For my first blog post, I thought I'd cater to all the Etsy newb's out there (myself included) & share what I've learned since opening my shop seven months ago; of course, I worked on getting it opened several days, weeks & months prior to listing my first item in November of 2010. Ultimately, the most challenging thing for me was figuring out how to make a banner. Luckily, my brother bought me Photoshop Elements for Christmas the year before, however, I had no idea how to use it. So, off to google I went to search for "photoshop banner tutorials" & found a plethora of different options. Everything Etsy's blog post, Create an Etsy Banner in 10 Easy Steps – How-To Photoshop Elements specifically addresses banners & how to make them.
In addition to following step by step pdf tutorials, I was also fortunate enough to have a friend in marketing & graphic design who was able to actually show me how to do it. The most imporant thing that Nicole shared with me was to remember that photoshop works in 'layers' making it easier to delete the things you don't want/like, without starting over. This is easier to show visually than explain in writing, so I've provided some photos below to illustrate.
I took photos of a necklace I'd made for my shop in various areas around my house, then uploaded & cropped it to the correct size on iPhoto. Etsy banners measure 760x1000 pixels & must be either .jpg, .gif or .png files. This is what I came up with as the first 'layer' to my banner. My next layer was of course, the title to my shop.
Next, are my third & final 'layers' leading to my finished shop banner.
Next to learn was listing titles and SEO-- or Search Engine Optimization. Thanks to Epheriell Designs' great blog post from Etsian Nyjole Waters, Crafty Biz - How to Optimize your Etsy Shop for SEO and Google, I got the help I needed.
The two most important take home messages from this blog post (at least for me) were to 1) create a title that lists the most important descriptor to the least important, & 2) always, always, always include "your shop name at Etsy" at the end of every title. The above blog post provides some great examples for listing titles, so it's worth checking out!
After you've got your banner & listing titles under control, photos & photo quality is key, & perhaps thee most important thing to consider for online shoppers. Etsy team, Handmadeology, has a great blog post on how to take quality photos on a limited budget called Studio Quality Product Photography with a $12 Set Up, & Ebay has a video that I found especially helpful whilst trying to take pictures indoors during the winter months.
Now, I prefer to take my pictures outside in natural light. The majority of my photos are taken on overcast days because the light is the most diffuse, casting the least amount of shadows. When that's not possible I take pictures right around sunset or in the shade on a sunny day. After watching the Ebay photo tutorial, I went to Home Depot, bought two garbage cans (about 3' high each), two silver work lamps (the ones that clip onto things) & two 100 watt daylight bulbs for less than $40. A great way to take quality photos when the weather won't cooperate (Wisconsin has some frigid winters). The only thing I'd recommend is to get a higher wattage for the daylight bulbs- 200 watt is better than 100 as I've noticed there's a slight yellow cast to some of photos taken using 100 watt daylight bulbs.
Last, but certainly not least-- network with other Etsy members. If you like someone's shop, favorite some of the items you like the most, add them to your 'circle' or do both. Get involved with Etsy Teams like Etsy Success, Handmadeology, & The Brigade. What I've found is that other Etsians are very receptive, friendly, & willing to help you succeed. Joining teams also increases your shops exposure, provides help/advice on how to improve your sales/SEO, & is a great forum for getting your questions answered by seasoned sellers, or those with more/different experiences. So don't be afraid to jump in & reach out to other sellers, being mindful that you get what you give.
Being a new seller on Etsy myself, I'm familiar with how overwhelming, detail-oriented & at times, frustrating it can be trying to get your shop up & running & successful. So today's Pearl of Wisdom, if you will, is to remember that the creative process is full of unexpected twists & turns, & sometimes you have to remind yourself to close your eyes, take a deep breath, & much like the GPS in your car, say to yourself, "re-calculating" & work towards getting back on track.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you found this posting helpful & informative. I would greatly appreciate any comments or feedback you have to offer; what you liked, what you'd like me to expound upon more or found interesting. Also, if you're interested in following/subscribing to my blog, I'd be happy to add your shop/blog/facebook page to the 'Lovely Links' listed at the bottom of my page, just send me an email with the name of your shop/blog/facebook page along with the URL & voila!