I've been beading for about twenty years (primarily as a hobby), mostly selling my work at church craft shows. I have been thinking about selling online and would like some advice. Does anyone have experience with online craft malls or do you have your own site? How do you accept payment? Do you have to mass-produce? Currently I am not set up to take credit cards, and most of my work is one-of-a-kind (but affordable).
Any help will be appreciated!
I used to own a brick-and-mortar fine craft gallery with two other women where I sold my work. Sadly, that partnership did not work out and I had to leave.
I now have my own website, www.vanbeads.com, which is undergoing some major renovations. I also have my work on consignment in several different galleries and museum shops around the country, and I seem to do very well that way. Consignment is tricky, however. My best advice for consignment is:
1. Make sure whoever is consigning has a well-written contract. If you're not sure about the contents of the contract, get an attorney to look it over for you. Always make sure that in the event of fire, flood or theft that you will be compensated for at least part of the work.
2. Get references from other people who consign their work there, if possible.
3. Keep a detailed record of what you leave, when pieces sell, and when you are paid by the gallery or store.
You can also try opening up a store on Etsy at www.etsy.com.
As for taking credit cards, if you have a checking account, you can accept credit cards through PayPal at www.paypal.com.
"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That's why it is called the present." -Kung Fu Panda
I do a lot of selling locally through word of mouth. My mother has sold more jewelry for me than I have. She will take my inventory to work with her for about a week (always on the week that they get paid on Friday) and will do this about every 3 months.
I do have my own website, but currently am not set up to accept payments so right now it's more of a gallery for my online stores. I may eventually move all my online sales to my own site, but for now selling elsewhere works for me. I sell my photography and related items at CafePress.com, and my jewelry through etsy.com.
There are a variety of online storefronts out there, sites like etsy.com, icraft.ca, bigcartel.com, RubyLane.com, eCrater.com. These sites generally have some sort of fees associated with them, but in exchange for fees they handle all the site hosting and money transactions. Generally, credit cards are processed through PayPal. I have seen an increase in the # of people using RevolutionMoneyExchange although it's still pretty new so some people are shying away from it for now. Google also has it's own online payment processing but I don't know what it's called right offhand.
I've looked around at several online storefronts, and for the most part they all seem pretty easy to get set up and customize to your personal need. The biggest thing to get your work out there for sale is to link back to your storefront like MAD, and network. There are thousands and thousands of people who have their own online stores and creating a niche for yourself and your own work will take time and effort on your part, but it's certainly do-able. Good luck, and I hope this helps!
PS-I had a woman approach one of my customers regarding a wire-wrapped turquoise pendant she was wearing that I made. This lady was trying to set up a 'booth' in a regional artsy marketplace and was looking for consignment sellers. I did communicate with the woman but ultimately decided her terms were unacceptable--she wanted 30% commission, 35% any month the sales were over $500, and offered NO protection against loss, theft, or damage. When I did email her that I couldn't do business with her under these terms but hoped she may be able to negotiate, I NEVER heard from her again. As much as I would LOVE to get my name out there, I refuse to turn my inventory over to someone who wants a full third f the profits but has no plan in place to protect me-the artist-and my inventory against theft, loss, damage. How am I to know this person wouldn't just start pocketing inventory for herself or friends/family?
"Whether you think you can, or think you can't, either way-you are right." --Henry Ford
I've been selling on Etsy.com for awhile now, and I really love that as a venue for one of a kind artwork. It's fun, nicely presented and easy for customers to use. That's the venue I choose for finished work such as jewelry and wearable items, as well as destashing my beads stash on occasion.
As for my handmade beads, I prefer my own website, with a little on Etsy every now and then. That way I don't have to pay as many fees associated with selling the higher end beads that I make. Ebay charges just way too much these days.
As for online craft malls - I personally have tried that route and find that they charge too much for my own personal comfort, and the traffic is not all that fabulous. If you can afford the time and effort of building your own website and marketing it, I would highly recommend that route. Otherwise, Etsy seems to be a really great venue for jewelry makers these days, IMO.
I've been selling my work (well, trying to lol!) for a couple of years now. I did a lot of 'direct' selling last year and the year before, at craft shows and so on, with mixed results. (I started submitting projects to magazines to compensate for the fact that my finished jewellery didn't sell very well!) This year because of health issues I can't do craft shows so I've opened up a shop on Etsy.com - I've been very impressed so far, it's gone much better than I expected, and surprisingly it's the hitherto unsaleable big beadwoven items that are selling best! I take payments via PayPal, which seems to work fine. I do also have a website but it's a gallery of my work that links to my Etsy shop. The key is definitely lots and lots and LOTS of promotion - I take business cards wherever I go, and always try to wear my own beadwork!
Good luck with whatever you decide!
My website: http://lynndavybeadwork.co.uk/
I am Debra too from OHIO.
I have my own business since 2002 online....www.cavanaughbooks.com
Cavanaugh Books & Creations 440-975-0554
Very easy to create your own website....all you need is microsoft front page and you can be the webmaster like I am.
My company has been in business since I became the Author of AbracaDEBRA'S...Enchanted gifts & recipes from the heart which is a fun, easy Giftmaking/Cookbook.
Before that I became a Registered Dental Hygienist in 1984 also holds an Art degree.
I add items such as my jewelry creations, crafts, pet products, soaps on a rope, gift baskets, vintage barbies, etc. Each day something new is added to my site. I have friends that I link and my very talented business associate Robin emails me items of her unique and totally different items too! Hers are mainly natural gemstones and holistic qualities.
You can sign up for global payments who I use for MC/Discover and visa....easy and there is a small fee.
Another marketing idea I use is to make flyers and business cards, pass them out to everyone! We have bridal parties and just fun house parties.
Also you can just sell out of your car or have a lunch party at peoples/friends work!
On several occasinons I have had to pleasure to go to Michaels and have a show $3.00 for eachite sold was donated to charity of choice and got into newpapers free!
Magazines also will write you up!
I do not mass produce....most of my items are also one of a kind, but if someone wants more than one item we ask for 2 weeks noitice and payment is requested before delivery.
Good luck and please any one feel free to email me and take a look at my website!
Happy Beading.........from the Heart........Debra!
Debra A. Cavanaugh, R.D.H.www.cavanaughbooks.com
Thanks, everyone, for the tips! I'll have to check out etsy. I might test a few items out there while I look into having my own site.
Besides jewelry, my business sells handmade mosaic trivets that my sister makes. The first year we took them to a show at my office, they sold out in 30 minutes, but we've kind of hit the saturation point with craft shows in the area, so I've been looking for an outlet for them as well as my jewelry.
I'll check back here again, so please keep on giving advice!
I have thought about creating a website. How do you get your website out there? Do you just use the search engines? Where do you link?
I appreciate any advice.
Tell me how many beads there are
In a silver chain
Of evening rain,
Unravelled from the tumbling main...
~Thomas Lovell Beddoes
I have been making jewelry for about 1 year and at first did a few craft shows and did okay. For our area, craft shows are mainly through the Thanksgiving-Christmas season. Then I got a small case at an antique mall. It is small but the rent is reasonable. The success there has been hit or miss. There are alot of shoppers at that location though.
The small town ( est population 1800 ) that I live in has an idependent business association. We have one flashing light so there are not any chain type businesses except a Dairy Queen. There rest are independent business that are individually owned. I knew this organization was there but did not think of myself in this way. I had asked them for information about contacting other crafters in my area to possibly organize a craft show myself. I found at that I could join, very small annual charge, and that they have several events that would not cost for a booth since I am a member. One is next weekend ( we have Covered Bridge Festival ) so I will be a beading fool this weekend. People from surrounding larger cities come out to the festival.
Another is a health fair that they host. They will have the obvious for the health fair but their explaination to me was that beading and making jewelry ( hobbies ) can be beneficial to peoples health as relaxing and de-stressing. ( Okay I know stressful at times too! ).
Sorry to ramble but this was something that I accidentally found and was not sure if others had thought of this avenue. You might check your area for a business group such as this that for a small fee you can advertise and get more visability.
Have a great day!
Susan, I had my website up and running for a year before the search engines really latched on to it... the key thing for me has been making lots of links. I've exchanged website links with many of the beaders and beadmakers I know, I chat a lot on various forums, I send pictures to beadmakers whose beads I've used so they can put the picture and a link on their blog or website 'customer gallery'. My web designer friend has put a lot of work into getting keywords all over my site in places where the search engines will find them (as you can tell, I'm not an expert at this stuff!) and of course I never miss an opportunity to publicize my website address, it's in my forum and email signatures and on any images and projects that get published... and I always carry business cards 'just in case' so I can network in real life too!
You need to be persistent and patient and just keep chipping away until you start coming up at the top of the search engine ratings instead of on page 27!
Thank you so much for your reply. You've given me several places to start.
P.S. Lynn, I LOVE the Ugly Necklace contest!
I sell my jewelry on Etsy and at MacNider Museum. A local bead store asked me to sell there too.
Please visit http://monkeybuns.etsy.com for hand made jewelry.
My name is Deborah too! I just had to send you a note because we have so much in common! I too am a beader and have my own business, Dazzles designs. I have been designing and making jewelry for over 5 years now.Recently, I started getting in to metalsmithing and just love it! I too am a hygienist and graduated in "92". I work 2 days a week and sub in other offices when I am needed. I live in Northern Oakland County, MI, and have been married for almost 12 years to a wonderful man that is going to the bead and button show with me this weekend in Milwaukee. Cooking is a passion for me, and I have taken many classes to learn new recipes. I used to own a pastry business many years ago, but I burnt out on it after 10 years and working alone out of my home. I still make yummy pastries, cakes and desserts for family and friends. I have a vast collection of cook books that my nieces will treasure some day. I also love to paint, stamp, scrapbook and sew and enjoy decorating my home and helping family and friends with decorating their homes. I am constantly on my computer checking out all of the bead forums and sites and came across your note here on beading daily. Drop me a line if you get a chance! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deborah Zelkowski RDH
Maybe Etsy or Ebay but I have bad experiences with them as it is too hard for your creations to be found.
I'm now trying Shopify because you can get a real shop and be found on Google. Here's the wikipedia article: