Thursday, September 11, 2014

E is for an ETSY PRESENCE!!

With all of the changes that Etsy has made to its platform in the last year or so, especially allowing the sale of mass produced items on the site, exposure and visibility seem all the more important to us little guys who continue to make and sell hand made goods.  What can one do to stand out a little bit in an over saturated jewelry market on Etsy? Trust me, I know it is easy to feel over-whelmed and like you are a tiny fish in a humongous ocean of competition, but with a little hard work and some serious focus there are things one can do to shrink that ocean down to a lake. I have no doubt you have heard all of these things before, but if you are really serious about your Etsy store, then it won't hurt to have another listen.


We covet what we see!! Should I repeat this? WE COVET WHAT WE SEE! Always keep this little saying in mind when you are taking your photographs to post online in your Etsy store or other venue. Selling online comes with its own special challenges. Remember, you aren't a brick and mortar store where someone is able to walk in off the street and  handle your item to see all of its wonderfulness up close and personal like. It's imperative that your photos are as clear, concise and enticing as possible. Selling online is an art in and of itself, and it begins with great photos!  Etsy gives you (5)Five photo slots per listing. Use all five of them to your advantage to provide your customers with as many views and dimensions of your product as you can. Use the macro or close up setting on your camera and don't be afraid of cropping your photos and learning how to get a very close up view of your item. Let your photos make a statement so that  your customers want to reach out and touch your products. Pay attention to the  lighting and shadows in your photos and keep your backgrounds on the light side. White is usually best, but not in all cases.

You want your customers to be able to see as much detail as possible and try to answer any questions they might have with your photos. For example, maybe you are listing a necklace. Of course, you would do a frontal shot of the necklace but perhaps the customer wonders what kind of clasp it might have. While you may put that info in the description,  many customers don't take the time to read descriptions unless they are searching for a particular piece of information, so it helps to take a photo of special elements such as that. Especially, if the necklace in question has a specialty clasp on it and would  be better served with  a visual presentation,  rather than just a few words. Use your imagination when it comes to photos and asking yourself the kinds of things your customers would like to see, and then answer in kind with relevant photos. Remember-- Your photos are the first impressions your customers will have of your shop and business.

2. Unity and Branding

What is unity and branding? Well, its just what it sounds like. Its something that binds your photos and items together and separates you from the crowd. For example: I have one friend who uses a gray marble slab as the backdrop/background for all of her photos. I would know a photo that she has taken anywhere because of this one thing. It is branding and unity all in one step. You can accomplish this through the use of lighting, a background, or even a prop that you use in each and every photo.  Another shop I am aware of on Etsy that sells jewelry uses an old vintage photo of a woman superimposed underneath all of her jewelry pieces. This is a bit more dramatic, but it accomplishes the same purpose. Its just that little something extra that lets her customers know... this photo came from her store and shop. I sell tutorials in my Etsy shop, Lady Abeada Designs and one of the tools I use to brand my photos is a white and gold banner that says tutorial draped diagonally over the left corner of my photo.
Get creative and let your light shine through.... but don't stop with your photos. Continue to define yourself throughout your store via your policies, your profile, and your item descriptions.  Tell your own personal story through all of these threads in your Etsy store. Remember, you are introducing yourself to someone that isn't able to shake your hand in person, so its tantamount that you do everything you can to make a lasting impression on your potential customers.

3. Search Engine Optimazation

 Three little words that have such a huge impact upon our online life and success!
You won't get found without it, so get ready to dive in and get your feet wet!!  One of the first things you will need to do is to determine what your keywords are for your store and for your listings. Well, how, you might ask? Simple.... you can use Google Keyword Tool, or you can use the stat section in your store to see the keywords that Etsy customers are using to search for your items.  Once you have identified 8- 1o of the most prominent keywords, you will want to weave these same words in all of your text, including but not limited to your item titles and item descriptions. Every possibility for text needs to be filled with your keywords... most importantly, your shop title!! Remember this is google's first impression of you... so make it a good one!

4. Relevancy

Since Etsy has changed their search platform from Regency to Relevancy, keywords in titles and descriptions have taken on new importance. It used to be that the more creative titles such as Red Rose Blossom Earrings would get you to the top of the list... but today its your keywords that will do the trick for you. Now your title might read something like this: Peyote Floral Beaded Red Earrings. Pretend you are a customer searching for your product. What terms or keywords would you type into the search box to find your item? These are the words your titles and descriptions should begin with. Remember tho, Google only looks at the first three or four so make them count. Be sure you remember to add these words to your tags as well, while Etsy doesn't use the tags to rank you, Google definitely does and you want your reach to be as wide and as far as possible!

5. Cross Promotion

This is your story! Tell it and tell it well! Tell it using all the Social Media platforms that you have available to you. Do you have a blog? If not,  maybe you should consider having one as an option. Use it to promote and link back to  your items and special events and sales that you have in your Etsy store or other appropriately related items.
Do you spend a fair amount of time on Facebook and Twitter? How about a Facebook Fan Page? Both of these are great venues for showing newly listed items and making all of your contacts aware of sales etc, and don't forget about Pinterest and Instagram!! The more of an online presence you have and can create the mote people will see you as legitimate and real and someone they want to know and trust. All of these changes take time and hard work, but the payoff can be substantial! Give it a try and see what happens. Do you have any suggestions or tips to share that have helped you to create a strong and successful Etsy presence??

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

D is for DIY Recovery!

Some time ago I was introduced to a wonderful book and creative tool, called the Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. Basically, the book is a DIY course in discovering and recovering one's creative self.
 The two basic tools that Miss Cameron teaches us to make use of is "The Morning Pages" and "The Artist's Date". What exactly are the Morning Pages and the Artist's Date?
The morning pages are three pages of long hand written material that you are asked to do each and every day.... better known in the book as "brain drain", and it's just what it sounds like. Three pages of writing down whatever comes to mind until you have filled three pages worth. Unless you are someone that really likes to write, cultivating the habit to write the morning pages every day may be a bit difficult at first.  But once you do.... its worth its weight in gold.You will be amazed at the things that will come spilling forth from your brain on to your pages.
.... And the Artist's Dates? This for me is the fun stuff! Once a week you plan and take your inner Artist(yourself) on a play date and you don't share the experience with anyone else. Its meant to stimulate and cultivate your creativity by exposing you to new and different experiences, and reminding you of the things you really love and covet. Excursions and experiences can be as simple as coloring or doodling in a color book, taking a lengthy nature walk,  or taking yourself to a museum or exploring some experience that you have always wanted to, but for whatever reason never have given yourself the permission to do so before. There really are no limits to the possibilities for Artist's Dates.
This wonderful book also covers several important topics such as synchronicity, jealousy, criticism and integrity, just to mention a few. It explores the different avenues  in which we, as artists, find to  block ourselves creatively and it gives us tools and exercises with with to overcome these blocks and prevent us from becoming our own worst enemies.
If you have never read this wonderful book, you definitely should. Its well worth the time and effort to re-discover your creative self!!