306: How My Student Angela Li Makes 6 Figures Selling Jewelry Without Advertising

306: How My Student Angela Makes 6 Figures Selling Jewelry Without Advertising

Today I’m happy to have Angela Li on the show. Angela is a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course and she runs a 6 figure business selling jewelry over at AzuraJewelry.com.

Jewelry is one of the hardest products to sell online because the internet is flooded with jewelry makers of all kinds. But Angela has managed to create a great jewelry brand. She doesn’t sell on Amazon, and all of her sales are from her own website and Etsy.

In today’s episode Angela shares her story and reveals how she generates sales.

What You’ll Learn

  • Angela’s motivations for starting her jewelry business
  • How she made her first sale
  • Angela’s advertising and promotion strategy
  • How to leverage Instagram to promote your brand

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
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SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast the place where I bring on successful bootstrap business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I have an extra special guest on the show who happens to be a student in my create a profitable online store course now Angela Li runs Azurajewelry.com and she makes six figures with her store selling jewelry, which is one of the most difficult types of products to sell online. Not only that but she’s done it without any paid advertising and today she’s going to share her strategies and story.

But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout-out to Klaviyo helps brands build relationships across any distance delivering email marketing moments. Your customers will appreciate, remember and share in good times and bad. And since it is all driven by real-time e-commerce data, you can make sure every interaction feels more personal. Now when you have a 360 degree view of the customer the growth possibilities are endless. So visit klaviyo.com/mywife and try for free. That’s KLAVIYO.com/mywife. Now on to the show welcome.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m really happy to have Angela Lee on the show. Now, Angela is a student in my create a profitable online store course and she runs a six-figure business selling jewelry over at azurajewelry.com. Now, jewelry is actually one of the hardest products to sell online because the Internet is flooded with jewelry makers of all kinds and it’s actually quite easy to get lost in the noise. But Angela has managed to create a great jewelry brand over at azurajewelry.com.

She doesn’t sell on Amazon and all of her sales are from her own site and Etsy as well. Anyway, I decided to bring her on the show to tell her story and reveal how she has managed to generate all of her sales and Angela, Welcome to show. How are you doing today?

Angela: I’m doing great Steve. Thanks for having me.

Steve: So Angela, please tell the audience about your store what you sell and how you got started.

Angela: Sure. So I am the founder of azura jewelry. Azura jewelry was established in New York in 2017 with a mission to inspire and connect. It’s a high-quality fashion jewelry line that targets to bridge the price and quality gap between fine jewelry that you know, use gold and diamonds costing over 500 plus and fashion jewelry that you seem very strong, quality matters that don’t just, that lasts long.

So we only use authentic and natural gemstone, is the heart of our business. We work exclusively with ethically sourced and eco free source, sterling silver plated by 14 karat gold and our prices are also very acceptable. There’s somewhere between 80 to 150. So it’s all started, It’s all started my I guess my love for jewelry really started when I was in college. My mom gives to me a pair of earrings. Right before my first job interview, but my story starts much earlier. I was born in China to a family that was politically persecuted by Chinese communist government for over a decade.

So they have experienced the first hand of Terror of cultural revolution. And for those who are listening to the podcast, but don’t know what cultural revolution is. It is a notorious movement that paralyzed Chinese economy to a significant degree. The stated goal was to preserve Chinese communism by purging remnants of capitalist and intellectuals from the society and includes like Mass killing torture interrogation and as a result, so two million people were killed in that movement. So my grandpa was the financial minister of old China, he is nationalist not communist.

My grandma was the daughter of Chinese ambassador to Japan. They also the relatives of Shanghai Shaq who is the first President of Taiwan and also the chairman of nationalist so inevitably our family became one of the biggest Target and they took our house has clearly our bank account and my grandpa was in prison

Steve: my goodness.

Angela: grandma Yes, it was pretty bad my grandma. She was this gorgeous gorgeous lady. They shaved her long hair in front of like tens of thousands people in a public demonstration and she was paralyzed right after that and soon pass away. So my parents were interrogated. They tortured they were tortured and sent to one of the Parade’s the land in China all the way into 1991. Our family case was rare draft and that was rather wrong moment. And the only did I think that was when I was seven years old. I can only I was only able to go to school so growing up in that environment. I was really just always ask to just put my head down don’t voice any opinion try to blend in and I was growing up very timid and insecure.

So when I was in college, I always really wanted to find a job, you know in a prestigious firm so that I can support myself, my family financially. But I really do struggle to find my footing in such a competitive work right before my first interview my mom gave to me this, you know pair of earrings. It was a white topaz gemstone in the center enclosed by 6 stones, looks like a blooming flower and then put them on I instantly feel so special. I was like, wow, I never thought such a small piece of jewelry can really, you know, make me sit taller and the walk out the door within your confidence. So that was the moment really ignited my passion for jewelry.

