Every time I sit down to write a new blog post it seems I get really angry at Google, then frustrated and I just walk away to do something else that is more productive. For several years we, my husband and I, worked night and day on our website to get to the first page in Google for our keywords. We were proud of all our hard work and the high rankings. In 2012 it all came to naught because of algorithm changes. Our site rankings dropped dramatically and then disappeared in Google. Our good rankings still hold on Bing and Yahoo, unfortunately though no one seems to be looking there. Our traffic has decreased so much so that we are often too disappointed to work on the website anymore.
We instead have focused on creating new designs and techniques for our handmade jewelry. It has been very worthwhile and time well spent. Our new colorful jewelry has kept us working day and night to meet all the deadlines. Now that the wholesale shows are underway we can finally take a well deserved rest from the hectic pace of the last few months. We have been working with renowned artists like Lynn Bean and Nick Gustafson as well as creating our own designs including a new line of dog earrings.
We are one of the lucky businesses though as we do not rely solely on the internet. We have been in business for over 25 years and have a solid customer base throughout Canada and the United States. If anything the Google algorithm changes have given us the freedom to work on new techniques and designs. We have been focusing on the real world instead of the internet. Our business was built before Google took over the world economy but I cannot help but feel sorry for all the people who were wiped out by the changes Google made.
We are just one example of businesses hurt by the changes in Google’s algorithm, and it does not seem to be getting any better. Some people just started new websites instead of trying to fix the old ones. But thousands of small businesses depended on the organic traffic from Google to stay in business and without that traffic they are gone. Meanwhile Google is making more money than ever. So who did these algorithms changes benefit? Just Google and the big brands that have money to put into advertising, not small business owners that is for sure.
So have all these changes and penalties helped make the internet a better place? Are the search results more accurate? Was the damage to small businesses worldwide worth the changes in the search results? Go search for something, anything and see the results. Our keywords are full of Facebook pages, Pinterest accounts, definitions and how-to sites. When you are looking to buy handmade jewelry do you want a Facebook page or would you rather find companies that make unique handcrafted jewelry? Unfortunately, the most established companies have been penalized by Google algorithms and are forced to buy Adwords if they want to be on the first page. We are constantly bombarded through email and regular mail to buy Adwords. Was it all just a ploy to get everyone to pay for Adwords? Honestly speaking we do not have the budget to advertise as we keep our prices reasonable and do not have a huge profit margin.
Could the smart people at Google just not give any credit for bad links pointing at a website? If they wanted a level playing field now they have a non-existent playing field. Good luck with that. For over 6 years, I used to wake up and check the rankings. Now I save a lot of time to do actually useful work. We are not going to give up on the website but what Google does or does not do is no longer a major concern. Hopefully one day the algorithm will take a turn for the better and help the small businesses that it has damaged.
Probably you started making handcrafted jewelry just for fun as an outlet for your creative energy. At some point you realized you could make some extra money from your hobby and began selling your handmade art bracelets and earrings. After that point, you also need to think like a business person and create designs that fit into a niche market in order to have a successful handmade jewelry business.
The most important factor in running a successful handcrafted jewelry business is innovation. Creating your own niche market within the niche is going to be your key to success. Everyone can put beads on an ear wire and say they make handmade earrings, but without your own creative touches you will not be able to build a successful business.
Retail stores are filled with mass produced jewelry so you have to make your jewelry unique, something that appeals to everybody and at a reasonable price. You need to create a demand for your designs with different techniques that you will become known for and that will set you apart from the competition. Creating your own niche within the handmade jewelry market is that something special whether you incorporate historical motifs or brilliantly colored gemstones it is up to your creativity and individuality.
Even if you just go to local craft shows you have probably noticed several other people trying to sell handmade jewelry. It is a very competitive marketplace whether it is craft shows or on the internet. You need that extra something that sets you apart from the rest. Once you find your special something you have to constantly be updating and showing your personality in each piece. Making matching sets of handmade earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces will increase sales dramatically.
We have been making handcrafted jewelry for almost 30 years and still find that we are constantly thinking of new designs, techniques and styles. Every business needs to evolve with the marketplace and fashion trends. Listen to your customers and get their ideas because it can lead you in new directions that you never thought of before. Do not think of it as criticism of your work but encouragement to try something different. You do not have to have just one style; you can have many unique jewelry styles incorporating your creativity that could open new marketing opportunities. If you are hesitating consider it a custom order just to see if it works or not. Experimenting has never been a bad idea and you can get some surprising results or it can lead you in another direction entirely.
First of all, let me just say that we have been making handmade jewelry for over 25 years. We have had a store, sold at craft shows, mall shows, wholesale gift shows and have a website. We have sold at retail, on consignment, wholesale direct to stores, orders taken by sales reps, jobbers and distributors as well as online. We have started with nothing and built our handcrafted jewelry business one step at a time. Honestly speaking, to those people who think they are able to jump right to the top of the ladder, you need to crawl before you run the marathon.
Every business needs a solid foundation and must be gradually built to achieve success. There are very few who have the financial means to start at the wholesale jewelry level. Wholesale gift shows are expensive, requiring a great selection of unique jewelry and needing professional looking displays so it is not something for those just starting out.
This being said it is my humble opinion that craft shows are the best way to build an enduring handmade jewelry business. Local shows tend to be less expensive and are a good way to get those first sales. You will perfect your booth display and learn what customers actually want. You will get the experience that will enable you to move onto the next step on the ladder.
Eventually you will need to travel to juried arts and crafts shows. The best shows attract tens of thousands of customers and are difficult to get into especially for handmade jewelry artisans but are well worth the effort once you are ready. Displays need to draw the attention to your booth and you should have something for everyone. Different price ranges and styles so that no matter where you are your sales will be strong.
Along the way you will likely run into some store owners who would like to buy your work to sell in their stores. Have a wholesale price in mind when you are pricing for your retail sales. Also whenever you are traveling have samples ready to show to stores and galleries on the way. Sometimes it is difficult to get up the courage to go into a shop and sell your work, but it will become second nature. If the manager or owner is not there be sure to get contact information and you can call them later.
Once you have a good cash flow established and have a great selection of unique jewelry designs you will be able to venture into wholesale jewelry and gift shows with confidence. Wholesale shows that focus on handmade gifts are the best but most shows have a handmade section as well. Wholesale gift shows are the mainstay of our business. Major shows attract qualified buyers from across the country and internationally.
Internet sales whether your own website or an online marketplace are easily set-up with little expense but success online requires a great deal of time dedicated to social networking. We consider our website as an online catalog to make our customers ordering easier and as such it is wonderful. Everyday we get inquiries from all over the world that would never have been possible before the internet. It takes time to get noticed with so much competition but once established it can be very successful.
Be positive and don’t get discouraged or frustrated, the handmade jewelry business can be demanding at times but it can also make all your dreams come true. It is a great creative outlet as well as bringing in some extra money when you are first starting out. Over time you will be able to expand your business according to your own needs.