Types of Paracorder
I’ve been following a lot of paracorders on Instagram over the last couple of years. They tend to fall into one of three categories; hobbyist, jack of all trades and professional. Lets take a closer look at each of these:
There are a lot of these out there, typically making paracord creations for fun, posting pictures of all of the different creations that they make and occasionally selling their creations to help pay for more paracord. There’s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, it’s where most of us start out and some of us are happy staying there and just want to keep paracording as a relaxing and enjoyable hobby.
Jack of all Trades
This type of paracorder posts a lot of different bracelets on their Instagram feed, using a lot of different colours and styles. They try to be as flexible as possible in the hopes of targeting as many people as possible. You’ll also see them on selling sites like Etsy with 20+ listings, each a different bracelet style and offering a custom service where you can pick from 100+ colours of paracord. This is the WallMart of paracording, lots of options at an affordable price with a large number of sales needed to return a profit.
This may seem like a good idea at first as you will appeal to lots of different customers and you can give them exactly what they want. There are a couple of downsides to being a Jack of all Trades paracorder though:
- There are a lot of similar paracorders out there and they’re all selling on the same platforms; Instagram, Etsy and eBay, offering almost identical services. This creates competition and drives down prices and perceived value. You will have to work very hard, creating a lot of bracelets, for very little profit margin.
- You will need to keep a LOT of paracord in stock so that you can offer 100+ colours.
- Customers often suck at making their mind up if you give them too many options. If it takes them too long to decide, they will be at risk of looking at other sellers, or worse changing their mind and realising that they shouldn’t spend their money on something they don’t NEED right now. Impulse purchasing is a great thing to take advantage of 😉
- It’s hard to create an identifiable brand as you create so many different designs.
This type of paracorder has a clear brand identity, their work is easily identifiable as theirs and they tend to create less than 10 different designs and stick to a limited set of colour schemes. This is a designer brand, as compared to the WallMart of Jack of all Trades.
A lot of time, effort and thought has been put into their designs. I’ve followed a couple of professional paracorders over a year or so and watched their style develop. Looking back at their previous Instagram posts, you’ll see that they’ve tried quite a lot of different designs, seeing what sells and what doesn’t and eventually refining it down to a handful of designs which really stand out and clearly sell well.
Rather than selling lots for a small profit margin, you’re looking to create a high quality product with a much higher perceived value.
Don’t expect to set up as a professional paracorder over night, it takes time to refine your style. But also don’t let that put you off, it’s a very rewarding journey to go on.
Developing Your Style
There is no right or wrong way of doing this. However I am going to talk about two approaches which can help. Which one you decide to try, or even trying a different way altogether is up to you, the key thing is that you do try.
Create What You Like
In this approach you focus on creating items that you like, items that you are passionate about and can happily put time and effort into creating.
For example, if you are an outdoorsy person then consider focusing initially on survival bracelets or colour schemes which compliment nature. You’ll be able to get great product shots of you out and about wearing / using the products. Also you’ll know more about the target audience as you are the target audience.
@evelynandlewis has the most gorgeous bulldog and makes a really beautiful range of dog collars and leads. Her Instagram features lots of high quality photos of her dog wearing the collars she makes. She has a loyal following of dog lovers and definitely plays to her strengths in making what she loves.
You don’t necessarily have to focus on your passion or hobby. You could instead try using hand made beads from a quality craftsman. You can also get your own unique beads made which will make you stand pout even more. @krugeredc does this with his white rhino beads.
@scordvolution on Instagram uses stunning hand crafted beads and creates paracord bracelets which they love to wear themselves. I talked to him about this a while back and he said that he creates what he loves and is very grateful that people also love his work and want to buy it.
I can’t guarantee that by making items you like, others will like them too. But it gives you a great starting point and if you’re passionate enough about them then this will show in your work. You will need to evolve your designs over time to see what sells and what doesn’t.
And remember, if you do something that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life…
Create What Others Like
Take a look around on marketplaces that sell paracord products, such as Etsy and Instagram and see what sells well and what is within your talents to create.
Come up with 5 or 6 designs that you like and which work well together. Then work on building a brand around that. Try to keep a certain level of consistency with your colour schemes and designs and slowly add and remove designs to see which get the most interest and evolve in a controlled and consistent manor. This will help you to build a following on Instagram and a loyal customer base who will come back and buy again.
Don’t copy what others do directly as this will quickly get you a bad reputation. Instead take inspiration from others and improve on their designs, putting your own creative stamp on it.
Whichever path you take remember to be creative, keep experimenting and don’t try to rush building your brand. The best brands grow with time, their fans grow with them and they are fiercely loyal.