I started making jewelry as a hobby when I was a child. However, going to college and medical school, plus medical training to become an Internist left very little time to have a life, much less a hobby.
I decided in 2006 to take some time off to be home with my little girls, and went back to my jewelry making. Friends, family and strangers would stop me and ask where I got my jewelry from, and it dawned on me, I should start a business.
I started my own website, had jewelry parties, sold to a local boutique, consigned to a local art gallery, and even had my own brick and mortar store. I am now on Etsy.
The boutique owner wanted me to sell her wholesale at a ridiculously low price where I would not profit at all. The consignment was a 60/40 deal, and that wasn’t so great, and it would take months before I would see a check. My brick and mortar store, despite my spending $12,000 in marketing, saw absolutely no foot traffic, so I closed after one year.
My personal website has never had a sale, and my etsy website only two. Should I pack it in?
– Alexis Studio Design
What has worked before for you?
You stated that you have had jewelery parties and sold at a boutique. How did these work for you? Are you marketing on any social media sites or sharing your pieces with others. One of the hardest things that we as business owners have trouble with is selling ourselves and our wares.
I would start with social media sites, if you are not already, taking lots of pictures and providing links to where you can be found.
I am on Facebook…
by: Alexis Gopal
I do have a Facebook page, and post on it regularly. Jewelry parties have been successful in the past, but these days, alot of people I know are being hit hard by the economy, and are less willing to spend money on non-necessities.
Try shows- not your local church craft show but juried shows. I recommend subscribing to Sunshine Artist magazine (not available at news stands) for information on shows in your locale.
I am in the process of gearing up for shows. I subscribed. I read the local paper for ads and go to local shows. I chat with friends to get recommendations. I go to shows advertised in the above magazine. I want to scout the shows to determine where my jewelry would be a good fit.
Hard Answers For Your Difficult Problem
by: Maryanne Murphy
I have taken your plea for help seriously and have done a bit of poking around in your Etsy shop.
First let me say that the photo of the bracelet, and the bracelet itself for this article is outstanding. I expected to see when I went to your Etsy store more wonderful, well photographed, beautifully designed wire wrapped pieces.
I was surprised by what I did see. You remind me somewhat of my self in exploring new jewelry directions.
But what I didn’t see, and expected to, was more of your beautifully photographed, wire wrapped jewelry.
My suggestions are as follows:
Select one primary style that you will be known for. I think it should be your wire wrapping. Create your price points within your wire wrapping designs…not by adding less expensive items that do not do justice to your creativity.
2. If it’s not jewelry, don’t have it in your jewelry shop. Consumers are to easily confused.
3. Start over…let the piece for this article be your bench mark.
4. Consider opening a shop on ArtFire. I did
and am VERY HAPPY there. I also have an Etsy shop and am comparing how the two operate. ArtFire wins.
5. Don’t Give Up
Donate the jewelry that “isn’t you” but still lovely. The non-profits will be sooo glad that you did.
6. Get Rena’s JEWELRY SHOPPING SERVICE BOOK. I just finished it and it gives a lot of really good ideas and HOW to implement them. Rena gives you ALL the information you need. This book will help re-start your jewelry business engine.
7. Do what you LOVE.
Alexis, you are a wonderfully accomplished person, and I wish you all good things as you go forward with your jewelry creations.
Wow, Thank You!
by: Alexis Gopal
KJ, thank you, I will look into craft shows.
Maryanne, your input is priceless! Thank you so much for actually taking the time to look at my Etsy store! I’ve often wondered if I should stick to one style of jewelrymaking, but I enjoy many, and making other craft items. However, I do see your point from the marketing aspect. I have never explored Artfire, and now I certainly will. I’m just curious as to why you like it better than Etsy. Anyway, thanks from the bottom of my heart for your critique…I feel very animated to give my shop a complete makeover!
by: Charlene Anderson
You’ve gotten great advice from Maryann. I’d also like to add that as much as it sound awful, you must learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) if you want to succeed on the web. I’ve learned a ton from Janelle Elms (www.janelleelms.com) and recommend her CDs/DVDs/classes.
