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VictoryChains

To Etsy, or not to Etsy, that is the question

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No worries, you'll get to where it comes easily to you.  It's the same with anyone when they are first starting (in any art/craft) the more you make, the more you'll develop your own style; the more you develop your own style, the more you stand out from others using the same technique(s).

There are styles in Maille? Hmmmmm. . . like what? Maybe Basket's sculpture is one such style. . .

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Well this is an interesting topic to read. I've been needing to put my work online for years (yes, those of you who go back as far as I do, "make a website" is still languishing on my to-do list), and I've always considered Etsy to be the easier alternative to making my own stand-alone website. I even made an Etsy account like four years ago and only ever put one thing on it. :D It sounds like Etsy isn't really that great anymore, although for my purposes I really just want someplace where I can display and sell my jewelry and be able to direct people to it when they ask me if I sell my stuff.

 

I already have the webspace and domain name (which currently hosts only my tutorial pages), so maybe I would be better off just buckling down and getting a sales site running there. I will check out some of the other options mentioned here, though.

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I already have the webspace and domain name (which currently hosts only my tutorial pages), so maybe I would be better off just buckling down and getting a sales site running there. I will check out some of the other options mentioned here, though.

 

In my experience, unless you're an expert in coding, it's easier to find a site like Etsy or Handmade Artists to sell and use the website as advertisement or a gallery. There's just so much to consider and worry about when selling off your own site. Things like does your host have the proper SSL to safely run credit cards? Which eCommerce software will make you want to strangle someone the least? If you bypass the SSL and eCommerce solutions and do something like a Paypal shopping cart on your site, it becomes a question of how professional looking you want to get by either paying for the business solutions (which is a monthly fee and makes your checkouts look like your site) or just go with the standard (no fee, but your checkouts redirect to Paypal's sites then back when the transaction is finished).

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Yeah, that's the sort of hangups that have kept me from just making the dang website. :D I actually did start working on something with a Zencart template a few years ago, and it seemed to be going okay so I'd probably go with an updated version of that if I decided to give it another try. But having a storefront on an already established site certainly does have its appeal.

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There are styles in Maille? Hmmmmm. . . like what? Maybe Basket's sculpture is one such style. . .

There are styles in anything you can make.  Sometimes it's as simple as the colours, motifs, etc. that you use, other times it's in the styles of your designs.  Style is really about what aesthetic do you like, who is your audience, etc.  Different styles attract different people. Some like clean line, no-fuss designs, others like bright and colourful, and others yet like elaborate, chunky, or delicate pieces.  These all fall under aspects of style.  There may also be themes to one's work that help define your style.  While I work a lot with chainmaille, my specialty is not chainmaille, it's historical inspiration, and sometimes it's accomplished with the chainmaille, other times it may be in Steampunk, wire-work, upcycling, metalsmithing, or a combination of any of the above.  Rebeca Mojica does beautiful work and while she uses the same weaves as others do, her designs have a more modern, clean-line look to them.

 

Does that help?

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There are styles in anything you can make.  Sometimes it's as simple as the colours, motifs, etc. that you use, other times it's in the styles of your designs.  Style is really about what aesthetic do you like, who is your audience, etc.  Different styles attract different people. Some like clean line, no-fuss designs, others like bright and colourful, and others yet like elaborate, chunky, or delicate pieces.  These all fall under aspects of style.  There may also be themes to one's work that help define your style.  While I work a lot with chainmaille, my specialty is not chainmaille, it's historical inspiration, and sometimes it's accomplished with the chainmaille, other times it may be in Steampunk, wire-work, upcycling, metalsmithing, or a combination of any of the above.  Rebeca Mojica does beautiful work and while she uses the same weaves as others do, her designs have a more modern, clean-line look to them.

 

Does that help?

Hmmm this does help A LOT! I have not created a style for me yet. I kind of like all kinds of thigs. The biggest thing I think for me is that I am a quality freak.

