Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Heidi's Tips & Tricks for 6/20/2012

This week I'm not so much sharing tips, as I'd like to just offer up some ideas you might want to try for Etsy's new "ABOUT PAGE".  This page was just rolled out on June 7th, and I really hope that many of you have had an opportunity to explore what it is about, read some that may have been completed by some of your favorite shops, and possibly have tackled creating your own!  This is a neat new feature that, I feel, is a positive move on Etsy's behalf and in this article I'm going to share why I think that, and some thoughts on what you might consider including in YOUR About Page.

One of the reasons I think that this is a great addition to Etsy, is that as a customer, I love to feel like I know who I'm purchasing from and have something of a connection with the people behind the shops I buy from.  I've bought many many things on Etsy.  Some experiences have been amazing, and others just nothing special.  It's the ones that I feel I was treated well by a real person though that I remember, and recommend to others.  As a shop, therefore, we should use any opportunity we can to shine and connect with customers so that WE are the ones that stand out!  The About Page will give us another opportunity to do that.

Another reason I like it, is that it will set a standard that some of the less-honorable shops will fail to meet.  This isn't an all encompassing statement, just a very general one, but resellers generally have a hard time faking the personal side of their shops, and by using our common sense, we can choose whether we want to use the About Page to help us determine who really deserves our business.  Personally, I will feel more comfortable trusting a shop that is willing to share with me a small glimpse into their shop.  Trust in the online world is not always easy, and I'm willing to take the extra step of putting together a page that will help my customers to know they can trust me.

So what exactly IS this About Page thing anyway??

The About Page is a place for you to share with customers a little more about your shop.  Notice that I'm suggesting the focus be your shop, and not you as a person.  This is, I think, an important distinction.  While it is perfectly fine if you truly wish to share about you as a person on your About Page (it is your page after all!)... my recommendation would instead be to try to focus on your SHOP.  We all still have a "profile" as well... which people can read if they click on our name on the lefthand menu... and that is a better place to talk about yourself as a person now that there is this separate place that to talk about your shop.

 So what sort of things can you talk about?
- How and when did you get started in your particular medium?  Who taught you?
- When did you first launch your shop?
- What is the inspiration behind the items you make or your unique designs?
- What keeps you going every day?
- What is the story behind your shop name?  (This is the approach I took to my page)
- Are there any funny or special stories behind a particular item?
- If you have people helping you, how do you work together/share the load?
- Talk about the process for making your items
- Describe where you like to do most of your creating.
- Talk about your stash of fabric, ribbon, notions, paints, yarn, or whatever materials you use.

Brainstorm about what goes into everything you do... somewhere in there is something you can share on your About Page!

Now... on to the photos.  I LOVE that we can now share photos to bring people inside our shops and processes.  However, I can certainly see how this is making many people balk!  First, there is the image on the righthand side of the About Page... the little round picture that (gasp!) seems to be asking for a photograph of ME!  Don't panic!  I think a lot of us are not the type to really want to put a picture of ourselves up for the world to see... and you don't HAVE to!  But, before you say "whew" and dismiss doing that, consider what it might do if you DO.  It was hard for me to find and post a photo of myself.  One, because there aren't that many of them out there as I tend to be behind the camera.  And, two, because I'm very critical of photos of myself!  I did find one and post it though... because I have been really enjoying being able to put a face to a name of my favorite shops!!  If I'm enjoying that so much, I'm sure others are too... and that makes it worthwhile.

If you really really don't want to put up a picture of yourself though (and I will admit that it is better not to if the only picture you have is not good quality or makes you look non-professional - ie. be careful about the image you are presenting of yourself)... some suggestions of what you might put in that little round photo are:
- a photo of you hands actually making your item (obviously you'll need help for that).
- a photo that reflects your shop graphics, similar to your avatar but bigger.
- a photo of your shop space (be it a brick/mortar storefront, your workstation, or your desk)

Now, for the five BIG photos... again, don't feel stifled!  Explore examples of what other shops are doing and see if you get any ideas for what you can do.  I know a lot of us don't have nice, neat, attractive craft areas that photograph well... so don't do it then.  :)   No one is saying you have to.  Again, better to go with photos that look professional and crisp than show off something that doesn't reflect back well.  Some other suggestions:
- a collage of your creations (especially if you make a variety of of items).
- an image of you working... you don't have to show your face if you don't want to!
- an image of the process you go through for your items
- a collection of materials or tools you use
- a small sampling of your inventory all set up nice and neat
- a pile of packages all ready to be mailed (again, set it up nice and neat!)

You are all, of course, welcome to check out my About Page found here:
to see some of the images I chose.  I still have one blank space I haven't decided what to fill with yet!  I have an image of our pond (relates to my story), an image of some of my inventory and some of the materials I use for my creations, and an image of my own hands crocheting with some yarn and part of a fishing set in the background.  And of course, you can read my story and see if it gives you any ideas for your own.  Plus, explore other pages!!  Check and see if any of your favorite shops have done theirs yet and see what you can learn about them. 

And remember, your About Page isn't set in stone!  You can tweak and play with images and text as much as you want... or ask for help or critiques or proof-reading from someone you trust.  The point is... give it a try!  You put a lot into your shops... use this page as an opportunity to tell potential customers a bit more about that!

One final word of caution.  It's pretty easy to over-share personal information if you focus too much on yourself.  Remember that anyone can read what you post, and it is important to be cautious about what personal information we are sharing.  Since we are moms, often our inspiration is going to come from our kids.  Be careful though about talking specifically about your children's names, ages, or even genders.  Don`t post pictures of your children on so general a page.  Don't get too specific about where you live or if you work outside the home or what school or church you go to.  Just use common sense... people want to know you, but they don't need to know THAT much!  Remember to be safe with your online presence.

And last but certainly not least... PLEASE share with us here on the team if you have put together your About Page!  I`m loving reading about shops I`ve come to recognize and admire on my various teams and it would be fun to have a bunch of Etsy Mommies shops to get to know a little bit more!

- Heidi

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