Sunday, October 5, 2014

     I'm afraid my jewelry endeavors went on hiatus because of my year-long employment (which is now completed). Now that I'm back among the ranks of the unemployed I reflect back to my year long struggle to create an online jewelry business and ask myself if I want to try again? It wasn't my first time running my own business; I did well with my sign business, and ran a golf course/restaurant, many moons ago, but my BachsCrafts was different. Though there was some sense of financial necessity, it was really more an inner expression of self--as art usually is--which makes it personal, especially when it doesn't sell. I  thought it was because my jewelry designs were not very good (and some aren't), or people just didn't like what I made (and some don't), but when I attended a few craft shows I received feedback that was very informative and helpful. I was left to conclude that the jewelry I make is something that has to be seen up close to be appreciated. People like to try pieces on, and having a wide selection to choose from allows for the nuanced preferences of the individual. Having that kind of inventory is difficult for the one-of-a-kind artist. My whole selection, which took me months to create all fit into one small box!
     Craft shows are an interesting way to show one's craft. I sat three days in 100 degree temperatures and sold enough to cover the cost of the booth, but hardly enough to pay for my time and weekend long discomfort. On another occasion, I participated in a farmer's market and spent a pleasant afternoon overlooking Puget Sound; I did quite well selling my wares. It was a great way to find out what the market was interested in, mostly my copper wire wraps.
    Though I can say I ran a "business" (I did have a license and .com), it was hardly a success. It took me months to learn how to create an eshop, complete with SSL certificate (credit card security). It was always curious that the greatest number of "visitors" to my sight were Russians--especially in the light of their most recent incursion on US Banks. I spent hours and hours taking and editing pictures, writing descriptions, and posting products. Jewelry, unlike...let's say...a lawn care business, is quite different in web design. Where a lawn care business web site is stagnate with a main page and couple of links to products and pricing, my jewelry eshop required detailed attention to every item posted. And since I only make one of a kind jewelry, it was a lot of work for every good designed and posted. My eshop required constant attention, sadly, it was only the Russians who paid it any mind!
     Overall, it was fun to create a shop, market goods, and at least have the illusion I was building something. The profit was not in the dollar value of the goods sold, but in the experience of having attempted a dream, even it it didn't fly. I learned what not to do, and how expensive a simple .com at only $1.99 a month can run! The behind the scenes cost of maintaining an eshop was enlightening. The costs included: monthly hosting site, SSL (security for credit card users), templates, and a mess of apps to make your postings easier. This doesn't even begin to cover what it actually cost to get your web site to the top of a search engine, something one doesn't even consider until well into the project. It's a stark (or shark) discovery when you find out that all your hard work isn't even going to be discovered unless you buy Google power--that privilege of having your post listed on the first page, because, really, how many of us every make it to a second page in our search attempts?
     The margin for an artist between cost and profit is slim. Most artist starve or have partners willing to support them in their art. My husband was very generous in his support of my efforts, despite the fact I spent
far more than I ever earned. But, good times have to come to an end. I spent my year basking in my creative juices, then on to get a "real" job. Now that I'm back to being unemployed, I don't have the fortitude to attempt another business run at making jewelry. I'm content to keep it a hobby and sell an item or two on Etsy, or take in a craft fair or two. It's much simpler and less stressful. I make what I want, price it out for what it is worth, and relax if it doesn't sell. I'm not forced into mill production of products I don't care about. As my newly retired sister-in-law says, "I do what I want..."


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