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Advertising options, 2021 edition

What are the modern go-to advertising options for handmade jewelry? I sell online only so far, so would probably stick with mostly online ads, but I’m interested in whatever others have found useful.

I poked through the archives but didn’t see much discussion of this and definitely nothing recent. I used platforms like google adwords and Project Wonderful many many years ago for a different sort of handmade business, but I’ve been out of that game so long I’m really at a loss as to where to even begin. And being on Etsy certainly doesn’t grant the visibility it once did.

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This question is part of a larger discussion about how to do business and it is timely for me too. I have always maintained a free Wix website on which to post work and other information and to help customers select what they want to buy. The transaction has always been either in person or via the USPS for delivery and receipt of a personal check. Most of my business is done this way and I am willing to take the risk of a personal check since most of my sales are to repeat customers. I did spend the money last year to enable the Wix module that allowed me to take orders, but I have found the whole process very unsatisfactory and very expensive. While the sales generated from it have more than paid for the service, I just don’t want to continue with it and have made this page on my website invisable. I have a Square account that I applied for when Square first came out as well as a Paypal account. I have also gone the etsy and Amazon Handmade route but just don’t find the experience satisfying. I would, however, like to be able to give customers the option to pay me via credit card when it can’t be done in person or I don’t know them, but I have no experience doing this and am looking for suggestions. Thanks…Rob

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I like this thread you have created. I too struggle with such issues and gave up on the new wave of square, paypal and such, many more these days. Cash is king, I agree. Easy I like, while I have not had many checks these days I figure anyone that does is old school, I can have faith and trust , I think. So far batting 1000.
But paypal is my go to these days, just tell your customer your info and to send to you as a friend. Pretty simple, but if you are large and in charge…do the invoice to avoid hobby to commercial experiance with the man. JS

Rob,
While this comment is more about payment that promoting, I can throw in my comments regarding PayPal. It is quite easy to bill them with an invoice through PayPal. When they pay, you are notified. Another option is for the client to send you an email payment directly which saves the fee levied on an invoice. The only problem with that is that if they mistype your email address, the recipient gets the money and your customer would have to contact that recipient and request a refund. Not a nice scenario.

Invoices are great and you have a trail. You can write a full description of what they are buying as well and any information you need. You can transfer the funds as you normally would with an in person payment if you took credit cards.

I used to work through Square, but their fees were higher than PayPal. I have not checked that recently.

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Okay, I guess for a little extra security on the email thing is, hand them your phone, have them type their address, sending them an email, They use your email, in their contacts now, wohoo, future biz, and Wallace, you have a mailing list to now. Hello…doing biz

I have both a Squarespace website and an Etsy shop. I maintain an email list that I try to send out to monthly and I try to consistently post on both Instagram and Facebook, and try to be creative with the hashtags. I don’t promote my Etsy shop at all - I send traffic to my own site. But Etsy does get me some sales so I figure it’s probably worth keeping (although I grumble about it every time I need to update my shop). I’ve tried running paid ads on Facebook and Etsy but it wasn’t worth the cost. Also, on every one of my items on Etsy I mention to go to my website to see more information about my work.

I look forward to hearing what some others have to say. It’s very difficult to get “out there” and get known. And I think jewelry is difficult for people to buy without seeing.

Carol

I’m new to selling, just started in January 2021, and despite inexperience, I find Shopify fairly easy to use. It does cost $29/month, using the free themes, and also using Sellbrite to upload new items on Etsy. I agree completely with kjdesigns’ comments, especially about Etsy, and that the paid ads on Facebook and Etsy are not worth the cost. Despite being totally new online I have had some sales–okay, just 7. Keeping a presence regularly in social media helps draw notice, and if I live long enough, maybe even turn a profit someday!

Past experience selling dollhouse furniture helped. Those pieces were miniatures from measured drawings of early American furniture in cherry and walnut, with turned spindles. I also aged the pieces to look used, lots of fun deciding why a stain or worn area existed.

Handcrafting is genuinely absorbing and worth the time to do it right. The learning curve for me has been photography and record keeping, slow progress is happening in both.

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Great Subject. I too have a Wix website and find it too expensive for the ROI (return on investment). And it requires so much time to update my site and add new items. This is partially my fault because I have to reteach myself how to do these entries each time since I let so much time elapse I forget the method. I would much rather be making jewelry fussing with the computer. I also post occasionally on Instagram which is easy. Can’t say that is creates sales but it does generate lots of nice comments. For payments I find Venmo pretty easy. Its much like PayPal and the fees are not out of line. I have had Square since the early days but that also has to be updated and the “swipe” is done in person, of course. Let’s keep the thread going as I can use all this good advice.