Steve: That is an amazing story. So how did you guys ultimately make it into the US?

Angela: So, I moved to the US In 2011. I indeed find a job in a global top 500 company after I graduate from college and in 2011. I really just you know, the freedom of speech is getting worse and worse in China. I really just want to get out of there. So 2011, I came to the US pursue my MBA degree at Georgetown University. And then after that I actually started my career on Wall Street during private, private banking.

Steve: Oh my goodness. Okay, which is a very male-dominated industry. Yeah.

Angela: Yes, very male dominated industry, two years into the industry. I realized okay, that’s not for me. I was, I feel like I’m dying a slow death there. So I was contemplating on the way out. That’s the reason in 2017. I started Azura Jewelry on the side

Steve: Okay.

Angela: But it took me another year and a half to really make up our mind and commit to the business full time. So I quit my job at the end of 2018.

Steve: Wow, congratulations, you know,

Angela: Thank you.

Steve: so when it comes to jewelry though, it’s actually very competitive as I mentioned in the intro. How did you go about validating your jewelry and how did you know that it was actually going to sell?

Angela: So that was actually one of the biggest mistake I made I didn’t validate my niche before that.

Steve: Okay.

Angela: So, had I pick your classes earlier before I launched my business? I probably won’t sell jewelry.

Steve: Really? Okay

Angela: yes.

Steve: but but then you wouldn’t have the successful business. So I mean, I’m not always correct. I just know it’s just very difficult. So

Angela: I think you are absolutely correct. I actually had a year all stagnation. I feel like I was trying to do everything but nothing works so that it was the reason I join your course. And I think at that time I had already listened to a podcast for about six months and my business wasn’t moving forward. I was like, okay, I really need to find a mentor to shed some light and I remember so clearly in the first class the first office, a student asked you about selling jewelry on Amazon. You said you don’t recommend it because it’s hard to categorize. Hard to rank is hard to differentiate yourself.

And it’s also very difficult to articulate, you know, what kind of benefit and functionality, you know, the value that you can bring to the customer. You said if you want sell jewelry you have to really start emotions and stories. So that was actually my aha moment. I said aha because when I create Azura Jewelry, it was really just another to brand. There is no different from my competitors. But after you said that I decided to go through the classes and follow each step you taught in the class.

I started to you know, put my story and my face behind my brand that wasn’t a very comfortable thing to do, but I was like I just, in order to make this work and since I quit my job. I just have to follow them and then that also prompted the unique value proposition that is possible. That’s yeah we have Five different value propositions why customers should purchase from us that how we are different from our competitors. We also you know, the product titles.

We put some spiritual meanings in the product descriptions we talk about the gemstones, you know, the meanings, the healing properties, the powers where the design where how we are inspired by the design to create that piece of jewelry. That is only only by then that my business start taking off.

Steve: Interesting just a few things to just kind of get out of the way. Are you a technical person? Did you have any problems with the website or getting up and running? What was the most difficult part?

Angela: It wasn’t really difficult for me because I majored in chemistry when I was in college. So I’m sort of tech, but my brain functions in a very logical way so but yeah, but I work I put my website on shopify before I it’s really not difficult at all. It’d probably take me about five to six hours to put up the website. It’s definitely less than a day. Yeah, probably more than half day.

Steve: Okay

Angela: that’s already because I already had all the pictures you know, product description, shop policies ready.

Steve: Sure. How did you make your first sale? So you mentioned you didn’t validate your Niche before you got started. So and then you have this website and you have your value props and you have your story but how did you actually generate some traffic to actually get that first sale?

Angela: My first to sale from is generated from Instagram to a customer in Denver. Okay. So clearly yeah, of course I did I didn’t really make any sales. Marketing to all through my family or friends. I just don’t think it’s sustainable or meaningful in any way and pass. I don’t think they will give me all this and transparency back. So from the very beginning my audience actually a cold traffic and we have put a lot of efforts on Instagram.

Steve: So can we talk about your Instagram strategy? So let’s say you had your brand new account brand-new no pictures. What are some of the things that you’re doing with Instagram that had working for your?

Angela: So when I started actually put like about two pages of content in a day.

Steve: Okay

Angela: Yeah. I just don’t want you know some customer land on my pages. The only two pictures say it’s a brand new account, right? Yeah, so I had two pages so they can scroll up and down at least the say some content back then that was 2017. So I first 10K followers actually generated by doing the follow unfollow strategy. My competitors to come this strategy. I don’t recommend at this moment. I just don’t think it works now because Instagram I’ll wear them is getting so much smarter. They can really detect abnormal behavior. And that will literally turn your you know account into a zombie account that you just don’t have any organic reach but back then it works pretty fine for me.

