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Etsymetal Blog Carnival: What are the Pros and Cons of selling jewelry online

March 05, 2012

New month, new topic for Etsymetal team bloggers. March topic is: What are the Pros and Cons of selling your jewelry online?

For me selling online has definitely more advantages than disadvantages. In the beginning of my jewelry selling career I attempted to sell at a couple local craft shows and sale events. They were good as a marketing opportunity to gain local recognition, but I lost money on most of them. It was great to see in person what people liked, the first piece the took from the table, rings they tried on and showed to their friends. Seeing their faces when the start to react to my work or hearing their comments. Priceless!
I never sold much at shows. I am a pretty bad sales person to begin with, so that did surely not help. Since I only make rings and don't keep multiple of the same kind in different sizes in stock, I lost sales simply by not having their size with me. At shows buyers want instant gratification and take the product with them. Offering to custom make something only ever let to one sale. Shows cost lot's of money to attend. There is a pretty hefty booth fee, fees for electricity & advertising, one needs tables, decorations, packaging, travel and parking cost.

Show table
Being 2 days at a show is time I can't spend making new designs or finish orders. The days leading up to a show take lot's of time to polish all rings, label them with price tags etc. It was too much stress for basically no return of investment. I stopped doing shows in 2010 after a last attempt to try a wholesale trade show, which turned out to be total fiasco. Since then I concentrated all my energy on my online presence and I believe it has paid off.

Nodeform Booth at California Gift Show 2010
I love selling online. I like that customers from all over the world can see my creations and purchase from me. It always makes me happy to send something to Europe, Australia, Asia or every imaginable part of the US and Canada. Hearing their positive feedback is the best one can hope for. It always makes my day when I get thank you emails from a happy customer. I do like the direct contact I have with my customers. They ask questions, sometimes tell me a story. There is always some forth and back communication. This is something I would miss if I would sell my rings at a gallery or store.  I do like that I can work my own schedule and don't have to adhere to standard business hours. I am not much of a morning person and work often until late at night. I still have a schedule as I have to organize my work load, finish my orders in time and get them to the post office.

It takes a long time and lot's of hard work to built up an online presence that can lead to actual sales. There is so much competition online and it's hard to stand out among the crowd. Apart from having a great and unique product, good photos are the key in getting attention. They have to entice, catch one's attention, tell a story or work with a mood.  I take all my own photos and got a lot better over the years. It takes a lots of trial and error in getting them perfect to fit the overall brand and the design of the art piece itself. When I am done with my work at the bench I spend hours at night photographing new rings, selecting the best shots and reworking them in Photoshop to bring out the colors and textures in the most realistic way. Every online listing needs a good and clear description, little stories sometimes help too. 

Selling online helps me to keep my inventory low. All I need to sell a design is basically good photos. Once I sold the first piece and it's a design that I can reproduce, I just re-list it again. When an order comes in I start making it to match those photos. It allows me to offer more customization options as I can then make it to specific sizes, width, different metals or stones depending on customer preferences. All I need to keep at hand are the raw materials.

Rough diamond options for customizable engagement ring

Start up cost are often lower in selling online than doing shows or selling through a Brick and Mortar store. But there are still fees involved as all selling venues and payment processing companies want their cut too. Not to forget that advertising costs can get out of hand pretty fast. There are lot's of free advertising possibilities through social media but they can eat up valuable time very fast.

Overall I am pretty happy with my online experience and will keep it as my sole income stream for now. I am not planning on selling through any galleries or store in the next couple month.
The focus over the last couple years allowed me finally to quit my day job and do my art business full time. I am looking forward to see what the next few month and years will bring.

Please check out what other Etsymetal artist have to say:

Inbar Bareket:
Evelyn Markasky:
Rebecca Bogan: