Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 8 - Being Featured

And.. we are back!

After driving for 8 hours straight on at least 3 occasions and visiting family for the holidays, I finally made it back home and back to my studio/office (which reminds me so much of that show on TLC called 'Hoarders: Buried Alive' right now)

Being a newbie, I did not know what to expect after the 24th. I knew sales would not be as great as they had been before Christmas so I did not have very high expectations and decided to focus as much as I could on coming up with new product ideas for 2011.

I had heard and read about other sellers who were excited about bringing in a 'new line' of products into their shops and that thought got me going to the point where I now have so many awesome ideas that I'll need to continue developing in my head and bringing to life in my secret lab (yup, Frankenstein style).

Views after the holidays had been really low, but I'm still getting hearts and I'm being included in several treasuries which kept me optimistic. I did get a few random sales in the past few days but in general, I was just glad about not being so busy because I could enjoy my family time a lot more this way.

Then today... heart attack! Well, almost.

I was out most of the morning at my favorite craft store, using the gift cards I had gotten from Santa and looking through every aisle in hopes of coming up with some other project ideas just by observing the different materials they had for sale.

As always, I would take a moment to quickly check for emails on my phone and to my surprise I had sold 7 items in the 20 minutes I had been away from home. So I got out and rushed back to my computer because I knew something was not right (or was it? :P)

Seriously, I was not expecting that at all!

I looked at my views and there were 200 new visits and most of them would be for a specific product. At that point, I realized that it was either Etsy's Front Page or the Etsy Finds email.

So I went to my Google Analytics account and checked for incoming sources of traffic and there it was... lots of page views from 'bronto - email' which is Etsy's email "messenger". Yayyy!!!

There is really no better feeling than to know that many people now knows you exist. Of course, a rush of orders coming in did not make me any less happy. But, oh my! This is truly what we all have to look forward to.

Every time you feel defeated, ignored, lost or even confused about your performance on Etsy, simply take a moment to focus on the positive and to believe that all of your goals are attainable.

Yes, it will take a lot of patience and hard work but this is as real as any other job or career you might ever want to pursue.

As far as the exact amount of orders/views/hearts you get from being in one of Etsy's Finds emails goes; I'm still counting mine and will report back to you tomorrow with those.

So, How do I get Featured?

This has to be one of the most popular questions you will see around the Etsy Forums. The answers you will also see in many of those type of posts are also very similar and probably just as good.

Of course, there is always a favorite and in my case, I would love to just point you to Emily Bidwell's profile.

She is one of Etsy's Admins and although there is a post in the forums with similar info as the one included in her personal FAQ section; I particularly like the idea of finding excuses to look at someone's profile and learning more about their preferences and recent activity.

Call it stalking if you want! Also, she is one of the Admins responsible for Etsy Finds so why would I not look at her profile???

Anyhow, she includes very useful information there.

- Take good photos
- Tag properly, Etc.

And here is a link to one of her forum posts on this as well:

If I had to add my own piece of advice here, it would be as follows:

- Tell the world you exist.
- Yell it out loud.
- Get on their faces.
- Be careful not to get annoying too quickly but do annoy those that need to be annoyed. Hah!
- Be there for your customers and for those who don't know what to buy or when.

Use all of your creative passion to market yourself in whichever way you are most comfortable about. If you don't know where to start, go to the places where others are getting involved.

There is a very social aspect to Etsy and it is there for your own benefit.

Add the following to your 'TO DO' list this week and work hard at making them a part of your routine.

- Create a treasury at least once every two weeks.
- Comment on each and every treasury you are featured on.
- Join a Treasury team (search for the word 'treasury' in the teams page)
- Participate in as many Virtual Labs as you can.
- Add VIPs to your circles (Etsy admins for example, popular treasury curators, etc.)
- Favorite great shops/items.
- Study the competition.
- Connect with people through the chats.
- Sign Up for all of Etsy's Newsletters and at least browse through them quickly every day.

Stay Trendy!

This should really be just common sense for all of us, but perhaps we are not thinking about trends as often as we should.

Do you often browse through fashion magazines? (Home decor, art magazines, etc)

If not, then do something about it. It is imperative that you know what others are liking and disliking these days.

Be consistent with your work, wait for your moment to shine and share your energy, creativity and passion with the world. Eventually, this will all pay back.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 7 - Product Photography (Part 2)

Let me first say that I actually enjoy taking pictures of my newly created goodies and I usually can't wait until they are all ready to be posted in my shop.

However, If I had to choose one thing from my entire production process which annoys me the most; it would definitely be the time I spend editing pictures.

Deleting, Adjusting Brightness/Contrast, Cropping, Exporting, Saving, Changing Levels. It is just an unbelievably tedious task! But of course, there is no way around it either. It needs to get done one way or another and the longer I take to finish that, the more time I waste having my products sitting on my desk instead of being on the way to someone's home.

I'm sure everyone has a different way of doing all this so if after reading this post you realize that your methods are more effective and quicker, please do get in touch with me. I'll be more than willing to learn something new and make my life easier.

In the meantime, one thing that I do keep in mind is that if I get better at taking pictures, I'll also be able to decrease the amount of time spent editing them. If my lighting turns out to be great that day (cause you know, I have days where I just get 'lucky' and my pictures don't look too dark or too bright) then, I would skip that step completely.

Moving on to the actual editing...


As far as graphic editing software goes, these are some of the options I would recommend:

- Picasa (free, made by Google)
This is a very basic, yet powerful picture editor which you can download at :

Awesome Video Alert! - These are a couple of video tutorials on how to edit your pictures for Etsy using Picasa. Make sure to watch them both, they are very easy to understand and follow.

Part I

Part II

Since I took about 300 pictures yesterday, my first task should be to go through them quickly and delete those that are very blurry and that make my

- Gimp (free) This is a great tool, with lots of editing features and you can download it at :

Here is the best tutorial I've found so far:

- Photoshop (Paid) This app just comes with all the bells and whistles. Lots of powerful options and my personal favorite, as I have not yet realized what the limitations of this tool are. You can download it from :

Being such a complex piece of software, here is a couple of great tutorials that will show you
how to fix pictures for Etsy by adjusting levels. (I'm still very tempted to record my own video, but that will sit in my to-do list until after I'm done with the 30 day program)

Link 1:

Link 2:

I love that both tutorials show you the before/after pictures. Remember what I said yesterday about not deleting the ugly/dark ones too soon?

Well, with some of these quick fixes; a lot of the pictures you thought would end up getting deleted may have turned into the ones you will decide to keep.

- Photoshop Lightroom (Paid) At last, here is one that I just use because of very practical reasons (a.k.a laziness ). Lightroom lets me import all my pics directly from my camera and it shows them as an album (similar to Picasa). I use this tool as my first step as I can, almost mechanically, crop, discard bad pictures and then export the ones I'd like to further work with in Photoshop already re-sized.

Since I don't think this process is any more effective than the one shown in the Picasa tutorial above, I will not bother providing more details at this moment.

Random Tips on Cropping

Cropping your images for Etsy is a little bit of a mystery. I've heard several professional photographers criticize some of the product pictures we see in there as not being 'good' from the commercial photography point of view.

Yes, props can sometimes be confusing to the viewer and may not really emphasize the actual product you want to sell.

Also, I'm sure you have noticed pictures where only part of the item would show and the rest is just blurred out or not visible at all.

Why? Because Etsy has a style of its own and so do the artists in there.

Whereas those type of pictures would never make it into a retail store catalog (at least not likely), we continuously see them hitting the front page of Etsy's website. They bring the artistic, theme based feel that we all love instead of making everything look like we just landed on or Walmart.

Therefore, whenever you read tutorials about photography, editing and what's right or wrong...

Always remember that your audience has a taste for a personal touch and creativity. They have eyes that will get wide open when they see a shiny close-up of a swarovski ring and they will certainly click on that soap that reminds you of that sweet cinnamon scent you've always loved.

Finally, being a newbie gives you license to experiment!
List and Test! Remove and Change! Switch and Replace! Keep and Enjoy!

To Do:

- Edit your pictures the best you can.
- Use your imagination and play with special effects, filters, and cropping.
- If you get a 'good feeling' from some of your pictures, present them to your audience for a while and see what kind of feedback you get.
- Remember that the first picture is the one that needs to make your customer CLICK!
- Have at least 5 pictures per product.
- One picture showing how the item is packaged could be helpful and give you that little 'extra' credit if your packaging is cute or special.
- If you can, also a picture of your item being used/worn. (This gives the customer a really good idea of what they are buying and what it is for)

Also, you will want to test your pictures after resizing by uploading them to Etsy and viewing them from your shop page or the search results page.

Sometimes, the picture may look great in Photoshop or Picasa, but then whenever you upload them to Etsy, they seem darker or way too tiny and cannot be distinguished among the other products in your category.

Painful but possible!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 6 - Product Photography (Part 1)

One of the first things you might notice when you first browse through Etsy, is that many of the products listed there have amazing photos. Some look very professional, some look artistic and ingenious. And then, there are photos like yours, which do not seem to stand a chance against the really great ones.

Don't get discouraged too quickly though. Most Etsy sellers did not have great photos when they listed their first items!

In fact, they had to spend many hours trying different angles, props, backgrounds, light sources, and everything else they could think of. They may have also watched several tutorials in YouTube and read online guides.

Others may have given up quickly and hired photographers to 'solve' this problem for them. (If this is something you have already considered, please don't do it! Most good/legit product photographers would charge a minimum of $50-$75/hour and this is money that I'm sure you would rather keep in your pockets.)

With some help, I'm sure you'll be able to learn quickly and take good pictures of your products that you'll be very proud of.

Today, we'll look at some of the resources available to us for free. Then, we'll start with the most simple tricks/tips and give photography another chance.

One thing that we will certainly need however, is a camera. If you don't own one, then try to borrow one from a friend, family member, etc. If you are planning on buying one and have a very limited budget, invest on something flexible and do your research. (Reading reviews online before purchasing anything over $100 is always a good idea)

Unfortunately, a cheap camera will always be a cheap camera. (Especially if it is 100% automatic and does not allow for a manual mode). If you do have some money saved, then consider buying an affordable DSLR camera (ranging from $450-$900). The difference between a $200 point-and-shoot camera and a DSLR is huge for just $250 extra!

