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Sales, Marketing, Shows, & Display Archives

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):

  • Etsy
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • 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.

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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 13, 2011

Question:

I’m confused. I’m just starting wire wrapping, have bought some tools, magazines, books and videos but nowhere does anyone address copyright or the legality of copying free wire wrapping patterns, pictures, videos etc. in wearing or selling the finished wire wrapped jewelry. I want to get this clear before getting excited about creating!

-Sue in Henderson, Nevada

Answer:

Hi Sue, most of the time the copyright and restrictions on patterns are up to the designer who wrote the pattern, or else the publisher that published the pattern. If you don’t see a copyright notice anywhere on the pattern, book, or DVD, the proper thing to do would be to contact the pattern designer or the publisher, and ask about their restrictions. That way you’ll know for sure; copyright restrictions can vary.

If you’re asking specifically about Dale “Cougar” Armstrong’s DVDs, or any of the jewelry patterns on Wire-Sculpture.com, Dale’s covered that in this tip: Copyright and Jewelry Design, as well as some advice on ensuring you have copyright protection in this post: Making Wire Jewelry from Patterns, and Copyright. You can see Wire-Sculpture’s official policy on our Terms & Conditions page.

Being a knitter as well as a jewelry-maker, in my experience jewelry pattern designers are much more gracious in their “terms” of using the pattern. I’ve seen many patterns for knitwear – even ones that are purchased! – that still request that the knitter not even sell the finished product without getting permission from the pattern designer. You are certainly free to make, sell, give, and wear jewelry made from patterns on Wire-Sculpture. Thanks for asking, and have fun creating!

Answer contributed by Rose Marion

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Daily Wire Tip Sept. 26: Sell or Display Valued Stones?

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
September 26, 2011

Question:

Dale, I just love the series of articles on gemstones; it’s such a huge field of study one hardly knows where to start. Thank you! My question is about pricing for rarity.

You made a comment about Ocean Jasper that literally made me gasp! If Ocean Jasper is not being actively mined at the original source anymore, I’m reluctant to part with what I think are exceptional examples. My experience is that good specimens of Ocean Jasper are not that easy to come by (at least within the limited travel I do). I’m torn between starting a private collection of “not for sale” stones, and trying to decide what a fair price is for stones that truly stand out above the rest. It’s a fact that stones are one-of-a-kind, but as an artist, I put a higher value on visual impact. I might buy a whole strand because of one or two stones. I’m a bit timid about saying, “This stone is worth much more,” and then pricing accordingly. Help! Your encouragement and suggestions are always right on target.

-Marcia in Syracuse, New York

Answer:

Thanks Marcia! Yes, deciding how to proceed with the Gem Profiles was a bit confusing for me at first, but when I decided not to worry about the word "gem" and to just write about the rocks and minerals that we most often use in our wire jewelry designs, it became fun! (And it is helping me sort through the many piles of rocks in and around my studio, too!)

With regards to your question about rarity and pricing brought up by ocean jasper, well, I always tell my students that very special pieces deserve very special prices! As artists, usually when a special stone or cabochon catches our eye we have a definite idea of what we want to use it for. More often than not, the piece comes home with us and ends up in a special drawer, waiting for that day (and if you are like me, you find it again… years later!). Speaking from personal experience and choices, if and when I decide to use a very special piece or two in a jewelry design, I don’t worry about the price of materials, I just make what feels "right" (meaning that sometimes a stone screams to be set in 14 or 18kt solid gold). When the piece is done, I don’t worry about selling it, either! I believe that every piece has an owner (even though it may take years for them to find one another). This "show-stopper" becomes a centerpiece in my display cases at art shows, and it may spend a few months in one gallery or another, as an example of what I am able to create. Because of the attention it attracts, it often adds to my sales via customer orders (and I love wearing things like this to special events!)

