Beading Business: Tips for Setting Up and Running Your Online Jewelry Shop, Part 1

Feb 19, 2012

Taking a look at the recent threads in the Beading Daily forums, I see the same question over and over: I just set up my online jewelry shop, but no one is ordering anything from me! What am I doing wrong? It's easy to look at successful sellers on Etsy, ArtFire and other sites like Big Cartel and think that all you have to do for your online jewelry business is list a few items and then watch the sales start rolling in.

jewelry-business

In reality, setting up and running an online jewelry business takes a little bit of work, some persistence, and a lot of time. While it's true that some online sellers find success fairly easily, the rest of us have to make a serious effort at running our online jewelry business. The things you need to do to run a good online jewelry shop aren't necessarily difficult, but they do require a little bit of thought.

Tip #1: Before you set up shop! Before you even set up your online jewelry business, it pays to do your homework. Contact your local chamber of commerce to find out what you need to do to collect sales tax and obtain any required business licenses. Even if your jewelry business is just a hobby, you are most likely required to collect sales tax when selling jewelry and then will have to turn that tax over to the state. If you have any questions about collecting sales tax or business licenses, make an appointment to sit down with a small business adviser from your local chamber of commerce. You'll be thankful that you did!

Tip #2: Have clear store policies. This probably requires more thought than any of the other things you will do before you even set up your online shop! What are your store policies? Do you accept returns? Will you do custom work? What kind of deposits do you require? Will you set up lay-away payments for your customers? Take a look at the store policies of other online jewelry shops and make notes on what you like and what you don't. Think about what works best with your business model before writing up your own policies. You can always change them later if you find that your original set of policies doesn't work for you, but make sure that any changes in store policies are well-advertised.

jewelry-business

Tip #3: Take great photographs. I can't stress enough how important photographs are as part of providing an excellent online shopping experience for your customer. No one is going to buy a piece of beaded jewelry if the photograph is fuzzy or underlit, or if it doesn't show enough detail. It takes practice to be able to take great photographs, but if you're serious about running a successful online jewelry business, it's a skill that you must learn. Poor photographs gives customers the impression that you are not serious about your work!

Tip #4: Write good descriptions. This is the part that seems to be difficult for many online sellers. Writing effective descriptions can be tough, but it's well worth the time you spend on it. Think about including popular keywords like "beaded necklace" or "beaded earrings" in your descriptions so that search engines can pick up on your listings. Include accurate measurements for necklaces and bracelets, and highlight any special gemstones, beads or other materials that you used when creating the piece. Have a little fun with your descriptions, too: I've seen (and written) some item descriptions that sound like a short story, revolving around that particular piece of beaded jewelry.

Tip #5: Maintain excellent communications with your customers! Keeping in communication with your customers lets them know that you take your online jewelry business seriously. When someone makes a purchase from your online shop, it's a great idea to send them a quick message to acknowledge the order, thank them, and let them know when the item will be shipped. If you ship with a confirmation number (which is always highly recommended), send that number to your customer so they can track their package, too. Buyers are more likely to come back when you stay in touch and communicate with them!

Running a successful online shop for your jewelry business doesn't have to take a lot of time, but some people find it easier to set aside a block of time every day to complete their tasks like updating inventory, adding new items and promoting through social media. Remember that it takes time for your online shop to get noticed, so don't feel bad if you set up your online shop and aren't suddenly overwhelmed with orders! Keep at your online promotion, offer superb customer service, and you just might find that your little "side business" is turning into a successful online jewelry business!

Have you looked at your product photos and decided that you need a little help? If you have an hour to spare, you can learn everything you need to know about taking great photographs of your finished beaded jewelry from professional photographer Jim Lawson. Jim has spent many years photographing the jewelry featured in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. In the new video How to Photograph Your Jewelry, Jim shows us how to create a professional photography setup, how to get the most out of photo editing software, and even how to achieve a professional graded background to bring out the best in your finished jewelry pieces!

Are you ready to learn more about photographing your finished jewelry? Download How to Photograph Your Jewelry onto your laptop or desktop computer and start learning what the pros know about taking great photographs of your finished jewelry. Since it's available for instant download, you can have your video ready to go in just minutes and start working on improving your photographs today!

Do you have an online jewelry business? What tips for running your online jewelry business would you recommend to someone just starting out? Did you find that your first sales took a while, or did you start seeing items selling right away? Share your tips, thoughts and comments here on the Beading Daily blog! (And if you have a link to your online shop, share that with us, too!)

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

P.S. Come back tomorrow for Part 2 with tips on organizing and managing the inventory on your online shop!


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Comments

on Feb 20, 2012 7:20 AM

Gee- I hope you mention that their workmanship is excellent! Even though I make my own jewelry I still shop online. I would say  that almost 50% of items - especially earrings, are horribly made. You have a simple wire loop for heavy items - and that's not even closed, the wire wrapped ends are not even & just scream "my first ones!" or "lacking skills".

Please mention that they should take into consideration their labor - even if it's a hobby! Nothing worse than seeing items with a really cheap price on them.  

Thanks!

KcBeads wrote
on Feb 20, 2012 10:16 AM

gwiltnsew thanks so much for that insight. Haven't set up shop yet but plan too. I will be mindful of that. You know I took a class on some earings and found the sterling silver finding slid right off. The design they taught us did not have this secured on unless the gravity of it hanging down kept it on. I brouhgt this to the instructors attention since it fell off in class while the inst. was holding it.She said just be careful of it. I'm sure my customer wouldn't want to purchase a beautiful pr of earrings like that. Be sure elements are secure even if you have to tweek yourself,keeping the integrity of the design. kc.beads

KcBeads wrote
on Feb 20, 2012 10:17 AM

gwiltnsew thanks so much for that insight. Haven't set up shop yet but plan too. I will be mindful of that. You know I took a class on some earings and found the sterling silver finding slid right off. The design they taught us did not have this secured on unless the gravity of it hanging down kept it on. I brouhgt this to the instructors attention since it fell off in class while the inst. was holding it.She said just be careful of it. I'm sure my customer wouldn't want to purchase a beautiful pr of earrings like that. Be sure elements are secure even if you have to tweek yourself,keeping the integrity of the design. kc.beads

aliceseyesdc wrote
on Feb 20, 2012 2:36 PM

I started an Etsy store about 6 months ago. I have only sold a few pieces of jewelry but I also offer supplies and those sell very well. Its a good way to clean out your stash of beads and findings, making room for new things! My jewelry has become more popular thanks to Facebook and Etsy search adds. The adds only cost me about $5 per week and it is worth every penny! Also I do weekly giveaways through my Facebook and that has brought a lot more people to my page. There's a free giveaway app on Facebook that basically does all the hard work for you and brings tons of new fans to your page. It seems backwards but giving things away can really translate to making more $! All of my giveaway items are cheap to make but because everything I make is one of a kind, people feel they are getting something very special! I also joined the Etsy Sucess Team they send regular emails with all kinds of tips and tricks. I have learned a lot from talking with other sellers on Etsy as well. I invest a lot of time in my store and it has paid off in my sales. My photographing skills have also improved greatly! I didn't have to spend tons of $ to get good pictures, I simply use daylight florecent light bulbs and tape a piece of white tissue paper over my lamp. I shoot everything on a white or light background and when the colors maybe are darker than I want I simply lighten the photo slightly in my picture editor. Lastly always invest the time to consider appropriate prices. Factors to include 1. cost of items used 2. time invested (how much are you worth per hour!?) 3. uniqueness if your item is a one and only then it should cost more! and last and probably most important as well as most overlooked 4. how much does it mean to you? ever make a piece and it almost breaks your heart to sell it because you love it so much?! that love you have needs to be considered in the price! Hope all of this helps! I find pieces with a higher price sell better than those with a lower price because a lower price typically means a cheaper product. Check me out on Etsy!

www.etsy.com/.../AlicesEyesDC

Anna_Gray wrote
on Feb 25, 2012 4:20 PM

We have stores on Etsy, ArtFire, DaWanda, and Zibbet. We started selling online in August of 2011, although I set up stores long before that date, in November of 2010 - just to reserve and keep the name, Gray's Crafts.

We didn't see any sales the first month we started. Then people began buying our things. I've been making jewelry for about 15 years. The trend I've noticed is that people buy very little artisan jewelry, but more supplies and cheap tutorials. We sell far more actual jewelry pieces offline.

Especially on Etsy I've noticed a flea-market shopper mentality, when they shop not for quality but for price. They pay $5 for what should have cost $50 and then complain about the quality. The other problem is that you are competing against another 2.5 million shops, and it is very hard to be found.

I spend 3-4 hours every day working on our online business. Together with my legal career (we own a law firm with my husband) that doesn't really leave me any time for anything else. We plan to set up an online store on our own website, www.grayscrafts.com, and only sell supplies and such on sites like Etsy.

So, I'd recommend thinking twice before going for online business.

Link to our Etsy store: www.etsy.com/.../GraysCrafts