Selling Prints on Etsy - Updates/Part 4
I'd hoped there would never be a Part 4, and here I am regardless!
If you've visited my Selling Prints on Etsy blog series recently you probably saw that I added a note to the top of each post sometime around September 2014, because Etsy made some changes they've been promising (threatening?!) for a while now, and at first things weren't looking good. I'm honestly still not thrilled with them all, Etsy is definitely a flawed place, but things went from my views/favs suddenly tanking to having two straight months of sales that, if no money were coming out for fees and supplies, I could have have paid all my bills easy peasy. This has never happened before, and while I can't say for certain it was 100% because of the changes Etsy made, I HAVE to give those changes some credit, since it's not like I did too much differently. (Just when I thought I was free of them, they reel me back in, the bastards!)
The changes have also changed or nullified some things I covered in previous posts, so I feel I should address them. (I plan to edit the older posts, but i'm going to go over everything here as well so return visitors don't have to re-read all the other posts again to find the new info. You're welcome!!)
Ok, changes first.
Treasuries aren't getting the same kind of love. Poor treasuries.
In Part 2 and even Part 3 I talked some about how useful treasuries can be, especially when it gave sellers the chance to be included on the front page, a starting point on the site every seller and buyer alike would see. Well, those days are over. Treasuries, while not dead, are no longer part of the front page, since there is no longer one front page for everybody. Instead you're seeing a "customized" mix of what Etsy wants you to see, or thinks you want to see.
I'm not a fan. Visually it leaves a lot to be desired, and while there is a link to 'new items from your favorite shops' i'm seeing way more about what the shops I follow are liking. I don't find it very helpful as a buyer, and it's not a page I use very often. (Also, it shows me far fewer updates from shops I actually want to see updates from, and the suggested items, based off what i've already liked and/or purchased, are a joke. Somehow they think i'm only interested in buying oils?)
ANYWAYS! Like I said, treasuries aren't dead, but removing them from the front page definitely seemed like a death sentence, and upset a lot of people for lots of reasons. But from what i've seen so far, they're still useful. There are not as many people making them as there once was, but being included in them still gets eyeballs on your work/items, and this leads to likes. And what did I just say about our new, customized front pages? "i'm seeing way more about what the shops I follow are liking." Other people who like your listings increases the chance that your item will show up on someone else's front page. So while Buyer Caryn isn't thrilled with these new front pages, there are definite perks Seller Caryn can appreciate. (And the same thing applies for when I like a treasury that has included one of my items. That treasury will pop up on the front page of people who follow me.) The obvious downside is that if buyer me isn't happy with it and doesn't use it much, do other buyers? Should I always assume people are as cranky as I am all the time?
Of course, it's all dependent on the people following the people who like your listings. And actually, I can't even say if it's more about following or liking, or what exactly decides who sees what. (Shop following is less popular than liking a shop, as doing so is a bit buried, it's not an option on the front of your shop, you have to go into the shops Profile, which most people, especially buyers, never even think to do.) So beyond specifically suggesting that people both follow AND like your shop (which I think we should now be more active in doing) i'm not sure how one would increase their chances of this working in their favor. Which is frustrating. Thanks for making things clear, Etsy!
The basic gist is that everything I suggested as far as keywording with treasuries in mind is still true, just maybe on a smaller scale, and liking the treasuries that feature you is even more of a plus.
Another change that I AM a big fan of is you now have the option to directly put your listing on Tumblr:
Why hello there!
I mentioned in one of the previous segments that I started linking my images/posts on Tumblr directly to my Etsy listings from scratch, and now I don't have to worry about doing the work anymore! Even better is that, at least when I see it on my tumblr, it shows the beginning price in a drop down box in the upper corner of the post. (I'm not entirely sure how it appears/ IF it appears on others tumblrs when they reblog it though.) But it still links back to your listing, and that's great. Anything that makes promoting my prints quick and easy I will get behind.
I've got your manufacturer right here, Etsy.
This actually started taking place a while ago, but I was so angry at the time I chose not to bring it up. Etsy now wants anyone who uses a "manufacturer" to fill out a bunch of crap if, for instance, you don't print your images yourself. Now, a seller could buy supplies from a craft shop, and make something with it, and they don't have to fill out this form. Sellers can now even sell things they didn't even create, in any way, without filling this out. But if you create something, and then have to use someplace to make that thing more tangible (on paper, on a t-shirt, on a pillow, on a cell phone case, etc, etc) you have to jump through these hoops. Even if, like me, you're completely upfront with your whole process in each listing you create.
They claim they'll shut down shops (or at least they were claiming this) who didn't fill it all out, but i'm not sure that happened to anyone, since it's unlikely they're going to be able to police so many shops, but I went ahead and did it anyways. And I got turned down the first time! So I did it again, and bitched about it, and the second time it went through just fine.
Besides the weird double standards here, they want you to be open, in a public way, with WHO you are using, which I don't love. The last thing you want is a buyer, with no experience selling, seeing the price of just the print, thinking you're marking up like 10000% percent for a big profit and getting angry. But, thankfully, this information is also a bit hidden, AND you can cover up where exactly you're getting your prints done.