Free Photo Studio

When it comes to our product photography, I would like to propose that we take on this challenge by thinking of ourselves as professional photographers. I know we are not, but I want you to build up your level of confidence and see yourself as a fully capable individual right from the beginning.

We'll start by building our very own photo studio with materials that can be found around the house.

Since we all sell different types of products, I'll include instructions for both small and large objects. You can very easily build the tools needed to photograph both and just have them available in case you should need them in the future.

For small items, we will use a "light box" or "light tent" and for large objects, we will go with diffuser panels.

If you wish to go online and purchase a tabletop photography studio kit, go for it. They start at about $80 or so. (Just remember that a light tent has its limitations and that if you do buy one and get to the point where it becomes useless fairly quickly, then you might blame yourself for not taking the 'free' option)

Anyhow, here is a link to a tutorial from Strobist that will guide you through the process of building the light tent. As the author of the article says $10 is just a number as you should be able to replace some of the materials with things you already have around your home and cut down your cost to 'zero'.


For medium/large objects that would not fit inside the light tent, we'll go with the diffuser panels.

Here is quick explanation on how to make these. (Please note they recommend using white bed sheets, hah! who would have thought of that?)


If you need a visual of the diffuser panels, this is what we are talking about:

Along with the light tent and diffuser panels, you will need at least two desk lamps or any other sort of light that can be adjusted for direction.

Also, you might still need some sort of a base for your products to sit on. If that's the case, simply place a large piece of white board or paper on a desk or even on the floor and put your medium size objects on top.

Large objects such as a mannequin or a person modeling clothes will most likely not need a white base. However, if you do need a white background you can always hang a large white bed sheet behind the subject.

If you still want to spend some money, I suggest your spend it on some good powerful light bulbs. I get mine from here:

Let's take pictures

Now that you have a good set of tools to take great pictures with, let's go ahead and begin prepping our area for a shooting session.

Some basic rules to keep in mind:

- Make sure your product and work area are clean.

- Give yourself space to move around and get pictures from various angles without getting hurt.

- Place the light tent on a flat surface, your object will go inside of it and the desk lamps will be located on the outside, one for each side.

- In the case of the diffuser panels, your object will go between them and the lights will stand behind.

Here is a great video on how you'll be doing this:


More Tips:

- Take pictures preferably during the day. (Our biggest enemy is a flash light and most cameras will trigger the flash in order to compensate with the lack of lighting in the room) Yes, you can disable it when using your camera in manual mode but if you are completely new to all this, you might want to use the automatic features at the beginning.

- Plan to spend a minimum of 1 hour taking pictures. (My shooting sessions are usually for 10 products at the time and I end up taking at least 20 - 25 pictures of each item)

- If you don't own a tripod:
  • Get your feet on a good stable position so you can balance your body correctly and avoid taking blurry pictures.
  • Hold your camera using the strength of your arms and not your hands/wrists.
  • Get the camera as close to your body as possible.

- On your first shooting sessions, you won't know what angles or props (if you are using any) will /will not work for your product. Therefore, experiment as much as you can!
(Take pics from each side, from above, from below, tilting the camera a bit)

- Once you do your editing, you will discover which angles worked best.

To Do:

We'll stop here for today and get all of our tools ready as well as spend the rest of the day taking (experimenting) with pictures.

Aim to take at least a total of 300. We'll go over editing tomorrow and some other tips to make those pictures look great.

Note: If you happen to review your pictures today and they don't look great, do not delete them just yet. Remember that editing is almost like doing 'magic'. ;)

Good Luck

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 5 - The Pain of Pricing your Items

Pricing can be a very tricky area to address when listing your items. On Day 5 of this challenge, we will go over a few methods that other sellers use to come up with a price for their products.

If I had to summarize everything we will discuss about pricing on this post, I would just advice you to 'go with the price that makes you feel the most comfortable about your whole creating/selling process'.

By 'comfortable' I mean:

- You think of the price for a specific product and you know you have included the costs of all your supplies, including silly ones such as 'tape', 'labels' etc. in it as well as Etsy, Paypal fees.

- You feel the price is fair for the amount of hours you spent creating your product AND the quality of it. ($30 for a mug that you spent 2 hrs working on but ended up with a broken handle is not fair, IMO)

- You know that the final price of your item leaves some room to cover unexpected expenses.
(Perhaps you miscalculated the shipping rates or your packaging supplies)

- You have considered the possibility of selling your items at wholesale price and you are ok with making this same item in large quantities for at least 50% off your MSRP. (This one is optional of course, some sellers might not care about wholesale orders at all)

- You are able to have 'sales, special promotions, discount codes' and still make profit on your items.

- You have researched the competition and your price is well within range.

What can you do if your 'comfortable' price is not competitive?

The easiest answer to this is: Focus on your supplies! Lower your production cost/time.
It is a very do-able task and if this is where you are failing, then you need to spend some time researching all the possibilities out there.

Supplies can get very expensive if you buy them directly from a craft store at their regular prices. I often find myself having to turn to them because I can choose my materials in person or just because they are conveniently located in my neighborhood. However, I do have a rule and that is to never buy anything at their regular price. If things are not on sale, then I don't get them.

Why? Because I already know I'm wasting a lot of money by buying from them in the first place.

