LeiLei Secor of upstate New York was only 19 years old when she managed to rake in $100,000 selling handmade jewelry on her Etsy Shop DesignedByLei. She goes to the University of Virginia, which means that she has to pay out-of-state tuition.
Despite having a scholarship, the cost of her education is still pretty high, and this is what drove her to start a business out of her artistry. Shortly after, she earned a prestigious award and managed to turn a hobby into a profitable business. Here’s how she did it.
Find a Way to Stand Out
Handcrafted jewelry is a highly saturated industry, especially for online stores. To stand out, focus on the artistic part, and not on the selling and marketing. Building a store on Etsy or dropshipping your jewelry can help you sell thousands, but making your brand stand out rests on your shoulders.
What LeiLei did was simple – she took photographs of herself wearing her own line of jewelry, which gave her Etsy website a personal touch. Her photos are all taken under natural light, which made her products look as attractive as they are in real life. And according to her, this cheap marketing move made all the difference.
Manage Your Time Wisely
For LeiLei Secor, time was a big constraint. Making dainty rings and bracelets was merely a pastime or an escape from schoolwork, but she discovered that making a business out of her passion is a completely different field.
On top of completing heaps of coursework and studying for exams, she had to make thousands of rings by herself. The trick is to use your time wisely and always keep a balance between filling orders, studying and enjoying life.
Commit to Your Brand
In business, it’s good to branch out or explore other niches. But, if sales are slowly picking up and people are coming back to your store, it’s not the right time to take risks. At this point, you should be working on establishing trust and loyalty, which you can do by engaging with your customers.
One of the biggest mistakes “hobbypreneurs” make is that they get hyped up with the sales their making and get all too excited about offering new products. Say, if you’re selling wire rings, focus on improving the design and process of making them, instead of introducing handmade candles or clothes into the mix. Staying committed is part of the job, but is also a sign that you’re enjoying what you do.
The biggest advice LeiLei Secor and other young business owners could give to budding hobbypreneurs are to focus on making their creations marketable and enjoy making them. If you love your creations, then people will likely enjoy them too.