Steve: Did you use software to do that?

Angela: No, I just did it like manually myself.

Steve: Oh manually. Okay. Follow, unfollow wow okay.

Angela: Yeah. Yeah, I just do it manually even though I don’t think software would work. Why? just because I really focused particularly on some sort of, you know competitor’s followers. So it was very targeted. I don’t know how yeah, if any software will do the work.

Steve: Yeah back in the day. You could say I want to follow the followers of somebody and then the Here we go in and do follows and then if no one followed back you would just stop following that person. This is an older strategy back in the day actually around two years ago come to think of it.

Angela: Oh, okay, so I didn’t I didn’t know that. Okay, but I think 10K was like a good threshold to make a brand look legit. Sure after 10K all of our followers, right now we are at 72k followers. So yeah right now It’s all organic, after 10K it’s organic.

Steve: Well, let’s talk about from going from 10K to 72k. What are some things that you do to maintain this Instagram account and actually grow it?

Angela: Before instagram comes down to create high quality and share-worthy content Instagram really favors visually appealing images. So the more people, you know, the more people share your content the more eyeballs you get onto your profile and as a result the more traffic you will be able to direct your website when I’m creating content. I just not just creating for my audience right? I’m creating for my audiences’ audiences’ audiences as well.

So in the each industry is very different. So it’s important to find out what kind of content is share-worthy in in your Niche. What I did is to analyze my competitors viral posts see if a majority of my competitors post a getting a thousand to two thousand likes 30 comments and one of the posters got like over a thousand likes and over a hundred comments. That is a variable.

Steve: Oh, what posts? Sorry.

Angela: a viral

Steve: Viral. Okay. Got it.

Angela: Yeah, viral post. So I would have just assess the pattern of all those viral posts and find out what kind of image they’re using what kind of hashtags and captions they put out there and I would use that as my guidance to create my own content. And once the Instagram has collected enough data on my count. I just using Instagram inside to discover the post that you know, my audience engaged the most aware of and use them as a compass for my future posts.

Steve: What would you say is your most viral post to date? And what does that post look like if you kind of know off the top of head?

Angela: Yes, I absolutely know that the one of the viral post I had is actually made to the Instagram explore tab where I had over 15,000 likes.

Steve: Wow!

Angela: and to that post the general raid us about to over 2,000 followers. That was last month that I now is probably even more so that post is a collection of amethyst ring in a like a lavender setting which is our trend color, so that is called..

Steve: really. So what was special about that one over some of the other ones that didn’t go viral.

Angela: We actually had a lot of posts made to explore tabs nowadays. That’s why I like our Instagram account Grows by probably a hundred followers a day on average. It’s I think it’s really depends on the design of the Ring of the jewelry if people would like it or not and it’s also it sounds weird but it’s also about like this how pretty that picture looks like in general what we find out is you know, Multiple pieces of jewelry works a lot better than just a single piece of jewelry in a picture.

Light background with a pop of gemstone color works a lot better and the bird’s eye view works a lot better. So it’s like a combination of a lot of different factors.

Steve: So you’re saying here that that image or that Instagram post went viral because the image and not necessarily the copy?

Angela: Yes. I don’t think it’s necessarily a copy. I the hashtag step plays also very important role.

Steve: Okay

Angela: In our Instagram strategy.

Steve: So what is your hashtag strategy?

Angela: So actually from the beginning of 2018 right in Instagram roll out this function of having people to be able to follow hashtags and at the beginning I was just like a lot of people I don’t know how effective hashtags are. So I use a lot of big hashtags like #jewelry #goldrings literally just you know, throwing everything at once hoping something sticks.

Last year, I had my intern to do a very comprehensive research on hashtag. We basically find out the most relevant hashtags to my Niche to my followers and to my product that’s basically based on the search volumes also based on you know, like what our competitors are using. So by doing that we actually put a lot of the product in front of people who aren’t even following us.

Steve: So in terms of the hashtags, how do you know that a hashtag that you’re going for might be too competitive and you don’t even have a chance of cracking the front page?

Angela: So what do you use the hashtag actually shows how many posts there how many people follow. So what we did we actually choose the some like medium-sized hashtags like #jewelry. That’s just way too competitive.

Steve: Right

Angela: So we should sound like media sizes and we also it’s more like doing a research of the keywords as well. Like people who usually would Google something in the certain keywords that they would use that as hashtags as well. So that’s how we figure it out.

Steve: What is considered a medium-sized hashtag?

