Making your jewelry is the fun part of owning your own jewelry business. But the reality of owning a jewelry business is that you have to run the business-side of things. Read on for our top 5 tips to run a successful jewelry business.
Having a successful jewelry business can look different to each person. But for most, the goal is going to be making jewelry you’re proud of and selling it to people who love it – while providing yourself with a comfortable income. In order to do that, not only do you need to make your beautiful jewelry but you also need to start building a business strategy.
1. Create an Identifiable Brand
When someone sees your jewelry (whether in person or online), they should be able to immediately identify it as yours. This is done through branding. Branding distinguishes your jewelry from every other handmade jewelry business on the market (and there’s a lot out there). Your brand should help you connect with your customers, show them that you share interests. Your branding should come through in a variety of ways.
First, create your brand through your jewelry designs. Your collections should be a reflection of your brand identity. Create cohesive collections that work with your personal values and mission statement.
Next, your branding should come through in your marketing. Start with your most visually obvious piece of marketing – your logo. Your logo will be all over your website, packaging, and more so you want to make sure it embodies your jewelry brand. Your brand should also show through in the content you share on each of your platforms. Your photos, videos, and writing will be what potential customers see while they’re deciding if they want to buy your jewelry. Let your brand and personality show through!
As part of your branding efforts, let your customers get to know you. Turn your artist bio into a jewelry story. This is your chance to connect with your audience and tell them how you began your jewelry making journey. Let them know how your brand became what it is.
Finally, make your mark on your jewelry. Adding custom logo tags will always keep your brand in your customer's minds whenever they wear your jewelry.
2. Know Your Target Market
If you try selling your jewelry to everyone in the world, you’re going to end up wasting money, time, and energy. It's a simple fact that not every single person is going to like your jewelry. Knowing who your target audience is will help your marketing efforts be more sucessful.
Think about your personality, the personality of your brand, and the type of person you’re trying to attract. Are you designing jewelry for a career/corporate minded woman? A world traveler? An outdoors enthusiast? Is your jewelry more likely to be a self-purchase or a gift?
Ideally, you should be able to pinpoint a few things about your customer:
- An age range or a certain life event – I.e. 35-45 years old, motherhood, etc.
- A few interests - I.e. outdoor activities, shopping downtown, traveling, etc.
- Disposable income – fresh out of college and well-established in a career are very different levels of income
- Where they are physically – office setting, staying at home, out with friends; or if you make a line of jewelry specific to a geographic location, you may want to put more work into targeting that area
- Where they are digitally – Instagram, TikTok, Facebook – some of this will be based on your demographic's age, so make sure you understand the demographics of each social media
These are just a few things to think about. Take the time to think through who exactly you most want to target with your marketing.
3. Know Your Competition
Although your jewelry is unique and often one-of-a-kind, never think that there’s no other jeweler out there who has a similar aesthetic and audience. Everyone has competition. Look around Etsy, Google, and your local area to see who’s out there. For example, if you make mountain-themed jewelry, search for that online and create a list of each maker that focuses on that as well.
Once you know who else is out there, figure out how you differ from them. Do some of them work only in gold while you only work in sterling silver? Or maybe some of them work in base metals. Do they solely focus on the same design aesthetic as you or is it one of many? Is there anything you do better than them? Is there anything you can improve on compared to them? Check out their pricing, their branding, their website, the purchase process (you don’t have to buy an item but go through the steps to see how it works). People will buy the exact same piece of jewelry from a website that looks nicer and is easier to use – even if it’s slightly more expensive.
If you have a local storefront or are putting jewelry in a boutique storefront, scope out the local competitors. Their work may not be the same aesthetic as yours but knowing who you’re competing against for local purchases will help you determine where your jewelry should go to reach the right market.
4. Develop Strategic Pricing
Ask any experienced jeweler what the easiest part of their business is. There’s a good chance that accurately pricing the pieces will not be the answer. Many makers go with a simple 2-3x cost as the retail price. This isn’t always the best idea. To make your business sustainable and able to provide you with a livable income, you’ll want to think a bit more strategically. A solid pricing strategy will help you make sure all of your business expenses are paid, provide you with an income so you don’t have to worry about a second job, and grow with your business.
There are a lot of little (and not so little) costs to running a jewelry business besides your materials. Some of these are fairly set fees, such as studio rent, software or professional service fees, supplies and equipment, etc. If you have any other employees, their salaries would be in there as well. In a good jewelry pricing strategy, all of these should be considered. Don't be afraid to price your jewelry for what it's really worth. Just be sure you're marketing it to the people who are able to pay your prices.
Hilary wrote a great article on pricing your jewelry – including an interactive pricing guide to help you determine your own prices and a webinar where she walks through the guide.
5. Make a Business Plan
You often meticulously plan out each piece of jewelry before getting started. Why doesn't your business deserve the same? A successful jewelry business must have a plan. If you don’t have a goal or a plan in place to reach it, how will you know if your business is successful?
If you started making jewelry as a hobby, you may decide to eventually turn it into a business. At first you may just sell a few pieces here and there to friends and family, but if you decide to start selling on Etsy or your own website, you’ll want to think strategically about how to run a jewelry business.
Or maybe you studied metalsmithing and have been working for others while hoping to have your own jewelry business. It's time to start thinking about everything you’ll need to do in order to succeed.
The first thing any successful business needs is a business plan! Check out our jewelry business plan toolkit to guide you through creating one. This will help you determine your business goals, what you need to do to reach those goals, and how to expand on those goals as your business grows. Answer some of the biggest questions for your business with the following resources.
Where will you sell your jewelry?
Of course you'll most likely want to sell your jewelry at fairs and shows so customers can see your pieces up close and in-person. But a digital presence is required to have a successful jewelry business. Many jewelers choose to sell their jewelry on multiple platforms - Etsy, Amazon, website, etc.
How will you market your jewelry?
Marketing your jewelry requires a mix of creativity and strategy. Your marketing materials should look beautiful and make your jewelry shine like a star, but deciding where to market your jewelry and what materials to create should be done based on your audience and where they are.
Do you have quality photos and videos of your jewelry?
Whether you choose to have a professional do your photography or try to do it yourself, good photos are vital to sell your jewelry online. Customers won't be able to see it in person, so you want to make sure they understand exactly how a piece looks. White background photos are best to show off the piece, while model shots can help customers understand the actual size of it. Video has taken off the last few years, so you want to make sure you plan some video content to market your jewelry and brand as well.
How will you fund your jewelry business?
Especially when you're first starting out, your business may need extra funding help. There are a lot of options for grants and loans out there, so do your research and find what fits best for your business.
When your business starts growing, what can you do?
As your business grows, you may find yourself needing additional help or wanting to expand. If you aren't already, you may want to try out custom jewelry or selling wholesale. And chances are you'll start needing help around the studio and/or with business tasks.