Buying materials in bulk quantities and from wholesale suppliers would keep your expenses really low and allow you to make money while keeping the final price highly competitive.

Get creative and be selective.

If you are currently buying supplies from a US retailer but the materials themselves are made in China, then don't kid yourself and just get in touch with the Chinese company and buy from them directly. (Yes, it could take up to a week to get the items, but trust me, you'll be saving a lot of money there).

There are so many suppliers all around the world, that finding one you can establish a solid business relationship with will not be extremely difficult.

Think Global and remember that your materials may come from anywhere in the world.

"All my materials are handmade"

If this is the case, then I believe you are part of a very special group of sellers who will most likely end up pricing items somewhat high. And that's absolutely fine!.

In this particular scenario, your efforts should probably be directed towards marketing your item better and making buyers aware that your price can not be compared to an item that was made using mass-produced supplies.

If you educate your buyer and emphasize the virtues of your product, I don't see why you would need to worry about sellers with low priced items.

Could you perhaps reuse things you already have around the house?

If your product allows, you should also consider recycling, upcycling, freecycling.

Have you looked under the "free stuff" section on Craigslist lately? I know I've used it to give away things that were brand new and completely usable.

If you are unsure about picking up items from other people, get in touch with a freecycling person in your area. I know a couple of ladies in my town who do this everyday and you can literally email them and ask them "Hey, do you have free wood available?" and they will be more than glad to let you know and even bring it to you if you'll be trading it for other things you might have around the house that they might be looking for.

Here is a link to the freecycle network website in case you want to look into this some more.

Supplies cost is low but production time is very high

In my opinion, this is one of the easiest problems to address. If you are spending way too much time creating a product and it is affecting your ability to compete with other sellers, then you need to investigate and identify what they are doing differently.

Is it perhaps that you have not yet mastered your skills?

If that's the case, the go to YouTube, look up tutorials and learn from others. Each artist has a specific way of doing things and yours might not be the most effective.

Sign up for classes if you have to, read books, ask for help in the Etsy forums, etc.

And... Pricing

Here are some of the tools you can use online that would help you calculate your Etsy prices.

Etsy Fee Calculator :

Reverse Etsy Fee Calculator:

Pricing Formula:

Here is a good one that was posted on the Etsy forums by another seller (BabyBundleBoutique)

Lastly, here are some good Storque Articles from the "Art of Pricing" series.

The Art of Pricing: Three Helpful Exercises:

The Art of Pricing: Understanding your Costs:

To Do:

Today, I would like you to grab a piece of paper, calculate your costs, leave room for unexpected expenses, get a feel of your final price by researching the competition and deciding on a pricing range that you believe might be accurate and appropriate for you.

Once you are done with this, list at least three different items that you could test your pricing numbers with. Whenever they sell, think about the time they were listed for, the amount of views, hearts they got and based on all this, choose the final price that makes you happy.

Good Luck.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 4 - Time for Reflection and Socializing

On Day 4 of our Etsy Challenge we'll be taking a 'break' (not really) and spend some time reflecting on our products as well as doing some networking with other members of the Etsy Community.

"Why do I have to spend time thinking about my products? My items are great! My aunt Sarah and my mom buy them all the time."

Well, there is hard truth to be told here and it is better that you realize this sooner than later. If your product is not good enough to be sold to people you've never met before, it doesn't really matter how many times you go through this entire challenge; you will simply never make the kind of money you might be hoping for.

If you are new to craft sales and have no idea of whether the things you make are good, marketable items; then let's start by asking yourself the following questions:

- Would you buy your own products?

Think about the stores you frequent the most and the reasons why you buy items from there. If you make pottery for example, think of the last time you bought a vase from Pier One or somewhere similar. How does the stuff you make compare to those items you have actually paid money for? Would you buy your own over the ones at the store?

If the answer to this question is no, then you have some serious thinking to do.

- If the answer is yes, ask yourself why? What makes your product special?

Now that I've got you thinking about the last time you bought a similar item from a store, could you come up with a few reasons why yours is better?

"My products are made by hand"
"They are one-of a kind items"
"The designs I use are inspired by Surrealism"
"My vases are made of this clay with super powers that will last forever" (You get the idea!)

If you have at least 4 reasons why your product is special in comparison to others found at local stores or even the ones on Etsy, then you are moving in the right direction.

Remember this: Most Etsy customers look for unique, special items and not those they can buy at Target or Walmart or the Dollar store.

- Is the quality of your items a great deal for the price you are asking?

The main reason why I bring up this question is because I personally enjoy paying a fair price for things I buy and I also LOVE IT when I feel like the items I purchased completely exceed my expectations.

Sadly, I've been in many situations before where I've spent a high dollar amount on handmade items that were just not good for the price. I may have even kept that to myself many times just so that my boyfriend did not get a chance to criticize me for the bad deal I made.

Are you, as an artist, aware of all this? Do you ever wonder what the reaction of your customers will be when they get their goodies?

Do you take pride on the things you make?

I truly hope you do.

At all times, remember to be as professional as you can. The seriousness you portray about the products you make reflect on customers as 'quality'. We like things neatly organized, clean, free of silly mistakes.

"Oh, one of my beads is scratched/broken, let me just send this like that"

NO, NO, NO! You can't/shouldn't lose a customer over a damaged bead. Think twice before making this type of choices please!

