Monday, November 20, 2017

Who is in the driver's seat?

What is up with Etsy's search?

Etsy's search algorithm has changed
Hold on tight!


Reports vary... some shops are doing all right and some are not: theories abound.

Things have changed with Etsy's search. That is a fact. As one seller put it,"relevancy is no longer relevant on Etsy."

This may sound radical, but it is time to reassess everything that what we think we know about how search works. Everything. The entire ball game has changed.

Why are sellers holding their breath?

Artificial Intelligence is now in the driver's seat of Etsy search. 


Etsy feels a bit like driverless car... No one, not even the programmers, know exactly where the search "vehicle" is headed with the new "recommendation technology." Sellers will have to be patient. "Machine learning" has to do its thing. It will be seeking connections between searches and purchases. Its goal is to figure out what searchers want to see, what motivates them to buy.

Artificial intelligence at work
Analyzing data takes time
It takes time to examine millions of pieces of data. The algorithm will be looking for connections, called "context-specific results." This new technology will be seeking common factors between millions of buyer search queries and actual sales. It will be connecting the dots.

Add to that personalization of results. Everyone will see something different.

Etsy's search has become more complicated than any human can understand... "machine learning." That is why no one can even begin to predict search results at this point.

The thought is that search will change all the time for a year or two. Search results may at times be bad due to the learning curve. Of course, sales can suffer in the short term.

This "deep learning" technology is calculated to "deliver even more relevant search results and a shopping experience that can be even more tailored to individual buyers." Ultimately, things should improve.

Google's driverless car goes places... It is basically doing what it has been "trained" to do. Eventually Etsy's search will get there.

Can Etsy's machine learning figure out vintage?


Vintage is vulnerable at Etsy. It seems like the proverbial red-headed step-child. Etsy is stressing its "made by someone" mystique, which is not vintage.

Etsy stressing creative goods
Etsy is stressing handmade in this sale banner from late 2017
Being in on the ground floor of a revolutionary new search experience has its pros and cons. Etsy sellers are about to find out the good, the bad and the ugly.

What can be done now?


Until more information is provided, making major changes would just be a shot in the dark. Let common sense prevail.

For now, the rules appear to be the same as always... When listing, accurately describe your item. Use understandable and descriptive language. Carefully word your titles and tags. Fill out any slots for attributes. (Those are material, size and other search factors that are different for each type of item). Use great photos.

Etsy's instructions have not changed. Yet at least. (Please let me know if you see that they have.)

Hang on tight, though. It could be a rough ride when machine learning is driving search.

Want to know more? Here is some more in-depth information about recent changes in Etsy search.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On machine learning and other Etsy search changes...

Navigating Etsy's sea of changes
Hold on tight... Etsy is a sea of changes
Sometimes it feels like there is a sea of change at Etsy. I know that I felt that way earlier this year. Since then, there have been further transformations afoot.

For one thing, Etsy stated that they are doing even more testing than in the past. They use the term "experiment velocity."

Etsy has not announced these changes per se. But they are happening.

Etsy has added many new search features:



  • Item attributes can now be searched in some cases. (Make sure yours are all filled out.)
  • Badges may appear for things like "best seller" and what they call a "scarcity".
  • Guided search, which are orange-toned buttons that appear at the top of some broad searches.

Etsy guided search
Some changes to Etsy search

  • Shop feedback (star ratings) now display in search results.
  • Similar items buttons are under search results (only show up if your cursor is over that item).


Artificial intelligence & search


Etsy has begun to use machine learning technology ("artificial intelligence"). That is why Etsy purchased the company Blackbird Technologies last year.

No one knows Etsy's algorithm
What is Etsy's algorithm?
The goal is to determine the intent of a buyer when making a search. (Here is more about the related "Context Specific Search Ranking.")

In the past, search results were returned to shoppers that best matched their exact phrases in tags and titles. And the best "quality scores." 

Items used to be shown one per page per shop as per the "fairness" part of the old algorithm.... but that has changed...

Some things have been removed


Gone is the "shop diversity" element. There is no longer a limit of one item per shop per page of search results. "Clumping" is now the norm. This is a big change for some shops.

Also gone is the opportunity to test search to see how your items place. Why? As mentioned above, your search results are becoming contextualized and personalized. Results are different for each buyer. 

As artificial intelligence is self-learning, the personalization is still developing. It is learning to make connections between the terms that searchers use and what their real intent is. (For example, when someone types in a word, what is it that they eventually buy?) Etsy stated that factors include search history, user data and "as a first step" sales data. It is far from perfect, but you can expect it to get better with time.

Any improvement in Etsy search is good news, right?

What is next at Etsy?


We do not know. And there is no recommendation to make any major changes to titles or tags. As always, use a variety of long-tail keywords. Use accurate titles and tags. Those are the best ways to capture different queries that buyers might make. And ultimately sell your items.

(And, of course, offer cool stuff.)

Etsy is working on more interesting ("revolutionary") discovery tools... So plan on more changes!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Etsy quick trick: convert listings to free shipping

Are you offering free shipping? I am. In fact, I decided to permanently convert many of my listings to free shipping.
Help to sell vintage on Etsy
Quickly convert individual items to free shipping

I went into each one and manually made the change. It took some time.

The back story is this: we moved recently. That is something that can be difficult for those of us who sell vintage. Why? Our buying far outpaced our selling.

We collected too much stuff. Moving and organizing it is a lot of work. Especially with a roomful if extra items laying around, mixed in.

I lost a couple of orders. Yikes. We decided to do a full inventory, pulling every item and checking it off a list. This was helpful, identifying some errors.
Inventorying books for sale
Inventorying stock

As we inventoried, I realized that I could convert many listings over to free shipping right then. I just needed to do it quickly... keeping up with the inventory process (my husband checking off items on a big Excel chart).

Etsy sale items section
This method means no sale section
Eventually I was able to simplify the steps to make listings free shipping. There is a secret.

Set up a FREE shipping profile 


Set up a "free shipping" profile from within "Listings." Then it is easy to convert individual listings. Open it and then one click. Even easier, use the "Quick Edit" feature from within Listings.

Etsy quick edit feature for free listings
Switching is easy-peasy. Use the "Quick Edit" screen
For each item I ask myself, “is it under a pound?” If so, I add a little to the price. (I generally use price points.) Click the “FREE” shipping button. Done.

Doing it this way makes the change a permanent thing, not a limited-time promotion. Note that Etsy will not set up a separate “sale” section to your shop. For some that is a disadvantage. Others prefer to have no added shop section.

There, that was easy, right? Have a great selling day!

(More details in the screen shots below about how to set up a free shipping profile.)


Setting up new Etsy shipping profile
Setting up a Free Shipping profile
Etsy seller screen: using Free shipping profile
Using your new Free Shipping profile from an open listing

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Etsy search: clumping is the new normal?


Etsy seller help manual quote
Shop diversity is no longer a part of Etsy search
For a long time, when buyers searched for items on Etsy, they saw a predictable mix. One item from a variety of shops on page 1, 2 and so on...

As usual, changes are afoot.

The “shop diversity” part of Etsy's search algorithm is no longer in place. We know that because the wording about it has been removed from Etsy’s seller help manual.

Etsy has been testing this for the past two months or so. Complaints of “clumping” have been made.


What is clumping?


Clumping is when you see a page of search results with the same shop repeated over and over. Certain shops seem to dominate search results for some searches.
clumping packaging lamps mushroom
What is clumping, anyway?


Why is Etsy allowing it?


Ultimately it comes down to making money. If items are not selling, then Etsy is not making money. Etsy's search results will favor what makes the most money for Etsy. End of story.

As mentioned, sellers had become accustomed to “fairness” or “diversity” in search results. That was when you saw one item displayed from each seller, especially on the first few pages.

Some sellers got used to having their items consistently on page one of search results. It is easy to feel that if your item placed highly for a year or two, then you are set for life. That is not the case. Etsy's search changes constantly. This might be a case for the expression: “adapt or die.”

How can I be the shop that shows multiple results?


There are many steps you can take.

Fill out all of your attributes. These are the new fields where you tell buyers the color, size and perhaps style of an item (as well as other attributes depending on the category). Search results are now being weighted with this information. Don’t get left behind.

Make sure your item categories are drilled down as far as possible.

Use all of your tags. Fill as many of the 20 characters in each tag as you can. For vintage items, be sure to use the word “vintage” in one of your tags. Try to use a variety of natural search phrases for “broader search presence.”

Do not obsess about getting found on a one- or two-word general search. Focus on niche searches (AKA “long-tail searches”). By focusing on improving your items' rank in these specific multiple-word searches, your items gain ground in the more generic searches.

Put the most searchable words at the beginning of your titles. The first few words (Etsy Admin keeps saying three) have the most weight. Pay particular attention to the beginning of your titles. If you have more than one similar item, change up your wording (of both titles and tags). That way, your items may get found with a variety of search terms.

Have the lowest possible conversion rate.

Have the lowest possible conversion rate
A lower conversion rate is better.

Raise your listing quality. Have 10 great photos

Ship quickly. Provide excellent customer service. Have minimal cases.

Etsy free shipping search results
Offering free shipping could place your shop front and center

Renew items often. List a new item or two every day.

Offer more items. Larger shops seem to do better in searches these days. It also increases the odds that you will have something that someone wants to buy.

Give the market what it wants. Figure out what is selling. If what you are offering does not move well, try something else.

Try different price points. If it seems that cheaper is selling better, then offer lower priced items.

Try a sale or free shipping. Your shop can be front and center if a buyer clicks a check box and applies the filter.

factors in etsy's search algorithm

The algorithm


There are a number of factors that determine where our items land in search. (One informed seller says dozens of factors.) No one (outside Etsy programmers) knows what those factors are. Or how each is weighted. 

They change all the time. The above factors ("steps you can take") are some educated guesses.

We can get an idea of the factors by testing. Here is how to do that. Start by doing test searches regularly just to see where your shop is positioned in search.

How is your shop faring? How are you coping?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Etsy now announcing some tests

Etsy now announcing some tests
A step forward in transparency
Oh no, another test... Have you ever complained about it? I know I have. It can be hard to navigate a site that constantly changes. It is especially difficult for those of use at a certain (ahem) age...

Etsy is now announcing some tests! That is happy news. Transparency is good.

Here is the page where you can find out what is going on. (You may wish to bookmark it.) Not all tests will be announced this way.

After all of the complaints by sellers I think that this is an improvement. If we see something unusual, there is an official place to go and check.

That is better than reporting something as a bug just to find out it is a test. It is more accurate than just asking around.

😎 Happy Etsy selling. 🍂

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Will you offer free shipping on Etsy?

Etsy is phasing in free shipping. It is optional for sellers. Buyers will start to be able to see free shipping on listings starting on October 9th.

Buyers will see a badge on individual listings. They will also be able to filter listings when performing a search.

offering free shipping on Etsy
Free shipping is not free for sellers
As with everything else, Etsy sellers have mixed opinions about participating. Some studies suggest that the conversion rate improves 90% when free shipping is offered. Etsy stated: "More than half of the buyers we surveyed in August said free shipping is a very important factor in their decision to purchase an item."

Free shipping can certainly be a powerful marketing tool. Do you shop on Amazon, using Amazon Prime? Or Wal-mart? Or eBay? Free shipping is not new.

Increased sales and a modest increase in fees are the up side for Etsy. (It will only be available in the USA.)

Free shipping affects the bottom line
Does free shipping improve your placement in search results? "Offering free shipping doesn’t change where your listings rank in search results... buyers will have the option to filter search results for listings offering free shipping."

Should I offer free shipping?


Of course, this is a business decision. Every seller needs to make an analysis of the benefits versus the cost of offering free shipping. It comes down to one thing: can your business still make money if you offer it?

How can you decide? Try testing out whether it works by offering it on some items and not offering it on similar items. See which items sell better. Analyze your profit margin, how much money you are making.

Do returns increase? Some sellers say that they do...

Offering free shipping is a business decision
Is the increase in sales enough to keep your shop making money? Making enough money?

Additionally, sellers should consider "the cost of offering free shipping as the cost of acquiring a new customer or retaining a loyal follower." There is some value to that, but how much?

Sellers can set a minimum order dollar value. They can also specify a minimum number of items in order to qualify for free shipping.

Etsy says that sellers can combine free shipping with another promotion (sale or coupon). "Eligible buyers will see both the free shipping and the other sale or coupon discount."

The best items for this type of promotion would be items with a relatively low shipping cost, of course.

Do you want to try it on some of your items?

A short how-to:


1.) To create a free shipping sale or coupon, go to Shop Manager > Marketing > Sales and coupons and click "New special offer."

2.) Specify which discount you would like to offer by selecting "Run a sale."

3.) Select "Free shipping" from the dropdown menu, fill out the rest of the details about your sale and click "next."

4.) Choose the listings you would like to include in the offer.

There. All done!
...................................................................................................................................
(Another way is to go to each listing and change it manually. Change the shipping method to "manual." Then, reduce the shipping to $0. In my case, I added most of the cost back on. However, I stuck to some price points... I was not rigid across the board with how I handled repricing.)

Here is a quick trick I discovered.

Here are more strategies from Etsy for offering free shipping.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fun market research to improve your vintage online selling

Cuddle up with your computer
Cozy up with your favorite device
Many of us realize that we need to do market research in order to improve our business. Yet, how exactly is it done?

There is an easy way. It is as simple as taking your favorite device and browsing the internet. Sound fun? It is! Why not give it a try?

(First, make a cup of your favorite beverage. Sit back and relax.)

fun market research
Choose an item for sale
1. Choose an item that is currently in your shop, available for sale. Look over your product. Think about its overall use and who you think would be the person to purchase it. (No stress - this is just to get your mind warmed up.) Linger a bit, noting the color, size, texture, where it is to be used, how it might be displayed.

2. Next, go online, using Google, Bing and even other search engines. Search for a similar product as a shopper would. (No, you are not looking for yours. However you may very well find it during this process.)

Your goal is to see all the places, the venues, that show up for similar products. Example: you are selling a vintage fish brooch. Search for "fish brooch." Observe the array of ads, shops, pictures and locations. Enjoy the process... browse. Click some sites that look interesting.

3. Next search images. What appears? Select the links and observe how similar products are being sold. Read the product descriptions. Look at the pictures. How are the items being used? How are the similar items staged in their photos?

researching your market for vintage items
Who is your target market?
4. Find blogs that feature similar items. Read the posts (and even comments).

5. Browse Pinterest. Find some magazines. Locate similar products that are pinned and featured. What is being said? How is it being said?

6. Sip some beverage. Mull over your observations.

**There, that was fun!**

From all this shopping (I mean research) you should be able to identify some patterns about buyers:
who is your target audience?

  • approximate age
  • gender
  • occupation
  • home or office styles
  • trends (like colors, textures and patterns)
  • related products of interest
  • location (USA, Europe, etc.)
  • income level
  • families? individuals?
  • even personality, attitudes, behavior

Now you can see who your customer is. 

What else do they love, use or collect? (What other items could you be selling to them?)

Note any clues for improving your listings. What terms are used that could help sell your items? What vocabulary style(s) do you see?

(Perhaps your research will even reveal a new selling venue to try.)
market research on pricing
How is your pricing?

Think about the photos you have viewed that show a similar item in use. Can you show your product in the same setting?

Do you see room for improvement in your product (if you make it)? How about your photography? Staging? Item descriptions? Pricing? Title and tag keyword phrases?

Use the information you have gleaned. Select a listing that is not performing well in your shop. Make some changes based on your new observations. It could lead to sales!

This fun process can be repeated of course. The more different kinds of items you offer for sale, the more types of items you should check in this way.

Research one item. Meditate on your findings. Make some changes. Evaluate the results. Lather, rinse repeat for more items in your shop. Your sales should improve.

Go ahead, try it. You might like it.

Thanks for joining me in the online selling journey.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Etsy Quick Trick: display your entire item description

Vintage Etsy shop helpEtsy recently made truncated descriptions the standard rather than a test. This is where your item description fades into your reviews.

Etsy quick trick for sellers
Extra description text is hidden.
Do you like it? Or do you hate it?

If you are in the latter group, there is a simple solution. Short item descriptions are shown in full. How short? Keep your  item descriptions under 1100 characters, including spaces and line breaks, or about 15 lines.

Are your descriptions still fading after you have reduced your characters to 1100? Be sure to take into account how many "hidden characters," line breaks and special characters you use. Reduce your characters until the fading is gone.

Etsy item photo has description
Use your photo slots for more information
character counting short cut
Aim for under 1100 characters.














Is the prospect of counting to 1100 daunting? Use a character counting program. I use this one. Here is another. And another. Microsoft Word can count characters for you as well.

If you have more to say in your item descriptions, try using your photo slots. Buyers may be more inclined to look at photos than read text anyway. For example, one seller uses her photo slots for routine clothing sizing information.

Here is more information about how to write compelling item descriptions.

Vintage sellers certainly have a unique set of challenges when selling online. How long to make the description is a balancing act. Sellers are trying to make Etsy happy (by keeping it short), make Google happy, and be thorough in describing flaws.

How are you doing walking that fine line?

Thanks for joining me for another Etsy Quick Trick!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Are you having a sale?

Etsy new sale tool
Etsy is having a Labor Day Sale promotion. Are you participating? Here is the announcement.

I am moving in September, so you bet I am. Who wants to cart inventory to our new place two hours away and find it again? Not me.

I still need to figure it out. (Sorting and packing take time.) However, the tool seems easy to use. The metrics are very nice, too. Order minimums are not permitted for this promotion.

Users report that you cannot edit a sale once it goes live. Perhaps Etsy will fix that.

This is an example of how a shop looks with a sale:
How Etsy's new sale looks
Kris from EitherOrFinds has set up a sale.

Etsy stated that they will promote the sale by "driving traffic to the page through marketing emails, site banners, social media, and Etsy’s homepage."

Will you promote the sale... put out a Shop Update?

Here is Etsy's explanation of the new tools. More general information from Etsy on sales and coupons.

Will you be having a sale?

Etsy new sale item graphics
See the extra sale information?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Testing Etsy Badges: Popular vs. Unique

It sounds like something from high school: do you want to be
One of a kind badge test
Are these Pyrex bowls really one-of-a-kind?

Most popular?  


or


Unique?


Here is Etsy's announcement. Some are seeing the new badges: "best seller" and "one of a kind."

How do sellers get the badges?


Etsy test badges
Shop Manager view of an item's past sales
Look at your item using the Shop Manager. (Toggle on your stats first.) Stats are displayed along the bottom of each listing: visits, favorites, SALES.

Quantity: more than 1


If you have a quantity of more than one, then it is not one of a kind. 

No stats are available for how many items need to be sold for a listing to be considered "best-seller." Chances are, most vintage sellers will not qualify for this badge. However, you may receive another designation. Read on.


Quantity: 1, Sales: 0


Bingo! Your item will show as "one of a kind" and get the badge.


Etsy is testing new badges
Do you prefer popular (only 1 left!) or unique?

Quantity: 1, Sales: 1 or more


If your previous sales with that listing show as one or more, your item may get an "only x left!" badge. This rewards your item that has sold more than one.

Artists report issues


Some art work is not receiving the OOAK designation. Why, who knows?

Here is an example:

original art work not receiving the etsy test badge
Only one piece of original art in this group receives the badge







Remember, this is only a test.


What can we learn?


So, just like... other things... Etsy is going over to polar opposites here it seems.

Sellers are rewarded for selling:

The MOST, or

One Of A Kind.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 2017 Admin Update for Sellers

Etsy search algorithm factors
On July 20 an update was held for a few Etsy sellers in positions of team leadership. Admin answered some questions. This is a condensed version.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Etsy remains committed to Etsy teams. More team captains and leaders will be invited to join the Fellowship program [which is located on Facebook] this year.

Q. What effect do hearting games have on Etsy's search algorithms?
A. (The information provided by admin duplicates what was said during the public Q&A post on Etsy.) If a buyer clicks, favorites, or purchases an item found in search results, that has a positive effect on that items search ranking.
Q. Do conversion rates affect search ranking?
Conversion rate affects search results on Etsy
Lower conversion rates are better
A. Yes, conversion rates do affect search ranking.

Q. Is a fee increase in the works for sellers?
A. No.

Q. Regarding the 10 photos per listing, if not all 10 photos are used, will this reduce search ranking?
A. No. The number of photos used has no impact on search placement.

Q. Why have sales have plummeted for sellers this year?
A. Etsy admin understand that fluctuations in sales are scary. Unfortunately, there are many causes. There is no general trend; it is SHOP specific.

Concerned shops that have decreasing sales may contact Etsy. A team of Etsy admin can do a 15 minute shop critique to increase sales. The link is in the Help pages. Shop owners should click on the contact button in that Help section to request a critique.

Q: (Re-questioned): you are saying that there is no Etsy trend that is affecting sales… It goes back to the individual shops? That the experimenting that seems to be affecting sales, is not having an effect on sales?
A: As part of the recent realignment, Etsy now has a dedicated group of admin (called Voice of the Consumer) who are listening to all channels to hear from sellers…

Q: Some feel that morale among sellers on Etsy is at an all-time low. Shop owners could use more timely information from Etsy.

A: We are currently working on better communication plans. We will communicate better with our sellers. This week there are lots of meetings going on at Etsy about being more transparent to sellers. We are working to be better at letting sellers know testing and experiments, ones that are working and not working.

😎 Thanks to long-time Etsy vintage sellers Gail and JD for the above information!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Five more photos - Etsy vintage shops score big

Five more photos for Etsy sellers
On July 11, Etsy made a major announcement: sellers have five additional photo slots in their listings! This is very exciting for vintage sellers, who have been hoping for this feature for a long time. 

Etsy stated, "90% of shoppers said the quality of the photos was “extremely important” or “very important” to a purchase decision."

That fact tells us that photo quality is crucial for Etsy sellers... Buyers often will not click through on items they see because the photos are not top-notch. Photo quality will be the subject of a future blog.

Fill the slots


Is it necessary to use every one of the spots for photos? Etsy admin says "no."  But think of the possibilities!

Of course, there is the obvious choice of extra photos of the items for sale. Etsy tells us to have a photo that has something with the item to show its scale.

Show more angles. What angles, you say? When I sell rings, I try to display it on the finger from many directions. 

Photograph your item on a mirror. Try taking pictures in different location with different light.

Especially important is the case of flaws and irregularities. Vintage sellers need to bring them to the attention of any potential buyer. Extra photos are necessary for that.

Etsy extra photos: primitive farmhouse items
Primitive farmhouse style
Etsy lifestyle photos - now 10
Lifestyle photos can sell items


What if your listings do not require ten photos? 


Try some "lifestyle" photos. 


These are photos of your item in use, or with similar items. Such photos make your item way more valuable. They help our potential buyers "see" an item as their own and BUY.

now there are 10 photos for Etsy listings
Is this tropical setting too bright?
Who is your target audience? How will your items fit in with their lifestyle?

Having trouble figuring out what types of pictures to take? Make some test searches of similar items on Etsy. Note the photos that you like. Why do they work? Then try to come up with something even better. Showcase your creativity.

Pay attention to styles. Add props that complement your item, not compete with it.

Use care, though. Props can be overdone. Choose props(s) that allow your great item to shine.

Etsy extra item photos, item in context
Highlight your great item in use
Display your item in a seasonal way (summer, fall, winter) and rotate out the first picture depending on the time of the year.

Still have photo slots available?

Display your brand in a unique way



There are still all sorts of possibilities. Be creative.

Showcase your coupon code
These slots could become sort of like a shop update. (Need some ideas for those?)

what will you feature in your extra Etsy item photos?Make some "stock" graphics or take photos that illustrate:
  • how you package or gift wrap
  • a collage or collection of similar items
  • a great photo once used as a shop update
  • a coupon code
  • sizing chart (for clothing)
  • your words of wisdom
  • your standalone shop and/or blog address
  • your shop logo




How will you use those five new photo slots?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Do item descriptions matter?

do item descriptions matter?I recently had a huge multiple sale. The buyer first asked me some detailed questions about bottle sizes. Bottles are not the most expensive items I carry. However, I treated the inquiry with respect.

The result? One of my largest sales to date.

Her comment to me was: "I loved reading your descriptions; you made several items very tempting."

Did my item descriptions matter?

The need to write compelling copy


After your titles, tags and fabulous photos have drawn in a shopper, your job selling is not over. You must convince visitors to your items to buy what you are selling.

First, your item description must contain some basic information:

  • Size
  • Identification marks
  • Color, pattern
  • Special attributes
  • Flaws


Compose copy that is search engine friendly


Etsy does not care a whit about item descriptions, but search engines do. Here are some tips for optimizing your listings to be found by search engines (called SEO):
  • Write naturally.
  • Prioritize your information. Put the most important details first.
  • Make each item description unique (search engines prefer this anyway).
  • Use good grammar and spelling. Write well.
  • Sprinkle keywords naturally through your title and text. (Don't be guilty of keyword stuffing.)
  • Provide at least one working link back to your shop section or a shop search for similar items.
Any boilerplate in your descriptions is a turn-off to search engines. Try to put shipping information under that tab or in your policies.

Being search-engine friendly is the "science" of writing effective item descriptions.

How can you be persuasive?


There is some "art" to this skill. You need to engage the reader.

First, find a writing style that represents you and your shop. Are you and your stuff folksy? Mod? Beachy? French?

  • Sell things you love.
  • Be positive.
  • Make the item relevant to each shopper.
  • Tell buyers why they NEED the item for sale.

Try sharing some interesting historical tidbits or a compelling back story. Keep it short, though. Long descriptions can be a turn-off.

Your goal is to help the shopper fall in love with your item. You must make your item into a treasure that the shopper cannot live without. It goes back to selling things you truly love, and communicating that in your descriptions.

May your item descriptions speak to shoppers and motivate them to buy!

If you prefer that your description not be covered by your reviews, here is a quick trick. 

Here is more general information on the subject from Etsy. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Etsy policy change hits vintage sellers

sellers today received message
The forums lit up on Wednesday, June 28 about it. Vintage Etsy sellers' black memorabilia items for sale were being removed without warning. Things like Aunt Jemima bottles, historic books and advertising graphics.

As you can see, sellers were warned that continued violations can risk their shop. Yikes!

For some time, such collectibles have been permitted on Etsy. I sold a golliwog doll a while back. It is not part of what I normally offer; it popped out of a pile of linens I bought. So I sold it to a collector.

Some do find such items to be offensive. So be it. I find certain things uncomfortable as well.

Here is Etsy’s current information on items that “glorify hatred:”

Notice that the policies state at the bottom that they were “Last updated on Jun 8, 2017.” This is a recent change. (This issue has, of course, been visited in the past.)

If you were curious, here is the wording of what Etsy’s policies used to say, before being updated:
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“Examples of What is Allowed [on Etsy]:


“We tend to allow items that have educational, historical, or artistic value, but we know that even those items are subject to a variety of valid and sometimes conflicting interpretations. Recognizing that there may be no consensus on their educational, historical, or artistic value, the following items are generally allowed on Etsy:

“Vintage Black Americana items, such as “golliwog” dolls (but not newly-created items or PDFs of patterns)

“Example [pictured, entitled]: Vintage Golliwog Doll - Black Americana History”
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I perused the above policies when I verified that items I sell are allowed under Etsy's TOU. As Etsy's venue, they make the rules. And change them.

Black memorabilia removed from Etsy
Mammy dolls, including my pecan doll, were pulled from Etsy today.

This is yet another reason to have several baskets for your eggs... I am forced to move my two affected dolls to another venue.

Can something be learned from such black memorabilia, or Etsy's removal of them? I cannot say... However, Winston Churchill stated "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A tail of two coins - counterfeits

Are your silver dollars real or fake?
Two of these coins are counterfeit. Which ones?
heads and tails not even
The peace dollars' tails did not line up
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Oh wait...

We bought two peace dollars at auction last evening. Later my husband, the collector, noticed a couple of odd things... There were red flags that prompted us to do some research.

What was the primary alarm bell? After he put the coins in the album, he noticed that they did not match the others when he turned the page. In other words, the lineup of their tails was wrong.

This simple and obvious check of how the front and backs line up was not mentioned online at all in our research about USA peace dollars.

Here are some tests to determine if your silver coins are counterfeit. If you sell a lot online, you may already have everything you need to test silver coins.
silver coins weigh a specific amount
How does its weight compare?

 The front and back (obverse and reverse) should line up exactly, clocked at exactly 6 and 12 o'clock. Easy, right?
✅ Do a "ring test." The sound was off. Could we be sure? There are "ring test" apps for this.
counterfeit peace dollars too thick
The fake coins are a little thicker
✅ We weighed them on a jewelry scale. One weighed too much -!
✅ Stack them up against other real peace dollars. In this case, the problem coins are slightly thicker than the rest. See the photo.
✅ Check with a regular magnet. We found no magnetism.
✅ Examine the lettering (looked OK for worn old coins).
Inspect the finish under magnification for holes like Styrofoam. None found.
✅ Ice test. The temperature change was indeed slower with the counterfeit coins than real ones. We did this a few times to get the feel for it. (Put your finger on the bottom, ice on the top.)
checking heat transfer of silver coins
Silver transmits cold & melts ice faster

(After that, we hunted around for a stronger magnet to try another test. I knew that we had strong little magnets that came inside Sonicare toothbrushes. My husband finally located one.)

Slide a super strong little neodymium magnet down the coin. Silver has some magnetism. The little magnet's travel will be slow, almost sticky. Depending on what metal is in the coin, for fakes, it could slide down faster.

However, this stronger magnet STUCK to the counterfeits, not to the solid silver coins.
magnetically test silver coins
Neodymium magnet sticks to left coin

Which ones were counterfeit here? The two on the right, the 1923S and the 1927.

Interesting. (And good news, the auctioneer trusts us and will refund us what we paid. He will return the coins to the consignor. I have a photo we took at auction to authenticate if necessary.)

I am glad we caught it early enough to return them. It is good to use a reputable auctioneer, too.

(There are two more tests that we did not attempt: chemical silver test, which damages the coin. Unnecessary, as these coins are likely coated with silver. The other test we did not perform was melting the coins down for obvious reasons.)

1923 S 1927 counterfeit obverse clockwise
The tail (reverse) was off, slightly clockwise on the two coins on the right.
testing fake peace dollars
Check all coins from different angles, in good light. The two on the right turned out to be counterfeit.
Thanks for sharing this little bit of our vintage journey.  We learn something new every day selling vintage!

Who is in the driver's seat?

What is up with Etsy's search? Hold on tight! Reports vary... some shops are doing all right and some are not: theories abound....