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Jewelry Websites


#1

Hello, My friend and I were recently discussing websites, in
particular jewelry websites and what the need/demand for them were.
We are both web designer’s ourselves and have much experience. My
question is, what is the demand for jewelry websites? How much would
an individual jeweler or small company be will to invest on their
website? Would you, personally, be interested if it was inexpensive
enough?

Thanks!
Scott


#2
My question is, what is the demand for jewelry websites? How much
would an individual jeweler or small company be will to invest on
their website? 

Hi Scott, I have had my jewelry and fine crafts Web site since 1997.
At that time, there were relatively few out there, and in comparison
to today, a lot fewer potential visitors to such a site. I believe it
was Suzanne Wade (trade journalist and Orchid member) who said there
are now over 500,000 Web sites that sell jewelry in some form. If
you’re not in the first couple/few pages of a search engine’s
results, forget about being “found.”

That being said, my Web site has never paid it’s own way. It is
clearly not a case of “if you build it, they will come.” Marketing
of a Web site is even more of a challenge and black art than actually
building it. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to be without it. Another
clich=E9 for you: “a picture is worth a thousand words”, especially if
your client is distant. I’ve actually been on a speaker phone with a
client, in her office, with several ladies gathered around, all
looking at my Web site. Pretty cool!

A Web site is most effective as a part of an overall marketing plan,
not the marketing plan in itself. It works best as a compliment to
your “physical” presence out in the world. Whether you’re doing fine
craft shows or have a brick-and-mortar jewelry shop, a synergy
develops between the site and your other marketing and sales
activities. Every shred of paper I put in a potential customer’s hand
has my URL on it. That way they can always “find” me again and
reconsider the purchase on which they had passed, or purchase the
matching bracelet, earrings, or whatever. They can also give the URL
to their spouse and say, “That’s what I want for my birthday.”

As far as what one could be expected to pay for a Web site, it
depends on the level of sophistication sought. If the expectation is
for a full-fledged e-commerce site that tracks a customer’s shopping
cart, automatically processes the credit cards and spits out a
confirmed order on your end, you’re talking thousands of dollars to
have it built for you. If your intention is for a more modest online
catalog and a “call my toll-free number” site, there is a lot less
work involved, and accordingly, less of an investment.

It is also quite feasible for the average person to build his/her
own site. I feel that Web authoring today is about as challenging as
desktop publishing. It is pretty easy to do, and a little more
difficult to do well. This also leaves you in control of the “look &
feel” of the site, and not at the mercy of a third party. You must be
prepared to invest the time to do the initial building of the site,
but once it is done, you just continually “tweak” it to make
improvements, add new products and keep the content fresh. When you
finally get around to publishing your new site on the Web, it should
be thought of as the starting point of the site, not the finishing
line.

Just a few thoughts on the matter…

All the best,
Dave
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@sebaste.com


#3

Scott, I would be interested in seeing some sites that you have
designed. How much one would be interested in investing or how much
one could afford are important, but, just as important is how well
you could represent us with your site. Can you give us some addresses?


#4

For ourselves, YES. We have a small website in place, but it is
very out of date and doesn’t even come close to showing what we’re
doing now. What are your prices, and what do you consider
"inexpensive"? I would very much like to see some examples of your
work, especially related to jewelry.

Thanks!
Betty Leeper
www.thecyrusco.com


#5

Scott: as a jewelry designer about to step into cyber space and
searching for the best path to answer your questionin a single word.
Yes, if the price is competitive and affordable and the resulting
product does what is needed. The internet is deffinately a marketing
vehicle that I am seeking to explore and put to use. Frank Goss


#6

Dave,

When I first typed in “jewelry” into Yahoo in 1994, I got 60 sites.
Today, I got 10 million. That’s a big change in a very short period
of time, and you are absolutely right that it has forced us all to
re-evaluate what the Web means to us. I think your observations
about your site’s power are right on target, as is your point about
marketing. It’s no longer about marketing you site. It’s about
marketing your jewelry, and a Web site can be a useful tool in your
tool box. But that’s all it is, a tool.

I’m still waiting for the Internet to change everything, as the
tech-stock gurus promised in 1994. For that matter, I’m still
waiting for it to make print journalism obsolete, as I was assured it
would by now.

Suzanne

Suzanne Wade
Writer/Editor
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255
@Suzanne_Wade1
http://www.rswade.net


#7

I’m seeing a decent amount of responses to Scott’s inquiry about
website design for jewelers. As that is something I also offer as a
service, I’m wondering if this exchange might not be pointing to a
good addition to Orchid – a “service vendors for jewelers” section
that could include things like web site design/consulting, marketing
services, sales reps, tax advisors, etc.

That way, those of us who also provide services to this community
could reach out in a non-intrusive way. Orchidians would also have
the comfort in knowing that the folks found through that venue were
somewhat “pre-selected” in knowing something about the jewelry
industry and the needs of its community.

What do you think?
Karen Goeller
www.nolimitations.com (an example of my own site development for jewelry)


#8

The biggest problem with a website is not the cost, but the time
involved to promote it. It takes months of submissions to get any
exposure on the search engines, and then you might be listed on page
300 of the listings that come up on a search.

J. S. (Sue) Ellington


#9
  I'm still waiting for the Internet to change everything, as the
tech-stock gurus promised in 1994. 

And I just had to reply – Don’t you see that it has???

Without the Internet, we wouldn’t have this forum. Without this
forum, many of us would be struggling along learning ONE way of doing
things – the way that the person who taught us had been taught by
their teachers. Many would struggle along on a daily basis not
knowing about new tools, new techniques, new opportunities to embrace
and new scams to be wary of.

