by Rose Marion, Wire-Sculpture.com
Wire Jewelry Resource for March 7, 2012
Putting your jewelry up for sale online is one avenue you can take toward your goal of selling your finished jewelry! Whether you just want to recoup the cost of materials so you can continue making jewelry, or you intend to make a good income from your side jewelry business (or full-time business!), sites like Etsy and Artfire are a great place to start.
My experience has been with Etsy so far in listing my jewelry. So those of you who have used ArtFire or Zibbet, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Checklist for Beginning Selling Jewelry Online
1. Research for available names. Make sure your desired business name, or a form of it, is available in these places (minimum):
- Blogspot, WordPress, or another blogging platform (as well as a domain name, if you choose)
- An email account (either yourbusinessname@yahoo, @gmail, another provider, or through your domain name)
- Your state business licenses, and possibly the Federal TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System), which will tell you if someone else is using your business name as a trademark already
A unique business name is essential to having a memorable business, and it will also keep you protected. Nike is a unique name, but it’s taken! Once you “claim” your name with your state, no one else can use that business name in your state.
Assuming you’ve got all the licenses and ID numbers filed, you’re ready to register! Note, Etsy requires a credit card on file before allowing you to sell. I recommend you start your business “officially,” get a business checking account for your business, and then get a real debit or credit card from the bank, which you can use for your Etsy fees. (Speaking of fees – I found this neat Etsy calculator here, which may help you with pricing)
2. Find a pricing structure you like (I do this in a spreadsheet), and calculate what discounts you can afford to give while still covering your cost of labor, materials, shipping, and expenses.
This is also a good time to discover what shipping rates are available through the Post Office, so you can have an accurate shipping rate to charge. You can seperate the shipping charges by country; I specify a rate for the US, Canada, and then “everywhere else.” However, you can also offer free shipping IF you make sure that your shipping cost is factored into the price of the item – don’t offer discounts that will make your business unprofitable! As artists we sometimes feel “bad” profiting from our work, but that’s exactly why we start a business – so never feel bad about that.
3. Create your work. Does your jewelry have a general theme, such as Victorian, Steampunk, Medieval chainmaille, Modern? Do you have several pieces that you’re comfortable over and over and over, such as a cabochon pendant, a couple styles of earrings, and whatever other designs you love.
4. Photograph your work and transfer it to your computer. Add a watermark to your pictures if you like, using Photoshop, GIMP, Picasa, or another photo editor.
5. List your items on your store. On Etsy, listing each item can easily take 30-40 minutes (or more!) the first several times. I find it helpful to write a general description for similar items, which explains my brand and how the object has been created. Then I can copy & paste this description as I list all the items, and simply change the first descriptive sentences, customizing them to the specific piece. (Making sure every description says something different) You have a lot of space, so try to answer any questions the customer might have, including dimensions, if it’s easy to care for, how it will be packaged, etc.
Etsy’s description also allows you to use up to 13 tags and 13 supplies used in making the piece. You should use as many tags and supplies in your description as possible. For example, for my copper earrings (before I even think about what beads they have) I type in “copper wire, copper jewelry wire, brown wire” in the supplies. Then I think about the beads, if I used liver of sulfur, and a sealer. This will help people find your jewelry when searching.
6. If you’re tech-savvy, Google Analytics is a powerful tool you can integrate with your Etsy shop. Etsy has a how-to article all about this: http://www.etsy.com/help/article/230. I recommend doing this as soon as you set your shop up, so your analytics can start recording information right away. This will help you understand how your customers got to your shop.
7. Get involved! Now that your products are online, it’s time for you to network with other jewelry-makers so you can help promote each other’s products. Remember though: ultimately, you should be showing your customers how beautiful they will look and feel wearing your jewelry – don’t get caught up worrying if your Facebook friend’s pendant is photographed better than yours. It’s all about helping your jewelry find its new home!
Those are what I think are the basic steps to setting up your online store. Now comes the fun part, of promoting your jewelry and packaging the orders! Experienced Etsy, ArtFire, and Zibbet sellers, did I miss anything? Leave a comment below.
And remember, I’m always looking to hear your wire jewelry ideas. Have a tip for selling online? How do you get inspired? Discovered a new tool or shortcut? Let me know, and I’ll feature you with a link back to your site! Click here.