Angela: I would say somewhere from 500k to 700k

Steve: 500. Wow. Okay, and that’s because it does this change depending on how strong your Instagram account is. So back in the day when you had just 10,000 subscribers, I would imagine going for those even 500k hashtags would be too difficult, right?

Angela: Yeah. Yes, I definitely yes. I agree, had something to do with your followers on your Instagram.

Steve: So do you have like some sort of formula or equation that you use to determine what hashtags? To go for it because Azura account grows. Obviously, you can go for harder hashtags, right?

Angela: Yes. At the very beginning we used a lot of these hashtags like hey #amethystrings #bluetopazring those much smaller. Now, we’re targeting bigger hashtags like #GemstonesJewelry.

Steve: I see

Angela: that’s much bigger. Yeah. It’s also broader in some way. But we still use the ish hashtags just because we wanted to rank for a certain categories.

Steve: Okay. So I mean you get 30 hashtags, right? And so what is your mix look like?

Angela: It’s actually every post is different because we wanted to have the hashtag, you know, most irrelevant to that post. We basically have what kind of gem stones we use hashtags, whatever the amethyst blue topaz or whatever and we have the general hashtags. Like hey instead of jewelry, #jewelryoftheday #ringoftheday something like that.

Steve: Okay. Can we can we talk about just like the jewelry design process. So you mentioned before like on Instagram the image is everything and your images are very great. But on the same side, like it’s a designs that people are attracted to right? So is this where your dude you have a background in jewelry design or?

Angela: No, I don’t have a background in Jewelry design. I do have one in that is our design. The other half is actually with private label our factories design.

Steve: Okay

Angela: so they are supposed to give away the auction that we launched we use a lot of factory designs as well. But jewelry design is really not as difficult as most people would think

Steve: okay

Angela: Our designs are really simple for everyday wear rather than something you know you saved for You saved on for some day. So it’s more like, you know, self-expression and Imagination what great is our Jeweler has pretty strong design team who can just translate what I drawn down on a piece of paper In to say Ad what we call is computer aided design.

Steve: Sure.

Angela: Yes, three National. Yeah and then go from there and sometimes it does take like two to three modifications to get what I really have envisioned in my head.

Steve: Okay

Angela: Yeah, but it’s not that difficult.

Steve: So in terms of growing your Instagram account, have you done any collabs giveaways or anything promotions or is it just been just straight organic posting images and content?

Angela: so we do influencer marketing but not into the extent that we have been through like two different strategies. The first strategy is when we have about probably 10K followers. We have reached a lot of influences of similar size and offer them two to three pieces of Jewelry in exchange for shout out. But that was a but that was a nightmare.

Steve: Oh it was? Okay what happened?

Angela: I think 50% of them just walked away with a free piece of jewelry and without posting anything but you know repeated follow up. the thing is like being an influencer has a really low barrier to entry on Instagram, right?

Steve: Yes.

Angela: So anybody could call them as influencer, but it’s a very competitive industry like a being a really good one takes a lot of time and effort. So when we originally out to those like Nano influencers, they probably did probably not even serious about what they do at that moment.

Steve: Yeah. I know. Yeah

Angela: Yeah, that’s why they just walked away with the jewelry they just disappear

Steve: But for the ones that did do the shout out. Did it actually make a difference?

Angela: No, no, it didn’t. I don’t I, at least from my side. I didn’t see a big difference. But last year we had developed this new program. It’s an influencer ambassador and the rap affiliate program. So ambassadors are those where the over 50k for rest of those who have a probably about 20K 250k followers. I just find out those influence or who has passed, you know, trying to keep followers thresholds. They are more serious about what they do.

So they’re more likely to stick to it and we create specific coupon code for each Ambassador and ranft to share with their audiences and they both make a percentage off the sale generated through that coupon code

Steve: I see.

Angela: Yeah. Ambassador’s percentage is higher than raft. The main difference is really Ambassador getting three pieces of jewelry on a quarterly basis and a raft gets free jewelry of just for once and if there is no conversion, we just take the wrap off the program. I see what a lot better

Steve: so they get jewelry no matter what so they can promote it and then they also get a cut of the sale.

Angela: Yes, we do realize that repeated post works better. If they just post once they just don’t generate that much conversion. But if they post, you know once a week three times a month that works much better. So we decided to just offer them jewelry on a quarterly basis.

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Steve: Interesting. So I mean it’s essentially an affiliate program, but how does the jewelry get do just give him jewelry whenever a new line comes out or how does the giving away jewelry work?

Angela: So we so they have a coupon codes and we basically have our social media managers and all the email to all the ambassadors say, hey, they can use their coupon code which is a hundred percent off our website. So they can use that coupon code to take two to three pieces of jewelry from our website. That’s how it works.

