Dear Design Doctor
In the last couple of years I have focused a lot on selling online. I now have my own website, an Etsy shop and I sell handmade jewellery online also on Not On The Highstreet. It takes up a lot of time, and although I have worked on my SEO I don’t get a lot of sales. Can you help me?
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, answered this question as The Design Doctor in Crafts Magazine May/June 2016 (page 26) where it was titled ‘How to win in the virtual world’:
‘Starting to sell handmade jewellery online (and other creative products) has become very easy in the last couple of years. But making a success of it is indeed often far harder, as you have discovered!
Although you are using 3 very popular ways to sell handmade jewellery online, in reality each of these are very different and need their own approach.
The great benefit of your own website is that you can really create your own online shop window, with your own branding and styling, show all what you have to offer, tell your story where and how you work, and connect it to your blog with case studies and creative posts.
Unfortunately many creative websites look bland, anonymous and are very alike.
Is yours really showing your uniqueness to its full potential?
Do your images reflect your values and skills, and do they provide all the info your clients need?
Do you explain in detail how to commission you?
Do you create an easy but memorable online browsing and buying experience?
Does your site look trustworthy?
These are some of the basic questions you need to answer first.
The next challenge to sell handmade jewellery online with your own webshop is that it’s very often hard to get found.
Even if you are an expert in SEO it will be hard to find you if people don’t really know of you or remember your name.
So with your own website you need to concentrate on driving traffic yourself.
The best way is through social media, newsletters and promotion of your website when you are doing events. Depending on who your audience is use Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.
Social media is a great tool to build your profile and stay in touch with your audience (but not necessarily to sell!). Be consistent, answer questions, be useful and be social (don’t oversell yourself).
Use fabulous images regularly with quotes and relevant texts, plus a direct link to a specific product page (use this format http://www.yourpage.com/yourproduct which will turn it into a clickable link).
Then when people visit encourage them to sign up to your ‘newsletter’. Share the benefits of why they should sign up to get more registrations (because let’s be honest … nobody signs up for a newsletter to get spammed!).
Will they get discounts, the latest news or invites for events?
Stay in touch with your audience regularly through emails with beautiful images, the latest commission and event news, and behind-the-scenes pictures and stories. That way you build your profile and credibility, and they will buy from you because you have created trust and a relationship with your unique products, and yourself.
The situation on popular online marketplaces like Etsy and NOTHS is quite different.
They already get a lot (!) of interested visitors who want to buy, but obviously you are competing directly with many other jewellers on these sites.
The first thing to think about, if you want to be successful on these sites, is to get to know their clients in more detail. The type of people who buy from Etsy or NOTHS are similar, but different in crucial aspects. Etsy gets a more American audience, often young and single, with a lower budget to spend, who love the ‘handmade’ feel. NOTHS is more based on the UK, very giftware focused, more commercial, and known for ‘personalisation’.
In my opinion marketing starts with the product.
Are you creating jewellery products and collections aimed specifically for these distinctive groups?
What sells on Etsy might not necessarily sell on NOTHS, and the other way round.
How could your images, styling, branding, price, packaging and tone of voice in your product descriptions be different for these two distinct sites and audiences?
To be found on these popular marketplaces it’s crucial that you understand how SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) works. The basics aren’t that difficult, but can make a huge difference to visitor numbers and sales.
What are the key words that your potential clients would be looking for? Think about short descriptive sentences rather than single words like ‘jewellery’.
Think like your potential client and identify the product, material, colour, style, technique and reason they are buying. For example ‘Sterling silver embossed bangle’ or ‘chunky bold ring for man’ are great descriptions to be found. Then use this exact combination of key words several times in your product title and description. This simple technique will push you up the rankings to be found. If you want to learn more about SEO then check out the Etsy Seller Handbook online and NOTH has got great resources for its partners too.
Unlike your own website you can’t get visitors to sign up for your newsletter on marketplace sites, but you can still drive traffic to your product pages too. And staying in touch with previous clients through social media, regular emails and events will help sales too.
Don’t just focus on marketing to new clients, it might be your existing clients that will give you the most sales as they already know you, like you and trust you.
To sum up:
Using excellent images online and in social media is crucial. Getting traffic and ultimately sales takes time, targeted effort, patience and more creativity in your products and marketing. Make it easy to get found, make sure that you stand out to attract your ideal clients, and get remembered when they are ready to buy from you.’