Handmade Jewellery 101 | e-Course Hub

Welcome to our Handmade Jewellery 101 Course

On this page you will find all the up to date course modules and materials, available as and when they are released. This course began on March 1st 2020 and has now come to a close.

First of all, a very warm welcome to our Handmade Jewellery 101 course! Thank you so much for signing up to be part of this. Unlike other courses online, we’ve developed this one to be something you can do at your own pace, in your own time. Twice a week, we will be sending you an email containing the next module of your course, with easy to follow information as well as downloadable takeaways, plenty of top tips and handy videos.

Before anything else, be sure that you’ve got our emails added to your Contacts so not to miss any emails that may go into any cheeky Spam filters.

Each module will be full of easy, actionable steps to get you started right from square 1, through to running your own online handmade business. If you already run your own online business, don’t worry, there will still be plenty here that can help you maximise what you are already doing. Over the next 10 weeks we will share with you tonnes of knowledge that has been put together by successful handmade business owners, marketers and industry experts. Each week, the topics will get more advanced and put to use everything you’ve learnt.

We have a wonderful Facebook group where you are all welcome to ask questions, share your progress or spark conversations on the course if you so wish, and members of our team will also be there ready to help if you need us! You can join here.

This course has been put together by us completely free and impartially, the only times you may want to spend money is throughout the modules where business costs would typically occur (such as advertising and graphics – but we’ll show you the best workarounds and cost cutting techniques as we work through the course!).

So, finally, and without further ado, let’s start this amazing journey into the world of making an extra income from such a wonderful craft!

In this first module we will cover the basics of creating your brand, from a great name through to getting a logo made and planning where you are going to sell your items. Let’s go!

Every business starts with an idea, and creating yours will be no different. You may already have an idea, or even a business set up but yet to take off. Let’s go right from the beginning and make sure we’re not missing anything!

1. Your Business Name

With so many businesses out there, selling on their own websites or marketplaces (Etsy, Folksy etc.), your business name (brand name) will be the first thing people usually see and it should try to encompass what you are offering or the themes of your work, whilst being eye catching and easy to remember.

If you’re intending on having an ‘open book’ style business, with lots of varying products, then your brand name is best reflecting that and focusing more on yourself as the designer. This doesn’t mean you need to use your own name, but rather coin something that suits you and your interests. Even the broadest of ranges have similarities varying by their maker.

If you intend to have a specific range, your name may be best suited as a nod to their theme (for example, if you want to create nature inspired jewellery, choose something that reflects that.) If you aren’t sure what you want to sell, don’t worry. We will cover that in a later module, and an umbrella name is an easy place to start.

Take a notepad and write down some buzzwords that you think of when you imagine your handmade business. These don’t have to be anything in particular and can just be terms you like. Here are a few I have picked based on my interests, if I was setting up a handmade jewellery site selling boho themed jewellery for festivals;

Boho, Mystical, Moon, Luna, Vibes, Beady, Magic, Forest, Fairy.

Next, see if a combination of any of those words sound fitting and as though they flow well together.

I’ve chosen LunaForest as my first concept idea.

Once you have your first name, it’s time to head online and get searching to see if anyone else out there has the name taken already. Check in Google, and also using the phrase followed by ‘jewellery’ and see what comes up. Then also check on Etsy to see if anyone there is using it, as this is by far the biggest handmade marketplace and somewhere you may want to target later on.

If you find your chosen name has been taken, it is always best to go back to your list of words and try adding some more (thesaurus comes in handy here!) and rebuilding some combinations. If you’ve not found anything that matches – bingo! You’ve found a great name. If you’re set on your first name and see it’s chosen, some makers do choose to add a suffix or prefix such as ‘The,A,Ltd,Co,Makes,Jewellery,Jewels,Handmade’ etc. to ensure the name is more unique. You need to be cautious that you will want this name to be as unique as possible, as you will eventually be trying to claim these as usernames on social media, too!

Based on my research, I’ve found that my initial words were used for other brands, so I settled and expanded on my third name TheBohoForest. This name reflects my theme and gives an idea of the type of items you may find in my future online shop! You may not always get the first business name you wanted, but it’s important to remember that taking care at this stage will save a lot of hassle later on when marketing your items. If you already have a name, but are yet to properly push your business, you may wish to double check these things and make any tweaks if necessary.

