SHOP CRITIQUE CHECK LISTTroubleshooting Your Own Etsy Shop
This list is to help you self-critique your shop and troubleshoot problem areas before you ask the advice of a mentor. The SASsy mentors have worked together to answer some of the frequently asked questions that come up for new sellers. Please take a moment to look through these suggestions and tips. If you still have more in depth questions or something we have not covered, please visit the SASsy Critique Forum, or check the list to find a specific mentor to work with.
BASIC SHOP SET-UP (Shop Settings, Public Profile):
1) Banner and Profile Picture (Avatar)
Your shop banner is the graphic that appears at the top of your shop page. It needs to be exactly 760 pixels wide by 100 pixels tall, in a .jpg, .gif or .png format. You can make your own banner using a variety of graphics programs (Photoshop, Picasa, Gimp etc).
What should you put on your banner? We suggest you use really great photos of your items, or your logo/branding, plus your shop name.
Here’s an Etsy tutorial on making your own shop banner: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2007/skill-share-making-a-banner/
There are many sellers on Etsy who make shop banners and avatars that you can purchase. http://www.etsy.com/search/handmade?search_submit=&q=Etsy+shop+banner
You can also make a simple banner with Etsy's Banner Generator: http://team.etsy.com/bannerdisplay.php
You upload your banner on the “Info & Appearance” section of your shop. If your shop banner looks blurry once you have uploaded it, then re-check the size.
Your profile picture or “avatar” is the little square graphic that accompanies posts you make in the forums or convos you send to people. You can upload any size image and it will automatically crop and resize it to fit. You upload your profile picture on the Your Account -> Public Profile section.
What image should you use for your avatar? We recommend a photo of one of your most popular items, a photo of yourself, or a shop logo for branding. It is a good idea to make it something that is easily recognizable as you or your shop.
2) Public Profile
Be sure to fill out your profile. Make it warm and friendly. Tell about your creative process and your background. Tell your customers why you are passionate about what you do. This is one way to build a relationship with your prospective buyer, so showing your personality can help build trust and make your shop seem inviting and open. Share only as much personal information as you are comfortable with (for example, you do not need to share your birthday or your favorite shops.)
This is a great article with more tips: Crafting Your Profile Page
If you have multiple Etsy shops, you must link to all of them in your profile: http://www.etsy.com/help/article/483#membership_multiple_accounts
You might not want to link buyers to outside sites like Facebook, your blogs, Twitter, Treasury lists and so on in your profile. Links that take people away from your Etsy shop might mean that they click away and don’t come back to buy something from you.
3) Shop Policies
Fill out all of your policies. A complete policy page shows you are a professional and ready for business. Many buyers will not purchase unless they know how you package and ship or what your refund and exchange policies are. You enter your policies on the Shop Settings -> Info & Appearance -> Policies
Here is an article about creating your policies: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2008/service-tips-for-sellers-creating-policies-that-work/
a) Welcome Message: A simple warm welcome and brief note about your shop is all you need here.
b) Payment Policy: Describe what kinds of payment you accept: Pay Pal, Money orders, checks, etc. After you have received payment, how long does it take you to ship an item (same day, next day etc). Do you charge sales tax? Encourage buyers to contact you if they are having problems with making payment, as sometimes this confusing to new Etsy shoppers.
Note: You set up the Payment methods available to buyers in the Shipping & Payment -> Payment Methods tab. The payment methods apply to every item in your shop, you can’t take different kinds of payments for different items.
c) Shipping Policy: How do you ship your items (USPS, UPS, FedEx etc)? How are the items packaged? Do you include delivery confirmation* and insurance? Do you offer gift wrapping or a personal note in the package? Do you offer expedited shipping if needed?
If you ship internationally be sure to state whether you or the buyer are responsible for duties, customs and taxes levied by the buyer’s country.
*Delivery confirmation (through the USPS) is only available in the US, and can only be used for shipping in the US. It is relatively inexpensive (19 cents if you purchase your postage online via pay pal), and protects both you and the buyer. Supplying tracking numbers for UPS, FedEx and other shippers are also a good idea. You can enter this tracking info on the shipping confirmation email feature found on your Sold Items page. If you are not a US seller, do your best to get tracking and/or proof of shipping, communicate with your buyer and keep accurate records.
d) Refunds and exchanges: Take the time to write out a simple and reasonable refund and exchange policy. Be sure to include details like how they should contact you, who will pay for return shipping etc. This is important information to protect both you and your buyers.
Look at other shops or businesses for ideas on writing your policies. Be clear. A "return" is not the same as a "refund" or "exchange". Make sure your buyer understands what you are offering.
Policies we do NOT recommend:
A "no refunds, no exchanges" policy may turn off potential buyers and can cause you unexpected problems. If you have a "no refunds" policy and your customer is dissatisfied with their purchase, they can file a PayPal “purchase protection” claim. If they get a refund from PayPal, you will be charged.
Another frequently stated policy, "I will not be held responsible for any loss or damage that might occur during postal transit.", can also cause problems. While it’s true that you are not responsible if damage occurs, you can be held liable for non-delivery of items.
Read more here: https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=security/safe_online_shopping
e) Additional Information: Anything else that a buyer may need to know. Do you accept custom or wholesale orders? Frequently asked questions about your items?
4) Set Up Shipping Profiles: Set up Shipping Profiles in Your Etsy > Shipping Options to save time while listing. A Shipping Profile is like a pre-set that you can apply to each item and you can have as many different ones as you need.
Here are some helpful articles about setting up Shipping Profiles:
Some General Set Up Tips:
Be sure to run a spell check on everything in your shop! Grammar and spelling does matter. There is not a spell check built in to Etsy, so you might consider typing everything in a word processor first and then cut & pasting it in after you have checked it.
GOOD READING! Etsy Success for Beginner Sellers: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2009/etsy-success-for-beginner-sellers/
LISTING YOUR ITEMS
A lot of your sales will come from searches. This means that when someone is looking for an item, your photo on that search page has to catch their attention. Photos are your number one sales tool, and that first photo for each item is the most important one. Make sure your photos are brightly lit, in focus, and cropped to show off the item. They should be the very BEST photos that you can take. We can't stress enough how IMPORTANT it is to have good photos.
Look critically at your photos. Do my product photos look like the product photos that are featured on Etsy's front page? Do they accurately represent my items? Do they look good when they are small (thumbnails) and large?
What tools do you need for good photos?
a) Camera: You do not need an expensive camera - but it is important that you have one that is in good working condition and takes reasonably good photos. Since photos are so important, try to invest in the best camera you can afford (meaning, if all you can afford is $30 for a camera, then do your homework and buy the best $30 camera you can find). If you sell jewelry and small items, you need a camera with a "macro" setting for good close-ups.
b) Lighting: Avoid using the flash. The best lighting is natural light or sunlight. Most problems with photos (blurry, color shifting, dull and lifeless) can be corrected by adding more light.
If you are shooting indoors, a lightbox is a great way to take bright and clear photos. You do not have to have an expensive lightbox to take good pictures. There are lots of tutorials on how to make your own lightbox: http://www.handmadeology.com/how-to-make-and-use-a-light-box-to-improve-your-product-photography/
You can also try this technique for shooting without a lightbox: http://www.handmadeology.com/studio-quality-product-photography-with-a-12-set-up/
c) Cropping: You should always crop out extra “junk” from your images. No one wants to see your feet or your cat’s tail in the photo. Cropping your photos square (1:1) helps you control how the photo looks when it is automatically cropped for the gallery and thumbnail views. If you want your images to potentially appear on the Front Page, avoid borders, halos and watermarks.
d) Show Us Every View: Since buyers can't hold your items, they count on your pictures to show them everything they need to know to make a purchase. Show all angles of the item, inside, outside, full views and details. Be sure to ALWAYS use all 5 photo slots in each listing.
e) Photo Editing: Although it can add to the time it takes for you to make a new listing, you can potentially help your photos with a little editing. You can use software programs like Photoshop ($600), Photoshop Elements ($100), iPhoto ($50), Picasa (free online), or Gimp (free online), FotoFuze (free online) to help brighten, adjust contrast or color correct your photos.
Here are some tutorials and articles about photography:
Etsy Success Video: Product Photography for Beginner. (Highly recommended for everyone) http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/etsy-success-product-photography-for-beginners
Etsy Success Photography Workshop: http://www.etsy.com/storque/seller-handbook/make-it-work-an-etsy-success-photography-workshop-12754
Achieving clarity and crispness in your photos: http://tinyurl.com/yd769eq
Photo-taking Tips, Tricks & Tools for Developing a Cohesive Style: http://bit.ly/hdL6qn
How to style your photos (props): http://tinyurl.com/ybol7by
Photographing for success: http://tinyurl.com/yd8jqy8
How to make your photos pop with histograms and levels: http://tinyurl.com/2txkyh
Using ev and white balance to make your photos true to life: http://tinyurl.com/ybplyzv
Product Photography: http://bit.ly/mDISkM
Clothing Photography Tips: http://bit.ly/i4jAzN
DIY Lightbox: http://jyoseph.com/blog/diy-light-box-for-product-photography
Before and After With Photoshop: http://tinyurl.com/4adzjlb
Polish Your Photos Series at SASsy Etsy Mentors Blog: http://etsymentors.blogspot.com/search/label/PolishYourPhotos
WRITING TITLES, DESCRIPTIONS & SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
In a nutshell, this is how SEO works. Google crawls through your shop about once a month, looking for words that tell it what you make and sell. It retrieves information about your shop and each of your items and stores (caches) it. When Suzie Shopper is searching on Google for something, Google will see if anything it knows about your shop matches up with anything she is searching for. You can help Google figure out if you and Suzie Shopper are a great match.
Optimizing for Google searches:
1) Shop Title: (Find this just under your shop name, edit it under Info & Appearance.) This is the first and most important place that Google searches. Fill this with keywords about what you make and sell and to whom. Don't repeat your shop name here. You want it to say something like "Charm Bracelets, Handcuffs & Slinky Lingerie" if that is what you sell.
2) Shop Announcement: (Appears under your banner, edit under Info & Appearance) Another important place that Google searches. Fill the first paragraph using keywords (about what you make and sell, stated in short sentences, similar to the information in your shop title. If there is anything else you'd like to put in your Shop Announcement (news, announcements, promos etc), keep it short and put it after this first paragraph.
3) Sections: (Left sidebar, edit under Info & Appearance -> Sections) - Section titles are also searchable by Google. Instead of single words sections like handbags, earrings, prints, etc., add one or two descriptive words, ie., "Canvas Handbags", "Rhinestone Earrings", "Beaded Necklaces", "Ocean Photo Prints", etc.
4) Item Titles: The title should be what you think a person would type in a search box to find the item. Try to think like a buyer. The first 55 characters are pulled by search engines, so use them wisely.
Write your title using descriptive, specific keywords. It's important that the defining word or “what it is” (sign, photo, bracelet, etc.) be in the first 2-3 words. You can put more descriptive words later.
Be sure to add colors, materials, sizes/lengths, styles to the title. People search with adjectives and descriptors a lot, so it's important to have them in your titles. Avoid punctuation and words like "a", "and", "the", "of" "with" and "from". Do not use the "name" or “artistic title” you have give an item as the title, but use words that describe the item.
Example of a bad title: "The Whispering Wind - 8x10 Print"
Example of a good title: "Original Art Print, Windswept Country Prairie, Long Yellow Grass, Brick Red Farmhouse, 8 x 10"
Optimizing your titles for the Etsy search engine:
"Relevancy" search is the default search method on Etsy. What does that mean for you? To rate high in a relevancy search, you should use specific, descriptive words in your titles and repeat the same specific, descriptive words in your tags. It is also important to put the defining word or “what it is” in the first 3 words of the item title, because there is more emphasis placed on those 3 words.
An article on Etsy's Relevancy/Title search changes (new in August 2011): http://etsymentors.blogspot.com/2011/08/etsys-new-focus-on-relevancy-and-how-it.html
A recent Etsy Blog Article on this subject.
Forum post from Etsy: Relevancy Update
5) Item Descriptions: Your item description is searchable by Google. Google search gives more weight to the first paragraph, so you want the color, materials, trendy keywords, etc. to be first. Be very specific in your descriptions. Include measurements (in inches and centimeters), weight, materials, texture, descriptions of color or scent. Think like a buyer. What information do they need to know?
Write your descriptions like there are no pictures.
If your descriptions are somewhat lengthy - separate them into paragraphs or use bullet points. It helps the shopper find info they need quickly and easily.
Here is a 3-part article about strategically placing keywords in your item descriptions:
Part 1: http://bit.ly/dD2L61
Part 2: http://bit.ly/f6JzU1
Part 3 (back links): http://bit.ly/c2u5jT
6) Item Tags:
Etsy gives you 3 drop down menu tags and 13 tags that you supply to help your item get found. Be sure to use them all. The more accurate the descriptive keywords you use, the more likely you are to be found. You can also tag your shop name or teams you are on. Once you use a word once you do not need to repeat it.
Remember to tag accurately with words that a buyer might use/search to find you. Think like a buyer.
Policy Update - Labeling Items (August 2011): http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/policy-update-labeling-items/
Tags should be single words or a “relevant phrase” that describe an item. You may use a short descriptive phrase as a tag if it accurately describes your item, for example: sterling silver, messenger bag, steampunk cufflinks, lobster claw clasp.
Be sure that you are not tag "stuffing", or using multiple unrelated words in one tag.
Tag stuffing looks like this:
bridal ocean blue
orange black pink green
handbag purse clutch
Since the new changes in relevancy, it will help you tremendously in relevancy searches if you use the same key word combos that you used in your titles in your tags.
7) Back Links: Another Key ingredient to SEO are back-links. A backlink looks like this: "To get back to my shop, click here: (your main shop url)." You can also direct people to other sections in your shop, "To see more hats in my shop, click here: (url to your hat section)". Links to shop policies or to other items in your shop that might match the item being looked at are beneficial.
The most beneficial back links are links to your Etsy shop from places outside of Etsy. Blogs, facebook, twitter, social networking, and other forums. Any place that doesn't charge you to place a link to your shop and or items in your shop is a good back link and improves your SEO and Google page ranking.
Optimizing your shop for search engines: http://www.etsy.com/storque/seller-handbook/seller-how-to-optimizing-your-etsy-shop-for-search-engines-3835/
Easy Etsy SEO (Part 1): http://etsymentors.blogspot.com/2010/07/etsy-shop-seo-success-in-six-simple.html
Easy Etsy SEO (Part 2): http://etsymentors.blogspot.com/2010/07/etsy-shop-seo-success-in-six-simple_10.html
You need enough inventory to keep a buyer's interest and give them choices for purchasing. We recommend at least 40 items to start your shop. However, the most successful shops on Etsy all have over 100 items listed in their shops. Why? Because the more items you have listed, the more opportunities there are for Google or Etsy to pick you up in a search. The bigger your web presence (even within your own shop) the more likely people will find you in an online search.
Have you heard of the 80-20 rule of inventory? It goes something like this: For most businesses, 80 percent of sales comes from 20 percent of your inventory. So, in theory, your Etsy shop should be stocked with enough items to sell that top 20 percent. Be sure to Stock up your shop for views, treasuries and sales.
Listing and re-listing (renewing): People always ask if re-listing helps with sales? Absolutely! Especially if you sell in a highly competitive and saturated category like jewelry.
Re-listing (or renewing) is using the "renew" feature in your shop. Some Etsy sellers wait until an item expires before renewing. However, many sellers have found the value of re-listing or renewing much more frequently. (Each time you renew an item Etsy charges you a 20 cent listing fee.)
EXAMPLE: If you sell jewelry, and list a new item today, in 5 days, your item will be buried many pages into any search that someone will make on Etsy, making it less likely that your item will be clicked on. Most people searching for something will only look at the first page or two of items in a search. So, by renewing items in your shop, you can keep your items more current in Etsy searches, thereby increasing your chances of being found and clicked on.
There are 2 areas of your shop we will not critique:
1. Your Prices: Why? We don't critique prices, because only you know what your costs are, your overhead, and what you are planning on paying yourself. It's really not possible for us to tell if your prices are what they should be. That's only something you can determine.
You can charge whatever you want for your item. Keep in mind that your price should cover your materials, labor, packaging, time to photograph and list the item and process the sale.
We do get a lot of requests from people asking about their prices. Most sellers, who aren't making sales, assume that it is because their prices are not "right" or "OK". In fact, pricing is rarely the problem when sales aren't happening. If you aren't making sales, it is more likely because your photos are not the best or you are not being found via searches (SEO). Both are things that can be fixed fairly easily with a little time and technique.
For those that are worried that if they charge what they feel their items are worth, people won't be able to afford them, think about this: Basing your prices on whether you think someone can afford your items is not a good business policy. There are always going to be people that can't afford what you make. The good news is there are also always going to be people who can, so you choose market to those people who can afford to pay you.
Another key component to pricing is understanding your target market. Do you know who your target market is? Who do you envision buying your work? How old are they? What's their average income? What kind of lifestyle do they have? Those types of questions help you to narrow down your target market and you can price and promote specifically to that market.
Finding your Target Market: http://www.handmadeology.com/identifying-your-target-market
Recommended articles on pricing:
UNDERSELLING: Why Discomfort is a Terrible Pricing Strategy http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/2011/contributors/underselling-why-discomfort-is-a-terrible-pricing-strategy/
The Art of Pricing: http://tinyurl.com/aacc2m
Re-evaluating Your Prices: http://tinyurl.com/22paz73
2. Your Art or Craft: We completely understand wanting to have your art critiqued, but we don’t want to critique art or craft, because art is so subjective. One of the great things about Etsy is there is a place for every seller here, and buyers enough for every art and craft that is listed.
And, if you don't have confidence and passion about what you are selling, then you shouldn't be selling it.
What we do critique: The SASsy Critique forum is really for critiquing the "nuts and bolts" of your shop. We are focused on your photos, titles, tags and content, Etsy policies and so on.
PROMOTING AND MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS
OK, I've set up my shop, it's optimized for search engines, my photos are good, and I've filled my shop with inventory. I'm still not getting the views and sales I think I should. What can I do?
At this point, most Etsy sellers find they need to promote and market their businesses outside of Etsy.
Is it really necessary for me to promote and market my shop outside of Etsy?
You get exactly what you put in to marketing. If you are satisfied with a part time business, or occasional sales, it may not be necessary to promote your shop. You may be able to join an Etsy team or two, make some treasuries and be satisfied with your results.
However, if you dream of being one of those "quit your day job" sellers, then you will need to put to get together a business plan that includes promotion and marketing. If you’re going to have a successful shop it’s likely that you’re going to have to put some serious time into promoting it. Take the time to figure out ways to promote such as social networking sites and decide which will work best for your business and your schedule.
Here are some suggestions on places or ways you can promote your shop:
Forums (on and off Etsy)
In Person Craft Fairs/Shows
Recommend Articles on Promoting/Marketing:
- Trends: Promoting through the Sampler: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2008/trends-promoting-through-the-sampler/
- Places to promote: http://tinyurl.com/crj8ya
- The Shy Girls Guide to promotion: http://bit.ly/lM4lhs
- Promoting Your Etsy Shop: http://team.etsy.com/downloads/tips.html
- 50 Places to Promote or Advertise your Etsy Shop: http://www.createapendant.com/sitepromote.htm
- Promoting Your Etsy Shop, Contest Alternatives: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2008/promoting-your-etsy-shop-contest-alternatives/
- How to Promote your Etsy Shop on Facebook: http://www.eleen.com/2009/01/promote-your-etsy-shop-on-facebook/
- How to Use Twitter for Promotion: http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/
- Advertising your Etsy Shop: http://www.everythingetsy.com/2009/05/use-advertising-to-promote-your-etsy-shop/
OTHER IMPORTANT INFO and COMMON MISTAKES
2) Customer Service: Work hard on building a good customer service plan for your business. Remember that good and clear communication is so important. Always take the time to acknowledge a customer's purchase by sending a quick email or convo - thanking them, and letting them know when their item will ship. Always send a thank you note in with the item shipped. It takes 2 seconds to say a simple thank you on a small note card - but it means the world to a customer. It lets them know how much you appreciate that they spent their money in your shop. People choose to shop at Etsy because they value handmade and the personal connection with an artist.
An article on Exceptional Customer Service
Customer Service Tips: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2008/service-tips-for-sellers-the-buyers-perspective/
Etsy's DOs and DON'Ts: http://www.etsy.com/help/article/483
How to Contact Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/help/article/486
A beginners guide to starting a shop on etsy: http://tinyurl.com/4rk87e
Etsy Sellers Handbook: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2011/the-etsy-seller-handbook-all-our-how-tos-about-selling/
Disclaimer: The advice given in this Checklist and on the SASsy Team blog are opinions and advice from experienced Etsy Mentors of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Team. We do not work for Etsy.com, and nor do we speak for Etsy.com.