Home – New Forums New here? Share your story Online antique jewellery seller sick of Ebay and looking for other options

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  • #988100
    VintageJewelleryCo.
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    • Total posts: 6
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    Hi everyone, I have a small online antique jewellery store that has been running on Ebay for about 8 years now. As I’m sure many of you are aware Ebay has become a lost cause for online sellers with sales dropping and fees rising simultaneously. I have been looking for another option for some time now.

    Last year we tried a website using Shopify. In 6 months we took 1 sale which I am adamant only occurred as the direct result of Facebook marketing, not a Google search. I’ll be the first to say that I am an absolute novice when it comes to websites. I can’t get my head around SEO even after reading and watching every tutorial out there. I must have been stupid to think that simply opening an online store through Shopify and paying the subscription would automatically get me some exposure and as a result some sales.

    After attending a small business expo Flying Solo was recommended to me so here I am. More frustrated with Ebay than ever I am again on the look out for another e-commerce host but I fear I will be in the same situation I was with Shopify – i.e money coming out and nothing coming in. My product doesn’t rely on location based search keywords that make it easier for my customer base to find me. As an example “plumber Sydney” brings up just over 3 million results. If you type in “antique jewellery” you get just over 22 million results and I’d say my website was probably on the last page lol. My dilemma is I know I need professional help to get seen but I don’t have the thousands of dollars at hand needed to grow my business from only existing to succeeding. I would appreciate some advice on the following.

    1. Who would you recommend as an e-commerce host for the sort of product I am selling?
    2. Do I need SEO specialists to get seen on Google? If so, what price would I roughly be looking at and who would be someone to contact?
    3. Should I be looking at other avenues of exposure and if so what else is there?
    4. Is Facebook the key? I spent about $150 or so on Facebook promoting and made about 4 sales directly through Facebook of about $700 worth which is a lot better than the website did.

    Just a little background info on my store. We sell antique gold and silver jewellery made from a material known as gold fill which looks and feels just like solid gold but is actually a thick sandwich of solid gold over an inner metal core of usually sterling silver or brass. The age of our jewellery ranges from the Georgian period through to the 1970s with the majority of our range being c1880s – c1950s. Our prices are reasonable. Most pieces fall well below $300. I have seen a number of antique jewellery stores online selling a bangle for $1000 that I would price at $250. We also accept offers and take laybys. We provide free insured postage Australia wide so all you pay is the cost of your item. Before Ebay took a turn for the worst we were quite successful in our business. Sales were good. Now the buyers seem to have disappeared and we’re left with what many refer to as the vultures who want to pay next to nothing and ask for 80% off the asking price. Still it’s the only thing bringing in some sort of money at the moment.

    Sorry for such a long post. Like others I am getting rather frustrated and often feel like giving up. I appreciate any advice or recommendations :)

    https://www.facebook.com/TheAntiqueandFineJewelleryCo

    #1165593
    vhit
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    • Total posts: 70
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    Hi there!
    I liked your FB page. I think you’re an excellent marketer. Showing that your jewellery has been ‘sold’ is great social evidence!

    I’ve made many bad websites before and wasted a lot of money doing it. I’ve found that the best is to use a good “host”- I use Panthur. Then make a WordPress website. WordPress is free. But you should buy an ecommerce ‘theme’ from themeforest.com (cost about $60). I find all of this really confusing. So I used someone from odesk.com to make the website and set everything up. He literally did it for $30, and he is very smart. (I can give you his details if you like).

    For SEO I used someone from oDesk too. I think everyone I’ve worked with from there was a genius. Because you can search through hundreds of thousands of contractors and find the ones with the best ratings. I made sure to hire someone who does “natural SEO” and it cost about $40 a week. I stopped doing it after a couple months but I still have page 2 ranking on Google for my keywords. If “antique jewellery” has too much competition you can focus on an easier keyword. You can do keyword research on Google Adwords- you can see how often people search for phrases related to your keyword on Google. And see how much competition different keywords have.

