Jewelry making is more than a hobby for most people; it’s a passion. The creations that are crafted are often made with love because the artisan took time to deliberately think of a design, gather the materials, and spend a significant amount of time meticulously creating their pieces. These jewelers yearn for the opportunity to share their art with others, but may make some mistakes during their first attempt at selling their handmade jewelry.
Craftsy gives some suggestions on how artisans can successfully turn their passion into a business venture. Here are some of their guidelines:
1. Be knowledgeable
Make sure you know the materials that you work with. You want to be able to provide an accurate description of the pieces that you are selling. This includes knowing the types of gemstones and metals that you have used in your pieces.
2. Take great pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of selling your custom jewelry, this adage really is quite fitting. This is particularly true if you are selling your items online. In order to sell your pieces, you are going to want to capture the attention of your targeted audience. What better way to do that than with eye-catching photos that make your jewelry pop off the screen?
In order to take proper pictures, you want to display the items appropriately and make sure that the light is capturing them just right. Make use of display stands to properly showcase your pieces and set them against backgrounds that will make them pop; a dark background for lighter pieces and a light background for darker pieces, for example.
3. Be descriptive
While pictures will attract the attention of your targeted audience, shoppers are going to want to know more about the pieces you are selling. Include a clear and accurate description of your pieces. Incorporate the necessary details, but try to use descriptive language that captivates and further entices your audience. For example, use words like “one-of-a-kind”, “show stopping” and “eye-catching” to really pull your viewers in and make your pieces even more desirable.
After figuring out how to market jewelry, the second biggest mistake artisans make is selling handmade jewelry for a low price. They’re selling themselves short by under pricing their handcrafted pieces and, quite frankly, demonstrating that they’re not confident in their craftsmanship.
Rena Klingenberg, from Jewelry Making Journal, points out the mistake jewelers make when selling handmade jewelry at a low price. She believes that artisans make this mistake for one of the following reasons:
- They don’t value their own talent. They feel “lucky” to sell one of their pieces at any price, even if the sale barely covers the cost of their materials.
- They believe their jewelry is “unworthy” of netting higher prices.
- Their well-meaning friends and family (who don’t know anything about the handmade jewelry market) urge them not to “risk failure” by setting their prices too high.
- If their jewelry isn’t selling, they assume it’s because of the pricing – so the first thing they do is drop their prices.
- Their financial situation makes them desperate to make a sale, so they hesitate to put higher prices on their work for fear of scaring customers away.
- Their jewelry involves a time-consuming technique – but they feel uncomfortable charging for their time. (If this is your issue, be sure to see my post, Profiting from Jewelry That’s Time-Consuming to Make.)
- They’re not sure how to price handmade jewelry.
Rena goes on to explain why artists shouldn’t charge their handmade jewelry at a low price:
Working Harder to Earn Less
Pricing handmade jewelry too low means the artist may have to make and sell 5 pieces of jewelry to earn $50, rather than earning the same $50 for just 1 piece.
When jewelry artists set themselves up to work harder while earning less, it’s not a sustainable way to run a business.
Sooner or later the overworked artist tends to either burn out, or shut down the business because it’s not profiting enough to stay afloat.
Growing the Wrong Customer Base
Under-pricing handmade jewelry also means that artists tend to attract a customer base that consists of “bargain shoppers” rather than “handmade jewelry shoppers”.
That makes it hard for the artist to raise their prices without losing a big portion of their customer base.
Once a fair price has been established, it’s time for the jeweler to decide where to sell their handcrafted jewelry. This step can be tricky because there are so many venues to choose from. There are opportunities to sell at trade shows, fairs, and, of course, the online marketplace. With so many options, how does one choose the best place to sell their homemade jewelry?
It’s well-known that Etsy is the best online marketplace to sell handmade goods, but there are other websites that allow artisans to sell their handcrafted jewelry online. Nicole Fallon, Assistant Editor of Business News Daily, shares some different venues to host handmade goods.
This Milwaukee-based site officially launched out of beta in October 2013. Aftcra’s focus is promoting exclusively handcrafted products made by American artists and artisans. Erica Riegelman, president of the company, told Business News Daily that her family-owned business promises great customer service and person-to-person responsiveness. Aftcra is also dedicated to listening to its buyers and sellers when implementing changes and promotions on the site. Website: aftcra.com
Artists from across the globe can gather on ArtFire, a community-oriented marketplace for a wide variety of handmade items. You can shop by category, occasion, colors or trends. ArtFire even offers the option to post a “wanted” ad for a custom-made product if buyers can’t find what they’re looking for — which is great for sellers who can turn projects around quickly. Podcasts, forums and articles are frequently updated to keep buyers and sellers in the loop. Website: artfire.com
Though it lacks the social community aspect of sites like ArtFire, Big Cartel is a great place for sellers who want a lot of shop-customization options. The site prides itself on being an “easy-to-use, customizable and awesome” way for artists of all kinds to sell their work. There are four different monthly pricing levels, which determine the number of products you can list, but no further fees are collected from sellers. Website: bigcartel.com