Happy 2014! To a successful new year!
I am not much into starting New Years resolutions just to drop them a couple weeks later when the novelty wears off. But it is a good idea to reflect on the last 12 month, see what was accomplished and what can get improved. I do always make goals for my business as it provides me something to strive for and a means to measure my success by. Those goals are somewhat flexible and will change a bit over the year as different priorities come into play.
I just re-read last years post
and it seems I pretty much reached my 2013 goals. My business did grow in 2013 very nicely. It provided me a very stable income without the extreme ups and downs I had in previous years. I did refine my designs more, retired some that I was tired making or did not bring in enough profit. I did get better with time management, which really helped getting through some of the very busy months I had last spring and summer. I refined some technical skills like stone setting by taking a class at New Approach School
which made stone setting a lot quicker. I learned new software skills with the Brooch a Day challenge. I did not finish 365 brooches but that's fine and was also not my real goal of the challenge. I certainly did learn the beginnings of Grasshopper 3D scripting and had lot's of fun during the year trying new things. I did attend a local Grasshopper class in August which was really helpful in understanding the software better. I only finished about 150 brooches, most only virtual. But they will provide inspiration for lot's of new designs. During the year some of those playful explorations for the brooches did already inspire some ring designs
which became part of my current line.
Board with my 57 realized (non-virtual) BAD brooches
The second part of the year I did not find much time to dedicate towards the brooch a day challenge as I got side tracked with building a new web site
. This seemed more important to spend my limited free time on than making brooches I would not sell anyways. My old portfolio type web site seemed somewhat outdated and not suitable for e-commerce. After much research on e-commerce providers and web site solutions I started in June/July to play with Shopify
templates and slowly adding designs to the site. I am really happy with the site now and I feel I finally have a site I am proud to promote and use as my main public image. This actually leads to my first and main goal for 2014:
With all the changes last year that happened on Etsy I feel I really need to develop a stable second sale outlet. Since dropping selling via Artful Home
and not doing any shows anymore Etsy became my main sale site. I have spend a lot of time and energy on my Etsy shops
, especially the wedding one which really grew in 2013. The majority of my income comes from Etsy. It starts to get a bit scary putting all my eggs in one basket especially when one has no influence where this basket is heading towards. With all the new changes it will get harder to be successful with truly artisan handmade jewelry trying to compete with manufactured items. Etsy has been an amazing opportunity and certainly allowed me to grow my brand. But the more successful I get, the more sense it makes to divert some of that brand success towards my own site. For the fees I pay every month on Etsy I can run multiple Shopify sites. However running multiple shops on Esty and my site requires some time management and oversight. Copying most of my made to order designs over to my web site has taken some time. But now that's mostly done and I can start really promoting my own web site. While I don't plan to just dump my Etsy shops, I will certainly put more effort towards my own site. The ultimate goal for 2014 isn't to make more money or more sales but to make a more balanced income by trying to bring my web site income to match my Etsy income.
I am starting to deactivate certain design on etsy and only offer them on my own site. Also large diamond rings are only available on my own site. Etsy fees do add up quite a bit on high ticket items. My web site did already get some traction in the last quarter. But I still have to find the right balance of what I want to offer on Etsy vs my site. I will also continue to improve and track my SEO ratings to eventually match the traffic I got on Etsy. I worked on that one during the last few weeks already and I am seeing some promising improvements.
Success: 1/2 of total income via own web site
- improve Google keyword ranking, SEO success: match or exceed etsy visitors traffic
- keep web site current and updated with lot's of new high quality content, blog regularly
- research advertising options, invest in advertising
- research and add social tools like facebook comments and testimonials
- Test which designs stay on Etsy: best sellers only or low priced only or samples and one-of-a kind designs only
- improve conversion rates of visitors to sales
There are also some new technical skills I want to try and develop this year. After the stone setting class I did play a bit with bead settings but with not much success yet. Still lacking graver control and basic engraving skills. So this year I want to learn engraving and see where it leads me. I am not so interested in figural engraving but love patters, textures and the more sculptural engraving techniques with deeper relieves. Kind of goes well with the wax carving skills I often use. However engraving on metal will give some more possibilities with more refinement and cleaner lines. In the end it will go hand in hand with each other as lot's of wax carved patterns do need engraving touch ups in metal to look polished. Plus engraving skills will also improve stone settings as the final cleanup is usually done with gravers. Not sure how much I will get into bead setting and pave but I can see it as added details.
- ordered Airgraver, graver sharpening fixtures and ball vise (new tools always make it more fun)
- practice, practice, practice
- Take engraving lessons in spring/summer
I also hope to play a bit more with Grasshopper scripting and try to develop some ring or bracelets designs with it. Making all these brooches I realized again that I don't like to work with mechanics, jump rings or findings and have no interest in brooches, necklaces or earrings. The only way to make this skill useful for me is applying it to ring and bracelet designs. Maybe eventually that leads to a line of 3D printed designs, something I originally had in mind when I founded Nodeform (that's why the more technical name I chose for my business). Just got sidetracked for a couple years since I really also enjoy the traditional jewelry making techniques and love to make things with my own hands and get dirty in the studio. Since incorporating CAD/CAM technologies in my work since 2012, I am starting to bring these two interests together again. I may have to invest in a 3D printer eventually as most of the designs I come up with Grasshopper aren't millable and would be better archived with a 3D printer. I recently found the Asiga 3D printers that looks really promising with the right resolution for jewelry scale and castable resins. I will look more into that one and try to get some printed samples in my hands before maybe investing money into it.
Success: start developing 3d design line
- continue grasshopper scripting for rings and bracelets
- Eventually buy 3d printer
Please check out what other EtsyMetal members plan to tackle this year.
Laney - http://silentgoddess.blogspot.com
Laura Jane Bouton: http://laurajanebouton.blogspot.it/
Abella Blue - http://abellablue.com/blog/
Evelyn Markasky http://www.evelynmarkasky.com/blog.html