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There are styles in anything you can make.  Sometimes it's as simple as the colours, motifs, etc. that you use, other times it's in the styles of your designs.  Style is really about what aesthetic do you like, who is your audience, etc.  Different styles attract different people. 

 

I think I may be terrible with developing my own style, halp...?  :hope: Luckily the only chainmaillers in my town (SO FAR) are crap and mix it with beaded stuff so I don't have to distinguish myself too much (YET) - let's hope they never discover TRL, but I'm such a magpie with styles (as warranted by the fact I sell completely different organic jewellery too, not at the same time). I suppose I like colour, and a lot of it, especially complementary colours, and I think I'm pretty good at mixing it (re AA). I'm also careful with closing links. I try to throw out lots of different types of designs and colour palettes to attract customers as my primary schtick is "chainmaille" not "a type of chainmaille", and I repeat make what people buy. I also stick with fairly chunky AA as that's, considering the costume jewellery feel/cost of AA, quickly done. I don't like floofy extra-girly stuff or cheap cast findings I guess. I like the industrial look personally. I avoid the beauty of copper/brass/bronze as customers get indignant when it, like I told them, tarnishes in two seconds in the heat (and smells).  :mellow:

 

(ETA: When I first started with chainmaille a decade ago I used oxidised copper and galvy with industrial bits - loved the rough feel - but it doesn't sell in my new town, and galvy, well, just say no.)

 

I guess (before I took a break) I'd only been trading 18 months 1-2 times a month so that's not really long enough, is it? But I want to get into using anodised niobium and sterling and I think that's where personal preference and style is going to come to the fore. I really don't know how the precious stuff is going to mesh with the colourful AA stuff visually on a stall/booth - I don't want to ditch either!  :huh:

 

Hey, with shopping carts, what's looking good these days? I've installed Zen Cart before for someone, and that looked pretty sweet (and it's open source, ie, free and I'm comfy with PHP) but that was a while ago.

Edited by calyx

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tons of people seem to have a lot of bad things to say about etsy...but for me, someone who only does 2 or 3 craft shows a year, Etsy is a GREAT moneymaker!  I have 7 or 8 orders a month, a lot more during jewelry holidays.  There is an etsy app for facebook that allows you to link your facebook page with your etsy store.  That way anyone watching your facebook sees every new item you put up and can go straight to an item through the facebook post.

 

The key to etsy is generating business.  Because on an average day there are 10,000 chainmaille bracelets listed.  The key is lower prices and getting your name out there.  I don't know about the rest of the people here but my supply costs are very low, so my prices are also MUCH more reasonable than most etsy chainmaille sellers.  I don't sell a simple byzatine bracelet made from aluminum for $65.  That is just ridiculous.  The cost to make one is about $.85.  So my average bracelet is $10.

 

The BEST way to get your name out there is to join EVERY jewelry team with more than 200 members.  Then I find if you post regularly, you will get a huge amount of business.  And those people will tell their friends.  I have a HUGE amount of return customers.  I am on 5 or 6 jewelry teams that have more than 1000 members.  And you don't have to be a seller to join a team most times.  So it is a great way for buyers to see something like FREE ADS from sellers.  It has doubled my sales in the last year.

 

Ebay is crap nowadays, i don't even bother anymore but etsy really works for my part time business.

 

If you are going to use a website, I would say use etsy as your actual sales site and have your website link directly to the item on etsy.  Then you don't have to worry about 3rd party sales programs and credit card issues, etsy takes care of all that for you and Paypal can't be beat for seller protection.

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tons of people seem to have a lot of bad things to say about etsy...but for me, someone who only does 2 or 3 craft shows a year, Etsy is a GREAT moneymaker!  I have 7 or 8 orders a month, a lot more during jewelry holidays.  There is an etsy app for facebook that allows you to link your facebook page with your etsy store.  That way anyone watching your facebook sees every new item you put up and can go straight to an item through the facebook post.