The $15 Dollar Experiment.

If you are still clueless about your products and need honest and reliable feedback. I urge you to sign up for a local craft fair/show as soon as possible.

When I first started painting several years ago, I kept trying different subjects, color schemes, materials, etc. I had no clue if my art was good enough to make any money at all. I did not know what other folks were buying, where or how. I had way too many questions and needed answers.

I was then told to maybe look into participating at one of the local art shows/fairs that my town had every single weekend in the Downtown area. The price to participate was $15/weekend.

Immediately, I got extremely nervous just thinking about the looks I would get, the criticism from other artists who would most likely be ten times better than I was. I did not want to do this show thing, No!

After a few margaritas and a couple late night tv-shows at home, I decided that I've had enough of my fears and insecurities and that I just had to know if I was wasting my time painting. So I borrowed a folding table, grabbed a plastic chair, looked for a semi-decent tablecloth to cover the table with and headed out with my paintings, the $15, some spare change and my fingers crossed.

Needless to say, this experience was a huge eye-opener. Not only my paintings were in serious need for improvement, but I also realized that most of my audience that day were 5 year old kids that would approach my table because of the bright colors in my artwork and then walk away as their parents grabbed their hands and pointed much better looking things.

That afternoon, I came home and went straight to my studio. I knew that I had been able to survive the craft fair and that all I needed to do was to come up with a better product, geared to the right kind of audience and that still portrayed who I was as an artist.

The next shows after that were consistently getting better and better. I would get paid for the art, get custom orders and I just knew then that the sky was the limit.

More on Product Critiques

Etsy has provided sellers with a great section in their forums for critiques. Simply click on the Community icon on the top bar of the page and then select 'forums'. Scroll down to the 'critiques' board and read, comment, post as often as you need to.

There is always different users viewings those posts at different times during the day. You will get all sorts of advice and it is up to you to decide which ones will help you improve and which other ones might be a bit biased by the fact that it will most likely be another seller replying.

Also, make sure to check out the Chats. There is a very consistent set of individuals who frequent the chat rooms on Etsy and they are great people!.

Participating in the chats has all sort of hidden benefits.

- You are networking. (This means, people will get to know you, like you, maybe heart your shop, perhaps even add you to their circle)

- You can also get free advice from the people in there.

- You are constantly promoting your products. (Buyers do stop by the chats from time to time so free advertisement while you talk about your cats and what you had for dinner last night can't go wrong!)

And as far as socializing, that's really all the 'homework' I had for you today.

Take some time to make friends on Etsy. We'll look into Facebook, Twitter, etc some other day.
Be Creative!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 3 - Listing your Items & Tagging

You've made it to Day 3 of our challenge. Congratulations!
Etsy demands a lot of time and hard work but the results at the end of the day are very rewarding.

Today, we'll focus on listing items and tagging them the best way we can.

During our first two days, we discussed the importance of keywords and how these 'special words' help people find us.

When someone searches for an item on Etsy, the search algorithm working behind the scene looks at all listings (active products) that contain the search term either in their title or in any of the 14 tags made available to sellers for each item. The results are usually displayed based on the 'most recent' ones. So if you listed a 'blue scarf with polka dots' a week ago; you might need to jump to page 20 or so to be able to see it.

Now, don't get discouraged if your item does not show up within the first 10 results. After all, the user searched for 'blue' only and he/she might not be interested on buying a scarf at this time. Instead, focus on those customers who will search for 'blue scarf with polka dots' and try to provide them with other words in your title/tags that they might also search for.

For example, you might want to include the word "circles" in case they look for "blue scarf with circles".

The search above would still be relevant to your product and you want to make sure that this scarf will come up.

All in all, the main goal you should try to achieve when listing an item is to use as many descriptive words as possible. I'm not suggesting that you write a 20+ words title. In fact, I would keep the title somewhere between 5-8 words (clean, simple to read and descriptive enough to make the customer want to click).

After the title, you will still have the 14 tags. Use these wisely!

Originally, my impression was that tags and titles did not have any kind of connection among themselves. Therefore, when I initially listed my items, I would repeat most of the keywords in my title among my tags as well.

It turns out, I was just wasting very valuable 'tag' spaces since Etsy looks at the combination of both in order to display the search results. (I probably still have several items that I have not fixed. Once again, this is another reason why I decided to write this blog. If I had known this sooner, I would have done it right the first time!)

What words to use in your tags?

Well, the first 2-3 tags should be your main categories/sub-categories. Etsy does this automatically when you get to the 'add tags' page and you are prompted to select a main category to begin with.

From that point on, I usually assign a couple of tags for variations of the color of my item.
Let's say I labeled my item as "Brown Handmade Necklace". Then, I would probably use two of my tags to throw the words "chocolate" and "coffee" somewhere in there.

I don't just do this for the customers as a matter of fact. I mostly do this for treasurers. Yes, some Etsy sellers will search for treasury items by color (or related words for such color) and I definitely want them to find me and feature me, don't I?

The rest of the tags can be use to accommodate more of those keywords that you were not able to fit in your title.

And here is one trick I discovered just a few weeks ago...

If I 'reserve' at least one of my tags for 'season/event ' specific words, I can easily update these automatically using the tag tool.

