A woman of many talents, Zara is a professional violinist and composer based in Nigeria. Aside from her main career, she’s a cinematographer with more than 17 years of experience. She’s also a passionate content creator and natural hair advocate.
Zara discovered a love for natural hair while she was studying in college. Slowly, she started sharing her passion with people online and as her following grew, she decided to create digital products on the topic.
Now, with the help of Sellfy, she sells natural hair care resources and digital information products to 105K+ followers on Instagram and 171K+ subscribers on YouTube. Zara ultimately found Sellfy through other creators that she loves. She chose the platform for its ease of use and high checkout conversion rate.
In this interview, Zara talks about how she runs her online business with effective marketing, and how she handles her multi-creative endeavours. She also shares three pieces of solid advice for anyone looking to become a successful digital business owner.
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a professional violinist and composer. There’s nothing I love more than writing music. So, that’s my main career and it’s what I studied at university.
During my studies, I also developed a love of natural hair. I’m really passionate about it and I enjoy doing things to help my hair thrive. I never thought my hobby would blossom into what it is today, but here I am! I’ve been on YouTube for about a decade now.
When I first visited Nigeria and then later returned, I didn’t know I’d be living here either. This is where I discovered a passion for photography. I had been a video editor for a long time, but then I started developing cinematography skills, and I added that to editing.
What got you into natural hair and how did you end up monetising it?
I first started doing it for fun. I didn’t know that I would be making money from it. But, I was inspired by the people who ultimately motivated me to go natural. And, then I just started sharing the little bit that I knew online.
One of my friends as well as Sellfy creator Prince Meyson were really on my case to put out digital products about two or three years before I finally did it. I’m the type of person who won’t commit to something until I feel ready, so I didn’t put out anything until I felt like it was the right time.
I’m a perfectionist, which is probably one of my biggest problems. But, I also feel like it’s one of my biggest strengths because it’s made my work stand out from the rest. I put a lot of energy into the things I do.
So, it’s definitely been a process just getting to the right place to put out my digital products.
How did you create and design your digital products? What was the process like?
Well, the process with my first eBook, the Recipe Bible, was arduous because as much as the recipes are a part of me, I feel like they’re part of the fabric of who I am.
Also, I feel like body or hair care products in general—products that people are going to put in or on their body—have to be very carefully done. So, making sure the percentages are right, and that the recipes are cohesive and accessible, was more challenging than making sure the end product is nice.
When it comes to design, I feel like I’m generally good at designing things, but I also know my strengths and weaknesses. So, I hired one of my colleagues who’s a gifted designer and understands my aesthetic to make my eBook visually appealing.
I’m a huge advocate for delegating where necessary. As much as I like to do things by myself, I know some things would be difficult for me. And, I know that there are people who spend their lives perfecting those things. So, why do them myself when I can have somebody who’s very qualified?
As for my other digital products—the Holy Grail eBook, Extreme Hair Growth Calendar, and Haircare Planner—I designed them myself.
I know there are a lot of easy-to-use templates on Canva, but I didn’t use any of them because I already had in mind what I wanted to do.
How did you discover Sellfy? You mentioned photographer and Sellfy creator Prince Meyson had something to do with it?
Many of the creators I love use Sellfy. For example, I love Ryan Nangle’s presets and plugins. They make it fast and easy for me to do editing. I think he was my first exposure to Sellfy. But, I didn’t really know much beyond the fact that it’s an eCommerce platform for selling digital products.
And, then there’s Sorelle Amore whose presets I saw on Sellfy. So, at that point, it was almost like a subliminal message. Little did I know that I would be making and selling digital products with Sellfy, too.
But, Prince Meyson was definitely the main person who was on my case about putting out digital products. And, that’s how I started my Sellfy store.
Aside from your favorite creators using Sellfy, what else made you choose our platform?
I used to have a Shopify store, but it’s not as user-friendly as Sellfy. When you’re selling something like digital products, I think it should be straightforward so that your customers can get what they need.
I think Sellfy does a really great job with making the purchasing process straightforward. The user experience is so effortless that it’s easy to get a high conversion rate. It’s easy for customers to make payments.
What are your favorite Sellfy features?
It’s hard to say because I love the whole platform.
It’s really a “no stress” kind of platform, and I can understand why so many people feel comfortable using it.
But, if I had to pick something, then I really like the analytics feature. It helps me see how I’m doing and what my customers are engaging with.
I also like the email analytics tool, especially because I haven’t created any content around my calendar for months. But, even for someone who’s been off social media for a while, I was able to sell a surprising amount of copies after sending my first email.
