Branching out into Etsy

12 Jul

After my problems marketing through Facebook, where it was very difficult to reach beyond my family and friends, I decided to try adding a couple of things to Etsy.  Etsy is a marketplace for unusual and unique items, handmade or vintage.  Traders  have their own ‘shop’ and can sell to people around the world.

I’d heard mixed things about people’s success using Etsy, partly because it is so huge that it is easy for your items to get ‘lost’.  I started off with just five items in my shop, it is really quick and easy to add a listing, with lots of scope for describing your item and adding tags etc. It is MUCH quicker and easier that sorting pictures and links out for my website.

Amongst my five items I included my teacher’s gift bag charms as I thought they might be the kind of quirky thing that people would search for.

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It turns out I was right!  I got two orders very quickly, and subsequently two lovely reviews

Etsy Reviews

I’ve subsequently added a few more things, but they don’t seem to have been seen as much.  Listings are for four months and cost $0.20 which isn’t too much, so I’ll try it for the next few months and see what happens.

I’ll still keep posting on Facebook and the website is still available.

 

Spiral bead bracelets

28 Jun

I love seed beads.  They offer some much scope for designs with their various sizes and beautiful colours.

Brown and gold spiral rope bracelet

Brown and gold spiral rope bracelet

Aqua spiral rope bracelet

Aqua spiral rope bracelet

When I started with seed beads I followed various tutorials I found on the web.  One of the first times I experimented and adapted a tutorial to my own design, these bracelets were the result.  I’ve recently revisited the technique to make a new bracelet.

The basic technique came from this tutorial for a spiral rope chain: spiral rope chain tutorial

Instead of a core of four beads I made the core of six size 8 seed beads, with three bugle beads for the outside colour.

Starting the spiral rope.

Starting the spiral rope.

I used two colours of bugle beads to add interest. Every twelve turns I added some accent beads of various sizes, including some Swarovski crystals.  The total length of the added beads needs to be as close as possible to the length of three bugle beads.

The finished bracelet waiting for a clasp.

The finished bracelet waiting for a clasp.

When the rope was around seven inches long it was time to add a clasp. To protect the thread from being frayed on the metal of the clasp you use a short piece of French wire (also know as bullion or gimp wire), which is a tight coil of very fine wire, to protect the thread.

The clasp

The clasp

So here is the finished bracelet.

Finished bracelet.

Finished bracelet.

The biggest question now is pricing. The materials themselves are not terribly expensive (although not really cheap either), but the bracelet is time consuming to make and choosing the bead and colour combinations takes time too. There are various formulas for pricing, but most recommend multiplying your costs (including your time) by three. I think this would make this bracelet too expensive to sell as it would come in at about £25 even at a low hourly rate.  It is really difficult as a small business knowing what price to put on your creativity, each bracelet is unique, but you also have to be realistic about what people will pay.  What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments.

You can see some of my other bracelets on my website www.glitterarti.co.uk. You can also like my Facebook page.  If you’d like to buy this bracelet, or commission one in your choice of colours, please do get in touch!

Facebook competitions

21 Jun

Ooops!  I’ve missed a couple of weeks blogging.  One of the reasons has been I’ve been running a Facebook competition from the Glitterarti page and I thought I would share my experiences.

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First of all, my business is very small and I appreciate that it will always be just a hobby business.  I sell my jewellery mainly becuase I like buying beads and making things and I can’t possibly wear everything I make.  However, I am also curious and like finding out how things work, so when I began marketing my business I wanted to know how to do it well.

If you do a quick search there are thousands of sites on the web telling you how to market a small business using social media, the advice is all pretty similar: post interesting content and engage your audience by asking them to do things (answer a question, like something, share something etc.).  Facebook reach for business pages is notoriously poor, each post will probably only reach between 10% and 20% of your audience, but the more the post is commented on, liked, or shared the more it will be seen by both people who like your page, and their friends as well.