2. Developing Your Logo


Some people choose to make their product range before they take the step of getting any imagery created for their brand, and although this is fine, we find it is much easier to establish the ‘personality’ of your brand alongside how you want it to appear aesthetically. Having a name and a logo brings your business idea to life, and gives you a great founding shell to build upon. Now, logos can be tricky, especially if you are brand new to this and aren’t a graphic designer! So, keeping in mind that you may not have a budget at all yet to spend on these things, how can you get a logo that stands out, without spending any money? Whilst we always agree with supporting other small independent businesses who can help you with a logo, now is not always the best time to invest money. We will cover below our best suggestion for designing a great logo, for free, with a minimal cost to keep and download!

We’ll go into creating a logo on a budget below, but first of all, as we did with the brand name, let’s get some ideas buzzing around to decide what the logo should encompass.

So, as with my example, let’s take the business name: TheBohoForest.

Write down the first few simple words that pop into your mind that could represent elements of your logo. With mine, I imagine; a moon, a tree, crystals, movement, night sky, bold text, small details.
Keep on going until you’ve considered all the items you think represent your brand name well. Once you have this list, we can start putting them to use.

If you decide that you’d like to use a ‘build your own’ service, the next step contains two different options for you to use. One is called Looka and the other is called Canva. They both offer a super usable platform that you can design a logo with yourself, or use handy templates which is ideal if you are a total beginner or don’t have many design skills yourself.

After trying out many different websites in the lead up to this course, these are by far the best in terms of use for beginners. Looka is great for beginners, and very intuitive, but Canva has a lot more functionality that may come in handy later down the line for you in this course. The choice is yours! There is a small fee attached to each platform to download and keep your logo copyright free, but these are much, much less than hiring a designer to do the work for you.

No matter what style of logo you create, they should always be as simple as possible and try to keep any text to a minimum with a clear, easy to read font. Your logo will appear everywhere as the face of your business, and if it’s not very legible you could potentially seem unprofessional and lose customers. You don’t have to be a designer to have a slick logo anymore! 

First and foremost, you need to come up with a colour palette that you will use in your business materials. These will be shades that you stick to to inject the personality we mentioned. This doesn’t have to be colourful and can simply be a simple shade of grey. We recommend using 1-3 colours maximum that do not clash.

You can use this handy tool to generate colour palettes here, you can also use it to find certain specific numbers you will need to keep your brand colours matching.

When you’re happy with 1-3 colours over on the colour palette website above, make a note of the #number at the bottom of each colour. These are called hexadecimal (hex) codes and are used by computers to display specific colours. You will want to keep these handy from now on.

Now we have our colour(s), let’s move on to the logo. I have decided to go for a plain grey single colour logo as I intend to have colourful items in my shop.

Let’s see what logos I come up with using both platforms on the videos below.

Video 1 – Canva

 

Video 2 – Looka



(Please note we are in no way affiliated with these companies and they are listed here purely for the purpose of this course. We are suggesting them as they are tried and tested by us.)

As you can see, both of these platforms are really easy to use. I particularly like the intutive symbol selection and auto-generator of Looka but I like the way you can play around with designs easily on Canva. I’d suggest trying out both websites and seeing what you think for yourself.

As a general rule, create 5 different logos then run through this checklist, grading each one with points from 1-5. Whichever comes out as the highest score is the winner. 

Here’s the point system –

 

You may wish to spend the next few days having a play around with the platforms we have suggest, or even get out a sketchpad and draw some ideas beforehand. These things can sometimes take time to come to fruition, so don’t be disheartened if nothing springs to mind immediately.

Module 2 coming 5th March.

Moving on from Module 1, we hope that you managed to come up a great new name and logo for your business, or learnt some new tips and tricks to improve your existing one. In this module, we will be focusing on planning a range of items to sell in your shop and how you can make sure you’re taking advantages of any gaps in the market that you can fill!

As with any business market (the overall amount of businesses selling and customers buying in a specific category), it is important that before anything else you plan both your product range, as well as see what else is already out there that you may have competition with. Although the handmade community is very supportive, you ultimately still want to make an income from your work, and the less similarities your items have to other, potentially more established, sellers the better. You want to give yourself the best possible start, and that means trying to innovate, not imitate.

You probably have a good idea, since Module 1, on what you want your business to be based around. These could be themes, such as my initial ideas of being boho/festival inspired. What you now need to do is get more granular with these ideas in order to develop a bigger list of words that you can use to inspire your range.

Take a piece of paper and once again write down the words/themes that you will associate with your product range. If you don’t have any specific ideas, these can be broader terms such as colours, shapes and materials.

Once you have spent some time coming up with around 10 words, it’s now time to start doing some market research. Market research is where businesses check what it out there, how competitors are marketing their own products, and finding how they can offer a more unique, or even better product/service.