Steve: Okay, and then it’s are they limited by the just two or three pieces? Right?

Angela: Yes. Usually, yeah. Usually it’s three pieces

Steve: is that Ongoing thing or is it just like a one-time thing?

Angela: It’s ongoing thing every quarter in the first week of that quarter with sent out the email I see how that’s hey you can, you can pick up your jewelry now and then I just go on that blind to place an order.

Steve: So at least once a quarter they’re posting or do they post more often than that?

Angela: They actually post them all off and on that some ambassadors don’t post as often. They probably post only when they receive the Jewelry probably once or twice and their conversion definitely their conversion really suffer lower than those who constantly posting

Steve: sure

Angela: but this is also like a process of figuring out who really which, you know, which Ambassador really works.

Steve: Let me ask you a question here. So you’re doing all this through Instagram, right? So these people are posting on Instagram. Have you tried this strategy with bloggers as well people with websites that can actually link to your store?

Angela: Yes, we do at the beginning way to work to with a lot of bloggers who can we mainly do that because we wanted a backlink from them. Rather than having them to promoting our jewelry and in exchange. We also create a blog to them. So we give them the backlink as well.

Steve: I see it has that worked as well or has the Instagram just been a lot more successful for you?

Angela: To generate sales, Definitely Instagram, but yeah the backlinks stuff definitely help with the SEO a lot more.

Steve: Okay. How did you get to be featured on the magazines that have been listed on your site?

Angela: Oh, I just keep bugging the editor ha ha ha. So I follow a lot of accessory editors on the major had on their social media and I just engage with them like by commenting on their stories and called and then usually after like a month of like engaging them and I would send the brand introduction email to them to introduce who we are and what we sell and after several weeks. I follow up with a package of like a collection of certain pieces.

You know that fit into the theme of what’s going on during that period and a week later. I just asked hey, do you have a question? Can I send some samples to you this and that and when they are having birthday, I’m sending some gifts to their birthday and yeah, that’s how it works.

Steve: Right? So this is like a long-term strategy here. So how long does it typically take before you do your ask in terms of just engaging with them.

Angela: For some of them It’s actually really fast. It’s all it take like one to two to ask but some other editors actually takes a lot longer. We still have editors. We probably pitch them pitch to them like six seven times 8 times. They have never responded to us.

Steve: How did you get their emails?

Angela: I got their emails is from like I know what the magazines that they work for and they just have certain logic of how they have their emails. It’s usually their last name first name @wmagazine.com or it would be just the first letter of your last name and then their first name dot you know

Steve: right

Angela: well something like that. Yeah, so I just

Steve: So what would your average initial email sounds like?

Angela: Especially sounds like hey, this is Angela. I’m the founder of Azura jewelry. And then I have a you know introduction of what Azura jewelry is and tell them what is our unique value proposition. And hey, we would love to be kept in mind for future stories. Please. Let me know like if you wanted to review our samples, something like that. That’s the first of all reach, you know.

Steve: Do cold send them jewelry or do you actually talk to them first and ask them if they want the jewelry, you mentioned sending them on birthdays and that sort of thing which assumes you have an address for them.

Angela: Yes, because sometimes when they respond I would get a dress in their signatur

Steve: I see.

Angela: And he’s on the yeah. So sometimes people they post on this Instagram that they are having, you know birthday. I would just send some flowers over. Just to feel that long-term relationship.

Steve: What is your hit rate? I’m just kind of curious when you’re doing this cold Outreach.

Angela: It’s actually works pretty well. I think 60 a 70 percent also.

Steve: Wow, that’s amazing.

Angela: Yeah. Well the respond to me especially because we engage with them first rather than to send out an email. We have been commenting following them on their Instagram. Sometimes I read the email because if they have an article coming out. I wouldn’t post it. I would write them an email saying hey, I really like this article, you know, keep up the good work this and that so they really appreciate that.

Steve: So you pay attention to when they post and you’re among the first commenter, so they actually notice you

Angela: Yes, I definitely common first on their post

Steve: Is this everything that you do or do you Outsource this?

Angela: I do it myself.

Steve: You do it yourself. Okay

Angela: this is because I don’t think, I have a social media manager who basically respond to all the comments on my Instagram page and all the you know, Instagram inquiries, but I don’t think they are trained to reach the editors at this moment.

Steve: Sure. Yeah, that makes sense.

Angela: So either that yeah, I just do that myself.

Steve: What tools are you using for Instagram to just kind of manage the whole thing?

Angela: Nothing. I actually I don’t use any specific tool

Steve: really Interesting, Just okay.

Angela: Yeah I have I have someone to manage my Instagram account at this moment. I basically just go into the account and you know building relationship with editors other than that there is no special tools

Steve: No tools. Okay. Just the Instagram app.

