Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Etsy Shop Critique - KelliGBarnettDesigns

First impression: Your shop announcement is way too long. Let me tell you why that's bad. You want your customers to see lots of pretty products when they open your shop. Right now, they see a big wall of text and links. While it's nice to be featured in treasuries, the link list might be better suited for your profile instead of the announcement.

A big suggestion -- a very, very strong one -- would be for you to mention the names of the stones in your jewelry. When people shop, they often shop for their favorite stones by entering them into search engines. If not, and they just happen upon your jewelry, then they will see the value of your pieces more if you impress upon them the stones used and maybe even a description of them. I noticed you used sun sitara (or goldstone) in your shimmering shades of orange necklace. While it's not a gemstone, it is a very special type of glass with an interesting history. It looks like there may be some carnelian

Another jewelry suggestion is that you might consider linking each individual bead with pins or by wire-wrapping instead of stringing necklaces and bracelets together. Just from personal experience, those seem to sell much more quickly. Also, using some chain with the beads might be a plus. These are merely suggestions, but in my experience those are more marketable. On the plus side for you, you will save beads and your items will weigh less.

Kelli, what in Sam's green hell are you doing posting a tiny little painting for $11!?!? It's petrified wood! It can't weigh that much unless you're using lead paint, which I think is against the law. Take that down to like $5! That gets a big WTF point. Also, you need to sale to "everywhere else" for an additional $3. International shipping isn't really all that expensive, and you can always adjust the price of your shipping if your first order costs more than you thought it was going to be.

That said, I do love the original art on barn wood. Everyone wants to have ooak art in his or her home, and that is a neat little rustic piece for someone to start a collection. I especially love the painting (above right) here with the swirling branches. There's something a little starry-nightish about it.

I don't know if I understand the benefit to you of making $2 hair clip sets. Maybe if you made hundreds and hundreds and sold them at fairs, but that seems like a lot of work with very little profit margin. Is it even worth $2 to list an item on Etsy unless you have a lot of them and can keep re-listing it? Etsy is so competitive, maybe this is just a little too simple? Another thing it does is drive traffic to your shop of people who are wanting to spend just a couple dollars, which might be detracting from the buyers who would spend more to buy your paintings.

I think your item descriptions are peachy. It's always good to keep them factual and objective, with dimensions, materials, and a description of the process without sounding too QVC-- which you have done nicely. Your bio is tastefully done, a clean description of what you do and who you are.

The bottom line is that I believe if you focus mostly on your paintings, that is your best bet at being successful on Etsy. I am afraid that the hair clips might take attention away from the art, but that is just my WTF opinion and completely conjecture. It's possible that the traffic from people doing a price-based search might get your art noticed by a few people here and there, but I believe they might do less good for your shop than the money is worth.

Focus on your international customers, and go ahead and make your shipping policies friendlier for the global market. Do a little research on what size flat-rate boxes you might need for various items and how much they will cost. Your international shoppers will be good to you, but most people are not going to go through the trouble of convo'ing you if they want something-- especially if English is not their first language.

Tags: well done. You are a smart cookie. ;-)

Even though I am guilty of the same, you might deactivate your empty sections until you have some products for them.

Lastly, your photos are great. The clarity and quality is vivid and clear. The only suggestion I have there is to get some interesting angles on your macro shots with smaller items. Those interesting photos are what make treasuries and the front page.

I would love to see some of your repurposed/painted/upcycled furniture! Why not post that?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WTF!? Christmas in July

Vicky of FreshUrbanVintage received a made-for-her bag [ literally ] of goodies from Feltie of FeltontheFly.

Vicky says:
I received a lovely package with a wonderful bag hand-stitched and beaded from Feltonthefly. I love it- it has a ribbon closure and will be perfect for safely holding my earrings and bracelets when I'm on the run (I'm known for throwing my accouterments in my bottomless pit of a bag on my way out the door so I can finish "dressing" at work, then finding things broken or tangled up with paper clips and smelling like old lifesavers). I could tell that this bag was made for me, made with kindness, and filled with good karma. Thanks Felt!

