How to Sell Jewelry: The Complete Guide
We recently posted a couple of comprehensive guides about jewelry making here on the site: Learn to Make Jewelry, Guide to Rock Tumbling and our Free Beginner’s Guide to Wire Wrapping.
In the first guide, we teach you about different techniques for making jewelry and how you can use them to set your gemstones for wear. Our wire-wrapping guide delves in-depth into one age-old technique for making jewelry which is becoming increasingly popular again today.
Once you actually start making jewelry, though, what do you do with it? You will probably have far more than you can possibly wear or gift away if you really get into jewelry making. Jewelry making is fun and addicting, and before long, you will have heaps of jewelry around the house that you cannot keep.
To that end, it is a good idea to learn how to sell your jewelry. Selling jewelry also allows you to share your creativity with the world, and maybe even make some money on the side.
It isn’t easy to sell jewelry, and the odds that you can turn it into a primary occupation are pretty low. But a lot of people can at least offset the cost of their gemstones and supplies, and many can turn a small profit.
If you work at it and have luck on your side, you may do even better than that.
How to Sell Jewelry: Introduction
To get started, you will need to know where to sell your jewelry and what kinds of opportunities are out there for artisans. If you have money to put into advertising and sales, that can open a lot of doors. I will tell you about places you can promote for free as well as paid opportunities. You also need to have solid business practices to succeed at selling anything, and jewelry is no exception.
If you have never operated a business, you need to become familiar with the basics. In particular, you need to think through the terms and conditions you want to set for your own shop, and then set up your shipping and returns policies. You will also have to decide on a pricing setup.
In this series, you will learn:
- Where to sell your jewelry
- How to create an airtight shipping and returns policy
- How to price your jewelry
- Best general business practices
- How to handle commissions
- How to promote your jewelry
This will only get you started. As you will quickly discover, selling jewelry online or offline is a very involved process. In particular, promotion is an extremely complex topic, one which could probably generate an entire series on its own.
Volumes have been written on marketing, and you may want to pick up a few if you are serious about selling. You will need to learn all that you can in order to become successful. It is a competitive world, and there are thousands of other artisans trying to get attention and sales, just like you.
So you’ve decided to start selling jewelry. Maybe you are a wire-wrap artist, or maybe you work with a forge. Perhaps you do macram? or polymer clay or resin jewelry.
No matter what technique you use, there is a growing market for handmade jewelry.
There is also a growing pool of artisans offering their creations, which means that promoting and selling jewelry is becoming very challenging. To get started, you will need to know your venue options.
Part 1: Where can you sell handmade jewelry?
- Local shops
- Farmer’s markets
- Craft shows and conventions
1. Local shops
There are a lot of possibilities as far as selling jewelry in local shops. There are a number of different types of shops which may be interested in selling your work. Actual jewelry stores are hit-or-miss. Many only sell mass-produced jewelry from large manufacturers or very well-known designers. Some may consider selling jewelry by local artisans.
Stores which specifically stock art from local artists are more likely to consider selling your work, even if jewelry is not their main specialty. Gift shops are a good choice, and sometimes bead stores as well which sell some finished work on the side. There are a couple of different ways that you can sell jewelry through local stores.
- Wholesale. Sometimes a store will make you an offer to simply buy your work out of hand and then sell it. They will pay you the full price you agree upon up-front. At that point, the jewelry belongs to them, and it is their responsibility to sell it. You have already received your payment, and can move on with your day. Usually you will end up selling your jewelry at a reduced price under these circumstances, since the store will want to mark up your work and profit off of the difference.
Pros: You can move on with your day and enjoy the money. You have made your sale and you do not need to worry about reaching out to customers. You also may be able to sell a larger quantity of items at once this way.
Cons: You can no longer influence the sales of your pieces. It is out of your hands, and if they are not finding customers, there is not a whole lot you can do about it. You also probably were paid substantially less for your work than you would have asked for fairly.
