The first baby steps into the world of jewelry making as a business came unexpectedly for me. I had been a life-long crafter, had dabbled in jewelry (macramé in particular) in high school, and on a whim many years later, decided to make jewelry for holiday gift giving. I showed a few of my pieces to co-workers and friends, and the next thing I knew, people started asking me to buy my jewelry.

My story is not unique. Typically, most jewelry designers stumble into their jewelry business because they find some success with selling their work, first with family and friends. It only takes a few sales to feel the bite of the jewelry business bug, and what a high it is to find acknowledgement of your work by having someone actually trade you cash for jewels!

The next phase of the story is a little different, not nearly as easy as getting started. It requires becoming legal, learning about marketing, branding, and number crunching, and eventually realizing that you are not the only jewelry designer in a sea, a massive sea, of other jewelry designers. Sure, everyone may have a different approach, look, flair, style, what have you, but still, it means competition in a big way, much bigger than many other crafting venues.

Eventually, my journey into jewelry designing led me to other income opportunities besides selling my work, and I found even more success because I allowed myself to look beyond the typical artist’s story and consider something different. While there is nothing wrong with selling finished jewelry, there are so many other possibilities for jewelry designers, but taking a quote from The Matrix, you need to “free your mind” and find a niche that needs to be filled.

Here is a little brainstorming to help you think outside the typical jewelry making box:

  • Consider making and selling jewelry components. It is no surprise that vendors who sell jewelry making supplies probably make more money than those who sell jewelry because, hey, you need to get the supplies some place. Why not sell some of those supplies yourself, possibly some you might even create? For example, if you enjoy working with metal clay, you could make and sell charms, pendants, and findings to other jewelry designers.
  • Teach others what you know. Jewelry making is one of the most popular hobbies, which means there are newbies to the craft every day. Are you an expert in metal clay, beading, wire work, or other techniques? If so, you could bring your knowledge into the classroom and get paid for teaching others what you have already learned.
  • Combine other skills with jewelry. Think about other skills that you have which might work in combination with jewelry making. Are you good at photography? Many jewelry designers struggle with taking quality photos of their work. Do you have a way with words? You would write for jewelry-related magazines, web sites, and book publishers. Are you a techie geek? A business helping other artists create a web presence might something to think about.

If you are tired of being a little fish in a sea of other little fish, then keep up the brainstorming. Keep yourself open to possibilities and opportunities that may not seem obvious at first. Eventually, the right idea will come along and “click” for you if you are patient and open to the unexpected.