Angela: Yeah

Steve: so I know since you gave an office hour, which I did a website critique for you during office hours that you take all of your images with your iPhone. Right? Is that still true?

Angela: Yeah. Yes. I do. So those white background pictures that you saw on my website. They actually taken by a professional photographers, but all those Lifestyles that you say on my website and also on my Instagram I took them by on my iphone.

Steve: Okay, so there’s a disk. So all the product photos are professionally taken?

Angela: Yeah, all the white background.

Steve: Okay, and then but all your Instagram photos and everything. Those are taking with your iPhone, right?

Angela: Yes. So yes for the product pictures. We have only one or two white background picture and the rest are like on the models on lifestyle pictures. Those are all so I picked them.

Steve: Wow. All right, so that my the reason why I’m asking this is you know for Instagram, obviously you have to have your photos on your phone and I guess it’s logical then that since you’re not Any helper apps all your images are taken on your phone.

Angela: yeah.

Steve: Okay. Do you run them through any apps after the fact I mean the photos look amazing are using Lightroom?

Angela: Yes. No, that’s too technical. For me

Steve: okay. So..

Angela: yeah, that’s too technical so I basically just used like a filter. The thing is about jewelry pictures, right? It can be very difficult. It can be very simple when I say it’s easy. It’s because you know, I need is a table setting some pro, a hand and background, in the ear, is different from like clothing brands. They actually have to have different models makeup, you know background. So I really don’t need all that.

The difficult part is the gemstones actually reflect light differently. So if you don’t do it right you lose that authenticity of the color and texture.

Steve: Mmm. Okay

Angela: I take everything on my yeah, so I only take pictures with night light sometimes between to 11:30 to 1:30. So every month I spent probably an hour and 30 minutes to take about 30 pictures for that month.

Steve: I see

Angela: I just use a filter to add in my picture probably take about 10 seconds. I do that when I’m in line for my coffee in strabucks

Steve: So it’s all done on your phone.

Angela: Yes, he’s all done in my iPhone.

Steve: What about order fulfillment? Are you fulfilling all of your own orders?

Angela: So I do both I use fulfillment center and I also fulfill some orders myself if they are popular designs and we’re moving in volume if fulfilled by a fulfillment center in New Jersey, they charge us probably like 180 per order with the for like multi-channel with that additional $0.20 per units within the same order. Yeah.

Steve: How did you find this 3pl?

Angela: They actually reach out to us on Shopify group on a Facebook group. It was like open World. yeah, they just reach out to us because I was talking about like we’re having some troubles with the international shipping this and that and they reach out to us and then I decided to give it a try and so far it works well and for the others like a new designs because we’re just testing designs probably have only like 30 50 pieces. I don’t know if we’re going to move volumes because they charges for inventory the storage cost as well. So I just shipped those out myself.

Steve: So someone comes on your site and they order something that is stored at the 3pl as well as one of these new designs that your shipping shipping out of your house. I would imagine.

Angela: Yeah

Steve: so does that mean that they’re going to get two separate orders like two separate boxes and that case?

Angela: No, they’re not. No. So for those like, No for certain designs way only either carry in my house or carry in the Fulfillment center.

Steve: Yeah, but what if I order both? In one order.

Angela: Oh in one order that hasn’t happened to me yet.

Steve: Okay

Angela: that’s a very good one, yeah that hasn’t happened to me yet.

Steve: Now. I noticed on your site that your jewelry has a lot of reviews on them, and I’m just wondering what your process is for gathering reviews and following up and doing customer service.

Angela: At the beginning we Gather reviews by just Outreach customer if they write a review for us. We will give them a like $10 coupon for their next order. That’s basically how we generate the initial review. Once we have enough to look at our website to make our water look very credible and legit. We basically just used you know, the automatic email sequence sent out by exempt.

Steve: Okay. What did what are you using?

Angela: Stamped.

Steve: Oh Stamped.io got it.

Angela: Yeah

Steve: Okay. Are you using email marketing tool?

Angela: Yeah, we do Klaviyo.

Steve: Okay Klaviyo.

Angela: We just migrate from MailChimp last year when they break up with the Shopify. Yeah at this moment our email. Yeah. No, just our email marketing doesn’t work as well as I hoped

Steve: Interesting

Angela: So we just have, you know certain flows, automatic flows.

Steve: right

Angela: in place and the we send out campaigns probably once every two weeks. But our email marketing is very low. So that’s probably caused the issue.

Steve: interesting or are you doing any advertising?

Angela: Right now all of our traffic is organic.

Steve: Oh, wow, so we’re running, we have 75% of margin at this moment.

Angela: Amazing.

