These Brothers Made $3.5 Million Last Year Selling Ugly Christmas Sweaters

ugly christmas sweater
TheUglySweaterShop.com under Creative Commons

Fred and Mark Hajjar don’t know much about fashion, but they do know how to transform a silly idea — ugly Christmas sweaters — into a business that earned more than $3.5 million in revenue last year.

Neither brother has a background in design, though Mark told Fast Company, “I’ve kind of studied it since I’ve been here?”

One of their ugliest sweaters even has a mirror sewn into it, presumably so you can see yourself on the ugliest Christmas sweater of all time, as well as one featuring the rear end of a stuffed moose. These get-ups are ugly enough to help you win just about any ugly Christmas sweater contest.

How to Make Money With Ugly Christmas Sweaters

The trick to turning these hideous and hilarious creations into profit is search engine optimization (SEO).

If you search for “ugly Christmas sweater” on Google, you’ll get more than one million results, but the brothers’ website, UglyChristmasSweater.com, almost always comes up in one of the two top spots.

Take Advantage of SEO

When Fred was a computer engineering student at Michigan State in 2002, he decided he wanted to sell things online to make some extra cash. He had been an eBay seller since 1999, but he wanted to step up his sales game.

He started screen-printing T-shirts in his bathroom and selling logo gear, including I Love Lucy shirts. He wasn’t having a lot of luck until he noticed his website hawking Dukes of Hazzard wares was getting a lot of traffic.

He soon realized the trick to getting sales was making it easy for people to find his website through techniques like keyword placement. He studied up on these methods, and soon grew from a one-man-in-a-dorm-room operation to a 35-person company.

In 2014, his group of websites made $12 million gross, and they’re projecting $15 million gross for 2015. This success has even led them to get exclusive contracts to sell licensed merchandise, including Rolling Stones, Harry Potter and Star Wars gear.

Want to learn more? Read the full story at Fast Company.

Your Turn: Have you used SEO to build a niche business?

Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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