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.


  1. I really like that you are offering to help this person. Very nice.

  2. I'm not sure why you think those cannot be Swarovski? I have a whole pack of 60+ that are exactly like these (as well as the ones I actually use that are Swarovski Garnet Crystals...)