How to survive a slow summer?

As last year, sales during summer are very slow. It’s not even a matter of venue – I discussed this now with many beadmaker friends. No matter where they’re selling: Ebay, Etsy, own webpage or Farmer’s markets – sales are down. A lot.

Even my most loyal customers need to take a holiday from time to time. That means that in my main sale venue, Ebay, many auctions are ending with the starting price or just a few dollars above listing price.

To counteract this trend and be pro-active, I’m trying to switch things around a bit. Hopefully this can attract new buyers, different target groups and tempt buyers that are more budget conscious.

I reduced the number of beads per set, which enables me to drop the starting price for some smaller sets. As a reaction to the fact that many auctions end currently with the starting bid, I decided to stick with realistic listing prices rather than dropping them … I set the start bid to a point, that I can live with it, even if no bidding war happens.

To target other buyer groups, I am now listing again more big hole beads that fit European charm jewelry, for example Pandora or Troll bracelets. Pandora bracelets are becoming really popular in Europe … when I visited Germany, I realized that the charm bracelet demand is really high right now.

Not only is the target group slightly different for big hole beads (mainly end users), the price point for these beads is also lower than larger sets. This will hopefully attract not only “high rollers” but also bargain hunters.

I am currently also researching new sales venues. I’m not a bead show or Farmer’s Market kind of person and tend to be a bit awkward in personal contact with customers. I’m not that great of a sales person and if someone just looks slightly strange at my items, I would drop the price to an insanely low level.

Online I tried last year ArtFire but I am not convinced with the concept. I believe they’re not spending enough advertising money to get the name out to the buyers. I so wish there would be finally an online sales venue that features only handmade, artisan made items. No supplies, no Chinese mass produced imports, no cheap flea market article. Etsy was at one point such a promise and breath of fresh air, and I love the look & feel of the page so much. But all the mass produced supplies and cheap imports are flooding Etsy so much, that it’s hard for customers to find quality, handmade artisan items.

For my finished jewelry I am considering to give Amazon a try. They do command a high commission compared with Ebay or Etsy, but local art galleries expect an even higher cut. I know there are a couple of other lampwork/jewelry seller that have good success with Amazon. Not sure yet how it works with shipping … as far as I can tell, I would have to send the items to their warehouse. That’s the one thing stopping me so far to list on Amazon. I’m not sure I feel good about this and would rather ship them myself. Got to research that a bit more, hopefully there is a way to do my own shipping.

I also read about 1000 Markets, but am not sure if they don’t have the same issue as Artfire.

Dear reader, If you know of any different/new/great places to sell just lampwork beads or finished jewelry, please let me know. I’m always happy to give it a try.
I also appreciate any ideas/thoughts/input to learn about your strategies to survive the slow summer. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that it’s not getting as bad as it was last year (at least for me) and that sales are starting to get better soon!


4 responses to “How to survive a slow summer?

  1. I know it might kinda sound simple but I (as a buyer) kinda like buying from the seller's own website. I have a couple of bead makers who send me a newsletter email when they have new stock and they seem to do pretty well. All you have to do is say sale and pretty much everyone comes running. Least it seems that way to me…the person who's always 15 minutes after everything has sold out. lol. I look at all the beads everyday on etsy and ebay but with so many other sellers out there even beads you like get kind of lost. I can't tell you how many times I “meant” to go bid on something before the auction ended and forgot to…finding out later someone got it for next to nothing which always makes me feel sick cause I would have paid more. eh, lesson learned. 🙂

  2. I'm thinking a newsletter wouldn't be a bad idea. Art Shows aren't either but jewelry always has a ton of competition. Personally, I think you already do a ton of things right and this is just a miserable time for all artists. We're going to see the Ann Abor Art Fairs tomorrow. As I talk to old friends about how they're surviving all of this I'll pass it on. We're all in the same canoe!

  3. Emily & Sharon, thanks so much for your input. I really appreciate it. Emily – I did try to sell through my webpage last year. But in several months I didn't sell one thing :(. So I got rid of that part on my webpage again, because it involved lots of work to list items for no return.I did also at some point write newsletter, but surely not as often as I should have. And now for several months I didn't write any. Thanks so much for reminding me that this is quite a good marketing tool. Especially if I would combine it with a sale on my personal webpage. I might give that a try and see the results. Sharon – thanks, I really appreciate it. All ideas are welcome. And yes, you're completely right … it's a bad time for all artists. I spoke with a very talented painter a couple of weeks ago and he told me he's selling his paintings for 40 years as his sole income. This year it's the first time so bad that he doesn't know how he can continue. Very sad. I'm just glad that we don't rely on my beads as a sole income. And I feel bad for all beadmakers out there that are in that scary situation. Let's keep our fingers crossed that there are better times around the corner. And thanks again for reminding me of the newsletter. I will definitely work on one next week and see what comes out of it.

  4. Summer sales are decent for us. We did four farmer's markets last year (Andrea went to them as I made more product) and this year we are adding a fifth which starts today. We also attend another farmer's market as a guest twice for the season. The markets can vary with sales from no sales to close to $300 worth, average is probably close to $125ish. Another thing that was nice about the markets is we got invited to different consignment stores and galleries.Online we are just doing Etsy right now since ebay we were getting a bid or two and that was it. Artfire didn't work for us either, we got under 10 views everyday and no sales.I love all of your beads, especially your sets! Whenever I see the sets I always want to make sets but I can't focus enough to make them.Jason

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