How I used YouTube and email to market my candle-making course and bring in $40,000 in one month

Tiana Coates
Tiana Coates is a small business owner and entrepreneur.

  • Tiana Coates is an entrepreneur and owner of Winding Wick Candles based in Garland, Texas.
  • In 2020, Coates made over $70,000 from selling her online candle-making business course, including $40,000 in just one month. 
  • Here’s how she developed, produced, and marketed the course, as told to freelance writer Kaila Yu. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I always wanted the freedom of running my own business. Ten years before becoming an entrepreneur, I worked at the desk as a pharmacy technician. In my free time I would always tinker with business ideas: dropshipping, selling items on Shopify, hand-making trinkets, but none of them ever panned out.  

In a spark of inspiration, I came up with the idea of hand-making candles. It made perfect sense, I loved candles and would buy them every week for my home. I had zero experience so I started researching on online forums, blogs, and YouTube. The candle-making process seemed straightforward on the tutorials that I watched, but it took me several months of trial and error to get my candles to burn correctly and hold their scent.

I first launched Winding Wick Candles in 2015 but had to shut it down just one year later in 2016. The business wasn’t making much money, I was still working my day job, and I’d just given birth to my first child. I was totally overwhelmed.

The Strawberry Shortcake candle 4
The Strawberry Shortcake candle.

But as time went by, I missed running my own business. I gave a lot of thought to how I would run the company differently the next time, so in 2018, I relaunched Winding Wick Candles. Luckily, I still had all of my supplies from back when I first launched in 2015. I only had to spend about $300 or so to purchase new wax, containers, and fragrances. 

I worked around the clock to relaunch my candle business. 

Back then, I was just working part time on weekends so I had time during the week to dedicate to my business. I would put in 12 to 16 hours a day creating products and working on my Etsy and Shopify sites. During the weekends, I worked 12-hour shifts in a pharmacy hospital.

There were a few major changes this time around – I changed the candle style that I was producing, I launched a YouTube channel, and I learned more about search engine optimization so I could increase organic traffic to my products through search. 

First, my new line of candles was much more decorative in style, featuring hand-molded, realistic fruit accents.

The Fruit Cocktail candle 2
The Fruit Cocktail candle.

Second, I launched a YouTube channel to document the entire process of revamping the business. I filmed videos speaking candidly about why I thought my candle business had failed the first time around. Additionally, I shared tips on how I was changing and pivoting. 

I also shared big wins, such as Etsy flying me to New York in November 2019 to visit their headquarters and getting accepted to the Walmart Marketplace in October 2020. The Walmart marketplace allows for customers to purchase my products on Walmart.com. I’m also able to send my products to a Walmart approved distribution center so I can have the ‘2-day delivery’ badge on my items. I hoped sharing these experiences would help my followers feel like they are on this entrepreneurship journey with me. 

Back in 2018, my YouTube channel was one of the only that covered the very specific niche of running a candle-making business. Since then, I’ve grown to over 35,000 subscribers. 

YouTube was an integral tool for growing my business and later marketing my online course.

Tiana Coates
Coates says she worked to grow her YouTube channel by posting consistently and connecting with viewers.

I knew my channel wouldn’t be an overnight success, so I was fine with getting few views in the beginning. I learned that as long as you provide genuinely helpful content and work to improve the quality of your videos, your channel will grow.

A few months after launching the YouTube channel, I also created a free, downloadable lead magnet on MailChimp to collect email subscribers, called ‘How to Start a Candle Business.’ It was very popular and by 2020, my mailing list had grown to 11,000 subscribers. 

About a year after I launched the YouTube channel, I noticed that I was getting a ton of emails with questions ranging from how to make candles to how to get traffic. Since I had already done a lot of trial and error with growing my own business, I saw an opportunity to create an online course.  After doing some market research, I found that there weren’t any other candle business courses available. I saw the gap in the market and recognized the opportunity to jump on it. 

I wanted to make sure to validate the idea before starting any work, so I held a webinar in January 2020 to share my idea about launching the course. To gauge interest, I offered a discounted rate for the class if they signed up at the end of the webinar. Ten students signed up, and I moved forward with producing the course.

Developing the first course was a lot of work.

The cinnamon bun candle. 1
The Cinnamon Bun candle.

I filmed and edited about 23 hours of content by myself and learned how to structure the course. I launched Candle Biz Academy in February 2020, right before the pandemic. The first launch made over $10,000 in one week, with a total of 30 students signing up. The second launch in June made nearly $20,000, and the third and biggest launch was in December, making around $40,000 in 10 days.