 

The key to etsy is generating business.  Because on an average day there are 10,000 chainmaille bracelets listed.  The key is lower prices and getting your name out there.  I don't know about the rest of the people here but my supply costs are very low, so my prices are also MUCH more reasonable than most etsy chainmaille sellers.  I don't sell a simple byzatine bracelet made from aluminum for $65.  That is just ridiculous.  The cost to make one is about $.85.  So my average bracelet is $10.

 

The BEST way to get your name out there is to join EVERY jewelry team with more than 200 members.  Then I find if you post regularly, you will get a huge amount of business.  And those people will tell their friends.  I have a HUGE amount of return customers.  I am on 5 or 6 jewelry teams that have more than 1000 members.  And you don't have to be a seller to join a team most times.  So it is a great way for buyers to see something like FREE ADS from sellers.  It has doubled my sales in the last year.

 

Ebay is crap nowadays, i don't even bother anymore but etsy really works for my part time business.

 

If you are going to use a website, I would say use etsy as your actual sales site and have your website link directly to the item on etsy.  Then you don't have to worry about 3rd party sales programs and credit card issues, etsy takes care of all that for you and Paypal can't be beat for seller protection.

I have huge orders during those times too but people ask too little for the pieces. That seems to be my biggest issue with Etsy and Ebay.

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see and I completely disagree.  I think people ask far too much for their chainmaille.  I'm sorry but etsy is not the jewelry counter at Macy's.  You make chainmaille with gold or silver it is one thing...but when you make a bracelet out of aluminum...I can't imagine why anyone would WANT to pay more than $20 or so.  I have found bracelets on etsy, simple Euro 4-in-1 or byzantine in aluminum for anywhere from $45-$150.  That is just crazy.  Byzantine takes 10 minutes to make and costs almost nothing.  If you sell something for THAT much of inflated price, I can't imagine how you'd have any business at all.  I certainly pass up listings like that.

 

As a business owner, you have to know your market.  I have different prices for different shows because I know what does and does NOT sell at those shows.  Same for Etsy.  I know that there are 300 rainbow byzantine bracelets on etsy in the midst of THOUSANDS of listings.  My price is what makes my product stand out and sell more.  If i didn't make a profit, I wouldn't do it.

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Rengoddess, one thing you have to keep in mind is that what may be a quick weave for one person may not be for someone else. Also, it makes a difference whether you make your pieces out of bought pre-made rings or make your own. Another thing that must be taken into account for pricing differences is that some sellers have great expenses (such as their overhead, etc.) than others and for some this is their sole source of income and all of this has to be factored in when determining your hourly wage.

I also have seen aluminum pieces that I wonder how in the world they are able to sell them at those prices, but they do. Both Kali Butterfly and Rebeca Mojica sell aluminum chainmaille jewelry for much higher then I would have thought it would be able to go for, however they both have very successful businesses selling it at those prices.

It doesn't matter what your selling venue is, Etsy, your own website, or some high-end retail store or gallery. You charge what you need to charge, and if those prices are higher than that venue seems able to bare, the problem is not necessarily with your prices, but where you are selling. When I first started doing shows I was trying the local craft shows and bazaars (the kind that only cost you $25 for a spot), I would barely make my table and other times didn't even make my table. However, the issue was not with what I was selling or the prices I was selling them at, but the fact that they were the wrong kinds of shows. I have since found that the higher end fine art shows ($100+ booth fees) are the kind where my work sells at its best. Also, don't be too quick to lower your prices if something isn't selling. It might not be selling not because the price is too high, but because the price seems to low. I've had multiple pieces now sell that in prior years got a lot of looks and comments, but didn't sell; a year or so ago I raised the prices of those pieces and they sold.

If someone is able to sell their work at prices that seem higher than you'd think their material should go for than I say good for them, it shows they've been highly successful in their marketing and promoting of their work. However, the quality of workmanship (and artistry of design) need to match the prices that are being charged, regardless of what material it is made in.

Edited by Narrina

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My issue with Etsy is that prices are generally too low. I am reluctant to go online and compete this way, because having done the cheap route in person, I think I did myself no favours. There are way too many hobbyists on Etsy underselling themselves (especially women); I could cry at how shortsold some beautiful works are that obviously took a lot of time. The low prices work for some customers, but not for others - presentation and perceived value matters for many people more than a bargain. Cheap can look dodgy. I agree with Narrina that low prices can put many people off. Everyone has to find a niche, and I don't have an interest any longer in appealing primarily to the broke and the bargain hunters (even though I'm one myself...) I'm going to spend a lot more time & $ on branding and less on churning out the same overly cheap thing 100 times.

 

Sure, an aluminium bracelet cost $0.85 in materials. So do many clothes we wear, but they're not sold for $10. It depends on what you can get away with. Branding, competition, perceived value. Can one offer a twist on the regular offering? Convince the customer of better quality? Nicer pics? Info on allergies or cleaning? Returns? Repairs? Wrapping? Length or colour options? How much is shipping and where is the seller's location? What's the rest of the shop like? The vendor's profile? Have they generated a buzz around their products? That $9.15 has got to cover more than just the time taken to make the bracelet - a lot more (assuming Western here).

 

But if someone can keep their overheads and cost of materials well down compared to others, then they're likely to do well, which is why China is doing so splendidly, but for the Western customer base, cost is obviously not the only factor or else Western artisans wouldn't have a chance at all.

 

Aluminium is a funny one re perceived value - it's got that "cheap" "beer can" label mostly but sometimes it can be presented in a fancy light as a modern "high-tech" material, and there's some fairly expensive Al wearable art out there. I've said this a few times but I stick to 18ga and thicker with aluminium chainmaille and use more expensive materials for finer gauges as I don't want particularly to battle the low-perceived-value for aluminium. (In a few months I plan to start anodising designs into aluminium sheeting however.) I wouldn't try to sell a plain aluminium chainmaille bracelet for very much but if it works for some people, good on em. 

 

Kali Butterfly and Rebecca Mojica have FANTASTIC branding, so they can get away with what they charge. (I lol slightly at KB's claim that aluminium is environmentally friendly because it's recyclable, as it is horribly unfriendly to smelt, but that's business. Not as wanky as saying one's sterling is "recycled" however, as some jewellers do.)

 

/3 cents

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Exactly right!  You are selling more than just your wares, there are all the other factors of the 'benefits' of your wares that adds to the branding or perceived value (many of these you mentioned: repairs, allergy information, cleaning information, etc.).  These all add to the overall perceived value of the work and help you get the better prices for your work.  It's not just about what the piece is and what it's made off, but what it does for the person buying it: how do they feel when they wear it, the quality of the service not just the work, etc.  This is why products that are marketed as 'organic,''eco-friendly,''recycled,' etc.  do so well and at higher prices than similar products that aren't marketed that way.  These are perceived benefits that add to the value of the piece.

 

Perceived value is a tricky thing to gauge, and it takes a lot of experimentation to figure out.  Each material has a different perceived value, sometimes this makes it easier to sell the piece for higher prices and other times it is a perceived value that you are having to overcome.  Such is the case with aluminum.  It automatically has a lower perceived value because of the low-intrinsic value of the metal and its association with pop cans, however (as both Kali Butterfly and Rebeca Mojica have shown beautifully) with high quality workmanship/designs and an amazing job at branding/marketing/promoting you can raise the perceived value of your work to allow you to charge the higher prices.

Edited by Narrina

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Is the silver plated copper coated, ie EC? If not, it is going to tarnish and rub off quicker than a high priced item should! Only a few atoms thick, I understand.