Kelli from KelliGBarnettDesigns received this bundle of goodies from BethMac of Bookworm Bookmarks.

Kelli says:
I recieved an assortment of bookmarks. Beth was kind enough to include one for my little girl and one for my son, and they both love them! Thanks so much for the oh-so-fun swap!

FeltOnTheFly was elated with her very special gift from HennessyHandbags:
I was over the moon happy and excited when I got a real live Hennessy Handbag all of my very own (thanks for the hook up). Here are some pics of the bag and the card she made.

Beth from Bookworm Bookmarks was very happy with her gifts from Kelli of KelliGBarnettDesigns. This is what Beth had to say:
I received a beautiful painting of a butterfly on upcycled barn wood and cannot wait to put it on my wall! She also sent me the most gorgeous necklace. I love its simple elegance! Great choices for me. Can we please do this again for Christmas!? : )
I think that having a Christmas swap sounds like a great idea! Maybe WTF!? can do a post-Christmas swap, when the gift-giving of the holiday season is over and everyone is experiencing the post-rush slump when business goes from crazy busy to nil.


Here is what HennesseyHandbags got from CreativityIsMessy. Hennessey says:
I received my secret santa in the mail the other day and in it were two really well designed business cards with the items attached. There were two bobby pins each with a purple stripped button attached to it and the other card came with a ring to match. They were both lovely, and the ring fit perfectly with an adjustable band. You can see how nicely they match my fingernail polish!!! Her card says that her shop name is Creativity Is Messy. It didn't look too messy to me! Thanks a bunch!! Oh, and I forgot to mention that it came with a cute little Christmas tag wishing me a Merry Christmas in July.

10eisha received a very generous package from ImpandPetal, and this is what she had to say:
I received my goody box of a secret Santa package from ImpAndPetal. It included a bunch of tea, which is awesome because i am a huge tea drinker, a wonderful smelling candle, a beautiful set of handmade earrings and a bracelet, a handmade scarf, and last but not least a handful of synthetic dreadlocks which I have always wanted for my pig tails! I have to admit that both of my cats and my Chihuahua have completely fallen in love with the dreads and have been spending their time stealing the from each other and chewing on them...sorry ImpAndPetal!


This badass necklace was mailed from SilvinePhotography to the lovely ImpAndPetal. It's reversible!


This lovely necklace-and-earring combo comes from Sarah at ArmillataDesigns to Rachel of TheYellowHobbit. Damn... I knew I should have given everyone *my* address in the buddy exchange.


Etsy is having its annual Christmas in July event, in which shopkeepers have the option to offer special sales throughout the second half of July.

Here at WTF, we're commemorating this event by starting our own tradition, WTF!? in July. If you opt to participate, then you will privately be contacted by me (WTF Terra) with the name, address, and shopkeeper Etsy link of another participant. You will have two weeks to choose a gift from your wares and send it to your participant. Once you have received your gift, you can come back to this page to share with us what you received (or send pictures!) and from who you received the gift. This is a great way to A. ) get something in the mail without making a purchase, B.) advertise your wares when your recipient shares what you sent, C.) have a little fun while connecting with other shopkeepers.

