Saturday, December 20, 2008

All I Wanted To Know I Learned at the Craft Fair... or The Newbie's Newbie Guide To Doing Your First Show!

(yes, that's me behind the scenes)

I took the plunge and thanks to a fellow Etsian, I entered my first juried craft fair - my first one ever! And for a first craft fair, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised and did much better than I thought I would have! Three days of selling my wares and talking up my craft... and I'm still alive! House of Mouse asked me to write about what I learned, so here it is!

1. Juried Shows ROCK!
Tthe MACFair was a juried show, which meant that they chose the vendors who were at the show. You know how at some shows there are tons of resellers and the handmade goodness gets overlooked? Well, that DIDN'T happen here and it was amazing to see all the talent - not to mention the full time artisans - on display. Even though there was an entry fee, it was worth it! (more on that in a bit)

2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
I have to admit that I was at a little bit of a disadvantage here with all my "prep time" being swallowed up by my first trimester - all day morning sickness. I was a little freaked that I didn't have enough energy to make all the things that I wanted to make, but I tried to get some work done in the precious moments that I didn't feel sick. Thank goodness that the week before the show my energy levels lifted... but I still didn't feel like I had adequate stock.

3. Displays Don't Have to be Expensive
... but it does help to have a plan! - see the rant above about my morning sickness- However, I had talked my display ideas out with the husband and my cousin and had a general idea about what I wanted to do and the feeling I wanted to create with my display. I basically used twigs, river stones, floral foam and little metal pails to create "trees" for my necklaces; a fabric shower curtain in a neutral tone to cover the table, wooden and velvet trays for rings, pine cones and seashells for bracelets, and a small moses basket for my sock monkeys. The picture here probably gives you a better idea of what I did:

It was very simple, very inexpensive, and I got countless compliments! However, some of the more experienced vendors DID have fantastic displays - self-contained with lights and shelving... I have to admit that I felt like I was out of my league at the beginning and it was a little disheartening. However, this display was perfect for the space I had (a 3" x 6" table) and it was easy for me to assemble and dismantle. Because the show was in a gallery-type setting, the lighting was already almost perfect.

4. You Will Need Things That You Didn't Think You Would!
Etsy has some threads in the forums outlining lists of essential items that you will need at a show. I took the advice in those threads and am adding some of my items here too:
  • Scotch & duct tape (we taped the shower curtain to the table to reduce the risk of slippage - something i didn't think of until we were set up)
  • Paper towels (we didn't use any until the very last day, as we were pulling things apart but it sure helped with an accidental spill!!)
  • Lots and lots of business cards! I actually will look into printing bookmarks or MOO cards because it would have been worth it. I gave out about 75 - 100 cards over the three days and would have liked something a little more "professional" looking .
  • A little bowl of candy. A nice touch, draws people in and keeps their kids occupied as they browse!
  • Good signs and tags - I used dollar store plastic frames to hold up my signs, and perfect little tags to put the prices on my items (people STILL asked though, so be prepared!). I also kept some extra tags on hand for items that i made while I was at the show
  • Little snacks and plenty of liquids.
  • Several pens (for people who write cheques as well as for your receipts and doodling) and a permanent marker (for signs etc.)
  • Little clear bags to put small items in, along with some sort of bag or envelope to put that little bag in.
  • A mirror - you'd be amazed how many people want to try on your stuff and see what it looks like! I put in a small mirror as an afterthought... and i am so glad that i did!
  • Change - i took $100 in loonies and toonies and miscellaneous coinage and while i barely dipped into it, I was happy knowing it was there!
  • A craft apron! - I got mine from Yoopers etsy store and it was indispensable! She made mine with a little zippered pocket in the front for money, and other little pockets, in which I put my price tags, pens, receipt book and lip gloss. Although i had ordered it earlier in the summer once I found out I was accepted into the show, it still fit perfectly around my pregnant belly! One of the other vendors laughed and asked if I was putting on my "money belt"... well, I was never without a pen or paper, I can tell ya! (and yes, there did end up being money in there - so THERE!)
  • Lip balm/gloss - it was dry in the venue - plus I was getting a little chapped from all the talking! I was definitely thankful!
  • Plastic bag(s) - for garbage and in case someone buys a lot of stuff
  • Layers, as in a sweater - the locale we were in was kind of cool (for non-pregnant people!) and the sweater and scarf I bought was quite useful at times!
5. Someone Dependable to Help You
I had brought the husband to help set up (and then he went to sit in the car - craft shows aren't too great for guys unless they themselves are the crafter). But he did come and sit with me so I could have a little bit of a break and some company during the slower times. We also had a wonderful organizer (thank you, Jude!) who could watch your booth while you dashed off to the bathroom or to grab something quick to eat/drink.

(My friend Teri - who was a fabulous assistant! thanks, T!)

6. A Strong Backbone, Courage and Confidence in Your Craft!
'Nuff said. People will have positive things to say about you and your work... and will also have snide comments to make as well. just be confident and have pride in what you do!
I have to admit that once I submitted my application to the show and even after they accepted me, I still waffled about going. However, it really paid off and I got to meet some wonderful people. I'm glad I didn't back out!

About the author: Cy Rainville is the gal behind and . She has been selling on etsy since August 2007 and is continually working on new designs (when her full time job, pregnancy and browsing on etsy allows!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Uploading your items to Google Base

I have seen my share of forum threads discussing the process of uploading products into Google Base. I for one never had the time to sit down and learn the big 'how to'. I was however very excited to learn of the site Let's Ets. This site has some very clever tools but the one I was eager to try was the Google Base Formatter. All you do is plug in your Etsy ID or username and click the fetch button.

On the next screen you will see a list of your etsy products, images, descriptions, and price. Look them over very carefully so all is in order. (*Note only the first 100 items are included)

At the very bottom of the page click the 'download bulk file' button. A window will pop up giving you the choice to either open or save. Make sure you click save. The file name will be your username followed by the .xml file type.

Now on to uploading that file to Google Base..... Once there click the data feed button and login if necessary. At the top there are two tabs. Click settings and make sure to include your etsy shop url in the website box. This is important when uploading your file. Click next and register your feed. Insure you select products from the drop down menu. The data feed file name is the same file name you downloaded earlier (usename.xml) Register your feed.

Once completed you will see the file name. Next to that is uploads. Click to manually upload your file now. Locate the file on your computer using the pop up window. Click upload and process file. You should now see the words 'Processing'. In a few moments (hours) your items will be uploaded and visible using the my items tab to the top right. If for some reason it comes back 'failed' try this processes over again and make sure all file names match. Your feed will stay live for 30 days. At that time you can repeat all of the above and stay active in the google shopping searches. Good Luck.

About the author: I am Amanda, owner extraordinaire of Sygnet Creations. I have been selling on etsy for over a year now and I loving it! I am a full time mom and military spouse. I tend to know a little about everything and I am always a friendly ear and convo away. Ask me anything.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sellers Tip: Thumbnail Photos

Sharing some tips for a better Etsy Store.


When someone views your store they usually do so in "gallery mode" this is when the images are the same size as the ones featured on the front page. To put your store in gallery mode just click the link for "gallery" under your shop announcement. This is your store "window", the first thing your buyers see when they come to your shop. You should try to make each thumbnail look the best it can, which means taking into account the way your first image is cropped to fit it. To get the best out of your thumbnails try to take the photo you will use for the first image as a "horizontal" rectangle, aka "landscape" so that little of the composition of the photo is lost when viewed as a thumbnail.

These thumbnail photos are also how your listings are viewed in treasuries, having a great thumbnail increases your chances of making it into a treasury and therefore your chance of making it onto the Etsy Home Page. Always make sure that the first photo for your listing is the best one from your collection!

About the Author: Anna Greaves is the founder of the Sellers Assisting Sellers team and runs her shop The House of Mouse full time from her home in The Netherlands.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Top 10 Tips for making a Front Page worthy treasury

Learning to make a great treasury is an art. It is also an important education for any seller who wants to get their work featured on the Front Page of Etsy. If you take the time to learn what makes a treasury worthy of the Etsy Front Page, you will quickly learn how to make your listings the kind that will get chosen for that honor.

Take a look at the Etsy Front Page Flickr group. This is full of screencaps of treasuries that have been on the front page. Notice how each one looks amazing, the photos are top quality and the treasury always has a theme, be it a shape, color or something else.

For those of you who don't know what a treasury is or how to catch one check out this article.

As a seller who was been both curator for and featured in Etsy Home Page treasuries, here are my top 10 tips for making a Front Page worthy treasury.

1) Use the Etsy Poster Sketch.
You can build as many treasuries as you like there, although only you can see them. You can always save your sketches to use when you actually manage to grab a treasury. (bookmark it in your browser because the link to it is hard to find on Etsy)

2) Choose a theme.
The theme can be colour, tone, shape, emotion or anything else you like. You can also pick one listing from your favorites to start with; try to find other listings that match it in some way. Think of your entire treasury as a piece of art, each listing should go well with the others.

3) Use the Etsy Tag Fractal.
you can use the Tag Fractal to search for listings that fit your theme, you can search based on their titles and tags here. It is a great tool. (bookmark this one too)

4) Choose listings that look great a thumbnails.
Take a look at my next post for further explanation on this

5) Vary the types of listings in your treasury.
Unless your theme is a certain type or category of listing, try to avoid having too many of the same kind of listing in your treasury. For example, not more than 2 pairs of earrings, 2 toys, 2 illustrations etc...

6) Vary the prices of the listings in your treasury.

When Admin choose a treasury for the front page they make sure that the price range varies. they don't want everything to sell out before that front page's time is up. If everything is too inexpensive then the items will sell out too fast and cause technical difficulties for the front page. To read more about what Etsy Admin said about this check out this forum thread

7) Fill up all the alternatives.

When you make a treasury you get 16 slots to show off, but only the 12 on the left can be seen. The other 4 are called the alternatives. If your treasury makes it to the front page then when something sells one of your alternatives will take its place. Admin will only ever choose a treasury that is full, including the alternatives. Make sure your alternatives are just as good as the others.

8) Don't feature yourself.
You are allowed to feature yourself in one listing of your own treasury, but if your treasury gets picked for the front page then your listing will get swapped out for an alternative. From an Admin's point of view you will only have 3 alternatives instead of 4 as they won't ever have the curator of a treasury featured on the FP too. It lowers your chances significantly and it is considered by some to be an "unwritten rule" of making treasuries.

9) Choose an interesting title.

Titles are hard to come up with, so while you are filling your Poster Sketch try to think about your theme and what title would go well with it. A good title will get a few more people clicking on it, just to see what is in there. I should say that Etsy Admin has stated that they don't pay any attention to a treasury title, they are interested in how it looks and the price ranges it includes, so it’s not essential.

10) Promote your treasury
When you have caught a treasury and filled it, tell your friends about it. If you belong to an Etsy Street Team then post it in your team thread. If you are on Twitter then post the link there too. If there are threads in the forums sharing the latest treasuries then post there too... you get the idea. The more views, clicks and comments your treasury gets the "hotter" it becomes and the higher up the treasury list it will go. The more people see that you make great treasuries, the more chances you have of making it on the Front Page one day.

Good luck and happy treasury making!

About the Author: Anna Greaves is the founder of the Sellers Assisting Sellers team and runs her shop The House of Mouse full time from her home in The Netherlands.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hosting Home Parties- Focus On Jewelry Parties-Part 2

This is part II of Hosting Home Parties - See Part I here

Party set up

Start with creating a nice display with your items on a table in the center of a cozy room, use your creative abilities for this one. With the holidays coming you may want to set up a display with faux snow and some other holiday decorations.I would not advise doing anything too elaborate; you do not want to overshadow your handmade creations.

Make sure you have some order forms for taking orders. You can buy carbonless ones at Wal-Mart or any office supply store, one copy for you and one for your guest. Make sure their copy has a stamp with your name and number on it and be sure you get their name, number & address and ask if it’s ok to follow up, or add them to your mailing list.

If at all possible it would be helpful to bring a portfolio of your work. This should be an album of photos of your work, past and present. For items you can recreate, assign them a stock number so you can easily write down the number for orders and revert back to it when filling orders. If you make rings, make sure you bring a set of sizers.

Organize a fashion show.

To further focus the attention on your products, get together some friends and organize a fashion show of your best selling or favorite pieces. Time the fashion show for after everyone arrives and has had time to circulate, look at the display and get some food. Customize the fashion show to match the tone of your jewelry.

Refreshments- This isn’t a pampered chef party, it’s a jewelry party so quit freaking about food! They aren’t expecting a meal. It would be very classy to have a wine and cheese themed party; everyone spends more when wine is involved. You can also find a ton of great wines now for under $15 a bottle, just google it. Other great ideas for refreshments could include hot beverages like tea, coffee or hot cocoa and holiday cookies. This is a great way to get people into the mood for holiday shopping. For summer parties, fresh fruit is always great with iced tea or sangria, try to cut the fruit into pieces and put them on toothpicks for easy eating. Keep in mind that greasy foods will for sure lead to fingerprints on your jewels.

Keep in mind that many people will bring cash to spend at the party so make sure you bring along a change box so you can give change to people who purchase. One thing that can increase the amount of each sale is to accept credit cards, there are many ways to do this. If you have access to a computer at the home of the party you may just want to use paypal. If you have a merchant account set up already for craft shows, use that. Keep in mind that people who weren’t planning on spend much may not bring that much cash or the checkbook but if they see something they like they WILL pull out that credit card. You want to be able to make that happen! Read up and research beforehand to make this a streamline process.

So it was a success! Here’s what to do now!

Create and deliver your orders. Better yet- make sure you collect everyone’s mailing address and save yourself some gas. Pop your orders into a padded envelope and use paypal shipping to print your labels. Most often you can send a piece or two of jewelry locally for $1.52, insurance adds a bit extra. Seriously do this and save yourself a TON of trouble and money.

Make sure your packaging is fabulous! Doing something as simple as printing off clear labels to personalize your boxes is a really professional touch that people enjoy. Take it a step further and order some ribbons from at a really amazing price and tie a ribbon in your signature color onto your boxes. Make sure to include a couple business cards and maybe some type of coupon to encourage them to shop with you again. Enclose a little note on hosting their own party and the benefits.

For the hostess- If you’re not hosting your party, make sure you have something set up for the kind lady who hosted the party for you. Give her a choice of a discount on her products, a free product, or an allotment of $ for her to spend on products of her choice. This is all according to how much the total party sales are. With that kind of incentive she’s going to make sure her friends spend that little bit extra. Make sure her guests are well aware of this so they will want to book their own parties.

I know this ia a lot of information to digest, but I hope I have given you an idea of where to start on hosting your own at home jewelry party. It is very easy to have one booked for every weekend and people are always willing to have a get together and earn free stuff! The same principles can be applied to parties for any product line, from candles to hats and scarves.

About the author: I'm Julia Catherine from Julia Catherine Jewelry. I live and work in NJ, im very familiar with all aspects of jewelry creation, sales and even repair. I enjoy creating new jewelry items in my spare time and also work as a jeweler as my day job. My specialty in SASsy is listing creation and tagging, but am willing to give help in all aspects of etsy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Join in the Fun

Some SASsy team members have been showing up in the Virtual Labs lately, offering their two cents worth of advice for shops just getting off the ground.

Everyone is welcome, so please join us there. You can pop in for a chat today at 4:00p.m. Etsy time for live shop critiques with Kits & Caboodles (me!).

Anna over at The House of Mouse is on the schedule for Nov. 16th @ 12:00p.m. and also Nov. 19th @ 9:00a.m.

The Labs are a great place to come if you're a newbie (or not so new!) looking for advice and shop ideas. Around 5:00p.m today, Daniellexo will be showing you some cool packaging ideas. She'll be showing off some examples of easy packaging you can make yourself, and you can even get a sneak peak at what my own packaging looks like! Danielle is often in the Labs giving On the Fly Critiques, which are a ton of fun.

Watch the schedule in the Virtual Labs for more SAS dates and more!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sneak Attack!

As Andrea (KitsandCaboodles) has previously mentioned TeamSASsy is sponsoring a sneak attack over at once a month.

Tomorrow is our first 'attack' as a team - and it would be great for it to be a success!

The sneak attack will be starting at 7am EST tomorrow (November 5th) (For those of us in Europe, it equates to 12pm UK time). **UPDATE - this will now be at 7pm EST (12am UK time)**

From the website:

"What's a Sneak Attack? Every weekday at an appointed time, an Etsy shop with few or no sales is announce on this site. As many people as possible then buy items from that shop, resulting in a frenzy of surprise business to the unsuspecting shop! ...

To participate, show up on this site at or soon after the time of the next attack and you'll see the chosen shop name. Then go to that shop and purchase an item, making sure to include the words "Sneak Attack" in the "message to seller". The shop owner will also be informed of what is happening so they know just what is going on."

Take a look at the website to get an idea of how it works, and please join in! The shop I've chosen has really cute stuff and something for everyone!

There'll also be a forum thread tomorrow morning to get a wider range of people involved!

Hope i'll see you tomorrow morning to make someone's day :)

Zoe (lishlash)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Etsy Forum - in's and out's

This blog post will be one of a series, as etsy forum etiquette can be quite complex! However the thing that I want to address right now is ‘calling out’. If you frequent the forums you will have seen this term before and likely have an understanding as to what it means.

For those of you who don’t know, this is when you speak badly of another shop or buyer, directly or indirectly. Etsy’s definition of calling out is as follows:

  • The classic example of calling out is to mention another user by name (or link) in a negative statement. "WhateverfaceCoInc sells mass-produced junk. Whatshisname took my money and never shipped my item!" This is the most obvious method of calling out, but not the only one.
  • Posting to complain about negative or neutral feedback you gave or received is – yep, calling out. With just a few quick clicks, crafty amateur detectives can figure out exactly who you're complaining about.
  • Ranting about what someone posted elsewhere on the Forums may be deemed calling out, if it's easily determined who is the target of the complaint.