At least it's not silver plated steel - that will rust plus it's full of nickel.

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Is the silver plated copper coated, ie EC? If not, it is going to tarnish and rub off quicker than a high priced item should! Only a few atoms thick, I understand.

At least it's not silver plated steel - that will rust plus it's full of nickel.

I am not sure actually. I use Artistic Wire and Parawire andthey use Silver Plated from what I understand.

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I am not sure actually. I use Artistic Wire and Parawire and they use Silver Plated from what I understand.

Yes. Both of those companies sell a lot silver plating over copper.  Besides the durability issues that silver plating can have, silver plating can also have some perceived value issues. Some people just don't like the idea of 'plated' jewelry and sometimes associate it with 'fake' or 'costume' and so it can be a harder sell sometimes than just using solid sterling. Also, even if you find a durable silver-plated wire, a lot of people still tend to a have a lot of concerns about whether the plating will come off.

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ETA: Out of interest I looked up "byzantine bracelet" on Etsy and reverse sorted by price. The highest priced aluminium simple byzantine bracelet I noticed was $64 by MeltwatersCreative, a teenage dude with eclectic wares who's sold no jewellery in the 4 months his shop's been open. He bought his rings at a premium from Unkamen Supplies. Reasonably nice looking bracelet I think, but can't imagine he'd be likely to sell it on Etsy. Maybe retailed all dressed up at a shop. $64 will also get you a sold sterling silver byzantine bracelet on Etsy, which is fairly low priced.

I am the aforementioned teenage dude - noticed I had traffic from TRL, and started investigating. I really don't remember pricing the bracelet that high, should have been $36! I have corrected that now. For the Unkamen Supplies rings I used to get, I price at double material costs, which has its limitations with higher priced pieces. I tend to price things based on percieved value, as a piece made from scratch costs a fraction of the price of a finished piece, and people might think it's fake/badly made etc.

Copper does seem to be very popular on etsy, and enamelled copper is perceived at a higher value than anodised aluminium, I think. For me, the aluminium pieces feel insubstantial, which implies a lower value.

As a supply buyer (rather than finished jewellery buyer) I have noticed some things about the cost of rings - beading shops sell cheap/ base metal rings at sterling silver prices, and chainmaille shops either stick with tools and sell the odd pack of rings, or charge a premium for kits, with a 'you can do it too' nature.

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Yes. Both of those companies sell a lot silver plating over copper.  Besides the durability issues that silver plating can have, silver plating can also have some perceived value issues. Some people just don't like the idea of 'plated' jewelry and sometimes associate it with 'fake' or 'costume' and so it can be a harder sell sometimes than just using solid sterling. Also, even if you find a durable silver-plated wire, a lot of people still tend to a have a lot of concerns about whether the plating will come off.

Where am I suppose to get EC then since I make all my own rings. . . Annoying. . .

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Where am I suppose to get EC then since I make all my own rings. . . Annoying. . .

Oh no, EC and silver plated wire are two very different things (also of note, Artistic Wire and Parawire like to emphasize when their wire has a thin layer of silver plate between the enamel and the copper so that people understand why that wire costs more than the EC without the layer of silver). The issue isn't with EC that has a thin layer of silver plate between the enamel and the copper, but when it is wire made to look like silver by just having a thin layer of silver plate over the copper or over some other metal.  I work with EC all the time and it sells quite well.

Edited by Narrina

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Yeah, one Etsy seller of silver plated Byzantine (~$65) I saw yesterday said "silver plated, you are looking at 99.9% silver" which was cute.

EC is different (and perceived differently I think) from just silver plated but some people are easily impressed by the latter. I don't think Parawire sells any wire without the protective coating? I rather like their silvered colours and will buy some of their wire at a future date. Tarnishing & allergens from sweat is a big concern for me in the tropics so this seems a pretty good way to get some durable bling a bit more expensive and smaller gauged than aluminium.

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