    I think you would be successful on Facebook because you’re good at marketing and you have a good product. Also you’ve already had some evidence of success there. Also as a bonus, I’ve found social media boosts your website ranking on Google.

    Sorry for my long post! I’ve gone through building a website and SEO with trial and a lot of error. And found successful ways of doing things that are also cheap :-) Let me know if you want any more details or info. By the way I used to sell on eBay too, and I hate it. Also I love antique jewellery and will be a customer.

    Cheers
    Whitney

    #1165594
    VintageJewelleryCo.
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    • Total posts: 6
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    Whitney, thank you so much for taking the time to write your very helpful reply and thank you for liking my Facebook page. That’s so nice of you :) Would you mind sending me the names of the people you used? Also, does WordPress have a checkout system so that people can purchase from you?

    #1165595
    Anonymous
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    • Total posts: 11,464
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    Hi there,

    Welcome to Flying Solo, and thanks for joining us :)

    We have some very experienced online marketers around here, and I’m sure you’ll receive some valuable insights.

    In the meantime, please feel free to share your name with us – we’re all very friendly around here, and it helps us feel that we’re getting to know you.

    All the best,
    Jayne

    #1165596
    VintageJewelleryCo.
    Member
    • Total posts: 6
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    Thanks Jayne :) Looking forward to lots of valuable insight and advice from other members. A little bit about me. I studied ancient and modern history at university before ending up in the antique jewellery business. I live on the beautiful south coast of NSW with my husband and two dogs. Shannon

    #1165597
    vhit
    Member
    • Total posts: 70
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    Hi Shannon,
    No problem!
    The person who built my website was Temani:
    https://www.odesk.com/users/~01fdd17da45ee9f8ef
    And for SEO I used Shah:
    https://www.odesk.com/users/~~b8c820546c2c747b

    You can use lots of different types of checkout with WordPress. You download “plugins” for things you need on WordPress. You can use PayPal checkout. The downside is their high percentage fee-which you would know about. Otherwise you can use a merchant checkout from the bank which has a lot of fees but a lower percentage rate.

    Cheers

    #1165598
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,485
    #1165599
    Tony Manto
    Participant
    • Total posts: 581
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    Hi Shannon, this is not an easy question to answer but I will try.

    First of all you do need a good website with a shopping cart for your type of business and product. Now the key is to think of your site as a business card or shop front where you then direct all your efforts to direct people to so they can make a purchase. You seam to have mastered Facebook and need to master social media and referral word of mouth marketing or referred to as viral marketing. As far as SEO is concerned, some technical parts of SEO are valid, but paying hundreds of dollars trying to get a higher ranking in my opinion is a big waste of marketing. You need to niche market using Facebook advertising and other direct marketing strategies. Networking, JV,s and back links are alway effective and low cost type of marketing.

    That’s as simple as I can make it in a post but happy to talk to you if you want to discuss other stategies.

    #1165600
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
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    This kind of post occurs so regularly here it makes my head spin.

    Ecommerce and marketing, is not my field … but there’s some real experts here, I’d be searching them out and reading their posted advice (and listening to it).

    I do have my head inside the machinery of websites on a daily basis though, and from that perspective I’ll tell you that it’s extremely naive to expect you can fix much by changing your platform. It’s a bit like thinking that by buying a new delivery van, I’ll make more sales … pointless, especially if it’s not sign written properly, or there’s a basic flaw in the product for sale.

    If you’re not selling on Shopify … moving to WordPress won’t fix it.

    Some platforms may suit you better … ease of use, cost of development and maintenance, payment gateways, etc. etc. But they are all no different to an empty delivery van when you start. None will magically make customers appear.

    So far as thinking simplistic SEO can fix it, I’ll quote one of our resident experts with a long history in online marketing “Caveat emptor”. I’d also second reading the thread link provided by @bb1.

