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How to Sell Hand-Crafted Jewellery Online

A Simple Website may be all you Need

If you haven't a lot to sell, just a few pages online is all you need.

The simpler the better - just two pages can work well. One page with your name, contact details, prices and pictures of your work: the other being the checkout with a link to PayPal. It's even possible to put all this on a single page! Less is more. The easier it is to buy, the more likely you'll make a sale.

Make the Site Personal
This is important, as buyers are more likely to trust someone they can relate to. They want to know there's a real person selling. A thumbnail of yourself smiling with a name goes a long way. So do testimonials - ask customers for comments on your jewelry.

Make it easy for potential buyers to contact you. An e-mail address on your front page will bring mountains of spam if you have a busy site - so create a form for enquiries, or add an extra link to go to your e-mail address.

How to Build a Website with an Online Store to Sell Jewelry

If you really want to make money, what you need is an e-store with a nice front page, a Paypal checkout, and marketing to bring traffic.

This is much easier than you think, especially the first part.

How a site works
When you view a website, you're accessing the hard drive of another computer, sometimes in a different country. This host machine stores the website for the creator. The site itself has hidden code called HTML (for short). When your browser views this code it translates it into the image you see on the screen.

HTML editor
Rather than spending ages writing this code yourself, all you need is a program to generate it for you. Some word processing programs can do this, or better still you could invest in Front Page or Expressions. However, it's a lot easier and cheaper to use website building software with an HTML editor built-in, these also make it simple to publish to your host.

One such program I use is from Ewisoft, but there are many others like MrShop. I joined their 30-day free trial and then signed-up for a hosting contract with Go Daddy. These companies make things easy and inexpensive.

Custom store software
For high-volume sellers, Miva offers great online store software. Get the shop for free by signing a contract with certain hosts, or buy the software outright and upload it to your own host. Google for the best deals. If you have US$500 to $1,000 to splash on, then it's much cheaper in the long run to buy the Miva store software. However, if your cash doesn't flow that well or you doubt if your store will be a long-term success, then it'll be cheaper to pay per month and rent the store from a host.

Register a Domain with a Host
Before you begin working on a new website, you must register a domain. This needs to be as simple, as short, as memorable as possible, and available. Start by writing a list of names that are related to you or your business.

For example, if you live along Bure Lane and sell designer jewellery, write Bure Jewelry (at the time of writing burejewelry.com was actually available). Or you could use your own name or the type of pieces you design.

Suffix
Go for a dot com if possible, especially if you're in the US, as it's easier for potential customers to remember. However, a.co.uk for Britain, or.eu for Europe may be more available and appear "local".

Lately, new suffixes have become available, like.co. Although this stands for Colombia, the suffix is intended for general use and "co" is associated globally to the word "company". These new suffixes give you the opportunity to own a domain with your chosen name.

Availability
When you've scribbled all possibilities, go to a popular web host like GoDaddy to see whether it's taken. If someone else has your preferred domain, consider a different suffix, or change some of the wording. It's better to string words together, than use hyphens or dots, as it's easier to remember.

Example: If annspearls.com is taken, then annspearlnecklaces.com is better than anns.pearls.com. This can then be expressed as AnnsPearlNecklaces.com

Web storage
At the same time choose a contract for storage space under the name from a web host, like GoDaddy -the minimum priced will be sufficient. I think I paid (in December 2009) about US$75 for the registration of two domains and one year hosting. Or you can pay monthly, which works out a little more.

Be sure to print out and keep all letters and settings mailed from your host, you will need these later. Likewise, make a note of all the passwords - you may create more than you can remember! After you've done all that, you're almost on the road!

Your Front Page
The next thing to do is design your front page. This is important as it's the first thing a potential customer sees, and you only have a few seconds to convince them to stay before they click away to the next site. With your front page:

  • The user must be able to understand what the site is about in less than two seconds.
  • Design everything so it can be scanned by the eye quickly.
  • Keep it very simple -no fancy or small type, music or flash. It must load fast.
  • Make it easy for the visitor to e-mail or contact you.
  • Use a simple navigation structure with limited choice -less is more.
  • Avoid long sentences, paragraphs or pages.
  • No spelling or grammatical mistakes and only good quality pictures.
  • Include a call for action. Like "To Buy Click Here" or "E-mail Now!"
  • Use similar colours and type styles for harmony.
  • Design a nice logo -this can be an image.