- On commission. This is far more common than wholesale purchasing. When you sell jewelry through a store this way, you each get a percentage cut. You receive no money at all until a customer buys a piece. At that point, you might get 70% and the store might get 30%.
Pros: If your pieces do not sell, you get them back, and you can do what you want with them.
Cons: You still are selling your work at a discount, and you have to stay involved in the process. The sale isn’t final until an actual customer buys your work.
2. Farmer’s markets
Many towns, even small towns, have local farmer’s markets, especially during the summer months. These little fairs are often very popular, and feature not only produce, but crafts and more. The booth fees are more likely to be manageable here than they would be at a large convention or craft show.
You also have the ‘local interest? angle working in your favor. The drawback of course is that you pay the booth fee no matter what, even if you don’t make up for it in sales. At least you don’t have to sell your work at a discount though.
3. Craft shows and conventions
Larger craft shows may also offer you a similar outlet for selling your work as a farmer’s market. You also can try selling at conventions which target the same customers you are catering toward. For example, artisans who make whimsical or old-fashioned jewelry may set up shop at a Renaissance fair. Here the drawback is that your booth fees are likely to be far pricier than they would be at a farmer’s market. Conventions offer you access to a ton of targeted customers, but at a hefty price.
A lot of new jewelry artists will do the majority of their sales online, because this allows you to at least get started on a shoestring budget. You can post an item on Etsy for about 20 cents, and there are similar shop sites like ArtFire that are completely free to post on. You can also consider starting your own website or online store, and you can promote your work on social networks. Some jewelry artists also do well selling on auction sites like eBay.
The drawback of selling online is that you are just one voice shouting in a tremendous crowd. It is hard to find visibility among thousands of other online jewelry artists, many of whom are already established and have more money to spend pushing their ads to the top. In our last installment, we will tell you more about how to promote your work online and offline.
Any time you sell your work online or offline, you need to have a returns policy in place. And if you sell online, a shipping policy is a must.
The shipping policy will not apply if you are selling your jewelry in real life, but you will still want to have some kind of a returns policy in place.
Returns policies are even more essential online, since people who purchase your work have no chance to examine your jewelry in person before they buy it. Having these policies in place helps to clarify customer expectations and protect you should a customer have a complaint.
If you do not have clear and reasonable terms and conditions for shopping, you will have nothing to back you up if a customer files a dispute (with Etsy or PayPal, for example).
Part 2: Shipping and Return Policies
Shipping Policies When Selling Jewelry
How do you tackle each of these sections and make sure you have airtight policies’
Let’s start by talking about shipping. There are a number of important points you need to cover in your shipping policies:
- What countries and territories do you ship to? Are there any countries or territories you do not ship to’
- Do the rates differ domestically and internationally’
- How fast is your shipping? What type of shipping do you use? How long should buyers wait to contact you’
- What kind of packaging do you use? Do you ship in boxes or padded envelopes? What do you do to protect your shipments physically’
- Do you offer any additional shipping services, like insurance on your packages or tracking’
- What happens if your items never arrive at their destination? Will you refund cash? Offer store credit equal in value’
By answering each of these questions in your shipping policy, you take care of several issues at once. First off, you prevent a lot of questions. Customers will not routinely ask you for basic information about shipping, which frees up your time. Secondly, you are reassuring buyers that they are working with a professional who has consistent procedures. Thirdly, you are covering your bases legally should something get lost in the mail or be slow to arrive.
It is wise, though not necessarily essential, to obtain some kind of proof of mailing when you ship out a package to a customer. Your best option is probably just to make sure you order tracking on your package. This usually costs a couple extra dollars. It is a nice service to offer your customers though, and it provides you with some protection.
How do you decide on shipping prices? This is a tough question for a lot of sellers. You might say, ‘Why don’t I just use the rates that the post office quotes me’? You could do that, but you may want to consider charging slightly more.
Why? Rates can vary for one. If you are sending mail in a padded envelope, some days it may cost you $2, other days it may run you $4. Another good reason is to help you cover the costs associated with shipping which are not part of the rates. You are the one purchasing all these envelopes and rolls of tape after all. Adding a dollar to shipping costs helps you to pay for these items without raising item prices. If you do not raise shipping prices, you have to raise item prices instead.
You may want to experiment with item prices and shipping rates until you find an optimal setup. Another question that new jewelry sellers have is whether or not they should list their shipping prices alongside their item prices. Most online stores do not, so you do not have to do that (if for example you are selling on your own site). Should you hide item prices until a user clicks buy? Probably not; studies show that this dissuades buyers from clicking at all.
If possible at all you should offer free shipping, as free shipping will in almost all cases drastically improve your sales.
Customers come up with all kinds of reasons to return products. Sometimes they are genuinely dissatisfied. Other times they are hoping to get something else out of you. Sadly there are dishonest people out there.
Returns are a pain for jewelry sellers because they often result in additional expenses and hassles. If your policies are unclear, you could find yourself at the losing end of disputes, and you may also end up stuck in a cycle of trying to satisfy a customer who cannot be satisfied.
A good return policy will also prevent returns for silly reasons and compel buyers to look closely at what they are buying. For example, a great policy to make sure to include is something regarding sizing issues. Post dimensions with every single item you sell. Measure pendants or earrings from top to bottom, and include the measurement in your item description.
How long do necklaces hang? What is the circumference of a choker? Post this information, and in your returns policy, remind buyers it is their own responsibility to read the measurements you provided, and that you will not accept sizing-related returns.
Odds are you are not going to have a draconian policy like ‘No refunds or returns for any reason whatsoever’. Although you may want to post this temporarily while you are working on a real returns policy. At least it covers all possible scenarios.
You will need to accept what kinds of returns and refunds are acceptable to you. Every artisan has his or her own preferences here. One example would be ‘No refunds or returns for any reason unless the product you purchase is damaged when it arrives.’
You will then need to decide what you plan on doing if you receive a return request for a damaged product. A wise idea is to request a photo from the customer to start with that shows the damage. You might then offer to repair the item (if you believe you are capable of doing that; some jewelry is easy to repair, while other jewelry is not), or to replace it with an equal value item.
Specify how the buyer should return the item in question, and within what time frame it needs to happen. Also make sure the buyer knows how soon he or she will have to use any store credit you provide before it inspires. Will the buyer pay the return shipping, or will you’
Specifying time frames for returns and replacements is vital since it keeps you from ending up in a situation which drags on and on.
You really do not want a buyer contacting you a year after you sell her something suddenly stating it is broken and needs to be replaced. You also want to make sure that you receive the item you plan to replace before you actually send out a replacement.
Unscrupulous buyers have been known to demand replacements without ever actually returning their original items. If this happens to you, you have been robbed blind.
These two important policy pages should be posted before you even start selling your products online. If you sell your work in-person, you can still post a returns policy online if you also have a website. Otherwise, you can share it with the store owner of the shop where you are planning to try and sell your jewelry.
That way you are protected in situations where buyers request a refund. On your website, make sure that your policies are clearly visible. If you are selling through Etsy or another third party, there will be specific input forms for these pages.
It is also a good idea to include your shipping and returns policies in a message to buyers after they purchase your work. You can automate this message to go out to customers via email when they make a purchase. The message can include a thank you, a copy of both policies, and if you choose, a discount for a future purpose.
This is a great way to make sure that customers are clear on your policies, while letting them know that you appreciate their business, now and in the future.
Part 3: How to price your jewelry
One of the tougher aspects of selling jewelry is deciding on how to price your work. It isn’t easy to price jewelry for the simple reason that value is largely a subjective attribute when it comes to art, and jewelry is wearable art.
It also doesn’t help that turning to your competitors may not lend you much practical advice at all. Many jewelry artists routinely under-price their own work for the simple reason that they are scared of not selling anything. Doing this yourself only adds to this problem. It waters down the jewelry market, which harms everybody, and not just you.
It also may encourage you to be fast or sloppy with your work and not produce your best, because you are attributing such a low value to your finished products. So how do you decide on a price when there are no objective guidelines’
You need to factor in the following four elements to come up with a price.
- Material cost
- Cost of labor
- Cost of additional expenses
This formula is helpful because it removes some of the subjectivity and arbitrariness from the pricing process. It helps you to focus and come up with a consistent pricing scheme for all of your products.
- Material cost
You need to compensate for the cost of your materials at the very least. A lot of hobbyists are glad if their jewelry can at least pay for itself. Hopefully you will make more than that, but the material cost should give you the baseline.
Pieces with more expensive materials should cost more. You would charge more for a wire-wrapped pendant with a semi-precious gemstone (like turquoise or lapis lazuli) than one with a glass bead. For a pendant with a rarer gemstone (like aquamarine or peridot), you would charge even more. The price can be objectively justified, because the gemstone is part of the cost. You are selling the gemstone and the beautiful framework you have created for it.
- Cost of labor
This is a little more subjective, and comes down to how you value your own time. You might set your cost of labor at the minimum wage, for example. A lot of jewelers who love making jewelry, but do not do it for a living do this. Making the jewelry is already fun and rewarding, and the money is just a bonus.
Then again, if you make a lot more per hour with your day job, and could be spending more hours at work if you were spending less making jewelry, it would make more sense to set your cost of labor to the hourly rate you get paid at your day job. You will have to come up with your own plan for how you want to pay yourself for your time. Your time is your most precious commodity, so do not sell yourself short.
- Cost of additional expenses
Aside from the materials which go into making your jewelry, what other expenses do you have to make up for? You probably purchase a lot of packaging materials. There is no reason for you to subtract bubble wrap, tissue paper, boxes, organza bags, and other packaging supplies from your profits.
Likewise, you can compensate for shipping as part of your item price if you want to list low shipping rates for your products. This is a little trick that gives you some more flexibility when it comes to listing your shipping costs.
Also consider fees that you pay to stay in business. You probably pay fees for services like PayPal and Etsy when you list items and accept payments. Compensate for these fees in advance by charging more for your jewelry in the first place. That way you will not lose all your profit paying off your middleman.
Okay, so this is the one area where there are really no simple rules for establishing value. The ‘cost of labor? adds to your profit, but you should ask yourself what you deserve beyond that’especially if you make jewelry within a relatively short time period. Some pieces are quick to make, but still involve substantial effort and focus. And the value you are offering is still high’probably higher than $9.00!This ‘profit? variable probably accounts for most of the wide range you will find in jewelry prices for similar pieces.
Wholesale vs. Retail Pricing
Is the above formula your final retail item price? No’it is your wholesale price. It is the bare minimum you are willing to sell your jewelry for. It is the price you would name if someone walked up to you and asked to purchase your pieces in bulk.
It is the ‘discount? version of your price, not the full version. Take that price and double it, and you have a proper retail price.
So for example, let’s say that you wire wrapped a pendant, and your equation goes like this: Material cost ($5) + cost of labor ($10) + additional expenses ($3) + profit ($10) = $28. $56 would probably be a fair retail price for that piece.
In reality, sadly the jewelry market has been watered down terribly by a lot of hobbyists selling their work for wholesale prices or below. They do not ‘need? the money, and so they do not make any effort to pursue it.
As mentioned previously, this attitude is damaging to the handmade world as a whole. Handcrafted jewelry is one-of-a-kind, made by a real human being, with real artistry that cannot be replicated by a machine. Despite this, many artisans will sell their work for less than machine-made jewelry with far lower production costs. You do not want to price yourself out of the market, but you do not want to contribute to the cycle either.
If you must, price your work somewhere in the middle between the full retail price and the wholesale price. But remember every time you undervalue yourself, you are also undervaluing your fellow jewelry artists.
How do you get around the problem above without dropping your prices to rock bottom, but without making your work unaffordable in an already watered-down market? One great answer is to offer your customers regular discounts. Price your work at full value, but routinely offer ways to save. Offer coupons for holidays, special occasions, repeat customers, and more. Everybody loves a discount. Try experimenting with different pricing schemes.