With regard to pricing something like this, for example if the materials cost $300 wholesale, and I spent a week or so working on it, then my price could be from $1800 to $2500 or more. If it sells, fine. If not, that’s fine too! The photo below is one such piece. "Dancing Stones" is made entirely in Argentium® silver and with the exception of the 4mm lab-grown ruby, all of the rest are AA grade natural stones (rubile tourmaline, peridot, chrome diopside, blue topaz, iolite, orange topaz, citrine, and 2 rainbow moonstone/white labradorite cabs custom cut by my husband just for this piece); as metal prices rise, so does its price. (On average, I sell one piece every six months for between $1200 and $1800.)

Wire wrapped gemstone pendant

Dancing Stones by Dale Cougar Armstrong

Now the second part of your question, do you use and sell special stones or form a collection? Well, most of us already have such collections, waiting to be used. Why not label them and put them in a Riker case? This way you can enjoy looking at them while you work – for inspiration, and you can easily take them with you to shows if you desire – maybe generating special orders, or put them in your safe when you travel.

As far as trying to explain the value of one stone over another to a customer, in my opinion, if they have to ask, you will not make the sale anyhow because they can’t "see" the difference from an "art-eye." If they seem to like the stone but they want to dicker about the price, don’t even take it out of the case. Simply direct them to a similar item with a price that is in their comfort zone. This is one of the reasons why I recommend putting a "show-stopper" in the middle of a case, surrounded by less expensive pieces of similar colors. The "big" one catches the eye and the smaller ones make sales, just be sure all of the price tags are showing!!

This is a good time to tell you all what some of us do with those beads we really have no use for! Karen Braverman-Freeman came to visit me in Tucson, with a special request. Karen donates her time to run jewelry making classes at Camp Summersault in Long Beach, California. This is a day camp for children with cancer and their siblings. All of the supplies are donated, such as beads, findings, and stringing materials. If you would like to donate any tax deductible materials to this very worthy cause, please contact Karen via email here. I hope my answers have met your expectations, Marcia, thanks for asking!!

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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Daily Wire Tip August 31: Home Jewelry Show Inventory

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
August 31, 2011

Question:

I have read a lot about "home parties" as a great place to start with selling handcrafted jewelry. My question that I have not seen addressed: How much inventory should I have before a party? I make mainly necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks!

-Linda in Littleton, Colorado

Answer:

Hi Linda, you can easily work a "home-party" styled show with just a few pieces or sets of jewelry and some loose cabochons or beads. You can do a really nice display of your work and take orders, using the loose supplies you brought to inspire the sales. It really depends on how many guests are expected and what they think they want to purchase.

For a large, serious “cash and carry” home show, you would need a lot of inventory (also meaning it will take you longer to set up and break down). It has been my experience that the people who attend a home show expect to have some fun while learning about your product and socializing with their friends, therefore an "order" show like I described above with a reasonable delivery deadline is usually the way to go. This can be a great way for the artist to recover cash to replace their supply inventory, as well as test the waters to see what style of jewelry a particular customer group is interested in, as well as materials they prefer.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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Daily Wire Tip August 18: Learning How to Sell Jewelry

Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
August 18, 2011

Question:

Dale, thank you for your tips and encouragement! I have been to many shows, but my jewelry simply does not sell. I get lots of traffic and many people comment on how beautiful my pieces are, but most do not even look at the price. I have had other artists tell me how nice my work is. I have asked for advice from other vendors on improving my booth, but they tell me it is welcoming and appealing. I am lost as to what to do. Suggestions? Thanks.

-Merry in Smyrna, Tennessee

Answer:

Hi Merry, well it sounds like you have a good booth set-up and great product, but you feel like you are running a museum display with free admission! (Been there, done that, learned to sell!!)

My questions to you are: Do you engage the customer in a conversation? When you say "Hello" and they reply, "I’m just looking," do you reply with something like, "May I tell you what you are looking at?", and then launch into a conversation about a particular item, drawing them into a conversation? Do you have a special business card to give them offering a discount if they return to your booth before the end of the day? Do you have a photo album showing how you create your designs? How about a list of all of the possible birthstones that they may not be aware of? All of these tips and so much more are included in The Definitive Guide to Selling Your Handcrafted Jewelry. You might think about this as a very wise investment to be able to sell your work (that contains so much cost in supplies and time). I wish you good fall and holiday showings Merry!!

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong

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