Thursday, July 2, 2015
artologica: If you want to sell on the internet, you have to be on the internet
It's about internet marketing - but not the way you think. The gist is that you can't just put a photo out on the internet and assume people will come running to buy your wares. You also can't broadcast onto twitter and pinterest like a robot, reading nothing, and assume people will read what you're saying.
So get out there, people! Be the kind of internet user who you enjoy hearing from, it'll do you good!
Thursday, January 15, 2015
1) You joined twitter (I love twitter!)
2) You clicked "follow" next to some profiles of folks who shared some interests with you.
3) Sometimes after you'd follow someone, you'd get a direct message (DM) right back telling you that the person you followed uses the TrueTwit validation service, and requesting that you visit an external website so you can prove that you're "valid".
If you clicked, you were asked to type in a word (captcha) to prove you're not a robot. And then... nothing really happens. Whether or not you type in the captcha you're still following the person. Whether or not you type in the captcha they can still decide you're cool (or not) and follow you back (or not). Bots are certainly capable of typing in captchas these days, and spammers are welcome to join the truetwit network so they can escape the captchas all together. So what's it all about?
If you got a few of these messages, you'd wonder how you could stop them from flooding your message box, and consider joining TrueTwit so it would forever know that you are not a robot. That's when you'd find out that to join TrueTwit, you must also give TrueTwit access to your twitter account, so they can send all your new followers DMs to their website asking them to "validate".
Or, if you don't want to send DMs, you can pay them $20.
Does that sound fishy? It did to me. I love twitter - my main account is @spacefem but I also run @etsytrades for people who like trading handmade items they've posted on Etsy, and I run @wichitaswe for my local Society of Women Engineers to let people know about free technology events for kids. I love meeting new people on twitter, so I'm always clicking "follow" buttons!
I also like to reserve the use of Twitter's direct message system for very important things - so I hate getting messages that tell me to go visit a website that really does nothing.
When I complained to @GoTrueTwit about this, here's the nice message I got back:
@spacefem Why are you bugging us about this? What makes you think we care? What makes you think anybody cares?— TrueTwit (@GoTrueTwit) January 7, 2015
I noticed I wasn't the only one... when I searched twitter for "truetwit", nearly every tweet was about how people hated it!
If I get a "True Twit validation" DM when I follow you, that says you think your time is more valuable than mine. It isn't. #PleaseDont— Christin Kardos (@ChristinKardos) January 14, 2015
Another TrueTwit spam message. Those things make me rage!!!!!!!!!!— Sean Munger (@Sean_Munger) January 14, 2015
People who use truetwit truly are twits— Phil Fersht (@pfersht) January 14, 2015
NO! No TrueTwit validation! If you doubt that I'm a real person, please visit your psychiatrist! Your meds need adjusting! XD— James Christopher (@JJCAuthor) January 14, 2015
Yes all those tweets are from a time period of just a few hours, because they're really easy to find. No tweets thanking truetwit for a great service - no one appreciates truetwit. They're just annoyed into it.
TrueTwit, in return, says this about their critics:
So because I don't like truetwit, I'm a slutbot? I thought I was a 34-year-old married mom from Kansas who tweets about arts and crafts. I don't think this is a service that any of us should refer to for evaluating people, especially on Twitter, a place where 160 character bios make it really easy to quickly determine who's worth following back and who isn't.
So that's why I launched @StopTrueTwit. I'm sad that TrueTwit has been able to annoy so many twitter users into signing up for their service and sending out all those DM spam messages to new followers. Some people don't even know they're doing it! To me, TrueTwit is running an extortion service: either pay us, become our spambot, or suffer annoying DMs every time you dare click "follow" on a potential new twitter friend.
They're also a spam advertising service - they constantly brag about how much traffic their site gets so they can make more money on ads. In other words, they've gotten thousands of twitter users to send out links a website where only TrueTwit gets ad revenue. Their users give them free advertising, and they make money!
If TrueTwit has lured you in, visit http://twitter.com/settings/applications and see if TrueTwit is listed. Click the "revoke access" button next to them to free yourself so they can't use your account.
And please never click a link you get via DM to "validate". Real people on twitter can decide for themselves if you're a real person. When you click those links, you're not showing that you're real, you're showing support for DM spam.
My @StopTrueTwit campaign has several goals:
1) Let people know that TrueTwit is really spam, if you don't like it you are not alone.
2) Serve as a resource for people trying to get truetwit's grabby teeth out of their account, with screenshots, Q&A, and quick tips for how to disable it
3) Get the attention of Twitter and the API team to ask them to shut down the service altogether. I realize this will take a bit of a following. @support has ignored me so far. But some strength may come from numbers.
Yes, I realize there have been anti-truetwit campaigns before that were launched and then abandoned, I will not do that. I am darn persistent. I've been running spacefem.com for 12 years now. I still blog on livejournal - very 2003, I know, but I don't abandon stuff I care about. So trust me, and stay with me. I may not be a social media expert, so if you are you can definitely shoot an email to email@example.com with tips on how we can stop truetwit.
Let's work together to free twitter from DM spammers, and make it the great place that we all love!
Sunday, December 14, 2014
I've written before about how to use Etsy's suggestion tool to find titles - those suggestions will tell you what people frequently come here to shop for, so you can start your title with those words.
But don't start every title with those words. Not exactly the same, anyway.
