February 9, 2011

Etsy Symposium Hits the Craft Community

Yesterday Etsy 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 some of the highlights of the different sessions and share them with you here. For a full version with all the details and tips, visit my post at https://cindyrquilts.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/etsy-symposium-hits-the-craft-community/.

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

First Priority: Great photos!
Make sure your photos are clear, bright, taken in natural light and set on a background that is not too busy.
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
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
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.


  • 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
  • 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!
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
Practice Exceptional Customer Service


  • 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!

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


  • 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

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;
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

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.

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?


Mission Manifesto
* 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.

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

  • 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.

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!

To see a more detailed version, visit my post at https://cindyrquilts.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/etsy-symposium-hits-the-craft-community/.


  1. Wow, Cindy! Thanks for taking the time to share all of this with us. There are a so many excellent tips there. I hope that all of our Team members see this.

    I would beg to differ on a couple of points:

    12 items in a shop is not enough. My sales on Etsy were half of my income last year. I do best when I have over 200 items listed. You have to have a selection that people can choose from, different colors, price ranges, etc. Work backwards: Think about how much income you want to make from your shop in a month, how many sales it would take to generate that, and then triple the amount of inventory to reach that. Take price into account. Lower ticket items sell faster, but you have to have many more of them to reach your goal. If all of your work is high end, then have at least two pages of choices.

    The second thing is that it's not true that if an item doesn't sell, stop. There are many factors that affect sales and we have been in the worst economy since the Great Depression. My shop is in the top 1000 best selling shops on Etsy, but if the numbers had been based on my shop's performance in the last several months, I would be sitting with dead shops. Everything I have listed now has sold in the past. I am convinced that it is not the product, but the economy. I've always had 30% of my customer base coming from Europe and Austalia and they are gone, too. Many of those countries have been affected even worse than the US. People are losing their home, their jobs... why would they want to buy a vintage ralli quilt in a time like this?

    I do believe that better times will come again. Meanwhile, this is the time to produce, to stock up the shop, and to tweak the shop and images with all of the advice given in this post.

    Thanks again, Cindy! This should generate some interesting comments. Make sure to subscribe to this post by email if you want to see what others have to say.

  2. thanks so much for summarizing! I think some of the points are on a case by case basis and you have to understand what works for your creations. I've also had things sit in my shop for months before they are purchased, so I would say that everything will sell. I also think people put my creations on their wish/purchase list and then save for them.


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