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.
Every handcrafted jewelry artisan would like to have retail and wholesale jewelry customers remember them as well as their unique art jewelry. The secret to making a lasting impression, and ultimately trust, is simply treating each and every customer as if they are the only customer in the world!
I know it sounds too simple, but think about the people you remember and the reasons why you remember them. Great customer service presented in a sincere manner is so hard to find these days that it becomes memorable.
Every part of modern life has become impersonal from automated bank tellers, automated check outs at the grocery store to internet shopping. There are actually weeks where we do not talk to anyone outside of the family. I find it hard to believe that we are the only ones feeling like this. It has just become an ordinary part of life to spend our time in front of a computer.
Next time you are at a craft show or wholesale jewelry show, when a customer approaches your handmade jewelry booth promise to see them as if they are your only customer and treat them the way you prefer to be treated. You will be amazed at what a simple act of courtesy can accomplish. Your customer will buy handcrafted jewelry from you again and again. Many times customers have said that they came to the show specifically to see our new handmade earrings and handmade bracelets. One of the added benefits is that people will spread the word to their friends as well. Excellent service leads to happy customers who are always your best advertising. Building handmade jewelry customer loyalty can be the key to business success.
A welcoming smile and a sincere hello go a long way towards establishing a positive interaction with your handmade jewelry customer. Listen carefully to what they want and do your best to find the perfect unique gifts whether it is for themselves or for their gift store.
Always ask if there is any other way you can be of help to your customer. Give them your business card with your email address so that they can contact you if they have any other questions or concerns. Let them know that you are always available to help which shows that you appreciate their business.
Many times we have added a small inexpensive item just to say thank you for choosing our unique jewelry. For wholesale jewelry customers we add a few small items for them to give to their own customers to show their appreciation.
Good customers are hard to find and harder to keep in the competitive marketplace today. As a business person you must go the extra mile with superior customer service. Always try to make every handcrafted jewelry customer feel special as if they are your only and best customer.
I have to admit I have been taking a break and doing the spring cleaning but it is time to get back to writing and promoting our handmade jewelry website. It is important for every business to have a website. If you do not have one yet, you can create a free business website to get you started. After that you need to be reading as much as you can from Google, which is the best source for information regarding website promotion.
There are many small things that everyone can easily do to promote their website but if you do these the wrong way it can seriously damage all your efforts. With the newest wave of Google updates you can take everything you have learned so far about SEO and toss it in the circular file. It seems nothing but great content is going to get to your handcrafted jewelry website to page one. All that great content that you and you alone create is going to bring you to the top of the page.
There have been many changes in the last couple of months and many handmade jewelry websites have gotten lost in Google’s ranking pages. It is hard to know exactly what to do now to get the better results but checking with Google’s guidelines and forums seems to be the place to start.
It goes without saying then that anyone wanting to rank well in the search engines should stay clear of all the search engine optimization companies who promise over night results. Whatever they promise the results are short lived and do your handmade jewelry website more harm than good. Save yourself some time and send all those unwanted emails from SEO companies straight to the trash bin.
We have all heard that once you get to page one the only difference between number one and ten are the number of back-links coming to your handcrafted jewelry site. There are many different ways to get back-links such as article submissions, blog commenting, guest blogging and directory listings. All of these are now on Google’s bad list because many people have abused these types of links.
Great content and only great content is going to get your handcrafted art jewelry website to page one. This creates another small problem because most handmade jewelry sites rely on not content but images. Great photos are needed to sell handcrafted jewelry to your customers. Some people may glance at your content or about us page but the vast majority will be sold on the pictures not the copy-writing. Make sure all your handmade earrings and handmade bracelets photographs are optimized for quick loading as well as having alt attributes and title tags.
Optimizing the on-page factors is still the best way to get found by Google. Meta tags, title tags, alt attributes are all aimed at providing information to your website visitors as well as the search engines. Sometimes a page becomes over-optimized so take a step back and look at your website as a visitor would. Try to make a user-friendly site as well as a search engine friendly site. If possible have someone else look at your site. Fresh eyes may be able to spot problems that you do not see.
Google says they are trying to level the playing field so that the best sites with the best content will make their way to page one. After years of work to get to page one many companies now find they are no where to be found. They need to get back to the basics and write great content, using social networks to showcase your latest work and promoting your handmade jewelry within your niche market.