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Starting a Jewelry Business: Where to sell handmade jewelry

Learn expert tips on where to sell your handmade jewelry and how to market your handmade jewelry.

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You have great work, and everything’s priced and ready to go. Now what? It’s time to find where to sell your handmade jewelry. Let’s start with online marketplaces and retail craft shows, because they are arguably the most popular venues for jewelry makers.

 

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So much more than Etsy

Selling online is fast, easy, and inexpensive. The disadvantage is the competition — you are swimming in a crowded pool and will need to market your handmade jewelry to stand out.

 

You’ll want to study and employ tags and keywords with savvy. Type jewelry-related keywords into a search engine. Which designs appear for different terms? Which online markets show up most often and closest to the top of the results? Visit those sites, read their terms of use, and be sure to check out the competition already selling there. Search for reviews for each site, and see what both sellers and buyers report.

 

Selling jewelry online will teach you what it takes to get organized and be competitive without a huge investment of time or money. No booth or display is needed, but you are running a business. Hone these skills:

  • Marketing your shop via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and blogs
  • Tracking your competition         
  • Monitoring your shop activity — who’s looking at your shop, who’s leaving, and who’s buying?
  • Creating a mailing list
  • Taking and uploading (quality) photos of your work
  • Writing enticing, accurate descriptions of your work
  • Tagging your items with keywords to help buyers find your shop within the overall structure of the site
  • Keeping your shop updated and refreshed
  • Opening and maintaining a PayPal account
  • Recording your income, expenses, and tax data

There’s a reason why that first bullet point is number one. Just because you “build it” (that is, an online shop) doesn’t mean “they will come.” Sharri Moroshok is the owner of The Beaded Bead, and she gets to the heart of the matter: “It makes little difference where your shop is. You must market it yourself. The traffic [your chosen] site sends you is gravy. 

You have to create not only your art but also your business.” 

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The art show circuit

Juried and non-juried craft shows can work in tandem with your online shop to promote your work. However, you’ll need to carefully consider which shows to pursue, as they will require you to invest a good deal of time, energy, and money.

 

Search online for the site, such as these listings (find more below):

Another source to find art shows is through Etsy Teams. If you sell with Etsy, explore the Teams section on the site. It has U.S. groups with their own forum where members interact. Find an active team and monitor it for upcoming events that suit your needs.

 

 

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Juried shows

The better art shows are juried and require submission of quality digital images to a panel of experts who choose who gets into the show. These shows charge nonrefundable fees to apply, and there will be more expenses if you are accepted (more on that momentarily).

 

There are free websites that many shows use for one-stop application. There, you can post many images and send the desired images to multiple shows. Not all sites work with every show, and each show has their own application fee, deadlines, and rules for images. Top submission sites include:

There are many prestigious, high-end art shows. Jewelry is quite possibly the most competitive category — be prepared for that! My familiarity includes the following U.S. shows, although there are plenty more and international opportunities as well:

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show (Pa.)
  • Smithsonian Craft Show (Wash., DC)
  • CraftBoston Holiday and Spring (Mass.)
  • American Craft Council Shows (Minn., Md., Calif., Ga.)
  • Washington Craft Show (Wash., DC)
  • Morristown CraftMarket (N.J.)
  • Westchester Fine Craft Show (N.Y.)
  • American Craft Exposition (Ill.)
  • Bellevue Festival of the Arts (Wash.)

If you are juried into shows like these, exhibiting is costly. Booth fees can easily exceed $1,000 before you pay for airfare, hotels, and on-floor expenses, such as electricity. But these shows provide exposure to a very discerning, educated, and usually affluent market of collectors and art lovers.

 

Doing high-end shows requires a high-end booth. Many shows ask for a booth shot in your application. Booth setup and display are such monumental topics that we will cover them in a future article. In the meanwhile, attend high-end craft shows and note the professional artistry of the booths. They are literally mini showrooms.

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Non-juried shows

Local and regional non-juried shows abound — think craft fairs, farmer’s markets, art crawls, and the like. These events can be lucrative and low cost, but they tend to showcase crafters at all different levels of artistry. There’s room for everyone in this world, but it is challenging to sell $100 earrings next to someone selling $10 earrings. 

 

Check local publications for shows at schools, churches, and civic events. Also, check out these online guides for selling opportunities by state and region:

And remember — bead and jewelry magazines advertise shows, too, and there are online show calendars. As you start considering where to sell your work, you might have a few questions about how to best market and brand your jewelry for ultimate curb appeal. (Stay tuned, this is the topic for an upcoming blog after we handle the taxman!)

 

Have a question or comment? Please contact us at editor@FacetJewelry.com.

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