Regarding my Wix website. I find Wix to be a great way to get a website up quickly if it is an informational website. It only became difficult for me when I made the decision to make it commercial. The online store module is expensive and it takes a long time to get paid. This may be true of all online payment systems. I don’t really need a difficult to use page to display my work where I am dictated to how to post what I want to sell. I joke that it takes me longer to document, photograph and post a piece for sale online than it does to make it. In the case of my bread and butter bracelets this is absolutely true. I just need a way for someone to pay me that is secure for them and reliable fo me and I am willing to pay a fair commission to make this happen. It sounds like I better take another look at Paypal and possibly Square. It has been a long time since I looked at them. We have deviated from the OP’s original question and I apologize. I think that once in a while we should visit the business practices that we use as it may be helpful for a lot of us since we are first artists not business people…Rob

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For payments-only: Square and Paypal both have invoice options that cost pretty much the same as processing a credit card in person. (I prefer the Square invoices, personally.)

You can request money “as a friend” on Paypal but then have to create a separate invoice for your records/taxes etc. I think if you do this too often Paypal catches on to you avoiding fees and doesn’t allow it anymore- not sure though. Venmo is still 100% free to use, and transfers the money to your bank next day after your request. Instant transfer costs a small percentage. Zelle is a free instant bank transfer service that many people also use (people who use Chase sometimes still call it QuickPay, but Zelle took it over and works with the majority of US banks.) people who just want to post items for sale and get on with it.

As far a websites: There are a lot of round-ups like this that may be worth checking out: https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/website-builders/comparisons/ You want to think about what you need in your site and what is just a perk. For instance, not all of them are particularly blog-friendly, so it you intend to blog a lot you should prioritize that feature. Another thing to really consider is how many variations you get per item. Do you want to offer your ring in silver or gold, with a full size range, mutiple stone options, and an engraving add-on? That many variations may not be an option in the base plan for many sites (or even available at all- for instance on Etsy you only get two variations, and only one can affect price.) In this case you have to split options into separate listings, and hope your customers see all the options.

Oh- one website builder that doesn’t get mentioned as often anymore is BigCartel, but it can often be a great choice for people who want to keep things simple.

best,
Jenny

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.Since the bulk of my business is done at craft fairs and with people who come to my shop. For the longest time I only took cash and checks because the cost to the micro business for credit card acceptance was astronomical. Then The Square came about.
I have used The Square for the last ten years and it was a business changer for me. This occurred about the same time as much of my customer base stopped carrying cash and used mainly debit cards. It seemed that in the course of one year I went from accepting 20+ checks at the Christmas Shows to taking two. Debit cards were the thing.

The charge back to Square is very small when I consider the paperwork that I no longer have to deal with. I still keep this simple as I can. I looked at adding Paypal and decided that adding one more process was unnecessary and a pain. I also use WIX for three websites. Two for bands I am in and one for Old Erie Crafters. This works fine as a display and catalog site but again, the commercial application was too expensive. Add the fact that people are more likely to go first to Facebook now than a website because they haven’t to deal with .com, .net, .dot, .dash, etc.

I may be loosing some business by being so limited in my exposure but I can’t prove it. I will stick with advertising as I have. I enjoy doing good business but I also have to worry about how good I do as it applies to my Social Security.

Don Meixner

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No one has mentioned using Square’s free store builder yet. I set up Square stores for two artist cooperatives, and it has worked out great. Someone mentioned Etsy’s limitation on adding item options. Square gives you more flexibility there. The software they use is actually Weebly. It gave both groups an online presence without costing a dime other than the normal square processing fees. They use FB and IG, as well as printed materials to get the word out. (Each group opted to spend $72/yr to be able to have their own domain name for the store instead of the square.shop name.)

I recently started taking Venmo because all the young people are using it and ask for it. I printed out a card with my Venmo QR code (the square thing) on it to make it super easy for people to pay in person. You can also provide the QR code on a website. It’s a lot easier than giving them your email which is prone to typos.

Lastly, at the request of one of my clients, I started offering Zelle. In my non jewelry business I have added Venmo with the QR code and my Zelle account ID (simply my email) on my invoices, and offering them both as options besides checks/BillPay. People have taken me up on it too. No fees for any of that stuff. For this particular business I quit taking credit cards a long time ago, but do have Square or PayPal to fall back on if need be. I haven’t needed to though.

So… am I reading this correctly that with the exception of a few forays into Instagram/Facebook/Etsy ads, people are just not paying for advertising? The discussion about selling and payment platforms is interesting but only tangentially related to the initial question. I’m asking about ways to get people to the site in the first place.

