How to Run an eCommerce Flash Sale for a Quick Profit: A Case Study

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How to Run an eCommerce Flash Sale for a Quick Profit: A Case Study
Last week, during Cyber Monday (and Tuesday), in a little over 36 hours, I made over $1K from a flash sale that I shared with my email list of some 8K subscribers only.

Crazy what an email list can do, huh! For a three-year-old blog, an 8K email list is neither too big nor too small. But that kind of money in just over a day? Without any prior planning or money spent on ads? Now that’s special!

It’s a sum that I could never before even imagine making in a day!

In today’s blog post, I want to share with you everything I did, step by step, in case you want to replicate the process for your own business.

Cyber Monday is over, but the holidays are coming up soon. Who knows, maybe you could do something similar too?

Content

A Little About My Business for Those of You New Around Here

I started The Side Blogger about 3.5 years ago. For the first two years, it was slow-going. I was still figuring things out. Then, around a year ago, things started to pick up as I started to settle into my role as a part-time blogger.

Here are three ways I make money from this blog:

I’m no millionaire, but I think for a side hustler, I’ve done well. I’ve played the long game and never tried to get rich quickly with the blog. The growth was slow at first, but oh so very satisfying to see my audience and income grow from zero to what it is today — 8K+ subscribers and $5K+ monthly income on average!

Now, I don’t have a huge social media following because well, I hate social media. I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and also an Instagram account — all of which sit idly for the most part.

However, my real strong suit is email marketing. Even though my email list isn’t huge, my subscribers are the ones who engage with me the most, via comments, emails, and occasionally, by purchasing my products.

ConvertKit Subscriber Count - Screenshot
ConvertKit Subscriber Count – Screenshot

The Rush to Sell on Cyber Monday

The Cyber Monday sale wasn’t exactly in the plans; it happened spontaneously.

On Monday, I woke up to a barrage of emails from companies and brands about their deals. Black Friday was bad enough, but Monday was plain cray!
I didn’t have a discount planned for any of my products. I know how crazy this time can be, so I save my own promos and discounts for off-seasons when people don’t get bombarded with emails from literally everyone.

So, I took Monday off from blog-related work and decided to sit back and chill.

But, around mid-morning, as I sat outside a Starbucks enjoying (and internally dreading) 70-degree weather and sunshine in November, watching cheap e-bike review videos on YouTube, I had a thought as another Cyber Monday promo email from a clothing brand snuck into my inbox.

Why am I assuming that people won’t buy from me just because everyone else is promoting their products too?

Is it possible that people will buy because it’s a season of endless promos, sales, and discounts?—I thought. That, perhaps, people are ready and willing to spend, precisely because it’s that season, however annoying it may be?

A Step-by-Step Case Study of the Flash Sale

With that thought, I decided to do a little experiment.

So, remember the Canva template shop? I have over 30 products that, combined, come to be a little more than $1,000.

For this experiment, I decided to bundle up all of my products and— it’d be crazy to call it just cheap — sell it for an ultra, mega, super affordable price of just $19.

That’s right, $1,000 worth of templates for only $19!

And I figured, for the sake of simplicity, I’d sell this dirt-cheap luxurious bundle only to my subscribers, for two days only — Monday and Tuesday. But since Monday was already almost halfway through, it was more like a day-and-a-half.

I combined all of my products to be sold as one bundle

The first step was to create the bundle.

It was easy. Since Canva templates are accessed via a unique link, I created a PDF, and simply added the links to all of the templates.

In short, the deliverable was just one PDF document with a bunch of links, and a few short paragraphs about how to access the templates and product licenses.

I created the product page

Next, I needed a product page where my subscribers would be able to order, pay, and receive the PDF upon placing their orders.

There are plenty of online eCommerce platforms out there. I myself use WooCommerce to sell my Canva templates.

However, for this particular bundle, I didn’t want to use WooCommerce for a few reasons:

  • Since the flash sale was available to my subscribers only, I didn’t want to make the bundle available on my website for only $19.
  • I could, however, create a coupon code and share that with my subscribers, but I didn’t want a potential buyer to have to do any extra work. Research suggests that the more steps there are involving an online purchase, the more people tend to abandon carts. So, my goal was to keep the purchase process as simple as possible.
  • I suppose I could create a secret product on WooCommerce for the $19-bundle, but I decided against it because:
  • I wanted to try a different platform because… because, why not? Trying different things is fun and exciting…

So, I’ve been with ConvertKit as my email marketing platform since the inception of my blog back in 2018. Last year, ConvertKit added a new feature to their platform — ConvertKit Commerce. It’s an eCommerce platform with just the bare minimums. No fluffs whatsoever.

I have used this feature once before and liked the simplicity of it all. So, I set up my bundle on ConvertKit instead and shared the product page link with my subscribers. It was super easy to set up in just a few minutes! Here’s what it looked like:

ConvertKit Commerce product page for Cyber Monday 2021
ConvertKit Commerce product page for Cyber Monday 2021

I kept the description simple. Since I was selling it to my subscribers only, I figured they probably already had an idea of what I was selling. Just to be sure, I also added a link to my original shop on my website, so potential buyers would be able to see exactly which products they were paying for.

[Related: How to Grow a Thriving Email List with Your Content, Even If You’re a Beginner Blogger]

I scheduled three emails to be delivered over the course of the next 36 hours

Now that the product was ready, I had to sell it.

And when you have an audience already, selling is more or less a no-brainer. I had ~8K subscribers ready at hand, and I have access to their inboxes. (Isn’t email marketing such an amazing thing?!)

I scheduled three emails, one to go out right after I was done setting up the product on ConvertKit, the second one to go out the next morning, and the final one to go out a few hours before the sale period ended that night.

Here’s how I fashioned the emails (all within ConvertKit, and it’s super easy to schedule emails there too.)

Email 1 Subject: What’s NOT worth ONLY $19?

Well, it’s worth much more…

Flash sale alert! Cyber Monday (and Tuesday only!)

So, you know how I sell Canva templates on my blog?

If you’ve been eyeing the shop but can’t decide which eBook or workbook or media kit or social media bundle to get, now’s your chance to shake off that headache, because for today and tomorrow only, you can get THE ENTIRE SHOP for less than the price of one template!!!

That’s right, for today and tomorrow only, I’m offering you, my dear subscribers ONLY, a flash sale on my ENTIRE CANVA TEMPLATE BUNDLE!

Over $1,000 worth of Canva templates for only… wait for it… $19.

For nineteen friggin’ dollars, you can get the ENTIRE Canva template shop. Today and tomorrow only, guys!

​Get the bundle here 🙂

A little wordy, perhaps, but I wanted to drive the point home. That they were getting a lot for, basically, peanuts.

Email 2 Subject: $19 Flash Sale expires tonight (midnight!)

Now, I know you’re [probably] busy buying the biggies this Cyber Monday, but small biz owners (one such as myself) are also having deals and sales, so yeah, don’t forget about us 😉

Anyhow…

In case you missed yesterday’s email, my ENTIRE CANVA TEMPLATE SHOP is on a mega, mega, mega sale!!! (Here’s the shop, if you’re new around the block.)

That’s right, over $1,000 worth of Canva templates are on a giant mega sale, for [yesterday and] TODAY ONLY!

This doesn’t happen always, guys! You see, 2021 is almost over and I just thought I’d close it with a mini-bang on my end. So yeah, get this shop bundle for ONLY $19. (BTW, this is a subscriber only offer, so please don’t share with anyone else…)

Here’s what some of my customers have had to say in the past 🙂

Review from customer # 1

Review from customer # 2

Review from Customer # 3

Don’t let this chance slip away. The offer is expiring tonight (midnight) so get the bundle right now! For only $19… that’s a super steal!

Click here to get the > $1,000 Canva bundle for only $19, right now!​

Notice that in this email, I highlighted how this was a subscriber-specific discount only, urging them not to share it with outsiders. I wanted them to know that they got this uber-amazing deal, not because there’s anything wrong with my products, but because they were special! That being my subscriber is a special thing!

People like feeling special, so I tapped into that.

Email 3 Subject: $19 Flash Sale — FINAL REMINDER

I’ll keep this short.

My Cyber Monday deal (for my email list subscribers only) is expiring in a short few hours, at midnight (Pacific time, US and Canada.)

What’s the deal, you ask?

My entire Canva template shop worth over $1,000, is on sale right now, until midnight, for only $19.

Yeah, just a couple more hours to go… so don’t wait!

Click here to get the > $1,000 Canva bundle for only $19, right now!

Sweet and short. The sale was ending in a couple of hours, so I didn’t want to add too much fluff here.

 And, by midnight, here’s how things stood: 59 sales and total revenue of $1,121.  Not too shabby, huh?!

Screenshot of Cyber Monday Sale income from ConvertKit
Screenshot of Cyber Monday Sale income from ConvertKit

TL;DR

I decided, almost on a whim, on the say of Cyber Monday, that I wanted to run a flash sale. I didn’t have to make a new product; I was selling something I already had. All I needed to do were:

  1. Make a bundle out of all my existing products (Canva templates.)
  2. Set up a product page that took less than 10 minutes on ConvertKit.
  3. Write three emails and schedule them, which took about half an hour.

By noon, I was done and had the first email out the door.

And by midnight the next day, a mere 36 hours later, I was $1,121 dollars richer.