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Getting ‘likes’ for your page is difficult.  If, like me, you only befriend people you know in real life on Facebook you probably only have a couple of hundred friends or less, and probably only a percentage of them regularly check and engage with Facebook posts.  When I first set up Glitterart I got a quick flush of likes from friends and friends of friends which was really encouraging, but then it slowed down and settled at around 90 likes.  There are only so many times you can ask your friends to share and like your page though.

One of the pieces of advice from the experts is to run a competition, but Facebook has lots of rules about how you can run a competition from a business page, and one of them is you cannot run a competition where you have to like or share a page in order to enter (although this rule is often ignored, Facebook can and does shut pages down without warning if you are reported to them).

I decided to do a few posts saying I would run a competition when I got to 100 likes and this did generate a number of shares and I got 5 or 6 likes in a week which took me just over the 100 like mark.

So I ran a competition.  The first problem was choosing a prize.  I wanted something that I thought would appeal to a wide range of people, but I’m only a small business and couldn’t give away a huge prize.  I settled on this pair of sterling silver and swarovski crystal earrings.

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I decided to ask people to like a picture of the earrings and comment where they would wear them.  I made sure the competition details were in the picture description so that shares would still see the details and included a disclaimer saying the competition was nothing to do with Facebook (you can read about Facebook’s competition rules here).

I gave people a week to enter, which was probably a bit long as I think everyone who liked my page, and all my friends, and all my husbands friends were heartily sick of seeing that pair of earrings on their news feed.  I did gain a couple of new likes, but also lost two as well.   Some people did share my post, but that brought another problem as their friends liked and commented on their post, and not on my picture so they never actually came to my page and they weren’t entered in the competition as I couldn’t see their comments due to their privacy settings.

There is also the issue that Facebook doesn’t automatically show you all the comments on the picture.  By the time I’d got a few comments it would only show me the ‘Top Comments’ and there was one comment which I knew had been made that I couldn’t see at all.  It was only by going to add a new comment myself that I was able to see all the comments, and then only by clicking ‘show more’.

I ended up with seventeen entrants to the competition, which given I only have 100 page likes is probably not a bad return, but I had hoped for much more.  The final issue was how to pick the winner.  I had stated a random draw and there are lots of free sites on the web who will pick a random winner for you, but in the end I printed out all the names, stuck them in a box and got my daughter to choose the winner.

The winner is a lovely lady I met through yoga and she was over the moon with her prize and thankfully she lived close so I could deliver the prize instead of posting, but postage is another cost to think about when choosing your prize, especially if you open the competition to overseas entrants.

So would I do it again?  I’m not sure.  It was nice to see comments from a range of people, not just the people who normally like and comment on my page, so in that respect it did generate reach and took my page out onto different timelines, but my net likes by the end of the week were the same as when I started.  I did make my winner very happy though and that is a nice feeling.

 

 

Jewellery for boys (and men)

30 May

With Father’s Day approaching, I thought I’d blog about my experiences with making jewellery for boys and men.

As a mum of two boys and one girl, and of course married to a lovely husband I always feel slightly guilty that while I can make lovely things for myself and my daughter, i don’t do much for the boys.  It’s a tricky problem.  So, here are this weeks questions:

  • If you’re a man, do you wear jewellery? Or do any of the men in your life (fathers, sons, brothers, partners)?
  • If so what jewellery do you wear?
  • Have you ever worn something handmade?

My breakthrough moment came when my eldest boy got into surfing and lots of guys wore necklets and bracelets!

This was one of the first necklaces I made for my son.  The beads and shells were from a box of beads I bought.

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Then one year on holiday we went beachcombing and my eldest son found this shell which handily had a hole ready made in the right place.  I made it into a necklet for him.  I love this as it is so personal: James found the shell and got a completely original necklace.

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My husband has always been really supportive of my jewellery making.  He asked if I could make him something and I came up with this plaited bracelet.  Over the years I’ve made several for him in cord and leather and with various beads.

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I’ve got some like this on my website.  The plaited leather or cord bracelets are quite popular.

Necklaces are a bit more tricky, but here are a few I’ve made.  This one is from a stone my husband found on a walk.

