Canadian Nikit Tchernikov has an interesting online business, selling meme-related products online. Meme faces (also known as rage faces) are used either as visual responses on forums or as panels when composing meme comics. One example of such a meme face is the "trollface" meme that sports a mischievous grin. These have become popular lately, and many people are looking to have them in sticker, magnet or even pillow form.
How it started
Nikit says he started naturally to turn a profit, but also to extend memes out into the world. He still vividly remembers the first product he ever sold, a pack of stickers. "I was very excited when it happened, somebody actually is giving me money for this stuff?". In the beginning his website was even lacking basic features such a shopping cart. As the shop name suggests, it all started with stickers such as the Rage Face Sticker, but recently Nikit has been expanding into magnets and pillows as well. Nikit's shop can be found online at memestickers.ca.
Many of these meme faces originate on an image board called 4chan, but are spreading all over through the power of social media. They can often be spotted on Facebook, but are especially popular on the social news site Reddit, which has millions of users. With so many familiar with these faces, there is some opportunity for profiting from them as well. Perhaps the most famous case is the Cheezburger empire that includes properties such as Know Your Meme, a site that collects memes and explains the meaning behind them, profiting from advertising on the sites.
Nikit says one thing that has surprised him about running the business has been the seasonality of it. Christmas is a great time for sales, but apparently Summer has proven to be good as well, with people spending more time outside and wishing to stick memes in visible places.
Who are the customers?
Who is buying such products then? Nikit says they are mostly college students, parents of younger children and naturally also the Reddit rage face community. People are finding his site through Google and Facebook, with bigger bursts of traffic coming in when he runs paid advertising using the Reddit self-serve advertising system. "Until I sold the first product, I was like 'this is never gonna work'". Now his focus is on improving the quality of the site and the products. The small stickers he had in the beginning have given way to higher quality ones and now the site has product pages and even that all-so-important shopping cart.
What is in the future for the business and memes in general? Nikit believes memes will continue to be popular and that sales will improve as he tweaks the site and improves the products. Old memes may gradually become classics, but even if their popularity wanes, new ones are sure to soon take their place.