To sell , or not to sell, that is the question …

I had read a discussion on a beading facebook page about selling your work online. All the different options were discussed. Etsy, Artfire, and others I had not  heard of , 11 Main, The Craft Star, Indie Made, and Zibbet. All of how I will check out and report here what I find out.

I became curious and decided to check my stats.

I joined Etsy in May of 2008. I will be a member for 7 years May 3 of this year. In that amount of time, I have sold a total amount of  $1,672.47. Which sounds pretty good until you break it down. For one, I lost a percent of each of these sales to both Etsy and pay pal depending on who processes the payment. On top of that are listing and selling fees. Which, though not much, add up over time.

I could only data for a few years so this is what I have


I had sales of 753.66, these are Esty sales only. I did have special orders that added to this, but the point of this post is my Etsy sales.


271 favorites

my fees were 126.65 so after fees I made $627.01

divided by 12, I made 52.25 a month

divided by 52 instead ,  I made 1.28 per week


I had sales of 614.82 ,

views were 4,688

275 favorites

my fees were 151.86 for that year, so after my fees, I made 462.96 for the year.

Divided by 12 is 38.58 per month

divided by 52, that is  8.90 a week. I worked hard all year and that is all I earned. Very discouraging.


I cannot get my billing data for beyond that, but my stats for 2012 are


102 favorites

16 orders

a total of 140.58 in sales.

I am not sure how much I paid in listing and selling fees that month so that makes it hard to know how much I made after fees.

Also non of these years show my pay pal fees. Most of my sales are through pay pal, and so that is another fee I owe.

Other things to consider are my materials. I spend on average about a thousand, sometimes more on materials. I am not even factoring in my time.

One thing that drives me crazy is when people say you cannot count your time when selling hand crafted items. If you cannot count your time, what is the point in having a business selling hand made things ? You better believe any jewelry you buy at a store has everything figured in when it is sold to the store, costs of labor, materials, and the cost to run the company, electric , phone etc. Yet when we create at home, we are told we cannot figure in a wage.

All of this is very frustrating to the average jewelry artist. We all work hard. We do our best to make good quality, beautiful items for our customers and then many of us sit there and watch our inventory age.

here is my inventory that I will be taking apart. Some will be gifts and a few things will go into my jewelry drawer, but the rest will be taken apart and put back in my bead boxes




It is a lot of inventory, wine charms, earrings, bracelets, key chains, and so on. Heart breaking but hey, they do not go bad, so I can remake them into new things , and still save some of them and relist them when I find a better option.

I am not giving up. No, that is not what this post is about. I am trying to figure out how to do this. What am I doing wrong and how do I fix it ?I am good at creating but not so good at business !!! I have to figure it out, I cannot avoid it any longer. If I want a successful business, and I do, I have to learn to be better at the marketing and business end of it. Period.


I have not been as happy lately because that  financial side had me down. When you work so hard and take a lot of pride in your work, it is hard to not take it personal.  I am not letting it get to me anymore. I am just going to create, and enjoy creating and do my best to figure out how to get my items seen by customers, not other venders looking for ideas on pricing or maybe people looking for ideas of what to make . I want to attract buyers that will purchase my items. I am always happy to share with other artists, that is not what bothers me. What bothers me is only other artists looking at my items  so they do not sell !! I will learn marketing and figure out the best way to go for my business.

I am happy to share with anyone what I am making. There is no reason to be stingy about that. I am happy to teach others as I want to learn as well. But those two things, sales, and teaching, belong in two different places.

So, I plan to explore my options and see what I need to do. I love to make jewelry. I love to sell jewelry. After 25 years of investing in materials,  and making items, I want to see some reward. I think that is normal. I probably have more than ten thousand dollars invested in raw materials. This does not count the probably grand in made up inventory I have on  hand as well. As I mentioned before, for a while now, I have probably spent a grand a year, but for a few years I did not invest much and the first ten  to fifteen years I invested on a couple of hundred a  year , or less, as we had kids and I did not have as much to spend and things were a lot cheaper back then as well .

I will share whatever I learn here. Do I start my own website, join several different sites, start my own site, or do a combo of the above. Do I contact a professional to help me, or just do this on my own ?

I have a lot to think about and always love any feedback or experience anyone wants to share.  I am not going to give up. I love what I do, and I want to be creative !! I am proud of my pieces and I know if the right people saw them, they would sell. My goal is to find those people !!! Since I love research, I should be able to learn something and figure this out !! !

Thanks for stopping by !!