    As an aside, I did check your Facebook link and I’d suggest removing the link to your now defunct site, it’s not a good look to engender trust or produce sales.

    You seem to have some good stuff, hope you find a more successful way of exposing it for sale.

    Cheers

    #1165601
    VintageJewelleryCo.
    Member
    • Total posts: 6
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    Thanks Whitney, much appreciated. I’ll look into both this weekend :)

    vhit, post: 191794 wrote:
    Hi Shannon,
    No problem!
    The person who built my website was Temani:
    https://www.odesk.com/users/~01fdd17da45ee9f8ef
    And for SEO I used Shah:
    https://www.odesk.com/users/~~b8c820546c2c747b

    You can use lots of different types of checkout with WordPress. You download “plugins” for things you need on WordPress. You can use PayPal checkout. The downside is their high percentage fee-which you would know about. Otherwise you can use a merchant checkout from the bank which has a lot of fees but a lower percentage rate.

    Cheers

    #1165602
    VintageJewelleryCo.
    Member
    • Total posts: 6
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    Thank you estim8 for your advice, I understand changing from one platform to another isn’t going to fix my problem but at the very least I can cut down on my outgoings whilst I am in the progress of marketing my website. Paying Shopify a monthly subscription without accumulating any sales was a hard lesson learnt. With something like WordPress which is free and only incurs the cost of a host company I can substantially cut my costs down in the interim.

    I’ve had a quick scan through the forum link provided by @bb1 (thank you @bb1) and I’ll continue to read the entire forum today. I guess my question is if SEO isn’t the answer, what is? From my quick read of that forum many place emphasis on the product and pricing. Obviously that’s a vital ingredient in making a sale but I feel my problem isn’t so much turning traffic into customers but getting traffic full stop. Without trying to be bias I think my product is good and my prices are good. We offer free postage, laybys, make an offer, discounts for multiple purchases and heavy price reductions for repeat buyers. Considering our items are one off antiques (not mass produced stock) I think we’re quite generous with our incentives. Is there anything else we should be doing?

    I know I have a demand for my product. I know there are customers out there. My problem is, how do I get them to see me? How will they find my website if SEO isn’t the answer anymore? Is it a matter of getting yourself on forums like this and promoting your business (without obviously promoting your business) through banner links etc? Is cross promoting the answer? I feel even more concerned now that paying a professional isn’t going to fix my exposure problem. What hope does a technical twit like me have of fixing it lol. I greatly appreciate everyone’s advice :)

    PS estim8 thank you for the suggestion of removing the link – stupid me. What a bad look that was for my business! I’ve now removed it.

    Shannon

    estim8, post: 191814 wrote:
    This kind of post occurs so regularly here it makes my head spin.

    Ecommerce and marketing, is not my field … but there’s some real experts here, I’d be searching them out and reading their posted advice (and listening to it).

    I do have my head inside the machinery of websites on a daily basis though, and from that perspective I’ll tell you that it’s extremely naive to expect you can fix much by changing your platform. It’s a bit like thinking that by buying a new delivery van, I’ll make more sales … pointless, especially if it’s not sign written properly, or there’s a basic flaw in the product for sale.

    If you’re not selling on Shopify … moving to WordPress won’t fix it.

    Some platforms may suit you better … ease of use, cost of development and maintenance, payment gateways, etc. etc. But they are all no different to an empty delivery van when you start. None will magically make customers appear.

    So far as thinking simplistic SEO can fix it, I’ll quote one of our resident experts with a long history in online marketing “Caveat emptor”. I’d also second reading the thread link provided by @bb1.

    As an aside, I did check your Facebook link and I’d suggest removing the link to your now defunct site, it’s not a good look to engender trust or produce sales.

    You seem to have some good stuff, hope you find a more successful way of exposing it for sale.

    Cheers

    #1165603
    MissSassy
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,255
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    Given what you are doing it may be wise that regardless off the website you end up choosing that you cross promote.

