I’ve had an Etsy shop since 2009 and have been making handcrafted jewelry since 2003. The hobby came to me naturally when my children were young and I needed something to focus on other than being a stay-at-home mom. My youngest was two when I started and he’s twenty now!
For a long time, I was afraid to sell my jewelry. I am a rule follower and it seemed daunting to have a “side” business. But, after doing a lot of reading, I decided to jump into selling my handmade jewelry as a hobby. Yes, I have a tax number to sell and we claim the small amount generated of the extra income generated from Etsy on our taxes. And, I’m so much more relaxed about it now.
Over the years, I’ve made over 750 sales and have made pieces for wedding parties and people as far away as Austrailia and Europe. Now, I just ship to those in the United States. Shipping is expensive and becoming more so with each passing year. I supplement the Etsy sales with selling to friends as well as family and taking my jewelry to a gallery that sells my pieces on consignment. I’ve had jewelry for eight years at the The Left Bank Gallery & shop in Mc Gregor, Iowa. Earlier this week, I took another eighty pieces to them for this season. I’ll do that two or three more times during the course of the year. My income stream from the consignment is steady and reliable. The staff at the gallery, while always changing, seems to really appreciate my unique and affordable pieces. And, surprisingly enough, without really trying, the yearly income from the gallery is very much the same year to year!
The same cannot be said for my Etsy experience. Fees have increases and shipping is always on the rise, as I previously admitted. But, another jewelry maker, Liza, at the gallery in McGregor told me to keep my Etsy shop open when I considered closing it shortly after I started at the gallery. And, she was right. Being an Etsy seller has its ups and downs, but in general, it’s more up than down for me. The trouble that goes into starting a shop and learning the platform has long passed. If I took the shop offline, I would miss it. I would probably want to start up again and then I have the trouble of learning the platform all over again or learning a new platform such as squarespace. I’m comfortable with Etsy. Even if I am not making a killling with selling my pieces there, I enjoy it. And between my Etsy shop, Carol’s Jewelry Orchard, and the gallery in Iowa, my small amount of extra income keeps my hobby afloat.
One thing I’ve learned about selling my jewelry is that customer service is paramount. You need to have great communication skills and put the customer’s needs first. This attitude has served me well and I’ll continue to strive for excellence in this area. Sometimes, such as this week, you need to admit that you cannot fulfill their order as quickly as stated on the shop page. I had two sales in two days and cannot ship until Monday. I admitted as much and let my customers decide whether they still wanted to buy what they ordered or not. It usually works out fine. I’ve learned to just be honest and in return, people will be honest with you.
Recently, I’ve added some other sections to my shop. I am formally trained as an Enviornmental Educator. The Earth and our environment is important to me. So, I’ve been making reusuable market bags. They are sturdy and handy. I use mine (which I made) everytime I grocery shop. But, only one has sold in my Etsy shop. Conversely, when the pandemic started I made cottom fabric face masks. These have three layers of fabric and a nose guard. Those were a huge hit in my Etsy shop desipite not being jewelry. So, there’s ups and downs. But you never know which it will be.
I also added a section for vintage jewelry and destash beads and/or supplies. The destash section has done well. My customers have generally bought everything I’ve listed as a destash buy. They are great deals for someone who is lookiTs on the platform. It takes time to list and if you take it down because there is no action on the items, you loose the time you spent to put it on in the first place. Time will tell with the vintage jewelry pieces.
Do you have any hobbies? I think my hobbies are an extremely important part of my life. I get to create, have satifaction from making a product that sells, and add a small amount of income that sustains my hobby as well.
We will be moving this summer and I don’t see my hobby going anywhere but with me!
Carol, I’m marveling at your creations. They’re just gorgeous! As for me, I suppose my hobby / freelance life would be for storytelling. I haven’t done it professionally for a few years, but I’d love to get myself back to it…