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How a 19 Year Old Made Over $100,000 on Etsy to Pay For College

By: Krystle Crossman

Etsy is a very popular site where people sell homemade gifts. There is so much that you can find on Etsy that sometimes it can be hard to break into a specific niche and make money off of it. That is exactly what 19 year old LeiLei Secor did. She attends the University of Virginia but because she lives in New York she has to pay out-of-state tuition rates. This can be up to $40,000 per year and that is with scholarships taken off. She turned a hobby that she had of making jewelry and turned it into a tuition money machine.

In just three years LeiLei has brought in over $100,000 from her Etsy page, DesignedByLei. She ended up winning the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014 for her store. She has five tips to share about how you can make money with Etsy as well:

1. Marketing – To have a successful business you need to know how to market yourself and your product. Secor did this by branching to new websites such as Tumblr and Wanelo. Facebook forces you to pay to boost your posts to potential customers and Twitter doesn’t have enough characters to really sell yourself. Secor found success with Wanelo because these site were a group of shoppers that were looking for products like the ones she was selling.

2. Time management – Balance your time between life and work appropriately. Focusing on your business is important but don’t forget about time to relax and time to do other things such as housework and spending time with family.

3. Product – If you are trying to sell something online and you see that it’s not moving, change it. Secor started with beaded bracelets and they were not selling so she turned them into wire wrap bracelets and wire rings. These became very popular and began to sell in no time. If you find that something is not working for you tweak it until it does.

4. Resources – There is an entire world of information out there just waiting to be discovered. Use these resources to help you along the way. You can also learn from other people who are doing the same type of thing that you are. You can learn what they did that worked and what didn’t work to get a better understanding.

5. Details – If you have something that is similar to many other products out there you are going to have to make your product stand out somehow. This can come down to the tiniest little detail. For example if you make rings you can add a small gemstone to the ring and that will make a slight but noticeable difference.

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