I started out in the summer of 2012 not knowing really anything about 3D printing or jewelry design or internet marketing or anything really. I try to remember that I basically started from nothing and keep a humble view of this business. I do these year-end recaps more to keep myself motivated than to try to brag. However, 2015 was a really good year so it’s hard not to brag a little.
In 2015 I did not really have to think very much about what I should be designing next. I had a steady stream of customers reach out to me to ask me to design something for them. I then could take these designs and list them and try to sell them to other customers. A couple of them have proved to be pretty popular. Here are the new pendants that I designed on request for customers this year:
I made a conscious effort this year to reach out and collaborate with others in a mutually beneficial way. I reached out to other jewelry designers and people getting into modeling. I would send them jewelry. They’d post pictures of themselves wearing it to social media or web sites. Then I’d also post the pictures to my various sites to return the favor and gain them a little exposure. This got my jewelry in front of different audiences. Many of these people I collaborated with provided me with great, great pictures that I could use on my own web sites and social media. This was something I think I sorely needed. Before this year I just didn’t have many pictures of people wearing my jewelry.
A lot of this interaction and outreach happened on Instagram. I just joined Instagram in January of this year. Through outreach and interaction I was able to gain over 2,100 followers. It’s hard to know how much traffic was driven to my site from Instagram, but it had to have helped. It was also a source of some new ideas. A few of the custom pendants came from customers I met on Instagram.
One really neat moment from this year was I was searching Instagram for topics related to Celtic jewelry. I came across someone who had posted a picture of one of my Claddagh Ring designs. It turned out that it had been used as an engagement ring.
Here are some pictures of people who were awesome enough to share pictures of them wearing my jewelry in 2015:
At this time last year I spent a lot of time trying to optimize my web site for search engines. I settled on the WordPress layout that I currently have. The Yoast SEO plugin has been indespensible for this effort. I did a lot of keyword research at the same time which I think helped in some regards.
Another thing I did during my outreach was building some backlinks to my site. I think that probably had a big impact on where I ranked in searches. I also tried to blog on a somewhat regular basis, although that proved to be hard at times. It’s hard to know though which of these SEO tactics worked, or if it was a sum of all of them. The biggest traffic driver to this site are people searching for the meaning of various Celtic symbols.
In any case, the traffic to this web site nearly tripled in 2015 over 2014. Some of that is to be expected since in 2014 this site was still in its’ infancy to a large extent. In January and March I did a couple giveaways that drove a ton of traffic. After doing those giveaways my traffic hit kind of a bottom in April. The thing that surprised me though was that traffic increased every single month after that this year. By October, I was getting more organic traffic than I did in January or March which were boosted by giveaways.
My total number of sales increased by 42% over last year. To me that is really important but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Last year I did a lot of craft fairs that really contributed a lot. About 40% of my sales last year were at those craft fairs. This year, I only did one craft fair and barely made any sales. I focused all my energy on online sales. My online sales increased by more than double (237%!). So this more than offset the lack of sales at craft fairs.
The main reason for this was that I opened an Etsy shop. Last year I was not on Etsy at all, which was probably an oversight. I tried Etsy back in 2012 and 2013 and did not make a single sale. So I gave up on it for a while. Someone recommended I give it another shot. I got on Etsy again in January and started to make some sales. In all, Etsy accounted for a little over half of my online sales this year.
The number of sales through my Shapeways shop was up only slightly, but my revenue from Shapeways was up 83%. People were buying more expensive items. A big chunk of this increase was due to three ring sales where the customers purchased the rings in solid gold.
Finally, the number of sales from this web site was still pretty modest. It only accounted for about 15% of all my sales, but I did double the number of sales from my web site over last year. This shouldn’t be a surprise since traffic increased so much. My ultimate goal is to keep growing sales through this site.
Coming In 2016
One thing I came across during all my interactions were bangle bracelets. I’ve already made three of my designs available in a bracelet version and if it proves to be popular I may offer more.