You will likely discover though that the pricing isn’t half as important (from the point of view of making sales) as the marketing. Price your work fairly, and focus your efforts on promotion!
Part 4: Best Practices For a Jewelry Business
Now we are going to talk about best business practices overall, and how you can make the most of your jewelry business.
What do I mean by best business practices? I am talking about your approach to your customers. There are so many different ways you can handle your business, and everybody you meet will have different approaches. Ultimately this comes down to your conception of customer service.
True, if you are selling your jewelry online or you have dropped it off at a store where you do not work, you are not going to be standing around on a sales floor answering questions. But you still are going to need to be accessible enough that you will be able to provide answers to questions if customers need your assistance.
How Should I Talk to My Customers?
Since you are not going to be in a room with your customers (most of the time, unless you are for example working at a farmer’s market), you are going to be answering customer inquiries long distance. This is not the sort of business where you have to be available by phone or chat, but you do need to keep in contact via email or other messaging systems (Etsy for example has its own messaging system which customers and businesses can use to keep in touch).
It is important to let your customers know that you are there. Sometimes people will hesitate to get in touch with store owners because they may not believe that contact is desired. This is often the case if you seem cold and distant, because you have not specifically invited contact. Customers feel much more comfortable purchasing products from sellers who are clearly interested in engaging with them directly.
If you are selling on your own site, actually have a contact page that says something along the lines of, ‘Please contact me if you have any questions. I am always here and happy to help.? You can have the same statement on your Etsy page, and on any other websites or communities you are a part of.
How Often Should I Check My Messages?
Selling jewelry means you are running a business. Very serious jewelers who are trying to make a living selling jewelry are more likely to take communication with customers seriously. But even if you are a hobbyist doing this on the side, do not forget that any money being paid to you for your work is valued by your customer. As such, you should value it and them.
To that end, it is wise to check your messages regularly, preferably at least once a day. That way you can get back to customers and potential customers within 24 hours. It is also a good idea to be kind to your fellow artisans. You may view them as competitors, but in reality, many of them are struggling just like you, and are more than willing to help you out if you help them out. Crafters can often sell much more of their work if they view each other as partners and unite their efforts to cross-promote.
When you are fast responding to your messages, you are telling customers and other artisans that they are a high priority to you, not something buried at the bottom of a to-do list. This helps convey the impression that you are a thoughtful, trustworthy, involved individual. As such, they will feel more comfortable teaming up with you (in the case of other crafters) or purchasing from you (in the case of customers).
Up-Sell When It Makes Sense
Another issue worth discussing when it comes to business practices is the practice of up-selling your merchandise. Up-selling is a practice which is taught in retail settings, and many sellers and customers alike have mixed feelings about it.
Remember the last time you walked into a retail store with the intention of purchasing a new computer, but you walked out with a new computer, a new mouse, an external hard-drive and a new set of speakers? This is what up-selling is. It is when a customer service agent convinces you to either purchase something more expensive than you originally intended to or a number of add-ons which you may not really need, but want.
Some sellers up-sell constantly, and doing that can really drive people away. It can be viewed as pushy and unreasonable. On the other hand, it is not a good idea to shy away from up-selling all the time, either. Some sellers avoid it at all costs, because they view it as an entirely negative behavior. But doing that can cause you to miss out on prime opportunities’and it can deprive buyers of some of your best merchandise.
Whenever you have an opportunity to up-sell, ask yourself if the up-sell would give value to your customer’whether in a similar situation, you yourself might appreciate it. Sometimes up-selling helps customers to discover items they might otherwise have missed. For example, perhaps a customer is showing interest in a pendant you have made for a wedding. This would be an excellent time to ask if she is looking for earrings or a bracelet or a tiara for a matching set. A matching set would add value to her purchase, and it puts money in your pocket.
A good example of an inappropriate up-sell would be this: A customer you do not know purchases a pendant for you. After the purchase is complete, you spam them with messages about how you have a lot of other jewelry for sale and they should really take a look. There is nothing wrong with reminded people your merchandise exists, but the message above has no basis in the customer’s needs. It is arbitrary, and therefore would likely be considered obnoxious.
On this note, it is a good idea to restrain yourself from inappropriate promotional practices such as constantly begging other people to check out your page on Facebook and liking it. There is nothing wrong with asking people to help you out, but there are better ways to go about it. I will get into that more in the last section of our guide, which is on how to promote your jewelry business.
Make Yourself Available for Custom Work
You should never deprive yourself of business’even business you yourself have not yet created. Customers who are shopping for handmade jewelry are often searching for a unique item which is going to fit with some mental image they have in their head about the perfect jewelry item which is unique and special, just like them or the recipients they are purchasing for.
Offering commissions allows you to take advantage of this kind of mindset. A customer may not find what they are looking for in your gallery, but may like your style and think, ‘It would be awesome if this artisan could make jewelry to my order.? If you state that you take commissions, and make it easy to pay for said commissions, you may very well find yourself with a lot more jewelry orders for pieces which you have not yet made. There are a lot of important do’s and don’ts to be aware of when it comes to custom work, which is why our next section will be on commissions and how to handle them.
Never Take Business for Granted
As one final note on how to conduct yourself professionally, it is extremely important that you never, ever take your success for granted. It is very common to run into other jewelry makers who are selling more than you do, but who seem to be putting less time and effort into communicating with customers, showing appreciation, and presenting themselves with grace and humility. They may be slow or lazy or simply forget to say ‘thank you? when it is due.
You may look at these jewelers and think they’ve got it made’they certainly think they do. But once business practices start to slip and pride gets in the way, things start to gradually fall apart. If you succeed as a jeweler, yes, it is largely in part because of your own ingenuity, hard work, and creativity. But it is also because you have loyal customers who respect and appreciate that work, and help to spread the word about your merchandise.
Always show gratitude and respect to your customers and the good things they have brought you, and you will keep your business healthy and thriving.
Commissions were a topic I briefly touched on in the previous part. Commissions are a complicated topic, though, and for new artisans, they can pose a number of questions.
If you are not clear about your commissions and your rules, you can find yourself with some difficulties as far as collecting payments and mailing finished items. That is why it is important to have a set of policies for commissioned works, and to carefully work within the rules you set up.
Part 5: Commissions
What Are Commissions?
Jewelry commissions are custom items created for scratch to match a customer’s vision. Customers shopping for handmade jewelry will often be more interested in paying you to simply create something spectacular just for them than they will be in shopping through your catalog for something else that they like.
Commissions make customers feel special, because they know that you put intent and thoughtfulness into making the item just the way they wanted it. Commissions are also very popular for gift-giving. Many customers wish they had the skills to create artistic gifts, and the next best thing is to hire someone else to do it for them.
Sometimes customers are incredibly detailed and specific with what they are looking to buy. Some may even come to you with measurements and sketches. Others are very broad with their instructions, and may only ask you to fulfill color or material requirements.
Still others may ask you to match another item, such as an article of clothing, or a concept.
What Are Common Problems with Commissions?
There are a number of complications that can arise along the way when you are making a bespoke item for a customer:
- You make the item, following the instructions carefully, but the customer is not satisfied with the item. Unfortunately, because of the subjective nature of art, it is difficult to say who is in the wrong in these situations. Obviously you want the customer to be happy, but you also cannot make the item over and over again at the same price point.
- You complete the item but you did not take payment in advance. The commissioner disappears, and you get no payment and no mailing address to send the completed jewelry. This happens more frequently than you might think. This wastes your time and materials.
It is up to you to come up with a set of policies that helps you to navigate around these problems. Are there people who will try to cheat you out of your time or money just the same? Yes, and there is no way to avoid all of them all of the time. But you can still give it your best effort.
