How to Start and Market A Subscription Box

How To Get Started With Your New Subscription Box

  • Get your idea. Check the subscription boxes – are there competing boxes? Can you do it better? Do you think there needs to be another subscription box in your niche? What makes your box unique?
  • Get a name. The regular rules of business still apply. We have boxes in our directory with identical names. Do appropriate business name searches.
  • Get Stuff.
  • Market Your Box.
  • Magically acquire customers.
  • Ship It.

The Magical Customer Acquisition

Affiliate Programs

We recommend that you use a network, yes, you do have to pay them (Share a Sale is peanuts) but you get exposure to a really wide range of publishers, and those publishers are happy to promote your subscription box knowing that they. will. get. paid.

  • Network
    • Share a Sale: We strongly recommend that you use Share A Sale – 99% of publishers, from large to small, use this platform! It’s $650 to get started ($550 startup fee plus $100 deposit). Put your program on autopay! Bloggers hate it when your affiliate program goes down, because our links don’t work and nobody gets paid (oh, did you think you were getting free traffic? You’re not.) Go check them out. I have a Share A Sale window open all day. Why aren’t you on there yet? The networks below cost more and they’re usually for more sophisticated businesses (you don’t need all their tools).
    • Awin
    • Cratejoy (has a built in referral AND affiliate program – we are cratejoy affiliates!)
    • Link Share (Rakuten)
    • Commission Junction
    • Impact Radius
    • PostAffiliatePro – make your own network
  • Non Network – These are programs that you run yourself.
    • Refersion – has a network but primarily used by subscriptions to run their own affiliate programs. Best choice for most subscriptions not seeking network management and widely used
    • Affiliatly
    • Has Offers
    • Lead Dyno (starting to have a network soon)
    • Tapfiliate
    • PostAffiliatePro  – recommended to use single business option
    • Vanity Coupon Code (e.g., use coupon code HELLO10 to save 10% on your box) – track redemptions and pay your content partners. Good for very small boxes, but we recommend Share A Sale for Maximum Exposure. Lead Dyno can track codes as well as PostAffiliatePro.
    • Rewardful – For stripe checkout (also has option for referrals)
    • Salescamp – for stripe powered subscriptions

Referral Programs

Online Stores

Tips for New & Old Subscription Boxes from a Blogger

  • Don’t use others’ text and photos without permission.
  • Don’t leave blog comments on reviews of competing services – instead, contact the blogger to see how you can get your box reviewed.
  • Link back to blogger reviews. We love it.
  • Sending out boxes for review? Ask for pageviews (and don’t ask me to fill out a form) but I’ll gladly tell you our pageviews (more than 1 million a month)
  • Do not join an affiliate program or start a referral program without letting your bloggers know. We love to give our paying merchants extra love and promotion (but never a better review). Bloggers love reviewing boxes but large sites like this one cannot support the time and effort in reviews, site upkeep, social media interactions, etc. without getting paid. Once you make it – let your publishers know that you’re paying. No, you don’t get free traffic here either (and though we charge nothing for the directory – it’s a requirement that we participate in any available affiliate or referral program at the highest offer available, or the subscription will be deleted). And hey, make sure you send some boxes to small publishers too!
  • 90% of blogs have a search box, use it.
  • We love new subscriptions and want to see you succeed!
  • Don’t ask for substantive changes on a review unless it’s for a correction.
    • Don’t ask for substantive changes on a review unless it’s for a correction.
      • Don’t ask for substantive changes on a review unless it’s for a correction.
        • Yes I really mean that.
  • Don’t send us boxes that a subscriber wouldn’t receive. Sending something extra just for us is fine (like a shop item) – just make sure we know it’s different and not included in the box.
  • Don’t send a box one time and then expect a bunch of posts about your latest coupon if you don’t have an affiliate program (those are what I like to call ads).
  • Should you rely on a crappy e-book by someone who hasn’t worked in the subscription box industry? Probably not.
  • People hate shipping (and yes, bloggers do know how much it costs to ship).
  • People are strongly averse to box contents that don’t meet the price of the box.
    • Speaking of, we also know the margins for each type of box and the relative value to cost it should have. Send a gourmet food box where the value equals the contents? That’s fine. Want to do that with a beauty box? Not gonna fly.
  • Don’t expect to value items at orders of magnitude larger than they’re readily available on Amazon.
  • Expect to pay to acquire customers. Whether that’s through an affiliate or referral program, sending boxes for review, or premium placements on box review websites like ours, growing a large company means that you pay for services and tools that you can sometimes do yourself, but that you’ll make more money outsourcing. We do web development work in house and hire a developer to do the rest.
  • When you email us to ask for a review, expect a wait. It may take us a few days to respond!
    • But once we get back to you, don’t forget to send the box.
  • If you aren’t having your collateral (that’s the paper in the box) sent to a printer, buy a color laser printer. Stop sending stuff printed out with a laserjet, it looks terrible. Get some cover stock (that’s heavy paper) if you want it thicker.

This is my honest advice. I’ve seen boxes come and go, and the ones that stay are committed to working with content publishers of all types.