    This means that via facebook, ebay and anywhere else you also mention your website. Visa versa also, send people to ebay and facebook from your site.

    The important thing to remember is that having a website won’t guarantee sales, you still have to promote, expose, produce great content and more to get the results you want.

    SEO is a combination of both technical and content driven but you also need to involve social media and have a 3 pronged approach.

    I am doing a workshop on these topics in the next couple of weeks as I have found many people struggling to keep up with the changing business environment.

    As you have been doing your business for 8 years SO MUCH has changed over that time and you are seeing the need to change too, it is just about making the right choices along the way.

    #1165604
    VintageJewelleryCo.
    Member
    • Total posts: 6
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    Thanks Tony. I’ll PM you shortly.

    Tony Manto, post: 191811 wrote:
    Hi Shannon, this is not an easy question to answer but I will try.

    First of all you do need a good website with a shopping cart for your type of business and product. Now the key is to think of your site as a business card or shop front where you then direct all your efforts to direct people to so they can make a purchase. You seam to have mastered Facebook and need to master social media and referral word of mouth marketing or referred to as viral marketing. As far as SEO is concerned, some technical parts of SEO are valid, but paying hundreds of dollars trying to get a higher ranking in my opinion is a big waste of marketing. You need to niche market using Facebook advertising and other direct marketing strategies. Networking, JV,s and back links are alway effective and low cost type of marketing.

    That’s as simple as I can make it in a post but happy to talk to you if you want to discuss other stategies.

    #1165605
    pollypolkadot
    Member
    • Total posts: 55
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    Hello there =)

    I can’t answer all your questions (I am just starting out myself), but I would like to add some things that I don’t think were explicitly mentioned in the above comments… If it was, sorry!

    Do you have a target market? Do you know who you want them to be? AND since you have already been selling for eight years, do you know if that matches up with who has been buying? I’m not sure how much info you can see about buyers, but surely what you can would be useful. Many repeat customers? What can you find out about them in particular?
    Where does your target market ‘hang out’ and how can you reach them there? Some of them would ‘hang out’ on facebook where there are thousands of dedicated interest groups, I would suggest joining some and maybe share your product/era knowledge around. Plus there are so so many buy/swap/sell groups (for every interest!) that you could sell on to make some money. I will PM you re ones that I am a part of as they would love your wares.

    In that same train- you must have made a lot of sales to survive eight years on ebay, so you must have access to a lot of email addresses. Have you kept a record of them? If you aren’t already doing so, perhaps you could email all of these prior customers for marketing purposes. Maybe ask them to like your facebook page to keep up to date with current products? I think you would also want to put something in that initial email asking if they would like to continue receiving email updates from you, and then you can cross off those who don’t.

    Do you sell in any other capacity? Do you have consignments at antique centres etc? Maybe that would be helpful for stock rotation and to get some money coming in. You can try other sites that work like ebay (sort of), but are more specific to your products – like etsy or 1stdibs, I think sales would go really well on those!

    Other than that, you could possibly contact bloggers about using/featuring your wares. Obviously you would need to find the right ones, and for them to be willing.

    Hope that has helped you a little bit!

    Polly

    #1165606
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
    Member
    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi Shannon, have you tried Ruby Lane? It’s US based so I’m not sure if it’s suitable for an Australian business. But it’s a great website for your niche. Plus it has many visitors.

    Building a website of your own and getting visitors is a more difficult path. I’m 1.5 years into my ecommerce charity/business, and I do everything myself including SEO. I have learned so much. It’s definitely time consuming. This year last year I was making 2 orders a month. Now it’s more like 6 orders a month. Still a long way to where I want to be, but given I also have a full time job, I’m not too unhappy with what I have achieved. Depending on how much you enjoy learning and how much time you’ve got, maybe an existing marketplace like Ruby Lane or eBay is still not a bad option.

    Best wishes,

    Qinnie

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