Deadline to enter: Friday, July 30

Here's how to participate:

1. Fill out the form below. You must include your first and last name, full address, and shop URL or your entry will not be valid.
2. Wait until the entry deadline to be contacted via Etsy convo with the name, address, details (optional part of form below) and URL of your "WTF!? Buddy."
3. Browse his or her shop, profile, and details and choose a gift/gift package from your wares (vintage, supplies, or handmade) or make a new gift to mail to your "Buddy." Do not contact him or her until you have allowed a reasonable amount of time for your package to arrive. You will have no longer than two weeks to choose/make your gift and mail it. Make sure you include a business card or personal note with your Etsy shop name and URL with your gift.
4. Receive a gift in the mail from your WTF buddy.
5. Come back to WTF Etsy and tell who sent you a gift and what you received. (pictures and stories will be posted permanently to WTF!? Etsy)

Suggestions, Disclaimers, and Guidelines:

1. Your address and personal information will only be shared with your WTF!? Secret Santa Buddy.

2. I, WTF!? Terra, am not in any way responsible for the actions or gifts from shopkeepers. If you don't like or don't receive a gift from your Buddy, then WTF!? will not compensate you for your displeasure. I will, however, contact your secret Buddy at your request if you haven't received your package within 2-3 weeks of the deadline.

3. This is WTF!? Etsy, and it is safe to assume that anyone who participates in this contest has a sense of humor. Your gift can be-- but does not have to be-- funny.

4. In the form below, the "details" section could help me to match you with a reasonable recipient and could help your Buddy choose something relevant for you. You could say things like, "I love vintage items," "I am a parent of a 2 year old girl," "I would love a gift for my grandmother," "I am a chain-smoking alcoholic," "I love anything music related," or "I don't wear jewelry." If you want to ask your Buddy a question so you can personalize a gift, then send your query to me through WTFSupplies via Etsy convo, and I will contact them on your behalf.

5. There is no legal responsibility attached to this exchange; however, don't be an ass. If you agree to participate, then send a gift. It does not have to be expensive or elaborate, but make it thoughtful. You also are not legally obligated to respond once you receive your gift in the mail, but it would be cruel to not allow your "Buddy" the opportunity to be advertised on this site.

6. This is WTF!? Etsy. Your gift can be funny or a gag gift, but it can not be disgusting, unsanitary, cruel, or offensive.

7. It is entirely up to you what you choose to send. There is no upper or lower limit on the monetary value of your items, and we all understand that "it's the though that counts."

8. Your gift must be physical. If you do digital work (like photography or graphic design), then mail a physical print of your item.


10. By filling out the form below, you are agreeing to receive a gift, send a gift, and then come back to tell who your buddy is and what they sent.

Etsy Shop Critique - HennessyHandbags

First impression: I really like you, Hennessy. To be great, you have to break rules and be unique, which you obviously have the courage to do. You've got initiative and you're not afraid to take creative risks. You get a badass point.

The nagging issue that is just overwhelming for me is that while you are one amazing artist, there is something I just don't get. Just looking at the detail of the eyes in your banner is indicative of the level of skill you have as an artist, but WTF is up with the jaws of your women? They are either missing, wide and masculine, or overemphasized/thick. I don't mean this at all to be insulting to you or anyone else, but they look like transgendered women. Why is it that you spend so much time detailing the women of your purses, but you neglect the jaws or draw them disproportionately? It seems that many of the women's faces just immediately transition into the shoulders with no neck. It makes the faces seem like they belong to someone very large, but the bodies are slender, long, and feminine.

The hair on your purse vixens is really cool, the spiral being a universal symbol of femininity or feminine strength. I also love the eyes of the women on your purses, each one representing a different mood. This is a stretch, but are you mixed or in a relationship with someone from a different religion or background? Your works have a lot of harmonizing contrasts, black and white being predominant themes. It is really cool how most of your purses have two faces, reflecting a dark and a light side, either literally or dark/light with mood. One side of your purses usually has a passive or reticent side, the other a dominant and confident side. It's very yin and yang. :-)

I love the purse with the old book pages. That was a really clever integration, especially with the way you incorporated it into her hair. I like the purse itself, too.

Your photography is great. You have a combination of simple, organic backgrounds and high-contrast white, which is always a great way to put the focus on the products.

I can't really fault your shop announcement because there's not much there for me to critique. You might use it to write a little blurb about how you revitalize retired purses or how people can carry an original painting with them.

