Last Thursday I launched Crafters University with CsqDesigns by telling you how you go about opening an Etsy shop. This week I’m going to walk you through listing your items and give you some tips I wish I had known from the beginning. If you miss anything, you can always click on “Crafters University” in the left column of the blog.
Alright, so you’ve got your shop somewhat set up, now what?
- Create your shop banner. This is like your sign out front that says “Look at me!” You want to create a banner that is eye-catching and professional looking. Keep it simple. Too many colors and images can be overwhelming. There are sellers on Etsy who can create a banner for you. Just search for “etsy banner” and you’ll find several. If you decide to make one yourself, it’s not too hard, just remember it needs to be 760 pixels by 100 pixels. Etsy has a pretty good tutorial on how to make them.
Now for your listings. I’m constantly tweaking my photography and listings so they look as professional as possible.
–Photos: Currently I don’t have a good camera, so I’m using my iPhone. Thankfully, some phones can produce fairly good photos. There are also some good apps you can download that will help. Camera+ is a good one, and I’ve read that ProCamera7 is also a good one. There are a few things to keep in mind when taking photos of your items.
- Tell a story: You get five images. Make them attention-grabbing, show detail shots, full shots, different angles, modeled (if possible), shots of it next to something familiar to show size… Show the quality of your work.
Lighting: Lighting and clarity are super important. If at all possible, use natural, diffused light because it will eliminate shadow and produce clearer, crisper photos. My favorite time to photograph is outside on an overcast day. It gives just the right amount of light, without harsh shadows. Natural light will make the color of your piece more accurate than artificial light will. For smaller items, like jewelry, you can create a lightbox. You can also purchase daylight bulbs for when you just can’t wait for perfect natural light.
Focus: This seems like a no-brainer, but you want to be sure your images are in focus. We don’t want any fuzzy images. This problem is eased quite a bit when you use natural light. Artificial light and dim light can make it seem a bit fuzzy.
Composition: Choose your shots and backgrounds carefully. In many cases, a white background is best, because it is easiest to clean up in photo editing programs. When setting up your shot, consider everything that will be in it. Avoid clutter and distraction. If you stick with a simple or recognizable background or set up in all of your photos, it will help to clarify your “brand” and create unity to your shop. This is especially helpful if you are selling a variety of items. For items too large for a lightbox, a simple backdrop can be made by hanging a sheet or length of fabric on a wall near a window. That way you have a clean background and natural light, if it’s available.
Editing: Even with the best photos, you may need to do some editing before putting the photo on your listing. I currently use Photoscape. It’s a free program you can download, and it has many different editing options. Here you can adjust the color balance, file size, sharpness, light balance, and you can crop the photo to get a more pleasing composition.
Now that you have some awesome photos, it’s time to get to listing them!
First thing you may want to do is…
- Create shop sections. I didn’t do this when I first opened my shop, and I wish I had started it from the beginning. This will categorize the items you list in your shop, which will make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for. Search engines also read these, so be specific. If you’re selling jewelry, sections like “Beaded Bracelets” and “Wire Necklaces” might be good. Make it easy for search engines and customers to find you. You can add and edit this by clicking on “Sections” in the “Listings” section on the left side of the page.
To list an item:
Under “Listings” on the left hand side, click “Add New Item”. Most of it is self-explanatory, but there are a couple of points to be mindful of.
- The Title. Remember how important keywords are? They’re important here too. Having a good title that describes what you’re selling will help customers find your item.
“Request Custom Listing” This is a relatively new part of the listings. If the item you’re listing is a one-of-a-kind item, you don’t want to make more of it, or you can’t make more of it, DO NOT LEAVE THE BOX CHECKED! If you leave the box checked, you are telling customers you can customize that item to their liking. If you aren’t willing or able to do this, save yourself and your customers some energy and frustration by unchecking this box. It’s located in the very first section.
Your Description. I try to follow a formula I read somewhere for this.
- Tell them what you have.
- Tell them what it will do for them.
- Tell them what to do next (“add it to their cart!”)
Make your descriptions rich in imagery and detail. Perhaps tell them how you came up with the idea, what inspired it, materials you used, size, why it’s special, etc. And don’t forget to spell-check! There isn’t much worse than having a well-crafted item, with a well-written description, but with a horrible spelling or grammar mistake. When writing your description, you, again, want to be sure to include some keywords to help out the search engines (and yourself!).
–Shop Section. From the drop-down menu, select the section that best fits the item.
–Tagging. Etsy has a section where you can specify who the item may be for, the occasion, and the style. You can also add your own tags. Hello, keywords! Try to choose tags that aren’t already included in your title or description. Use combinations of words like “red hat” or “kids jewelry”. Include colors and other words and phrases that customers may type in a search to find your item. You get 13 tags, use ALL of them! It can also be helpful to use your shop name as a tag in some of your items. If someone is searching for your specific shop, this will help them to find your items also. Also include alternate spellings. Example: “jewelry” (American spelling) and “jewellery” (British spelling).
–Price. This can sometimes be a tricky one. The way I typically do it is Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2.5 = Retail Price. Pay yourself an hourly wage. Charge what you’re worth! Too often, artists and crafters sell themselves short. This is especially important if this isn’t a hobby for you, and you’re trying to pay the bills with it. Every other job pays an hour wage, and you’re entitled to one too. You are creating something by hand. You are doing something that not everyone can do. You have spent time to learn the craft, so get paid for it! In your price, include any shipping & packaging expenses, gas to the post office or to get materials, time spent taking photos and listing the item… You can even include a percentage of your internet bill, if you want to. Just don’t sell yourself short. Sometimes the sellers who price their things lower may sell more, but it also may reflect the quality. Higher prices typically tells the buyer that the item has a better quality, better craftsmanship, and better materials.
–Shipping. From the drop-down menu, select when you plan to ship the item. Be reasonable here. Also, if it’s a made-to-order item, be sure to select the appropriate shipping date. Then enter shipping cost for just the one item and a cost if they order more than one item in your shop. For many of my items I have an approximate shipping. Since some areas are more expensive to ship to than others, it’s almost impossible to get it accurate for everyone, unless you choose to do a flat rate shipping. You can also choose to ship internationally. These prices, again, are a complete guessing game. For me, I charge a bit more than double my domestic shipping rate. I don’t do too many international orders, so if someone has a better way of doing this, I would LOVE to hear it.
Then you can preview your item and publish it.
Congratulations!! You just listed your first item! Now get to the rest of them! 🙂