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My 2021 Year in Review

7 min read

Wow…another year has almost passed.

This year was another good one for me.

Actually, it wasn’t much different from last year because of the pandemic. I mostly stayed at home and worked on stuff.

But I had a chance to travel for two months in the United States. These were the best two months of the year, hands down. It was great to travel again.   

I checked my 2019 and 2020 Year in Review posts before writing this one.

They were good reminders that I’ve been selling print-on-demand products – using Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Amazon, and Etsy – for many years.

It has been a long ride and a lot of fun.

If you haven’t read my previous Year in Review posts, here they are:

Surprisingly, I didn’t work only on my print-on-demand business this year.

I found a new and exciting business.

I’ve been obsessed with it since I discovered it. I believe it will be my priority for the next few years.

Let me sum up what I did this year, then I’ll tell you about the new adventure I’ve jumped into.


Print-on-Demand: Am I still working on it?

The short answer is: YES, but just for a few hours a week. Print-on-demand is still my main source of income.

Here’s the long answer.

I’ve barely touched my print-on-demand business in months.

There were just two times I spent more than an hour working on print-on-demand.

The first time was around 4-5 months ago when I placed orders for my Amazon FBA products.

I ordered tons of coffee and travel mugs from China and sent them to the Amazon Warehouse.

I have many winning SKUs, so I sent them in bulk, all at once. It took me a while to create the shipments and work with my Chinese suppliers.

You may remember that I had some big problems with these guys. You can read that story in How I Lost $2,551.88 on Amazon FBA: What You Need to Know.

The second time I spent over an hour working on POD was when Gearbubble added new Precious Jewelry products.

I thought that was a BIG opportunity. These products lacked a system that could upload them in bulk to Amazon, Etsy, and other marketplaces.

I asked my development team to add them to PODTurbo and PODtomatic.

I also asked them to add more product mockups for the products because Gearbubble provides so many nice images – including ones of the real product and the certificate, which are necessary for jewelry products.

I spent a few hours creating a plan and production flow for uploading these products to Amazon and Etsy using PODTurbo.

Then, I added more people – one to upload CSV files to PODTurbo and a graphic designer – to this production flow so I wouldn’t have to work by myself.

You can read the full details in this blog post:

Before this, I was making decent passive income from kitchenware like coffee mugs or travel mugs.

From now on, I’ll also earn more from these jewelry message cards, which are more expensive and have a higher profit margin.

I’m sure these products will bring in more passive income for me for many years.

Okay, these are the two times I spent more than an hour working on my print-on-demand business this year.

My production flow is still working. My team still adds more products to my stores consistently and keeps my store growing.


PODTurbo is the BEST print-on-demand uploader

Apart from building my own print-on-demand business, I also worked to build software to help other print-on-demand sellers build their businesses.

Our team at PODTurbo is still working to make PODTurbo the number-one software for print-on-demand sellers.

We’ve added products such as ornaments, candles, and many styles of jewelry to the system.

These products are new, and I don’t think any other software can upload them in bulk like ours can.

The competition for these products is still low, and that’s why so many people using our system will sell tons of them in Q4.

In Q4 2021, the sale volumes of our sellers have almost tripled over last year. Those are incredible results.


PODtomatic – New Software in the POD Space

This year, our team innovated another piece of software in the print-on-demand space: PODtomatic.

Basically, it’s PODTurbo, except a robot does the work instead of you or your virtual assistant.

I sent the production flow my people usually use to my dev team and asked them to design a robot that could handle it.

The robot does market research, writes quotes, creates simple designs, writes product titles, keywords, and descriptions, and uploads products to Amazon and Etsy.

 PODtomatic users just need to link their Amazon and Etsy accounts to the system, and the robot will start working as their virtual assistant.

This time, the results have been far from what I expected.

Some accounts have made over 200 sales on Amazon in the past 8 months, and the number keeps increasing.

But many accounts have made fewer than 20 sales. I know it takes time to make consistent sales, but this outcome is way over par.