I think Etsy is going to be a hard venue for you to sell your bags. Trying to find a purse on Etsy is nearly impossible, especially since people tag so many non-purse items as purses. Discovering one single seller in the ocean of etsy purses is a long shot, especially if people sort by price. I would say you need to do exactly what you're doing now, which is to get recognized by bloggers and people with high-traffic sites so your unique designs can be seen.

Another thing you need to do is list more. You don't have a lot of items, which is understandable since art is not exactly something you can mass-produce, but i would suggest maybe doing some less labor-intensive, less specific designs for a smaller price range to drive traffic to your shop. Make sure when you make sales to stick a bunch of business cards in your purse. The purses themselves will be a great advertisement.

One thing that has really helped me is when customers from other forums and websites outside of Etsy buy from me, they are buying from *me* as a person, not my shop. I can get to know them and some people have taken a ton of my business cards and put them around workstations at their job. This one beautiful, beautiful and now very dear friend from Canada has been responsible for nearly 1/4 of my sales because she has gotten her family and co-workers to buy from me.

Another thing I suggest is that you do some artwork that is more generic than faces, which might appeal to a broader customer base. I know it might seem cliche, but people aren't as fearless as you when it comes to taking a fashion risk, so they will feel a little more safe buying something with a design or symbol that stands out but not as much as a face.

Your profile is cool. It's zany and free-spirited, like you. I think you've captured yourself, there. I always tell my students that I'm a treasure hunter, not a teacher. I like to find treasures which are in plain sight, but my trained eye and knowledge allow me to know how very rare and special some things are that others may think are just junk. I like to show a geode that I cut in half to my kids, first whole as a lumpy brown rock, then the amazing crystal formation in the middle. Maybe you could use your treasure-hunting idea as inspiration to help people find your shop. You could even blog about how shitty the experience can be if you're looking for a purse on Etsy, and how HennessyHandbags is the place to be if you want a truly unique treasure.

You have a great business idea and your shop is set up nicely. I am afraid that no matter how hard you try, Etsy is going to be a hard venue for you to sell unless you get your product volume up and add some variety to your designs so you have a more broad chance of keyword searches coming across your shop.

You get five WTF points for this:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Some WTF!? Moments Still Shock Even Me...

This shop was brought to my attention from the ever-growing WTF!? thread on Etsy's critique forum. I just had to bring this to the light.

For instance, if you'll take a look at this very unique doll to the left, you probably will experience a similar reaction. And yes, it is exactly what you're thinking it is, a reborn lizard alien demon doll (as stated in the title).
According to HeavenLeigh, the creator:
Meet Abe! What IS Abe? A chameleon? An alien? A fish hybrid? A lizard demon? Who knows. But he's weird and creepy and cute as heck.
Dude, she even gave this little guy a name! Abe isn't the only shocker in the group, though. HeavenLeigh's shop elicits an emotional response much like a visit to the local Humane Society shelter, where you see how sad and pitiful the little mangled animals are and end up taking home an animal with only three legs and looking fresh off the set of an episode of South Park. But, somehow, he is cute.

And then there's the advice you wish you had taken from your mother:

Depleted uranium is not listed in the materials for this item:

And she even has seasonal holiday decor! How festive!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Etsy Shop Critique - Tazzybaby

Tazzy, I have good news and bad news. I'm afraid that I am going to have to give you the good news first in hopes that you don't end up in the fetal position by the end of this critique. The good news is that we can fix it....

What do we need to fix? Everything.
The first thing that we need to talk about is the overall visual theme. You can have a shop in which all different kinds of products are sold, but you need to at least have some sort of visual theme or consistency. Yours has a theme, and it's the theme of a grandmother's yard sale. I'm not talking about a nice estate sale; I'm referring to mothball-scented, 60 years of dime-store-clearance-bin-shopping-and-hoarding grandmother's yardsale. Your shop is just ugly for no good reason. This is a store that is going to take a lot of work, but you can make it a successful place with your talents and with some business savvy.
There is art and there is science, and we are going to work on the science of your shop. The art is your talent, and the science is what we learn, practice, and continually refine to improve our shops. This is going to be a crash course in the science of Etsy selling. The first thing I want to talk about in regards to your shop's visual unseemly inelegance is the banner. Now, this isn't a terrible banner, but it does need work. The font is bulky, and the colors are not appealing or complementary. Eggplant purple font with periwinkle and baby blue is just not a good combination. You want to think of crisp, bold, clean imagery, and less is usually better. Let's draw a contrast:

In the banner above, the edges are rounded and the image is framed in a border so that it doesn't just clumsily form a block at the top of the page. The colors provide a vivid contrast for a bigger impact. I put "gallery" instead of "yarnables" because I don't know too many people who get excited about "yarn." Another reason I changed it to gallery is because you absolutely MUST [ don't make me take my belt off ] consolidate your two shops. You do not have enough products to justify two stores. See my laws of odds and averages here if you'd like more of a justification on why that would be a better move. [ feel free to use the banner ]

Now, your product pictures are Fugly. I'm not referring to the image resolution or the lighting, I'm talking about the pictures themselves. Your products need to be showcased. The quality of a product is what ensures you have return customers, but the packaging and the marketing is what gets you the customers in the first place. People shopping online have nothing to go on when choosing a product outside of what you show them, so you have to make it *look* pretty. Your biggest infraction is your choice of backgrounds. For instance, check out these images:

Ideally, you wouldn't use a patterned, fabric background, but see how the original colors just do not look right with red, but how using a colorless background in the second images makes the red pop? The colors in the original images look dirty and just exactly the wrong colors to complement a red ring. With a little experimentation, a white sheet of poster board, and some sunlight, you could do some fantastic photography. Pick up a magazine, find some well-photographed products, then don't press the shutter on your digital camera until the scene on the viewfinder (color, angle, lighting) looks very similar to the one in the magazine.

So, no more couches, no more lumpy fabric, no more old floral patterned sheets, and no more browns as background colors.

Now, if you can crochet well enough to come up with an item like that teddy bear, then you need to get creative with your stuffed animals. Make some unique stuffed animals which can't be found at a traditional store. If I could sew/knit/crochet or any other means of assembling textiles, I would make some weird stuff. Other people would buy that stuff. Get creative. Make an amoeba, a soda can, a rainbow, a bumble bee dressed as a dominatrix, a jellyfish, a pincushion shaped like a megaphone [ the riot variety, not the cheerleading sort ], etc.

Some of your products, like your ruffle scarf, have potential to be very high fashion, but your shop just needs to be a better frame for it. Your dull colors, bad background images, and reluctant models just make your shop look frumpy. It's got such potential, like a model wearing sweatpants, no make-up, no bra, and not having brushed her hair in a week. For instance, imagine a little edge to your products. Here is your ruffle scarf:

All I did was adjust the colors some, but that item went from shabby to shabby chic.

In the few photos you have a person modeling the products, the model looks like she does not want to be in the picture. There's one with a hat and hair covering the eyes, and the image is cropped right up to the image. Whoever your model is, if he/she doesn't want to be in pictures, then just skip the model. I would love to have live models for my products, but I don't want to bother my friends to come over and take pictures and that just means more time and photoshopping to sell a product that isn't making enough money to justify the time and effort. You could buy a mannequin for very cheap (or a dress form), or just find something cute at a thrift shop to use as a prop. NO BROWNS [ unless it's some cute distressed bronze, like a globe or wine rack. ]

Oh, Shit! I just found this image and had to come back to make a point. This is a picture of a model wearing a frumpy old T-shirt, SWEAT PANTS, and standing in front of a big tire in a patch of muddy unmanicured lawn! This can't happen... ever. This just epitomizes what makes your shop less inviting than it should be. How much time did you spend making that purse? What is your target audience? Do you want to send a message that your hard work was for a purse that people wear when going out to feed the pigs?