Seems pretty simple, right? You would think so, but every day I see new and seasoned etsians being accused of calling out by well meaning, but over-zealous posters. If it doesn’t fall under the above criteria, you can discuss it as much as you like – for example:

  • If you have a problem with your shop, that isn’t related to a transaction – this is fine to discuss in the forums!
  • If you have a question about rule breaking, ask away – just make sure you don’t use real examples.
  • The exception to the above is if the shop in question is your own – you can’t call out yourself!
  • If you have a problem with etsy itself, this is fine – you can’t call out etsy!
  • If you want to discuss a positive transaction, this is great – and absolutely allowed, it’s great to share positive experiences.
  • you want to talk about something off etsy – this is ok, but do use common sense.
  • If you want to discuss a theoretical problem, this is okay (but not if you are just talking about a real problem that is occurring in a theoretical way).

If you have a problem that you feel you can’t discuss in public forums but you still need an answer – no need to panic! You can contact an advisor via convo to discuss the problem privately, or you can contact admin who will also be happy to help you!

To read more about calling out you can take a look at this storque article here.

About the author: lishlash runs an etsy store selling cards and jewellery, based in London UK. You'll often find her lurking in the fora!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hosting Home Parties- Focus On Jewelry Parties

If you have ever been to any kind of home party you know how much fun they can be. Let me reference some home party based companies: Tupperware, Pampered Chef and Mary Kay- just to name a few. The basis for all of these is a gathering of people (mostly women) at the home of a hostess to sell a product. The product we are discussing today is YOUR goods. Specifically your own handmade jewelry. Home parties are a perfect way to sell your handmade goods. During a jewelry party your product will be the center of attention, with no competition. This is why at home parties are the cornerstone of many direct selling product lines. Just think of your average sale price and multiply that by how many people you expect to come to your party. My most popular item is my sterling silver stackable band rings, their cost is $28. Say if I were to invite 20 people to my at home party and 15 people showed; if each person orders AT LEAST a set of those rings. If you did the math that would be a pretty decent amount for 3 hours of hanging out with the ladies.

The first step would be to choose a place to have your party. You can host your party at your own place or you can have a friend host one for you. (More on hostess gifts later.) To get the word out make sure you send an evite to anyone who has an email address a month or so before the event so they are well warned to save the date! Send your invitations a week later; This time line is especially important with the holidays coming. You can make your own invitations from a prefab invitation, have some custom made on etsy or even have some nice glossy ones made from a place like vistaprint. Postcards are good for invitations, or you can choose to use a more traditional card if you wish. Make sure to include a link from your online store or website so your guests can get a general idea of what type of product you sell as well as your pricing.

How much jewelry should you bring? Well that’s up to you. If you have ‘line’ of a certain number of items I would say to bring the entire thing! If your items are made to order, make sure people are aware of the amount of time it will take you to fill those orders, (more on that later). If you are planning on selling one of a kind items or items people will be able to buy and take home that night I would say abut 2-3 items per person. So if you’re expecting 10 people bring 20-30 items with you. Just a side note, ‘cash and carry’ is really what people prefer at these parties. If they see something they want to be able to have it in their hands right then and there, they don’t want to wait a week to have another made for them. For me personally I would bring a mix of items. For example I would bring items like necklaces and earrings that people could buy that night and my rings in the most popular sizes. (6,7,8) Then take orders on them if they are needed in any other sizes. Make sure you bring your boxes, bows and bags with you so everyone can take home their ‘present’ and it will feel really special.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week- Including refreshments, set up, what to do afterward and booking more parties!

About the author: I'm Julia Catherine from Julia Catherine Jewelry. I live and work in NJ, im very familiar with all aspects of jewelry creation, sales and even repair. I enjoy creating new jewelry items in my spare time and also work as a jeweler as my day job. My specialty in SASsy is listing creation and tagging, but am willing to give help in all aspects of etsy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Sellers Assisting Sellers Team is a Sneak Attack Sponsor!

It took some time to work out all the details, but I am so thrilled to tell you that we are now an official sponsor over at and will be organizing a Sneak Attack on the 1st Wednesday of every month.

Our first Team attack will be November 5th. The time will be announced later. To learn more about sneak attacks, visit You can read over some past sneak attack threads in the forums to get an idea of how fun they are.

If you would like to participate, leave a comment at the bottom of this post or contact me via convo at Etsy. We need a different team member to sign up to sponsor each months attack and that seller will be responsible for selecting the "victim's" shop, promoting and starting the forum thread, and will have their shop name remain on the list of past sponsors on the handmade movement website. I need volunteers for future attacks so if someone had already volunteered to sponsor the next one, I'll put you on the list for a future attack.

I would love to see a real show of team members in the forums when there is a team attack going on. I'll send out a notice on the Yahoo Group to remind everyone. Lets have fun with this guys and make it a big success!

A little bit about me: I'm Andrea from I have another shop as well and have been selling on Etsy for over a year. Kits & Caboodles is relatively new but has done pretty well thanks to a bit of experience and some good advice from my mentor. I'm thrilled to be able to share what I have learned with others. You can visit my personal blog if you just need to know more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Secrets of a Camera Novice - TUTORIAL

Well, maybe I'm not a novice, but I'm definitely an amateur. I'm Renovia from Endless Whimsy, I teach music and love photography,cats and polymer clay. I'm a member of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Mentor Team as well as co-treasurer of EFA Artists Helping Animals. I began taking photos for my Etsy shop with a Fujifilm CoolPix before I switched to a Nikon D40.

Here is one of the first photos of my sculptures: ------------>
(right) Pink Catnap Summer 2007
(below) Green Frolic Winter 2007

After I got my Nikon D40, I continued taking photos with my makeshift light box (two pieces of paper!). Only now, I had a better grasp on lighting – notice the background isn't as defined and the shadows are minimal – this is because I used indirect natural light. I also changed the angle of my photography.