When you scroll down to the bottom of a listing you'll see something like this:
As far as I can tell that's the only way anyone can get to the page to see the info they require you to fill out for "transparency" sake, which is good, since it's one more place most people never bother to go.
The things they ask are a bit dumb. It includes providing them proof of your process (I included screenshots of full size images of mine in photoshop, as well as screenshots of a few other things I can't even remember, because what the hell else could I do to prove my work is my work and i'm the one who does all of it? A fricken documentary?), why you opened a shop, what you do for your shop, more info about you, contact info for the place you use, etc. You're able to make it so the name of the place you use isn't public, so on mine it just says "Print Shop", located in New York. I also used the questions to reiterate in a nice way that it's not BAD that I use an outside shop, as it's better quality than if I were printing myself. Keep it simple, basically, and then try and forget about it.
Etsy Credit Card Reader
Another new addition, though one I currently have no need for, but the way you can use it with your shop seems interesting, so I think it's something to look into if you might find yourself selling prints or anything else in your shop in real life venues.
Now on to things I just want to re-address:
It's difficult when keywording, especially when you want to keep treasuries in mind, to do so in a way that the right people see your listings in your search. And by "right people" I mean people who are actually looking to buy art. Granted, someone who does a search for a "purple vintage dress" might like your print in which a woman is wearing a purple vintage dress, and maybe even buy it, there are likely to be more people cranky that your print showed up in their search and barely give your listing a first glance, let alone a second one. (I buy a lot on Etsy, so i'm saying this from experience.)
While this is basically rehashing what i've already said, I think it bears repeating that it's important you keep an eye on your stats to see what search terms are bringing people in, but also now more specifically, whether they are bringing in the right people. If say you run into the 'purple vintage dress' type of problem, remove repeats of vintage and/or dress and just repeat words more specific to prints or art in the different sections, or something similar to that. The easiest way to do this is to look at stats specific to each listing, which you can access on the listing page itself, in the "Listing Tools" strip right above the image:
Other keywords that i've been trying recently are things like "wall art", "home decor", "photo" etc. More generic, but still appropriate, keywords. We'll never be able to 100% avoid the "wrong" people from getting your prints in their search, but I think it's safest to balance out the kinds of keywords you use to at least aim for more of the right kinds.
Promote Listings. Or, don't, really. Just don't.
The last time I hadn't used any of the Etsy ads or promote listings so I didn't comment much on them. I have twice recently, for a week at a time, a month or so apart. 1$ a day, so 14$ when it was all said and done. Not a huge cost. (Save for when it adds 14$ onto an Etsy bill and you've had a good sales month and you want to cry when your final bill is 75$. But I guess we should all hope to be that lucky?) Anyways, it increased my views, and that's it really. So I reiterate my not worth it stance.
(And on that note, to hell with Facebook. Their new changes have it so that no one will see posts if they're about sales or anything like that, unless you pay for it. And don't upload your images there anymore, it gives them the rights to do things with them. I'll only be posting links on there from now on. I wish I could dump them completely.)
Drafts! I'm so slow sometimes!
I really am. One of my first things I wrote about listings was not to post everything at once, even though I knew that was hard to do when you're raring to go. Also hard though is making sure you have the time to sit down every day, or a few times a week, to add new listings. The answer to that? DRAFTS! You can create a new listing, but you don't HAVE to make it go live right that minute, you just need to save it as a draft, so that when you're ready you just tell it to go live and that's it, you're done. And yes, drafts have existed for a while, I just for some reason ignored it? I don't even know. So at the beginning, or whenever you have the free time and want to knock out some new listings, just do a whole bunch and save them as drafts to add whenever.
Wherever the wind blows.
If you're like me, you don't just have one genre of images you make. Obviously my main stuff, my "work", is weird/conceptual/surreal portraits. But I like landscapes, still lives, macro shots of insects, and I even like deconstructing my own images for mixed media pieces and the like. But what do you do with all that? Do you put it all in one shop? I've struggled with this for YEARS now, which is annoying. But i've decided that yes, i'm going to start putting some of this other work in my main shop. My main reasoning is that some of the people who like my simpler portraits might like that work too, AND it can bring in people who tend to look for simpler stuff, but might just like my more arty stuff too. They just don't know it yet! I also figure i'll give it a time frame, and if they're not too popular views/likes wise, i'll just let them expire.
Shop local, and "take advantage" of those who do.
Not in a bad way. Don't be a jerk. I've just seen lots of sellers NOT put their town and state in their shop profiles. While I always understand wanting some anonymity, if someone decides they want to buy local and utilize the search options to do this, they may not be able to find you. OR, if you do still show up in their search results (again, no idea how Etsy does this) if they look and see that they can't confirm your location, they might move on. Again, i'm speaking from first hand experience as a buyer.
And that's it! For now. Who knows what Etsy might change next!