Should You Set Up a Site on Jewelspan?
If you've been hankering to put up a web site under your own domain or want a new place to peruse jewelry artists, here's a new option for you: Jewelspan.
A collection of 200+ individual jewelry artist web sites, Jewelspan.com is a spinoff of Artspan.com, where 4,000+ fine artists and craftspeople (jewelers among them) have been parking their sites since 1999. You can claim your own domain here, put up a show calendar, mission statement, resumé, gallery, and optional shopping cart. If you're into graphic design, a variety of customizable templates allows you to build a nice-looking site. (If you're not, hire someone to tweak it for you.)
Despite doing well at craft shows and selling about 50 pieces of jewelry a year ($750-$300 range) from her Etsy shop, Francine Ruth wanted a site of her own. I suggested she check out Jewelspan while they were offering their introductory rate ($9.95/month, half Artspan's standard), and try to get in on the initial marketing push. When I heard from her a week later, she had already built her site. Jewelspan was just what she was looking for, and she liked that her jewelry also appears in searches on the more recognized parent site.
I did some consulting for Jewelspan before it launched and have been following it with interest, but wanted jewelry artists to test it out before I wrote about it. From what I hear, artists don't seem to be making many sales directly from Jewelspan/Artspan yet. But it does serve as a branding tool and jumping off point, which is all many artists want from a web site. Hopefully, the shopping cart function will pick up steam as the site gets more established.
I notice jewelers who established sites on Artspan default to that site when you search for them, while artists who sign up at Jewelspan's introductory offer default to Jewelspan. But the jewelry itself is searchable on the other site as well – usually. At least one jewelry artist quoted below (Linda Rettich), who set up on Artspan last year, was not coming up on Jewelspan searches. So, your site is fully functional on one site or the other, and it may be up to you to make sure your jewelry is searchable on both.
Here's what artists I spoke to had to say so far. Click on their names to see their web sites.
John Wise: "People ask at shows if I have a web site. Putting up a site on Artspan in 2009 has allowed me to say I do and it's on my business card. Hopefully, customers come back to my site. For the $20/month I pay Artspan, though, I think they could do more to market their best artists. I've only sold one piece in four years on Artspan."
Linda Rettich: "I have friends, fellow jewelry artists, who had web sites on Artspan and they said it was easy to work with and marketed the artists. I checked out the formats and as a former graphic designer, I liked what I saw. I haven't had much contact from the site, but I haven't had it up long and don't have enormous expectations. I'm pleased with how my site looks and I just like that my work is out there now and can be seen."
CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories appear in Town & Country, AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. She also hosts web seminars on JewelryMakingDaily.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more in "Your Place on Jewelspan."