Another favorite feature is being able to see how many times someone has downloaded something. So, when it says “access”, then I know they’ve probably downloaded it.
I’ve actually had some instances where a customer will try to scam me and say that they haven’t been able to download. And, then I look and I see that they’ve been downloading it on different days, and maybe sharing it with other people. So, usually when I confront them with that, it immediately ends the conversation.
I like that Sellfy protects sellers from fraudulent activity. And, I also like that Sellfy makes it easy to restrict downloads and protect my intellectual property.
How has Sellfy impacted your life and business?
Overall, it’s been great. Sellfy has made my life so much easier.
Some time ago, I was dealing with the death of a few family members, which made it difficult for me to be on social media. But, the fact that I was still making a sustainable income despite the circumstances was really positive for me.
I love that I can get instant payouts with Sellfy.
I know that if I put out a video, I’ll definitely make a certain amount of money instantly. So, just having that type of extra income is really nice because YouTubers only get paid once a month, and it’s always the following month. For example, if I make around $6,000 in January, then I’m not going to see that money until late February.
How do you market your products? What’s your approach?
Marketing is something that I’m still working on but, thankfully, there are plenty of resources on the internet. So, even with the little bit of marketing that I’ve done, I’ve been surprised by the positive outcome and reception.
There’s one piece of rhetoric that I see very consistently about how to market effectively. And, it’s something along the lines of the best marketing not being thrown in people’s faces. Showing what a product can do for people is better than simply telling them to buy it.
So, generally, my approach is to demonstrate what my product can do for people.
Even with the next videos I have planned, I’m going to focus on what it can do for others. I actually use most of my recipes in my daily routine, so it’s very easy for me to demonstrate the results.
What keeps you motivated as a creator?
Sometimes, it can be a bit of a challenge because I’m a perfectionist. What motivates me the most is being able to express myself. Plus, I just love the overall creative process, and especially the feedback I get from people—it’s an added bonus.
It’s very fulfilling to get positive messages like, “Wow, this is such a beautiful book; I love this calendar,” etc., from people who purchase my products.
And, what are the most challenging aspects of being a creative business owner? How do you handle it?
I think that thanks to my mom, I have a bit of sense business-wise, and I’m able to handle myself well. But, there are definitely things that I’m naturally more prone to like getting distracted or my mind racing. So, having to balance those tendencies is probably my biggest challenge.
To be honest, I’m not always successful in managing each area of my life or business exceptionally well.
But, something that I’ve learned from one of my mentors is that as opposed to confining myself to one thing, I should be comfortable recognizing that I’m multi-talented and that it’s okay to pursue different things because everything has its own season.
Also, I feel like the most successful people on social media aren’t necessarily creative. They’re just great at curating and organizing content.
So, what’s your secret recipe for getting social media right?
It’s definitely my skill set and the way I conceptualize things. While I’m not as active as some of my peers, people still remain loyal to what I’m putting out because of how I do things. I bring something different to the table—I tend to do what’s not necessarily expected.
For example, I really enjoy doing Instagram Reels because they’re short-form content, and I can easily express myself and experiment with editing.
So, in particular, one reel that went viral last year is the Peru song by Fireboy. I just made a quick challenge to it with a really straightforward video editing technique. I didn’t expect it to become a worldwide challenge, but people on social media were like, “Wow, this is incredible. How did you do it?”
A lot of them tried to replicate it, but only a few people were able to do it properly. So, that was pretty cool.
What pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to start an online business?
Number one: be true to who you are. I’m the kind of person who’s very in tune with who I am, and that has helped me express myself in an authentic way. And, because I’m being true to who I am, there are people that really value that.
Number two: choose quality over quantity. I could definitely put out more digital products. But, more important than a cash grab is putting out products that are effective and beautiful. I try to take my time to create things that would make me proud.
And, finally, number three: focus on adding value. It’s important to ensure that you’re adding value to whatever you’re putting out. For example, I ask myself, “What can I give to this person who is lamenting and asking me how they can remedy their hair issue?”
Because, especially for black women in America, hair is really important due to our traumatic history surrounding hair. And, I understand on a very deep level what it means to feel like your hair is not enough. So, putting out a hair product that’s helpful and valuable is really important to me as a black woman.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or add?
I feel like a lot of people chastise creators for monetizing their content. But, in the same way, advertisers make money by promoting different products to people. So, I just think that people do have a right to monetize the value they add to society.
So, to other creators who maybe feel disingenuous for making money from the things that they’re good at, they shouldn’t feel that way because those things can add a lot of value to somebody else. And, the value they add is, ultimately, priceless.
In the spotlight
In the spotlight
Natural hair advocate