At this stage, we don’t need to completely decide on where we are going to be selling our items, so don’t worry that certain places may not be where you want to sell. Chances are many sellers will be on multiple platforms (such as Etsy, eBay, Folksy etc.) so it’s always good to dive into each one and see what is around.


We suggest the following platforms as places to begin your research. Use the words you have written down and begin to search each platform to see what items come up when you search for them;

All of the above stores are home to people selling their homemade wares. Not all will be where you choose to end up, but it’s still worth checking each platform, to see who and what are creating out there.

What you want to begin looking for are gaps in these listings, and notice what items you can envision being there that aren’t already. The easiest way to get off the ground is by offering something that not only is handmade, but not something you will find anywhere else. Although each handmade item is, by nature, unique you can still make sure that you stand out from the crowd.


You’ll find a handy downloadable note sheet here if you want to use it.

DOWNLOAD NOTE SHEET (PDF)

Once you have conducted some in depth research, you will now have a better idea of what your online shop(s) will be best stocked with and begin the fun part of designing your range!

Take your notebook and begin writing down the kind of products you want to sell, remember this is totally unique to you, and will also be dictated by your skill level. If you are an absolute beginner you can start with simple charm pendant necklaces with added value such as sterling silver components and Swarovski crystals. If you are already advanced in jewellery making, perhaps you will offer more complex beaded bracelets.

It is absolutely crucial at this time to make sure you not only plan a small, succinct range of products (we recommend around 10 to get started), but you also need to take care to accurately plan how much time you will need to make each item and the cost of supplies. We will break down how to price your items effectively in Module 3, but for now just make a note of the time each item will take to make.

Remember, the more hours invested in a piece the more you can charge for it. However, you also need to be mindful that you will be cutting the potential audience down if you set your items at a high price point. There is never a right and wrong answer, and the price should always reflect your work.

You may now want to spend a few days planning your initial range and getting supplies to make them. We’ve have some handy kits if you’re an absolute beginner that you can easily sell on, and also have a 20% code if you would like to purchase jewellery making materials for your range from our website. 

Keep in mind – when shopping online for supplies that you will use to make and sell your items, you should ensure the range you’re planning complies with the law. The  EU Nickel Directive is a key point to keep in mind (beware of buying from abroad or ultra cheap suppliers who may not comply ). More info can be found on our FAQ page.

Take your time with this part of your journey, as we mentioned before, the more time you invest now, the less likely you are to face issues in the future stages of opening your business. Plan your range carefully, and perhaps even get doodling and labelling supplies.

All of the patterns and projects on Spoilt Rotten Beads you are welcome to make and sell on as made up jewellery, if you are short on inspiration, we are happy to share ours with you. But again, be aware that customising these is a great way to ensure they are unique to you and your business.

So, in summary, let’s spend the next few days doing the following if you are doing the course in real time with us:

Throughout this course, you will not need to spend a penny, and if you would prefer to sit and watch whilst we go through the rest of the modules, you won’t miss out. We find that the best way to learn is to do this course with us, but of course we have also designed it to be done at your own time.

Good luck, and we’ll see you soon for Module 3.

Following on from Module 2, you may now have already been making up some items to add to your new shop, or you may have ideas of what you will eventually be making when the time is right for you.

Whether you’ve got 1 or 20 items to sell, one thing that is always a struggle in the handmade world is setting a fair price that ensures you are running a profitable business. Whilst low prices are always advantageous, the time you invest, money for supplies and other factors need to be considered when you set a price point. Be aware that the vast majority of people who look to support handmade businesses don’t mind paying a little more for a quality item – if there are people out there looking for low prices that don’t allow you to make a living, they are best off shopping mass made!

But, the hard part is actually knowing how to go about setting a price properly. Many crafters initially forgo the money they’ve spent on materials, and often don’t factor in their labour as part of the price. Starting off on this foot will only cause problems from you, as if you ever intend to start selling items at a fair price that reflects your investment – existing customers may not understand why prices have gone up. 

So, how can you effectively set a price that is both desirable to your intended customers, but allows you to make an income? Remember – before this stage it is crucial you do your market research as we discussed in Module 2. You need to ensure you have a rough idea of who, what, and what prices are out there. If you intend to sell something that takes 8 hours – but there are people out there selling for a price you couldn’t beat, try and look for a different gap in the market and see where you can innovate. Always steer clear of trying to be the lowest priced, and always aim to be the most unique.

