Kiennen Schade is a well-known lightsaber sound font artist in the Star Wars community. A huge fan of the franchise since childhood, his journey as an entrepreneur began when he combined his background in music with his love for Star Wars. By selling one-of-a-kind audio files for light saber props to film fans worldwide, he has managed to increase his income and grow from a fan to a successful business owner.
Kiennen chose Sellfy over other alternatives to sell his digital products and loves the platform for its ease of use and numerous features. Read on to learn more about the inspirational journey of this Star Wars fan and how he made it big in the saber industry online.
What do you do? What’s your main job?
My main job is doing air traffic control at a local airport. The job is good because I work at a smaller airport and it gives me more time and freedom to do my side job and have a life outside of work. So, that’s priceless to me.
How did you discover your hobby?
I’ve always liked Star Wars since I was a kid, but I started with audio work because I had a music hobby—I like to write and record my music.
I ended up finding the hobby because of a random Facebook ad back in 2017. I did some research from there and found Facebook groups that build custom light saber props. I had to have one, so I came across someone who was just starting out building them.
He and I became good friends since then, and he got them built for me and I thought they were cool. But when I got them, I noticed that the sounds on them weren’t very good or weren’t what I thought they could be, so that was the inspiration for me starting it. I had the background knowledge already because of my music background, so it was easy for me to adjust and start working on the sound effects.
And then you started selling the sound effects?
I think I started selling them privately in 2017. I never had my own site or anything. It was just through a third party that I was listing them and that’s what I did up until I joined Sellfy back in February. So, that’s the gist of it and how I got started.
Who are your audience? How do you reach out to them?
I made a Facebook page since Facebook groups are the heart and soul of the Star Wars community. And then I just started sharing the stuff I made in the Facebook groups and it built on quicker because of my unique take on it and my background. My products were of better quality than what was already out, so I think that combination and a hungry consumer base for new stuff helped me build on quite quickly.
But, the more new movies came out, the more people joined the community—it’s an evolving hobby that continues to grow as new Star Wars TV shows, media, and movies get released. So, I have to keep what I release relevant to what’s going on in the Star Wars universe right now, and that’s helped me a lot. So, it’s been pretty much Facebook.
How did you make your first sale? Do you use any marketing strategies to get the ball rolling?
Honestly, I just let my work speak for itself. I know that probably sounds cliché, but now that I’ve been doing it for over four years, I’ve built my name up in the community to where I don’t have to market my name or get myself out there as much anymore.
There are usually other people that throw my name out there, too. But, I started with free giveaways every time I released something new just to bring the traffic over earlier. And now, I’m lucky enough that when I release something, I have the community and the follower base, so I don’t have to do that type of aggressive marketing anymore.
I never use phrases like “best” or “most accurate”. I just tried to tell people that this is what I’ve got and I would put a little bit of background, do a couple of giveaways, some private sales, and that worked for me pretty well back then. So, just the word-of-mouth and core customers constantly spreading the information has helped.
Getting my customer base over to my Sellfy site was a lot easier than I expected and I’m happy how everything turned out.
What made you choose Sellfy over other alternatives?
I felt Sellfy was geared better towards digital products and that’s 90% of what I do. I just wanted the best possible host for digital products, updates, sales, and stuff like that. So, Sellfy checked off all the boxes that I needed and was just perfect for what I do. All of my customers love the way that the updates work, so I’m happy with Sellfy.
It was just so easy to get my site up and running and, I think, the most user-friendly for digital products. I’ve been utilizing Sellfy’s print on demand, too.
What has been your experience creating print-on-demand products with Sellfy?
I think it’s great. People love them. The shirts fit and feel good, and the prints are of good quality. When I joined, I had no idea that print-on-demand was coming or that it would be an option. But as soon as it came out, I thought I might as well start utilizing it because it’s just another avenue for marketing and that’s been pretty cool.
