I’m Overwhelmed at Getting Started to Sell My Jewelry

by Dawn Carpino.
(United States)

I'm Overwhelmed at Getting Started Selling My Jewelry by Carpino  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Thank you so much for this site.

I have found it very helpful in many ways.

And thanks to everyone for sharing what you do.

I’m having a hard time selling my jewelry.

I am addicted to making jewelry so I need to sell to support my “habit”.

There is one shop near me that I consign with – they keep 40% which I’ve heard is the industry standard. It’s a lot.

I'm Overwhelmed at Getting Started Selling My Jewelry by Carpino  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

My business card

I’ve done a couple of craft shows and haven’t done well – and don’t enjoy doing them.

I’ve thought about selling on Etsy and even bought a light box to take pictures of my jewelry but I have been dragging my feet – it seems like an awful lot of work and then I have to get into packaging materials and shipping etc.

Some people really have beautiful packaging – like another whole thing in addition to creating the jewelry.
I'm Overwhelmed at Getting Started Selling My Jewelry by Carpino  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

And when I watch things on youtube about selling on etsy they say you also have to have a presence on social media, and a blog and maybe even a website.

And then I wonder about inventory and all that stuff etc.

I’m retired and love making jewelry but don’t really want a full time job.

I guess I’m just venting here, sorry. I’m just so overwhemed by it all.

Dawn Carpino
Endless Possibilities

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  • Justine says:

    You might do well with Rena’s book Easy Ways to Sell Your Jewelry Every Day. It’s full of simple and unique ideas for selling your jewelry. I just love the way she writes – so easy to read and wonderful ideas.

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks Justine. I will consider that.

  • Dawn says:

    Hi Everyone, I just want to add that I paid someone $40/hr to help me get “out there”. With all the chatting we did all that happened in an hour was sort of setting up a business page on facebook. My intention was to get set up on Etsy. But I don’t know how to have a banner for my shop etc. Anybody have any suggestions? Also, when you sell on etsy do you go to post office and have them weigh every single thing you will ship ahead of time in order to find out shipping costs?

  • Kay says:

    I’ve been making jewelry for years and have the same problem. I enjoy craft shows but can’t do the ones with high prices to show. I also have a large backlog of jewelry I’ve made. It is frustrating.

  • Beverly says:

    Hi Dawn. I bought a cheap little food scale at Walmart. It’s flat with a digital read out so I know what packages weigh. If you know the weight, then Etsy makes the rest easy. They tell you the postage and you can even buy it with a click, and print out the label with postage already on it. Plus you get a discount on the postage—less than what you pay at the post office.

  • Moogie says:

    Dawn, I bet many of us are in the same boat. I totally feel your pain! No matter how we look at it, selling is a whole different world than making. To be successful, in my experience it takes time & consistency, neither of which I give (yet)! I have an Etsy shop but do not sell much—the market is very saturated. I’m currently working with my daughter-in-law to develop a professional business card, make my shop more professional & set up Instagram & maybe Facebook for my business. She will be in charge of keeping up the social media. I have the “professional” photo studio ready to go & just need to begin taking pictures (if I can make myself stop making jewelry!).She will edit & post them with descriptions. Of course, I have to pay for her services. But if I ever want my business to get off the ground, I need this help, at least in the beginning. Anyone can contact me through Etsy if they’d like more information. Good luck Dawn!

  • There are sellers on Etsy that will design one for you! I had mine done by an Etsy seller.I sent several photos of my jewelry and details of what I had in mind. She no longer does banners but if you search on Etsy you can find them. It saved a lot of headache and time trying to design my mine with pixel requirements. Consider selling on Facebook. I no longer use a Facebook business page,just post on my personal one. I use PayPal to send/receive payment and send a very simple invoice. I link my Facebook posts to my Etsy shop.

