Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 5 Etsy Mistakes

I've done a lot of critiques for many different kinds of etsy stores, and I've noticed that the main issues that come up are often the same. I've put together a list here that people can use to take a critical look at their shops - a lot of these things aren't very difficult to fix, but can make a huge difference to your sales

Polaroid Camera Brooch by craftyfolk

1) Average Photos
This is a big one. You have to have great products, but presenting them in an appealing way is absolutely critical. A good tip is to have a look at items that have made the front page using craftcult's vault feature and think about how your pictures compare. Also, a very common mistake I see in a lot of shops is that pictures don't look great/are chopped off in gallery mode. That is the version that they appear in for treasuries and features by etsy, so you are hurting your chances for free exposure if your pics don't look good. Another common issue is when earrings etc are not arranged carefully. Think about the angles you're using and take lots of pictures so that you can pick the very best ones- experiment with different positions with your camera.

A final common problem is with backgrounds. Generally, the item should be the focus rather than the background being used to create interest. Some sellers can successfully use interesting backgrounds, but it needs to be done very carefully. When choosing backgrounds, it's also important to think about how they will fit in with other items if being considered for a treasury or front page feature. If you're having trouble getting good shots, you can make or purchase a light box. You don't need a fancy camera- mine was only about $200 (you can see the one I use on the right side of this blog). Bomobob shared some great picture tips on this blog if you're looking for further tips.

2) Lack of Keywords and Short Descriptions
A lot of sellers who are struggling to make sales don't include much information in their titles or descriptions. Buyers need to know what the item is, all the essential information (eg measurements in mm and inches), and it's also great if they can get a feel for the creative process and the artist or designer behind the piece- that's part of the appeal of buying handmade! It's also important to think about how buyers will find you both on etsy and through search engines. Try to use keywords they might be searching for, and repeat the most important ones in your shop title, item titles, tags and descriptions where relevant. Each new keyword you use gives you another chance to be found, and repeating your main chosen keywords can help boost your ranking in google searches.

Shopping Cart Photo by jennifersquires

3) Shop Image Issues
As well as having fantastic photos, it's important to also have a clear non-fuzzy banner that fits with the overall image/branding of your shop. It's often the first impression a buyer will have of your shop, so it's worth spending some time on. Don't forget to also fill out your profile- that gives you a chance to provide buyers with some insight into the person behind the shop, and also allows you to share the story behind your creations.

4) No Policies or Feedback
Often sellers who approach me for help haven't filled out their policies and don't have any feedback. It's important to have shop policies in place to help you run your store effectively, but also to make buyers feel confident in you as a professional seller. I often also see statements like 'lost packages are not my responsibility', which will prevent some people from purchasing. Also, it's often not true legally, and PayPal will refund buyers if they do not receive their package, so it's best not to include statements like that. Regarding feedback, buying a few things to get some feedback can also encourage buyers to purchase from a new shop.

Custom Logo Cupcakes by shortbreadnyc

5) Small Number of Listings and Lack of Promotion
These are two major factors that can influence the number of sales you make. Having at least two pages of listings can make a huge difference- partly because it gives you more chance of being found in searches, but also because it gives buyers a selection and makes your shop look full and attended to. Once your shop is looking great and is filled up with cool stuff, the next thing to do is focus on promotion.

Some shops are lucky or have very searchable items, so don't need to promote a great deal. However, the majority of sellers are pretty much invisible without promoting off etsy. Certainly that's the case for my shop- I'd have about 3 sales without twitter and facebook I think- seriously! An important thing to keep in mind is your target audience, otherwise you might feel like you're 'promoting' all day and getting nowhere...other etsy sellers are often not a good target audience and you might spend all day every day trying to get sales from chatting in the forums when you could spend an hour promoting to non-etsy people and make more sales. You can find the article I wrote about how to do this with twitter here. Apart from not-so-great photos, lack of promotion is usually the biggest thing holding people back from making lots of sales.

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Twitter Power- How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time


  1. Excellent points! I find that sellers who take care of those tiny details are the ones who have the greatest success.
    Operating a shop on etsy is just like any other business - you really have to treat the business seriously, and put in the time on a consistent basis.

  2. I'll take all the good Etsy advice I can get. Thank you for pointing out fixable problems, some I knew of but others I hadn't thought of. This is a great post!

  3. Thanks for the great info. Just found you through One Pretty Thing. I am going to take a look around all of your other stuff too now-Thanks!

  4. Helpful info--thanks. I'm looking forward to reading your Twitter article.

  5. Great article, thank you for your tips! It has been very helpful since I hace just opened my shop on etsy and I feel really lost!

  6. Very good points- I'm just learning the importance of facebook and twitter....I'm so glad I found you! Very excellent read ~.~ !

  7. These are really useful - thank you. I feel I've learnt a lot.

  8. I found that all areas were definitely a problem im working on. From great pics, to an all inclusive write up. I will not fail. Thank you for sharing.


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