I’ve originally just done it for myself to have some stuff to wear in my videos, but then people wanted them and started buying. Even the customers are buying the shirts now and people who have YouTube channels are wearing my shirts in their videos. So, it’s nice to have that just from a marketing standpoint alone.
I think it was nice to be one of the first people to start doing it because once I started creating my merch, the rest of the community started following along. Now, everyone has shirts. I’m getting sent shirts every day, so I have a closet full of t-shirts from a lot of the other people in the community.
With the introduction to print-on-demand, I see a company that I can grow with—as you guys add new features, I can start to utilize them and grow myself. There’s no reason for me to even think about leaving because everything I need is right here.
How do you keep building your audience? Do you use social media channels?
Since I started my store with Sellfy, I’ve begun branching myself out on social media because I think Facebook is dying as far as business goes right now. I still think Facebook is a great place for groups, communities, and communication, but as far as business goes, I find that it isn’t doing that well without ads.
And, I’m not paying for ads because that’s such a niche product that it’s almost not worth it for me. I would rather people find their way in naturally and learn how everyone else did, instead of just seeing one of my ads.
But, Instagram has been great so far. It’s been my best way to reach out. I made my Instagram a little bit later last year, but I didn’t start pushing it until I made the site this year. It’s a great place to interact—we do little live streams and stuff on there.
I’m trying to get into TikTok, although it’s not quite perfect for what I do because it’s really hard to get my point across in a 15 or 30-second video. I still post things on TikTok, but for now, what’s bringing me traffic is Instagram, word-of-mouth, and other people sharing me. It’s not huge growth, but it’s enough to where I have a consistent customer base.
People are constantly getting products built and they need sounds to go on the product. So, I work with people who do the installs and they recommend me, and I’ve built up that core customer base that keeps me going on a day-to-day basis.
How has Sellfy impacted your life? What have you been able to do with the revenue that you’ve gotten?
Everything’s changed for me since I joined Sellfy. It has impacted me quite a lot, not just from a creative standpoint, but also from a social standpoint in the community. And, it’s given me more purpose in what I do. It’s inspiring seeing what works and what doesn’t and having an email platform with a subscriber list, and daily sales and income through the analytics.
It makes me want to do more of what I do and that’s what’s irreplaceable to me—the inspiration from it. It’s much more satisfying when I finish something because I used to dread the writing and the listing, and then the video recording and editing.
But, now, it’s inspiring that I can finish something in one day and have it posted on Sellfy at the exact time I want it to be there. The freedom and the inspiration are second to none from what I’m used to if that makes sense. I’m fortunate and I’m enjoying every bit of it.
What have you learned along the way? If you were to encourage someone else, what would you say to them?
The biggest battle is just starting. Once you just get over that, I feel like it’s so much more inspiring. What a lot of people don’t understand is that you’re not going to just make it overnight. Some people do, but for the most part, I started everything because I just love what I do. And that’s just plain and simple.
I didn’t start this for the money. I didn’t even think you could make good money from it. It was just a hobby and I enjoyed it. So, when I found there was an avenue to sell these things, I wasn’t making anything crazy when I first started. It was just a way to do what I love and then get some kickbacks from it.
I tell my friends all the time that you need to find something you love and figure out how you can take that further. Everyone has a hobby, but not everyone has hobbies that you can profit from. At the same time, if you love something, you have to take it and just go for it.
I’m younger and so are my friends—this is the time to do this. Even if it doesn’t last for the rest of my life, I can say that my 20s and 30s were fantastic because I was able to make extra income, have that community and the friendships that I made, and then, still be able to carry that later in life, just maybe in a different way.
So, you just got to go for it, honestly. You have to be passionate about it. Nothing is more obvious than people who are just in it for a money grab because you can tell that their heart’s not in it. You can tell that they’re not passionate about what they’re doing. But, if you truly love what you’re doing and you enjoy it, there’s no reason to hold back. You just got to find a way and everything will come for itself. People see the passion in what you do and that’s what inspires them to get behind your products. And that’s just from my experience, but honestly, I think that’s the best advice I could give.