Best Practices for Commissions
The goal with commissions is to be as clear as possible upfront with any potential customer. You could have a set of rules and policies like this:
- State up front what you need from the customer to complete the commission. Do you need detailed specifications? Measurements? Materials requests’
- State up front what the customer can expect. Are you able to replicate your customer’s vision closely, or will the results of the commission be unpredictable because of the way you work? Make sure that the customer knows you will be a good match (or not) for his or her vision.
- Tell the customer how many times you are willing to revise/remake the item before you return his or her money. Do not allow yourself to be pulled into an infinite loop.
- Ask for money up-front. You can ask for a down-payment of 50% (which you should specifically state is nonrefundable) or the full payment up-front. It is a really bad idea to ever allow a commission customer to pay you after the item is completed. A lot of people have no respect for an artist’s time and will ask you to make something and then think it is okay not to pay you for your time if they disappear and never claim the finished item. By asking for up-front payment, you eliminate most of these people.
You can add a paragraph detailing your commissions policies on your ‘About? page or your other policy pages. You also will want to make sure this information is included on the page for your commission sales if you have a purchase link online.
How Do You Offer Commissions?
Now that you know some of the policy topics which are pertinent to commissions, you will need to come up with a way to offer your commissions. This is not as straightforward as posting a finished item for sale. Some artists do not have sales pages for their commissions at all, and simply take payment for them manually (with PayPal for example).
You will find that having some kind of commission sales page can increase your commission sales, however, since it makes it easier and faster for customers’plus the page acts as an advertisement, giving customers an idea for what you can create for them. If you have an Etsy page, one of the easiest ways you can do this is simply post a custom item for sale.
Etsy actually allows you to select ‘made to order? when you are choosing the item type. Choosing this option implies that the item is not yet crafted. For photos, you can upload sample photos of similar items that you have created in the past. You can then set ‘number available? to a really high number (like 100). That way the page can be used as an order form over and over again for the commission item without having to pay to re-list it every time.
So for example, let’s say you make pendants using precious gemstones and soldering. You could post an item on Etsy and title it something like this: ‘I will make a custom, one-of-a-kind sterling silver pendant for you!? You could then select ‘made to order? while you are choosing the options, and upload pictures of other pendants you have made in the past.
Choose pendants which were made for commissions in the past if you have already done some custom work. That way customers who are looking at the page can get a grasp for what you are capable of making. Set the ‘number available? to something like 100. That way when someone commissions you, they can pay for the item, and the count will tick down to 99. And then someone else can pay for their item on the same commission page, and the count will tick down again. But you do not have to continuously re-list and pay the fees for items where you list ‘only 1 available.’
In the body of the text, you will want to include all of the information on your commissions policies. Let customers know what you need from them and what they will be getting in return. Make sure you are crystal clear on the topic of refunds and how many times you are willing to re-work a piece. That way you can avoid coming out on the losing end of any disputes which come about.
When you set up your commission system like this, customers will have to pay you in advance. Offering customers the chance to commission you for a special, made-to-order item allows you to take advantage of many more sales opportunities than would be available to you if you only posted items which were already completed.
Make sure that you regularly let people know that you are available for commissions. Oftentimes, you will hear someone say, ‘I love this item, and I’d buy it, but it already sold. Then you can answer, ‘I take commissions, so I would be happy to make you a similar item if you want? Oftentimes people will take you up on this offer. As you continue to market and promote your work, you will get a feel for when it is an appropriate time to make someone an offer like this.
Provide value, make sure you never miss out on an opportunity, and you will do well selling your custom jewelry!
Now let’s talk about how to promote your jewelry business.
Part 6: How to Start Promoting Your Jewelry Online and Offline
It is a nice thought that you could simply get online, post your work for sale, and wait. You may think that since you are offering value, customers will find you. But in reality, getting online and trying to sell your work is quite hard, because you are just one of thousands of other jewelers who also make beautiful, high-quality work.
To add to the challenge, many jewelers under-price their work because they are scared of not selling anything. This makes it all the more difficult to make it if you do price your work within a reasonable range. Trying to be heard online is the equivalent of walking into a huge stadium, the stands overflowing with crowds, and shouting. You are going to have a very hard time being heard by anybody, even those who are standing right next to you.