  • Hi Dawn, the struggle is real. It sounds like you’re just looking for a way to feed the need rather than going full-on into business. You can have a hobby and still claim your expenses on your taxes, but only up to the amount of profit. As far as selling, while Etsy used to be a great platform for handmade, it’s not so much anymore since they allow big box and mass-produced goods now. There are other platform similar to what Etsy used to be and they’re catching on. Rena’s book mentioned above would be very helpful for you. Yo said you’re retired so you probably remember Sarah Coventry jewelry where they did home shows. Perhaps this is an option for you? Anyway, Rena’s book will surely benefit you. good luck!

  • Gisela Niedenfuer says:

    You are not alone with your concerns, one always wonders how much further should you take your craft and business. The most important thing is that you enjoy it and having your jewelry at a shop on consignment is being successful. I don’t like the Craft shows too much either and only do local ones that don’t cost over $100 entry fee. I have switched from
    beaded jewelry to PMC silver, which I enjoy making and three gift shops have it on consignment. Just keep creating and have fun with it.

  • Hi Dawn, check out Canva. There you can make all sorts of banners and so much more and it has a free plan. Shipping can be done on USPS.com but you can only print labels nad pay for priority, for first class you still have to go to the post office unless you have a website that has that functionality. I have a food scale from the ’50s that is very accurate so you don’t have to spend a fortune. I’d also look at other platforms for handmade as Etsy is not as good as it used to be. I used to sell tons on etsy, but since they have allowed mass-produced and big box stores I’ve stopped selling my jewelry and only my beading patterns are in Etsy now. Best of luck!

  • Artina says:

    Hi, Dawn!

    OMG!!! I SOOO feel the struggle. Your journey reads like mine!

    I’m a graphic designer by trade, but making jewelry is my PASSION! & I, too, have become overwhelmed by the nuances of selling jewelry.

    It’s interesting to me, because outside of giving out a business card, here or there to an inquiring referral, I’ve not had to advertise my graphic services. But w/jewelry the pressured “need” to be EVERY WHERE @ ALL TIMES is exhausting!

    I’m @ an age where I want to live what I love! My daughter graduates from high school in 2020 & I’m desiring to make designing & selling jewelry my dream life.

    I can help you w/your graphic needs. That’s simple. But charting a path into the seas of selling & social media, maybe we can be of assistance to each other.

  • Liz Morgan says:

    Hi Dawn, I’m 56 and on disability and I live in Alberta Canada. I have kind of the same problem. I love to make jewelry and crochet mainly but I do a lot of other crafts as well. I am very lucky to live where I do as my basic living needs are actually covered by my disability income and rent subsidy. I continue to make tons of jewelry I never wear because I love it and because teaching myself new skills keeps the possibilty of Alzheimer’s away. But I would love to sell too. As I was reading your post and the answers I suddenly remembered that when I was younger we used to go to the flea market all the time. The nice thing about it is that table rental is usually very reasonable and you don’t have to do all that other stuff to sell. Just make a nice table and display for your stuff. I am sure you could find some easy ways to do that. Keep in mind people at the flea market expect lower prices but if you’re not selling anything anyways and you don’t want to do all that other stuff it might be worth it to give it a shot. I don’t do social media either and don’t understand how people find the time to do all that craziness. At this stage of the game I value peace and quiet more than anything else not running my !@# off to make a few extra bucks. I might have just helped both of us, lol. Wishing you all the best.
    Liz

  • Hi , they say on Etsy that it takes up to a month to get any sales. There is directions for everything. I had my Jewelry mixed laying on white background and took a picture and I made that my banner. It’s fun but haven’t sold anything yet. I have been on Etsy almost a month. They have information how to do everything. Then you could make a link to all the social media.

  • Marcy Werner says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I feel you-it’s all a bit intimidating but…I walked into it all very slowly. I started with small parties at my house (with snacks and cocktails) and sold about $700 to 25 people the first time (it was in December)! Then started an Instagram and sold through there–not intentionally, people just got in touch with me through there. Then I bought some boxes. Then I opened an Etsy where I keep about 12-20 pieces. This was over the course of 2 years. Now I have 3 local shops interested in carrying my stuff but, they want 50%! I can keep my habit up with Instagram, Etsy, and a sale at my house once or twice a year. There are always people who think the goal should be to make a living (and for some, that is the goal) and I was feeling that pressure. But I’ve realized for me it’s more about creating and experimenting. So I’m okay just breaking even (barely). Although most my friends don’t get it–you gotta do what makes you happy and comfortable–or it will become a job and possibly a resentment. And my Instagram is spotty, my Etsy is very plain and I rarely promote it-I have about $300/month in sales–or 4-5 pieces. Their tutorials on tagging are gold! Good luck.

  • Quinn Eurich says:

    Dear Dawn and Ladies who are afraid to sell their jewelry online,

    People will tell you many things about what you “have to do” to sell online.

    Truth is . . . there are only a small number of things you have to do – AND – you don’t have to do them all at the same time!

    The best advice I can give you about setting up a business on Etsy is . . . make a business plan! Getting everything out of your head and down on paper will go a long way to making it easier to move forward.

    The second best advice I can give you is to take things one step at a time. Push yourself to move forward but do things in your own time and in your own way.

    First set up an Etsy store. Do you need a banner? No, not at first. You do need a profile picture, but can use Canva (free and they have templates) or find an Etsy person or use someone from Fiverr to design one for you. Or, find a friend who knows how to use PowerPoint or Photoshop and ask them to create one from your business card.

    Do you need a website? No, not at first, but will need one if you plan to market your jewelry business on Pinterest.

    Do you need special packaging? No, not at first, and maybe not ever. It all depends on where you want to take your business.

    Do you need a Facebook page? No, not at first, and maybe not ever. It all depends on where you want to take your business.

    Do you need to be on Instagram? No, not at first, and maybe not ever. It all depends on where you want to take your business.

    You will have to do something to market your store, but you get to decide how you’re going to do that. Let people make recommendations, explore them, but make your own decisions on where you want to take your business.

    That’s why a business plan is so important. I have one Etsy store and am working on creating the products for a second one. I could not have moved forward if I hadn’t done a business plan. My business plan not only defines what I’m going to sell in each of the stores, but the best thing it did for me was to get me focused on the business of selling. I setup templates and checklists so that the process of selling and being in business is easier because it’s down on paper and not running around in my head.

    A business plan also helps you decide how you’re going to market your store. I’ve been working online in a variety of jobs for years. I’ve followed many different marketers over the years who all had different advice about what you had to do to be a success.

    I’ve tried a lot of different things that just did not work for me. Finally, I decided that I was the best person to figure out what was going to work for me in the kind of business I wanted to have. My business plan is helping me do that.

    It’s been challenging but rewarding, because it’s my business done in a way that makes me feel good.

    Going into business is a learning process. Give yourself a chance. You are so worth it!

    Last word: “Better done than perfect. Better WTF than What If”

  • Becky Clemmons says:

    Hello Dawn. I totally understand all you’re going through and after reading all the comments, I’d like to add my own.

    Get Rena’s book! It helped me tremendously. The biggest advantage was that it made me really think about what I wanted to do with my talent.

    Think about how you want to proceed with your jewelry making. Do you want to make a living at it? Do you want to expand to Etsy, Facebook, etc. and all that goes with it? Do you want to stick with consignment?

    Although I’ve been a mixed medium artist my whole life, it’s only since retiring that I’ve pursued my passions full time. When I told my bosses I was retiring, I said “I want to do what feeds my soul.” and for me that has been my mantra. I concentrate on my nature photography (in prints and on cards) and natural gemstone pendants and necklaces only. Each one is unique and I NEVER repeat a design. That has been a huge success. I didn’t like doing bracelets and earrings, so I dropped that.

    I joined two local art councils that have helped me find galleries and art shows that are wonderful. Doing shows can be hard sometimes, but over the years I have found ones that are totally worth it. Another thing I discovered was that I LOVE the contact with people, which reinforced my decision not to go with online sales.