…just a little more help form your friends
by: Maryanne Murphy
Ok,Alexis since you asked, this is why I like ArtFire.
SEOing….I SEO’ed myself to death using ETSY. That’s one of the reasons I love ARTfIRE. THEY do the SEOing.
OK, So I’m lazy…and I would rather MAKE JEWELRY!!!!
I started my ArtFire shop about six months ago…got busy and let it go. I have been actively listing for about 4 weeks…and 4 sales later….need I say more?
Your items actually get seen on ArtFire. Also they give you a list of referring URL’s. I didn’t know what the heck these were, and eventually clicked on them…oh my goodness…They were the links people used on search engines to find the item they were looking for…and it took them right to my door!!!
Matter of fact, if the person used BING a photo of my jewelry came back in their search!!! This is SEOing on steroids.
There’s more information I can give you, but you need to try it for yourself to see the goodies…and the community is open and friendly.
Oh, one more important thing…..the longer you are on ArtFire your chances of being seen goes up (search engines) you don’t get buried.
Alexis, if you are going to revamp, I would give ArtFire a shot…you can find me there at ontherocksgems
I also looked into you Etsy store, and will add a comment.
The first impression of your potential customers is what they see. Therefore I believe that the quality of the pictures is essential. Unconsciously perhaps, the quality of the picture could be a reflection of the quality of your work. And if you have great pictures, it’s an invitation for people to look further.
Some of your picture are very beautiful, but I noticed some of them were a little blurry, or sometimes are quite identical for the same product and don’t bring anything more. Work on that.
Also, bring air to your text with paragraphs, with the most important information first. People would be more likely to read it.
Hope that helps…
A bit more advice to help you with your shop
I understand how frustrating this can be for you. So far you have received some great tips and advice.
Personally I sell on etsy and artfire also. I have over 1,300 sales on etsy and only 2 sales on artfire. What I prefer about etsy is clearly the forums, where you can get so much advice, I encourage you to read them and ask questions. On etsy you can also relist, which helps you get to the top of the searches. Everytime you list a new item, your item goes to the beginning of the etsy searches. Now this can be costy but be reasonable, if you list or relist 5 times a day, that’s about 30$ spent per month which is great if it brings in some sales. On artfire or other online shops you don’t have this possibility, so it’s good to use it.
Rework your pictures, make sure your pictures are great, work on them. When you photograph an item, take 15, 20 pictures of it and then work on them to have the good lighting, framing, focus, etc… Taking good pictures is so important to open a shop. People can’t hold your product or see it, so pictures are really the most important step. If you can use all 5 spaces, add as many photos as you can. Check your lighting, try different shots and see what turns out best, take your time before posting them. Keep taking pictures till they are exactly what you want. Check out other shops and look at their pictures. Don’t make listings with blurred pictures with bad lighting. Your work needs to be shown at its best. Keep working on your pictures and with time, you will get better at it. You can always go back and add more pictures or change them. Keep working at it.
Fill out your description with a lot of detail, size and materials you use for making your art, as well as a full description of what you are selling.. Use all 14 tags. Each tag is a chance to bring someone into your shop. To get customers that are looking for exactly what you make, use relevant tags. Use all the tags that are available to you. There are many tagging tools available to help you find your tags.
Make sure you are pricing your items correctly, don’t overprice and don’t under price just to make a sale either.
As soon as you sell an item, if you have what it takes to make another, relist it right away. Sometimes people shop using pounce and the same item can sell 2 or 3 times within an hour.
When you sell an item, contact the buyer, thank them, make sure the address where you will be shipping is correct. Answer your convos fast and reply right away. Offer the best customer service possible
Sign up for Google Analytics. See where your traffic is coming from, and see what gets you the most traffic. This is a useful tool, use it!
Fill out the most info you can in your shop policies, I see you just wrote that you accept paypal, tell people you accept credit cards through paypal too, this can help.