What? How?

Well, let's say that because of 'valentine's day' you have planned to assign your last tag of each item to use this phrase so that shoppers looking for valentine's gifts will see your items in February.

Then comes March and you realize that 'valentine's day' is not a useful tag anymore. However, you are just about to start a 'free shipping' promotion for your entire shop.

Luckily for us, EtsyOnSale is one of those third party tools we talked about yesterday that will help us make these changes without having to go through each item one at the time.

Simply go to their site (, log in and click on the tag tool. You will want to remove the 'valentine's day' tag from all your listings first (this means your items will not have 13 tags each and one space available).

Once you receive their email confirming that this has been completed, simple add the 'free shipping' tag to all your listings and you're done!. You will now be found by anyone searching for 'free shipping' on Etsy.

If you need ideas on what seasonal tags to use, the merchandising report from Etsy is the #1 place you will want to look. It usually comes out way before the next month begins, so you have plenty of time to plan ahead and make your changes.

Here is the link to the one for January:

Tagging items properly is very important. Your main goal should be to get the right people to see your product and by 'right' people I mean those customers looking for what YOU sell.
You will frequently hear from others that mistagging your items will not only confuse buyers but will most likely not bring you any actual sales.

Also, do keep in mind that using the most effective tags is yet another process that will require long hours of research, testing, fixing and frustration. Once again, take one step at the time.

As far as item descriptions go, my personal suggestion would be :

- Describe the item as accurately as possible. (I'm horrible at doing this but I know it has to be done).

- Mention sizes, colors, shapes, materials, themes, etc.
- Add a few marketing lines. (why should they buy from you?)
- Tell them a bit about your creating process (Did you make this product in 10 days? wow! they would certainly want to hear all about it)

Keep it as short as possible but do include all of the above.

Pricing, Shipping and Photographs are some major areas that we will discuss and work on some other day.

For now, grab your thesaurus, research your competition's tags, read the merchandising articles, work on your products and be list items as frequently as you can.

(One new item per day should be one of your personal goals during this process). If you only have about 5 right now and will not be making more for the next 2 weeks. Then list one item every 3 days or so.

The idea behind this is that new items stay at the top of those search results we discussed at the beginning of this post for a while (depending on your category, of course). And you will want to get a little bit of attention consistently.

Good Luck with everything! I'm off to listing some new stuff .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 2- Track SEO and Setting up your Shop

Well, after a quick crash course on SEO during Day 1 of our challenge we'll take a few moments to go over some information on how to begin tracking any changes you may have decided to make to your item titles, shop announcement, etc.

The easiest way to track these results is by making yourself aware of the amount of views your items get every day.

You can do this easily by using one of the many third-party applications that use Etsy's API and are readily available to everyone on the net.

Third-party apps? API? What's that?

Think of an API as a big manual/reference guide that lets other programmers get some insight on how Etsy's code works behind the scene. (this is as simple as I can describe it but there is surely more to it)

A third-party application is basically a program that a software developer created using the API provided by Etsy generally with the intention of providing the end user (you) with tools that Etsy's site is not currently offering or tools that they believe could be improved . [Some of them also get some income out of this if their tool becomes popular among users and they begin charging for it or allowing sellers to advertise on their websites, but you will see this yourself !]

Anyway, back to tracking our results!

Our first step, before we go hunting for the right third-party tool to use, is to set up our Google Analytics account.

Here is the link: Google Analytics

Setting up your GA account and understanding all the tools provided by Google here could be very frustrating. My advice is to take it one step at the time, don't be scared by all the options, links and things you see when you first sign up. You'll learn to use this at your own pace.

In the meantime, Etsy has its own guide on how to sign up for it:

Etsy's Guide to Set up Google Analytics

(Warning: This is a very lengthy guide and the information there might confuse you a bit. Go grab some coffee, take a deep breath and do the things you feel you understood on your first read of the document. You can go back later and finish it up.)

Once you are done with your GA account, we can go ahead and choose a third-party tool to access our 'views' info.

I personally use a couple of these third-party apps on a daily basis. Please do keep in mind that the ones you choose are completely up to you. I don't sponsor any of them.

I come here track my views, hearts and sales.
Simply type your username at the top of the page and click 'SUBMIT'. Then you'll notice two boxes (one on each side).

The "Etsy" box lets you connect to Etsy and pulls some information from your shop such as your sales. The 'Google Analytics' one connects to your Google account and pulls the 'views' information.

Here is my pretty screenshot:

It took a while before I started seeing some decent 'views' numbers and I personally don't think I get as many as some of the successful Etsy sellers out there. But for a newbie, this is heaven!

At the beginning, I probably had about 10 unique user views? Maybe even less.

So, what I really like about Craftopolis is that I see the data for the entire month. This tells me how consistent I'm being in terms of my promoting, it also lets me spot drastic changes that could be triggered by specific events such as major holidays. In general, it is just a very good summary of what's happening in your shop on a particular day.

Homework: Feel free to explore this tool and any others you might hear about in the forums or even find on the internet. Each one brings something different and they might appeal more to your personal preferences.

To see a complete list of all apps available out there, you can go here:

Etsy apps

Some of the most popular ones are:

Each time you make a big change on your shop, you should look forward to the effects of it on your views. If you did something right, keep at it. If it didn't work, then don't get discouraged and focus on something else.

