Monday, 15 September 2014

#btnetsy Talks - Tactile Craft in a Digital World

The latest BTN Etsy Talk was part of the Brighton Digital Festival and we invited Sarah and Susannah to come down and talk about the Etsy Marketplace and community.

I arrived at 6pm to set everything up, normally Sarah (Rockcakes) does all of the set up stuff but today I was in charge. I first panicked that the cable didn't fit (but it did) and then I turned on the laptop to a message that said WINDOWS CANNOT BE RUN. Yes to any of you frowning at the fact we use windows carry on mocking us but I am pro PC and pro android, mainly because if it goes wrong I kinda know how to mash buttons until it works. This was the case this time too, restarted and BLAM we were ready to go!

We loaded up Toby - i like CATS, Ellen - B Millinery and Claire's - Yellow Bear Wares talks as people poured through the doors. The room was half full before we had even officially opened the doors!

I love the talks, they are always held at The Old Market and it's a great chance to have a drink and chat to fellow crafties, whether they are bloggers, team members, makers not on Etsy or boutique owners. It's always a good mix!

We started with Sarah and Susannah giving us the basics about Etsy. If you want to find these tips head over to the Brighton Etsy Team Blog.

Both Susannah and Sarah really enjoyed meeting all the crafty Brightonians

"We had heard such great things about the Brighton Etsy Team talk series, so we were super excited to attend one of their famous evening events! Needless to say, it did not disappoint! It was wonderful to meet so many interesting, driven and creative people, all gathered in one space. Some people were experienced Etsy sellers already running successful businesses through our marketplace and others were just curious to find out more. It made for a really fun, vibrant and informative meet-up. Thanks for having us and well done, Karli and Team!"

Ellen from B Millinery was the first Etsy Seller to speak about her experiences of having a an Etsy shop, creating custom orders and having a product where it is normally so vital that the buyer tries the item on.

"I make hats and accessories with a bit of a old world glamour feel. Selling hats online can be hard because people do love to try them on, as not every shape suits them so I have to try and convey whether it will suit them in my photos. I also need to convey colours and texture as many of my hats are made using really lovely fabrics.

Some milliners use polystyrene heads, this is not something I have found works for me they are not 'actual size' and it’s really hard to convey the feeling the wearer will get. Finding a model can be hard and I often have to do it myself but this is worth it I think.

After the Mentor Month and an Esty School module on shop improvement I have been trying to make sure my photos have a full length shot as well as a close up. The full length shot is good to show the customer how to wear it and the close up is food to show texture and materials used, Ho Kiou does this really well, I would not be able to tell just how lovely these items are and how much work goes in without the close up photo.

Think of your ideal customer or customers when listing items, what style do they have, what do they like, someone who does this well is Janine Basil.

Use your About page to talk about and show how you make your items, it is a fab place to answer questions and explain who you are and the processes you use.

My shop is constantly a work in progress. This is OK. It looks a lot better now, than it was three months ago, and I hope it will be even better again in three more months. I’m always learning and playing with new ideas and that’s good!"

Toby came to the mic and charmed the room with his knowledge, wit!

"I used to prefer selling at markets as I loved for people to be able to see and hold my items, which I considered to be very tactile. I wasn't sure how well this translated online, however I soon realised that Etsy is simply a digital version of a market stall which needs curating and arranging just as I would set up my stall at a craft fair.

Although good photography is the most obvious (and in some ways the most important) way of conveying the physicality of your products, having a good description that really tells the story of the item will help your customer to imagine it away from the computer screen and in their actual real-life-life. The simplest way to achieve this is to always think of the Who, What, Where, Why and (as a bonus) the 'Why Buy'.

Using descriptive language really helps to bring an item to life, so make sure you have a thesaurus handy! You don't want to over embellish but throwing in some clever adjectives can open your customers imagination and help to convince them just why they should buy from your shop

These are great tips, from great sellers, even Susannah is an Etsy seller! So go forth and use them, and make sure you come to the next talk so that you can get even more hints and tips!"

Claire from Yellow Bear Wares was the last to speak but had lots to tell us...

"Selling your handmade items over the internet generally means that people won’t have touched or seen your items in real life, I wanted to share with you today a few ways that I have tried to make my items seem more real to my potential buyers, to make them feel like they know exactly what they are going to get when they purchase my jewellery.

I use cotton reels to lean my knitting needles bracelets against, and also to stand rings necklaces and earrings on. I use the cotton reel because it relates to crafts and textiles, it is instantly recognisable and most people would know the size of a cotton reel and can therefore see the size of the item they are looking at.

I use this simple and consistent technique throughout my shop, it can also help items to feel real rather than a flat digital representation.

Everything I design branding wise uses font’s and drawings etc that look hand-made or analogue, over time I have used fonts that look drawn, ink stamped, stitched, sewn and typed. You can download copyright free fonts online. Try to find something different and new. I feel that this technique adds further to conveying a hand-made aesthetic."

Learnt something? I hope so! Like I said the tips from Susannah as well as this post will be over on the Brighton Etsy Team blog so go and have a look and tell them I sent you!


Brighton Etsy Team Captain

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