Jewelry Business: Setting Up Your Own Handmade Jewelry Website
How much will a website cost you? It really depends on how complicated you want to get, how much functionality you need, and how much time and patience you have for web-based puzzles. Your options include:
Setting up a DIY site. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that putting up a basic site on WordPress is not complicated. I set up my site by myself and it didn't cost a dime. If I can do it, anyone can. However, I wasn't really trying to establish a brand or appeal to a specific market (in your case, a customer base). If you already have a presence on Etsy or other marketplaces, it may be worth paying a bit to have someone develop a consistent look and logo.
If you go it alone, you'll need to have your site hosted. Many people opt for GoDaddy, the popular one-stop shop for buying and parking domains. But if you're in it for the long haul, you'll find a more user-friendly interface and better customer service with Blue Host or HostGator. I host The Jewelry Loupe through my husband, but I'm in the process of setting up my own hosting through HostGator. They're pretty easy to reach by phone and don't make me feel like an idiot when I ask dumb questions.
After you have your domain hosted, log into your control panel and ask it to recognize the platform you're using. After I registered with WordPress, for example, I logged in to my control panel, clicked on WordPress, and followed the steps. (If you use WordPress and plan to add E-commerce to your site, by the way, make sure the to establish your site on WordPress.org, not the original WordPress.com, which does not allow commercial use.)
Adding a shopping cart. Adding a shopping cart function to your jewelry business site can be as simple as installing a plug-in and setting up PayPal, but you might want a little help with integration. If you know from the get-go that your main objective is to sell jewelry directly from your site and you can't afford to have an e-shop designed from scratch, consider starting with a ready-made template designed for that purpose. There are free templates (or themes as WordPress calls them) available, but some "premium themes" can be had for the cost of a dinner out. As an example, $39 buys you access to all the Elegant themes, including this lovely eStore.
Hiring a pro. If you want a simple online portfolio, you can probably find someone to put it together for you for $700 to $2,000. A full-fledged E-commerce site design can get a lot more expensive, depending on your requirements and the designer's experience. An E-commerce site by boutique web designer Lisa Bacon of Moxie Pear costs about $2,200, for example, but she will create a basic informational site for $1,500. For $95, Moxie Pear will set up shop for you on Etsy, designing a shop avatar and banner.
Want to test the web design waters? Try placing a request on oDesk, Guru, or Elance. It doesn't cost anything to invite bids and proposals, and it will give you an idea of the available options and price range. (Web design is something that can done electronically and remotely–you don't necessarily need to meet or even speak in person.)
If you just need help with graphics or logo, try Fiverr. Many graphic designers on the site sell their services affordably. A custom logo with three concepts and unlimited revisions, or even an entire site design, can cost a fraction of what you'd pay a conventional designer.
Figuring out what you want first. Whether or not you hire a designer or do it all yourself, take some time to look through online portfolios and ready-made templates. Many web designers–especially more affordable ones–do minimal or no coding. They simply tweak existing templates. Increasingly, you'll find designers who work only with WordPress, for example, and often a specific set of themes. If you find a theme you like, try doing a web search for a designer who specializes in that theme. Check out the sites of jewelry artists you know. When you find something you like, ask where they had it designed. Just make sure you don't end up with a carbon copy. Individual branding is key.
As with any commission, the clearer you are about what you want ahead of time, the easier (and cheaper) it will be to get the job done.
CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories on design, travel and business have appeared in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, Washington Post, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe.
NET PROFITS appears regularly in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more about promoting your jewelry with your own website in "A Site of Your Own," March 2012.