Your views and sales are the best indicators on what strategies seem to be working for you.
But I guess, that's just common sense.

Ok, Moving on to the second part of today's tasks...

We'll go ahead and just look over some of the basic steps we should have already covered when creating our Etsy seller accounts for the first time.

When you click on the big button that says 'SELL' on Etsy's main toolbar, you'll land on a very nice and concise screen with a block labeled as "Let the fun begin".

Under that, you will see three things that you should have looked into by now.

- Configure payment methods
- Customize storefront
- Define shop policies

Configure payment methods

Payment methods is a critical step simply because that's how you'll get the money and I'm sure you want to receive it as soon as possible.

I strongly suggest that you use some sort of online payment service (Paypal, for example). But you can also choose not to.

You will be given options and you can select as many of them as you want.

It is important that you feel very comfortable with the choices you make. For example, personal checks can be very tricky. If you will accept these, you will need to keep in mind that checks may bounce and generate fees. If this should occur, how would you handle the situation? Will you charge a fee to the buyer? Should you include 'fee' information somewhere in your policies?

If you are completely new to online selling, setting up your Paypal account might be a difficult task as well. Here is a tutorial on how to do this:
(It has a video with step by step instructions. There are other like these online so just google them if this one does not work for you.)

Note: I believe it was yesterday that we had a new seller in the Etsy chat room who had just finished signing up for Paypal and was curious to know if everything was working as expected.

It reminded on my very first time with Paypal and how anxious I was to see how the money would show up there. So I went ahead and bought one of my own items! (I'm not recommending that you do this, I'm just saying that's what I did back then. Ideally, you'll be able to tell whether it works or not once you get your first order. If Paypal does not work then, I'm sure your buyer will let you know.) Be patient!

Customize storefront

You have most likely visited this page a few times now and worked on your shop title, description and even your banner.

Your initial banner might not look as great as someone else's and that's just because you are not a graphic designer or you don't have much experience with any kind of graphic software tools.
That's absolutely fine! There is help available and you just need to look for it.

Etsy provides with a few generic banner options that you can choose from and customize by adding your shop title for example.

Etsy Bannerator

They also have a great tutorial on how to make your own. (video in here too, yay!!)

Lastly, there are also sellers on Etsy who will create a banner for you for a fee as well as some very generous ones who might do it for free. (You can ask around in the chat rooms, forums, etc)

There is no excuse not to have a great banner for your shop and you will definitely want to work on this as this is one of the first things customers will notice when go to your storefront.

Define shop policies

On that same page when the banner and shop title are, you will notice a tab at the top of it that reads 'policies'

Click on it and stay put! don't run away!

Here is a quick screenshot of the page. (My policies need a LOT of work so be warned!.)

Policies are very important and you need to come up with your own. However, it is good practice to look at some other shop's and see if they may have included some rules, scenarios, info that you might want to include in yours.

Be as detailed as possible. Some customers will look at these policies before deciding whether to buy or not from you.

Personally, I don't believe mine are great right now and it is in my 'to-do' list. I may even be losing a sale here and there because of how I'm wording my rules in there. It is definitely something you want to keep in mind and be satisfied with.

Alright, this feels like a lot of information for Day #2. If you have already worked on the things I mention here, you may spend some time actually 'making' things. You are also more than welcome to keep exploring Etsy on your own. There is so much info sitting out there that will help you be successful.

I hope that my very little advice, along with everybody else's, will encourage you to look at your Etsy shop as a 'personall goal' that you will 'conquer' sooner than later.

If others do it, why not you right?

Day 1 - Let's Get Started with SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is probably one of the most difficult concepts to grasp when it comes to your Etsy shop. After all, you are an artist and not an internet marketing guru.

The reason why I'd like to present this to you on Day 1 is because SEO takes time to produce results. (I don't mean to scare you away by making things complicated right from the beginning. I just know I wish I had started with this).

Therefore, if we make the changes I'm about to suggest as early in the game as possible; you should be able to see the results sometime during the course of this 30-day challenge.

In the easiest terms, SEO is what sellers need to do in order to be found on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. when someone searches for a type of product, a company name, a color or anything really.

With Etsy, there are specific places in your shop and listings that you need to be aware of and they are as follows:

- Your Shop Title

Most people would be tempted to use their username and it is probably the 'brand' you wish to sell your goods under. For example, when I first signed up on Etsy I chose 'EarthyHabitat' as my username and immediately assumed this should also be the title for my shop.

Big Mistake! Not only did I not realize that 'EarthyHabitat' would not be a term my brand new potential customers would look me up by but also, I completely missed the fact that Etsy adds the phrase "by [username] on Etsy" to the end of such title.

For my first few weeks on Etsy, I was known as 'EarthyHabitat by EarthyHabitat on Etsy"

Now, the shop title is one of the most important places to optimize for search engines. You'd want it to include words that customers would look for as they relate to the products you sell.
My store sells jewelry, therefore my shop title it is now 'Handmade Jewelry, Earrings, Bracelets, Necklaces and more' + Etsy's phrase.

This results in:

Now people searching for 'Handmade Jewelry' and/or 'Earrings' and/or 'Earthy Habitat' can find me among their results. Yay!

