Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Vintage Postage stamps by

It can't be time to start thinking about holiday shipping already? 

Here are some helpful links to some of our favorite shipping companies with deadlines for making your shipping adventures a little more stress free this holiday season:

USPS Shipping Deadlines
Fed Ex Shipping Deadlines
UPS Shipping Deadlines
DHL Shipping alerts

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to: Getting Started in the SASsy Critiques Forum

Every day we have a few new Etsy sellers apply to the SASsy Critiques team.  With all of these new users, we thought it might be helpful to write a little guide to the SASsy Critiques forum.

Who can join?
Anyone can apply to be a part of the team, but you have a little homework to do. First you need to read the Shop Critique Checklist, which is located right here.   Why?  This checklist answers many of the questions that new sellers have and it has lots of links to great information for the most frequently asked questions.  By going through the checklist, you might be able to answer many of your questions on your own.  After you have read the checklist, come back and apply to the team.

We also encourage all of the SASsy Mentors to be a part of the Critiques team.  These mentors are there to participate in the discussions as a voice of experience.  They should identify themselves as a "SASsy Mentor" in their comment, so you will know who they are.

How do you participate? 
Post a question.  
Once you have been accepted to the team, you can start a new thread with your question by clicking the "Create Thread" link at the top of the discussion list. Be sure you are asking a specific question like "I would like some help with my titles.  I don't think they are helping me get many views." or "Please critique my photos, I don't know if the background color is working for my items"

We cannot do a full shop critique, as it says in the forum guidelines.  If you post a question like "Please look at my shop and tell me what I am doing wrong.", we will probably ask for you to narrow it down and be more specific.

Be a part of the discussion.
Everyone is encouraged to be a part of the discussion to answer a question.  If you know the answer or have an opinion, please chime in.

What are the rules of the forum?
They are pretty simple.  First, please be respectful.  The forum is about helping each other and being constructive in your comments.

We won't critique your prices or your art technique.  Only the seller can know what is an appropriate price for an item based on costs, overhead and desired profit.

Your questions have to be about your shop.  We can't help you with critiques of Treasuries, Facebook pages, blogs etc.

No "critique me and I will critique you" games or promotional threads, please.

And you need to abide by Etsy's Terms of Use:

What if I want to talk to a mentor one-on-one and not have a discussion in the forum?
That's great!  That's why we have our Mentors List.  Sometimes you have a question about a difficult situation with a customer or you just want a little more personal conversation.  Look at the list, choose a mentor who specializes in the topic you are looking for and send them a "conversation". 

You don't need to be a member of any team or forum to contact one of our mentors.  If you have a question, please ask!

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Etsy Feature: Browse Pages

Earlier this week Etsy introduced new “browse pages” which have taken the spot of the Discover pages & the listing categories on the Etsy home page. 

You can read the announcements here:
& there is a basic help file here on how it all works:
Despite the admin announcements, there are still a lot of questions, & a lot of confused sellers. Here are some basic pointers that address some of the most common concerns:

How are those Browse pages created? How do I show up there?
To fill the browsing pages, Etsy does many smaller searches for related words, & then combines them & sorts the listings by relevancy.
“our system looks across the entire marketplace for items that are relevant to the themes of the particular browse section, and then it displays those items sorted by relevancy.”
For example, for the browsing page Jewelry -> Earrings -> Eco Friendly
Etsy does smaller searches including "eco friendly" & “upcycled”, then combines the results. This is why the browsing pages looks very different than if you searched “eco friendly earrings” – they contain different searches, & the browse page does not need to match the exact phrase as the relevancy search does. Some of the listings do not even have the words “eco friendly” anywhere, but they do have words that fit the “eco friendly” theme. 

Listing Categories & Browse Categories are different.
A lot of people are upset that the browsing pages do not match the listing categories, but that should not affect your placement, since the listing categories have little impact on where you show up in the browsing pages. So I can list a new necklace in Geekery -> Science -> Jewelry & it could show up on the browsing page for Jewelry -> Men -> Necklace, since it has the words “men” & ”necklace” in the title. It doesn’t matter that the categories we use to list new items do not include “men” under Jewelry; the most important part is that you tag & title using the words Etsy is using to search to fill that browsing page. (Unfortunately, Etsy is not going to tell you what those words are, so you will need to look through the pages & figure each one out for yourself. But if you tag & title using a diversity of strong keywords, you should eventually show up in these pages)

Playing favorites?
There have been a lot of complaints that too many listings from the same shops are showing up, & Etsy appears to be looking into that. They have also already made a few changes to which browse page some items show up on. It will likely take a few weeks for this to be ironed out, & expect it to change periodically, just as the relevancy search does. 

Recency still matters & shoppers behaviour influences the ranking.
Just like the regular relevancy search on Etsy, ranking on the browsing pages gives some weight to the most recently listed items, as well as to “aggregate shopping and browsing behaviour”. This means that what people do with your listing when they see it on Etsy matters to your ranking. 

