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Etsy symposium hits the craft community

Yesterday EtsyEtsy Symposium graciously held an insightful, inspirational symposium to help crafters learn what we all need to do to succeed in our businesses. The symposium, entitled

Success on Etsy Symposium:  Let’s Get Off Our Butts: Building a Responsive Business

ran 6 1/2 hours (with some breaks) and was well attended locally as well as online through a live feed that reached about 2000 viewers.

All the sessions will be archived here:

I was an online spectator and decided it would be great to jot down the highlights of the different sessions. I am going to share my summaries with you here. So, this is going to be a long post.

The first workshop, The Greedy Crafter: Getting What You Want, was led by Lorrie Veasey | @LorrieMud.

First Priority:  Great photos!

  • Add brightness
  • Adjust background so image pops
  • Make sure your photo is clear
  • Is your picture selling?
  • Put your picture in a great treasury and see if your picture stands out or needs improvement
  • Use contrasting background that isn’t busy
  • Use natural lighting

Example of good photos: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Spiderbite?ga_search_query=spiderbite&ga_search_type=seller_usernames


  • Use all five photos when posting an item
  • Make sure your cropping is precise
  • Experiment and learn from others

Good Practices:

  • Good time management
  • Set goals — 1 month, 6 months, 1 year

Item descriptions:

  • Item descriptions must be engaging, to the point, descriptive
  • A story can sell, so tell the story of your piece
  • Description can compel people to buy
  • First sentence is key
  • Have a connection with the buyer. Let them hear your voice. Your first chance to do that is in the description.
  • Closing — I am happy to combine shipping on multiple purchases
  • Add an Interior link = SEO tool (more on SEO later)

Descriptions should consist of three paragraphs – answer these questions:

  • Why buy this?
  • What is it?
    • color
    • size
    • made from
    • care instructions
  • Who should buy it?
  • What is it for?
  • How does it work?
  • Why is better than the other one I saw?
  • Is it ready to use?
  • Is it ready to ship? (They want it now!)
  • Will I get that one?
  • What do your terms mean?
  • Can I  live without it?
  • This is the perfect gift; example: fillable containers make great gifts — give a purpose

Selling art suggestions:

  • Compelling
  • Why should they buy it? Who is the buyer?
  • Write from your point of view — I made this because I saw…
  • Strengths of item

Reverse intervention: Email your people and ask what they think is wonderful about 5 of your pieces and what they see. Get catch phrases from your people and use them.

Everyone needs art; inspiration as an artist; texture, color

What questions are you asked about your work? Make sure you include your answers in your description.

You can copy last two paragraphs from listing to listing.

Valentine’s day is coming. Drop hints

Occasion : Recipient; change your descriptions and then change them again based on timing.

Mother’s day; Father’s Day, etc.


  • Use the Etsi forums — businesstopictures (free)
  • SEO in 6 easy steps manual (look on the Internet)
  • They have to find you. You will see tangible results
  • Consultations about tagging competitively. You can ask for help on Etsy
  • Get your sales up!
  • http://guides.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-search-engine-optimization


  • If you build it, will they come? Earlier, when there was less competition, they came and now… it is harder.
  • There is loads of competition with other shops, depressed economy, how are people spending?
  • Drive traffic into your shop. If it were a physical shop you would drive traffic in.
  • Your tools are social media applications: Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc.
  • Craft fair; talk about your product; hand out business cards.
  • Believe in yourself; invest in yourself; show and feel your commitment! I must sell!
  • Is it worth it? You have to get passed that.
  • You may have to spend to make. You can’t do it without investing.

Blog: Customers hear your voice. Use blogs in the following ways:

  • Blog giveaways: blog catalogs
  • bloghercatalog — find customers on a blog; put ad on such a blog; compel the blog to offer your goods; pitch the blogger; don’t pay for the ad
  • Promote your own blog giveaway on someone else’s blog
  • Promotegiveaway
  • Post+ photos+ link to your shop

Additional marketing tips:

  • How do you find your demographic? What appeals to you is your demographic!
  • Check your customers profile to find out how they found you.
  • Circles can help demographics; you get info about who is looking at you. You can see who follows you and who they follow.
  • Check out: Project wonderful
  • Join teams and see how they send to other users and customers
  • Tutorials — stumble and…
  • Talk to craft shop
  • Teach
  • Send a press release; see media bistro — online source about what magazines will be doing in 8 months including what they are looking for.
  • Haro (Help a Reporter Out) — condensed reports about experts in media – advertising source
  • Join a challenge blog
  • Sweet treat Thursday;  submit your work as advertising
  • Twin up with Etsy someone to promote each other

Practice Exceptional Customer Service

  • Customers do your marketing for you for the good and bad.
    Someone who has a great experience tells 2 people
    Someone who has a bad experience tells 7 people
  • Keep them in the loop about when it is coming and thanks for coming to the shop. Reestablish contact once they receive it.
  • Package it pretty. Treat them like you want to be treated.
  • Include a printed note that you sign personally.
  • Give / Receive feedback when they receive it so you get feedback back.


  • Get up early and work
  • Follow your goals! Don’t be distracted!
  • If you want to really do this you have to hold benchmarks and see if anything is changing. Keep your goals on one Post-it Note / day so you can accomplish them.
  • Focus!

Use philanthropy to build your reputation


The second workshop, Beyond the Comfort Zone: Presenting Yourself Professionally was led by Vanessa Bertozzi | @vanessabertozzi, who is the Director of Community and Education at Etsy.

Four basic questions

  • Why is your shop unique?
  • In five words describe your aesthetic.
  • What is your story and why should they care?
  • Describe your ideal customer and the world they inhabit

Use 5 words — playful, fresh, modern, young, innovative …

Ask three people in your life who you trust to critique your shop.

Expect growing pains. You need to take a cold hard look!

What do they think of your products? Would you buy this?

Hone your craft; hone your branding;


  • Show a presence
  • Have a good name
  • Have more than 5 listings; a dozen is better; fill your shop so it looks like you are making an effort and investing
  • Offer a custom listing if you can — I’m a one-person-shop and I can still personalize* customize* my item for you!
  • Write in the 1st person
  • Fill out your profile and tell your refined story — crisp, short and punchy
  • Have an avatar (face or product) and a banner- limit fonts; make them appealing! Logo; consistency; colors
  • Show your location — this goes to demographics
  • Hammer the consistency so you will be recognized.
  • Get feedback

Maybe rename? if you haven’t sold anything? Change the email address and then change it back — you must have a unique address.


  • Product shots should have catalog quality
  • Photo styling; story in the photo; vignette in the photo
  • Packaging and labeling — very important to show your label
  • Headshot or portrait — make it impressive! Represent yourself
  • Have style
  • Ask someone to take your photo; different poses; different settings
  • Micro-brand
  • Cultivate your space so it will be inspiring and motivating
  • Put your best foot forward, show your personality

Reach out

  • Prepare your Elevator Pitch – you have a really short time and space to connect with your customer.
  • Connect to your product with an artistic flair
  • This could be your opening on your bio?
  • Newsletter and promotions: Use mailing lists, but content has to be new and fresh and not just another email of junk
  • Inspire
  • Bio should be short, sweet and personal. Images should be low-res;
  • Send a blogger something they may like — not necessarily your own thing. You aren’t the center of the universe… Then you might send your own thing later on and they will be more accepting. It’s less self promotional.
  • Write to get to the point. If you send an application for a show or to get a grant be concise.
  • Define your clear goals
  • Explain your plan
  • Put yourself in their shoes and focus on their needs

Etsy Secret Sauce

  • Take part in the community and give back
  • Make Friends
  • Join Teams
  • Make Treasuries
  • Join Challenges
  • Blog together
  • There is strength in numbers
  • Use Favorites

Questions: If your shop has certain items and then you introduce new items maybe you should drop the old items. Build a theme.

Someone wrote she adds an eco-tip on her posts as a nice gesture.

The third workshop,  Attract Your Target Market — You’re Not Walmart, was led by April Bowles-Olin | @blacksburgbelle.

Target Audience

  • What sets you apart? age, gender, married status, virtues, hobbies, beliefs, interests
  • What sets your product apart? color, technique, subject
  • Characteristics of the ideal customer? What are her interests? age? income? what hair color? clothes? eye glasses?

If you include the likes of your ideal customer in your photos she will find your work appealing.

  • What problem do you solve for your customer?

An artist solves an empty wall. Adds light to a room
Get into your ideal customer’s head what story she is telling herself while she is looking at and thinking about your product.
It is so worth it to splurge on this amazing piece!

  • Can you make your product even MORE appealing to your customer?

Sell to people the way we would want to be sold to. Don’t be pushy but if it is the right product it will be the right sale!

April  (speaker) does not buy paid advertising at all!

April keeps in mind all these points and then writes descriptions accordingly.

April uses a story to sell art. She uses the story behind the art. What inspires it? Art is different from jewelry. The buyer wants to know what is behind it. Why did you paint that; what about that place?

Your target market needs to be at a craft show to make it worth going to that kind of show.

The fourth workshop, Ascertaining Your Awesomeness & Articulating it Without Sounding Like an Ass, was led by Michelle Ward | @WhenIGroUpCoach.

What makes you different? What is your uniquity? How do you differentiate yourself?


I make jewelry for a shop on Etsy…  or  I make amazing crystal earrings for your special wedding day!

So, what do you do? It makes us feel nervous. It makes us feel invalid to claim we do something that isn’t viable…yet.

It’s an opportunity and I feel good about what I do!

Mission Manifesto – 6 questions

* the only wrong answer is: I’m unique because it is me and there is no one else like me… *

1.       Why do you rock people’s socks?
2.       Why are you doing what you do in terms of your business?
3.       Why do you think you can succeed in this business?
4.       What do you want to be known for in your business.
5.       Why do you care about your field?
6.       What difference do you want to make in this field?
What do you do differently that makes your work unique? If you had a goal to change the field, what would you do?
7.       Summarize each answer into one sentence for each question.
8. Tell your pitch in 3-4 sentences.

Interactive Part: Action Items:

  • Read your pitch aloud and see how it sounds out loud even if it is really nice on paper.
  • Tell 5 people your articulation to make sure it becomes part of you. Take note of their questions. Make changes as you go through this exercise.
  • Put your pitch in your profile!
  • Send it to Facebook, Twitter…
  • Schedule a business building day for you. If things aren’t changing and your business isn’t moving forward then you are stuck.

Be in touch!  [email protected]

The last workshop, Reaching Your Dreams: One Goal at a Time, was led by April Bowles-Olin | @blacksburgbelle

Hypothetical Situation: Half the room has a choice of where they go on vacation: Hawaii or Greece.
The other half of the room doesn’t get a choice. They are going to Hawaii.
Who is happier? Answer: The half who don’t have a choice. No regrets!

Quoted book: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath
Referred to a research project on arthritis patient. Choice between meds and surgery.

  • Decision Paralysis: too many choices…

Leaves you stuck; you waste time deciding what to do next; your willpower goes down

  • Decide now — what to do tomorrow! Goal setting.
  • How you make decisions down the line?

Take action over and over. That’s your success.

  • Creative dream goal.
  • How much do you need to earn? How much do you want to earn and why?
    If you don’t know, Get Clear on Money!
    Is your business realistic? Figure out if your business model will work?
    Do you have to knit 12 hours/day + marketing to make ends meet? Maybe you don’t like that idea?
  • Maybe instead… think out of the box
  • Pattern in a newsletter people pay for ~$10.
  • PDF files of patterns
  • Teach
  • Make some items as well.
  • Your goal is attainable but you have to be clear about what you need to do.
  • What is the sign your dream goal is met? What is the feeling associated with that sign?

Fear?  Excitement?
If your logic and your excitement are not in sync you have a problem… Find the feeling and hold it; recall it when you are in a funk.

SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely

  • Crap excuses: Time; other responsibilities, bad camera, tired, lazy, don’t feel like it, don’t know what to do next, don’t see results…

Don’t allow those crap excuses!

B/W rules of business.

  • Every week I post M, W, F.
  • Every week I send a newsletter.
  • Add 5 items to your shop every week.
  • Dream goal is so far down the line you need to shrink the span till you reach that line.

What would you tell a friend if she said what she wants to reach a dream goal?

Actionable tasks — high leverage tasks that will show immediate rewards.

1.       Get clear on money

2.       Improve 3 product descriptions

3.       Re-read notes from Symposium and post on TAFA / Blog

4.       Rework Profile description

5.       Look at photos

To do lists need to be done in one day. There can be no more than 6 things that take an hour each on that list. Prioritize the items. There are no choices. SHRINK the list!

1.       First do high-leverage tasks.

2.       Focus on the stuff that works. Don’t spend loads of time wasting time on Facebook and Twitter– that needs to be done but not for hours.

3.       If something isn’t selling don’t fix it. Stop.

4.       Take action consistently.

5.       Stop the crap excuses.

6.       You will make it and do well. This is what it takes!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    February 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Poor pictures, and this, from the second section
    “Have more than 5 listings; a dozen is better; fill your shop so it looks like you are making an effort and investing” are probably why I’ve never bought anything on Etsy. So many shops are underpopulated I leave the site rather than getting sucked into browsing 😉

    I recognize it may be difficult or not cost effective to create one of a kind item, but a casual hobby and a viable small business are two completely different things, and that first look on a sellers landing page can make or break sales.

    just two cents from someone uninvolved~

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