Please, do keep in mind that this does not guarantee that when someone searches for 'Handmade Jewelry' your shop will show up on the top results, or the first page of results, or even the fifth page. After all, you are not the only person here selling 'handmade jewelry'. There were others before you and there are others with more money than you who might be even paying serious cash to improve their ranking.

Either way, you still took a HUGE step by simply changing you shop title. You went from 0 (yes, zero) chances of being found to 1 in 30,000,000 maybe? It is a truly remarkable difference and this cannot be argued.

- Your Shop Announcement

Did you see what's coming up right below my shop title on Google? Yes, I went crazy with keywords!. I thought of all the possible terms that potential customers could search me up by tried to combine them into a sentence where they would not look as 'desperate' for attention as possible.

I must admit, it still looks pretty 'needy' but hey! each one of us can and will choose how much and up to what level do we want to abuse all these 'tricks'.

So, your shop announcement should definitely include some important and relevant search terms.

You are still more than welcome to include random information and even tell us about yourself if you want to, but this can be done very nicely towards the end of such announcement.

Thankfully, search engines would just pick the first few lines of your announcement and use those words to place you under the correct search results.

As a quick side note... a few years back, I happened to apply for a Google's Ads Quality Rater position which demands you pass a screening process where you have to rate websites according to their relevancy in a search query (phrase, term, etc). From that experience alone, I can testify that every single word you put in your shop title/announcement makes an enormous difference on how your page gets rated.

My suggestion? Grab a piece of paper and write as many keywords as possible, write sentences with them, change the order of the words based on importance, eliminate *wasted* words such as 'and, the, or, etc'. But don't get frustrated over this either! You will later and forever continue to improve on this so for now just give it your best shot.

If you are out of ideas for keywords, here is a list of places you can get them from:

- Google's Keyword Tool
(Type a general term that defines your products such as 'jewelry'. See information on related keywords and popularity)

- Search major retailers that sell your type of products. See what keywords they have used when coming up on Google.

Back to the important places....

The same principles explained for the shop title and shop announcement will apply to your shop listings (items). The title of your item should be very descriptive and as full of keywords as possible.

As for the descriptions, you should use related keywords on the first two lines of it. It may be quite hard at this point to come up with different terms that would still be relevant but that's where you need to do your homework. Grab a thesaurus if necessary and start writing down those words!

The more you use different terms for titles, descriptions ,etc... the more you increase your chances of being found.

One tool I particularly enjoy using is this:

HP Color Thesaurus
(Type the name of a color ["brown" for example] and it will return related names for that same color so you don't have to use 'brown' on each one of your 'brown' items.)

Also, one important thing to remember when choosing your keywords is that you are still in the 1 of 30,000,000 group when customers search for 'handmade jewelry'. But if you look at Google's keyword tool results, you will notice that there appears to be a group of 500 individuals (under the popularity column) who search for 'handcrafted original jewelry'.

If the 'big retailers' are busy fighting over the thousands of customers who search for 'handmade jewelry', why wouldn't you attempt to get those 500 potential customers who are searching for something else? I bet that would be easier, wouldn't it?

Hint: Use a couple of your item listings to address those 500 individuals by placing those keywords in those titles and descriptions. Now, when they will search for 'handcrafted original jewelry', you will come up in their results page within the first few pages. *wink* *wink*

Well, it seems like you have a lot of work to do for a DAY 1.

Go on, research, make changes, list items on your shop and keep these SEO tips in mind while doing so.

Once again, the reason why I want you to focus on this first is because Google and other search engines will have to 'VISIT' your page to notice these changes and take action. As you can understand, they are busy busy search engines so they will not visit you right away.

(From the day I made my changes, they took about 2 weeks to visit me :(. I then learned how you can become 'friends' with search engines and have them visit you more often but this is something I'll discuss some other time.)

Please come back and post about your experience, ask questions and feel free to include additional information I may have left out.

I will do my best to post Day 2 tomorrow but if not, it will certainly be here within the next 48 hours.

Good Luck.

Day 0 - A Quick Intro

Hi and Welcome!

Are you an Etsy newbie? Well, I am too.

I came across Etsy's website a few months ago when I was pregnant and looking for special gifts for my unborn daughter. I had planned to stay at home for three months after giving birth and continue to work at my day job from home as well as attempt to do something on the side.

Etsy seemed like a good place to give it a try, so I signed up and walked away with the idea that I would someday look more into it and see what it was all about.

Then, sometime in October, I went for it and posted a few items that my mom, grandma and I made during the last months of my pregnancy. I knew right from the beginning that they would not sell immediately and that my biggest disadvantage was that everyone on Etsy seemed to have enough money to hire professional photographers. (At some point, I also honestly thought that Etsy had some sort of a magic tool that would turn any image I uploaded into a pretty one). Boy, was I wrong?

Anyhow, after a few days it became clear that I was missing out on a lot of information and that just like selling on Ebay, there had to be some sort of trick/technique to sell on Etsy.

This is how I then found all the information I share in this 30-day Challenge. I truly believe that following these steps will make you successful on Etsy and that each and every one of us is capable of achieving such success.

I wish you all the luck in this challenge and please do come back to tell us about your experience once you complete it.

Much Love,