Selling Your Original Beading Patterns Online: Advice From Three Master Bead Artists

Cynthia Newcomer Daniels
Mikki Ferrugiaro
Beadwork by Nancy Dale

The internet is an amazing thing for beaders like us. If we're looking for a new beading project or pattern to stitch up, all we have to do is search through places like Etsy or Artfire (or our very own Beading Daily Shop!) to find hundreds of gorgeous beading projects designed by talented beaders around the world!

More and more designers of beaded jewelry are expanding their online jewelry business by selling patterns and tutorials of their original beading designs. With the new instant download capability on Etsy (customers can now directly download a digital product from your Etsy shop), you can earn extra income for your online jewelry business through sales of your original beading projects.

I asked three of my favorite independent designers of beading patterns, Cynthia Newcomer Daniel, Nancy Dale, and Mikki Ferrugiaro, about how they manage the creation and sales of their beading projects and tutorials.

Photographs or Diagrams?

The first thing to take into consideration is whether you'll use step-by-step photographs or diagrams to illustrate your beading tutorial. Just like anything else, there are pros and cons to be considered for both methods.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel, owner of Jewelry Tales, uses computer-generated graphics for the step-by-step instructions for her beading projects, but she says that most beaders are comfortable with either photographs to illustrations when following a beading pattern. Mikki Ferrugiaro, the beady brains behind Mikki Ferrugiaro Designs, also feels that a combination of photographs and illustrations is the best way to go when writing up your own beading tutorials for sale.

But don't fret if you don't know how to use graphic design software for creating step-by-step beading instructions — bead artist Nancy Dale of NEDBeads uses only photographs in her beading tutorials. Just remember that taking and editing photographs can be tricky: if you don't have a great photograph of an important step, you'll have to go back and start all over until you get a clear, well-lit shot.

Testing Your Patterns

It used to happen all the time when I was a grant writer: I'd work on a large summary or piece of writing, and after looking at it for hours on end, I'd miss obvious spelling mistakes. It can happen when you're writing your own beading projects, too. You look at the same thing over and over, and before you know it, you've uploaded or emailed a file out to a customer with half a dozen mistakes, steps out of order, and photographs in the wrong place.

Cynthia, Nancy, and Mikki all have trusted friends who test out their beading projects before they go up for sale online. Cynthia says, "I think it's very important to have someone else look them over; they see things from a different perspective and I feel more comfortable knowing that someone else understands my tutorials before I sent them out into the world."

Random testers can be a big help, too, since Mikki had someone testing her patterns on a regular basis, but found that they were both missing the same mistakes.

Always take the time to have your patterns tested by someone that you trust — it can make a huge difference in customer satisfaction, and return sales.

To Kit or Not to Kit?

Mikki notes that creating kits for your beading projects, while a good source of additional income for your online jewelry business, is a gamble. "Kitting is expensive… People may beg you to make kits, but don't expect them all to actually buy them. However, I think some beading projects need kits, like if the beads used in the design are hard to locate. It doesn't pay to have your customers buy a tutorial only to be driven nuts trying to find the beads."

Nancy offers the options of making up custom kits and custom bead soup mixes for her customers. Offering custom kits and kits-on-request can take some of the financial risk out of kitting your beading projects, as long as you make sure you get a deposit up front before you order any beads and materials needed for the beading kits.

Take Great Photographs

As with any online jewelry business venture, knowing how to take great photographs of your finished work is key to increasing sales and turning one-time sales into repeat customers. If you're ready to learn more about staging and setting up photographs for tricky items like beaded earrings, how to get the best backgrounds to show off your jewelry, and expert tips for setting up shots of your bracelets, cuffs, necklaces and rings, you don't want to miss Jim Lawson's Jewelry Photography: Beyond the Basics. Pre-order your copy now to get expert advice for jewelry photography right in the comfort of your own home, or download Jewelry Photography: Beyond the Basics onto your favorite desktop or laptop computer and be watching and learning in just minutes!

One last bit of advice from our panel of experts in selling your own beading projects: if you have a great original design, go for it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your friends and peers, and enjoy the journey!

What about you? Do you sell your original beading designs through an Etsy shop or website? What advice would you have for other budding bead artists who want to get into the online tutorial business? Leave a comment and share your tips and advice here on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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