Tracy Matthews is the quintessential combination of an exquisite artist and a talented entrepreneur who knows what it takes to set up a craft business online.
What started as a hobby – designing jewelry for bridal parties, friends, family – grew into a business that has won her a lot of things: a big brand, lots of happy clients, celebrity fans, retail sales and awards.
A lot of sellers who sell on marketplaces like Etsy and Storenvy think about having their own shop (website) and growing their “brand”. It’s a very important step if you want to scale up your business (and part of where Around.io helps you build your social media strategy).
We got a chance to talk to Tracy about this:
Q: What are the costs involved when someone sets up their shop online away from a marketplace like Etsy? What are the costs that they have to factor in?
How much you invest in your shop or website can vary dramatically, but here are a few things to consider:
- Product: Your biggest investment will be developing your products. Materials costs and labor can add up. make sure you map out sample production Cost of Goods and Labor Costs.
- Good Photography: you can DIY or hire someone to do it. If you DIY make sure you learn how to do it properly. Photos are the #1 thing that will get someone to buy so make sure you have good ones.
- Your Time: you need to think of your time as a cost especially because your time is valuable.
- Proper Promotion: In order to have a successful online business, you need to make sure you are investing in getting the right traffic or publicity for your site or shop. You can pay someone to do it or DIY, but make sure you do something. The idea of “build it and they will come” is not going to cut it these days. It doesn’t have to be that challenging though if you have the right strategy.
You need to think of your time as a cost especially because your time is valuable.
Q: Social media is huge but how useful is it when it comes to finding *new* customers? Many shops use social media to keep in touch with existing customers/fans… but how about finding new ones? And what’s your advice to sellers when it comes to social media marketing.
You are right, social media is huge especially highly visible platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Personally, your communication with your existing customers should be done via email or direct messaging if possible. Over time, you’ll want to be building an email list so that you can keep in touch with past clients.
For designers and makers with lower price-pointed items, using Instagram for selling is a great opportunity to get daily revenue.
Social media is also a great place to find new customers. For instance, using Rich Pins on Pinterest or getting your pieces pinned by an influential “pinner” can be a great source of new sales. Pinterest also just introduced promoted pins which are a great way to target potential clients.
Instagram is also an amazing tool for building a following. Using creative hashtags so potential customers can find you in searches works really well. I’ve met at least 5-7 custom jewelry clients on Instagram this year. The price point for my jewelry is high so my volume is “lower” (even though my sales from social media alone this year averaged about $5000 each). For designers and makers with lower price-pointed items, using Instagram for selling is a great opportunity to get daily revenue.
Using Rich Pins on Pinterest or getting your pieces pinned by an influential “pinner” can be a great source of new sales.
Q: A lot of sellers want to shift from their hobby-like part-time shops to full-time businesses that makes a lot of money. Tell us about how to change the mindset to get into serious business mode.
I have loads of tips for going from part time to full time. The first shift is to approach your business like a business. That means you need to start being strategic about what you are doing. For instance, developing collections that sell, pricing your pieces for profit, looking at maunders, having sales goals and reaching them. The list goes on.
The key here is to remember that hobbies are often fun and don’t have the pressure of bringing home the bacon to support yourself.
A business needs to provide you with a “paycheck” or a salary. If you aren’t able to pay yourself, you actually have an expensive hobby, not a business.
As far as mindset goes, it’s mostly about taking action and believing that you are worth it!
Q: Your Flourish & Thrive Academy has a lot of resources to help sellers. What is something new that you are working on at the moment there?
I am always working on something new! At Flourish & Thrive we are really excited about our Diamond Insiders Club! It’s an awesome program with monthly ongoing trainings, one-on-one feedback and awesome Teachers in Residence.
It’s one of the most amazing things we have ever created over at F&TA.
* * *
Thank you,Tracy, for valuable insights.
Tracy Matthews is an eco-luxury jewelry designer specializing in bespoke engagement rings, wedding bands and heirloom redesign. Her passion for making the business of jewelry fun, led her to found Flourish & Thrive Academy an online resource and community for jewelry designers. Her mission is to help designers get their work on more of their DREAM clients and raving fans. Her motto is “community and collaboration over competition.”