Though my photography had improved, I still felt I hadn't developed my own 'style' yet. I looked at some really successful shops over on Etsy to see how they created their style in photos. They all had a way of photographing their items in a unique way that highlighted their beauty and functionality.

Alteration Tutorial

Here I'll walk you through my process of altering photos. I use Aperture (one of the best investments I've made next to my camera and my remote) but you can use Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Fireworks or a free program called GIMP. Either way, you'll need to do some fishing around to see what they call all the tools I refer to in the tutorial.

First, I chose my background for my photos. It's important to pick something that compliments your work. It should be simple and not take away from the object you are photographing. Here I used scrapbook paper.

Secondly, I set up my workspace. I chose my table because it has the most indirect natural lighting. I also have a tripod so I don't have blurry images. Sometimes you need to go a step further and use a remote or the self timer to eliminate camera shake.

***Remote Control and Tripod: it's a small investment for being able to take photos in a not so forgiving light – and NOT be blurry!

After I take the photos (at least 6 of each object) I settle in for some tea and alterations!

p.s. Take many, many photos if you want to fill your 5 slots on Etsy. I took 6 of each sculpture just to get my listing photo!

The Nitty-Gritty of Altering

Step by step alterations of a polymer oyster I purchased from Paula at PolymerPaws:

Photo: 1 Unaltered Photo 2: Auto Levels (not exposure) Photo 3: Up the Black Point
Photo 4: Up the Contrast Photo 5: Reduce the highlights Photo 6: Add Vignette
Photo 7: Crop Photo 8: Tilt the photo



And one more example using my own Ivy Frolic sculpture:

Photo 1: Unaltered Photo 2: Auto Exposure Photo 3 Fix Tint to 'blueish'
Photo 4: Up the Black Photo 5: Reduce the highlights Photo 6: Add Vignette
Photo 7: Crop



To get to this point, I read articles in the Storque on Etsy and also picked up some tips from tutorial sites on the internet. Amazingly, Etsy now has a mentor team that only existed in passing when I first started. When I started, I just asked for help and one amazing seller took me under their wing. Now there is a whole team of sellers ready to help you and answer your questions. Take the time to ask members of the Etsy Mentor Team for advice. They are your outlet for improving all aspects of your store, not just photography.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make It Pretty

One of the most important aspects of selling on-line anywhere is to take good photographs. A photo of your newest creation may be the one thing that decides whether a potential buyer comes into your store or moves on to someone else. So how do you get a buyer to come to you in the first place?

Here's just a few suggestions:

* Your first picture should entice your potential buyer. It has to be clear and eye-catching. If it doesn't make you feel like this gorgeous thing you've made is even more gorgeous, take the photo over. Some people say they would prefer a clear, plain shot of the item, but I'm in the other camp. I think an arty shot works just as well to get people to look. Really use your own judgement and play around with these ideas. I take many, many pictures to get one that I can even use.

* Get yourself the best camera you can afford. No doubt this is an investment in a business you've probably invested a lot in already. A good camera makes a difference though. Once you have a camera you can work with, if you don't know much about photography, find a class or someone to teach you. You can do this relatively easily without having to commit to three months of night classes. Find someone who will explain to you the basics, pay them some money and get used to using your camera a little at a time. Real photographers will take better pictures than those of us who aren't that skilled, but that doesn't mean you can't find ways to make your shop look great.

* Figure out lighting. Blurry or dark pictures hinder your sales. Some say use only natural light, some use light boxes, some even make great photos with flash. Play around and find out what works best for you.

* Try to go for a uniform look. Your overall shop looks best to a buyer when the background is working with the item you are selling. For some people that is plain white, some it is cool colors. Figure out what works with your style. Check out shops you admire. There are so many truly beautiful products that are photographed well on Etsy. Your goal, of course, isn't to copy them, but to figure out how they do what they do so well and then apply that knowledge to your own style.

* It takes some work. I no longer know the number of times I've re-photographed items in my shop. And, I still haven't gotten what I want yet. Realize that if you aren't an expert at this, it is a process just like anything else. Give yourself room to grow and learn.

* The most important advice I have? Make it fun. It is about becoming more proficient at running your business. That enjoyment will show up in your photos. It will make you happier and is a sure way to attract more buyers.

I'm Allyson from Maye Rain. I live in Richmond, VA and besides my Etsy business, I am an energy worker and life coach. I'm no expert at photography just obsessed with making things look pretty.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Custom Order Blues?

One of the most amazing things about Etsy is its overflowing wealth of unique, often personalized treasures, ranging in custom features from impossible to find sizes and fabric combination's in apparel to completely personalized artwork, born in the mind of the buyer, and projected, via the patient hand of the artist, onto the canvas. Custom work is an extremely exciting and satisfying process to be a part of for both buyer and seller, but often times we as sellers get a little overwhelmed in trying to accommodate. We end up selling ourselves short on design and tweaking time, and inevitably pay with our sanity. Hello, my name is Amanda, and I sold my sanity to custom embroidery. For like $2 an hour!

So how do we prevent this custom heartache? Set limits, my friends! If you sell kids' clothes, limit your fabric choices and sizes. If you sell embroidered pretties (ahem), limit your designs. This way, time in between orders can be spent building basic stock that can be personalized later. Most of my stress when I was still accepting custom orders stemmed from the frantic scrambling I had to do in order to create each item, from scratch, in the projected time frame. The key, I think, is coming up with as many ways as possible to minimize the work which must be done after the order is received.

What if you sell something that simply can't be started ahead of time? Don't worry, you shouldn't have to commit yourself to the asylum just yet. Just be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the order. Think about how much time the item should take to complete, and double that time when responding to custom inquiries. There is nothing quite as stressful and guilt-casting as a convo from a buyer of a late item!

What about pricing? You may have sensed a common theme here. Custom orders are heavy on love and patience, but they're even heavier on precious time. Remember when you're pricing your item that you're not just pricing the materials and the literal time it takes to put the item together. You'll always spend an unforeseen amount of time on design work, both conceptual and physical, and more often than not, your customer will ask for quite a bit of reworking.

Bottom line, respect your time, respect your limits, and respect yourself. Happy crafting, my lovelies!

