The California Crafters Club of Etsy (CCCOE) is a group of independent artists, crafters, & artisans from California who sell their wares on Etsy.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Spooky Season

Halloween is just two weeks away. Are you ready?

Check out this creepy doll from Olde Tyme Notions. Wouldn't it be perfect with your spooky decor?

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20s Zombie French boudoir doll

Want to spookify your wardrobe? How about this spider necklace from Whimsicals?  

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Halloween Spiders Lair Necklace


If you're more of a do-it-yourself-er, you could start with this inspiration kit from haileys bobbins...

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Halloween---Inspiration Kit

This treat basket from such and sort altered would go perfectly on your mantle or as a centerpiece on your dining room table.

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Rusty Shabby Halloweeny Treat Basket

Maybe you need a little pick-me-up just for yourself. I bet this soap from savor doesn't smell wicked (or maybe it does 😉)...

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Whipped Soap Wicked

What's Halloween without some classic monsters? Frankenstein's monster from Indy & Cleo is sure to add a little something to your day.

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FRANKENSTEIN Handmade Scrabble Tile Pendant

And what's more Halloween than a pirate skeleton from Salty Seas Studios? Not much, I'd wager.

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Pirate Mason Jar Snowglobe

And make sure to check out the other Halloween offerings from the members of the team. There's sure to be something else to spook you. 

Much thanks to Annie from annie k designs for curating most of the items in this post.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Write It Up

Lately, here on the blog I've been discussing the tags, titles, and product photography that go into our listings on Etsy. These things are vital to getting our items in front of buyers. But there are other things that go into listings.

Like, the product description.

Product descriptions don't tend to get a lot of attention, generally. That's because, sadly, many people don't bother to read them. If you've run your shop for any amount of time, you've probably gotten a convo from a buyer with a question that was clearly answered in your product description. Probably more than one.

But that doesn't mean you should skimp on them. There are plenty of people who do read the descriptions, and you'll probably never hear from them. Or you might just get a sale that you would have missed otherwise. So, it's generally a good idea to take some time to write and edit your product descriptions so that they don't cost you a sale.

From a search engine optimization viewpoint, product descriptions may or may not be helpful. Etsy does not use them in their internal search (they focus on tags and titles), but other search engines (*cough* Google *cough*) may look at the first 160-500 characters of your description. So, it's a good idea to spend that first sentence or two saying what the item is and targeting your good long tail keywords.

Product descriptions need not be very long. They should answer the 20 important questions, though. And they should sound natural, like a human wrote it.

Much like newspaper journalism, the important stuff should go in the beginning, and extra details can be added towards the end. Assume that anyone who is still reading to the end of the description is pretty much sold, so that's where you include fun tidbits and really let your personality shine.

Etsy also encourages adding links. If your item happens to also come in other colors, include a link to the shop section where those other colors reside. You can include a link to your about page, your shop policies, or another item that might pair well with that listing. If the item is a pattern and you also sell the finished item (or vice versa), include the link.

Try to keep the links internal to Etsy (it'll help with ranking).

One last thing: If you have many items that are the same, do find a way to change up your product descriptions a bit. Etsy's algorithms won't care, but outside search engines do "read" the words, and copies (a description that is exactly the same) won't "register" as a new page. But different listings have something different about them (size, color, etc.), so changing that up in the description will help.

How much time do you spend on your product descriptions? Do you get many questions that you did answer that just got missed?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Target the Long Tail Keywords

One of the things that popped up in Etsy's new search guide was "do target 'long tail' keywords". Which we've all been doing already, right?

No? What is a "long tail" keyword? Ahem...

Let's pretend we're in a big box store, ambling about. We have no specific destination in mind. We're just killing time. But then we notice the bedding section.

Hey, you think, I could really use a replacement set of sheets.

So, you head over and walk up and down the aisles. And as you peruse, you think. It's fall. The weather's turning cooler. A warmer set of sheets, like flannel, might be what you need. You head towards the flannel sets, and you look for queen size as that's what's going to fit your bed.

What color? Do you want a print? Thread count? As you look, you narrow down what kind of sheet set you want.

If you were to look online, at this point you wouldn't search "bed sheets". No. Your query would be something along the lines of "flannel bed sheets queen size" with color indicated and maybe thread count.

