Selling handmade jewellery online can turn a side hobby and slow earner into a growing business and profitable career.
However, being successful on many of these online platforms can be a challenge and not to mention a minefield, especially with the amount of competition out there.
We spoke to Cornish jeweller Carole Allen who designs and makes beautiful personalised jewellery using silver, gold and semi-precious gemstones. She is well-known for her unique style which boasts beautiful enameled work in sea blues and greens.
Carole used online platforms such as Not On The High Street and Etsy to take her jewellery making from a "one-man band" business into one where she is now employing a small team of jewellery graduates.
In this blog Carole tells us about her jewellery making journey and shares some great tips and advice in being successful when selling online.
"My jewellery selling career was launched one Christmas about 15 years ago when I joined the Made In Cornwall Scheme. I took a small stall at a show and much to my surprise, it was a sell-out event - I've never looked back! "
Carole spent many years selling at large events and in galleries all over the country where she built her reputation.
We asked Carole her best advice for when selling handmade jewellery at galleries and craft fairs...
"I would say that the display is the most important thing at a craft fair. It is not good to have clutter and I find having focal areas make it easier for customers to find what they are looking for."
However, now that the digital world has become far more advanced, user friendly and popular, Carole finds online selling platforms more successful.
"I would definitely encourage people to use as many online platforms as they can. Although they do of course take up a great deal of time, selling through Not On The Highstreet has turned my business from a very small one man band into one where I employ a small team of jewellery graduates."
"It is also a great opportunity to gain support and encouragement from other sellers" - we agree with Carole and have seen first hand the great community of jewellery makers on the web that often share tips, advice and experience.
Carole also has her own e-commerce site: www.caroleallenjewellery.co.uk which she says has gone from strength to strength and accounts for about 20% of her sales.
"My advice would be to have a cohesive brand with products that tell a story about you. Not On The High Street are very interested in your story. They like products to be unique, design lead, handmade yet beautifully finished."
"As important as the products, is the photography. Not On The High Street like very professional lifestyle shots."
"This has been the aspect that many people struggle with and it is worthwhile using a good professional lifestyle photographer, even though the cost may seem prohibitive".
Carole uses Photographer Dan Mallett from Lightbox in Truro to shoot many of her jewellery pieces.
We totally agree with Carole. Photographs are everything when buying online, especially with such a personal, high value items such as jewellery.
A high quality photograph showing off your jewellery as well as lifestyle shots showing it in context will help potential customers feel more confident in their purchase decisions. Great photos will also help you to stand out from competitors.
To take a look at Carole's Not On The High Street store click here.
"Decide on your style of jewellery and branding and everything else will flow from that."
"Always present your jewellery in the best way you can. People make a judgement from the minute they see the box. Try to ensure that everything speaks quality, from the packaging, to the jewellery box, to the card that goes in the box. You don't have to spend a fortune but it should all match and be a feast to the eyes."
"It goes without saying that your jewellery should be finished to a high standard, even if it is a pair of inexpensive earrings, customers have the right to send them back if they are not happy" - and bad news travels fast!
Some of our recommended products for getting a high quality finish on handmade jewellery include...
Silicon Carbide Polishers Introductory Pack - these are great for polishing large flat areas of metal as well as the inside of rings. The top edges can be used for getting into hard to reach areas and they can be cut or ground into points or other useful shapes, depending on your project.
Jewellery Polishing Cloth - many jewellers would not be with out this cloth! Simply buff the metal surface with this soft cloth to bring back the sparkle! No extra polishing compound is necessary as the cloth is impregnated using micro-abrasive technology.
Last but not least Carole adds to her answer... "above all, enjoy what you make, try not to copy others and keep your jewellery unique".
If you want to know more about how to get your handmade products discovered, shared and sold on the internet, then Online Marketing For Your Craft Business by Hillary Pullen is perfect.
This book covers topics like boosting brand awareness, increasing sales and best of all, saving precious time for you to spend making jewellery! Other topics include; search engine optimisation, writing a blog, creating online profile, creating a Facebook business page, Pinterest account, Twitter account, Google +, LinkedIn, Instagram, creating newsletters, and Google analytics.
Click here to view this book.