The course costs $365, and teaches everything from making your first candle, to starting an Etsy store, to more advanced topics like doing wholesale and marketing online. 

Once students are signed up, they can watch the video modules at their own pace, and it takes an average of three months to complete the course. During that time, I’m available on live video biweekly to answer any questions. Students also have access to a community on Kajabi, the platform that hosts my course, where they can crowdsource answers to their questions. 

Since the course was fully recorded, I can easily relaunch Candle Biz Academy several times throughout the year. Between programs last year, I built up a waitlist of students interested in the next course launch. It’s currently available three times a year and students have a 10-day window to sign up before I close enrollment. 

I don’t use any marketing efforts besides my YouTube channel and mailing list. 

The course has doubled in revenue every time I relaunched it. After the launch of the second course, I was finally able to leave my day job. 

As for my candle business, I also saw positive sales growth during the pandemic. Although there was an initial downturn in March, overall sales in 2020 were higher than in 2019.

Due to this success, I also hired my first employee in January 2021. She’s currently learning candle making in a nearby rented studio so I can focus on running the course.

My advice to entrepreneurs looking to launch their own course is: Don’t be afraid to charge for what you know. 

If you know you’re an expert and talented at something, be confident of your worth. Expert knowledge is priceless. Also, don’t be afraid to create multiple streams of income outside of your handmade business.

The next project I’m working on is a peer-to-peer marketplace where crafters can sell unused or slightly used craft supplies. Due to the pandemic, there have been many shortages for candle makers, so I think it’s a great time to test this idea.

The journey to entrepreneurship isn’t always easy. Many times I’ve questioned whether I should keep going or if I should give it all up. The mental part of it has been the most difficult part for me, but if you can overcome that, I sincerely believe that anyone can launch their dream business.

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I made $490,000 launching a maternity clothing brand during the pandemic. I also experienced a personal loss. Here’s what it taught me.

Elle Wang
“When nothing seemed to be going my way, I learned to pivot,” says founder Elle Wang.

  • Elle Wang is the founder and creative director of New York-based clothing brand Emilia George.
  • She was working full-time from home, caring for her toddler, and running her clothing business at night in early 2020.
  • After a miscarriage in June, Wang says she made changes to her strained schedule to prioritize her health.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I first had the urge to create high-end maternity workwear when I was seven months pregnant in February 2019. I was working full-time, and felt simply pushed over the edge by the uncomfortable clothing I wore to work everyday – the first thing I did when I got home was get naked. 

Elle Wang
Models wearing dresses from the Emilia George Debut Collection.

I’d always enjoyed fashion and would go to fashion week shows when I had a chance, but I had zero background, contacts, or training in clothing and design. Since I had no idea how to draw, I worked with several independent designers to create maternity collections.

After giving birth and spending months turning my idea into a reality, we officially launched Emilia George on December 10, 2019. 

A few months later, COVID-19 hit.

I had barely introduced my business to potential customers across Manhattan. My husband and I had to quickly pull our child out of daycare and began working from home for our full-time jobs.

Soon, I began receiving emails from production partners and fabrics suppliers saying they’d be closed for the unforeseen future. Promising retailer partners told me that all new brand onboarding had to stop. 

At the same time, I was taking care of our 1-year-old son in a city filled with sirens and horrific numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths. It took a toll on me, and I wanted to quit many times. 

When nothing seemed to be going my way, I learned to pivot.

As I bootstrapped my business, production partners closed and major retailers barely stayed afloat. I had enough reasons to shut down Emilia George over and over again once the pandemic began, but I didn’t. 

Instead, I cut down costs by completely halting digital marketing spend on Facebook and Instagram. The only partner I kept was my PR team, who proved instrumental in driving brand awareness during such a strange time. 

When we entered April 2020, we decided to make face masks to help alleviate the shortening supply. The launch was covered by sites like Vogue and Elle, and soon we were flooded with orders. We sold over $40,000 worth of masks alone in May. 

In June, the National Institutes of Health asked us to make customized masks for their employees – one of which Dr. Anthony Fauci wore at a Senate hearing in September. 

fauci nih
Dr. Fauci wearing the mask made by Emilia George in September 2020.

While it helps to be a lean startup, being a one-woman show came with hardships.

After we began working from home, my husband and I had planned to conceive again. But we weren’t prepared to do our jobs while taking care of our toddler full-time from home. Being the founder and CEO of a new one-woman startup was exhausting on top of childcare, and my day job being a partnerships and strategy advisor at the United Nations.

