per box - will you make a profit with the price point that you selected. If budgets aren't your thing no worries! There are plenty of templates and websites that can help you build your first one.
Slide in those DMs - Test the market
Pre-launch your box! See what people think. It's the most valuable feedback that you can get before you officially launch your box. There are plenty of ways to do this. One is through social media - send your box to influencers, bloggers and more. Check out to see what they like and don't like. Many bloggers can write reviews and can introduce you to a larger audience outside your immediate network.
You can also pre-launch by heading to markets (in person or virtual). Get out in the streets or on the interwebs and let people know what you're all about. This way, you can sign people up to the mailing list, get feedback on the product and overall meet the people who will be buying your product. It great for your audience to also see who you are and get to know you as well.
Obviously, your box will evolve as you begin to add new subscribers - but the pre-launch phase is a way to tweak it before you go live.
Make it look fancy - Building a website
We think a successful subscription box is all about the visuals - the packaging products and more. Thus spending time to build a website is actually quite important. Making a website is easier than ever - you can find a website template and design it based on your brand. Currently we're using the Wix platform for this website.
When picking your website, it's important to think about which websites can handle subscription payments. There are specific sites like Subbly which are specifically built for subscription businesses. Others like Shopify are built for online commerce, meaning that it is quite easy to integrate a payment system into your website design. Converted interest into sales is the key to having a successful box. As such, you want to make this process as easy as possible - and your website plays an important role in facilitating your sales.
Gas yourself up - Growing your business
So the first few iterations of your box have been successful. That's fantastic! Gas yourself up and let people know! Tell your audience know what you're up to and connect with your audience online. This is especially important during COVID-19 as it becomes more difficult to meet people in person.
This can happen on a variety of platforms - on social media, your mailing list and more. Your audience is invested in your idea and would love to hear about it. Keep them informed and keep your self accountable to your base, your tribe.
We hope these tips help. Again it's not an exhaustive list but we hope this is a good start. We can't wait to see what subscription box ideas that you grow :)