In this module we’ll look at the formulas we use to set fair and accurate pricing for your investment. The key factors we need to consider every time we complete an item we wish to sell are;

You will find it handy at this point to have a specific diary particularly for calculating your prices, managing stock and as well as for tax return purposes – we’ll cover this in a later module.

Time –  How much time have you spent making this item? Split your time into units – with 15/20/30 minutes or an hour as 1 unit. Depending on what kind of item this is, how granular you want to be with your time units will change.

As an example, we’ll say our unit of time is 1 unit = 30 minutes.

We also then need to set ourselves an hourly wage – when running a business, you must make sure you include payment for your time, otherwise you will not be profitable. Many crafters set this as minimum wage, but depending on your skill level, this can fluctuate. Keep it reasonable to your skill, but make sure it is paying you fairly. Then work out what 1 unit of your time is worth.

For us, as an example, 1 unit of our time is worth £4.

Materials – Materials must also be factored into the price of the item. Although this can be trickier to calculate accurately as you may be working from packets of beads, multipacks of clasps, or spools of thread etc. you need to make sure you can generate a rough guess-timate of how much you spent on the materials.

For one pair of boho earrings (featured below) we spent £2 using a mixture of items from our stash and new materials.

Profit Margin – You don’t just want to break even – you want to be making money from your creations. This is where you need to decide just how much of a profit margin you want to make from each piece (ie. how much you want to make on top of your costs). 

We will set it as a modest 25% for this example. 

Remember – Depending on the items you use, and what their perceived value is (eg. sterling silver and gemstones have a higher value) you can change your desired profit margin, and ultimately lift their price. Try not to make and sell any lower priced items for less than a 15% profit margin as you would need to sell large volumes to make any kind of significant profit, and handmade and volume don’t go hand in hand.

 

So, based on the above and our example, here’s the formula at work – it’s super easy!

We have made 1 pair of boho hoop earrings that took 1 unit of our time. Materials cost us £2. So let’s work out how much we can sell these for, effectively.

£4 time unit (1)  + £2 materials = £6

Desired profit margin – 25%. 

25% of £6 = £2

£6+£2 = £8.

Total price of item to list = £8.

Keep in mind you may also have fees, taxes and other charges to consider later on down the line which will need to be added into your calculations. It’s important you follow this for each item and don’t just guess, as you will be doing yourself a disservice.

We’ll touch on this topic again later down the line when it comes to advertising and platform fees, but for now, play around with calculations of any items you currently have made, or items you plan on making so you can see where your business will stand in terms of prices. Once you have this, you can again see where you fit in line with the market and adjust if necessary.

Following on from the previous Module, you may now have already begun making a range of items to sell in your shop and are stuck into the creating of your products. If you’re still considering what to put in your upcoming online shop, then we are going to run through some of our top suggestions of items that can add value to your makes, that are still easily priced up with our formula (as posted in Module 3).

Unfortunately, time is the least visible ingredient in anything you make and sell, and sometimes it is worth ensuring you have at least a few products that can be made quickly, but have higher prices due to their materials. So, what do we suggest if you’re still wondering how you can charge more for your items, without investing lots more of your time? 

Firstly, we suggest using sterling silver in your makes. Sterling silver items are at least 92.5% pure silver, and are much longer lasting than anything that has been plated. Using sterling silver findings is a great way to provide longevity to your makes, and also allows you to increase the price to reflect this.

As well as findings, you can also find many beautiful sterling silver beads and components to include in your makes. We recommend a typical margin of 50% when you are selling items made with sterling silver, and people are usually more than happy to pay more for the use of these items. There is a huge volume of people searching for sterling silver items, so you already have a good base to market to, especially if you plan to use an online marketplace such as Etsy.


Secondly come gemstones. Gemstones are a highly sought after component, and due to the unique nature of each stone, every piece made using them is bespoke in appearance. Gemstones are great for use in your jewellery creations as there are such a broad variety of shapes, sizes and styles out there. They also come in very affordable prices, up to more expensive. No matter what gemstone you choose to use, you can use this as a way to bump up the final price of the item. 

 

You may also wish to use items that have a luxury, or well known, brand name attached to them. This adds an extra layer of quality to your creations, and also means you can charge more, as people know these materials are of the highest quality.

By purchasing items from well known brand ranges, such as Miyuki seed beads (known for their precision and strength), Swarovski (for gorgeous sparkling crystals) or Preciosa for glass beads (Czech glass known for it’s craftsmanship).

