Laura Hastings Pendant

With so many online sales venues, how do you choose? Should you develop your own fully functional website with shopping cart? Use a blog and paypal? Join a group site?

For many people, the answer may be more than one. You may have an Etsy shop and a blog, each promoting the other, and a Squidoo Lens to help people find both.

Today let’s talk about some of the pluses and minuses of the different sites and which one might be best for you. We’ll use my jewelry as an example.

Etsy is incredibly popular. I have a couple of concerns about Etsy though. The search function is not very precise, and there is a lot of work for sale on Etsy that is priced too low.

When work is priced unprofessionally, so low that the person cannot possibly be making a profit, that makes the surrounding work look overpriced. It also encourages bargain hunting. For my jewelry, I want it to be surrounded by other work that’s priced appropriately and professionally photographed.

Another option is Ruby Lane, which features handcrafted items as well as antiques. For an example of a nice Ruby Lane shop, check out Eclectica Jewelry.

I also like the way Laura at Eclectia has put the copyright notice on the face of her photographs in a stylish way that’s consistent with the look and professionalism of her jewelry. The way she has it set up, it reminds me of an artist’s signature on a painting, definitely a good association.

Overall, Ruby Lane is a more upscale environment. It’s not as well known as Etsy, but it’s growing. I’m starting to see ads for it in upscale print magazines. If you sell gold jewelry, I would definitely recommend Ruby Lane over Etsy.

I like the search function better on Ruby Lane; helping a friend find a gift item, I was able to type in a very specific description and got some very strong possiblities back.

For my jewelry, if I were going to join an online group sales site, I would sign up with Ruby Lane.

There are some benefits to being exclusive to Ruby Lane, having them be your only online outlet, but I don’t think I’d be willing to do that. Especially at first, since I would put my work on multiple sites and see which one drew the best.

Okay, let’s talk about a few more sites. Are you aware of the indie crafts movement? It’s the ’70s all over again. There’s a whole new crafts revival going on out there, exemplified by CRAFT and MAKE blogs and magazines.

In that spirit, there are a couple more sites out there with the indie feel. Definitely something to consider, if that fits the feel of your work, and if that’s where your customer shops.

IndiePublic seems to be the biggest one.

With all of these sites, you can’t just post your work, sit back and wait for orders.

After creating your site, you’ve got to do promotion work: create a link to your site on your blog, create a banner link, and all the other PR work that comes with any business.

Jewelers who have their work on these sites tell me their sales vary depending on how much promotion they do. Joining groups at these sites seems like an essential part of the puzzle. Groups do promotions and advertising together, and some are “known” more than their individual members are.

Which one will you choose? Do you have your work on multiple sites or just one? How did you choose? Why do you like your site?

Post a comment, share your reasons. Have a site to share? Send it to suggestalink at gmail.com.

Image and jewelry above are (c) 2007 Laura Hastings, Eclectica Jewelry All Rights Reserved

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