6 responses to “To sell , or not to sell, that is the question …”

  1. Hi Stephane! I really enjoyed this post – very interesting to read your honest Etsy feedback and see your sales breakdown – quite eye opening!! Your positive attitude is great too – it’s really good to see that you are addressing what is not working and are going to look at what further you can do to improve your online presence. I look forward to reading your progress. One of the best pieces of advice I read was to develop a pricing formula and stick to it – factor in your fees (Etsy and Paypal) and yes, your time, because you are worth it. After that, work really hard on your photos and tags – tags are what will get you found by your customers, and when they find you, your photos are what will make them buy! I use a light box (a big plastic tub with two angle lamps clamped to the side) which works quite well…. I only sell on Etsy, I have a website but it just hosts my blog and has a link to Etsy. My Etsy traffic comes mainly from within Etsy itself, but after that from my blog, Pinterest and then Facebook, in that order. I don’t if any of the above is of help….but good luck!!


  2. Thanks Tracy, I absolutely appreciate the great advice !! Thank you so much !!!
    Another wonderful beader has also advised me about tags, something I was not using as well as I should . She, like you, also uses a light box. I will have to set my very inventive husband on that task. lol !! The lighting makes me crazy some days I will tell you !!! Feast or famine in this studio !! !
    After getting very similar advice from both of you, 🙂 believe me, I will be taking it very seriously as I tag my items and figure out a light box for our items !!
    I do pinterest, twitter and just recently started instagram as well, as I was advised by a very successful blogger that it helped her a lot !! She also stressed very good photography as well, for the blog and the instagram account !!
    I hope you know how much I appreciate the feedback, it means a lot and you are probably helping others that read here too and that is why I write , for feedback and to help others struggling with the same things I am !


  3. ALWAYS count your time first!
    For us a beaded wire weave ring for instance cost us maybe 20¢ to make in materials to make but it takes my wife between 6 and 7 minutes to make (about 8 hours to make a tray of 72 rings) and they retail for $6 each here in Quartzsite, AZ and $19.95 in the real world. Wholesale we get $210 a tray.

    In about 2001 we were making Soap. Being a business guy I had my spreadsheet and figure out that since it cost us about 26¢ per bar to make the Soap we needed o sell it for $1 a bar.

    Well the only place the Soap sold was on Ebay. It wasn’t until we figured out the pricing phycology of the thing that we started raising the prices when we got to about $4 a bar they started selling and we kept raising the prices the sweet spot for the cost of a handmade bar of Soap is about $6 a bar.

    Handmade Jewelry is the same only more so. Women brag about how much their Jewelry costs! Most of our Jewelry is made out of Recycled Copper Wire and Glass Seed Beads we COULD put them up for sale for $1 but no one would buy them and none of our customers would wear them. The like to show off the ring they got for “ONLY $19.95”

    At almost $20 if some ever asks for a refund we can afford to let them keep the item and refund everything except the shipping as an apology for disappointing them (which get you referrals). And we can put 25% of our sales back into advertising like we are supposed to.

    We also go out and just “Give Away Free Jewelry” and let people pick out what they want, anything they want. We never ask for money or anything else and yet people often won’t take something for free in person as it is unusual that we don’t leave the corner after 6 or 8 hour without $100+

    Remember a lot of what you pay for with Etsy is for them to promote Etsy, but put 25% of your earning into promoting your personal shop and you will see a big improvement over 6 months time.


    1. I try to be very fair to myself when I price my things. I refuse to just give them away. I have fallen to an all time low on sales despite adding much better quality , unique items. I get great feed back form people, that appears geniune when I show my new line, but no sales in my shops. It leads me to believe most of my “views” are other artists getting ideas or comparing thier work to others.
      I am thinking of my own site as well. I have been for years. I think it is coming soon. I am just not sure the current online market places work anymore, there is just too much stuff to compete with and another jewelry artist and I were appalled at what some people call jewelry, For instance, an old, yet not pretty key, hung by itself on a ball chain is listing above my pieces that are very pretty old keys with beads and charms on an actual chain . Very frustrating.
      Thanks so much for your wonderful feed back, it means a lot !!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Often we design jewelry we think is ugly on purpose and by gosh that is the piece people will fall in love with and buy for a few hundred dollars. It isn’t about what we like, we don’t even wear jewelry.


  4. I had a laugh at your comment because 25 years ago, my husband designed a pair of earrings I hated, I thought they were so ugly, and we took all our earrings to our daughters school at her teachers request , then not only did someone buy them, but another person liked them so much they ordered the exact same pair !!!
    I often do design things I am not in love with, knowing that not everyone loves the same thing. The last few months, despite adding the nicest things we have ever made, we have not made any sales at all. I am really at a loss as to why ?


I would love to hear what you think !!!

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