1. Buy materials online. Use your noggin. Hobby stores are robbing you blind. This is made even more obvious by their constant 40-50% off sales. You can triple your profit buying your materials wholesale from sites like this and this. If you are going to buy from hobby stores, learn the art of watching their online flier for sales, and utilizing their 40% coupons.
2. Use base metals instead of precious. Yes, we all get it, Silpada is pristine and beautiful. (Oh to the Em Gee, you got those $50 earrings from where?!) Who gives a rip. I can make that $90 pair of Silpada sterling silver earrings for $3 in copper or lead-free pewter wire. My favorite place to buy wire and metal supplies is here.
3. Watch online video tutorials. Sure, you can take a $50 beading class at Michaels or Joann. Or even invest in an expensive artisan education at a local college. But I received all of my knowledge for freeeeeeeee from sites like this. You can also go here and search for videos on making specific jewelry items by using search terms such as “hammered metal earrings” or “gemstone wrap bracelet.”
4. Use faux gemstones. Yes, some people only want Sleeping Beauty Turquoise or authentic Baltic Amber, and guess what? Those people can pay the $900 wholesale price tag it requires. You, on the other hand, can buy very convincing knockoffs for less than $20 here or here.
5. Buy metals in bulk. Regardless of your preference….sterling, copper, gold, lead-free pewter, there are ways to purchase all of these metals in bulk that will save you money. Hill Tribe Silver, for example, is an exquisite 92.5 sterling silver made in Africa, and can easily cost $4-5 and more per gram at bead trade shows. But buying the same material in bulk here can save you up to 70%. That is money in your pocket, folks!
6. Save your scrap. If you use sterling silver, and many do, there are always little pieces of scrap wire that get tossed away, or blank discs where the J got stamped on backwards. Do not throw those precious metals in the trash! Save those scraps and once you have a few ounces saved up, go here and print out the cash for scrap form, and mail those pieces in to get yourself a fat check. A few years ago I mailed in a very heavy bag of tiny nibs of sterling silver wire, broken sterling silver beads, and mis-stamped sterling discs, and received a check for $1,069. Hellooooo, beautiful payday for something I had already paid for. NICE!
7. Discover the beauty of Etsy. Etsy is my personal utopia. All in one place you can sell your creations, buy materials and tools, network with other artisans, and get a flobbity jillion ideas. You can list your own work for 20 cents per listing, and when your item sells, Etsy takes a tiny percentage of the sale. That’s all. Most of the sellers are extremely reputable, and you can find some stellar products that you would have a hard time finding anywhere else. Buy vintage buttons here. Or picasso seed beads here. Or hammered metal crosses here. But beware: Your money saving efforts could quickly turn into spending your entire paycheck on materials. Spend responsibly, friends.
Bonus material: At the end of the day, you are not going to get anywhere by keeping all of your knowledge to yourself. Pay it forward. Share your gifts, your resources, and your information with other artisans. If people like your work, they are going to buy it. Period. Even if your customer knows you spent 2 cents on the materials, your own creative spin on that piece of 2 cent wire is what the consumer is paying for. Be generous and loving, and it will come back to you 10 fold.