That’s why you have to be prepared to do a lot of marketing and promotion to sell your work. And even with all that hard work, you are still going to be relying at least partly on luck to help you get notice. Here’s what you can do to get started.
Sell On a Recognizable, Trustworthy Site
This all by itself can be a huge help. It may be tempting to start your own store on your own site, and in the long run, this may work out great. But at least while you are starting out, it is wise to cultivate a presence on Etsy, Ebay, or another venue which many people are familiar with.
Trust is still pretty low with online purchasing, and a lot of customers will feel safer buying from you on Etsy than they will from checking out on your site even if you use PayPal or another third party payment vendor.
Make it as easy as humanly possible to buy your products. Do everything you can to make shopping effortless and secure. You will have a much easier time driving traffic to a site that users already trust than you will trying to send traffic to one that they do not recognize.
Join Social Networks and Community Sites
Your next step is to choose a number of different social networking sites, forums, and other types of online communities to join. Think carefully before you start joining sites. Ask yourself the following helpful questions before you decide which sites to join and put energy and time into:
- How much time do I realistically have each day to spend keeping up with communities?
- What is my audience? Does the audience on a given site match with the demographic of buyers I am trying to sell to? Are these the right people? Do they have money to spend on ‘unnecessary’ items?
You probably are not going to be able to post on dozens of sites and participate actively on the communities you join, unless you have no day job and nothing else to do with your time other than interact online. It is smarter to choose just a few communities which you know are likely to be responsive to your efforts. That way you can focus on interacting more closely with the people you do meet, and making more of a positive impression.
Post Intelligently and Productively
Social networking is not just about constantly putting your work out there and hoping that it will convert. You also have to post in an intelligent fashion which draws buyers to your store. That means, for example, that one single post which has a great photograph of jewelry and a link in the description leading to your store is going to do you more good than twenty poorly photographed posts without links in the descriptions.
You always want to strive for excellence when you post, and you never want to miss an opportunity to send people to your site. On the internet, most users have short attention spans and are easily distracted. They need to be reminded over and over again that you have a store and you sell beautiful jewelry for reasonable prices.
Use Promotions to Drive Sales
Everybody loves a deal. There is something addicting about hunting for bargains. Many people will happily spend more money if they believe they have taken advantage of a limited opportunity to save money. Every grocery store which prints coupons in the Sunday paper knows this. A savvy seller online will take full advantage of this aspect of human nature, and will market to it directly.
Come up with regular promotions for your merchandise. Holiday sales are very popular, especially during the winter. As a jeweler, you also probably want to plan for sales on Valentine ‘s Day. In fact, it is a great idea to plan to run sales periodically throughout the year.
Once again, people online often have short attention spans, and each time you run a sale will feel like the only time to numerous potential buyers (who will have forgotten your previous sale a month ago already). This can boost their sense of urgency and send them to your storefront.
You can also use coupons to encourage repeat customers. One easy practice is to send out a coupon automatically to buyers after they make a purchase. That way they will be tempted to come back again and spend it on something else. Especially if you put a time limit on the coupon.
It is also important to get reviews from your customers. You may think that this will happen automatically, but more often than not, you need to be prepared to ask for reviews. There is nothing wrong with asking for honest testimonials.
Once again, make this as easy as possible. Send a link, and offer a coupon in thanks. Many people will be happy to leave you a review if you ask, but will forget if you do not remind them. You can also feel free to ask people to share your store page on their social networks, but make sure you do not spam them with this request. Always offer something like a coupon.
Promoting a jewelry business online takes a lot of work, and even with time and daily attention, it may take you a long time to get noticed on the internet. There is a lot of competition out there, and you will be competing with talented jewelers with lower prices. Spend your energy where it seems most productive. Regularly check your statistics to see how you can improve your campaign, and leverage your business relationships and your network of friends to reach out to new potential buyers.
And always remember: be polite, generous, and friendly to everyone you meet. It makes a difference, and can generate sales all on its own!