Selling your production jewelry line at retail art and craft shows is a great way to meet your customers, get valuable feedback on your designs, and get a shot of energy from the people who love your pieces. But if the thought of selling face-to-face freezes your blood, and you still aren’t ready to produce the volume you might need to wholesale your line, you’re in luck. You can sell your work through your own website or through an online marketplace—or both.
Your website is like having your own retail shop, only it’s open 24/7. It’s all about you and your story. It’s where you can focus and individualize your brand through the use of layout, colors, fonts, and the information you provide. You can express your personality through the voice you use when writing your bio and your artist statement. (Yes, you’ll have to have them both. You can write your own, or work with a professional to create them.) You can blog, have a newsletter to stay in contact with customers, and link to other artists. Your website is your world.
And because it is your world, you have to be conscious of how you present yourself—and your work. The site should be professional looking. All the links should work correctly, and allow your visitors to navigate your site easily from one piece to another. People should be able to buy and pay for your work quickly. A contact form gives them the opportunity to ask questions. (Always respond promptly, of course.)
Professional-level photos are non-negotiable. Your buyers can’t actually hold your jewelry, so your photos must give them the best experience possible. Learn how to take high-quality photos or hire someone who can do it right. Include multiple views. And always include a description that includes any or all of the following information: metal and stone types, sizes, weights, manufacturing techniques, and story. (If you’re a whiz at CAD, and are selling from a virtual store, you won’t, of course, need photos. But the quality will still have to be high, and it will help if customers can rotate the image to see it from various directions.)
You can set up your own up website using online website builders such as Squarespace or WordPress, or you can hire a professional website designer. Either way, be sure all elements of your website are consistent in presenting your brand.
You can avoid the development of your own website by selling through an online marketplace, such as Etsy or Artfire. These are more like selling in a mall. Your work is presented with others at random. Buyers can skim through images quickly and comparison shop for design and price. “Shops” are much less individual and there is less opportunity to impress your brand on them. But they’re usually pretty easy to set up and maintain. You’ll save the costs and time associated with creating your own website, but marketplaces usually charge commissions or membership fees for your shop.
Marketplaces usually provide a way for potential buyers to contact you directly or to jump to your website. They can be a good place to reach a broad audience, especially when you’re just starting out. You can discover if your work is selling, how it compares to other, similar work, and who’s buying.
And you won’t have to talk to people directly.