Be aware that there are many online stores out there that seem to sell these items, or seem to offer unbeatable prices. These are often poor quality and do not last, so make sure you purchase your materials from a recognised, reputable supplier. This way you can trace your entire creation is any customer enquires. If a price seems too good to be true, especially for Swarovski crystals, chances are they are poor imitations. Wish, we’re looking at you!

Next up is items that are trend led. Lots of people out there are looking for on-trend jewellery, but don’t want to buy from mass made shops. Being reactive to the most recent trends across the high street will give you an edge, and allow you to keep appearing in relevant searches for specific topic (eg. leopard print, pura vida style etc.). Be wary that trend led items often have a short shelf life, due to the nature of fashion trends. If you choose to go down this route, go for items that are quick to make and aren’t too bespoke as to appeal to lots of different people. The last thing you want is to be stuck with items you made for a certain trend that has since gone out of fashion. The best way to research products for trend-let makes is by visiting popular online retailers and offering an all-round better product than they do – the price doesn’t have to be the same as you are offering a much better item, so don’t be too put off that you can’t compete with theirs. As we’ve touched on previously, always innovate and never imitate!

No matter what items you plan to use, before you make any final decisions on product lines, make sure you once again go back to Module 2 and complete market research when planning to sell higher priced items. This way you can see where abouts you are going to position yourself, and can also make a call on what is realistically going to be profitable, and what may not be such a good idea (simple gemstone bracelets with no additions are extremely common on marketplaces, and without offering a very low price on these, you will be struggling with your profit margin and getting sales.


You’ll find a category, if you click the link below, that we have filled with our favourite items that can be used in more luxury makes. These are all items that will add some real value to your creations, and mean you can set higher asking prices when listing them for sale.

You may now be at a point where you have some items made for your range, or are still in the process of designing and making. Whatever stage you’re at, it’s great to now start focusing on your product imagery before we get into the building of your online shop.

What we now need to begin to think about at this stage is how we are going to produce great photos that sell out items. There is nothing worse than spending hours making a gorgeous handmade item, only to then struggle to capture it in it’s best light when it comes to photographing them.

Here we will move on to give you some of our best tips for taking your own photos and editing them to a high standard – no professional photographer or skills required – and most of the time you can do this directly from your own existing phone.

If you don’t have a phone that matches these specs then a good camera will of course be fine, but we will cover the best ways to edit these photos in the next module, as these tend to take a little more advanced work than those taken on a mobile.

For this module we recommend that it is for people who have a smartphone with at least an 8 megapixel camera (most do these days, but it is always worth checking.) and have to hand the following extra items;

– Plain white paper, A3 and heavy stock works best.

– A table or flat surface that has good, natural light.

Tip 1 – Natural light is best 🌸

We always recommend that you take photos when you have the brightest and best amount of natural light possible to your item. This is what most cameras are built to work best with, and will also ensure that you don’t have any shadowing as a result of unnatural light at various angles around you.

Tip 2. Stick to a position 🌸

When taking your photos, try and keep yourself in the same position. This way, when you have a range online, the gallery of items will all look nicely curated and give an extra feel of professionalism to your listings.

3. Keep the background crisp 🌸

Lots of people struggle with backgrounds on their photos, and for this reason we recommend always keeping it simple. Using a heavy, crisp, white background is the best way to make your life easier at this stage and with the right light, makes the need for editing minimal. Try to keep any backgrounds you have as clean as possible throughout, as this saves on editing out any marks later.

4. Use minimal editing to tweak your images 🌸

All phones have a built in editor, meaning you can make subtle adjustments to your images once you have taken them. These settings will appear when you open a photo in your gallery, depending on the type of photo this will vary so have a look around to find them. Always use these sparingly, and only focus on Contrast to get your background crisp. Don’t go overboard on the Saturation or use any pre-built filters you may encounter as these can completely change the colours of your design – which may not impress some customers.

Many people will often invest in a small lightbox for photographing their jewellery, but from our experiences when starting out, these are best for those who are more comfortable with process, as these can give issues of their own that need to be done in editing after. If you are a total newbie to taking product photographers, we recommend you stick to the simple for now, until you are comfortable and producing images that all have the same level of quality to them.

The best thing to do to whilst you are learning how to get the best shots, is to play around with your images, lighting and also use online listings for inspiration on how to place your jewellery. Try not to take too many ‘lifestyle’ style shots with other items in such as busts etc., as they can very easily distract from your item or leave the images looking a little amateur.

Remember, the end and ultimate goal for anything we post online to sell – is to sell it! Giving your pieces the best shot at finding their new homes with good photos plays a big part in getting people to click through. Sadly, bad photography can be off-putting to customers, no matter how skilled you are at making, so spending extra time at this stage is important, even when we are excited to get them online to show the world!