I wish you the best.
Les Bijoux Crea-Lune
Jumpstarting an online storefront
Thanks to all for providing these great ideas and insights – and especially your fantastic reviews of Alexis’ Etsy shop!
Your reviews of her Etsy shop have a ton of great feedback and lessons for anyone selling jewelry online.
by: Alexis Gopal
Much thanks to all! Your advice has been invaluable! I am taking something that all of you have suggested to turn my business around! Thank you, Rena, for giving me this forum, giving me the access to these wonderful ladies!
Alexis, thank you for asking the questions that started this excellent discussion! Keep us posted on your progress.
Hi, I have found having my own home based jewelry parties have cleared quite a bit of $$’s for me. Only because you are not trying to recruit the pyramid structure, your jewelry is usually a one of a kind, so they can purchase and carry. Also there is no shipping charges to tack on to the total. I had my own invitations printed and shared them with my hostess and would help her design an invite on FaceBook to invite all of her friends there. I offered exceptional Hostess gifts, so others wanted to host a party and I gave a LOTS of door prizes. I explained a little about myself and what gave me the desire to create and make jewelry. I explained what kind of stones I used. (ex. gemstones, czech glass, sterling silver or silver plated)….and when you are making your own jewelry for a party having more that 15 attendees is a LOT of people. I also wear what I make and carry business cards. I leave them with my tips at restaurants or give them to people who compliment my jewelry. I did have an ETSY site, but my goodness; competition is way to much there. I have since started selling BEADS to people who create and design. When describing your listings I think you need to have passion and make it sound like they HAVE to have it. Please help yourself to look at my BEAD listings to see what I am talking about with descriptions. http://www.etsy.com/shop/BeadKnead
Good Luck, work hard at it, believe in what you do and you will be successful…
Not Giving Up!
Thanks so much to all! I’ve been gradually upgrading my photographs in both my shops, Alexis Studio Design, and LexiBeads, where I sell jewelry supplies. I am on twitter and Facebook constantly, and have joined several ETSY team geared toward promoting your store. I also started a blog http://lexibeads.blogspot.com/ but so far only have one follower, despite promoting it on all these venues, and even to friends. I have yet to see a change in sales. But I’m not giving up!
I wanted to give you and the other ladies some followup to the letter I wrote in this post. Alot has changed since then!! My jewelry will be featured in the GBK Productions 2012 Golden Globe and Academy Award Gift Lounges! My sales improved, and I started a second business, LexiBeads, selling unique and exotic jewelry components and beads, which is doing very well.
After I wrote to you, I started networking like crazy, on Facebook and Twitter. I met so many great people who were willing to promote my work, and I did for them as well. I have two new websites, alexisstudiodesign.com and lexibeads.com, in addition to my Etsy sites.
Thank you all for your advice!
by: Maryanne Murphy
I read through the entire post wondering when I was going to find the end, and what I was going to find there.
C O N G R A T U L A N T I O N S!!!!!!! and OMG!!!!!
how fantastic!!! Is it obvious that I am happy for you?????
I believe strongly in the Twitter/Facebook one-two punch.
Some very exciting and encouraging things have happened there for me from out of the blue, the last being an interview by Facebook/Payvment who runs my Facebook store front http://www.payvment.com/blog/
I HIGHLY recommend that you and EVERYONE get one. I am SO HAPPY for your success, but you can’t have enough ways for people to connect with you.
I’m SO HAPPY that you followed your heart, didn’t get discouraged, reorganized, and charged!….in the right direction.
PLEASE keep us posted!!!
Thank You, Maryanne!
Thank you, Maryanne! I will keep you posted, and congratulations yourself on your interview, that’s awesome!!!!
Woo hoo! Absolutely awesome, Alexis!
I’m so glad to hear of your progress and how you became “unstuck”. You took a giant leap from stuck to success!
And a tremendous thank-you to all our friends here who shared strategies and encouragement with Alexis.