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My husband  wanted something a bit more ‘designed’ and after visiting a bead shop in Tintagel he chose these semi-precious stone beads.  I’ll talk more about the coiling in another blog as it’s one of my favourite techniques, but this was the necklace I came up with.  It’s designed to be worn as a choker necklace and looks really effective.  It’s even tarnished and degraded nicely over time too.

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I’ve got a range of charm necklets that I sell now with a ‘Rock band’ theme – microphones, guitars and drums.

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One thing that has eluded me has been cuff links.  Despite buying some of the basic findings to make them, I can never get a design I’m happy with.

If you’ve got a special stone or shell, or if you would like me to design something for the man in your life, please do get in touch via my website www.glitterarti.co.uk  or my facebook page GlitterartiJewellery.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on the blog too.

New products

24 May

It’s always hard as a small craft producer thinking of new products.  My bag charms have been one of my most popular products and they came about because of a suggestion from a customer.

I have a range of earrings based on sewing and knitting charms (another idea suggested by my lovely friend Polly).

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I had taken a few of them to a local group who teach people how to use sewing machines, the fabulous Sew Community based in West Warrington.  One of the ladies there said she didn’t wear earrings, but could I make her a charm for her bag.  This was the result:

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I now have a range of bag charms from knitting and sewing charms, to ballet, music, gardening, summer holidays and baking.

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My latest charms were inspired when I saw people talking about end of term presents for teachers.  I ordered some charms from my suppliers and came up with these lovely charms to say thank you to special teachers

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You can see my full range of bag charms on my website homepage.ntlworld.com/ruth.jewellery/bagcharms

I also love customising the charms to suit individuals.  I was even asked to add a mini car charm to a sewing charm to reflect a friend’s daughters favourite things!

If you’re a small designer or crafter, how do you come up with new ideas? Have you been inspired by friends? Comment below or on my Facebook page GlitterartiJewellery

Rings

17 May

I love to try new designs and techniques when I’m making jewellery, but recently I’ve been trying to refine and develop some techniques.

I made my first wire ring several years ago.  It was very simple, just three lengths of wire, wrapped in a few places and curled at the ends.
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I liked it and wore it quite often, but the wraps moved about too much and it was somewhat too large in the finger, grazing the knuckle.
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Recently I’ve returned to this design as I still like the feel of how it wraps around the finger.  It also means sizing is less of an issue as it can be adjusted slightly to fit an individual’s finger.
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This was my first attempt, I aimed to make a more compact ring, but I cut the wire too short and the end result is not quite bold enough.  I had tried to add beads, but couldn’t get the attachment to look elegant.

I tried again with copper wire and this time cut the wire lengths much longer!
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Copper wire is much more malleable and I wondered if this would mean the ring would bend out of shape too easily when worn.

I incorporated some Swarovski crystals too and I’m very pleased with the result.  I still need to work on getting the ending loops more even and then they should be ready to sell.

The good news was, after wearing the ring to work for a couple of days it held its shape well, so as a dress ring it should be fine.  I had a few nice compliments about it too.
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See my other jewellery, including a ring I have got right at www.glitterarti.co.uk

I also regularly post my trials and experiments on my Facebook page GlitterartiJewellery

Sewing again

10 May

While the Great British Sewing Bee was on TV my daughter and I have our own mini sewing bee at home!

This year I made two little jersey skirts for Joanna and a jersey top for myself.  Joanna started some pyjama pants for herself, but kept getting distracted by the TV so they’re not quite finished yet.

I’m really pleased with my top.  I had to use several knew techniques such as using the twin needle on my machine and following week 1 of the Sewing Bee I understitched my facings too (none of the patterns I’ve used have ever mentioned it).  I think the facings on this are the best I’ve ever done and I’m pleased with the sleeves too.  The pattern is Burda 3197 which I got from Jaycotts.  It was easy to follow and fitted together really nicely.

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The jersey is quite a nice heavy weight so it hangs nicely and isn’t too see through.  I bought it from TP Textiles in Warrington.