We’ll cover more ways to improve your photos or edit out imperfections in the next module. For now, have yourself a mini photoshoot so you can brush up on your snapping skills!

Here is a very quick and handy video, covering some of the tips we mentioned here.

 

Welcome to Module 6 of your course! Please see the note at the top of the course page for an update on the course during the COVID-19 pandemic and when we will be sending modules moving forward.

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At this stage of the course, we have covered the basics of developing your business idea, name, logo and also how to effectively plan a great range of items for your new online shop. If you’re following along in real time, you may now have a range of items ready and waiting to be listed on your shop(s).

As we are taking things step by step, we highly encourage you to spend this opportunity beginning to write your product descriptions, rather than doing it at the time of listing. But, as with all other aspects of your future listings, how do you write copy that actually sells?

We’ve put together some of our top tips below that you can use to start writing up your own descriptions that can later be copied and pasted into your online listings. Let’s go!


The way you communicate as your brand will define what kind of personality you want it to have. This is always going to be unique to your brand, but it is very important you get this right. When selling handmade items, people enjoy the idea of buying from a person – not a faceless company. With this in mind, make sure that your tone of writing is personable, and not too clinical. Whilst you will need to make listings informative, make sure you take the time to put a few introductory sentences. Perhaps what inspired you, how this piece came to be, or why you chose certain materials.

Although you want to have enough in your listing descriptions to let the customer know exactly what they are buying, you also want this to be short enough to be easily scanned through. People on the internet have a notoriously short attention span, and this means you need to grab them as quickly as you can. With this in mind, take care to keep any conversational text short and to the point, but not like a robot typed it out!

Although it may seem a moot point, you must make sure that you double check anything you write up to post online when selling your items. Often, when writing directly into product listings, we tend to rush through them and are excited to get them out there for the world to see. However, as unfair as it may seem, you will be judged on your punctuation, spelling and grammar. Poorly written text with errors in will lead to a lack of trust from potential buyers. Even if you have the best product in the world, if you have a description riddled with mistakes, this can be very offputting as it suggests a lack of care. This is where point 4 comes in especially relevant…

By writing externally we mean that you should never write your descriptions directly onto listing pages, whether that be your own website or when setting up a product on marketplaces such as Etsy. As well as making it more likely you have missed mistakes, you will also find writing comes much more easily when writing in a dedicated space. You will then also have all your product descriptions hand if you want to use them elsewhere, or rewrite them quickly. Remember, anything you put on marketplaces can be taken down. Protect your content by always keeping it safely saved on your own computer.

As much as we would love to give you examples to follow, this simply isn’t the case when it comes to every individual business, and your listings need to be part of your brand. The tone of voice, way you write and describe things will all be a reflection on your business. Practice multiple listings for the same product and getting feedback from friends or family, and don’t feel bad about looking around for description inspiration!

To summarise, writing great copy that sells isn’t an easy task and people often struggle with it. However, with practice you will begin to learn what does and doesn’t work for you and your business. Set yourself a task to write 3 descriptions in different styles for 3 different products. Which reads better? Which flows nicely? Which is most concise?

Spend an afternoon with a few cups of tea and really digging into writing and researching and you’ll soon find yourself feeling much more confident about writing listings with ease.

Moving on from the last module, we hope that you now have a good idea on how to write some great product description. In this one, we are revisiting the most important visual element of any of your online listings – your product photos…

In Module 5 we discussed the best way to take photos using just a smartphone and the best ways to make these look as professional as possible right off the bat.

Once you have got the hang of setting up your photography spots, and generating good images that are nice and clear – you can then add an extra touch of ‘pizazz’ using digital editing. As with our initial photography tips, all of these can be done via your smartphone.

We’ve tried and tested some of our favourite apps and ranked them based on their ease of use, features and value. All apps we’ve listed here are available on both Android and Apple devices so you will able to use them on 99% of modern smartphones.

Phonto – 5/5

Phonto a very simple app and one of the easiest to use we’ve found. However, we should mention, this isn’t technically an app for ‘enhancing’ your images, and rather just allows you to add simple text or other elements to your images. This is ideal to add watermarks to your images so nobody can download and use them without your permission.

