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The secret to increasing your income as a jewelry designer

Jewelry designers ask me all the time how it’s even possible to make a good living as a designer. I think it’s a common struggle, I love making and designing jewelry, but how can you really turn all that passion and skill into profits.

There is a little secret that I tapped into early on in my career. I think I realized that working until 2 am really was for the birds and NOT something that I wanted to do. I also knew that if I wanted to keep growing my business that I needed to spend a lot of time bringing money and clients into the business.

I knew that if I wanted to grow my business and make a bigger paycheck, there was no way I could be sitting behind a workbench fulfilling orders all day. Let me clarify ~ I am a designer. I need to design my collections and individual pieces, but not necessarily manufacture them myself.

Here is the distinction:: as a “designer” my time is better spent working on creative direction and landing new business than “making” actual pieces of jewelry.

Why is this the secret to increasing your income as a jewelry designer?

Let’s break it down:

  1. You can pay someone else a lower wage to make your pieces, increasing your margins and profitability.
  2. You have more time to work on revenue generating activities, like landing new business, marketing your collection and calling for reorders from previous clients.
  3. You have more time to design gorgeous pieces that will attract more of your DREAM clients.

In our Multiply Your Profits course we go into detail about why this works to help you not only increase your profits, but to give you a bigger paycheck at the end of the day.

The most important thing to remember here is, depending on your business model and the type of jewelry you are selling, someone else can usually “make” your work for less money that you are willing to pay yourself. For instance, if you wanted to pay yourself $50 an hour for labor, but you could hire or contract someone to do the same work for $10 an hour, this makes a significant dent in the price of labor.

The price of your labor directly affects your pricing and margins.

If you can get a better price-point with a higher margin per piece, you can easily mark your pieces competitively (not to be confused with under pricing your work) and ultimately sell more. Or if you are a custom jewelry designer working in the fine jewelry arena like myself, you can outsource the labor allowing for more overall income in your pocket. If I am not sitting behind a bench all day, I have a lot more time to work on MORE design projects and provide great service for my clients who eventually come back for more and refer me to their friends like crazy.

Just a little food for thought!

Now we want to hear from you!

In the comments below, tell us the following:

  1. What are you doing now? Designing? Making? Or Both?
  2. How does if feel for me to let go of making your jewelry?

We would love for you to join us in our Multiply Your Profits course that launches on May 7th. Enrollment is opening again today, April 30th until Midnight EDT.

Please join us!

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21 Comments

  1. Janet Cozzens on April 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I am really excited about the Multiply Your Profits Course. I do both, design and make my pieces. I have already learned from the teleconference that this is not necessarily the way to go.
    I am trying to look at some re-design ideas right now so that I can re-produce my pieces and not have all of my pieces be one of a kind. Do you have any suggestions for me? My pieces are wire wrapped and I would really like to figure out how I could go about changing some of the work I do so that others may become the makers.
    Thank you.
    Janet Cozzens

    • Tracy Matthews on April 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Janet,

      Thanks for your comment. You need to design in a way that your pieces can be replicated if you want to use this method.

      We are excited to have you in the course!! and the community!!

      Tracy

    • Robin Kramer on April 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Janet,

      Super excited that you will be joining us!

      xo Robin

  2. Mariel on April 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I have to disagree with you on this one, Tracy. I love getting to make the actual pieces. When someone knows how to do something better than me, then I will definitely opt for higher efficiency and quality. Otherwise, I prefer the handmade from start to finish of my own doing. Outsourcing (within the US) serves a great purpose, but deciding what your goal is with your art is first. Being able to actually take an idea and not only render it, but also have the skills to put all that theory into practice makes a finished piece much more valuable in my eyes.
    I fall in love with each of my pieces far more than I ever did as a designer at a jewelry store where someone else was making them. That love transfers to the buyer too.

    Just my opinion; you can keep trying to sway me.

    • Tracy Matthews on April 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      HI Mariel,

      Most makers DO love making the pieces. This post is about how to increase your income and scale. The only way you can increase your income if you are making each piece yourself or designing one of a kind is to charge a premium price-point. So you should position your pricing and your brand that way!

      We have many designers in our community who do this successfully. The ones who are making great incomes design fine jewelry.

      You are right, this is all a personal choice and you can take or leave anything that we say. We are just teaching you how you can have a passion business but also make an abundant living doing it!

      I have put the principles that I teach in action and they work great for me.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on the post.

      xo, Tracy

  3. Dvora Schleffer on April 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I also feel like Mariel. If I grow my business to a point where I can’t do what I love doing, than what’s the point? I could just as well pick any career (or business) that can yield a big income. I want to create, it’s what makes me happy. If this means there’s a limit to how big my business can get, than that’s a limit I am ok with.
    I guess it all depends on what you want to achieve and how you define success.

    • Robin Kramer on April 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Dvora,

      Yes, it all depends on were you want to go. Please understand, we recommend you put systems in place so you CAN do what you LOVE doing. How much your biz grows definitely depends on you and how big or small you want it to be. You are the driver, we just want to make sure you are well equipped in your journey and have a strong, well running machine to get you where you want to go.

      Success means something different to everyone – the beauty is you get to choose!! So awesome!

      xo Robin

  4. Sharon Palac on April 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Outsourcing? How about keeping American Made in America? Sometimes it’s not about the money, but the sense of accomplishment and knowing you’re doing the right thing by NOT buying low paid labor products.

  5. Robin Kramer on April 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    Tracy and I love having things made in the good old USA. And to your point, success and accomplishment is different for everyone. I have worked for “made in the USA” companies since 2001 and started my own consulting biz so I could help jewelry designers with their businesses. The companies I consult with are all US based and make their product in their studios.

    When Tracy and I talk about outsourcing, we are not talking about having jewelry made overseas – we are addressing all of the things in a business that may be taking you away from what you love to do and why you started your biz in the first place. For example,accounting or ordering supplies or entering orders into your system or cleaning your studio, social media, and the list goes on.

    Check out our video for our course Multiply Your Profits to hear us talk about outsourcing a little more.
    http://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/multiplyyourprofits/

    Thanks again for letting us know how you feel!

    xo Robin

    • Sharon Palac on April 30, 2013 at 6:06 pm

      Robin,

      Thanks for explaining that point, makes me feel a whole lot better! I will definitely keep reading your blog. 🙂

      Sharon

      • Robin Kramer on May 1, 2013 at 1:31 am

        Sharon,

        Happy you feel better about outsourcing and about us!! We are thrilled you keep reading our blog!

        Thank you,
        xo Robin

  6. justine on April 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Hi everybody…

    i design & make the first piece of every design. Then I have help from people that re-produce for me. I understand all the point of views here and for me it is really important during the designing-process to make, touch & try things out for myself. I wouldn’t be able to this without the making-part, really. But I try to combine it with a team that reproduces for me. In that way I increased my income and I’m still making jewelry myself.

    • Robin Kramer on May 1, 2013 at 1:33 am

      Justine,

      Thank you so much for your comments and sharing what has worked well for you.

      xo Robin

  7. Dawn DiGesare on April 30, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    I can not wait for Volume 2!

    Some of my pieces are so easy to make and I would love to have someone pumping them out for me so I could have more time to create the unusual funky higher priced items that I love to make.

    Keep all of the great information coming. I use what I need and pass on what I don’t!

    • Robin Kramer on May 1, 2013 at 1:34 am

      Dawn,

      We are super excited to help you get to where you want to go!

      Fasten your seat belt – we are getting ready for a very fun ride!

      xo Robin

  8. Cindy on May 1, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Enjoyed reading the discussion here, which I am familiar with as one of your Vol. 1 and future Vol. 2 students. Currently I do design and make all of my jewelry, but I am open to changes in the future. Thank you for the information and resources you share with us, Tracy and Robin!

  9. elena on May 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Need advice on how to expand when all my pieces are one of a kind. how to find stores, boutiques and galleries to showcase my work. I don’t have a particular style. I just let the stones dictate what the piece will become. thanks for input. Elena

  10. trini on October 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you for this article. I am a jewelry designer myself and I make hand made items trying to promote and market better. It is just tough trying to show people and reach out thats the struggle.
    http://www.lovetrenna.com

  11. Staci Jansma on October 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Trini – you are welcome! Thanks for stopping by and hope you are able to find more helpful tips to help you promote and market your business better too here at Flourish Thrive Academy. Also – I clicked on over to your website and really like how you have everything presented and your pictures of your jewelry look great! We’d like to invite you, as well as other designers, to be a featured designer here at Flourish Thrive Academy, click here if you are interested: http://www.flourishthriveacademy.com/be-a-featured-designer/

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