by Sam Niemeyer, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Whether you bead for fun, for profit or both, running a shop on an online marketplace has some great benefits for any jewelry designer.
  • Selling online can help broaden your audience or introduce you to one. Another benefit is feedback. Communication on the internet has less decorum than personal conversations, so you can count on people to be more frank when offering suggestions or complaints. This feedback is the perfect opportunity to critically evaluate and improve your designs. A dedicated artist couldn't ask for anything better.
  • An online shop also serves as a portfolio or an easy-to-maintain web presence. A personal website isn't necessary for every designer. In fact, some buyers feel more comfortable purchasing from reputable markets such as Etsy or ArtFire than they do from someone's personal website.
  • For a budding jewelry seller, the price of a booth or entry fee at a show may not be justifiable given the collected worth of your items for sale (and that isn't including gas prices). If you find yourself afraid of the possible risk of losing money or you want to maximize your profit, online selling is ideal. It's also good for those who don't want to sell in person and who can't, or simply don't want to, dedicate as much time to traveling and attending shows.
To get started, you need to pick an online marketplace--or several. It's quite common for jewelry artists to sell on multiple websites and cross-link between them. Some popular sites among jewelry artists are Etsy, Ruby Lane, Zibbit, Bonanza, ArtFire, eBay, Silk Fair and Made it Myself. Review these sites to gauge the atmosphere, community and competition of each marketplace.

Once you've decided where to sell, make sure you have enough jewelry pieces to offer. You'll always want to keep at least two or three rows of product to view online in your shop. On Etsy, for example, this means always having at least eight items or more in your shop. Nobody likes to take the last piece of cake, so to speak. So, before you start selling, create enough pieces and remember to keep track of the price of labor and materials while you are creating.

You should also know the basics of running multiple shops to avoid easy selling mistakes. If you have multiple online storefronts, take note of what pieces you are advertising where and avoid double-advertising one-of-a-kind pieces you can't recreate. Likewise, if you sell at shows, remember to remove online advertisements for the pieces you sold at the show. This will spare you the embarrassment of having to refuse a sale and possibly receive negative feedback on your site.

Choose a business name that represents you, your goals and your work. Take some beautiful and professional pictures of your jewelry, and write helpful descriptions including the materials used, sizes and a story behind what makes each design special. Most importantly, instead of fixating on profits and creating unnecessary stress in your life, have fun and remember why you love beading!

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