    Just focus on what brings you the most pleasure and satisfaction, and stick with it!

    Becky Clemmons

  • Kathy Zee says:

    I agree get Rena’s book. It has so many tips and suggestions. I don’t think there is one magic suggestion to selling our jewelry. I have a huge inventory. I do pretty good at craft shows, Etsy not so much. A few sales a month if even that. I keep it open to have a presence. The jewelry market is saturated so its best to have more than one presence online. If you don’t like doing the craft shows, can you hire someone to do some shows for you? A teenager who loves jewelry too? Barter with her. Trade a piece or two for her helping you. Do a home party in your home. Make sure you can take credit cards as that does help sales quite a bit. I use the PayPal credit card processor and i have a PayPal account. There are stores that take less on consignment than 40%. I had mine in a store that took 25%. Your jewelry is beautiful…I love the bracelet you have posted here. Don’t give up. How about a fundraiser? Are there some pieces you can make that you can duplicate? Choose three and see if you can give that 25% to a worthy cause. The cause itself does the selling. You just make the items…I do that for dog rescues…and have done it for my church that took orders for items and gave them the 25%. Hope that helps. Might open some new doors for you.

  • It is overwhelming. Designing and making the jewellery is probably about 20% of the total time in my experience. Marketing, shipping, accounting etc. is the rest. Maybe just take one step at a time and don’t feel rushed to do everything at once. It is a personal growth experience too because you learn so much about being an entrepreneur. Just enjoy the experience.

  • Janet Daghri says:

    Starting up any business is overwhelming. Especially in the digital age that we live in now. I agree with those that have said you should focus on what feels right for you now and make that happen instead of looking at everything everyone says you should be doing.

    I have a passion for jewelry making and for art. I do these creative works on the side while I’m a professional graphic designer with over 25 years helping small businesses with their branding and for the past 10 years helping them maintain their digital presence with social media and online sales. Remember that the investment in any design assistance is tax deductible as well as a powerful tool in helping you focus on what you love to do — make jewelry. Doing less sometimes helps you do more! Contact me if you would like more information about my graphic design services.

  • Carolyn says:

    I have similar issues but I spend part of the summer on a Greek island (someone has to) I sit outside my little place making bead earrings etc and the tourists stop to admire it, chat and occasionally criticize it 🙂 I sell my things moderately priced and donate a % to the local animal charity. It covers the cost of my beads and a few cheap meals out. I don’t think it takes anything away from the trade of the island stores.

  • Joan Caiazzo says:

    Dawn, I find myself in the same position as you. I have at least 50 necklaces sitting in my closet. I too have failed at craft shows and agree that setting up an online business is difficult and time consuming especially if you live in a state with a lot of rules and requirements. But I appreciate hearing that I am not the only one in this boat. Your bracelet and earring display is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Gayle Joseph says:

    I completely understand your dilemma. I too am retired and love, love, love making jewelry, whether it is beading or working with metals. I tried Etsy and Poshmark, and found them to require too much time and attention. Plus, I go to Nevada during the winter months, so I don’t have access to my workshop, and I don’t want this to turn into a job. My solution was this … I approached several people I know who have businesses, like holistic, massage and other healing centers, as well as hair salons. During the holidays I am slammed with sales and orders, and throughout the remainder of the year, I have enough orders to keep me busy, but not too busy, and happy. Also, when these businesses have open houses, Christmas in July, or other initiatives, I will attend and offer my pieces, but I don’t do shows or events like that. I hope that helps, and gives you other options.

  • kathy corkery says:

    I feel that struggle to. For the last 3yrs I have had health issues but before that I tried craft sales and flea markets without selling much. I live in an area where people think handmade stuff should be cheaper! Lol I did have some success with a trunk show at a choir practice believe it or not. My health is improving now so I am going to try another trunk show. Really it is just another jewelry sale but trunk sale allows for taking your work directly to the buyer. It’s fun and people like it. I plan on using a small old truck to display amongst other things. That is what I will try next. Wish I had other more amazing ideas for you.

  • Dawn says:

    Thank you so much Beverly. That is really helpful.

  • Dawn says:

    I am so grateful for everyones comments. Thank you all for replying and for all your suggestions. I will keep you posted on my progress!

  • Jennifer says:

    Do you belong to any non-profits? Or have a salon you frequent? Offer to sell your jewelry at their location and donate 20%. If you do it regularly, you will discover “regulars.” I just do 3-4 shows a year, plus post on Instagram, and make enough to keep me happy.

  • Alysen says:

    Dawn, there are never dates posts here so don’t know when you posted & if this advice is relevant. Today it’s July 31, 2019. I’m on Etsy and if you’re a U.S. seller they have a built in shipping label system. Nowadays people do sell on facebook and instagram. And don’t have any other online stores. I divide my time up into making, photos, listing & editing photos. It is substantial so if you’re reticent about spending that time then it’s probably not a good idea to pursue the Etsy avenue. I’m also retired (early, forced) and away from home caring for my 96 year old Mom. I have several stretches of time in my day. Long stretches = making; short stretches = computer time … Good luck, whatever you choose to do.

  • Claudia says:

    Dawn, we have so much in common ! I have been in the Handcrafted Jewelry business just about 28 years. While it is not profitable, still, it is something I feel that I must do. I have been retired from work for 4 years now, and so I have extra time to make Jewelry. My Husband and I used to do craft shows, but he is considerably older than me, and just cannot do craft show work anymore. I started my own Face Book page, and it wasn’t too difficult. All of my 110 friends on Face Book “liked” my page, but it didn’t bring me any sales at all. My small living room and dining room is crowded with boxes of finished Jewelry. The only success that I have really had is an annual “Open House” type of Jewelry show in my house in November. I try to have every type of snack, or beverage possible, except for alcohol. Somehow … Most women are terribly reluctant to have a Jewelry Show at their house ! The last show at my house was really good. I wish I could offer more help. All I can say is to stage a show at your own house – and don’t quit what you love to do !!

  • Carol says:

    This sounds like an ideal summer to me. Have a great one.

  • Nora says:

    Hello Dawn,
    Speaking from experience and for you to keep enjoying your craft, here are some do’s and don’t I wish I knew before I started making jewelry, especially if you do it with the idea of building a business:
    1- do not invest more than you can afford to “loose”
    2- make only the pieces you truly love ( if i cant stop thinking about it, then I will make it)
    3- do not get caught up in buying more supplies than you can sell in 3 months
    4- some pieces will take months or years to sell, other won’t sell at all! Be prepared to stock or donate
    5- do not buy all the gadget tools that pop up on your screen, most eat up your budget and you probably only need a good basic set.
    6- beware of extras expenses such as website listings and promoting your items.start first with free resources such as facebook marketplace and sell local.
    7- if, like me you have too much inventory think of turning these into promo items to donate for charities auction. Its a good deed, someone will enjoy them and it gives your work visibility!
    8- control how many items you make, go for uniqueness and quality rather than quantity. You will gain in sales and be less stressed if you dont have a ton of inventory to “get rid off”
    9- avoid getting caught in the “i have to sell” remember why you started making jewelry! Selling is nice, but making is what brings satisfaction, so keep the satisfaction by controlling your ‘addiction” you will find that making fewer items forces you to be ruthlessly selective, takes your work to the next level and also brings sales!
    10- if all of the above is too late, start over, let go using #7 and start anew, with a new state of mind!
    Hope it helps!

  • Melinda Thompson says:

    Thank you. Was considering that concept

  • Serena says:

    Dawn, I totally know what you’re going through. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Our beading passions are just what they are. We keep creating because it fulfills a need within us as we admire our own work. Then there will be the few customers who appreciate our talent. It’s worth it to them.

    Someone mentioned the time consuming task of posting to the web – pictures, editing, describing. I am so backlogged.
    Claudia’s mention of a living room and dining room full of boxes describes my home to a tee. Yet I press on.

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