How to physically construct your front page will depend on your web building confidence. If you have no idea, then you can either pay someone to design and make for you, or you can start with a pre-built template supplied by most web hosts.

Template
A template for your whole site will ensure each page is linked professionally, and that every page keeps the same design, logo, and other sections. It saves you a lot of time. Free templates are also available within the program Front Page.

Keep in simple
Less is more, but it's hard to design clear and simple.

Structure links
Rather than clutter your front page, build links leading to other pages to expand a choice. For instance on the front page above, I placed a picture and link for Stand Beads - click this and it goes to another page with a list of all the different types of strands. To include all on the front page would be obstructive.

Logo
Design your own logo - it looks professional and gives trust. There are various programs that make logos; some are free, Google search. Or experiment with different fonts and colours with your word processing program.

My favourite is WebStyle from Xara. However, if you choose to use a non-image logo, bear in mind that it may look different to viewers depending on their browser and settings.

Sell words
For headings, item descriptions, or copy, use words that sell. These are positive, exciting and inspirings words - like Irresistible, Splendid, Magnificent, Dazzling, Wonderful, Dreamlike, Sexy, Passionate etc.

Accurate
Make descriptions and photographs as detailed, accurate, and interesting as possible. Photographs should all be sharp, cropped and contrast boosted. Edit everything you write, and use the spell check and thesaurus on your word processing program.

How to Structure Content within the Site

Uniformity
Be sure to add a clear link to "Add to Basket", "Basket Content", AND "Buy Now", on all sales pages. Missing these will lead to lost sales.

Ensure type face, colour, and font sizes are consistent throughout your site, especially if you don't use a template. Apply the same font, writing style and spelling everywhere, except for headings. Only use two or three different colours.

Typeface
The best font for web-reading is Arial (as this book), although headings also look good in Tahoma. Times New Roman looks dated. Don't use fancy styles as they may look different to the viewer on another web browser. This book is in 12 point, but 14 point is also common. Don't go smaller, and never under 10 point.

Checkout
Use a PayPal checkout if you don't have a merchant account to accept credit cards. These checkouts are simple to set up, free, and can be used by anyone with a credit card. If you haven't already join PayPal immediately.

Going live
When you've finished designing the site with your HTML editor, it's time to upload to your host, just click Publish on the program.

For the first time, you'll have to enter the ftp address (this will beftp.yourdomain. Plus user name & password you choose for ftp to your host, and maybe your website URL (address). If you can't find any of this information, just ask your host.

Your site should now be up and running, but don't expect any sales without promotion and marketing.

Check & double check
After you've finished your site, go through every single page to check links go to the right places, it's very easy to get these wrong. Check spelling with your spell checker and use English for the country you are marketing too (British English for the UK, or US spelling in the US).

Clear and simple

Edit copy and shorten paragraphs for easy online reading. Leave lots of space on the page. This looks refreshing and pleasant to the eye. Black type on a white background works the best.

Try yourself
Buy something from your own website to see everything is working correctly and also to get the feel a customer experiences. There's nothing like testing the system yourself all the way through.

Problems a visitor will suffer, like where to click next, will show right away. You can then make adjustments. Such as adding automatically-generated emails, or change other aspects of the process that might not be working as intended.

It's very worthwhile to do these tests often, even after your site is up and running. Things can strangely change on their own, either from bugs in the software or adjustments from your host, so never become complacent. Test, test, test.

It's very worthwhile to do these tests often, even after your site is up and running. Things can strangely change on their own, either from bugs in the software or adjustments from your host, so never become complacent. Test, test, test.

Marketing
Many think they can build a website and customers will come crawling to buy. Reality is far from that. There are millions of new websites every week, and as with any business, you have to do the hard work to bring in sales.

Fortunately you're in a niche market promoting hand-crafted jewelry, so it's not as difficult as say, selling clothes - but it will be pretty tough! This part is very important and I will soon be publishing an article to help. You may even consider buying a whole book on the subject.

 

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