This is an excerpt from your profile:


I'm going to give a short bio because quite frankly I am a talker and it sometimes comes out in writing also. It can be quite annoying to my audience as well as myself. I may add some more at a later date. We'll see.

This is rancid and rife with insecurity. This isn't the kind of self-effacing that's funny, this is like Eeyore on Valium. Your bio and your shop reflect a person who doesn't have enough pride in herself and her work. WOMAN, SNAP OUT OF IT! Damn. You have serious talent, so stop being so lazy and work on your presentation. One of my favorite quotes, right up there with the epic Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. caveats, is "You better fake it 'til you make it!"

If you just list five things in a month, take the time to get five good, well-photographed, well-described items that you can feel proud to put online. There are a lot of sellers on Etsy who get serious sales with their crochet and knit items, and you should be one of those.

You have some great photographs on your OSG Designs website, but this is something I can't get past:
It's okay if you're not a prissy girly-girl. I'm not either, but at least cut them off before putting it out there. On a side note, and this is totally not your fault, but those aren't Swarovski crystals. They could be as good as or better than Swarovski, but a lot of sellers list their crystals as Swarovski when they aren't. If it's beautiful, people won't care either way [ unless they are of low cognitive capacity ].

On to your products: you do have some great items, and you have some items that might be hurting your shop more than helping it. If you have a product or two or three on your shop that is just not up to par with the competition, then that might send a subconscious message to buyers that you don't have pride in your work or that you aren't savvy on what is attractive. Really evaluate if what you've made is something people will want to buy over other things on the Etsy marketplace. Experiment and ask for honest opinions if people would want to buy something that you just made, or if there are other items people would want for 15-30 in the same category.

My personal feeling is this: I think you should think about the items that you want to sell and the craft you are best at, then focus on that arena. My opinion is that your crocheted items are better and more marketable than your jewelry items. I think you could very easily sell your crocheted gift bags as reusable gift bags, and then people on Etsy would buy them from your shop to add as a gift for their items. They are cute, practical, and "green." Other people would buy them for gift-giving, too. Just make some complimentary colors and sell them in lots of 3-5, add a rich satin ribbon (Tiffany style), and voila! You have a niche market that is unique to your shop. I would buy those.

Go look at some color palletes online, or even look at the color swatches in the paint section of department/home improvement stores to see what colors look good together if you're having an artistic block. It's like creative viagra when you're lost on what to make.

Lastly, just look at this image. Why is this model wearing a frumpy black T-shirt with a hole in it? This looks to me like someone with beautiful, clear ivory skin, and it even looks like I see red hair, one of the sexiest genetic gifts with which a person could ever be bestowed. Why is this person wearing this shirt to model jewelry? It's okay if she just painted a house, but that is the extent of it. Red heads are supposed to be fierce! [ I personally fit every red-head stereotype out there, so I have no hesitation about using sweeping generalizations in regards to us fiery femmes. ]

I don't want you to change how you are, but you have to change how your shop is if you want to make money from it. You don't have to be superficial or materialistic to make sales, but you do have to be proud, confident, and enthusiastic about your products and about yourself as the artist. You can buy a tank top or a sexy V-neck shirt for your model for under ten dollars in whatever style you want. Would you take a trophy for your crowning achievement or an heirloom from your favorite relative and sit it in the bathroom floor right beside the toilet plunger? You'd put it somewhere on display, somewhere special, clean, and pretty, or you'd keep it somewhere private where you can look at it when you need to be reminded. Etsy needs to be your trophy case, and you need to be proud of your trophies.

Tazzy, I want you to message me as often as you want if there is anything I can do (banners, photo tips, product advice, etc.) until we get your shop WTF'n awesome.