Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bead Pairs and Marketing

by Kimberly Rogers of NuminosityBeads

There was an interesting discussion over on Creative Bead Chat group on facebook recently that garnered quite a few comments. The question was posed whether bead artists would consider offering pairs of beads when selling online rather than whole sets as there are so many designers that enjoy making matching earrings.
Mini Criffles by Numinositybeads

Judith Billig  ( these are her gorgeous beads)
offered up an interesting breakdown as to why it may be less than profitable to offer bead pairs as a lampworker when selling online.

Tulum Relics by Judith Billig

As a lampworker myself I could identify with her reasoning and her guesstimates as to what goes into making a simple lampwork bead pair as opposed to a set.
Here's what she had to offer up :
 "There's a fine balancing act between understanding the customers needs and being able to get at least the money back to cover expenses and labor (we're not even talking profit). Sometimes I do offer just two beads in one listing, as an earring pair, but never under $12. Let's talk about costs: a medium priced glass $0.25 in material. Let's add $1 overhead costs (energy, propane, bead release, rent/own the space, etching solution,bank fees), add $1 packaging costs, $0.20 listing fee Etsy, $0.62 Etsy final value fee, $0.70 Paypal fee, driving to the post office/mail box (packages don't fit into the thin slit of the "outgoing" postbox in our neighborhood) I'm wildly guesstimating $0.50 for gas/car expenses. We're already at $4.22 just in expenses, for a bead set of $12. We haven't even started with labor. Making the beads: 10 minutes, cleaning 2 minutes, photos 4 minutes, editing, 5 minutes, listing 4 minutes, marketing 4 minutes, packaging/printing/labels etc. 10 minutes, bookkeeping 2 minutes. That adds up to 41 minutes (YIKES!) for one set of earring pairs, and I haven't even brought the package to the mailbox, which is a 7 minute drive away. 
Sorry for the long post, and I hope this doesn't sound like whining. I just wanted to give a breakdown of what is involved in making and listing a single pair of beads. Many bead buyers are not aware of this: expenses $4.22 (wild guess), time 41 minutes. To be honest, I don't see how any artisan beadmaker could cover even expenses/labor with earring beads, unless they go into serious production mode (that's where I'm starting to debate the artisan part of beadmaking) which enables them to cut down on photo/editing/listing/marketing time drastically."

Which is exactly why you may see listings such as this. Bead sets that include matching pairs of a series. ( Pretty much for the same reasons you don't see berries sold in pairs in the grocery store!)

Or this in my Etsy shop

or these which are actually small focals which would cost a bit more due to their size.
I hope this helped a bit in understanding a bit of the behind the scenes strategizing that we handmade artisans need to employ to meet the needs of our customers and keep it a worthwhile enterprise.

XO Many thanks to you readers and enjoy the holiday season. XO
Kimberly Rogers

5 comments: said...

I absolutely agree with Judith's rational. But I would have to say that when I started selling pairs only 3 years ago as a marketing tool to get my numbers up, my profits and sales took off GREATLY.

My logic was that customers were able to purchase something less expensive that could be used to COMPLETE a less expensive project. The Etsy customer at the time was very into less costly supplies.

I think you could fit into Judith's equation the number of sales that you can make more quickly than a larger set.Customers see that you are popular and want your product more. Also they can look at a pair of beads and see the finished earrings and they think "hmmm...easy". Where as looking at a set can be a challenging puzzle and a bit more hard to sell.

I would have to use a graph but at some point profits will exceed cost because of popularity of the item and it becomes more of a quantity thing. Especially when you can turn over some styles of pairs more quickly. Hope that makes sense.


Ann Schroeder said...

Thanks for this post. I think it is important for customers to understand what goes into handmade. I confess I often wonder how artists make any money with all the time and investment that goes into making beads. I know I am getting a great value.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I think it is great that you shared the breakdown! I don't think many people realize all that goes into making a bead :o)

Jane Perala said...

Great post. It's good to see the costs broken down like that. I have been considering making earring pairs. Perhaps it would be more profitable for me to make "sets" of earring pairs, as Judith says.

stacilouise said...

sets are hard to do- especially in any medium where you are free forming each bead, such as lampwork.

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