Ease of use – Simple interface, intuitive for users. *****
Features – Fonts, templates and design elements *****
Value – Free with occasional ads *****

Adobe Photoshop Fix (4/5)

Adobe are the world leaders in photo editing software and are the creators of Photoshop and many more apps designers and photographers use in their daily work. Just over a year ago they released the bitesized app, Photoshop Fix, to offer a simple and quick place to quickly tweak your photos from your phone. You can adjust lighting, colours and also quickly remove blemishes and marks with a quick tap of the Healing feature. It is also particularly handy if your images include skin, such as someone wearing a bracelet.

It is by far the best one we can recommend and also comes in brilliantly for you personal photos, too!

Ease of use – Clear tools, handy tutorials on downloading. *****
Features – Loads of brilliant tools condensed for mobile editing. *****
Pricing – Free to use when you sign up for an Adobe account *****

Enlight Photofox (4/5)

Enlight is a super popular app used by beginners and experienced photographers alike and much like Photoshop Express has lots of features to improve your images. There are some really great features not seen on the other apps mentioned and is really handy for creating more artsy versions of your images (best suited to secondary images in photo galleries on listings – remember, the more simple images work best when they’re the first a potential customer will see). The name of the app slightly varies based on the device you use to download it, but each are primarily the same.

Ease of use – Nice layout, easy to pick up and go *****
Features – Loads of brilliant tools, but more art focused ****
Pricing – Around £3 per month, occasional offers for new users ***

Photoshop Express (3.5/5)

As the name tells, this is also another app by Adobe, however this is a more in depth version of their full Photoshop, condensed into app form and as such comes with many more features. We would only recommend using this once you have a good grasp of the free Photoshop Fix app, as there is a cost involved to using it. You can however easily remove backgrounds, select items you wish to remove with the Magic Wand tool and much much more. This is ideal if you’re ready to take your photo editing to the next level.

Features – Lots of features, a miniature version of their desktop software. ****
Ease of use – Not ideal for beginners, but has hand tutorials to get to grips with the app. ***
Pricing – Requires an Adobe ID with a Photoshop subscription. (around £10 pm for a basic version) ***

We hope that some of these come in handy to you to have on your phone – after all, these days apps on your phone can be just as powerful as computer software you’d see a few years ago! Consider your phone your own little toolset – we recommend you rearrange your home screen into an easy to navigate fashion (make use of folders and multiple screens to keep personal and business apps separate).

Why not use this time to try out these apps with some of your photographs, and see you in the next module as we move onto setting up those websites!

At this stage in the course, we’ve covered all of the basics that you shouuld consider before deciding to set up your online shop(s). In this module we’re going to run through the best options of where you should sell your items, as well as some more in-depth statistics that you may not be aware of.

You will likely already have an idea of, or are familiar with, one or more of the marketplaces listed here – but it’s important to consider more than just popularity when it comes to profitability. Remember – a busier site may mean more customers, but it also means more competition. Let’s dive in and see what’s what…

 

1. Etsy

Etsy is by far the most popular online marketplace for handmade items. They have a slick shop design and make it very easy to list your items, especially if you have multiples that are similar with their ‘Copy Listing’ feature.

With Etsy’s popularity comes more competition, alongside more potential customers. Research what is already available and see if you can fill a gap. You also need to be able to factor in fees to your listing, without compromising on the profit you need.

Never undersell your items to try and get a few sales in the beginning, you risk everyone having to cut their prices overall, which doesn’t do anyone any favours.

Things to note –

Etsy comes with fees for every listing you post, as well as a fee once you sell the item. Listings cost $0.20, with occasional free listings promoted. Even if you have 5 items available you still pay on the same . Etsy will take 3% + $0.25 on every listing sold. They also take a commission fee for advertising your listings. Be prepared for an average of 10% of your profits to go to them, and adjust your prices accordingly.

There are a few independent sellers out there that you can purchase a ready made spreadsheet from that will calculate all your fees exactly. 

 

2. NuMonday

NuMonday is a new but fast growing site that works on a different model to Etsy. There are no fees per listing or sale, simply 1 flat subscription fee monthly, 6 months or a year) to use the site as you wish. We recommend this as a great place to start, as competition is still much smaller, but new people are moving to the platform to the site all the time.

 

3. Shopify

Shopify is essentially a platform that allows you to sign up and go with a fully functional website, unique URL and a shop ready to list your items. This platform doesn’t require any tech savvy and is really easy to get going.

Shopify is used by millions of people around the world, but it’s worth noting that the subscription fee to use their service is around $40 per month. As you’re solely responsible for getting people to your website, this might not be ideal when you;re just starting out. They offer a 14 day free trial if you’d like to have a look around at any point in your journey.

