I wanted to take a moment to review Enamel Pins 101 – an exclusive webinar series with Becky Helms (aka The Pink Samurai) covering just about everything you need to know to jump-start your own pin business.
First, let me start out by saying I admire the hell out of Becky. She’s been in this business for what seems like forever and she’s making an actual living out of it. I’ve known The Pink Samurai long before I decided to start Pinultimate or take this course because Becky knows how to market herself.
Like Becky, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Pinultimate is continuously fun for me because I love enamel pins and I love Instagram.
That being said, I already know a lot about social media and marketing from experience. Pinultimate was almost a year old when Becky announced Enamel Pins 101. At first, I was hesitant to sign up. I’d been running Pinultimate long enough to see that I did, in fact, have an idea of what I was doing. This is a full-on course, not just a couple of videos. It isn’t cheap. Could I afford to spend that much knowing that I might already know some of the content she’s teaching?
Here why I decided to go for it:
I happened to be looking at Becky’s Instagram story one day and saw her advertising a free live webinar about Instagram growth. Obviously I tuned in because *free* – and at the end of it, she pitched her paid course. Becky took me and everyone else on that webinar call through a sales funnel – and it worked. I got excited and I wanted to pay for more content.
Becky is smart. She knows how to get people excited about her products – not just her pins and other items in her shop, but her course too. I wanted that.
Without further ado, here’s my review of the course:
Enamel Pins 101 is broken up into several modules. When I took the course earlier this year, one module was released per week. I now have access to all of the videos to watch in any order and at any time, but as an avid TV binger, I definitely grew impatient waiting each week for the next module to be released.
MODULE 1: CHOOSING WHAT TO MAKE
This first module is a welcome from Becky and a place to kickstart your creativity and social media following. She talks about how versatile and profitable pins are along with tips on surveying your audience and beginning your Instagram growth.
MODULE 2: BUSINESS BASICS
This section is all about the necessary stuff we have to deal with as business owners. Things like business structures, tax responsibilities, and finance basics. If you want to grow your business, these are the building blocks to help you do it.
MODULE 3: FINDING MANUFACTURING PARTNERS
The fun stuff! Becky talks about working with factories and middle people, red flags to look out for and shares her personal favorite manufacturers. There’s also a brief focus on strategies for successful seconds sales.
MODULE 4: OPENING UP SHOP & SHIPPING SET-UP
This module is all about picking selling platforms, launching your shop and pre-order best practices. Becky discusses product photos and descriptions as well as her favorite shipping solutions.
MODULE 5: PRE-ORDERS & LAUNCHING
This is section walks you through all the steps of launching your pin collections! Everything from content calendars to best practices and more. These strategies can be utilized over and over again for successful launches of any type of product throughout the year.
MODULE 6: ADVANCED INSTAGRAM STRATEGIES
This module goes more in-depth into Instagram strategies, planning your content and starting an email list. This is the bread and butter of Becky’s organic marketing strategy and she breaks down her best practices and the foundations for an engaged audience.
BONUS: TECH TUTORIALS & WALKTHROUGHS
This bonus module has all the tech tutorials from throughout the course in one place. There are walkthroughs of photo editing apps and how to use them as well as how to create mock-ups in Procreate. There are also details about Becky’s favorite Instagram planning tool and she gives an Adobe Illustrator walkthrough of exactly how she vectors and sets up her files.
I’d say at least 90% of the content covered in this course was stuff I was already familiar with. As a full-time designer, I know a lot about Adobe Creative Cloud and vectorizing production-ready designs. I knew enough about the different types of enamel pins and the process of getting them made. I know (and have my own) Instagram tactics. I use Shopify as my sales platform, which makes everything from inventory to website maintenance to shipping incredibly simple. But regardless of all of the prior insights I’d had, I still learned a couple of key things from this course.
Here are the top 3 things I got out of Enamel Pins 101:
1. State Requirements for a Business
When I watched Module 2: Business Basics for the first time, I thought it was wayyy too short. Taxes and all of the not-so-fun parts of running a business are super important if you’d like to avoid getting in trouble with the IRS.
Because each state is different, there’s no *right way* to teach people about it. But Becky lists out all of the things she personally had to apply for and obtain to get her business started responsibly. She posted a Business Launch Checklist and lots of great resources, which are helpful for anyone as clueless as I am when it comes to taxes.
Some of this information I’d figured out before taking this course. A lot of it I hadn’t. I definitely wasn’t filing my taxes properly (oops). But now I have everything I need to call myself a real business and I feel good about filing both my state and federal taxes for Pinultimate.
2. Becky Spills Her Manufacturers
Module 3: Finding Manufacturing Partners was a game-changer. I can honestly say that if for whatever reason you don’t get anything else out of this course, what you get out of this module is worth the full cost of the webinar series.
With so many years of experience, knowing Becky’s direct factory contact is a really big deal. She’s dealt with bad manufacturers in the past so you won’t ever have to.
Up until this, I was too afraid to look for a direct factory in China due to the language barrier and all of the horror stories I’d heard. Once I learned Becky’s contact, I reached out immediately to place an order. I’m truly amazed at how much detail they managed to capture. Not only was the pin quality amazing (with only a tiny percentage of flawed pins), but they arrived insanely fast – despite coming from overseas!
Before, I was spending 3x as much ordering from a middle man. Now I’m making way more profit on each pin because I feel confident ordering directly from a factory.
3. File Setup
Before this course, I wouldn’t have second-guessed the way I was setting up my files. I was vectorizing my designs and working with middle men to get my pins produced. There was no issue with communication because I was working with someone from the U.S.
When I saw Becky’s template for what she sends to her manufacturer to get her pins made, I was amazed at how detailed it was. There was no way a manufacturer could miss anything because she didn’t leave a single thing out.
I used Becky’s template and the process with the factory went oddly smooth and the pins turned out amazing. Yes, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that they’re a great factory, but it’s also because I sent a thorough file with exactly what I wanted.
Recently, I reached out to another factory to get tote bags made. My friend Lauren from Everyday Olive had given me her tote contact’s info but brought up the communication issue. While Becky didn’t cover templates for other miscellaneous items, I did my research to create my own similar to what I’d used for the pins. I figured if I approached the situation the same way – providing the factory with a thorough visual – the communication shouldn’t be an issue. So far, so good.
As I mentioned previously, I tuned into a free webinar call before paying for Enamel Pins 101. Becky is still regularly hosting this free webinar called 5 Ways to Grow Your Following FAST if you’d like to get a feel of her teaching style before you decide to join the full course.
The webinar covers what to post, how to take nice photos with your phone, writing engaging captions, and starting an email list. If that sounds like it would be helpful to you, I definitely recommend checking it out. She’ll also share info about her full e-course at the end of the webinar.
Yes, I’d recommend Enamel Pins 101. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a pro or if you’ve only ever dreamed of making enamel pins. You will get something out of this course.
In addition to the videos, the course also includes access to an exclusive Enamel Pins 101 Facebook group. It’s essentially a forum of people happy to help you answer any questions you may have during and after the course.
Like I said earlier, the course isn’t cheap. But – again, because Becky is smart – there’s an alternative payment plan option if you can’t splurge and pay all at once.
Basically, make it work if you can. It’s worth it.