I have a shop on Ruby Lane with almost 300 pieces, artisan, vintage,
antique jewelry and antiques. I started with them when they had only
280 shops back in 1999. I ended up with 5 separate individual shops
and closed them in 2004 when I moved the farm. My sales were great,
and I learned a great deal about how the Internet works, how to
list, and how SEO's work. I just couldn't keep up with the listings,
getting new inventory, taking classes, and moving all the animals
and furniture to the new farm. I moved everything in my horse
trailer, with the help of two friends, which took 4 days, so trying
to keep up with everything was just too much.
I started taking classes for my artisan jewelry, built a huge
website on dial up (which took a year) and had to learn code and FP.
It was marginally successful, only because I had belonged to several
jewelry groups (about 1800 people internationally), and am still
very active in research with these groups. I have attended the
conventions every two years since 2001, and because of the
networking and group activities (which are FREE), and being able to
find what people want to buy (mostly dealers and collectors, and
authors of books on vintage and antique jewelry), my artisan jewelry
was noticed, and have made great sales and connections.
In 2010, Ruby Lane sent letters out announcing a FREE site called
Ruby Plaza. I figured, why not, it's free. At the time I had 200
pieces in there, and all of the sales were to dealers through my
on-line groups, again networking and active participation is
crucial. I added items and kept the stock fresh for 6 or 7 months,
but without the same push to SEO's and the advertising availability
that RL has, it has pretty much been a bust, plus it is for new
items, and most of us have the feeling, it's like an updated Etsy,
too many shops, not enough advertising.
In Aug of 2011 they had a reduced set up fee for Ruby Lane and I
opened a shop. I'm very happy there, and have had great success.
It's more expensive, but their SEO and advertising and presence on
the web are established and if you can keep adding items with great
pictures, good descriptions, and keep up with the ever changing
ideas of Google, using Analytics, etc., you'll do well. I'm selling
more overseas, and more variety of items than ever before.
Interestingly enough, my biggest sales ($500 up) have been old
established collectors, who Don't like PayPal, or the Internet, and
send cashier's checks. Conversation with the buyers, and some
judicious research with references, can help to establish good
customers. The Internet is still a 'new thing' to many of these old
established collectors and buyers.
As with joining up with any site, or building your own, it takes
about 6 months to get your name and product out there, on average.
It takes work, adding items every week, rotating stock, good photos,
good descriptions, and networking. If you don't work on getting
yourself noticed, advertising, keeping up with trends, networking
with groups that will be interested in your stock, you can easily
get lost in the millions of people who sell on the Internet.
You get what you pay for.
I wouldn't sell on Etsy, difficult to navigate through the way too
many shops, lack of standards, a bit pedestrian in the way they have
formatted the pages, and in my opinion, just not geared towards the
seller, especially in the area of customer support, as much as the
older established sites like Ruby Lane, Tias, Trocadero, Art Fire.
I've had many friends who opened an Etsy store, eventually closing
it for much the same reasons, Chris. I think because many of us kind
of 'grew up' with RL when it first started, and 'learned on the run'
with them, their brand has become well known, and established.
Having forums for the shop owners and interaction with RL helped in
the early years to learn and toss around ideas which became
standards of the site was invaluable. Tias used to have that as
well. It's all a learning curve.
There is no substitution for mileage, experiences, a learning curve
and good hard work, and patience - if you want to be successful in
This is just my perspective.