I hope this clears up some questions! Please ask more in the comments if you have them. 
Guest Post by Cindy, SASsy Team Co-Captain

Monday, October 1, 2012

News you might have missed

 Seller Protection, Google Ads and Wholesale:  Etsy has made some pretty big announcements lately.  Just in case you have been busy and missed the big news

"Etsy’s new, comprehensive Seller Protection Program will ensure that our members have a safe and smooth experience buying and selling on Etsy. " 

"Google Product Search will soon be moving towards a paid-only model, but fret not — we’ve got your back."

"We’ll soon be launching Etsy Wholesale — a place for vendors and retailers to connect and discover unique products."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Words of Wisdom Series: What Camera Do I get?

Raspberry Necklace by inedible jewelry

In this series, we ask the SASsy Mentors for their "words of wisdom" about a specific topic.  This month, we asked Emma from benconservato, Jenny from thepaintedlily, Lauren of sugartreecreek, Ilze of ilzesmemories, Jessica of inediblejewelry and Becka of beckarahn this question:   
What camera do you have and what is the best/worst feature about it?

Our panel was in agreement on several recommendations:
  • New or old doesn't matter.  What is important is knowing your camera and learning how it works to get the results you want.
  • Manual settings including the ability to select ISO, adjust white balance, shutter speed and aperture give you lots more flexibility for different lighting situations.
  • Sometimes it is more about the light than the camera.  Making sure that you have bright, even illumination is going to help your photos look great.  Many recommend using natural light, but you can also get great results by using other light sources combined with the right camera settings.
Becka, Emma and Jenny are all fans of the Canon Powershot G Series, both older and newer models. (Becka has a G9 and G12, Emma has the G10.) The color/white balance is great.  The PowerShots have lots of settings you can adjust (ISO, white balance) and many features (that you usually only find in a DSLR) in a point-and-shoot style body.  Macro mode is excellent.  The G12 model has auto-detect for macro shots so you don't need to switch the modes back and forth.

Jenny's tip: It's nice to be able to have a smaller camera sometimes to shoot things when I only have one hand available. I model my own rings for the shop and it's great to have a nice, light camera to shoot those with.

Lauren recommends the Canon Rebel 3i and Canon 5D but has this to say about getting a DSLR:  I use a Canon 5D, because I am also a professional photographer. I set it on manual, meter the light and use the macro lens. But don't think you need an expensive camera for a good picture of your craft. These cameras have lots of settings which means lots of knowledge about your camera.

Panasonic DMC-TZ3 Lumix with the Leica lens.  Emma says:  It has good and bad points. Sometimes it adjusts the light in a way you don't want it to - it looks fine on the screen, and the shot is then dark or blue in tint or very yellow... annoying. I usually have to slightly adjust the photos in PhotoShop anyway. I am not the only person I have spoken to who has light issues with this camera.

Jenny says: I currently use a Nikon D80 that I've had for a few years. I love that it's easy to shoot with and that it works so well with natural light. I shoot on a tripod with side light from a window and I never use a flash. I shoot on my macro setting to be able to get great details and super close ups. 

Ilze says: I shoot with Nikon D300 for 3 years now, and I really love it. There have been few generations that already have followed with improved and added features, but my D300 has great shutter speed, minimal noise, and variety of lenses available. I use it in my photography business as well as my etsy business.

Jessica says: I use a 12 year old Olympus; I'm not sure of the model. It was a decent, mid to high end camera the late 90s. I am looking to upgrade, primarily because I've reached the technical limits of my camera and the photos need to be more high-res in the future.  My favorite aspect of the camera (and a feature I can't recommend strongly enough!) is that it's super easy to manually set the white balance. I just snap a photo of a piece of white card stock, then hit a button to let my camera know that's white in my current light condition. My camera then automatically corrects for my lighting, which means my colors come out very true to life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

More on thinking about your Customers

If that last post got you thinking about your potential customers, this one will definitely give you some more to think about, especially if you make patterns or kits.  Check out what stuffed toy artist and blogger Abby Glassenberg has to say about the idea that "Each new customer is looking at listings with something unique in mind."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guest Post: How to Find More Paying Customers for Your Handmade Shop

I’m Lisa Jacobs of Marketing Creativity, where I help handmade sellers build their creative businesses into the career of their dreams. I’m so excited to be here today, and I’ve been a proud member of Team SASsy for some time now.

I appreciate your attitude and willingness to learn. Simply being readers of this blog and followers of this team shows your dedication to the creative businesses you’re trying to build. Your effort alone is something to be proud of, and I ask that you never forget:

Somebody is out there, right now, just waiting to pay you to do what you love to do.
As handmade artists, you offer a unique value: you provide your customers that special feeling only an item made from passion can produce. Artists and crafters love what they do so much that they often cringe at the idea of targeted marketing. In fact, the notion of cold-selling what’s been made with a warm heart makes many creatives downright uncomfortable.
However, targeted marketing simply means finding the customers who desire your work, and it's time to show the world what you've got to offer. So, how do you find your paying customers?
In the handmade community, we often count fans, sales, followers, and favorites, but the number that adds to your bottom line, the audience who will truly help you fund your passion is composed of paying customers. They will help your business grow, your talents expand, and your skills improve. This audience is composed of the people who “get you” and they want what you’ve got to offer. These are “your people.”
How to Find "Your People."
If your product is for everybody, it’s for nobody, because nothing is for everybody. Realize that your product isn’t for everyone; it’s for a select few who share your taste, and have an eye for your art and a love for quality handmade. If you could tell the whole world about your product right now, and then separate the interested buyers from the rest of the population, you could never keep up with the demand from that interested sea of paying customers … not by yourself, anyway.
In order to find “your people,” you have to identify them first. Do this by narrowing it down to one person: the ultimate fan of your art. Now, about that person:
  • Is she single or married?
  • Does she have children?
  • Does she exercise, and if so, what's her preferred method?
  • Is she conventional or quirky?
  • Which magazines does she subscribe to?
  • What are her favorite television shows?
  • Who are her role models?
  • What hobbies does she have? Is she a crafter or artist too?
  • What does she dream of doing/seeing/being one day?
  • How do (or will) your products make her feel?
There are many benefits to answering these types of questions about your target audience. Identifying this person will help you generate a whole list of ideas on where she might be hanging out (and how you can approach her). It will help you determine your niche market, because your niche market is the sea of people doing much of the same. 
Building Your Creative Business: Free Webinar
I’m doing a free webinar, exclusively for readers and members of Team SASsy on Building Your Creative Business. On Wednesday, September 5 at 7PM (EST), I’ll be discussing how to improve your shop, gain exposure, and find more paying customers for your creative business. 
It’s one jam-packed hour of brainstorming, networking, and live Q&A. Your seat is free, but spaces are limited. To reserve your spot, please click here and complete the sign-up form.
Thank you! 

I want to thank the members of Team SASsy for all that you do! Thank you, Becka, for writing and maintaining this fabulous blog. Please keep up the good work! I wish you continued success and all the best.
Lisa Jacobs writes Marketing Creativity for fellow creative spirits who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She leads group webinar programs and offers one-on-one coaching designed to help you get paid to be ... you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Polish Your Photos Series: Quick Tip #5 Know When to Say No

Another great photography skill you can learn is knowing when to just throw away a photo and move on. So often I hear people say "I will just Photoshop it," with the confidence that Photoshop can fix every problem.  Sometimes that just isn't the case.

Here are some examples of "No Photoshop Fix" photos, with ideas of what you might do when you re-shoot the photo to correct the problem.

Problem 1: Focus
There is no amount of sharpening that can fix something that is blurry.  Even if your photo looks ok as a thumbnail, when the customer clicks and it is one big blur, that is probably not going to result in a sale.  For the top photo, there is great sharp focus in the center and blur around the edges.  This is your camera creating a tiny depth of field.  Sometimes it can be an amazing artistic effect (think macro shots of a single flower bud with a soft fuzzy background), but not always what you are going for. 

Problem 1 Re-Shoot Fixes:
For the top photo, the way to get everything sharp and in focus is to add more light.  Adding a brighter lamp or waiting for a sunnier day will get more light in the camera, increase the depth of field and make everything in focus.

For the bottom photo, the easiest fix is probably to turn on the camera's macro mode.  This ball of yarn is so close to the camera that it is having trouble finding the focus.  Macro mode (tulip icon) will help the camera focus really close and get a great detail of the yarn.

Problem 2: Over Exposed and Under Exposed
These are also two related but opposite problems.  In the top photo, there is a big reflection (too much light) on the glass and in the bottom, the whole photo is really dark.  You can do a little Photoshopping on these, but the problem is that in the very brightest brights and darkest darks, the camera didn't capture all of the data.  It just saw that big white blob as 100% white and not as 100 shades of something else.  So there are no colors left to tweak and try to adjust, just white.

Problem 2 Re-Shoot Fixes:
For the top overexposed photo, the key is to make that reflection go away.  A light box to soften and diffuse the bright glare might help.  Sometimes positioning yourself at a different angle will let you not see a reflection.  You can also try using a bright white piece of paper to reflect light back at your piece instead of pointing a lamp right at it.  Point the lamp at the paper instead.

For the underexposed photo, adding more light is going to be a big help.  If you have some manual settings on your camera, it will also help to open up the aperture to allow more light in.  Aperture is adjusted by choosing a smaller f-stop.   (Smaller numbers = more light)  Want to learn more?  Read this article.