My team has to figure out why there are such huge differences between these accounts. We need to improve this software A LOT next year.

Our minimum goal is to help our users make at least 1 sale a day on average.

There’s still a lot of work to do on this one.


Moving Laser Chili to the United States

Last year, we built a print-on-demand company called Laser Chili for Thai people only. We managed the business from Thailand.

Laser Chili focuses on engraved products like bracelets, keychains, wallet cards, dog tags, and so on.

Basically, these are products that we can engrave a design on using a laser machine.

They’ve been selling well since 2018. My team has promoted them using Facebook and Google Ads and generated huge sales every year.

So, we decided to launch Laser Chili and invite other great sellers to sell these products with us.

We decided to move our production team to the United States a few months ago and open Laser Chili to global sellers.

To date, we have a few hundred active sellers that have made over 6 figures during the holiday.

It’s a massive result, and our team will keep improving this print-on-demand system for our sellers.

This is a new experience for me. Our team has never built a company outside Thailand. This is a BIG step for us. Hopefully, we’ll do well next year.


Jump into the NFT/Crypto World

A few months ago, my friend introduced me to the NFT and crypto world.

I started investing money in crypto last year, but I just did dollar-cost averaging (DCA) with Bitcoin and Ethereum.

So many people jumped into crypto last year (or many years ago), but I was focused on my print-on-demand and software business, so I didn’t check it out much.

My friend told me that he’d just made 10 ETH (around $35,000 at the time) by trading NFTs, so I got interested in what he was doing.

I decided to invest some of my money in buying and trading some JPGs from OpenSea, which is an NFT marketplace.

It’s been fun for me, even though I incurred losses. It’s much different from selling print-on-demand stuff. And I like it.

No need to deal with the customers, late shipments, PayPal Disputes, and so on.

I’ve been dealing with this stuff in my eCommerce business for a long time.

In the crypto world, these hassles don’t exist.

You just buy and sell pictures. I’ve had both good and bad trades, but my record keeps improving.

Recently, I learned that I can trade other crypto tokens as well. I learn how to swap ETH with other coins and bridge ETH to other networks like Polygon, AVAX, etc.

I can watch YouTube videos about NFT and crypto for hours without getting bored. I’ve learned a lot about this world in the past few months.

After many years of working on eCom stuff, this is the world I’ve been waiting for.

It’s fun stuff for me, and I’m pretty sure that it will be my focus next year.


About Life?

My life was pretty good this year because I could travel again. 😀

I spent two months in the United States visiting Georgia, Florida, Texas, Chicago, and New York.

I like New York A LOT.

I spent two weeks there. I enjoy the food, the city … everything except the smell of weed LOL

Apart from traveling, I was able to work out regularly. My health is a lot better than it was last year.

Before I traveled, I worked out at least 20 times a month, every month. But I haven’t worked out since I returned from traveling yet. I need to get back to it soon 😛


A Plan for 2022

Next year will be a lot different than previous years.

As I wrote earlier, after I found and dug deep into the Crypto world, I realized it’s what I’ve been looking for.

So, crypto will be my focus next year.

The contents of this blog will also be about crypto because I only write about what I’m doing. So, expect more content related to NFT and crypto in this blog next year.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing print-on-demand. It’s still my main source of income, and it will be handled by my team.

I’ll spend less time on print-on-demand but put more focus on improving PODTurbo and PODtomatic.

PODTurbo has been stable and working smoothly this year. We’ll focus on adding new products to it and updating the API to keep our system compliant with marketplace requirements.

For PODtomatic, the dev team and I will reverse-engineer some accounts that performed well last year and improve the system based on the data we get.

We’ll start by improving the SEO for the products and the way the system creates product titles and keywords. After that, we’ll check the results and work on other parts of the system.

It’s a challenging task. Our goal is to help our users make more consistent sales next year.

Okay, that’s my summary of this year and my plan for next year.

I wish you and your family have a wonderful holiday and a great year ahead. See you in 2022!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

—Bank K.

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