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Some Things to Note and Remember

Overall, this was a great experience and a successful experiment. Here are a few things I’d like to note:

  • 59 sales from ~8K subscribers isn’t a whole lot, but it’s not nothing either. Had I not held this flash sale event, I wouldn’t have made an extra grand this month, would I?
  • ConvertKit allows customers to pay via credit or debit card only. Many people prefer to purchase with PayPal, and it’s entirely possible that I lost a few potential customers because they weren’t able to pay with PayPal.
  • Next time I run a flash sale, I’ll have to give my subscribers a heads-up a few days prior, so they’ll know when it’s coming. Because I actually had a few people reach out to me who had seen the emails after the sale period was over. Some pre-planning and pre-promoting would have done me better.
  • Because I positioned the bundle as something special I was doing for my subscribers only, there was a sense of scarcity as well as importance.
  • I wouldn’t hold such a huge sale like this for at least another year. If you do something this radical too often, it loses its charm and effectiveness.

What You Need to Hold a Flash Sale This Holiday

Well, I’ve already shared my case study with you. If you’ve read the post so far, you should have a good understanding of how this works or where to even begin. A few things you’ll need are:

Have an email list

If you’re a brand new blogger with no email list whatsoever, then start building one right away! You probably won’t have enough subscribers to run a flash sale this holiday season, but if you want to do it next year, you better start building that list NOW!

But if you already have an email list—even if it’s a small one—then you have an audience already 🙂 All you have to do is start selling!

Have a product to sell

Now, just because I sell Canva templates, doesn’t mean you cannot sell anything else. Maybe you don’t sell Canva templates, but printables, or eBooks, or some other type of product. If you don’t have anything, maybe you could make something? Think about your audience and what they could benefit from, and then make it! You still have some time before the holidays.

  • Digital templates and printables are great and people love them. Of course, it depends on your audience and what niche you’re in, so keep that in mind. Whether you’re selling templates or printables, you can easily make a few (or a lot) of them with Canva in a relatively short period of time.
  • Ebooks are also pretty popular, but if you’re just starting to think about selling them for the holidays, it may be a lot of work, depending on what else you’ve got going in your life.
  • A guide or a collection of guides (as a bundle): eBooks are too much, but a small guide (or guides) shouldn’t be that hard to make in a few days. You don’t even need to come up with unique ideas. Think of the blog posts you already have. If you have long-form blog posts about how to do X, Y, or Z, you could easily convert them into small PDF guides and sell them. (Note: You could use Reedsy to easily create a small guide or even an eBook with parts and chapters.)
  • Zoom coaching: You could also sell one-on-one coaching or consultation calls via Zoom. There’s not a whole lot of preparations involved, so they’re great for last-minute services.
  • Group classes: Instead of one-on-one, why not set up a group class for your audience? Give your potential buyers a sweet deal when they sign up during the holidays. You don’t have to hold the class (or one-on-one coaching) during the holiday, just sell it. You can always schedule your class or coaching after the holidays when things are nice and slow.

A way to deliver your product and collect payment

If you’re selling digital products like templates, printables, eBooks, or guides, then you can use any eCommerce platform out there. Some popular eCommerce platforms include WooCommerce (it’s what I use to sell my Canva templates year-round,) Shopify, Squarespace, etc. You can also use third-party platforms such as SendOwl. Or, just how I did for the Cyber Monday flash sale, you can use ConvertKit.

If you’re selling classes or coaching services, then you can use Acuity Scheduling for setting up the appointments and also collecting payments. Acuity can create classes or coaching calls on Zoom with built-in integration, so the whole thing is super easy to set up and use. There are free alternatives too, like Calendly, for example. But then you’ll need to create a separate payment gateway (you can use PayPal for that.)

PayPal makes it pretty easy to set up payments. You just have to deliver the product manually, depending on what you’re selling. PayPal also works pretty well if you’re setting up a “pay what you can” type of product. FYI, you can set up a similar open-payment option with ConvertKit too.

Write killer sales emails that convert

The last but likely the most important part of a flash sale event is the sales pitch—via emails. I’ve shared the emails that I sent to my subscribers above; feel free to replicate as needed. Just make sure to edit the necessary parts to match your product description.

Also, make sure to always send multiple emails. I’d suggest that you send an email daily if your sale window is 1-3 days. If you have a sale window of 4-7 days, then send an email at least every other day. I wouldn’t recommend having a sale period of over 7 days, 2-4 days being the ideal sweet spot. Feel free to send two emails on the last day to create urgency.

Keep in mind that you’ll likely lose a bunch of subscribers every time you send out a sales pitch email. But that’s totally normal. Remember that for every subscriber that you lose for sending a sales email, a few of them will buy the product from you too. Every time I send an email, I see a spike in both my unsubscribes, as well as my sales. It’s a tradeoff I’m willing to compromise with.


Alright, that’s all I had to share.

So, what do you think? Will you consider replicating something similar to what I just did? Maybe over the holidays? Any other thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Resources mentioned in this post:

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