Problem 3: Too Many Light Sources
Believe it or not, the photo above is a yellow ball of thread on a white background.  The background has acquired a lovely gradient caused by the light sources I used to take the photo: a very yellow tinted incandescent lamp (top right) and a blue tinted light from the kitchen window (lower left).

Problem 3 Re-shoot Fixes:
One or the other of these color shifts is pretty easy to fix (see this article), but fixing both problems in the same photo is really difficult to keep your item looking the color it is supposed to be.  The solution is to try to use one kind of light source.  Switch to all lamps/lights (make sure they all have the same kind of bulbs), find a brighter window or take it outside.

What are your photo problems? 
Please add your questions in the comments and we will try to address them in future blog posts!
-- Becka, SASsy Team Co-Captain

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why does that t-shirt cost $75?

A really great "food for thought" article by a handmade clothing designer about thinking through what really goes in to making her work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Updates and things you might have missed

Etsy has made a few updates in the last little while.  Here are a couple of items just in case you have been busy with summer barbecues (at least in the northern hemisphere.)
  • Updates to the prohibited items list including tobacco, hazardous materials, motor vehicles and human remains.  What a list!  Etsy has clarified and added to some of the items that are prohibited in these categories and more. (August 8)
  • (Aug 15) "We just launched a prototype that aims to make creating treasuries much faster and simpler by letting you to add an item to a treasury directly from a listing page."  Learn more by visiting this link:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shipping Labels are now built in!

The ability to print your own shipping labels is being rolled out to Etsy shops that have signed up for Direct Checkout.  The cost for the labels will be rolled in to your monthly bill.  Read all the details they have announced here:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Craft Shows Flop

A nice commentary from a seasoned seller.  Sometimes craft shows don't live up to expectations and things that were hot last year are a flop this year.  Here are some ideas for helping get past the disappointment.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Words of Wisdom Series: 5 Minute Marketing Tips

In this series, we ask the SASsy Mentors for their "words of wisdom" about a specific topic.  This month, we asked Bob from BirchCreekLeather, CrochetGal and Lisa from EnergyShop for quick tips about marketing your shop and things you can do in just a few minutes a day.
  • Go offline. Being involved with your local artisan guild does have its benefits as a great place to discuss the business of running your own business as well as exchanging ideas, venues and potential customers. Many people think that because their business has an online platform that everything must be done online and they forget about some of the 'old fashioned' methods.
  • Friends and family don't have to be buyers but if they are aware of what you are doing, you will find that word of mouth advertizing can go a long way.  Give them a few of your business cards to carry around too!

  • With just a few minutes a day, you can grow and build a Pinterest board that represents what your shop is about. This can include inspiration, products, customer appreciation, and quotes. Lisa hosts bi-monthly "Repin-It-To-Win-It" contests on her board, featuring some of her most popular products. The customers love this, it grows the popularity of the board and helps promote those items. Here's an example:
  •  Make sure your shop url is in your email signature and signatures in other forum posts, ie. "Visit my shop at <url>".  (Make sure that the forum you are posting in allows ads.) Make your posts thoughtful and engaged with the topic (not self promotion) and people will want to learn more about who you are and what you do.
  • Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogging about your shop 24/7 is not effective. Each of these venues should have a minimum of 75% interesting related content and less than 25% shop promotion in order to hold people's attention.  No one wants to watch a TV channel that is 100% commercials.  Draw people in with really compelling information and you will keep them around to see what you are promoting. (What is interesting related content?  Try things like tutorials, behind the scenes photos, news or articles about your media or field, "how it's made", the ancient art form vs modern and so on.)
  • Wear it, use it, live it.  If you are using your soap, wearing your jewelry or carrying one of your handbags you have an easy way to start a conversation about what you do and show your passion about it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hey, Look! There's a new About Page for your Shop

I just logged in to my shop today and discovered there is a new "About" page.  What a nice surprise!  You can read what Etsy has to say about it here in today's announcement.

The About page includes:
  • an image of the shop owner and members of the shop (note: this is cropped to be a circle, so be sure to pick an image that has focus in the center)
  • a short bio
  • your shop "story" of how you got started and what you are all about
  • 5 images
  • ability to add links to Facebook, Twitter, other blog and websites
To add your new About page info, go to the "Info & Appearance" tab on the "Your Shop" page.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

News to Note: Weddings & Revised Fees

In case you haven't kept up with all of the latest news, here are a few highlights of some new things happening at Etsy.
  • Wedding Registry lists are now available!  You can check it out here at Wedding Registry and read all about how it works at the Seller's Handbook. Once a member has created a registry, they will see the “Add to Registry” button below “Add to Cart” across Etsy, allowing them to add any item from the Etsy marketplace.
  • Starting this week, there is a change to the listing fee for multiples of an item.  Now, sellers will only be charged $0.20 to list or renew an item, regardless of quantity.  For example, if you have listed a new item and you have 3 of them to sell, you will be charged $.20 when you list those 3.  Then it works like an auto-renew feature — when your item sells and you still have 2 left, your listing automatically renews for $0.20 and updates to say you have 2 available. If your listing sells out, the total fees are effectively the same. You can read more about the details here.
  • "Showcase" style advertising will be phased out starting May 29.  Etsy has learned that Search Ads seem to have better performance for sellers than Showcase spots, nearly three times more sales per click, so they have decided to discontinue the Showcase.
  • Etsy vocabulary is also getting more colourful and flavourful as they integrate British English spellings of words into the search engine mechanics.  So now if a buyer searches for "jewellery" or "jewelry", "colorful" or "colourful", all versions should work for buyers without you needing to tag your items with alternate spellings.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Words of Wisdom Series: Shipping Tips

In this new series, we ask the SASsy Mentors for their "words of wisdom" about a specific topic.  This month, we asked Celeste from CricketsCreations and Jessie from Modified for quick tips about shipping: time saving ideas or things they wished they knew when they were first starting out.

  • Buy your shipping supplies in bulk. Even though it may seem like 200 or 500 bubble envelopes is too many, they can be SO much cheaper this way in the long run.  Also, mailing an envelope is often less expensive and has shorter transit time than using a box.  Try the biodegradable, eco-friendly and recycled products in all different sizes offered by EcoEnclose.
  • Put your return address on a few dozen envelopes when you have a little bit of down time. This task may seem like it doesn't take much, but it will definitely save you time in the long run.  You could also get a return address stamp made, like these cute ones from lettergirl.
  • When establishing the cost for shipping, don't underestimate the actual costs. Keep in mind the cost of boxes, labels, envelopes, tape and any other supplies. It's important to make sure you're not losing money on shipping!
  • Shoppers love getting free or discounted shipping, even if you make the money back by charging a bit more for your actual items. Especially popular are, "The more you buy, the more you save," opportunities, such as combined shipping where additional items cost less or nothing to ship after the customer pays full shipping on the first item.   (Combined shipping is easy to set up in your shop!)
  • Afraid of losing money on international postage? One strategy is to charge the highest amount to "Everywhere Else" to make sure that you're covered, then you can refund any shipping overages back to the customer. An example of a country that's more expensive to ship to from the US is Australia, so you could base your "everywhere else" rates on USPS estimated Australia prices.  Make note of this in your shop policies.
  • For small lightweight items, invest in a small postal scale of your own.  You can weigh your packaged items at home; check the rate at; add postage stamps (which you can get in many denominations) and drop them in a drive through mailbox, skipping the trip to the post office.
  • Make yourself a "shipping station" with all of your supplies in one place so you don't have to spend 10 minutes trying to figure out where you put the tape.  This also helps you see when you are getting low on envelopes and other supplies at a glance so you can stock up before your busy seasons.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Polish Your Photos Series: Quick Tip #4 Macro Mode

Sometimes the way to fix your photos isn't with Photoshop, but the trick is to change a setting on your camera so that it is taking the right kinds of photos.  It is really important to have close up detail images of the work that you are trying to sell in your Etsy shop.  I often see that those close up shots are blurry and completely out of focus, but that can be easy to fix!

Take a look at the buttons on the back of your camera and see if you can find a picture of a tulip.
This tulip is the icon for "Macro Mode".  When I push that button on my camera, it lets me switch between regular and macro mode.

Try switching modes and taking your close up photos in "macro mode".  Macro mode tells the camera that you are trying to take a close up shot of something and it re-adjusts the way it focuses.  Here are a couple of examples.  These are basically exactly the same photo (same lighting, same distance, same camera settings) except one is in regular mode (left) and one is set to macro mode (right).  (Oops!  You can even see the dog hair in macro mode.)

Not every camera is going to have a macro mode, but it is a very common feature.  Sometimes you will find the tulip icon on a button or dial on the back or top of the camera.  Sometimes you might need to dig through the menus to find it.  If in doubt, check your owners manual.

After a brief hiatus, the Polish your Photos Series is back! Click here to see the rest of the series.  About the author: Becka is a geek for fiber art and technology.  She is the co-Captain of the SASsy mentors team.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ways to Connect with Customers: QR Codes

Hello!  I am a QR Code.

You have probably started seeing these little codes popping up everywhere lately: on products, flyers, advertisements.  But what are they for?  QR stands for "quick response" code.  It is a kind of bar code that can be read by lots of devices like smart phones.  (You do need to have a QR reader app on your phone in order to read QR codes, but there are lots of free ones that are easy to download.  Just search for "QR reader".)

The way it works is that you scan the code with your device and it can do all kinds of things, like take you to a website or send you a coupon code. You can even do things a little outside of the box.  For a gallery exhibition, I created a piece of embroidered art that had the QR code as part of the design.  If you scanned the embroidered piece itself, the QR code would send you to a blog page that was a journal documenting the piece, showing all the steps of making and embroidering it.

Some ways you might want to use QR codes:  The QR code above links you to my etsy shop.  The one below brings up a message that gives you an example of free shipping coupon code.  I can save these QR images and print them on my business cards, put stickers on my packaging, or print them on flyers or postcards that I hand out.  You could even go crazy and print one as a door magnet on your car or wear it as a brooch - anywhere you think someone might scan it.

It is easy to get QR codes for yourself! Visit  (This is just one example, there are other sites that will also generate them.)  Type in the information you would like the code to link to. Save the image and you are ready to go. (Click to see image larger)

The example above goes just to my main shop, but you could also make codes that link directly to a specific section or even a single item by grabbing that URL and making a code from that.  You could link to your Facebook Page or the form to sign up for your mailing list.  It's a quick way to get someone directly to your information without having to remember and type in a long complicated URL.  Here's a great link for more ideas on how you can use QR codes:

Author: Becka Rahn is a fiber artist and co-Captain of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Mentoring Team.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Policy Change: SASsy Critiques Forum

Because of the huge number of requests we have been receiving, the SASsy Critiques forum is no longer able to offer full critiques.  The time commitment for doing full critiques is more than our team can sustain and so we need to revise the rules of the critiques forum.

We are still very interested in answering your questions, so we therefore request that you:
Once you have completed those steps, then please post questions by starting your own thread. The questions need to be specific to an area or item in your shop. For example, "Can you please give me some feedback about my photos?  I think they are too dark and I don't know how to fix that."  This will enable Mentors will specific expertise to provide the best advice in response to your question.

Please note that it will take anything from a week or more for questions to be answered so please be patient. We know you are there and will get back to you soon.

Thank you!  If you have any questions about this new process, please feel free to post them here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Photoshop Tutorial: Making an Etsy Banner

I had a request from a new seller a few days ago who needed help making a new Etsy Banner.  She wanted a background image, some other images layered over the top and to be able to add her shop name.  I decided that the best way to answer her question was to write a tutorial and share it with the blog, because I know she is not the only one struggling with this.  This tutorial is made using Photoshop CS5, but other versions of Photoshop will be very similar to this.

(Be sure to click the images to see them larger.  Numbered steps correspond to numbers on the images.)

Part One: The Background Image
Open up a photo in Photoshop that you would like to use as a background.

1.  Choose the Rectangular Marquee tool.  It looks like a box drawn with a dotted line.

2.  We need to first make this photo the right shape for our banner, by making it a rectangle that is the right ratio.  Choose Style -> Fixed Ratio.

3.  Now enter the right ratio for the rectangle you need.  For an Etsy banner that is width 760 height 100.

4.  Your cursor will look like a little plus sign.   Click and drag a box (dotted line) to select the part of the image that you would like to use.

Then choose Image -> Crop.  This will take away the rest of the image and leave you with the rectangle you selected.

Next we need to make that rectangle be the right size, or the right number of pixels.
Choose Image -> Image Size.  It will bring up a new window.
A.  Make sure that "Constrain Proportions" is checked.  This means to keep the image at the same ratio.  No squishing or stretching.
B.  Now type in the number of pixels you need:  width 760 height 100
C.  Finally make sure the resolution is 72 pixels/inch.  (That's all you need for a web based graphic.)

(More after the jump...)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ack! I can't believe they are changing Facebook again!

That's right.  "Fan Pages" on Facebook are getting a whole new design starting at the end of March.  This fantastic article from Handmadeology will help you figure out what all of the new stuff means and how to make the most of it: How to Navigate the New Facebook Fan Page Timeline

For example, I didn't know that there are rules about what should be in your new "cover photo":
Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"No Pins" tag and more about Pinterest

Lots of buzz about Pinterest these days.  Another interesting post by Craft Test Dummies: The Perils of Pinterest.
Unclear and contradictory Terms of Service, the hijacking of affiliate marketing links, and the fear of intellectual property infringement are now causing artists and crafters to delete their pinboards and install the “No Pin” meta tag.
But should YOU?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Article: Secret of my Success

photo from

Crochet artist June Gilbank from Planet June posted this tweet:
HUGE milestone reached: in February I earned more than when I had a day job! I’m awestruck..! #crochet #pro #dreamjob
This lead her to thinking about how that happened and she wrote this article about what she thinks has contributed to her successful crafty business.  Food for thought.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Resource Article: Time Management

Who couldn't use a little help managing your time more effectively?  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal: Are You as Busy as You Think?
"I soon realized I'd been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn't even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Resource Article: Self Promotion vs Marketing

Another interesting read from the Craft your Independence blog about Self Promotion vs Marketing and your "marketing mix".  (Edit: Sorry for the broken link!  Fixed now.)
Marketing, however, is the process of communicating with your people, about your product, your business and how it can help them. Promotion is only (a small) part of the marketing equation.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Resource Article: Plain Speaking & Etsy Success

A great article from the blog that helps translate basic "Etsy Success" business advice into really simple step by step explanations:
There are some everyday success tips that will work well for almost any Etsy shop. The good news is these tips are simple, basic business steps. Though they are simple and basic, they must be implemented correctly. What if you’re not sure how to take apart a bit of advice and make it work for your shop? Here are some proven Etsy success tips, decoded, to make them easier to understand, implement and benefit from.
(Happy Leap Day everyone!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mentors: We want your feedback

SASsy Mentors:  Please visit the team forum for a new discussion about reorganizing our expertise list.  We would love your input!
Sometimes you need to stir things up!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Using apps and mobile technology to run an Etsy shop

When I first started selling on Etsy, I was a purist for quite some time. I thought, "who needs all those apps, it's not that hard to run the shop without all those extras getting in the way". When one shop turned to two, then to three, and success started to flirt with our heels, my story changed a bit.

I started testing apps to use for auto-renewing, for tracking traffic and sales, for tracking profit and loss. Those that worked for us, I began to integrate into our shops. for taxes as well as profit/loss tracking, Statsy's Clockbot for renewing, Craftopolis used for listing edits, just to name a few.
Most of those I tried during this time were free and were well worth exploring even if I didn't keep the majority of them in the end. And, as it turns out, apps aren't really in the way at all. Not if you utilize the ones that -fit- you and your business. Those I used served their purpose while I needed them, and those I keep still are the ones I've found long-term uses for.

Then, in November of last year, my business partner was ill and I was left shouldering the work for a bit by myself as well as assisting my sister in starting up and running her Etsy shop. Our holiday rush in our busiest shop starts around November 10th and usually lasts right around until December 20th. So I was left in the middle of our most profitable Christmas ever with no help at all. I struggled through the first two weeks feeling like I was drowning. Then, I got smart and started hunting for more apps to replace some of those that were sufficient when business was slow, but just weren't cutting it when things sped up.

This involved venturing into the realm of paid apps, of which I couldn't afford earlier, but as success has gone from flirting at our heels to actually nipping at them, we can now afford a few apps to help make running things a bit easier and smoother.

I replaced Statsy's Clockbot with's renewal agent which is very reasonably priced and functions on buying credits which you then use to pay for your usage as you use. This app saved me a lot of time since the set-up is easier and more extensive. You don't have to set each renew individually. When I had the time, Statsy's Clockbot worked great and was wonderfully useful and free. When I didn't have the time any longer, well EtsyOnSale took over and did it all for me after a few minutes of set-up.

I signed up for StitchLabs at the price of $12.00 per month. Now, granted. StitchLabs is actually an app primarily used for tracking one's inventory. Since a lot of our products are OOAK and we also sell on other venues which aren't currently supported on StitchLabs, that wasn't really useful for us. BUT, it did two specific things that I needed badly.
  • With Stitch Labs you can set up specific items in your shop to relist automatically when they sell. Very useful for those non-OOAK items.
  • I can track multiple shops. If you set up each shop on a different "channel" you can track as sales happen in each shop as they happen. They all show up together on a single spreadsheet in StitchLabs. Combined with the Firefox app "ReloadEvery", I was able to set up that spreadsheet to automatically update (automatically refresh) whatever time duration I wished so that all I needed to do was look in and could see any sales that came through on any of four shops (our three plus my sisters shop). During the holidays this was a huge time-saver for me, since I didn't have to keep logging in and out of each separate account to check for sales.
  • A major plus but not one of my decision making factors that had me choose this service, I also hear that they are working on a mobile app which I'm eager to get my hands on.
Not to mention, StitchLabs has the most remarkable customer service I've come across online or offline. Always friendly, always helpful, always courteous and they always respond promptly.

I integrated my iPod Touch and iPad for Etsy. This was done by setting up the Etsy's iPod/iPad/iPhone app on my iPod and iPad. I then set up an icon bookmark on the home screen of my mobile devices that would take me directly to my StitchLabs orders page with a single click. This way I could check all shops at once with a single click on my mobile device.

 I then signed up for and installed the Shoeboxed iPod/iPad/iPhone app as well. This is an app that is for, not Etsy., as explained above, tracks profit and loss including all your sales and supply purchases, etc. allows me to take pictures of my receipts right in the store when they are handed to me, send them automatically to, and the app enters that data for me and syncs it to So, essentially.... I take a picture of a receipt and it shows up in for me. These changes helped me make it through the Christmas rush and into the new year without any serious hiccups. They functioned as a second person when I didn't have a second person to help due to unforeseeable circumstances.

Since the new year, I've continued to try out and test different apps and one other major change has taken place. I switched us over from using PayPal to print my shipping labels to using Now, this one change I probably wouldn't have done if I hadn't been forced into it because I've been avoiding for a while due to their hefty $15.99 per month fee. It wasn't really a feasible expense until this last year when you can use Paypal's postage labels for free. Not only that, but Paypal's postage rates are the best I've found when it comes to padded envelope mailing via First Class Mail. BUT, due to my business partner living in Canada and 1099-K confusion, it was necessary for us to change our Paypal account over to a Canadian account, which meant we could no longer print USPS shipping labels. was our answer to resolve this issue. It has turned out to be a remarkable application with an amazing amount of versatility but I have to admit I'm still getting used to it and find PayPal was more convenient even if not as versatile.

On a side note, I'm also looking forward to seeing what the Craft Shoppe iOS application is going to be bringing to the table when they get it up and running. At the moment, it's still in the development stages after a revamp they started prior to the holiday season. But, it looks like it could be the app that bridges the gap between browser functionality and mobile device functionality in running a shop on Etsy.

All in all, I encourage those curious about apps to explore them. There are apps out there for a variety of skill levels and level of needs from someone who just wants to automate a few things and is looking for a free solution to apps that (for a price) can do just about anything you imagine. I also encourage those with mobile devices to look into the free app Etsy offers for shop owners as well as user friendly solutions that can integrate your mobile device to make selling on Etsy easier. Most mobile devices are far more versatile than you may realize and many "limitations" can easily be overcome with a little creativity and a (usually free) app or two. If anyone ever has any questions about the use of apps for Etsy or using mobile devices to help in running your Etsy shop, please feel free to contact me through Etsy convos. I'm happy to help with any questions you may have and if I can't answer them personally, I'll help find someone who can.

Guest Post written by TwisttheLeaf, co-collaborator in Bits n Beads by Gilliauna, The Teardrop Shop and The Beadery Shop on Etsy and a member of the Sellers Assisting Sellers (Team SASsy).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Introducing our New Team Captains

Hello Team SASsy! Cindy and I wanted to take a minute to introduce ourselves and say how excited we are to be taking over the behind-the-scenes part of this fantastic team.

About us:

Calgary, Alberta

Minneapolis, MN

When did you start with the SASsy Team?

Cindy: I was recruited around May 2010, by Morphologica.

I joined almost exactly a year ago. I teach in-person classes about opening an Etsy shop here in MN and I was looking for resources for my students when I found the team.

What is your job as Co-Captain?

I am going to be in charge of the on-Etsy functions: the team forum, accepting new members, promoting the team in the regular forum etc. Becka & I will be consulting on all major decisions, but then are dividing up the work.

Becka: I am the official team Geek. I am in charge of the blog, Facebook and other technology type things related to the team.

What's your favorite part about being a mentor?

Cindy: It is a fabulous feeling when people tell you that you have given them exactly what they needed!

Exactly. I love seeing (virtually) the lightbulb come on for someone and having them say "Oh! I get it now!"

What are you most looking forward to as a Co-Captain?

Cindy: It is really exciting to be able to contribute more to the team.

I am really excited to learn more about the rest of team and really find ways to use everyone's hidden talents in writing blog posts, articles, critiques. I think we have a lot of un-tapped potential.

As soon as we have a few more housekeeping type things finished up, we have all kinds of ideas and we want your creative input, so stay tuned for lots more from us coming soon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pinterest: Things to think about

An interesting article about Pinterest and some things you, as an artist, might not have considered when it comes to the new popularity of "pinning".  Interesting reading. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Feature: Direct Checkout

Etsy announced a new feature today: Direct Checkout. It's a way for you to accept credit cards without going through Paypal. They are planning to have sellers opt in and to phase it in as a new feature over the next few months.

Read more about it here:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Passing the Torch - New Team Captains

Hi everyone,

I'm stepping down as Captain of the SAS team and SASsy Critique forum effective February 1, 2012. My knitwear business, KnitzyBlonde™, is taking off in leaps and bounds and I'm no longer going to have the time to devote to these 2 fabulous and very busy teams. I will be leaving you in very capable hands, in fact, 3 sets of very capable hands (see following): 

Cindy ( ) - Captain of Sellers Assisting Sellers Team (Admin)
Becka ( - Co Captain in charge of Team Blog & Facebook
Claire ( - Captain of the SASsy Critique Forum

I'm hoping with three fabulous women running the teams/forums now they'll be able to help even more Etsy sellers need assistance with their shops. I want to thank all of you for your support over the last year, and will appreciate you supporting your 3 new Captains starting tomorrow.

And to Cindy, Becka & Claire, thanks from the bottom of my heart. I know the team will be wonderfully cared for. You are all awesome leaders!!

I'll be around Etsy, so don't hesitate to drop me a note and stay in touch!


Sandie Russo