About the author: I'm Amanda of longwinterfarm and lwfidget. I live in Maine in a yurt with two toddlers and a slue of animals, so sanity is a precious commodity around here! This post of course is just the tip of the iceberg as far as custom orders are concerned, so please PLEASE feel free to contact me with more specific woes. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A few announcements for everyone

Anna over at TheHouseOfMouse has been busy (as always) getting our newest members added to the ever growing list. That list is taking on a life of its own, and in an attempt to make our team an active one rather than just an impressive list, she has suggested a few guidelines. Here is an excerpt from the latest forum thread.

Suggested membership requirements for new members applying to join Sellers Assisting Sellers.

1. At least 6 months selling on Etsy from the date of your first sale
2. At least 10 sales
3. Excellent feedback*
4. You must be an expert in at least one subject/category. That is to say you feel you can answer ANY question on that subject and you must give a short reason why with your application* (e.g. I'm an expert in promotions because that is my day job and I have been
doing it for 5 years).

* All applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Suggested participation requirements for members of Sellers Assisting Sellers. Every 3 months members are required to do a minimum of one of the following things for the team.

1. Write a blog post for our team blog

2. Take part in a live mentor critique in Etsy chat

Take part in a positive team action, for example: running a promotion to bring attention to the team, writing an article for the Storque about us etc.

Okay, I'm in trouble myself with the whole expert thing, since it is definitely out of my comfort zone to call myself an expert at anything. I'm sure that some of the other requirements might be a bit daunting to some of you as well. Just remember, the more that we put into this team, the more everyone will get out of it.

Also, I think that we are all set to sponsor a regular Sneak Attack with Visit the site to learn more. Sneak Attacks are getting alot of attention in the forums these days and are a crazy amount of fun but do require a bit of work. If anyone is interested in helping, we will need particular help with these areas.

*Choosing a shop that fits the criteria. Again, visit handmademovement to see what is required for a shop to be chosen. I have a list of new shops that I can send anyone who would like to screen them and of course, any shops that you all find would be much appreciated. We would need a shop (or possibly two) a month and its the hardest part of a Sneak Attack. Send me links in a convo if you have any suggestions.
*Members who would be willing to be that months "sponsor". Your shop would get a good bit of exposure for this, so its not completely altuistic.
*Help, lots and lots of help, keeping the forum threads alive and kicking. I would like to see everyone pop their heads in at least once to show support and "team spirit".
*Any members that blog, it would be much appreciated if you could be counted on to post a bit about the upcoming attacks, with dates & times, to help promote it.
*A successful Sneak Attack thread attracts a good bit of attention. If there are any members who would like to offer a discount to participants (someone who actually makes a purchase) in a particular attack, we could add a list of shop links right at the top of the thread. It wouldnt have to be much, maybe 10% off? I doubt that it would generate too many sales, but would show some group solidarity and give your shop a bit of free exposure.

♥And on a personal note, I just have to share this idea! I have been looking for some mini cards for kitsandcaboodles and havent had much luck. I ordered the most adorable mini cards from pixelbypixel for threadednest and I just loved them. They are so cute and different and they double as hang tags. Unfortunatley, I send out too many cards with kitsandcaboodles for those to be affordable for me right now. I need ALOT.
What I did in the end was to design a regular size business card that I could have printed and then cut in half! Personally, I thought this was a stroke of genius. I ended up ordering cards from VistaPrint. Yes yes, I know that many of you have had a bad experience with them, but this is the third time I have used them and I have had nothing but positive experiences. I uploaded my custom image, added some text to the backside, keeping in mind that each card was actually two cards, and ordered 1000. Yeah you heard me, 1000. That means that I actually now have 2000 business cards once I slice em up! I added some address labels to the order and still only paid an amazing $26 with free shipping! Thats with two image uploads and a upgrade to 100 lb cardstock. You know you wanna see them! Here you go.

I always google VistaPrint coupon codes before I order and just a tip: you can put all of your stuff in your cart and then click the coupon links and compare codes to see which offer is the most affordable. For my order it was 50% and free shipping. That actually came out better than the 500 cards for $1.99. I have to mention that VistaPrint, like everyone else, has insane shipping costs. But I always choose the "slow shipping" and though they say it takes up to 21 days, I've always gotten my order in about a week. So I would'nt recomment paying for the shipping upgrade.

Remember...if you have any team ideas just convo Anna or pop over to the team thread and leave a comment, and if you would like to write for this blog you can let me know and I'll add your name as an author. You get a free ad square over there ----> and your mini on the blog!

Also, if anyone could tell me how to STOP eating all the handmade caramels I ordered for my holiday packages, please share this info with me!

Have a great day everyone! Here's wishing you many happy sales.

A little bit about me: I'm Andrea from I have another shop as well and have been selling on Etsy for over a year. Kits & Caboodles is relatively new but has done pretty well thanks to a bit of experience and some good advice from my mentor. I'm thrilled to be able to share what I have learned with others. You can visit my personal blog if you just need to know more.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The fine line of pricing...

Pricing is probably one of the hardest components of running an Etsy shop. Etsy prices seem to be (confusingly) cheaper than you would find in a store, and with such a large amount of sellers can be very competitive! Being an international website also throws exchange rates and fluctuations into the mix – which makes pricing a bit of an art for those based outside of the US!

But wherever you are running your shop from, there are several things you must take into account before setting your pricing. Its all well and good deciding on a nice round figure, or ‘just charging what everyone else does’ – but if selling on Etsy is anything than more than a hobby to you, this approach won’t work.

When pricing, remember there are no hard and fast rules, but by taking the following into account you can break it down so that you’re not taking a stab in the dark!

The first thing you must do before looking at the money aspect are to answer some important questions about your shop:

1. Is your shop full time, part time, just a hobby?
2. Will this be an income or extra money?
3. Who do you consider your target audience?
4. Do you want your prices to be competitive?

It is very important that you know your target audience, and in depth. For example if you sell gloves – your target audience IS NOT ‘anyone who wants to buy gloves’. Think about it, many people want gloves, but there is a large difference between Paris Hilton and Mr. Average when it comes to buying gloves!

