A jewelry website is very much like a brick and mortar store or a show
booth. When you open a physical store or show booth, you must take
many things into consideration in order to be successful, some of
which aRe: location, ambiance, product, customer service, cash flow,
etc., etc. When you open a website these factors are just as
important and controlling them will be the basis for your success.
It is relatively easy to control all but location (placement by search
engines). Your “location” will be far more difficult and require time
to accomplish. You can hire someone to do this for you, but the cost
of good website design, maintenance and especially search engine
optimization doesn’t come cheap. Paying for poor quality is like
forking out bucks for any other poor service - usually less than
rewarding. The alternative to hiring a website designer and search
engine optimization expert is to do it yourself, but that will require
a significant commitment, just as a store or show booth requires.
This commitment will include learning: website design, search engine
optimization, digital imaging and graphics, copy writing and then,
after learning it, staying current - 'cause the web changes constantly
and what works today, won’t tomorrow.
Before trying to decide if you are going to pay for these services or
do it yourself, you should decide what the focus of your website is
and then plan accordingly.
If all you want is a website where local customers or previous show
buyers can preview your latest work and then contact you about sales
or visit you at your store or show, placement in the search engines
won’t be that important, but your overall site design will be and
keeping the site updated with your latest work and descriptive copy
will be all important to the site’s success.
If, on the other hand, you want to sell from the web and use it as a
resource to acquire new customers that you would never reach from a
physical store or show booth, then that is whole different ball game.
The truth is that it will require either enormous personal commitment
to site design, search engine optimization, maintenance etc., etc.
etc. or the dollars to pay for having it done.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of jewelry related websites
(google has over 3.7 million in their database). Some of these,
especially the commercial sites, cost a ton of bucks to put up and
maintain and the individual success or failure can change almost
daily. I know this didn’t answer your question directly, but you should
take all this into consideration before deciding whether to put up a
site. I consider my site successful, but I put a lot of time into it
which does take away from bench time. Also, I used to be a program
designer and analyst, before becoming a full time maker of jewelry,
and I missed that form of creative outlet so it wasn’t as much of an
imposition for me as it might be for others. I also find I am doing
more and more custom work from the web which was not something I
planned, or enjoy, as much as just “doin’ my thing”. Sometimes I do
get a chuckle though like a couple weeks ago when someone wanted a
"unique and original ring design in 18k with a .5 VS1 diamond and
black onyx" and - he wanted this for $600.
One more thing, when I put my first site up (3+ years ago) it was a
just a matter of learning HTML, doing some image editing, making it
user friendly and pumping it full of keywords, then submitting it to
every search engine I could find. That’s changed in just the last six
months and now it costs to get a new site listed by most of the major
search engines - anywhere from $20 per page at Inkotomi to $199+ for a
review (without even a guaranteed listing) by most of the major
engines. While their robots will probably eventually find your site
and may still list it, a high ranking placement will become more and
more difficult to achieve without “Pay for Play”. I foresee a time in
the near future when I will have to pay to just to keep the listings I
have or fall into the abyss of the lower 3.7 million sites where no
one will ever find me.
Now, all that said, I believe very strongly that the web will continue
to grow and become more and more a place where people go to make their
everyday purchases as well as artwork and luxury items. It will,
however, continue to evolve in unforeseen ways (it’s still in just an
embryonic state, not even infancy yet) and will continue to take more
and more commitment/effort/knowledge/resources/$$'s to open and then
maintain a successful presence on the web. It isn’t just a matter of
throwing some decent images on a page and opening the website “door”.
Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry