Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pattern By Etsy - Is it a Good Choice for You?

Pattern is a new seller service offered by Etsy for shop owners who are looking for an easy way to create your own website. It’s an Etsy powered e-commerce shop builder that gives you the option to click a couple of buttons and have your own website set up in about 10 minutes. 

Pattern by Etsy - Is it a Good Choice for You?


Is it a good choice for you? That’s what I’m going to discuss today. Although this platform is very new there is enough information available now to help you consider whether Pattern is the best option for you as a e-commerce website. 

FACTS ABOUT PATTERN 

  • There is a 30-day free trial
  • Costs $15 a month + 3.5 transaction fees + direct checkout processing fee
  • Purchase a custom URL from Etsy for $16/year or use one you already own
  • Mobile friendly so it looks great on any device
  • No additional listings fee

ADVANTAGES OF PATTERN
  • Quick and easy site set up
  • Choices in themes, colors and fonts
  • Can preview the site before committing to it
  • Manage inventory for both Etsy and Pattern from the same place
  • Looks professional

CONSIDERATIONS TO MAKE BEFORE GETTING STARTED
Although Pattern may be a very good option for you I thought it would be worthwhile to point out some other observations I have made about this new service.

I believe it is a good idea to DIVERSIFY. That is, if I’m going to establish my own e-commerce site (and I have) it is important to me that it is INDEPENDENT of Etsy. Personally, I would not feel like it was my own shop if Etsy is the platform. I already have a shop on an Etsy platform. It would feel like I just opened a duplicate shop on Etsy and that seems redundant to me.

You cannot set up a Pattern site unless you have Direct Checkout available in your Etsy shop. This is not a problem for most people but for some it takes away the option of CHOICE about the matter.

Next, customers who go to your Pattern Site will encounter a HUDDLE when they go to checkout if they don’t have an Etsy account set up. They need to set one up (if they don’t have one) BEFORE they can make their purchase. This could be a huge deterrent to some buyers. To set up an Etsy account they will be sent to Etsy - away from your e-commerce site!

You can add your own custom domain URL (purchased from another site) to Pattern but there is no information available at the moment to reassure you that a domain name purchased from Etsy will work on a platform other than Pattern. If you decide to change platforms later there is a QUESTION as to whether you can use your custom ULR somewhere else.

Since Pattern essentially DUPLICATES your Etsy shop to put it into a more profession format, the information read by Google is basically the same. This may cause a problem for you in the long run according a few reliable sources that I found.

According to Moz.com “When there are multiple pieces of identical content on the Internet, it is difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query. To provide the best search experience, search engines will rarely show multiple duplicate pieces of content and thus, are forced to choose which version is most likely to be the original—or best.”

Another article by SearchEngineLand.com quoting Google spokesperson Matt Cutts says
“Google may just ignore the duplicate content…..It is more about Google knowing which page they should rank and which page they should not. Google doesn’t want to show the same content to searchers for the same query; they do like to diversify the results to their searchers.”

If you want to rank well in Search on Etsy, you all know that there is a science to doing that which includes stringing keyword phrases together in the Title of each shop item. This is ETSY LANGUAGE and it doesn’t translate well on other platforms. For instance, when I pin an item from my Etsy shop to Pinterest the title doesn’t make sense so I rearrange and add words to the description before I hit the “pin” button.

When your items are formatted into Pattern, they will adopt the same titles that you already have on Etsy but you CANNOT CHANGE YOUR ITEM TITLES in Pattern. You either change the format of the titles you have in Etsy and risk altering your Search rankings there for the sake of having “plain english” titles for Pattern OR you keep your Etsy titles and Search ranking the way they are and “Etsy language” item titles on your Pattern site. You don’t have a choice at this point. This and the Etsy account huddle are deal breakers for me.

There are NO ADD-ONS, third party apps or plug-ins available on Pattern. One being that we cannot track information on “cart abandonment”. That information would be especially helpful knowing that many potential customers may be abandoning their shopping cart if they can't checkout without an Etsy account.

And another biggie for me is that you cannot add a NEWSLETTER sign up option or a pop up box with information. Etsy still holds the bag on that.

For me the decision is clear but I know that many of you are looking at how easy Pattern is to set up and all the other “easy” perks about the site. If ease of setup and/or maintenance has been the roadblock to establishing your own site then Pattern may be the ticket for you. I totally get that!!