Most days, it was only after 7 p.m. that I finally had big chunks of time to work on Emilia George, from fulfilling orders to talking to my production partners and suppliers in Asia. At the height of the pandemic, I often had to fill orders until 1 or 2 a.m. before I could even think about going to bed. 

My production partners overseas in Italy and China often asked me if I ever slept. I did – just not that much. For a good few months, I was only sleeping for around four hours a night. 

I had a miscarriage in June.

I always wondered if my crazy work hours and stress had caused it. When I got pregnant again a couple of months later, my husband and I were determined to make changes to better safeguard our health needs as a family.

Elle Wang
Wang’s baby’s gender reveal Zoom party during quarantine.

We found a live-in nanny to help with childcare and hired additional team members to help with Emilia George’s operations. Now, we have a team of six awesome women, and are continuing to grow.

As my accountant was about to close the books for 2020 – Emilia George’s very first year – I noticed our gross revenue: over $490,000. To make sure my being 29 weeks pregnant hadn’t resulted in some numerical error, I double checked with her. It was true: I’d made nearly half a million dollars from launching a pregnancy clothing line during COVID-19, all with a toddler at home and a baby on the way, not to mention while managing a full-time job.

While I was surprised and happy by this success, I knew it came as a result of countless hours of behind-the-scenes work and dedication that was far from easy.

I’ve learned the best thing I can do to support other entrepreneurial women is to share my story.

Elle Wang
Wang’s son at Emilia George’s new HQ in Tribeca.

I understand the work and perseverance it takes to grow a startup as a working mom. So many people have fantastic ideas, but finding that initial investment can be incredibly daunting. When it comes down to it, the better connected we are, the more we can do. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to avoid burnout and enjoy being your own boss again as a business founder

business owner
Business owners should strive to scale effectively without sacrificing their family or social life.

  • David Finkel is a founder, business coach, and author of 12 business books including new release, “The Freedom Formula.”
  • To avoid burnout as a self-employed business owner, he says it’s crucial to hire a hardworking team. 
  • Design a smooth onboarding process and focus on creating a consistent lead generation system.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

I talk to thousands of business owners every year and the stories are all too similar. The owner of the business is consumed by his or her day-to-day management of the business. They work 80 to 90 hour weeks and while they are able to support their family and their lifestyle, they feel trapped.

They are burnt out. And depending on how long they have been in the business, they grow to hate the business they once loved.

In fact, many business owners only last a few years before calling it quits because they feel like their business owns them, instead of the other way around. It’s something I like to call the self-employment trap.

That said, here are a few ways that you as a business owner can beat the odds and escape this trap.

Hire a workforce that delivers to your high standards

One of the main reasons that business owners feel trapped in their business is they feel like no one on their team can deliver to their high standards. This is how a business owner then falls into the role of catching many last-minute mistakes or “fires” that they have to rush in and fix – often at a high price to their family and personal life.

Now, finding people who can service your customers to a high standard is doable. But creating a system or a process for finding, hiring, and on-boarding your team is the preferred method. Because at the end of the day, staff will move on and you will need to find their replacement.

Begin by being really clear on the various role descriptions within your company, and deciding what your “must-haves” are. These are the things that a candidate must possess before you move forward with them in the hiring process. By laying it out on paper ahead of time, you will have a much better chance of finding the ideal candidate. 

Next, look at your onboarding process. Every new hire will have a set task list that needs to be done before they join your team. This could involve technology setup, education, position-specific training, access to documents and files, etc. Put everything down on paper and build on the task list every time you on-board a new employee. Over time, you will be able to speed up the onboarding process with your procedures.

Systematize your lead generation efforts

Many businesses fall victim to sporadic lead generation efforts. You see a lack of sales and start scrambling for fresh leads. Then you get caught up in servicing and managing the new batch of leads and your lead generation efforts fall to the wayside. And then you rinse and repeat.

This cycle is a recipe for burnout and makes it almost impossible to manage cash flow and scale your business. 

If you want to escape the cycle, focus on consistent, systemized lead generation efforts. Set up automated funnels, lead capture pages, and advertising campaigns that can run in the background to keep your leads fresh. Don’t be afraid to outsource this portion of your business to a third party, if you lack the skills or capacity to do so in-house.

With a stronger hiring process and consistent lead generation effort in place, you can begin to scale your business without sacrificing your family or social life. Over time, as you get better with these two pieces, you will find yourself putting out fewer fires and having more time to spend looking at the bigger picture and the things that will help your business scale. 

Read the original article on Business Insider