You then need to consider and note the following –

1. How much profit do you hope to make from each item?
2. How long does it take for you to source your materials? Make a pattern? Research?
3. How long does it take to make each item?
4. How skilled are you in your craft?

Now you’ve had a think about your shop, work timings, effort etc you can look at the actual costs.

I’m not going to note everything you need – I’m going to direct you to a free downloadable spreadsheet made for Etsy.

Chris Parry has put this together (and it has been used by thousands!) it includes everything you will need to factor in – take your time and work through it, the questions you have thought about will help you to decide on your preferences. It’s a very good starting point, and includes lots of factors you may have never thought to include.

The figure you will get at the end will be surprising – and again is not the be-all and end-all of pricing. Use this figure as a baseline, and apply the answers to the first three questions to this figure to get a price that you are happy to work with.

The only other thing I have to note here is to VALUE YOUR TIME. It’s very hard on Etsy to get caught up with the thousands of others who are fighting with each other to sell the cheapest item. You know yourself how much time and effort you put into your piece, make sure you charge for it !

lishlash runs her UK etsy store selling paper goods and jewellery. She is a frequent writer for this blog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fun ways to promote your shop

I've owned my own business before Etsy and every small business owner will tell you that the first thing you do is order business cards, and postcards, and tons of promotional material. So when I opened my first Etsy shop I did the same thing. That is how to promote your business, right?

The first shop did pretty well and by the time I opened the second shop, I was too busy to promote it and too strapped to order more than business cards. Guess what? It did well too. I will never know if advertising and getting promotional material "out there" is beneficial to business or not, it can't hurt I'm sure. But I am certain that developing quality products and providing great customer service are pivotal. And I'm also convinced that Etsy is it's own little biosphere. The more involved you are, the more your shop is seen and noted. Take great pictures, join some teams, pop in the forums from time to time, pester admin with your ideas, write articles for the Storque. All of these will help your shop be seen.

Recently I discovered a fun new way to give your shop some exposure while doing something nice at the same time. Michael over at has come up with a fantastic idea that fosters community spirit and gets a new shop some much needed sales and feedback. Plus its super sweet and funny. From his site you can sign up to sponsor a "Sneak Attack", which means that you will organize a seek and buy mission on Etsy. You scout new shops with few or no sales and choose one. Then you start a forum thread announcing the sneak attack will be in half an hour or so. Here is an example of a past sneak attack thread. At the appointed time, everyone pops over to The Handmade Movement site to see the name of the shop and hopefully, visit it a find something nice to buy. The last sneak attack made 39 sales in one day. Most in a matter of minutes. Can you imagine that sellers face when she logged in?!

I thought it sounded like too much fun so I volunteered to sponsor Thursdays Sneak Attack. Join me in the forums at 7:00pm EST, Oct. 9th.

I think it would be fun for the SASsy team to be a permanent sponsor. A different member could select and promote the Attack on "our day". It could be an effective way to promote our team and be active in the Etsy Community. Let me know what you think and if you would like to be a SASsy team Sneak Attack sponsor.

Have a great day everyone.

A little bit about me: I'm Andrea from I have another shop as well and have been selling on Etsy for over a year. Kits & Caboodles is relatively new but has done pretty well thanks to a bit of experience and some good advice from my mentor. I'm thrilled to be able to share what I have learned with others. Also, I really like lists.

Friday, October 3, 2008

How blogging can help your exposure.

I am sure if you have been to the Etsy forums you have read your share of threads discussing blogs and how to blog more effectively. In this post I want to talk about how you can get your name out and have fun in the process.

Before starting your blog think of what you want as the focus. The best blogs are those that grab the attention of the readers and keep them coming back for more. Keeping your posts relative to your overall purpose and interesting will be a challenge in the beginning. Just write about what interests you the most and the juices will start flowing. Make sure you tag the posts with words that will help it show in search engines. If you post about a seller, including their shop name in the post labels so it is easier to find. You may also find that adding your feeds to programs like feedburner will expose your posts to even more eyes and allow you to have readers subscribe to your thoughts.

Now that we have the subject of the blog we need a look. This is were your creativity meets your hidden writer. There are many templates that you can add and alter to make your appearance unique and eye catching. not enough room for all the info you want to add? Here is a great site for turning Standard Blogger Templates in to a 3 column blog.

Pretty graphics, wonderfully written posts.. but where are my readers? You can't show off your blog if no one can find you right. So lets tell the world about this great read.

1. Joining a social network like Blogcatalog can help give your site the boosts it needs. BlogCatalog is a directory of blogs by category and theme. Once you post your blog to the site it will update each time you add a new post. There is even a great widget to add to your blog to show who stopped by and how long ago.
2. Leave comments on other great blogs. I like to see what others are writting and if I like it alot I always leave a comment. Those comments are linked back to your profile and all blogs associated with your name. Often times the writer will return to your blog, read, and leave a comment of their own!
3. Link to blogs you have read and want to read again. I am a bit nutty but I often search for my site name to see who is writing about me or linking back to certain posts. This brings me to the site and I always return the favor with a link on my blog.
4. Add your blog URL to search engines. Here is the link to add your url to google and yahoo. It is free and it brings your site to their attention. and
5. Adding a sitemeter counter can help you see where your readers are coming from and when.
6. Link to your etsy shop using the 'EtsyMini' located to the bottom-left under 'youretsy' in your shop. This is a window into your store front and will allow your readers to click and view all your products.
7. Last but not least add your blog url to your business cards, etsy shop announcement, forum signatures, and forum posts. Show people where they can find you and they will come looking =)

Okay you now have tools to help your blog thrive... what are you waiting for get blogging!

Come back often.. I will be posting more info on blogging basics.

About the author: I am Amanda, owner extraordinaire of Sygnet Creations. I have been selling on etsy for over a year now and I loving it! I am a full time mom and military spouse. I tend to know a little about everything and I am always a friendly ear and convo away. Ask me anything.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Free ad space and a mini too!

