Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I've got a brand... now what?

As I mentioned in my previous post "Branding - no, not moo cows," I'm an author as well as a jewelry maker. My publisher provides professional assistance through informative webinars, and I've found that some of this information can also apply to the business of selling handmade jewelry. With permission from Jenny Bullough, manager of digital content at Harlequin Enterprises (the parent company of my publisher, Carina Press), here's some information about personal brand -- rewritten to apply to jewelry selling, with additional information based on my own experience and the input of the Gem Gypsy and the Triangle Jewelry Makers.

Super Brand! The magical sparkly you!
Got your BRAND? Your brand is your public presence -- the professional, creative you that is facing the world. It's a combination of your personality, logo, style, and reputation.

Here are the next steps toward making your brand even stronger, improving your sales, and having a successful go at selling handmade jewelry. 


If you're serious about selling jewelry, you've got to have a decent website. Even if your funds and/or computer skills are limited, there are some steps you can take. Check out my "Building a Better Website" for the basics on professional, quality web presence.

Make time to market yourself

This can be as much or as little as your schedule allows, but spend at least 10 minutes a day or an hour a week, updating your websites and social media. If a month goes by and there are no status updates, shop listings, or blog posts, followers will lose interest (or assume you have).

Continue to produce

Don't make your customers wait too long. If they're excited about your work, they will keep checking back. If there's nothing new, they will think you've lost interest and they will lose interest, too. "Buzz" ebbs and flows quickly on the Internet.

The bill-paying job, children, illness, or just the creative doldrums, can leave you without new content. Or without the time to share new content. Life happens. But even that does not need to keep you from producing something.

If you don't have a new piece of jewelry, or time to photograph your inventory, you can still post social media updates and rearrange the pics on your website. Perhaps there are some items that haven't sold in awhile and have cycled onto page 3 or 4 of your website. Relist them with new descriptions and move them front and center.

Or post links to relevant content on other websites -- for instance, I make steampunk jewelry, so I sometimes post links to cool steampunk pictures or books, if I don't have new jewelry to share.

If you are comfortable sharing personal information, you can let your customers know that you have a huge deadline at work, or that your 7-year-old is sick, and thank them for their patience. As I've mentioned several times throughout this blog, part of the value added to what you sell is that it was handmade by a real person. So be a real person, and your customers will appreciate it. 

Social media

It is impossible for most people to keep up several social media sites at the same time -- Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Etsy, Tumblr, Flickr, MySpace, deviantART, Wordpress, etc. Choose one hub that you maintain consistently. Be present on others, but use them to direct people to your preferred social site.

Engage customers with occasional posts, ask questions to prompt interaction, and always reply to queries and comments (politely and in a timely manner) even if just to say "thank you!"

Have short-term and long-term goals

A jewelry business is never "finished." It must constantly meet the changing needs of the marketplace, adopt new technologies and social media platforms, attract customers, challenge and inspire you as an artist.

Continue ongoing improvements and new offerings. How do you want your business to expand? How might you improve each customer's experience? What will you will do if a particular piece of jewelry sells well? Are you prepared to make more, or to make coordinating items?

Where do you see yourself in ten years? What do you want to be doing with your jewelry?

Plans can change. But having a plan will give you confidence, security and direction, which will further enhance your reputation with customers.  

Jen Hilton makes one-of-a-kind jewelry sold through her website JLHJewelry.com. She is the founder of the Triangle Jewelry Makers and is featured in the books "Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings" and "1000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art" available at Amazon and other booksellers.

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