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BrainofJen

Looking for some selling advice

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Hey there! I'm wondering if anyone could give me some advice on a good way to connect with buyers online? It seems there are a lot of experienced sellers here. I make unique jewellery, my stuff is not strictly chainmaille, I like to combine it with other media (mostly wire wrapping), and I'm still learning, but I've gotten some excellent feedback in person and at craft shows, but can't seem to make a dent in the online sales. Apologies in advance if this isn't the correct forum for this particular query!

If you'd like to check out some of my work:

Brain of Jen one of a kind handmade jewellery

I also posted pics of a couple slave bracelets in the Gallery :)

Thanks!

Jen

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Realistically, you will not be making the first page of Google using the most common search words like "jewelry", "bracelets" and "beads". Unless you decide to spend a scary amount of money in banner campaigns it is not very likely that you will draw in too many random visitors in the near future. So, do make sure your site follows SEO (search engine optimized) guidelines so you can be found if someone searches for you, but do not worry about getting those random hits just yet.

The website is a good addition to your business card. You should be handing out cards with your name, information, and website to as many people as you can afford. This gives you direct hits through those potential customers and anyone else who expresses interest to them. Many have mentioned that they fail to make a sale at a show but the buyer does purchase the item on the website later that week. That is the power of web sales for smaller ventures such as your own. The trick is to make your website as easy to navigate as possible. I won't go into critiquing your current design, but sufficed to say that the trick is to make your site look polished and oriented toward selling quality product. Remember, websites can give first impressions too. I personally dislike the "garage sale" feel of a site and will often not make a purchase unless I have met them personally and know they have quality wares.

Social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter) are becoming great, free ways to advertise and get people aware that you exist. Try to update your FB/Twitter page at least every other day with something just so people know you are still alive. Avoid spamming your FB link to everyone under the sun because that can be annoying, but promote your services actively. That being said, you already have a blog component built into your site. Use that space to generate unique, useful content so people are driven to your site for more reasons than just to buy some jewelry.

There are plenty of articles online about how to increase traffic to your website so you should probably read up on some of that information as well. Driving traffic is a universal challenge for any website. The information applies to you as much as it applies to a big corporation.

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Realistically, you will not be making the first page of Google using the most common search words like "jewelry", "bracelets" and "beads". Unless you decide to spend a scary amount of money in banner campaigns it is not very likely that you will draw in too many random visitors in the near future. So, do make sure your site follows SEO (search engine optimized) guidelines so you can be found if someone searches for you, but do not worry about getting those random hits just yet.

The website is a good addition to your business card. You should be handing out cards with your name, information, and website to as many people as you can afford. This gives you direct hits through those potential customers and anyone else who expresses interest to them. Many have mentioned that they fail to make a sale at a show but the buyer does purchase the item on the website later that week. That is the power of web sales for smaller ventures such as your own. The trick is to make your website as easy to navigate as possible. I won't go into critiquing your current design, but sufficed to say that the trick is to make your site look polished and oriented toward selling quality product. Remember, websites can give first impressions too. I personally dislike the "garage sale" feel of a site and will often not make a purchase unless I have met them personally and know they have quality wares.

Social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter) are becoming great, free ways to advertise and get people aware that you exist. Try to update your FB/Twitter page at least every other day with something just so people know you are still alive. Avoid spamming your FB link to everyone under the sun because that can be annoying, but promote your services actively. That being said, you already have a blog component built into your site. Use that space to generate unique, useful content so people are driven to your site for more reasons than just to buy some jewelry.

There are plenty of articles online about how to increase traffic to your website so you should probably read up on some of that information as well. Driving traffic is a universal challenge for any website. The information applies to you as much as it applies to a big corporation.

Wow, thanks for all the info! I've tried a lot of these, I constantly have business cards on me & hand them out when people ask about my jewellery. I think one thing I need to do is wrap my head around the whole SEO thing, right now I get the basic idea, but I'm clearly not "getting" it. I definitely need to work on the social networking & blogging. I'm great at interacting one on one, but I never know what to say when it comes to the online thing. I agonized over those blog posts for days. Seriously. Oh what I wouldn't give to be able to afford to pay someone to do that part of promotion for me! I like the idea of finding something else to write about on my blog besides just the jewellery, but somehow I doubt me rambling about my kitty is gonna cut it either. *sigh* I need a life ;)

But seriously, thank you soooo much for this. Guess I'm off to do some research!

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Don't think of it as bloging

Its more of a Take pictures of what you did today.

What shows your heading, classes your taking , new process, materials, designs...

Updates or new pictures on your website/studio/booth design...

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Don't think of it as bloging

Its more of a Take pictures of what you did today.

What shows your heading, classes your taking , new process, materials, designs...

Updates or new pictures on your website/studio/booth design...

ooh, now THAT sounds like something I could quite possibly handle. Fantastic advice, thank you sooo much!

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I'll try to give a bit of advice about your site.

I'm pretending to be a customer, visiting your site on the recommendation of a friend.

Visiting your site, the first thing I see is a small picture of you, and a wall of text. No pictures of the jewelry I'd hoped to find. Hmm. Luckily there is a handy tab linking to a jewelry section.

There is jewelry on the front page, but it is all the way down on the page, where with my monitor I have to scroll to get to it. A picture of an example higher up on the page would make me feel more like I was entering a jewelry website rather than someone's blog

I click to the jewelry section, vaguely bemused at what a 'stockist' as mentioned in the other tab is. I see this is an Etsy site - fine, I trust Etsy. Try to leaf through the pages.

I can't.

The links for the next pages (1,2,3) don't work. I'm frustrated now. I'll never be able to make the right choice if more than half the choices are denied me :(

You should look into this. The big 'Soopsee powered' bar at the bottom of the page might be blocking the links to the rest of the page from being clicked. For reference, I use Firefox 3.6.12 under Ubuntu 10.4

You may want to consistently list the materials used. A lot of people looking for handmade jewelry are allergic to different metals, so this puts them off. A rare few may contact you to ask, but most will just surf on.

The pictures are decent, but could be better. Look into getting a lightbox setup of some kind. Avoid using the flash as much as possible. Sometimes I wonder what a piece would look like modelled, but it is photographed lying flat.

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I just visited your website and your work looks quite lovely.

In the interests of constructive criticism though, I think your photos need work. Although a reflective background gives a cool, artsy feeling to a photo, I find it VERY distracting and if a person is looking to buy, this is not what you want. I'd also like to see more pictures of the piece. The photo you have is fine for a "wide" shot but I'd like to see several close-ups. As noted by Twilight Banana, it's nice to see items modelled rather than just flat - especially with necklaces; I won't buy one unless I see it hanging in a realistic fashion (as opposed to artistically draped over a piece of driftwood or similar). IMHO, slave bracelets are another item that need to be shown on a mannequin - laying them flat just doesn't do them justice.

I'd also second TB's suggestion that you include materials. I also wonder if you'd do better if you used silver - I loved the green seaglass pendant but can't see myself spending $78 for aluminium wire and enamelled copper. I'd happily pay double that or more if you'd used silver (I'm ok with the EC for colour).

Which brings me to your pricing strategy. You say this it took you over 5 hours to make the aforementioned pendant but it's only priced at $78 - this means you're working for less than $15.60 per hour. I have to question whether or not that's actually a liveable wage?

As noted above, I think your work is really lovely; you certainly seem to have an eye for colour and I like that. However, whilst I don't want to be a Debbie-Downer, the reality is that very few maillers make what I'd call a good living from their craft and even fewer are getting wealthy from it. Selling online seems to be an uphill battle for many and one only has to spend a few minutes with Google to realise the plethora of jewellery-selling websites out there.

That said, I really do with you the best of luck and send good wishes for your future success.

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I'll try to give a bit of advice about your site.

I'm pretending to be a customer, visiting your site on the recommendation of a friend.

Visiting your site, the first thing I see is a small picture of you, and a wall of text. No pictures of the jewelry I'd hoped to find. Hmm. Luckily there is a handy tab linking to a jewelry section.

There is jewelry on the front page, but it is all the way down on the page, where with my monitor I have to scroll to get to it. A picture of an example higher up on the page would make me feel more like I was entering a jewelry website rather than someone's blog

I click to the jewelry section, vaguely bemused at what a 'stockist' as mentioned in the other tab is. I see this is an Etsy site - fine, I trust Etsy. Try to leaf through the pages.

I can't.

The links for the next pages (1,2,3) don't work. I'm frustrated now. I'll never be able to make the right choice if more than half the choices are denied me :(

You should look into this. The big 'Soopsee powered' bar at the bottom of the page might be blocking the links to the rest of the page from being clicked. For reference, I use Firefox 3.6.12 under Ubuntu 10.4

You may want to consistently list the materials used. A lot of people looking for handmade jewelry are allergic to different metals, so this puts them off. A rare few may contact you to ask, but most will just surf on.

The pictures are decent, but could be better. Look into getting a lightbox setup of some kind. Avoid using the flash as much as possible. Sometimes I wonder what a piece would look like modelled, but it is photographed lying flat.

Thanks for the feedback on the site! I completely agree about the look of the home page, I really wish there was a way to flip it, so I had my jewellery on top & bio at the bottom, but I'm pretty clueless when it comes to computers, so I went with a Soopsee site because of the ease of use. Unfortunately, this really limits my choices for layout. I'd definitely like to transfer to a new hosting site, but I really need to do some learning in that area first.

I'm slowly re-doing my photos as well (I have a whole new respect for photographers now :)), but it's a long process as most of my pieces are in consignment shops at the moment, so I'm trading off daily.

I'll definitely take your advice on the descriptions & include the materials used, I think I may have gotten a little too comfortable with Etsy's format & the "materials used" section.

Thanks for letting me know about the issues with the links, this isn't something I've run into before, so I'll definitely look into it!

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I just visited your website and your work looks quite lovely.

In the interests of constructive criticism though, I think your photos need work. Although a reflective background gives a cool, artsy feeling to a photo, I find it VERY distracting and if a person is looking to buy, this is not what you want. I'd also like to see more pictures of the piece. The photo you have is fine for a "wide" shot but I'd like to see several close-ups. As noted by Twilight Banana, it's nice to see items modelled rather than just flat - especially with necklaces; I won't buy one unless I see it hanging in a realistic fashion (as opposed to artistically draped over a piece of driftwood or similar). IMHO, slave bracelets are another item that need to be shown on a mannequin - laying them flat just doesn't do them justice.

I'd also second TB's suggestion that you include materials. I also wonder if you'd do better if you used silver - I loved the green seaglass pendant but can't see myself spending $78 for aluminium wire and enamelled copper. I'd happily pay double that or more if you'd used silver (I'm ok with the EC for colour).

Which brings me to your pricing strategy. You say this it took you over 5 hours to make the aforementioned pendant but it's only priced at $78 - this means you're working for less than $15.60 per hour. I have to question whether or not that's actually a liveable wage?

As noted above, I think your work is really lovely; you certainly seem to have an eye for colour and I like that. However, whilst I don't want to be a Debbie-Downer, the reality is that very few maillers make what I'd call a good living from their craft and even fewer are getting wealthy from it. Selling online seems to be an uphill battle for many and one only has to spend a few minutes with Google to realise the plethora of jewellery-selling websites out there.

That said, I really do with you the best of luck and send good wishes for your future success.

Thanks so much for the great feedback!

I don't know if you saw the grey seaglass pendant? It's done in a similar fashion, but with sterling silver. I may redo the green one in sterling as well as it seems to be the more popular one. It was one of the first pieces I'd done & was still experimenting with different techniques, hence the aluminum. It turned out so well I didn't want to take it apart again.

The photos are a work in progress... again. I've redone them several times now, but I think I definitely need to invest in a lightbox, I just can't seem to make it work yet. I have a whole new respect for photographers now :)

As for pricing... I'm still really conflicted. I'm much closer to what they should be now than when I first started out, but you're right, I'm certainly not making a living wage at it. I still work full time, as I simply can't afford not to until I start selling more. I'm told by so many that my pricing is too low, but then customers tell me they love my work & would love to purchase, but can't afford it. Aargh! I'm sure you've heard it all before. I know once the name gets out there, it won't be such an issue, but that's almost another full time job in & of itself.

And thanks for the compliments, it's always so nice to get them from someone else in "the biz" (or would that be "byz"? :))!

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Note that there are loads of online tutorials that show you how to make your own light box from a large cardboard box and some paper. If you want to do really cheap you can just use that box out in the sun and forgo buying lamps at all. This does require that you get good sunshine, though. Not something we lack here in Arizona :lol: .

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Note that there are loads of online tutorials that show you how to make your own light box from a large cardboard box and some paper. If you want to do really cheap you can just use that box out in the sun and forgo buying lamps at all. This does require that you get good sunshine, though. Not something we lack here in Arizona :lol: .

I'm so jealous of you right now! I hate Ontario winters! Also, the sun is usually long gone by the time I get home from work :(

But a homemade lightbox I could quite feasibly handle. Yay! Thanks!

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I'm so jealous of you right now! I hate Ontario winters! Also, the sun is usually long gone by the time I get home from work :(

But a homemade lightbox I could quite feasibly handle. Yay! Thanks!

I made my light box out of foam board and tissue paper that I found at the dollar store. I cut large windows in the sides and top and glued the tissue to the sides and top to diffuse the light a little bit. It works well for most things, though I'm still having trouble photographing some of the brighter AA colors, especially Red and Blue.

**Edited to say that scrapbook paper makes some cool backgrounds. You can use solid card stock, or patterned paper under or behind your pieces when you photograph them. If you use black paper and your pieces rest directly on or against the paper, it will reflect a little and turn grey. My photographer friend says use black cloth instead. Just make sure it is completely free of lint or hair because every speck will show up in the pictures. Other colors don't seem to have this reflection problem.

Edited by Rod

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I made my light box out of foam board and tissue paper that I found at the dollar store. I cut large windows in the sides and top and glued the tissue to the sides and top to diffuse the light a little bit. It works well for most things, though I'm still having trouble photographing some of the brighter AA colors, especially Red and Blue.

**Edited to say that scrapbook paper makes some cool backgrounds. You can use solid card stock, or patterned paper under or behind your pieces when you photograph them. If you use black paper and your pieces rest directly on or against the paper, it will reflect a little and turn grey. My photographer friend says use black cloth instead. Just make sure it is completely free of lint or hair because every speck will show up in the pictures. Other colors don't seem to have this reflection problem.

OMG, I know! The black background I used previously, I was having to dust off in between practically every shot, it was ridiculous! I think I'm gonna try & stick with the white from now on, just to save that hassle. Thanks for the advice on the light box, I made one tonight, gonna try some photos soon! Too bad about the AA. I had a bracelet in purple & blue that I just cannot get to turn out right, just looks like 2 different shades of blue. I was hoping the light box would help, lol. Guess not :P

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OMG, I know! The black background I used previously, I was having to dust off in between practically every shot, it was ridiculous! I think I'm gonna try & stick with the white from now on, just to save that hassle. Thanks for the advice on the light box, I made one tonight, gonna try some photos soon! Too bad about the AA. I had a bracelet in purple & blue that I just cannot get to turn out right, just looks like 2 different shades of blue. I was hoping the light box would help, lol. Guess not :P

Yeah, purple is a pain to get good pictures of with my camera as well. Fiddling with the white balance sometimes helps though.

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Gah! Photography is the bane of my existence!!! Lightbox was a fail, flood light - fail, noon on a sunny day in front of the largest window in my house - fail! I finally wound up in the middle of my front lawn at 12:30 pm today. Now all my neighbors think I'm a crazy person :lol:

Maybe Santa will bring me a camera with a REEALLY bright flash for christmas :)

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Gah! Photography is the bane of my existence!!! Lightbox was a fail, flood light - fail, noon on a sunny day in front of the largest window in my house - fail! I finally wound up in the middle of my front lawn at 12:30 pm today. Now all my neighbors think I'm a crazy person :lol:

Maybe Santa will bring me a camera with a REEALLY bright flash for christmas :)

other photo tips

make sure your camera is set to a low ISO(also a relatively low aperture/F-stop if your camera lets you adjust it) and have your camera on a tripod, use the timer mode thats made for self portraits so that you don't move the camera while pressing the button. also make sure your using a macro setting and that your camera is white balanced correctly(read your manual if you don't know how). usually you can use auto setting at this point.

if your colors are wrong theres nothing wrong with editing them in photoshop to make them look right afterwords.

if none of that is working you CAN resort to a flash just make sure your at least 5feet away and zoomed in.. otherwise the flash is just way too harsh

ETA:

if you are having to resort to outdoor photos and the sun is too harsh take 2 chairs and a thin white sheet outside with you. make yourself a little tent/fort and get inside, whala! instant giant light tent, haha! and you get to pretend to be a kid again ~_^

Edited by webpixie

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If you can't get a lightbox to work, another option is to get some (two is fine) bright white lights (daylight lamps for instance) and put those behind some kind of screen to diffuse the light. I've used white plastic Ikea bins for this in the past (Trofast, if anyone cares). Anything opaque and white will serve for this.

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Maybe Santa will bring me a camera with a REEALLY bright flash for christmas :)

If you are having trouble getting the pictures bright enough you may just need a little brightness adjustment in Photoshop or another image manipulation software. Attached is a before and after shot. All I did was turn up the brightness.

post-468-129199011188_thumb.jpg post-468-129199013899_thumb.jpg

Using a strong flash will just cause lots of sparkly points which will detract from the photos.

Movak

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other photo tips

make sure your camera is set to a low ISO(also a relatively low aperture/F-stop if your camera lets you adjust it) and have your camera on a tripod, use the timer mode thats made for self portraits so that you don't move the camera while pressing the button. also make sure your using a macro setting and that your camera is white balanced correctly(read your manual if you don't know how). usually you can use auto setting at this point.

if your colors are wrong theres nothing wrong with editing them in photoshop to make them look right afterwords.

if none of that is working you CAN resort to a flash just make sure your at least 5feet away and zoomed in.. otherwise the flash is just way too harsh

ETA:

if you are having to resort to outdoor photos and the sun is too harsh take 2 chairs and a thin white sheet outside with you. make yourself a little tent/fort and get inside, whala! instant giant light tent, haha! and you get to pretend to be a kid again ~_^

Whee, that sounds like fun! My neigbours may be calling the men in the long white coats, but the important part is that I'LL be amused :lol:

but yeah, DEFINITELY gotta put new camera on the xmas list, the one i have now is pretty bottom line. Gonna try the tent thing anyway tho ;) it'll be especially fun when we get lots of snow!

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If you are having trouble getting the pictures bright enough you may just need a little brightness adjustment in Photoshop or another image manipulation software. Attached is a before and after shot. All I did was turn up the brightness.

post-468-129199011188_thumb.jpg post-468-129199013899_thumb.jpg

Using a strong flash will just cause lots of sparkly points which will detract from the photos.

Movak

i've been doing a brightness adjustment on all of the pics, some work, some just look... i dunno... off? kinda had fun doing the outdoor ones though, for now I'm just gonna hope the weather stays good enough to go out there!

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