Thursday, April 16, 2009

So you want A Shop Critique!

Everyone wants an individual shop critique, but there are a few basic things that will apply to almost every shop. Here is my list of the main things to consider.

1) Banner and Avatar - do they relate to your products in some way? Is the text clear and easy to read? Your avatar can be used very effectively as part of your ‘brand’, so select it wisely. I’ve kept the same avatar as long as I’ve been online.. people recognize me by my avatar. Others like to change theirs on a regular basis. There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do it. You just have to do what works best for you. I personally like to see an avatar that reflects in some way the product(s) that you sell, but that is my personal opinion.

2) Shop Title - This appears directly below your banner and is updated in the ‘appearance’(insert link here) section of Your Etsy. The shop title is also known as your ‘tag line’. Use it effectively but keep it short.

3) Shop announcement - Please don’t tell me your life history here.. I don’t want to know. I do like to see a short (few lines ) about your shop and any current ‘specials’ you may have. Also, be absolutely sure that any links that are on your shop announcement are not broken. And be aware that if you do have an active link here that I just may follow it and get distracted elsewhere. Don’t tell me about every team that you belong to here... unless you don’t want me to look at your product.

4) Featured Items - A great place to show off your different styles of work. Use items from your earlier pages (people can already see what’s on your first page). A variety of items and prices is always nice. Remember, that when people ‘heart’ your shop, these three items are their reminder! Keep them fresh.

5) Profile - Tell me about yourself. How did you get started in your art form, what inspires you, etc.

6) Shop Policies - This is one of the most overlooked sections by Etsians and is by far (in my opinion) the most important. Having good shop policies in place can help to avoid situations down the road. It is strongly recommended that every shop have policies in place for payment , shipping and returns/exchanges.

7) Location - Another very useful piece of information. Etsy is an international site, so please list your town (or the nearest larger town) , your state, and your country. I’ve been to Paris but not to France, I love Melbourne but I’ve never been to Australia. Sydney is a beautiful stop in Nova Scotia (Canada) . By putting your complete information in your location it makes it much easier for others to use the ‘geolocator’ to find you! And you are looking to be found are you not?

8) Shop Sections - Shop sections are a great way to organize your shop. Use them to your advantage! You have complete freedom to choose how you want your sections to be set up so have some fun!

9) Photos - everyone wants a critique of their photos. Make sure that the photo is clear and crisp, and use as many photos as you can of the item. Inside, outside, upside down, you get the idea. Unless you are selling a rug, please don’t put your item on the floor. Natural light is best, and avoid a cluttered background. If you are unsure of a particular photo, have someone look at it and tell you what caught their eye in it. If its not the item for sale, its not a good photo.

10) Tags - One of the most misused and abused features (in my opinion) on Etsy. When selecting tags, try to pick words that you would use to describe the item to someone who cannot see it. IE paint a visual picture. Don’t forget to include the colour! Please make sure that the tags are relevant though. Everything can be a gift, so ‘gift’ is not a relevant tag. ‘Stocking Stuffer’ is a tag that gets used during the holidays. As soon as someone can define accurately exactly what a ‘stocking stuffer’ is then it will be able to be used. But until then let’s just leave it off.

11) Materials - This is one of the most overlooked sections in a listing. Be as detailed as you can in your materials listing. There are 13 tags available for materials so don’t be afraid! Also, people can search by material so keep that in mind..

12) Feedback - Some sellers are concerned because they don’t have any feedback. Personally I enjoy buying from an ‘undiscovered’ shop. However, if you are concerned about not having any feedback, I strongly suggest that you make a small purchase from a fellow Etsian. Besides the feedback, you will also get to experience the thrill of making a purchase (and the steps involved).

Other places for information:

There are some absolutely wonderful reference sites right on Etsy. All are accessible from the ‘help’ tab at the top of any Etsy page.

Etsy Help Guides

Frequently Asked Questions (about selling):

Etsy Do’s and Don’ts - learn what you can and cannot do

Terms of Use (TOU) - the basic rules for using Etsy

And of course, there is the Storque, Etsy’s mega blog. I think that just about every topic on Etsy is covered at least once in the Storque!

Please note that the opinions expressed here are the opinions of the writer and are NOT necessarily the opinions of Etsy.

About the author: Valerie has been a member of team SASsy since the beginning, you can check out her shop here and her blog is full of useful tips


Unni Strand said...

Very good article. Clearly and informative. Thank you!

Glorious Hats said...

Another fine article. Things most Etsy sellers probably know, but somehow, always need to hear again. We really do need to be able to self critique our shops. Though sometimes one gets too close and sees what is in their mind and intent rather than what actually is there. Just hired my 28 yo nephew to work with me on banners and avatars, not an Etsyian - and it was so helpful to get his fresh viewpoint and comments.

Valerie, your article is so well organized and concise, it helps me feel I am on the right track and to keep moving forward.

Thanks so much. Jane

cindy said...

Wow, thanks. I went through my shop line and line and while I have followed most of your guidelines there were a few things that were new to me (like the whole featured thing). Good to know. Thanks again for a great article.


Denise said...

Thank you! You gave me some great ideas and now I need to start my homework! I am printing out your list as I type this.