That's a "long tail" keyword. You pretty much know what you want, so you can be fairly specific in the search. And you're pretty much ready to buy.

This is what we want to target when finding tags. We want to end up in the search by the buyer who is ready to buy and pretty much knows what they want. This means being very specific in your tags.

So, let's take a look at this bag from annie k designs:

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Chihuahua Hipster Bag

Who's going to want this bag? A dog lover, preferrably one who loves chihuahuas. Someone who's looking for a purse and wants a crossbody one. 

A good long tail keyword for this might be "pink chihuahua crossbody bag". Obviously, this won't fit in one tag as it's way longer than 20 characters. But "pink" should be one of the attributes (which will show up in Etsy search). And "chihuahua" and "crossbody bag" will both work as tags. 

(While they didn't come out and say it, the new guide hinted that exact phrase matches in the title and tags weren't as vital as in the past, so if "bag" is used once in the tags, it doesn't have to be repeated.)

Have you been targeting long tail keywords?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Search Updates

Etsy just released a new search guide. We need to pay attention.

When Etsy updates their search guide, that means that they've adjusted the algorithm their search uses in evaluating listings. So, we need to look at our listings to make sure that we've optimized them so that they can take advantage of these updates.

Marmalead's blog noted three big takeaways from the new guide: title length, renewing listings, and long tail keywords.

The new guide says that of the 140 characters available for titles, it's fine not to use all of them. Your title should be readable by a human. Much of what I wrote three weeks ago still holds. Combine tags into a naturally sounding specific description of your item. Only now there's no need to "tag stuff" your title. Two or three phrases that describe your listing will suffice.

As for renewing listings, it's no longer going to give your listings the bump it once did. The goal is to make your listings more searchable in the long term. This is good news as we no longer need to worry about the cost of frequent renewing. (Although, that might not be entirely accurate.)

Long tail keywords we'll talk about in a later post.

There were a few other takeaways I noticed in the new guide (that hopefully aren't surprising to you):

  1. Categories and attributes are important. They act like tags in search and will help direct buyers to your items if that's what they are searching for.
  2. Have you ever considered using a tag with a misspelled word in case buyers are misspelling in the search bar? Don't. Etsy corrects misspellings from searchers and directs them to the correctly spelled tags.
  3. Make sure your About section is filled out as well as your shop policies. When determining ranking (how high your item shows in a relevant search), a shop with an About section and shop policies will rank higher than one that doesn't. 
  4. Consider free shipping. This is going to be more relevant going forward. (Hint: raise the price of your item by the amount it's going to cost to ship, and then call the shipping "free".)
  5. Only choose occasion for things specifically for that occasion (such as Christmas stockings for Christmas). But, feel free to use a tag if your item can be used for that occasion ("Christmas gift" tag).
The good news is, not much has really changed. If you've been keeping to good SEO practices up until now, you probably don't need to make any drastic changes. And this is a good opportunity to refresh your listings (which you should be doing seasonally, anyway). 

What changes have you noticed in the new search guide?

Friday, September 21, 2018

In the Background

There is a bit of a debate over backgrounds in listing photographs. Some say that backgrounds should be plain so that your item is the center of attention. Others say that a photo needs something in the background or it's too plain.

Whichever side you fall on is fine. The best thing is to be consistent. A set background that you use for all your photos helps to brand your shop. Or if all your photographs are shot with a plain white background, that will also define a type of brand.

One good way to ensure that you have a uniform background for all your product photos is to purchase a yard or two of fabric. You can pick whatever neutral color you'd like, and then you can throw that over whatever table you're photographing on.

But the best way to see what you prefer is to look at some examples. First up, some examples of plain backgrounds:

Let's start with supplies. When you're selling something that someone's going to use to make something else, we really want to get a good look at it. Close up and plain background is great for this.

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DMC 4245 Variegated 6 Strand Floss Mystical Midnight from Ancora Crafts

This little critter does well against a plain background...

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Sweater Scrap Prawn by Zazu Faure

And a plain background doesn't have to be white. The dark background helps make this silver necklace pop.

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30 inch .925 sterling silver 1mm snake chain necklace by Designs by Tami

Next, here are sellers that have more scenery behind their products:

Hollow Books' photos all seem to have this background. It makes it really easy to spot their products, especially in a random search.

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Book Safe - Ravenclaw Harry Potter by Hollow Books by Refined Pallet 

Here's a different way to showcase a pair of earrings--with a map for the background...

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Sealife earrings by jewelry N gemstones

And if you're showing off an item that can be worn, having a model is great. We can really see this product in use and imagine wearing it ourselves.

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Knee High Socks by pink candy studio

If these were your products, would you have chosen to shoot them against a different background? What sort of background do you prefer in your photos? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shine a Light on It

There's a whole lot that goes into taking a "good" photograph. There are high school and college courses designed to develop students into competent professionals.

If you are deficient in this area, you might want to look into taking a class. However, there are a few things you can do right away to make your pictures better. And the more you practice, the better you're going to get.

A big thing is to take care of your lighting. Your photographs should be well-lit. Or, at least, deliberately lit. There are articles (and probably books) all about how to light photographs well. Today I can only scratch the surface. Here are three articles to get you started:

The best lighting is natural light. Sunlight. However, direct sunlight can be too much, especially the harsh sunlight of high noon. You want the sunlight filtered a bit, depending.

But not everyone can take pictures outdoors. And not everyone has a good place indoors that gets good sunlight. When looking into lighting options, look for white light. Lightboxes can also be helpful. And multiple sources of light can help to make a photograph pop.

(Yes, there's a lot that goes into getting good lighting. Take lots of pictures. See what works. That's the best way to get better pictures.)

Here are some photos from team members that show what you can do with lighting:

First up, this photo looks like it was photographed in a lightbox. It gives a very plain background so what you see is the product. Nothing else distracts.

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Barbary Belle Perfume Oil by Scent by the Sea

Here's a picture where natural light was used. See the window? It gives a bit more drama to the shot, highlighting how the vase will look in use.

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One Upcycled 1.5L Glass Wine Bottle Vase by Bottles & Wood

Here's an example with flood lighting. We can really see the necklace, and in a piece like this, we want to see detail. We can.

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Large Pave Diamond Evil Eye Medallion by Mooti Designs

The brightness of the light helps these crystals shine. When we're shopping for jewelry, we really want to see it sparkle. This sparkles.

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The Perfect Crystal Necklace by Beaded Treasure by Sue

There are many ways to do lighting. There are many ways to get it right. How confident are you in your photos' lighting?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Keeping Your Focus

When it comes to selecting pictures to use in your listings, there are a lot of things that should be obvious. But, if you take a look on Etsy, you will find listings which have pictures that aren't all that great. So, it's time to state some things plainly.

All your listing photos should be in focus.

The best way to ensure that you don't make this error is to take a lot of pictures when photographing your items. I mean, a lot a lot. If we assume that you're planning on having ten photos in your listing (which should be the goal), then, at minimum, you should be taking thirty pictures of your item. Although, it would not be a bad idea to take fifty shots or more when doing your photography.

Yes, this is overkill, but the idea is to select the best ten pictures. You should have a lot to choose from.

If you've been at this a while, you might know exactly what angles and views work best. But you're taking at least two of each "pose", right? That way you still have plenty of pictures to choose from.

There are photographers who deliberately choose to blur things in their photos. When you know what you're doing and you're getting the intended effect, that's fine. But those of us (like me) who aren't all that confident in their photographic skills should stick to making sure their pictures are in focus.

I will not be calling out any sellers for this, so I have some beautifully focused photos to share today.

First up, notice how this soap pops in the image:

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Whipped Soap VEGAN Hot Coffee 8 oz Creme Fraiche by savor

Even in a smaller size, you can clearly see the musical notes on the plate:

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Fused glass art plate by Caroline4art

We can easily see how this piece is assembled:

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lidded pine needle basket with a driftwood root top by Heart of Almanor

For smaller items, like keychains, it's vital that the item is clearly photographed:

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Personalized Keychain Edward Gorey by Tresijas

And see how clear this scarf is:

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Silk Scarf Handpainted in Copper and Brown by Ocean Avenue Silks

How well focused are your pictures? How many photos do you take when photographing your items?