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There are about as many different ways of getting started making rosaries as there are rosary makers. Whether you wish to make them as a personal, devotional hobby or as a small side business (or both), here are some suggested steps to follow. We welcome your comments for improvement of this material.
1. Get a kit
The easiest and fastest way to get started is to select from any of the popular rosary kits on our web site. These include all the parts, tools and instructions for cord, chain/wire or flexwire rosaries. Most kits are fairly inexpensive, and once you've completed one, you'll have a little bit of experience, the tools to make more, and a fair sense of whether or not you enjoy making that kind of rosary.
After making one from a popular kit, try designing your own custom rosary kit at our custom design area. It allows you to see how the parts will look together before you make the purchase. We stock parts and instructions for making rosaries using three different kinds of findings; cord, chain/wire, and flexwire. You may find that you enjoy making one kind of rosary more than the others, so we recommend you attempt at least one of each to see which is most suited to your skills and temperament. We now offer memory wire and stretch cord, as well.
Once you learn the knots, cord rosaries come quite easily. Chain/wire rosaries take longer to learn to make well, require more tools, but are very attractive and strong. Flexwire rosaries are a relatively new construction type -- mixing the appearance and feel of a cord rosary with a strength surpassing that of wire/chain rosaries.
If you find it difficult at first, don't fret. After making a few rosaries the motions come with ease. If you find yourself having significant difficulty, please contact us. We'll do whatever we can to help. Here are electronic copies of our instructions for making rosaries (these are Adobe pdf documents that will be downloaded to your computer when you click the link):
2. Make custom rosaries as gifts for friends and family
Life is full of special occasions; birth, baptism, first communion, confirmation, graduation, marriage, birthdays, anniversary, even illness and death can be an opportunity to give a loving gift to a special one.
Anyone can go to a store and buy a manufactured rosary, but to receive a rosary made by you, where the parts and colors have special meanings, can be a treasure. Put every ounce of care and love you can muster into them!
Of course, The Rosary Shop has nearly 1700 different parts for making custom rosaries, all at very competitive prices, so you'll have no problem creating something unique for that special person. Attractive, long-lasting, meaningful rosaries can cost as little as $5 for the parts, or well into the hundreds. It is up to you. Like any work of art, your care and consideration will show through no matter the cost of the parts that went into it.
3. What? You want me to make another one?
Once people learn that you make beautiful, meaningful, long-lasting rosaries, they may begin to ask you to make some more for them or for others. Depending on your financial situation, at this point you may want to start thinking about whether or not you want to charge for such requested rosaries, or continue to offer them as gifts.
If you choose to charge for your rosary, the amount you charge is totally up to you. Of course, if you charge too much, you might never get asked again. If you charge too little, it might become a financial burden. In general, you will want to at least cover the costs of all the parts and shipping. What you charge for the actual assembly is up to you. Different rosary makers charge anywhere from $5 to $150 for rosary assembly, depending on the difficulty of the process.
Some rosary makers just double the cost of the parts, and then don't charge for assembly. There are many different ways to do this. None is right or wrong. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just ask the person to make a donation -- whatever it is worth to them. That way, you are letting the recipient pay what he or she can afford and believes it is worth. You can then select the grade of parts that is fitting with the amount paid.
4. Selecting the Components
Use the custom rosary kit system at The Rosary Shop to select the components (you could also use our custom rosary portfolio, designed especially for rosary makers and stores, or our print catalog). That way, you and the person who will receive the rosary can see how everything will look assembled, before ever having to purchase the parts. You could even tell the person where to go to design the rosary, let them do it on their own time, then just have them "e-mail the rosary" to you. This capability is built into our custom rosary system.
Once you've settled on the parts, just order the kit, and The Rosary Shop will send it to you. Make the rosary and you're all done.
As more people ask you to make rosaries for them, you may wish to carry a small selection of inventory, yourself. We have two ways to help with this. The first is the ability to quickly order items by part number without having to look them up in the inventory tables; just select 'Shopping Basket' under the 'Shopping Center' menu. The other is our 'ultimate rosary makers tote,' which can hold hundreds of different rosary making parts, tools and accessories.
5. Selling on the Internet
If you wish to sell rosaries on the Internet, you generally need to have made them first. Scan them using a good color scanner. A faded but attractive background paper can add to the appearance.
Save the scanned image as a jpeg file, 72 dots per inch. Some photo editing may be necessary. Adobe Photoshop is an excellent program for this purpose, but also a little expensive.
Then just upload the image and enter your text description at the Rosary Partners Guild at The Rosary Shop. Tell others where you have it listed. You might even make little cards or brochures with your name, phone number, and the Internet address.
The Rosary Partners Guild is an automatic system that allows people to purchase your rosary creation without you having to set up all kinds of special credit accounts, Internet servers, and the like. We've done all the work, so you don't have to.
When the rosary sells, you'll receive an automatic notice with all the information necessary to ship it to the purchaser.
6. Creating a Web Site
If you have the time and abilities, you might also create your own web site displaying your rosaries. If you are also using the Rosary Partners Guild, your listing in the Partners Guild will automatically link to your web site.
It is one thing to create a simple site that showcases your creations; this can be done with any number of inexpensive software systems. It is something entirely different to create a full e-commerce site. We recommend that you create a showcase site, and leave the e-commerce to people who are real experts at server programming.
Be sure to create a link from your web site to The Rosary Shop or your listings in the Rosary Partners Guild. This will automatically create a link from the Rosary Shop back to your site, as well (our server detects incoming links and automatically links back).
If you do create a web site, you are welcome to use our unique custom rosary creation tool. More info here.
Note about web marketing: A recent development in search engine ranking is pay-for-click rank. This is objectively a nice system, as it cuts through a lot of ranking hype and basically says "put your money where your mouth is" (or vice-versa, actually). However, in an effort to get a certain rank, we believe that many rosary makers are probably bidding themselves into oblivion. For example, the click fee for the number 2 position on the search term "rosaries" is currently 80 cents. The average web store makes one sale for every fifty to one hundred visitors, depending on other factors. In a best case scenario, this 2nd rank web site is therefore paying $40 to $80 for each sale. To support such an advertising budget, the average sale item would need to retail for between $400 and $800. The average sale item at the site, however, is about $50, with a range from $10 to $150. The company in question will be out of business as soon as it runs out of savings.
If you intend to last, you MUST manage your capital well. Unfortunately, bid-for-rank systems have encouraged competitiveness to the point that the only real winner is the pay-for-click system owner. The people competing to get top ranks will go out of business, only to be replaced by the next wave of people shooting for a top rank. To figure out how much you can afford to bid for a rank, estimate your average sale and divide it by 100. If your average rosary sells for $50, you are therefore entering risky financial territory to bid more than 5 cents per click. In our case, though we have the largest variety and among the better sites for custom rosaries and supplies, our 5 cent bid actually places us in the 20's (or worse).
7. Goal Setting
If you decide to turn your devotional hobby into a business, you must set goals and learn some business skills (basic administration and accounting). Your local community college usually has basic business courses. You might also contact small successful business owners in your community. They are sometimes willing to share the "secrets" of their success. Most business success, though, is a combination of determiniation, common sense, good habits and serendipity than anything else. Successful business people rarely succeeded on the first try, but failed many many times. Each time, they get back up, brush themselves off, and press on.
Set a goal for how many people you wish to serve in the next year and then fill in the points between where you are now and your goal.
Insofar as you are able, make it a goal to avoid debt while starting your business. The costs of servicing a debt can easily crush a small (or large) business.
Business success depends on a number of factors; price, quality, speed, customer service, planning, accounting and also your marketing capabilities.
It is important to recognize that, given the market, it is unlikely that you'll be able to earn a living wage making rosaries. Most people don't have a lot of money to spend on rosaries, and don't see why they should when they can get a cheap one for $5 at the local store. In addition, if you are making quality rosaries, they can last nearly a lifetime. Good rosaries are not 'consumables' that people purchase over and over.
One important point of contact is your local parish. Make sure that they are aware you make custom rosaries for special occasions. Provide some flyers or business cards (these can be designed and printed by a local print shop quite inexpensively). Get involved with the parish ministries and you'll find a hundred ways that you can be of service (keeping in mind that the real arena for lay ministry is the world of work, family and social circles, NOT within the four walls of the parish). Depending on the size of your parish, this may turn into more rosary requests than you ever wanted to deal with! You may need to ask one or two friends to help you if you get overwhelmed by the rosary requests.
Another important contact is your local Christian gift store. Many gift stores (even some non-Christian ones) will be willing to display and sell your rosaries on a commission basis. This is something you'll need to work out with each individual store.
Be patient. Be friendly. Focus on just serving others; meeting their needs. If you focus on others, on finding ways of meeting their desires and needs, and you have the basic business system properly set up, things will work out. It may take time; maybe years. But that is the nature of business. It takes a LOT of work and skill to run a business. Don't be afraid to ask for help in areas that you don't enjoy, don't know or just don't have time to do.
Starting a Rosary Club
Many parishes would benefit from having a rosary making group in their midst. If your parish does not already have a group, starting one is very easy. It doesn't have to cost the parish anything other than allowing a meeting place once a month or every couple weeks.
Parish rosary clubs generally make rosaries for the missions or the needs of the parish.
Mission rosary supplies are so inexpensive that the rosary makers generally start by pooling some small personal donations. Then contact Our Lady's Rosary Makers in Louisville, KY for missions rosary parts. OLRM is a non-profit organization with very inexpensive missions rosary parts. OLRM can also provide lists of missions in need of rosaries.
Your rosary club can be a center of prayer, devotion and even raise funds for special parish activities. Some rosary groups make nice rosaries for baptisms, weddings, first communions, confirmations and other special life-events in the parish.