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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How to cancel an order on Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade and vintage items

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Etsy is an online marketplace that offers handmade and vintage goods from independent sellers.

  • To cancel an order on Etsy, you must contact the seller or shop you purchased the item from directly.
  • Make sure to check the shop’s policies regarding returns, exchanges, or cancellations before placing an order.
  • Cancellation requests are at the discretion of the seller and not guaranteed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Etsy is a popular e-commerce website where customers can find handmade gifts, craft supplies, and vintage items from independent sellers. Items are often customizable and made to order, lending a personal touch to any gift, and purchases benefit small businesses. 

Before making a purchase, it’s important to note the seller’s policies – particularly when it comes to returns and exchanges. Some shops don’t accept returns, exchanges, or cancellations, while others do. When it comes to canceling an order, you need to contact the seller directly.

How to cancel an order on Etsy with an account

Etsy notes that accepting a cancellation request is at the discretion of the individual seller. Following the steps below starts the cancellation process, but it’s up to the seller to actually cancel your order.

1. Go to etsy.com. Click “Sign in” at the top-right corner. Sign in.

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Click “Sign in” at the top-right corner.

2. At the top-right corner, click your account icon (icon with “You” underneath).

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Click on your account icon.

3. Select “Purchases and reviews” from the dropdown menu.

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Click on “Purchases and reviews.”

4. Scroll down to find the order you wish to cancel, then click “Contact The Shop.”

5. Write a message to the seller indicating that you would like to cancel your order, then click “Send.”

How to cancel an order on Etsy without an account

1. Open the email you received confirming your order from Etsy. It will come from the email address transactions@etsy.com.

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Open the original confirmation email from your order to reply to it.

2. Reply to the email with a message to the seller indicating that you’d like to cancel your order.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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What is Etsy? Everything you need to know before buying or selling on the handmade and vintage e-commerce platform for independent creators

beads on pink minimalist background
Etsy offers independent business owners interested in crafting and vintage collections an online marketplace.

  • Etsy is an online marketplace where independent crafters, artists, and collectors can sell vintage, handmade, or custom-made jewelry, clothing, home décor, art, toys, and more. 
  • Etsy offers a wide variety of shipping options and accepts various payment methods, including credit and debit cards, Etsy gift cards, Apple or Google Pay. 
  • Etsy competes with brands like Shopify, Big Cartel, and Amazon Handmade, but has carved out a corner of the market thanks to a seller pool that’s over 80% women
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Etsy was founded in 2005 to connect small, indie artists, creators, and collectors with customers looking for gifts, collectibles, and goods with a more personalized touch. 

Just two years after the site launched, it already had nearly half a million users and $26 million in sales, VentureBeat reported. By 2018, the e-commerce company had racked up some 2 million sellers and 50 million products, according to Yahoo

It achieved this rapid and continued success not through warehouses but its web of independent sellers. It’s a community of online shop owners that for years has been composed of mostly women – 87% of Etsy sellers identified as women in 2019, the platform self-reported.  

Here’s everything you need to know before buying and selling on the Etsy platform. 

What is Etsy?  

Etsy is an online marketplace where independent artists and crafters can sell their goods. Etsy is primarily associated with handmade toys, collectibles, art, home goods, vintage furniture, jewelry, clothing, and holiday items, in addition to crafts and craft supplies. 

Unlike Amazon and Walmart, everything on the site is made, collected, curated, and sold by its sellers. These independent business owners not only produce their goods but manage their orders and inventory, too. Etsy acts as the middle-man, giving smaller, independent creators a platform to find and attract customers. 

What you need to know about buying on Etsy

Esty seller viewing inventory on computer
Sellers optimize their online shops to help buyers find what they need quickly.

The retail platform sorts its offerings by categories to help customers narrow down their search queries, in addition to offering recommendations for items and sellers based on their browsing history. If you are looking for a specific item, you can use the search bar at the top of the page to find it. But if you prefer to browse based on keywords or item type, Etsy links to various buying categories directly below the search feature. 

Anyone can purchase items on the site, whether you have an Etsy account or want to checkout as a guest. The purchasing process is much like other online retailers, allowing you to add items to a digital car before checking out. The e-commerce retailer accepts credit cards, debit cards, Etsy gift cards and credit, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and some bank transfer services and PayPal where the option is available. As a global retailer, some buyers can even pay through country-specific installment methods. 

Because all Etsy shop owners manage their inventory, they’re also responsible for their shipping. Most sellers on Etsy ship globally and allow you to choose from various shipping methods, with some even offering a free option. Because each seller chooses their shipping method, ordering from multiple sellers means you’ll likely receive packages from different carriers at different times, even if you ordered them all at once. Luckily, if a shipping issue occurs, Etsy offers a tool to check your order number and shipping confirmation alongside a chat app that will put you in direct contact with your seller to resolve the issue. 

What you need to know about selling on Etsy

Woman models vintage clothing from Etsy store
Etsy features both custom and handmade clothing, as well as vintage pieces.

Those interested in opening up a shop on Etsy will be joining a network of millions of independent sellers. There are guidelines for selling any item on the site. But if you’re specifically interested in selling “vintage” pieces, Etsy has a verification process that begins with you confirming whether the piece is at least 20 years old.  

Regardless of what you’re selling, there is no fee to set up your account, but there are fees for when you list, sell and ship your products. To set up a shop, you need to list the following information: 

  • Your location
  • Shop name
  • How you want to get paid by buyers
  • Your bank information to pay Etsy fees

Once you’ve got all this information collected, you can create your first listing. It costs $0.20 to list an item for sale on Etsy. Each item you list has a four-month shelf life before it is sold or deleted. Etsy takes 5% of the sale price of the item and 3% if you accept Etsy Payments, which includes a $0.25 processing fee. And suppose you want to advertise or promote your products on the Etsy homepage. In that case, it will also cost you a specific percentage of your sales or an upfront cost, depending on the duration of the advertising. 

As you build out your shop, it’s digital appearance and prices will be essential factors to consider in building a signature brand customers will trust and return to. Many successful creators try to pick out unique usernames, themes, include high-quality images, and practice search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to find potential customers. 

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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