647
10 min 21 sec

UK Sales Manager Calls Shots With Photographic Film Shop

A niche market of photographers who use analog film hasn’t had a one-stop shop for all the supplies they need—at least until this UK sales manager develops one in partnership with his mom and sister.
International Niche Ideas Photography Product Reselling

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What It's About

A snapshot of an online photographic film shop—it's a family affair!

Business Model
Reselling
Skills Required
Film Knowledge & Communication
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

This is clearly a subculture, and if you’re going to market to a subculture you have to really understand it. Customers have the potential to be loyal and order frequently, but only if they trust you.

Fun Fact

The first partially successful photograph was made in approximately 1816. The photograph was not permanent, and eventually became completely darkened by the overall exposure to light.

Notes from Chris

Episode 647

Did you think it was no longer possible to buy film to take pictures? Or that it was not possible to have that film developed into print pictures? If so, think again! Analogue Wonderland is an online store specializing in photographic film. It stocks over 180 different types of newly produced camera film, and a few related accessories like cases and retrievers—items which are small and fit well in the same shipping package.

The store’s founder, Paul, has been a film photographer for almost a decade. Because of his first-hand knowledge of using film for photography, he is very familiar with the market. He knows the needs of photographers, and this real life experience also made him aware of the gaps with the retailers and brands currently serving the market.

For many years, it was just a minor annoyance to Paul that there was no ‘one-stop shop’ to buy items he needed for his much-loved hobby. However, minor annoyance turned into a huge time waster when he was trying to stock up on products before going away for three months.

He spent hours trawling through numerous websites to find all the items he needed. This was the moment he had the realization that he couldn’t be the only film photographer struggling with this. Surely others would also benefit from having that one-stop shop where they could find all their film necessities.

And Paul had learned that frustration is often a sign of a business opportunity.

To start, he asked fellow film photographers lots of questions regarding how they went about buying film. What he found out was that others were just as frustrated as he was. Everyone had stories of having to look endlessly for their favorite brands. Or having to pay import costs from other countries. Or the need to keep spot-checking eBay and hoping they could get what they needed. That’s when he realized there was a serious gap in the market.

Analogue Wonderland went live on May 18, 2018. For the month prior to opening, they ran a launch campaign with a manufacturer-sponsored giveaway. People entered the giveaway by signing up with their email. This really drove interest and raised awareness.

When they launched at 8 am they sent out an email announcement. They had $2,500 in sales in the first 30 minutes! There was no time to do anything other than fulfilling orders and replying to email and social media messages. That evening Paul and his mom went to the pub to celebrate but says they both fell asleep after one drink. The side hustle way can be intoxicating.

Four months after opening, they hit £10,000 in sales ($16,000). Paul says neither he nor his mother needs the money right now, so they are reinvesting their profit into marketing to grow the business. That way, if in the future, either one of them needs the cash or more freedom, the business is bigger and healthier.

For Paul, the best part of the experience has been ownership of the business. Every decision is yours alone. He likens it to playing a video game—but this is one that pays YOU to play it. He says you try things, like Shopify and MailChimp, and suddenly you’re connected with people from all over the world who see what you’ve built—it is “addictive and highly enjoyable.”

You could say he’s calling the shots in a market that was unexposed. But we’ll see what develops next.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Analogue Wonderland: If you have a love of old school photography, head on over to Paul's website to check out his offerings!

  • Shopify: Paul used Shopify to setup the website for Analogue Wonderland, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • Go-To skin care & These Are Things: Two more e-commerce websites that (like Paul) focus on selling products while still providing a great experience


SEE ALSO:


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Don't expect overnight success—as with most side hustles you're not going to have tons of money to spend on a big splash awareness campaign—so understand and appreciate that the legwork you're putting in will pay off, but (most likely) not for weeks/months down the line."
—Paul McKay #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau