I wonder how many jewelry designers out there are frustrated that their beautiful, gorgeous jewelry isn't selling? I've read enough blogs to know there are plenty in my circle of friends and colleagues. Let me tell you -- the easiest way to step forward into this new year is to Have a Plan.
What things will you focus on making?
I dropped making watches, lanyards, and hair ornaments when I realized I was spreading myself too thin (and more importantly, that those things weren't selling for me.) Pick a few things, your best sellers, the things you like to make the most, and work 'em, baby.
How do you get your customers?
Do you list on Etsy and hope people will find you in their convoluted search, wasting money relisting so often you end up paying as much as your item is worth?
There are better ways. Show your beauties on your blog and on Facebook -- that's the easy one. Then consider doing craft shows or home shows. I LOVE doing craft shows because I can engage with customers, explain what things are made of, and at the point of sale, ask for their email or mailing address for future sales and promotions.
Yes, you're liable to meet resistance -- in the day and age of spam (you want me to buy WHAT to stick WHERE and chat with WHOM about WHAT?) people don't part with emails readily. I always let them know I don't sell it, it gives them 10% off at future shows, and they get notification of secret sales on my web site. If they opt to get just the postcard, they'll be notified when I do another show in their area, still get 10% off when they bring the card to the show, but they won't know about the secret sales. That usually gives me one of their addresses.
Then, MARKET to your customers.
Once you have their information, save it in a database, an Excel spreadsheet, or some organized fashion. I separate my people into demographic regions since I do shows in various states. When it's time to do a show, I print postcards at VistaPrint and mail them out with the show information and the 10% discount plainly shown. This WORKS. But you need to know -- a 2% return is considered a SUCCESS. Just 2%. This sounds horrible, but it will grow as time goes by and as word of mouth continues. Mine started out at 2 out of 100, and now it's about 40 out of 100. And as you guide your customers to your web site, your monthly sales, when you DON'T do shows, will increase. So don't give up.
Show off your store.
Once you have a customer base, THEN you can concentrate on pointing them to your online store, be it your own site, Etsy, ArtFire, or the like. Be sure to have a web presence BEFORE you start selling at craft shows, though -- you'll constantly be asked if you sell online and you want to be able to see those people who don't buy that day come back in a few months (believe me -- they do). Etsy is a pretty, inexpensive place to start, but for jewelry, it's imperative you have a following and market to your own shop front. In fact, go someplace like GoDaddy and register your own domain name, and have that name point to your Etsy store so you can tell your customers, "Visit www.MyShop.com" rather than "www.MyShop.etsy.com".
I hope this has helped in some way. My email is always open to anyone with questions. I have a background in marketing and sales and have learned a lot along the way. Selling jewelry is my full-time job, and it's a joy that I love to pass on to others.
I hope your 2011 is a happy, prosperous one! Happy Beading!
Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrtoe the blog An Artist's Year Off. She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.