Every listing you create is a tiny doorway into your shop. So if you have 10 listings that all start with the term "tote bag", they're all competing for a top spot in the search for "tote bag". You're competing with yourself.
Or you could re-arrange each title so that one starts with "tote bag", another with "canvas bag", another "cotton tote bag", etc. The "canvas bag" won't rank as high on the search term "tote bag" it's true. But it'll be higher for a search for "canvas bag"! You're just made another tiny door into your shop. Once a potential customer clicks, they might notice your other items on the side or your shop links, they'll click around. But you've got to get them in first!
People are different, you never know exactly what they'll type in. So do your best to aim each listing at a different group of people. Cast a wide net out into the ocean of Etsy searchers, and you'll catch a few more!
Monday, November 10, 2014
But luckily through teams I got shop critiques, support, learned helpful tips, got dragged into the shop opportunities prototype, made a ton of friends and got to be the etsian I am today!
I've even started several of my own teams, and captained a number of them. You know my biggest team, EtsyTrades.com, I did not even start! I inherited! But more on that later.
How To Start An Etsy Team
Step 1: Don't.
No really - as I said, I inherited my biggest project. It's a trade team, there are lots of trade teams, it would be a silly idea to start your own trade team when you could use your talents to contribute to an existing one. Go searching for a team with a purpose similar to one you'd start, and jump in - so much easier than starting from zero! You might even ask the captains how you can help or volunteer to co-lead.
Some teams have no captains, or their captain went missing a long time ago. If your team captain no longer responds to convos, you might just start a thread asking the team whether anyone has heard from the captain or would support you in becoming captain. If your team is okay with it, you can contact Etsy, tell them the team captain has gone AWOL, and volunteer to captain yourself. I've done this a couple times and they always respond within a few business days - I clicked the "help" link on Etsy, looked for help on Community Guidelines > Teams, and used the contact form to get in touch.
Recently I found myself wishing I was in a team for people looking to increase their followers. I found The Circle Clicking Team - which had thousands of members and seemed to have that goal, at one time. But the captains hadn't started new threads in months. So I asked if they needed help, and guess what - they made me the captain! I am so glad I didn't start my own team from scratch, this was much easier!
Step 2: Or do
Then again maybe there is no team that fits your idea, so you start one, and that's okay too! Be sure to give it a cool icon and fill in as much info as you can about the goals and purpose of your team.
Step 3: So now you're a captain!
I say the first thing to do is get some threads started! Nobody wants to jump into an empty box. If your team has no active threads, you must start at least one. Make it an easy question that people will want to respond to. Make sure it demonstrates that you are here for others, not yourself.
Step 4: Invite invite invite
Etsy has a great feature on the left side of every team that leaders can use, it just says "invite" and you can type in any shop name, user name, or user ID and it'll resolve to a real etsian.
I invite shops to my teams like a crazy person. Who do I invite?
1) People who post nice things in the discussion forums
2) Shop owners posting cool new listings
3) Etsians who are favoriting the same things I favorite
You can send out 100 invites a day, and the first day you open a team I'd suggest using all 100!
Unlike convos, invites are unobtrusive and cannot be flagged as spam because they don't use the convo system. They just put up a message for people to respond to; they either accept or reject the invitation, it sits there until they do something so it's not as easy to ignore. Members can convo you back with questions about an invite, but you're not bugging them in convos, so I love them.
Step 5: Encourage other thread starters
I don't like starting all the threads myself, I think people get bored seeing my same icon over and over :) So I'll convo other people and ask them to start threads, especially easy ones like "post your items here" that everyone feels that every team should have (sigh). Having different people start threads makes it feel more like a "team" anyway.
Step 6: Join the Captains Quarters
Yes, Etsy has a team about teams! And it's awesome, you get an insider look at what the admins are doing, recommendations, help with staying active. It's a wonderful thing to join.
Step 7: Recruit more leaders
I think every team should have at least two other leaders besides the captain. You can't be there all the time. If you add a co-leader you get their help and perspective. My trade team has nine leaders which is a lot I know, but we have 3500 members and a mountain of activities so I appreciate the help. They all have a purpose - starting a monthly thread, maintaining the team page, cleaning up spam. Plus when there are other leaders involved, team members really feel like they're in a team, not just one person's idea. In my teams all the leaders get email addresses and email one another to coordinate so we can all talk at once, it works out great.
Step 8: Take suggestions!
Make sure your team is really a team of people who are networking and getting to know one another, not just a holding place for post-and-runs. Feel free to change up the direction every few years, accept new leaders and be open to new ideas.
So that's it. I've been running forums for years and a lot of what I've learned, I just carried right over to teams. I've made some friends and learned a LOT and hope to see you around!
Monday, November 3, 2014
"You should work on your SEO."
I hate it for so many reasons. It's buzzwordy. It's an acronym. It sounds like a huge, complicated topic that you need a masters in. A newbie will ask "well what's my first step?" and get a reply like "there is no first step, no easy way to do it, it's a JOURNEY" and you imagine climbing mountains, and the poor new etsy person is just thinking "all I want is to sell a damn mug cozy!"
I feel your pain, newbie.
They do a little reading and get into even more questions and controversy - two or three word tags? What order should the words be in? Do I repeat words? It's so confusing!
I think the confusing part is that we're trying to think like search engines. Computers.
And the funny thing is, the computers are trying to think like searchers. People. Us!
Maybe the reason I hate "work on SEO" so much is that it implies there has to be this computer in between us and people. Why not just say this:
"Think like your searchers."
Searchers are people! You are a person! It's true that when we make an item, it can be hard to separate yourself from the processes. You'll want to describe it as a "carnival sky: a unique handmade multicolored knitted stocking cap" but that's not a great title for one simple reason: it's not something that people search for.
I've written before about how to type words into the etsy search to get suggestions and hints about what people search for. I still do that all the time. I also do periodic tag makeovers by comparing my shop stats to my existing tags and adding new ones to try to get views. Here's what to do:
1) Check your listing stats to see what key words and phrases have gotten it some views
2) Ditch the tags that are NOT getting it views
3) Time to brainstorm and use up your new free spots! Ask yourself... what are some things I'd search for if I was looking for an item like this?
4) Type some of those in the search box up type. See if they come up as suggestions.
5) Be sure to include any unique niche words - if your item features a fox, a pear, the color teal, you can appeal to fans!
6) Do NOT include words that could apply to almost any listing on Etsy. Everything is "unique" and "handmade". It's Etsy.
7) Use all 13 tags
8) Come back next month and repeat! Every listing is an experiment to see what key phrases will win for you.
I recently started a thread asking lots of sellers to tell us their top 5 keyphrases for catching views. They are as unique as all of Etsy! Some are simple one-word tags like "space" or "florida". Most are 2 or 3 word phrases... "steampunk hair accessories", "coconut candles", "wolf pendant". The point is that there's no magic formula to tell what will work, you've just got to keep trying different combinations of words to see what works.
SEO isn't a magic wand that you wave over a listing to get it views. No one can tell you for sure what will work best. But through brainstorming and trying everything that comes to mind, you'll get there.
Monday, October 27, 2014
I use cheap $30 cameras I buy off Ebay to take my photos. The camera, I've found, is not that big a deal. You can spend $3000 on a camera and your photos might be better than mine, but not 100 times better than mine, despite the staggering cost difference. What matters the most is the environment you're taking the pictures in.
So here's my setup:
It's pretty darn basic. You could use almost anything to accomplish this. My light box is made from:
1) PVC pipe, for the basic structure
2) White ripstop nylon to bounce and reflect light around inside
3) Poster board background
4) Clip on lamps
5) Full spectrum compact fluorescent light bulbs
6) Assorted props for photo time
The lamps are from a few places. First I got some clearance desk lamps at Target, but if they hadn't been clearance they might have run my budget up quite a bit. They're okay.
I experimented with several backgrounds - white curtain lining fabric, projector screens, all flavors of more expensive stuff. The cheap white posterboard turned out to be my favorite.
If I had it to do over again I would do it with just these shop lamps, which I got at Home Depot in the electrical section and I just adore. They're cheap, aluminum, and will take a bulb up to 100 W (try that with a desk lamp!) And the clips really hold them in place. Not as pretty but much more functional!
Don't laugh at the whole at the top of my nylon there... it's to stick my camera lens straight through the top and take pictures from above. Works awesome!
The one place I would not cheap out is on the light bulbs. I special ordered full-spectrum daylight compact florescent bulbs from 1000bulbs.com because they don't get as hot as incandescent. I can put a "120 W equivalent" in my "under 100 watt" lamp because when you use CFL, it only actually uses 32 watts! These light bulbs run $6-8 each but they last a long time and have a wonderful effect:
And finally, I keep my photo props handy inside my light box at all time. I wrote before about how at least one of your five photos must give your customers a sense of scale, so I have things like a ruler, cards (because I make card holders), and sometimes coins or markers around to show what the item I'm selling looks like in comparison to everyday objects.
Then it's photo time! Afterwards, I'll still retouch my photos in GIMP to get a really white background. But my light box gives me a great start!
Monday, October 20, 2014
The first question I ask is just how many views and favorites they're talking about here, because they may feel like 50 views is a lot but it isn't. The vast majority of Etsy shoppers look around at tons of listings before making a buying decision. It's a sad truth, but most of the time your item is viewed, it will not be bought.
To quantify this I asked some fellow shop owners for their stats to find out just what a normal views/sales ratio is... in other words, how many views does the average item get before it sells? They told me their sales, views, and favorites over the past few months and I did the math to make those into ratios so we could find out just how many people favorite an item before it sells. Here's what I found:
|Etsy Shop||Views per sale||Favorites per sale|
Thank you to all these shops for providing these sample numbers :)
The average favorites per sale number was 46. The range was even wider: 7-276. So one could argue that favorites are not as good an indicator of an items' sales performance - the people who click the hearts may not have anything in common with the people who actually spend the money.
Here's what I take away from the data: It can easily take 200-300 views to make a sale - and that's organic views, from people finding it on Etsy's search. That's not you posting it in teams and telling people to view it, because most of those people are not on Etsy to shop today. In fact, I say it's a bad idea to clutter your statistics with those sorts of promotional activities, because then you don't know if you're being found in the search or not.
You've got four months to sell an item before it expires on Etsy. That's 121 days. If an item isn't getting at least 2-3 search views per day, it's not likely to sell.
I may sound like a broken record, but I still say the secret to getting more views is shop critiques. Ask another set of eyes: do your thumbnail photos look like something someone will want to click? Are your titles clear and well-worded for search? Do your tags contain phrases that people are searching for?
I also recommend joining a trade team to figure out if you're offering things that people need. And if you're wondering about your prices, start up a clearance section.
If your ratios are way off, you may need a different set of questions. Say your item has had 500 views but not a single sale. Then you might want to ask if the views are coming from a "clutter source" - like teams, promotion games, social media, or other places that drive gawkers but not shoppers. If the views are coming from Etsy's search, are your prices too high? Shipping out of whack? Does your description leave out some pressing information that people are wondering about? Do you have weird or non-existent shop policies that make people worried about buying? Hate to say it, but customers who read will not buy from a shop that says "I don't take returns and if it gets lost in the mail it's all your fault."
The shop statistics page can get addicting, when I started my Etsy shop I just wanted to stare at it all day. Then I'd rearrange my shop, post in a team, and stare at it again. None of that did me a bit of good. What made the difference was getting off the darn internet, making something to list, posting it up and drawing customers in with new items. So when you feel yourself staring at your view count, break away! Go get back to work crafting and let the items sell themselves!
Monday, October 13, 2014
So I've updated this page as part of my Etsy Widgets: Pounce
Every time you load this page up it'll show you some shops that just opened in the past few weeks, with their three newest listings:
I'm using it to collect shops for a list in my favorites collection: Pounce: The Best New Etsy Shops.
The other thing to do if you love new shops is go check out EtsyContest.com every Wednesday for our Welcome Wednesday Contest. We vote on favorite items from new shops every week and find some great ones. Here's some items that were featured last week, I love these and they're all from shops that are less than a month old! Go show them some love, we were all new once!
14th place October 8th, 2014
Welcome Wednesday! The newest Etsy shops' items from $1-$50.
Hippie Pants Elephant - gypsy clothing harem pant design one size fits all elastic waist ankle in Black White unisex
Monday, October 6, 2014
So when months go by and I've got a listing about the expire off the bottom of my shop, I start thinking about taking action. And I have no shortage of options for stuff that's not selling! Here is my list of actions to take:
1) Listing makeover - maybe the item needs new tags, new photos, extra words in the description to get found. Pretend you're listing it new, using everything you've learned in the last three months, surely there's something you can change!
2) Get a critique - it's easier for people to critique a single listing than a whole shop. Ask the shop critiques team what they think of your listing. Maybe there's something obvious to improve on it.
3) Trade it - seriously, I cannot say enough about the trade team. Trading is the best way I've found to connect with other artists, find out quickly what your "in demand" items are, and move the stuff in your shop that isn't moving. A good trade team will have an active thread where you can post things you're looking to trade the most.
4) Start a clearance section - I know this tip might be controversial because we're all artists and worth a lot, yes. But a clearance section is a good way to find out if your prices are too high... if your items sell like hotcakes at lower prices, consider lowering them. If they don't sell with lower prices, well then it's not your prices keeping people away, you'll feel confident keeping your prices high!
5) Grab bag listing - for the truly expired, I'll sometimes combine them into one big random listing. Crazy, sure, but I've had people throw it in with a "real" purchase.
6) Save it for 4th quarter - around the holidays, sales spike like crazy and all kinds of things can move that sat around in the summer. Mark August 26th on your calendar - anything you list on that day or past it will be an active listing all through Christmas, when you really want your shop to be as well stocked as possible. The holidays are the only time when I renew expired items. The first week of December is my busiest day of the year so I try to have everything but the kitchen sink listed in November.
7) Sponsor a giveaway - Find a popular blogger and offer up an item to their readers in exchange for some free publicity. It really creates some buzz! There are some nice giveaway and blogger connection teams to help you find hosts.
8) Craft fair - It never ceases to amaze me how items that fly off the shelves at craft fairs will go nowhere on Etsy, and items that fly out of my Etsy shop get no love at a craft fair. You just can't predict how marketplaces will be different. I have a craft fair box of things that I will never relist on Etsy but they'll take up space on a table. Split a table with a friend if you're just starting out and still small, it's fun.
9) Donate to a fundraiser - Lots of charities host silent objects with gift baskets to raise money for worthy causes. They'd be happy to have your business cards out on the table along with an item from your shop.
10) Local consignment - where do shoppers buy handmade in your area? Find a local shop and ask if they'll stock some of your items. They'll likely want 40-50% of the retail price but if your prices are set correctly you'll still make a profit. I've found that certain items, like my Kansas-themed gifts, can't seem to find their market on Etsy but they sell like hotcakes in stores!
So that's my list! You may notice, no where did I say to spend more time "promoting" the listing, spamming pinterest or twitter with it. Always remember that social media is nice but your target audience is people who come to Etsy to search, not people who are checking twitter to see what their friends are up to these days. So when a listing doesn't sell, change your game plan, don't just overbroadcast.
And my list may not be exhaustive, I'd love to hear from anyone else what works for you! With a few tweaks you can turn an about-to-expire listing into a sale, a promotional tool, basically an opportunity! Kinda nice to have some things to play with an experiment on... see what works, right? Good luck, everybody!
Monday, September 29, 2014
Here's what we've got going on these days!
The WebsiteEtsyTrades.com has been maintaining a catalog of around 40,000 items from our team full of trade-friendly shops. Items are automatically deleted when they're 30 days old, so you know that anything you see there is new and up for trade. Team members can manually add their items and update their "looking for" lists or just be in the team and the website will randomly pull in a few of their items as it gets around to their shop - either way, there's a lot to look for. Traders looking to trade nearby can search shops by country, and we even introduced a shop of the day feature that points to a different shop every day so you can just enjoy the randomness!
The EventsThe first saturday of every month we host a MegaTrade event where a bunch of us agree to hang out close to computers and make an extra special effort to trade. There's a list, a very busy chat thread, and a TON of trading goes on! Sure you can trade whenever you darn well please, but the event weekend gives you some extra motivation.
Our next event is Saturday October 4th and signup has already started - check etsytrades.com/megatrade for times. Even if you can't commit to a time, just stop in and say hi, some trading will happen!
Our Team PageLast month Etsy announced that they were doing away with the homepage that featured one treasury for everyone on Etsy to view. Instead, the homepage is now your activity feed - kinda like pinterest or facebook, what you see depends on who you follow. So of course I want everyone to follow me, spacefem (etsy.com/people/spacefem/favorites) but if you like to trade, you will be thrilled to follow our team page: etsy.com/pages/yay-for-trades
Help us growFinally, if you love trading and are already proudly on our team, we'd love some help recruiting new members. If you see an Etsy shop you love, convo me and I will send them an invite. And we'd really like it if all team members would post something, anything, to the thread about our team in Etsy's new promo forum: www.etsy.com/teams/21915/promos/discuss/15267361/.
Finally if you have a blog, blog about us! You can use any of the graphics and screenshots I've used here in your post as long as they're used to link to our team & website, and I'll give you a shoutout on our team and from @EtsyTrades on twitter.
The more new shops we get every month the more stuff we get to pick to trade from, it's really fun to see new folks join so thanks for help spreading the word!
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
1) You can find people for your products
2) You can make products for your people
In 2011 during my first three months on etsy, I had two sales. Last month I had 100. I think a lot of people focus on item #1: they spend a lot of time trying to get views.... I never really did that. I used social media (twitter, facebook, pinterest) just for fun... never posted my own items there unless I made something that my friends might truly appreciate. I didn't consider my social media followers to be my target audience... I assumed that the people who visit etsy and search around to buy stuff were my target audience.
The only "item 1" thing I did was make sure that if someone did happen to run across my item on a search screen, they'd be tempted to click it... I asked for shop critiques, checked titles, read about SEO, made sure I'd show up in the search. I tried to make my photos look nice in thumbnail, landscape orientation.
Once that was done, I focused on #2: making products people might be interested in. To a point, of course... I wasn't going to make something just because it would sell, I had to be my authentic self and list designs that made me happy. But I made lots of product line my first year. I read everything Etsy published about merchandizing and trends. I joined EtsyTrades.com to see which items in my shop were a bit more "in demand", and paid lots of attention to those "favorite item from the shop above you" type threads that teams sometimes start.
I purposefully avoided any team promotion games that promised me automatic hearts or views. I wanted to look at my shop stats and know what people REALLY liked in my shop, on their own without any requests. In fact now I have way more sales than favorites, because I've never worked for favorites... I worked for sales. I was obsessed with stats, taking an example from Etsy admins here who are always answering our questions about tests with their results of what's going on with the data. I considered every listing to be a new experiment.
I looked up the best selling shops to see what they were selling. Any time I ran across a shop that seemed overwhelmed, whose announcement said "I've got so many orders my Christmas deadline is in August" sort of thing, I made a mental note of what they were selling. I avoided flooded markets.
And in the end, slowly, it paid off! One listing at a time, one sale at a time, I felt out this place and learned what worked... and now that I've got a few thousand sales under my belt I feel really good about my shop and the time I spend every night packing up orders for people all around the world.
I'd like to hear from some other successful shops... how did you change your product line from the time you started? What resources did you use to find out what would sell?
Or maybe someone wants to debate me :) Is there some trick to the "find people" objective that I missed, maybe it really does work, maybe it worked for you?
There's no way that works for everyone, that's why I love hearing from others... what worked for you?
Sunday, August 10, 2014
The thing is, I spent a LOT of time on Etsy because I run a shop (spacefem.etsy.com) that pulls me into shipping 2-3 bags of fabric around the world every day, and I'm in way too many Etsy Teams, and I dink with the API all the time... so the idea of visiting in person almost threw me, I was like "Am I in trouble? Too weird? Will I be able to act normal?"
Well I totally acted normal, it went great! And I learned some things by visiting the office and seeing a cool trendy tech company at work. There are some similarities between Etsy and any workplace, I certainly saw things that are the same as where I work. There are totally unique things too.
On to the trip!
Etsy's offices are very open, just big tables and everyone has lots of desk space decorated with nifty things... in fact they all have a small budget to decorate their personal desks with things from Etsy shops!
There's art everywhere. It feels like you're IN Etsy. Well, except I don't think I saw so many bubble necklaces. But the knitted mug cozies you guys... they're everywhere.
Oh and you know how if you hit a bad page on Etsy you get to this funny "A stitch has gone awry!" page and there's a picture of someone knitting a 3-armed sweater? There's a real 3-armed sweater hanging up. It just adds to the feel that you are in Etsy.
Photo by @jeffrigram
For an open workspace though it's pretty quiet, there are no desk phones and people are encouraged to go elsewhere if they need to talk on the phone, there are cute little closet-sized "phone booth" workspaces. I love it... in fact I'm going to steal this idea for my team and encourage them to drift elsewhere for phone conversations, for sure.
CEO Chad Dickerson has a nice office right smack in the middle of the floor with multiple breaks in the partitions around it. No corner window office. Employees can see the windows, the CEO sees people!
We were there at 10 am and there were a lot of empty desks. It was "early". Lots of people arriving too... I asked about that, and apparently a company's start time is a complicated formula involving of local, corporate, and industry culture, and maybe even time zones. Startups tend to start later, people wake up, chill out, check their email from home, drift in and work until 7 or 8pm. Where I work there are employees asking "Can I come to work at 6am every day so I can punch out at 2:30?" and as an upper manager now, it would look terrible if I came in at 8:05.
My tour was given by a data person so the other "data person" groups were pointed out and there are LOTS of people there whose job it is to gather and interpret data. This is one place where a website company is very different from where I work at the airplane company. We can't move the wings back three feet on all our customers' airplanes at once to see if it changes fleet utilization instantly. That number is what it is. So I asked Melissa who the "experimenters" were who changed things, and she said "Everyone is an experimenter!" with the goal being to change the numbers for the better, and that most important piece of data seems to be how many visitors end up making a purchase. It's HUGE.
I am kinda wondering if they look at diversity of business... how many different shop owners they can get sales for. Maybe I'll send her a follow up question.
I saw the integrity team, which was a sizable flurry taking up several tables, trying to win the whack-a-mole game challenge of keeping people from selling totally non-handmade factory crap. This is a place where a lot of Etsy sellers feel like Etsy doesn't do enough, it'd be interesting to sit there in the flurry for a week, it's a science drawing that fine line and they obviously have a big team dedicated to it. Etsy is not a huge company, only 600 employees or so. Just the engineering department where I work is twice that size. So the numbers of busy people in market integrity were noticeable.
There does not appear to be a busy hive of forum readers responding to every concern that comes up in a thread, sorry friends. There was one forum person pointed out during my visit, and it was not someone I recognized. But I relate to this, because at my company we have dedicated "customer facing" types handling the communication, and us engineers are separated from all that by entire buildings, and while some of the customer feedback gets to it, not all of it does. In six sigma class we watched a clip of The Simpsons where Homer gets to design a car however he wants, and it's a disaster, to illustrate what happens when you get too much "voice of the customer" and not enough looking at data to see what actually works.
Etsy is a B Corporation, meaning that they incorporate social and environmental responsibility into the things they do, and we saw lots of examples of that. Biking their compost out to the farm sorts of things. They have educational events, really try to reach out to the community, and I love their efforts to encourage women and girls in the community.
They let Cate and me use the photo booth where they take all those black background admin profile pics, ha ha!
Cate actually teaches organizational behavior at a local university so she had a lot more good questions than I did (or maybe she's just friendlier and less nerdy) - as we were leaving she said the tough thing is that everyone in her classes imagines they'll work at a cool trendy startup like the one we'd just seen. Sadly this is not the case. But even the big huge giant airplane maker I'm at has been doing some new things - shifting to open workspaces, creating mobile applications, encouraging personality. And I love our fun little side interest groups, that's the best part of working someplace gigantic.
On average I pay Etsy a little over $100 a month in listing, renewal and transaction fees... about 6-7% of my total revenue. The tour actually made me feel pretty darn good about that! I'm supporting a company that supports women in technology, the environment, their community. And without them I would not have this little side business I've got going on, because the items I sell really need that unique marketplace and brand association that Etsy has grown to be.
If you're a seller and in Brooklyn, you might consider contacting them a week or two in advance to see if their tour giving people will be around, they like having sellers in sometimes. There are no guarantees but if I got a tour, it could happen to you! It might give you some perspective and definitely made me appreciate everything going on behind the scenes, since I just went in wanting to learn and have a good time, and I did. It's a neat office and a really nice group of people, it'll be interesting to see where the future takes us all.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Etsy Team Member Roster
You enter your Etsy team, and it generates the list of members in a big table that you can sort, copy to excel, or just review.
I was using a similar tool for my EtsyTrades.com team - I needed to know which members of my team no longer had active etsy shops with listings, because as a trade team we need to know that as we're clicking around the member list looking for cool stuff to trade, we weren't wasting clicks on people who'd fallen off the face of the earth. We have a team policy stating that you either need six active listings, or a vacation announcement with a clear end date, otherwise we can remove you from the team. This app simplifies our search process too.
It also has a "divide into groups" function that works like this:
1) Every Etsy shop is assigned a number between 1-1000 based on the minutes and seconds that their shop was created... that makes the number pretty random, but it'll never change.
2) The list is sorted and divided into groups based on the assigned numbers. For instance if you say you want two groups, one group will be 0-500, the other will be 501-1000.
3) As new members are added they can change groups, but no one will ever move groups, as long as you use the same size chunks. For instance if you want to convo a different group of shops every month of the year, divide your list into 12 chunks. You'll end up with the same group every August, give or take new members, but no one will accidentally move from August to September.
In the trade team we use this for team convos... we divide up the list and each leader takes some shops to notify them about upcoming events. But I'm making sure we don't accidentally convo the same shop two months in a row. No need to bug anyone that much, I figure.
I'd be happy to add more capability to this if I understand how other team captains are using it, so let me know if this comes in handy for your team!
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My first love is sewing. I've been quilting, making clothes, bags and household items for almost 30 years. Wow that kind of dates me :) I started sewing when I was 12 and haven't stopped since. I have flirted with other crafts over the years as well. Painting ceremics, podging...remember podging, that disturbing craft of the 1980's? I'm not talking about beautiful art here, I'm talking about podging the garbage can! Thankfully I outgrew that. I've also dabbled in embroidery, cross stitch and needlepoint among others. No "secondary crafts" stuck until beads came crashing into my life. I've discovered an obsession to rival the thread and fabric in my life. I'm thrilled, my husband not so much.
What got you to open your shop on etsy?
I opened my bag shop to give me another outlet for selling my work. I thought, what I think so many other people think, that it would be easy. I'd throw up some pics, write a few descriptions and sales would just...you know happen! Wow, that was crazy!
What inspires you?
I love color. I love the way different shades interact with one another. Drama in palattes and the play of hue and tint in combination inspire every combination I come up with.
What's the most important thing you've changed about your shop since starting on Etsy?
It's advice that gets repeated all the time, in almost every critique. Pictures really, really matter. I'm still working on the pics for my jewelry shop, improving the color saturation and appearance. I still see room for improvement in both shops and I continue to work on photography.
What's the biggest mistake you see new people making when they start out?
Well a couple of things really. They don't realize how important their pictures are. A really, really awesome unique product can be sold with bad pictures. But a "regular" product needs really striking pictures to stand out among the all the other people selling similar items. We all want to believe our craft is so much more special than everyone else's but the truth is, there is very little completely original and new for sale...anywhere. Well except my items of course...they're very, very special ;)
You mention Search Engine Optimization a lot - it's a big topic that can be an overwhelming concept to new shop owners. What advice do you give to people who feel like they don't know where to start?
I always recommend my favorite team, Etsy Relevancy SEO and Stats and the reasons why are pretty simple. I don't begin to claim to understand everything (or even a small portion) of the useful information that exists about seo. I really prefer to rely on well-researched, relevant information and that's why I recommend the team. I don't have the skill (or honestly the interest) to keep up with SEO even though I know it's really, really important. Making a few simple changes in my shops really helped me be found more in search. "Echoing" tags and titles is one of the easiest changes to make and can net really solid results. Just remember not to repeat words more than twice and use phrases in the tags.
What information do you see people leaving out of descriptions most often?
I have to admit, my descriptions are pretty thin in the jewelry shop. I get so excited to post something new that I tend to not do such a great job. I think including measurements is really valuable.
Any specific advice for other jewelry sellers trying to break into this popular category?
Think twice...three times...four times. Honestly, I really think it should be something you love. Going into jewelry especially, thinking you're going to make a lot of money right away is probably going to lead to disappointment. That being said though, if sellers are prepared to do the work, take great pictures, learn something about SEO, and have a product buyers want they can be successful. I didn't really start working on my jewelry shop until a few months ago, and frankly, I'd forgotten how slow the slogging is with a new shop. There are so many things to learn. However, if you're willing to learn them... :)
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Both products are items that I made myself with fabric that I designed myself and had printed up by Spoonflower. They're items I'm proud of so I hope they go to great homes!
Go enter, win my crafts, for real! You can have extra entries if you follow my Spacefem Facebook Page or @EtsyContest on Twitter. Good luck!
Monday, May 5, 2014
Tell us a little about yourself and your shop.
My name is Kiana and I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut (go Huskies!) studying Art History and planning to go to grad school for Library Science. Two years ago my Aunt Terri and I started Tesorilove in order to sell some of the beautiful vintage jewelry and art that we were finding during our thrift store and flea market hunts. After about a year of not being too serious about the shop, I got into jewelry making and decided to add my creations to the mix, and I began getting more serious about finding ways to promote the shop. So now Terri searches for most of the vintage finds, and I work on the handmade jewelry as well as shop promotion and sending out orders.
Why do you love making treasuries?
I love making treasuries first of all because of the curation aspect of making them. I love finding the best of what Etsy has to offer and bringing all of the unique finds together to make one beautiful thing: a treasury. The second reason is because I have a passion for the handmade and wholeheartedly believe in promoting it. Etsy has given us the option to make treasuries to do just that. It can be a great resource for people who may not have great luck with search ads but get found either through creating treasuries for others or by being included in them by curators.
What are some things you look for when selecting items for a treasury?
When selecting items for treasuries I often like to mix "trending" items with items that may not have received much exposure yet but are unique and creative and deserve to be seen by others. At the beginning I usually search for an item that inspires me (whether it be the item itself, the color, the way the photograph was taken, whether it fits with an upcoming holiday or time of year, etc). After that I either use other items that have a similar theme or color, or sometimes I'll contrast or match separate colors. My favorite treasuries, though, are ones that tell a story and that as a whole speak to the viewer in a way that makes them want to favorite every single item in the treasury or leave a wonderful and genuine comment about it.
What's your favorite treasury that you've made recently?
Here are a few of my favorite treasuries that I've made this year (it's hard to choose one, but maybe the one that was featured on New Year's Day)
What are your favorite treasury teams?
Ten Favorites Treasury Team
Treasury Extreme Team
Trendsetting Treasury Team
123 Treasury Promo Team
What other methods do you use to promote your treasuries?
To promote my treasury I always personally inbox the person I've treasured unless their shop is on vacation. I also tweet the treasury to @Etsy and @EtsyTreasury on Twitter. I submit the treasury link to Stumbleupon, I post the link to the above treasury teams multiple times, and I always use treasurypin.com to pin the treasury to my Pinterest Etsy Treasuries board.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Olga and I am the owner of “Frogitta” shop on etsy. I am 27 and happily married. I was born in Moscow, but am currently living in Vienna, Austria.
What got started making handmade items?
I always loved creating things and I experimented a lot with different materials. More than anything I loved drawing. But I never paid attention to it - I felt, it was just a hobby. So I went on to study economics and IT, without ever thinking of drawing as an option. But I continued making handmade presents for my friends.
What got you to open your shop on easy?
In the last years my office job made me look for something that inspires me in life. And I was looking for ways to express myself, so one day I read about etsy. I created an account out of curiosity & closed the page. For the next 6 months or so I was battling my fear. I was afraid, that nothing will come out of it and I will just get disappointed. In January 2014 just before my birthday I decided to try and here I am.
Tips for other etsy artists?
It is really a typical advice - just don't be afraid and don't give up, just keep on trying. Look, today my friends and colleagues know that I love drawing-they got to know a new side of me and this is wonderful and there is nothing to regret.
Any other links to yourself on other websites you'd like to share with us?
We’ve got a Facebook page www.facebook.com/frogitta.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Some of my blog posts are things that I find myself saying over and over again in the Shop Critiques Team... I write them here so I can link to the post instead of saying them over and over again.
Sometimes Etsy comes out with prototypes - little tests of new features - that are worth paying attention to. In my opinion the best prototype out there now is the Seller Opportunity Tools. They actually started in this in March 2012, then maybe just forgot about it, who cares.
The point is that it tells you thinks that people are searching for on Etsy, but that aren't flooded with tons of results. You type in a word, like "airplane", and it'll tell you that "Airplane Pillow" is a good opportunity (lots of searches, not much competition!) but "airplane jewelry" doesn't show up anywhere.
To use it, you have to join this awful, spam-ridden team: Seller Opportunity Tools Team
Then use the link on the side that says Find Inspiration.
You have to be a member of the team for the link to work - I tried leaving the team because it's just a mess, but then couldn't use the tool, so oh well I'm back in. But it's totally worth it.
Just one of the little tidbits I've snatched up along the way by being involved with Etsy teams. Happy to pass it along!
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
1) Don't sell jewelry
Why do I say this? Because you can post in every team, spend hours on your photos and tags, rent a billboard... but if you're competing with a zillion other people on Etsy in the most saturated category they have, your odds of sales are very low.
Time and time again in my teams I see desperate people asking us for advice on their first sale, and sometimes their shop does need a little help. But frequently, they're just selling something that everyone else is selling. Competition is stiff. It takes a lot more work to get a sale, and odds of selling anything are low.
In fact, I would take my advice a step further and tell you to stay away from any of these categories:
2) Digital downloads
3) Hair accessories - ESPECIALLY kids bows
6) Bath & Body
Now, there's an upside to all this - if you're a buyer, Etsy is a great place to go for great deals on these items. I've bought several handmade scarves for really low prices, and get most of my soaps now for free on the trade teams! But if you're looking to start a business you don't want people like me saying that, you want to make a profit and have a steady stream of inventory LEAVING your house.
Go visit Etsy's teams. Check around for "promotion" threads where people are spamming "post your items here"-type threads. Those people are desperate. They're willing to waste time posting in useless threads, because making things isn't getting them any money. Make a mental note of what they're selling, and know that it doesn't sell on its own. Don't copy them.
Maybe what you make is special and different and has a "niche". If you're not sure, list it. Every listing is an experiment. If it doesn't sell, correct your course and try another idea.
So what should you sell?
I love the Seller Opportunity Tools prototype team. Once you join, there's a link on the left that says "Find Inspiration", where you can see search terms that are getting put in by shoppers, but buyers aren't filling all the needs.
Check out Craft Count to see what the highest selling shops are selling. In general, what are they doing that you are not?
Browse around Etsy from the main page. Read shop announcements. Shops who use their announcement space to advertise deep discounts are probably in a market you should avoid. Shops who have things like "we're so behind if you want your item in time for Christmas you'd better order in October!" obviously have more demand for what they're selling.
Consider barrier-to-entry markets. That means that any guy on the street can't just start making what you're making. Things like stained glass and woodworking require tools that not everyone has in their house - so those markets aren't as saturated.
Obviously you have to love what you're making, stay in markets you "know", and be true to yourself. But you probably want to have some sales, too! So find a product line that fills a void. It'll practically sell itself!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
This is a simple easy project that takes almost no time, I love making zipper pouches. Here's what the fabric looks like:
First cut out all the pieces. Cut a matching piece of lining fabric for each part. Cut the face straight across where the mouth will be.
I used a 7" zipper for this that needed a bit of extension, luckily there's extra fabric for that. Layer the fabric, right sides together, with the zipper in between like a sandwich, and sew across where the zipper teeth end.
Lay the head, zipper and lining together. Make sure the zipper teeth are against your cool outside fabric, not the lining.
Sew across the head.
Open the head up and iron flat.
Do the same for the mouth layers.
Open the mouth layers and now you've got a whole face that unzips!
Now lay the backing down, set the face on top of it, and set the back of the head right-side down on the face.
Sew around, but leave 3-4" open at the bottom to turn inside-out.
Turn, and topstitch or hand stitch the opening. Ta-da! Scary! Yet functional, don't you love it!