Angela: We do around some retargeting ads on Facebook which is probably full access our ROI but what I realized is that if I run ads to traffic on Facebook, I probably haven’t done it really, you know.. well

Steve: it’ll be tricky for sure.

Angela: It can be really really expensive.

Steve: Yes. Yeah.

Angela: . Yeah, but in the future like this year, our Focus will be on targeting, you know, the pay traffic. I’ll tackle them one by one.

Steve: So for the people out there may be a listening who might want to sell jewelry. What would you say was the biggest challenge in just kind of getting started and getting your first sales?

Angela: I think at the beginning is like I really didn’t validate my niche that is the biggest one and also I think really just to avoid the shiny object syndrome because at the beginning I was trying to do everything. I did affiliate marketing influencer marketing, you know, Facebook ads everything nothing really worked well for me, I just realized that if you can just focus on one thing and do a really well be an expert on that. You will have a six-figure business. So I think it’s dive deep in one topic is better than scratching the surface, you know also a hundred different things.

Steve: How much money did you invest to start your business?

Angela: Less than $1,000 the first, the inventory where we have, we invest probably about 400 to 500 and then the Shopify theme cost about 280. We actually bought a theme for 140 as well. We have some jewelry boxes to so yeah

Steve: so under $1,000 that’s amazing.

Angela: Yeah under a thousand dollars.

Steve: and on the Instagram front if people want to start marketing with Instagram, you mentioned that follow, unfollow doesn’t work anymore. How would you grow an account today?

Angela: I think it really just have a good hashtag strategy in place and create, focus on creating high-quality content.

Steve: And when you say high quality content, how do you know what that is? Like, what is what is the approach to figuring out what that great content is going to be?

Angela: Yeah, So as I mentioned like what I did is to, you know, find out the viral post off my competitor, right? analyze the pattern, the commonality of all those variables and then Just emulate that to create my own compass and later on you can use the Instagram insights to figure out what kind of content your customer actually engage both with and you just use that as a guidance going forward.

Steve: One thing I forgot to ask you is Instagram you can’t post links. So is everyone just clicking on your profile link to find you?

Angela: Yeah. So in our descriptions we tell them like hey the link is in the profile click the links to purchase and also we tag all of our product in a picture. So if they tap on a photo they can help them go through to the website to make purchase.

Steve: Yes. Yes, right right. Now that is something you can do with Shopify. You can link Shopify to your Instagram account.

Angela: Yes. Yeah. Yes. That’s what I would do

Steve: I see and so when you look at your Google Analytics Like your sales are click-throughs from Instagram. Like when you look at like the source tab

Angela: yes, probably 70 percent of our traffic coming from Instagram

Steve: and when an influencer, when an influencer posts about you, are they just tagging your Instagram page or are they trying to get people to your website?

Angela: They actually tagged our page your page.

Steve: Your page, Okay, so they click over to your page and then they click on the link to get to your store.

Angela: Yeah, if it’s a post, yes. If it is an Instagram story, they actually link to our website.

Steve: Okay. Oh, I was going to ask you about that Instagram stories. Do you have a strategy with that?

Angela: Ah so for Instagram stories We post probably 1 to 2 stories a day and it can be some user-generated content just like you know some customer reviews, customer tag us in the picture. It can be something like announcement of the new launch. We do use Instagram story to collect feedbacks a lot. We do a lot of survey asking customers what kind of the gemstone you like to say do it like this design or do it like that design.

That’s actually take a lot of the guesswork for us. So yeah, that’s basically what we use and we post some like motivational quotes just because we position ourselves as you know, spiritually uplifting trend.

Steve: right. How often do you just post those type of post versus ones that are designed to get you to the website on stories?

Angela: we actually post that post to our website pretty often probably once a day every other day. Yes, we do have that kind of post.

Steve: Okay, and so in terms that, you mentioned that the hashtag strategy Is the most important so it’s just a matter of just typing in these hashtags and Instagram finding out how many people are posting in these hashtags and figuring out whether you can actually have a chance of getting displayed with them and then just gradually working your way up

Angela: Yes, I think find a hashtag that is most relevant to you, your product and your audience is very important.

Steve: I’m just curious like you mentioned the follow unfollow doesn’t any more I. When you first told me that I thought that you were using an automated tool, which I agree is kind of not working anymore. So does that imply then that with your account? You’re not really following anyone anymore?

Angela: No, no, that’s like two years ago. I think I think last year. I had recommend 12 of my friends to use the same strategy, but somehow I think Instagram algorithm changed so they kind of get their account block for like two months

Steve: They overdid it, Basically

Angela: they probably overdid it. But yes, but later on I don’t buy followers. Don’t buy likes, don’t buy comments.

Steve: Yeah

Angela: because Instagram can really detect that so I don’t think it works as you know, as well as in the past

Steve: one last question. I forgot to ask you is when you’re looking at these influencers to work with on Instagram. How can you tell that their followers are legit? Like how many likes would you have to see on a post to know that those followers are actually real followers?

Angela: We, so we basically use three different tools, three different things. We use social blade to say their daily changes off their, you know followers. If one day they had 500 followers. The other two days, they have only three followers, right? We do know that they have probably fake followers. It’s just, you know, it’s just the certain boost of like the followers it’s not like

Steve: What are the terms of Engagement though, I mean engagement is very important as well. How do you measure that or what are your guidelines? I should say.

Angela: We actually click into their likes and comments to see who engage with them. So a lot of influencers actually in some instapot. Instapot is a group of people. They you know group of bloggers. They just commenting on each other’s posts. to boost, you know their algorithm. So that really work as well. So we will look at who commenting on them if it’s like customer or you if followers or if it’s like some other influencers.

If all their comments, likes, from other influencer like so from other influencer we definitely don’t work with them because we don’t think the engagement rate is real for that account.

Steve: So let’s say there’s an account that you want to work with that has 10,000 followers and let’s say they only get like 10 likes per page. That’s obviously bad. Is there like a threshold that you would use?

Angela: No, actually, we don’t use that threshold because we don’t really think that threshold is that meaningful?

Steve: Okay, so it’s mainly just comments.

Angela: Yeah because they can buy a lot of likes they can buy comments anything can buy. We really just have into it and say the quality of the comments, quality of the likes.

Stev: I see

Angela: but I don’t do this work at this moment as well I have a social media manager.

Steve: Yeah, I’m just yeah, but at one point in your business, you did this all yourself, right?

Angela: Yes. I did all this myself.

Steve: Yeah, so really it’s just it’s kind of like a gut feel whether the

Angela: Yeah

Steve: okay

Angela: and it’s also depends on the quality of the content they have produced.

Steve: In terms of imagery or copy or?

Angela: in terms of the image, the copy, in terms of their Instagram stories. If they never post any Instagram stories, you know that they are not serious about like being an influencer right? But you did someone have you know, igtv they constantly posting their reviewing products they have great content. They have a professional photographer that you know, they are serious about what they do.

Steve: okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Angela, We’ve been chatting for quite a while. I would just kind of wanted to conclude this first with what advice would you give people who are on the sidelines right now who want to start an online business?

Angela: So I would say, start to you know, streamline your business established a good system early on so at the very beginning I was doing my customer service for probably ten months by myself. I have documented all the questions customer asked. I categorize them. I have my email templates ready and whenever you know, I upload the product into my Shopify creating a question manager like return and exchange.

I always just like record like screen recording and have everything documented so when I was ready to scale up my business, I can just offload everything to a full-time in like two days and work, it has been working really really well.

Steve: Hmm okay

Angela: So I think doing that is just really helping you save so much of your time and a mental capacity so that you can really focus on you know revenue-generating activities. That is also my goal this year because I really wanted to remove myself from day-to-day and just focus on marketing.

Steve: That’s great advice Angela. Where can people find you online. Like what is your Instagram? What is your store name? If you wouldn’t mind spelling it out and where can people contact you if they have any questions or if they’re just kind of curious.

Angela: Sure. My website is a Azurajewelry.com. Spelled as A-Z-U-R-A-J-E-W-E-R-L-Y.com My personal email is angela@azurajewelry.com and My Instagram is Azura.NYC

Steve: Nice. Well Angela, I really appreciate you coming on. I’m sure the people listening to this are very inspired. And I mean I’ve learned a lot about Instagram from you as well. So, thank you so much.

Angela: Thank you so much, Steve.

Steve: All right, Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Angela is an amazing person. And I love that she’s overcome so much hardship in her life. So please support her store over at azurajewelry.com and I’m not a jewelry expert by any means but my wife says her jewelry is beautiful. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode306.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com

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2 thoughts on “306: How My Student Angela Li Makes 6 Figures Selling Jewelry Without Advertising”

  1. Turquoisegiftshop says:

    Steve has the ability to ask his guests the exact questions you’re thinking. Angela’s decisions about how to incorporate her family’s inspirational life story, increase followers, photography expertise, analyze Instagram viral posts, win over magazine editors, was fascinating. Steve’s warm and engaging style, wraps around a succinct, crucial interviewing skill set, giving the listener exceptional steps to become successful themselves. His classes create roadmaps through the ever changing e-commerce highway. Thank you for paying it forward.

  2. sean D says:

    Steve,
    Fantastic Podcast.
    Angela thank you for sharing so much including your personal story. Congratulations on all your success.

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