 

4. Your Own Website

Having your own website is a great way to ensure that customers won’t be tempted by other people’s items, as in marketplaces, as well as generally being more cost effective (when you know a few pro tips on how to set one up). Unlike Shopify, the costs to having your own website are much more affordable and cost effective. We’ll run through this in the next module to show you the best way of getting your own website and the options you have available – even if you don’t set up a shop on your website, it’s always hand to have one with links to your social media accounts and a gallery of pictures.

Remember, you aren’t limited to just one place and many people have multiple online presences including their own website AND an Etsy, for example. When you are starting out, we recommend that you stick to one so you aren’t juggling multiple platforms off the bat. If one goes well for you, then you may wish to simply stick to it! It’s an entirely unique choice to you, your products and your time.

Finally – if you do choose to set up on multiple marketplaces, make sure you account for potentially selling the same item. You will disappoint customers if you list something ready to ship, and someone else purchased it elsewhere. Try to have a piece ready to sell for each individual listing you have on different platforms – or make sure it’s super clear these are made to order and the time needed.

Instagram is by far the one social media channel you should be setting up and using for your online creative business. For those of you who aren’t familiar with app, it is a platform that is image and video based. As opposed to websites like Facebook, text is usually minimal in the form of a caption, and the ‘feed’ every user sees is a scrolling page of images from people they follow.

Instagram is entirely visual and provides you with a fantastic way to get your images noticed by other people via hashtags. Hashtags are short phrases or individual words that can be clicked on to generate another feed of images that have been posted using that specific tag. Although these can be great to get your images, and subsequently business seen (and hopefully followed by new people!), there is a right way and a wrong way to use them.

Here are our key tips to remember when setting up a new Instagram or polishing up your posting when you begin to post your handmade creations.

 

1. Specificity is important. 🌸

When you add a hashtag, there will be a specific number appear before you select it that shows how many images are using that tag. Whilst something such as #handmade is relevant to your photo, there will be hundreds of thousand (if not millions) of people using and broswing that tag. This immediately lessens the liklihood of you being seen amongst the busy and ever re-populating crowd.

The best way to use hastags is to be more specific, if someone is looking for #beadingUK, for example, they are far more likely to spot your images and click through then they are with the broad term of just ‘beading’, not to mention the bigger terms are usually full of irrelavant images.

 

2. Set your own hashtag! 🌸

When you have an online business, making sure you have a unique hashtag is great as it adds further branding to your posts, this isn’t going to give you many clicks or likes directly from the hashtag, but it is always handy to have on in case you ever do future competitions or giveaway that require customers to use it. Always check that the hashtag is not in use before you start using one (check the number that appears when you type it, you want something that nobody else has used, so don’t be scared to make it a little longer if needs be).

 

3. Images are everything 🌸

As Instagram is completely image focused, you need to put to use the tips and tricks we used in previous modules to ensure you’re getting great photos. You may also want to produce separate images specifically for your Instagram. Images that are more lifestyle inspired and not just your clean, product images will be much more likely to be interacted with. Build a face behind your brand where you can!

We’ve researched and put together a list of hashtags that you can copy and paste into your posts (try not to use the same ones over and over, and add and remove them as you see fit, as well as adding in your own). Keep in mind some of these may not be relevant to your product offering or location, so customise them to make your hashtag list your own.

You may find it handy to pop these on a Notes file on your phone for easy access on the go.

Here they are!

#craftsUK #handmadeUK #craftsposure #jewellerymaker #jewellerymaking #handmadejewellery #handmadewithlove #imadethis #makersgonnamake #beadersuk #beadinguk #beadworkers #beadwork #yearofmaking #handicraftsUK #ooak #feelingcrafty #makersmovement #jewellerygram #beadagram #smallbizUK #designermaker #handmadeparade #handmadewithlove #ukbeaders

 

You can also use hashtags to find other makers and connect with them. Build a network of others and you’ll see that it is a very supportive community and sharing another maker’s work may actually lead to you getting sales, too!

Most of all, Instagram should be fun. Be real, open and honest with your captions and try to inspire others along the way!

At this point in our journey, we should now be looking to set up listings of items we have made, or looking for additional products we can list. If you are still unsure as to where to start product wise,  it’s often easier to test the water with low-cost, quick makes based around certain trends.

We’ve put together some of our favourite on-trend bundles and mini kits so you can get everything you need to make each product in one go, as well as make a nice margin of profit on top of the finished item.

All of these are based around current jewellery making trends, as well as including ongoing bestselling components so these aren’t time sensitive, but are also in demand!

Here’s our picks for you: