Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dot Point Critique: SparklePanda

I saw a rather disheartened message on twitter from sparklepanda, so thought I'd do a critique of her shop and also pick a second shop from the people who put their names down on the previous dot point post. I'm having a few problems at the moment- all my old blog comments have disappeared- but they will hopefully be back soon and I can pick the next shop!

Hopefully others might pick up some tips from this brief critique too.

Dot Point Critique for SparklePanda:

Overall, I think the two main things getting in MsSparklePanda's way are photos and promotion. She has a great product but the pics need to be amazing to showcase that properly, and I don't think they quite do the pieces justice. It's all about image!

  • If the clothing can't be photographed worn (which I understand given the issues about putting photos of your children on the internet), I think this shop's items would be presented best on a plain white background. For example, this picture looks much more professional and etsy front-page-worthy (except that it doesn't show enough of the item):

than this one:

To give a rough idea- the shop would look something more like this:

rather than this:
Every picture needs to be just as good as the first. I think changing the background and really arranging the clothing carefully would make a huge difference. It might be possible to take a really good photo on the mannequin (with the mannequin against a pure white background for eg) that could be included as one of the additional photos- a white mannequin might work better as well. Image is particularly important because of the level of pricing (as opposed to shops who sell a lot because they price things really cheaply).

  • Make sure photos look good in gallery mode as this is how they appear in etsy features (Storque, front page) and in treasuries. It's helpful to think of this each time a new listing is added.
  • For the same reason, it can be a good idea when showing just a small section of an item to make sure you can still easily tell what it is. For example, it is not obvious what this is when viewed in the thumbnail version.

Reversible Appliqued Pinny Top and Baby Ruffle Pants Set


Titles are very important for searches on and off etsy. Including the word 'children's' could be useful. Many buyers may not know what 'OOAK' means, so I would consider moving that to the end of the title or using words.
  • More measurements could be useful
  • Include all relevant colours (also good for being chosen in treasuries)
  • 'Kids' is a big search word accoring to the google keyword tool, so I would include that in titles and tags
  • Having at least two full pages of listings should also make a difference to sales
  • You might want to add some of your items to the 'children' category (as your first tag) as well as those that are listed in the 'clothing' category in case buyers are searching by category, because they wouldn't find your items (I didn't check all of them, but looks like most are in the clothing category)
  • Adding your shop name can be helpful if people are looking for you (it's one of my biggest search terms for my shop)

Other Shop Areas

  • Policies- personally, I would write shop policies in a more formal tone, but that's a matter of opinion :) Also, saying that you're not responsible for lost packages would probably put a lot of customers off, and is not actually correct. If they don't receive their purchase, they can claim through PayPal and will get their money back. Buyers might also be discouraged by your policy on having to pay for shipping both ways to return damaged items (is that what you mean? I wasn't sure). Many sellers factor these things into their prices as a cost of doing business.
  • Shop section names are very important for google searches, so you might want to think about including keywords there like 'handmade' rather than the age range, but it depends on how you think buyers might search for children's clothing in google.


As well as photos, the other major thing preventing sales here is promotion.
Twitter can be extremely powerful. However, I recommend having a minimum of at least 2000 followers to see much of an effect- having 183 followers isn't likely to get you very far. I wrote a detailed article on how to do this easily here. Also, finding the right audience (not just other etsy sellers) is essential, and the article discusses that too. Luckily, it should be easy to find very targeted followers interested in children's clothing!
  • Facebook can also drive a huge amount of traffic and help you reach new people (when people comment it shows up in their newsfeeds and their friends will see it). Again, numbers really do make a difference here (and having fans who are not just etsy sellers). The sparkle page has around 100 followers, so I'd be trying to increase that to a few hundred at least. You can build your facebook following by mentioning it on twitter every now and then, running a giveaway on a blog where people need to 'like' your page (make sure you comply with FB policies), putting the link in your email signature, having a 'fan box' on your blog (as you have done) etc. Engaging readers by asking for feedback/opinions can be a good strategy for getting people to comment- I find I get the most comments on my facebook page when asking Qs or posting a new photo album- you can see how I do it here, although I also need to work on that aspect more as well. Facebook ads can also be quite effective if used properly, but it can also be done without paid advertising.
  • The SparklePanda blog looks great, but again the numbers need to be a lot higher. Currently you have around 30 followers, so I'd be aiming for at least 100 as a good starting point. Promoting your blog on twitter and facebook every now and then (by sharing a link to a post, for example) will help with that, as would running a giveaway and promoting that. You can also write posts that are likely to be googled a lot/of interest to a wide audience- perhaps tutorials, recipes etc.

Luckily the items themselves are great, so you just need to work on conveying that to people visiting your shop, and to start bringing in lots of traffic! I'm sure if you work on all of these things and really build those numbers up, you'll start making sales pretty quickly! :) Let us know how you go!

Further info: Self-Service Critique

If anyone wants to help SparklePanda build up her follower base (and watch those sales grow hopefully!), you can find her here:
blog facebook twitter

Connect with me on facebook

PS There'll be an opportunity for other sellers to be the *star* of a dot-point critique soon (when I publish the second critique), so keep an eye out.


  1. Awesome information. I would love to have my shop critiqued. I've read more information about absolutely everything. I tried to make my shop google friendly. SEO. Now that's driving me crazy. I'm hardly getting any business at all. HELP! I'll take any information on what I may be doing wrong :( Thanks, Kathie

  2. This was a fantastic post. I'd love to see more shop critiques. I'm fairly happy with my Etsy sales and seeing that I've followed many of these tips lets me know I'm on track, but also lets me know where I might need some work. Thanks heaps for this!

  3. Great blog & fantastic tips, I'll be using them to grow my shop.

  4. Wow. That is so much to think about my brain just exploded! I've saved this page and will be scouring it many times as I try to put all your advice into practice. It seems so overwhelming when you look at the big picture. I need to remember to brek it down into manageable chunks!

    Thank you so much for doing this for me. xS

  5. Yay- glad everyone's finding it useful :) I'll definitely make this a regular feature.

    Panda- my pleasure :) I hope the tips are helpful- make sure you get in touch once you've gone through them all if you need more help. I'd suggest writing a plan and attacking it that way so it's not so don't have to do it all in a day!


  6. Thanks so much for this- what a great feature! Breaking everything down with real world specifics is so helpful. I'll be linking to this.

  7. Morphologica, you always give great advice! i too would love a shop critique.

  8. Awesome blog. Great information.

  9. That was such an insightful critique. I can see lots of tips I can implement.

    I threw my hat into the ring for a critique with your earlier post, but here's my info again in case you are still looking for shops.

  10. My posts for some reason are being deleted from your blog...

  11. That was a wonderful post! Advice like this really helps discouraged sellers, and I'm sure it will be greatly appreciated.

    On a personal note, my shop started off good then came to a complete standstill, so I know all about being discouraged! If you're still looking for shops to critique, I could use some advice!

    Either way, I look forward to reading more of these posts! Thank you.


Thanks for your comment :)

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