For me the two discussions are related. As a result of a growing professional career, I stopped doing craftshows years ago where inperson interactions and word of mouth were my advertising. It also helped that both Don and I inherited our father’s long history of making and selling Meixner Bracelets to a very large market. I give a lot of my work to local fundraisers and consign to one store where my name and website are very obvious along with signage that can direct customers to me. This is a somewhat unique relationship with a consignment store, but they sell a lot of my jewelry and I bring customers to them. I have consigned to as many as three stores at once, but it cost a lot of time and money to maintain them. I made a Rob Meixner - Jewelry page off my personal FB site and regularly post “New work at Rob Meixner - Jewelry” enties on this page. I may look into a separate FB page. I have tried a FB ad ($10 for 5 days) and that seems to have directed a bit of traffic to my website. I will do more of this as we approach the Christmas season. In the end I keep my website up to date and try to direct potential customers to it by whatever means I can. Jewelry has always been a hobby for me, so I don’t feel the same pressure to sell that others do who make their living from it. At the same time, now that I am retired, it is a big part of my life and I spend more time than in the past getting me and my work out to a larger audience. In the end, 48 years of making jewelry is probably our best source of advertising as both Don and I have a lot of long time repeat customers. I often times joke that we sell drugs when I see someone with 10 -15 bracelets on their wrist. I always ask them about their bracelets and each one has a story that the owner is usually willing to tell. Sorry to have side tracked your original post…Rob

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hi

speaking personally, as a shopper, i would suggest using instagram…as a marketing tool…

connect with relevance
be a story behind the product
tell that story consistently
drive engagement

etc

it’s a whole nuther job, and takes time, and photography skills

i admire the people that i think do a great job at it

i have always thought that the genius of etsy, and instagram has been their ability to put relevant pics in front of people who could be likely buyers

other online bigger hitters has copied this but because etsy is not as broad as say an amazon, they seem to do it better

etsy and instagram have replaced the habit of flipping thru magazines…like Instyle…the art of the browse…versus going directly to something that you already know you need…like toner ink…

for me, engaging in the browse means i am already open and kinda thirsty to see things, people, activities, etc…kinda unconsciously shopping around…”hi, ok thank you, i’m just browsing”…:joy:

julie

Advertising as a whole was really swallowed by the hyper-targeted ads via Facebook/ Instagram, and Google Ads. They are really the only game in town unless you want to go super-specific with something like industry publications or sponsoring email blasts for an aligned company or local blog. But with the new Apple settings allowing users of iphones not to be tracked, there is some debate that the market may shift again.

Personally I don’t pay to advertise- I focus on SEO and social media. Those are the primary way I find new customers, along with very occasional craft shows during the holidays. I have ad blockers installed on everything, and I habitually ignore any ads that do make it through. People are pretty ad-savvy these days, and I am skeptical that my primary customers would click through on something I wouldn’t. It depends what you sell though!

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Interesting, thanks, and this validates a lot of what I’ve been thinking based on my own habits.

Industry publications… this trips me up. It wouldn’t be my first thought to advertise the jewelry I make because I’d be advertising it to others who can make it too. It’s a special honor to sell to people who know firsthand what good work is, but I’m more looking for people who are strictly buyers. I’m also not ready to put a whole lot of energy into wholesale/consignment.

I’m definitely going to try doing a few shows this year once I’m fully vaccinated (three more weeks, can’t wait!). I’ve refused to have anything to do with Facebook for a long time, but I think a business page might be worth doing. I’ve already got Twitter and Instagram covered.

Saying all this is a whole other full time job is the TRUTH! My dream scenario is being able to hire someone to do all of the business side- just let me make stuff, and give me some pocket money after all the bills are paid and supplies stocked up! :laughing: Doubt it’ll ever happen, but I can dream.

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It’s fine, really, like I said it’s all interesting and valuable information too! :slight_smile:

While of course you could advertise in jewelry-related places, I was thinking more like if you make jewelry with bees, you could buy a small ad in an apiarist publication or a conference mailer. Or if you do a lot of wedding bands, then local bridal expos. Rough stones and moon phases in Wiccan resources, etc. These sorts of smaller publication/blog ads and sponsorships tend to be affordable and often negotiable. I make animal jewelry so I have occasionally run small ads in animal-related places.

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hi,

i agree!

i heard a guest on a radio talk show once…he was a highly paid business type speaker professional…

so anyway…a guy calls into the show…says he is a fitness professional, and he wrote a book about adolescent girl obesity/ fitness…and asks for help on the best routes to sell his book

the pro asks “ can you afford to give your books away?”

the guy says “what? i don’t want to give them away, i am trying to sell them”

the pro’s advise was for the guy to align himself with non competing people/ groups/ organizations that cater to the same market…to gain their reach…in a win win type of situation…he publicizes his book…girls an mothers gain valuable information…

one of the pro’s examples in this case, was the girl scouts…interact/ connect with the girls, the mothers of girls…provide compelling useful information or products…that helps them, helps him…

it was a great show

julie