Part 2: How to Choose an Online Marketplace

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

A large selection of websites are available to help you sell your handmade-jewelry online. Finding existing sites isn't the issue, the trick is to find online marketplaces that are safe, supportive of jewelry artists and well-known by potential customers. Here are four sites that make this cut. They're large, popular on multiple continents and already have an established handmade-jewelry community.

Etsy is the most popular online marketplace for artisans, with the largest number of visitors looking specifically for handmade goods. It supports all artists from professional to amateur and is a good site for eclectic, trendy and top-dollar designs.

Ruby Lane, compared to Etsy, tends to feature jewelry that's less on the trendy side and more elegant and classical. You will also be competing against non-artisan items, but there is still plenty of room for unique, well presented jewelry.

ArtFire is one of the most professional sites out there for jewelry designers, but it's highly competitive and ensures its quality with a monthly fee. It's a good choice for experienced designers.

Bonanza (1000 Markets) categorizes its listings into sections including "For Her," "For Him" and seasonal categories. This can make it difficult for your work to be found simply by browsing, although you are more likely to be featured.

The examples above are only a small portion of online marketplaces out there for jewelry designers. There are marketplaces available for specific countries or continents and others specialize in certain styles or cater to various sub-cultures. The following tips will help you understand how to choose the best site for you and your jewelry.
  • Research seller and customer complaints on the internet and in each site's community forums. If an online marketplace has a history of miscommunication, failed money transactions or lost information, you won't want to subscribe with them. Also, review the site's customer and buyer services to see how they intend to solve problems before they happen.
  • Review the fees and services on each site before creating an account. Most online marketplaces have a free basic seller's package and offer monthly subscriptions for those who want more services. Make sure you understand and can meet the rules and conditions of being a seller.
  • Gauge the competition. When choosing a site you like, try searching for the types of pieces and styles you make. This will tell you if the potential customers who use the website will be interested in your designs. Also, if there are many people selling the same things and you can't compete through prices or marketing, you may want to choose another site.
  • Lastly, make sure you like the appearance and atmosphere of the site. Check out the online community (most sites will have forums for buyers and sellers to communicate and have discussions). Does the site look like a place you want to be part of? The site should be a place that excites and inspires you.
Remember, you can always cancel an account and choose another site--all websites make it possible for you to close an account you created at any time. The next step, once you've found the site that's right for you, is to focus on presentation and marketing to help make your online shop profitable!

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article "How to Choose an Online Marketplace," as featured in an email newsletter. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Great article ... very helpful!"
- Patricia

"Good information. I am on ETSY, but loved hearing about other sites. Thanks,"
- Judy

"This article was well-written but lacking in any substantial information. I know that all information about every site is an impossibility, but some more in-depth information would be appreciated."
- Kathryn

"Hello! I'm from Elk Grove, California, and have been thinking of finding a website to sell my handmade jewelry. Friends and family have encouraged me to do this, so this was sent just at the right time. The resource page was very helpful and thank you very much."
- Pat

"Helpful--thank you! "
- Michele

"Terrific article on finding an online market for your designs. Thanks. Keep up the good work,"
- Jan

"Great article, to the point. Very helpful info."
- Catherine

"Excellent article about online marketplace possibilities. Thank you "
- Bob

"Was with ArtFire for over a year, changed to Etsy and sold more in 2 months than the entire time on ArtFire. Etsy still selling consistently if not as much as I would like."
- Daniel

"On the article concerning internet marketplaces for your items, I would have preferred some more innovative solutions. All the sites mentioned we have dropped as being too expensive in these times. We are desperately trying to keep a family of 4 afloat with an awful credit past, a disabled breadwinner, an exhausted breadwinner, a stay home adult teen with some problems and a teen at college we are frantically scrambling around to find the money to get her through. We are using blogs, teaching, Etsy, Facebook and combinations to get it out to the people for her. This article thinks too much in the box for those of us living closer to the edge."
- Sondra

"Good info as I plan to start selling my jewelry this year."
- Almas

"Great article. I have been making jewelry in my spare time for 10 years and need to get my pieces on the internet. The article has great info! Thanks!!"
- Faith

"I really appreciate all your suggestions. A lot of them I have never even heard of. Thank you."
- Anonymous

"Liked info-wasn't aware of all selling sites."
- Dee