Without web sites, Dave would be doing business in his local
community and with people he met in shows that he managed to find out
about in print media. He would be printing expensive brochures and
mailing them out to people who managed to hear about him, and would
be sending sketches for custom work back and forth through snail mail
(which we thought was speedy at the time). He would probably be
buying stones solely from people he met face-to-face, missing out on
a whole world of wonderful materials to accent and enhance his
pieces. (Sorry, Dave, used you as an example because of your
right-on-topic post.)

Today, people like Dave and I can work with a remote customer on the
phone, put a file up on my website and have them take a look at it in
real time. While I’m talking with them, I can make changes and put
another copy of the file up and say “is this what you mean?” This
can happen wherever in the world they happen to be, whenever they are
ready to have the discussion.

We can have these amazing conversations about the feasibility of
supporting ourselves and our families doing the work we love. We can
share experiences with suppliers, find new ones, and support each
other with strategies for dealing with difficult customers.
Previously, those networking experiences were pretty much limited to
those in our geographic region, and those with whom we interacted on
the show circuit.

In short, change – even major change – usually isn’t something
sudden. It creeps up on you and you think that you’re going along,
doing business pretty much the same way you did 10 or 15 years ago.
But if you stop to think about the many ways the Internet HAS changed
business – and the jewelry community represented by Orchid – it’s
pretty amazing.

I personally don’t believe that the internet will ever make print
journalism obsolete. It may change it beyond our imaginings, but it
won’t be obsolete. Rather, networked technologies have transformed
print journalism and extended it into our daily lives. The jobs of
journalists within any industry have been extended beyond print, and
now reach more directly into the businesses and homes of the
practitioners in ways we never dreamed possible 20 years ago when I
started out as a tech writer.

Ok, Orchidians, let’s think about it – in real terms, what are you
doing in your business today that you could NOT have done 15 years
ago, either because it wasn’t technically possible or because it
would simply have taken too much time or resources? How has the
Internet transformed YOUR personal jewelry career or business?

Karen Goeller
kgoeller at nolimitations.com
http://www.nolimitations.com


#10

I agree fully with Dave and Suzanne that the website is a tool to
help you sell. My first website in 1999 was an informative site and
at that time could be found on every search engine available. When
I started working on my second website in 2000 which is an ecommerce
site I knew that the site was not search engine friendly. In
addition, I only wanted to reach the jeweler since it is a wholesale
site to the jeweler and not appropriate for the consumer. At that
time my mentor and good friend who helped us build the website said
to forget about search engines, no matter what type of site you
have. He told me at that time that the only way to have a
successful website is to market it directly to your customers and
search engines were only a very small percentage of what was needed
for sales. Even though I knew that search engines were not the way
to go I had to figure out a way to get the appropriate people to my
website. This was not an easy task, because at that time there were
so many talented jewelers that did not own a computer and did not
even know how to use an email. Of course that is changing. I just
kept up my advertising and included my website in the ad, sent out
flyers and called my customers. In addition to bringing in new
customers, the trick is to keep your customers coming back to the
site. That means making your customers happy.

For the jeweler who has a website, I believe, it is important to
keep that communication with your customer. If you do a show,
expain to every customer that imbetween shows they can see your
products on the website and work with them via email or phone, so
they do not have to wait to see products at the next show. It
really is all about communicating.

By the way, Suzanne, I love print journalism. There is nothing like
sitting down when one has time to read the paper or a good magazine.
That is very fulfilling.

Diane Sadel
http://www.sweetgemstones.com


#11

But that’s only a problem if you want strangers to find your website
using generic search terms. This might have been a reasonable
expectation even just a few years ago but it’s an unreasonable one
now. Picking the perfect domain name helps (for example,
www.mokume-gane.com, www.mokumegane.com) but the perfect ones are,
for the most part, long gone.

I think a website is now something that people either look for once
they know about you, or they’re directed to it because they see your
webaddress somewheRe: on your business card, in a print ad, on a
postcard, on a links page, etc.

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts


#12

I have spent much more time and money on my website than I should or
planned to … it sort of took on a life of its own and I got totally
engrossed in it. The objective was never to make it a commercially
viable website ( just wanted a online digital catalog to refer my
customer to), but now I am thinking about how to get some of my
investment back out of it. It has been more of a hobby until now. I
designed the site myself (concept) and worked with a programmer from
Belgium that created the cataloging and shopping cart/order
processing engine that is behind it. For the GUI, or the website
design, I worked with some very good website graphic
artists/developers to create the layout and design elements. I live
in Thailand and Indonesia and did the whole project online via e-mail
with the designer (Indonesia) and programmer (Belgium), we never met
during the evolution of the poject. Every once in a while we would
have a Yahoo chat session-conference to iron out technical or design
issues. I had good luck and the cost was/is pretty reasonable. I
still have to promote the site to get the traffic up, but my idea was
more to use the website as a communication tool and digital catalog.
Now I need to pay for that baby! So, will start looking into ways to
get my hits up from a targeted audience. Search engine positioning
is an art, but it is possible to get good positioning if you work
with some that knows what they are doing.

I kinda jumped in the middle of this disucssion thread, so I don’t
know what the original question was, but if anyone needs more info
from me on my experience with the website development, feel free to
ask anything.

Dennis Walker,
www.denniswalker.biz
(my website if you want to have a look … I think my Belgian friend that
created the engine is genius, it works very well.)