Updated: Jul 28
In today’s post I thought I’d talk a little about my adventure into the world of designing, creating, and selling products designed for dietitians and nutrition science themed merchandise.
If you’re like me, a dietitian with a creative side who never in a million years wants to find themselves in a clinical dietitian job, and honestly feeling challenged by simply trying to find a clear path to creative jobs for dietitians, then this is the place for you!
During my internship, I literally told one of my preceptors if I ever accepted a clinical job, she had permission to punch me in the face. Please tell me I’m not alone here! Haha
This article is for you if you are looking for a side hustle for dietitians, a creative outlet in the world of nutrition, or maybe you’re like me and want to make creative pursuits the focus of your dietetics career.
Maybe you also want an "unconventional RD job" to be your full time job and not just a side-hustle.
Today I will be sharing with you a little about my path to setting up an e-commerce site where I sell dietetics related products that I designed, what my plans are for the shop, and share with you three reasons why you, a dietitian, should sell products.
Whether you want to create dietitian apparel, nutrition resources, art about nutrition science, or nutrition books, you should not let your creative aspirations go by the wayside!
How Did I Get Started?
The internet is not simply a “build it and they will come” sort of thing. One cannot simply throw up a website with a shop and expect their audience to just come-a-runnin’. There's a lot of marketing that needs to happen from their end.
An audience may already be utilizing existing marketplace sites to shop for similar items, so it makes sense to go to where they are and put our products in front of them.
Many years ago I tried selling on Etsy, but at the time I didn’t know how to market myself and I didn’t have a niche to sell to so, I didn’t find success using Etsy.
That being said, it could totally be a viable option if you’re just getting started. It’s a massive marketplace and depending on your experience level you could get setup and start selling right away.
Earlier this year I started selling on RD2RD.com, another marketplace, but specific to digital content sold to and from nutrition experts. Definitely more niched down and in my area of expertise.
I also started uploading graphics and illustrations to Canva as a Canva Contributor, though I’m new to this venture so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.
Why Did I Open My Own Shop?
If these marketplace sites exist, why did I open my own shop?
Well, why not?
With sites like Wix and Shopify it's SOOOO much easier than it used to be to create an inviting, safe, effective, and streamlined shop experience.
Plus, with Print-On-Demand services, I can sell graphic t-shirts, prints of my artwork, and custom water bottles all without having to house a single product or print a single item myself.
I can’t think of a time where it has ever been easier to setup a shop and start selling customized products right away.
I don’t need a facility. I don’t need to learn printing methods. I don’t need equipment. I don’t need production/QC/Shipping staff.
I don’t need all the overhead associated with an apparel shop.
The learning curve and barrier to entry for this type of business is way lower that it use to be.
And although I am totally “building it and hoping they will come,” I’m also establishing my shop early on so that as my business grows, my online shop can grow too.
It can’t grow if it doesn’t exist.
I’m playing the long game.
How’s The Shop Experience Going?
On September 29th, 2021 I did a “soft launch” of my shop, which basically entailed minimal marketing, meaning I only promoted to my followers on my Instagram (mostly RDs and RDs2Be). I decided for the soft-launch, I only wanted to release a limited number of products so I could “ease into it.” I had two t-shirts, and a few digital products.
As it stands now, the shop is fully functioning, automations are setup, my print-on-demand add-on is working beautifully and by the time you read this, launch week orders will have been delivered.
My thought process right now is I want to put my ideas, products, and services in front of as many audiences as possible, and as many as is reasonable for me to manage.
For my business, that means continuing to grow my business’s brand and gradually funneling more people to my shop, all while exploring existing marketplaces and opportunities to sell my art and designs on other platforms, like RD2RD and Canva.
I will have a couple new designs added to the shop soon. I’m sure when you landed on my site you had a popup ask you to subscribe to the newsletter to receive 15% off your first purchase in the shop. You can always unsubscribe, but I hope you won’t. Even if you do, make sure you take advantage of that 15% off!
Why Sell Products?
If you’re thinking about creating, designing, and selling products, here are 3 reasons why you, a Dietitian, should get started, if you’re not already committed to the idea.
If you are committed, then these will just reinforce in you that YOU SHOULD TOTALLY CREATE AND SELL THAT THING YOU’RE THINKING OF SELLING!!!!
Let’s walk through some reasons why a dietitian should open an e-commerce shop or sell their product in an existing marketplace:
You are a valuable nutrition expert!
You are an expert in this field and your knowledge, skills and story are valuable assets to share. Share your expertise with people who want and need it.
You get personal satisfaction!
You have great ideas about how to connect with your audience that you can’t accomplish in your 9-5 and it requires more creative freedom.
Having to perform tasks of the daily grind in your normal day job doesn’t always feel creatively satisfying. I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of satisfaction from being creative, especially when it makes other people happy.
Traditional dietitian jobs may not satisfy you completely and dietetics may not be the end-all be-all for you so you want to take your career in other directions.
You can make money!
Whether you pursue creative endeavors in dietetics as you part time hustle or full time gig, you can make money doing something creative that you love.
Where to Start
Start with making your list of who, what, and why. Find your niche. Find what gets you excited to get to work.
Do some research on where your target audience is hanging out.
For me, it made sense to start with RD2RD marketplace and Canva. I also found it simple to get started with a third-party print-on-demand service selling t-shirts.
I will likely continue utilizing all three of these avenues for a while to see where they go and build from there or drop the ones that aren’t working out.
Start with one thing and build from it. Maybe you want to exclusively sell on Etsy. That’s totally okay. Rock it.
My last piece of advice is to see it through and give it time.
Fully commit to the process, learn everything you can about your target audience, and allow yourself time to grow your business.
Just get started.
About the Author
Sara is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, artist, writer, and video editor. She holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Nutrition from Oregon State University. In 2021 she founded The Kerrminator LLC, which specializes in creative services for Dietitians including video editing, graphic design, and content creation.
Are you interested in starting a side hustle and want to learn more about the potential of video for your business?
You should check out my ebook, Embracing Video to Communicate Nutrition. It offers guidance for exploring your options and steps to get the ball rolling on your new venture.