I was wondering if anyone makes any decent money doing this? I opened an Etsy shop back in February, finally got to start listing a few items a few days ago. I've had a few looks but no sales as of yet. Anything anyone could share on this topic would be appreciated, I am at the beginning of getting a divorce, my income is going to drop drastically, and I'm in a really bad area to have to commute from (do NOT want to risk my neck driving on the curvy icy winter roads around here). Any ideas? Thanks!
I don't myself (i'm too big a procrastinator to get enough stuff done to make any money at it) but we have a friend who makes her entire living off her jewelry and beadmaking. She is always working on something.
She makes a pretty good living; able to pay all her bills, go on an occasional vacation (which she normally works into a bead or jewelry show trip), and really doesn't have any problems. she's putting enough away for emergencies, but her biggest worry is medical insurance. She's had some troubles physically, and it has cost her a bundle.
from her on making a living with jewelry: Find something that no one else makes, or some way to make a regular piece "special". For her, it's her goddess beads. She also works with the silver clay to make unique settings for her beads.
The other thing she does is a LOT of shows. She'll go to a couple a month, AND she usually has her beadmaking setup there...so she can be working while people are shopping. She says it gets people interested and shows them that it's really an artist doing the work, not some factory somewhere.
You have to find your niche. and an outlet for your goods. If you're going to sell just online, then you need to find a way to get people to look at your website. advertising, word of mouth...something. I've seen a number of people who put up one item on Ebay, and a link to their online store. I'm not sure how the ebay folks feel about that, tho.
__________________ "A good photograph is knowing where to stand. - Ansel Adams (and a lot of luck - Wisconsin Ann)
Rabbits anyone? RabbitTalk.com
I do make money selling jewelry, I'm not Rockefeller yet, nor don't see that in the future, but it brings in a tidy sum.
If your planning on making it a fulltime business with your only scource of income, you better raise your prices. Why? Well, you need to think of wholesale prices. If someone should approach you to wholesale to them, and they do. At your current pricing would you be able to make a profit after giving your jewelry at a wholesale price (usually 30 to 40 % below your price).
You might not be thinking to wholesale, some people don't, but if someone offered to buy all your stock, would you turn that sale a way?
I would also get away from the plated findings and move up to sterling. I know it's more expensive, but you also can raise you prices, as well. Some folks have allergies to plated and can't wear it, so would pass your jewelry up, no matter how much they loved it.
The sucess of any business is being in the public eye, so you should give some thought on marketing your jewelry. Use your ETSY shop in the tag line of your profile, so it shows in every message you start or answer. Join jewlery making forums (use that tag line) and be active in the threads,( in the public eye) There are forums for all the beading magazines, like "Bead & Button". "BeadStyle", "Art Jewelry" join them. Even getting active in the Etsy forum would draw attention to your shop. I know someone that was so angry because she didn't have any sales, she planned to close her shop. She posted a question in the Etsy forum and a day later had her first sale.Can't say if that did it or not, but she swears that was the reason for her sale.
Check your local Beauty salons and approach them about selling your jewelry, scary, I know. The most they can say is NO, big deal, move on to the next salon. I sell earrings in 3 salons in the area. Just earrings and I do a 40/60 split, I'm the 60. I can count on a least $100 a week from these salons (combined) not a whole lot, but steady. I replace stock once a week, rotating it, if it's not selling in one salon, move it to the next,so on and so on.
I have also sold to an upscale dress shop in the past, but the daughter took over from her mother and things just kind of went down hill, it closed.
There are all kinds of articles online about making money selling jewelry, even books, do a google and you'll get all kinds of info.
A hint about Etsy, when you add to your shop. Post one item a day, it shows in the "New Additions", bringing attention to your shop. If you do it all in one day, it only shows that day, if people don't check that day, they don't see your shop.
I also did shows/fairs about one a month. But old age is telling me to take it easy, so now I only do 3/4 shows a year. I am planning to open a Etsy shop as soon as I can get a good camera, mine bit the dust awhile back.
If there are any dress shops, talk to the owner about selling your jewelry, this is where wholesale may come in. They may wish to buy it outright or sell it on consignment. Outright you'll need a wholesale price that still makes you a pofit, but not high enough to stop them from buying. It's a thin line to walk with pricing.
Hit your local Photographers and ask them to pass your flyer with examples of your jewelry out to Brides that they maybe doing thier wedding. Offer a commission on any sales they bring to you, say anywhere from 10-20% of the sale. There are designers who do nothing but wedding jewelry and are sucessful at it.
Good Luck with your new venture, and many sales to you.
WisconsinAnn - I have been watching Mammabooth's thread...she has some lovely stuff. Not sure what my niche is yet, I like doing a little bit of everything *LOL* My favorite stuff to work with though is silver and gold-fill, and gemstones. Thanks for the suggestions!
CraftyDiva - Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I agree with you on getting away from the plated stuff...I actually do use sterling for most of my stuff, along with gold-fill, just don't have most of that posted yet. I mostly use the plated stuff for when I'm working with inexpensive materials, and for working out new techniques. I also like the idea of offering a wide price range. I hadn't thought much about wholesaling yet, but the idea is interesting. I do have a friend who is a massage therapist, she's opening a shop and sounded like she may be interested in putting some of my work out. I figure once I start making some sales I can gradually raise my prices, I don't want to charge too much off the bat because I haven't been doing it that long and people are not familiar with the quality of my work yet. I have been working on getting my shop more in the public eye, I have some links on my MySpace page, and I also set up a public jewelry artists group there as well, I thought that would be fun to run and would give me some exposure as well. Again, thanks so much for your input!
I'm doing a 2-day arts/crafts show locally this weekend and then a one-day show next weekend about an hour from here. Since these two are close, I'll be putting up a sign and telling people that special orders are welcome. If I get a lot of orders, I can get them all done, plan a route, and deliver them all in one trip (the mileage will be tax-deductible). I know that probably sounds like a lot of work, but then I can make sure the ladies like their jewelry, I can have more face time with them, and probably get more orders. Most ladies really like the idea that something was made just for them and that I am very concerned with their satisfaction.
If you do craft shows, I also suggest having a wide range of prices. Make sure you have something cute and cheap that little girls can buy (like $5.00 or less). Little girls bring their mommies! When you dote on children, mothers are happy. Happy mothers buy jewelry for themselves or as presents...it's a wonderful thing. It may sound like I'm being nice to the little girls just to get their moms to buy stuff, but I really just like to make people happy...perhaps to a fault sometimes. In addition to making something inexpensive, make sure you have some things that are very expensive. Not only does it make the rest of your items look reasonably-priced, there will be ladies that come along, that just want to buy the most expensive thing you have. I don't understand folks like that, but I'm here to oblige!
Another thing...make stuff you don't like. When I make something that I think is just horribly gaudy-looking, that's usually the first thing to sell.
The most imortant tip I can give you is to make sure you have yourself set up (legally) as a real business. There are so many tax deductions available, it's just amazing. While that doesn't give you money in your pocket right now, it will help tremendously when tax time rolls around and will help you think on a grander scale. It is helping me (I'm naturally a tightwad, so I'm still working on it) to spend money to pamper ladies who come to my home shows. Again, when ladies feel they are being taken care of, they relax, have fun, and spend their cash!
I'm not making a living at this yet, but I can see it in the future. My husband has all sorts of big plans for it...he would love to quit his real job and be the advertising and paperwork guy for me. That will probably take a while yet (I just started making jewelry a year ago and didn't have my first show until March of this year), but it's something that we both see as a possibility. This creating stuff has ignited a passion in me that I had no idea was there (and I LOVE IT!!!!!!).
P.S. One other thing...once someone has bought an item, I put it into a cute little organza bag. If they are giving it as a gift, I ask if they would prefer a gift box and if they'd like for me to wrap it for them for a dollar extra (I have different sizes of wrapping paper already cut to fit the boxes so it's very quick and easy). I also have gift bags and tissue paper in case their purchase won't fit into a jewelry box. Some ladies jump at the chance to not have to wrap it themselves. There is no way in the world that I would pay to have someone wrap a present for me, but I'm an oddball, I guess!
R7, I used to be a massage therapist. The profession tends to attract a lot of people who are interested in alternative forms of healing. Some folks put a lot of stock in the vibrations given off by particular stones (electromagnetic or some other form of energy, I believe). If you could work that into your jewelry making for your massage therapist friend's shop, that might help boost sales. Also think about making items that can be worn on different parts of the body, depending on what problem the person is having, ankle bracelets, necklaces, earrings, bracelets of course, but what about some kind of stone on a key-type ring or decorative pin that could be hung from a belt loop or even a bra strap or wherever? I know it sounds rather "out there", but some people do believe strongly in this and I don't see that it would hurt anything to offer items made specifically for them. Do be cautious not to make any specific medical claims on your packaging, whether or not it may be true, putting it in your advertising is illegal in most states
We used to sell jewelry and made a decent living at it for about 10 years. We definitely found a niche, though. We're in Alaska, and made caribou and moose antler jewelry and accessories. My husband cut and sanded the antler pieces, and I drilled them and did the detail work with beads and porcupine quills.
I only skimmed through the other posts, but definitely lots of very good information. I only did one show a year, and it was a small, international wholesale gift show in Anchorage. I once tried a huge show in a large city down south, but it was a flop. I found that we did much better sticking to our market.
We also found that by raising our prices, we sold much more. I used high quality materials, made very unique jewelry, and was able to sell to the high end galleries, gift shops and museum shops. I found that if I tried to compete with the lower priced things, I didn't sell much.
I tried to do one medium size retail craft show a year just to get a better feel for what people wanted to buy. Then, I could let the wholesale buyers know what was popular that year. I did keep my retail prices only about 50% above wholesale (instead of the usual double price that most of the Alaska stored do). My main reason for the somewhat lower retail price was to get my jewelry out there and see what people liked. I didn't compete with the cheaper jewelry, just tried to give people a good price at that show. Also, I always let my retail customers know that I would not do any more shows that year, and I told them where they could buy more of my jewelry. By only doing one retail craft show, many of the retail buyers would purchase more than just one or two items.
After a couple of years, many of the buyers would just give me a dollar amount and tell me to put together an order for them. After a few years in business, there was a big demand for our work and we could only make enough to sell to about 20 businesses. That kept us busier than we wanted to be, so we had to set an order deadline.
Anther thing we did was turn negatives into positives. An example was when we started out, we lived on the road system and could mail orders to buyers whenever they contacted us. When we moved out to the bush, we didn't have any postal service, and charter planes for mail were VERY expensive. We could only ship orders to the buyers once a year. We THOUGHT we would lose business because we would be too hard to do business with. But, our sales immediately jumped. The buyers knew they could only order once a year, so they ordered a bunch to make sure they didn't run out. Since they had so much of our stock on hand, they often featured our work and gave us "prime real estate" (as they called it ---- the top place in their store). They didn't want to get stuck with so much expensive jewelry, so they really pushed it. Since they sold so much (because they tried hard to sell it), they always ordered more the next year.
At craft shows, I always tried to be really friendly with folks. I was in town alone, so I enjoyed socializing anyway. Once at a show, there were high school groups doing concerts. There was one I particularly enjoyed, so as a man who looked very bored was walking toward my booth, I struck up a conversation with him and mentioned how much I liked that little group. As it turned out, his son played an instrument in the group and he was just waiting on his son. The man had no intention of buying anything, but as we were talking, he was looking at my jewelry. He ended up buying things for his wife, mother and daughter ---- spent over $500!
OK, that's about it for my tips. You really have to find a market for your work, otherwise you'll just blend into the crowd. There was one woman who was selling beautiful jewelry at the wholesale show in Anchorage one year. She was disappointed at not selling much. I looked at her work, and told her that I thought the buyers at the Alaska show were looking for things that were a bit more "Alaskan", although not "cheap looking" and touristy. Although she did great work, it didn't stand out. The next year, she was at the show with the same beautiful jewelry, only she changed it a bit to have more of an Alaskan feel to it. She's still in business and doing great.
Oops, you're right...I forgot that when I posted this thread it was after I had already added the newer items *LOL* It has been a LONG last couple of days and I must've confused myself....getting ready for a new puppy this coming weekend among various other things. Oh well...I should hopefully have a few more items up in the next day or so.
Thanks! I was so excited when I saw that I had made a sale. I'm still waiting for payment though...hopefully it doesn't turn out to be a non-paying buyer, that would just figure *LOL* I haven't had much time to list more stuff...been busy with deer season and the new puppy for the last week or so, although I did list a new necklace tonight. It has a few looks already so I'm optimistic
How about seeing if you could hook up with folks that do bridal fairs and making custom jewelled headpieces as well as custom jewelry for the wedding party? My son just married and his bride would have loved that.