I havent been giving this blog the attention it deserves lately. I want to rally everyone (myself included!) together to make this something awesome. This is the hub of our team. A place to connect, support, and help out one another. We are almost there, and I've got some ideas to push us in the right direction.

I want to encourage our current authors to post regularly. I know we all get busy. A post doesn't have to be a big deal, so don't stress about them. Just share a little of what you know, or tell us about someone you see doing things right.

*As a bonus, all active authors will get free ad space on the blog! Yeah, you heard me. Free! Thats some incentive right there folks.
If you are part of the Sellers Assisting Sellers Team and have something to say, contact me and let me know and I'll add you to the authors list.

*Also, the author of the most current post will have their Etsy mini run for a few days. More free promotion. Are you typing yet?

One last thing, if you are a team member and also have a blog and would be willing to put a little link up to this blog, we would link back to you. An ad square should be available soon, which would be even better than a little 'ole link.

Thanks everyone for taking time out of your busy schedules to take part in this blog and the team. You all rock!

Just a note to current authors...the authors list over there ----> links to your blogger profile, so be sure to utilize that little space. Add your correct links and a little bio.

Update! I've added a little code to the site (which my amazing son wrote) which will automatically update the sidebar to display a mini for the author who has posted most recently. You wont have to send me your code for your mini! Let's get some posts up and see if it works!

Cheers- Andrea
Kits & Caboodles

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A quick note on hearts...

Everyone loves getting hearts – even people with thousands of them still get excited when they hit heart milestones!

A very common question I find in the forum is “Why is no one buying this” or “how do I make my hearts into sales??” I’ll let you into a little secret: Views don’t equal hearts, and hearts don’t equal sales.

Many long standing etsians will tell you they’ve had that elusive item with 5000 views and 200 hearts. It may, and likely will, sell in the end – but it only takes one buyer to make a sale. The item with 3 views and 0 hearts is just as likely to sell as the one with 500.

You also need to keep in mind that hearting is also a great bookmarking tool – think about the reasons you’ve hearted an item or a buyer – to go back and look at later, for a possible gift idea, maybe even for inspiration.

Without statistics it is often hard to equate views, hearts and sales. While Etsy works on providing us with stats there are other ways to find out this information. Majaba is a great resource that shows you how many hearts and views you have - especially helpful is the view to heart ratio which is where your hearts become a very useful tool.

Although they don’t guarantee a sale, an item with many hearts and views is a great indication of the good aspects of your store. Why do you think so many people are looking at this item, and why are they hearting it? I can take a good guess now: it has a great photo and is tagged well.

Looking at your popular items is like doing your own market research. The items with a high view to heart ratio are showing you what is popular in your store. Its an indicator of which photos are better, which tags are working, and which items customers like, and in cases with large variations between items perhaps which direction you should be leaning in.

So, although its frustrating to have an item that is popular but not selling – perhaps you can take advantage of this frustration by taking an indepth look at your shop – and hopefully you can use those hearts to get some sales!

Majaba – a brilliant heart checking tool, I will warn you though, it’s addictive!

lishlash runs her UK etsy store selling paper goods and jewellery and can often be found in the forums when not being addicted to majaba!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Improving Your Product Descriptions

After product photos, product descriptions are the most important element in successful online selling. Because your customers cannot see and feel your items in person, you need to provide that experience in your description. Your description can be what turns a browser into a buyer. You might not be the next Nobel Laureate in literature, but with a little time and practice, you can write great product descriptions.

Write your description as if your buyer were blind.
When you write your description, pretend that your customer cannot see your gorgeous photos. Describe the shape, size, color, luster, feel, etc. of your item. Don't leave anything out. Think about what information you would want to know if you were shopping. Always include what materials your product is made of. Remember that most people aren't going to take the time to write and ask you about something you've omitted; they're much more likely to just move on to the next shop.

When possible, include a little information about your process.
Etsy is all about handmade. Unless you are selling commercial supplies or vintage, you should be able to provide a sentence or two about your process. People love to know a little bit about what went into making the piece they are buying. Don't leave someone wondering if you made that gorgeous silver pendant, or just bought it and put it on a chain.

Include measurements in Imperial and metric.
Etsy is an international site. Most of the world uses the metric system, but many Americans are unfamiliar with metric measurements, so include both. 1 inch equals 2.54cm exactly.

Avoid abbreviations and technical terms.
There may be terms that you use every day in your business that your buyer is unfamiliar with. Sometimes you can use this as an opportunity to educate your buyer, but if you define every technical term you use, your description will become long and will most likely turn buyers off. Also, be careful about using abbreviations that are not universally known. An example I often see on Etsy is "convo." New Etsy users are not generally familiar with this term, so I recommend saying, "Please contact me," instead of, "Please convo me."

Add a little of your personality to your descriptions.
For me, this is the most challenging part of writing descriptions. If you can do this well, it will draw people to your shop. If you do this poorly, you can lose sales. Make sure the tone of your writing matches the type of item you are selling. For example, if you are selling fun, colorful, whimiscal costume jewelry, go ahead and write something cute, fun, and whimsical in your description. If you are selling a $10,000 emerald necklace, a different approach is needed.

Make sure your customer isn't surprised.
When your customer receives an order from you, there should be no surprises. Be extremely clear in your listing what your buyer will receive. Your buyer should know the color, size, shape, quantity, etc. before ordering. If you are selling an item with a flaw, however small, be sure to disclose that.

Get a second pair of eyes for proofreading.
It can be difficult to find your own mistakes. Have someone else read your description to check for spelling and grammatical errors or omissions. I also find Firefox's spell check feature to be extremely helpful. (For those of you unfamilar with Firefox, it is a web browser that includes a built-in spell check. Firefox will underline incorrectly spelled words in red for you.)

I hope you will be able to use some of these ideas to improve your listings on Etsy. If you have further advice about writing descriptions, please post in the comments below. I'd love to hear your ideas!

About the author: I am 'Chel, owner of Lava Jewelry and Zbella. I have been selling on Etsy for just over two years, and I am available as a mentor in the following areas: Customer Service, Etsy Policies, Shop Critiques, USPS Shipping, and Gemstones.