I decided to set up my e-commerce site on Shopify and I’ve very, very happy with it. The best part is the customer service!! I wrote about setting up my shop and shared some of the details I found as I got started.

Shortly after I set up my Shopify shop I also wrote about how to easily import your Etsy items into your Shopify shop. And once you do that, you can alter and adjust everything you want!!

I’d love to hear your feedback about the things I mentioned here and your thoughts about Pattern. Please share!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Steps to Creating a New Design from Start to Finish

Since my business consistently keeps me busy year round I try to make the most of the days when the pace slows down. For me, this is a great time to develop and create new designs. 

5 Steps to Creating a New Product Design from the birth of an idea to the finished product.

SKETCHBOOK + JOURNALING 

Typically, coming up with new ideas means walking away from my studio space and sitting with a sketching journal. I write out notes and sketch whatever comes to mind. If my daughter is with me, she is also making sketches as we bounce ideas back and forth.

I have to admit, I don’t have just one sketchbook. I have a handful of them going all the time. They’re not just full of little drawings. Each page has notes and dimensions and references to inspiration I’ve found in magazines, books and on the web.

RESOURCES + REFERENCES 

When I’m working in my studio, besides listening to music, I often get caught up on the latest podcasts on my list. More times than not they reference a resource or website that I want to remember and refer to later. My journaling sketchbook is the perfect place to jot those things down but it’s not always within reach so I’ll grab something handy like an envelope from my pile of mail, tear off a corner and make my note.

If you do the same thing don’t stop there. Don’t find yourself wondering what you did with that little piece of paper that contains that nugget of wisdom. Grab some tape and stick in on a page. If you want it to add some cuteness then use some pretty washi tape!

Journals with notes and sketches is where new ideas are born

Journals with notes and sketches is where new ideas are born


DRAFTING A PATTERN 

Unless I’m just altering one of my existing designs, this part of the process is very time consuming. I recently had someone ask me to create a custom bag for them and it took me weeks to get the dimensions figured out, patterns drafted and placement of the stitched design perfected.

I prefer to use tracing pattern or some other transparent paper for my patterns. I took a pattern drafting class in college and learned that this worked really well for me then and nothing has changed that.

The transparent quality of the paper allows me to see the dimensional grid on my cutting board which helps with making straight lines and figuring measurements. If need be, I tape several sheets of paper together to make my pattern the necessary size.

MAKING A PROTOTYPE 

I learned the hard way that my first pattern is never perfect. My second and third draft are rarely perfect either. To be sure that my pattern will product an item that is exactly what it needs to be, I make a prototype.

Although I would love to make it from my designer fabrics to see how pretty it will turn out, I use a pile of muslin and hand-me-down fabrics so I don’t waste the good stuff.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT 

When all the details are worked out, the pattern is tweaked and I’m set to go, THEN I make the real deal. Yes, this may take several days to a week or more but the end result is worth it. When I put this much work into making sure that my patterns can be used repeatedly then I know I can make beautiful items for my customers that I can stand behind and that they will enjoy.

Monogram wreath clutches | perfect as gifts for bridesmaid or baby shower hostess gifts | www.mamableudesigns.com

I’ve been walked through this creative process since last summer with a new design that my daughter sketched one day as we sat at my patio table. The first bag of this design was introduced just before Christmas and quickly grew to become one of the most popular items in my shop. 

So, as simple as it may seem, my ideas always start out as a sketch in my journal!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How To Use Etsy "Editor's Picks" To Increase Your Sales

This time last year I was still floundering in the midst of Etsy’s changes to the front page. My sales were down and I had stopped participating in the “hearting” assignments that most promotional teams were doing. I felt directionless for most of the year and was determined to make the holidays a successful season for my shop. I did some brainstorming about a strategy that made sense for me and worked it through the holiday season to see where it would take me. 

How to use Etsy Editor's Picks to increase your shop sales

It all started last October with the Etsy Editor’s Picks moving from a small box in upper right hand corner to a full-on major feature on the front page. While the running feed is different on everyone’s page because it’s based on the shops and items you have personally “favorited, the Editor’s Picks are the SAME for everyone.

If you have subscribed to Etsy’s newsletters (which I hope that you have), you’ll also notice that the daily emails correspond to the featured items, links and themes that show up in the Editor’s Picks. So how does this all help you increase your sales?

The highlighted photos for the Editor’s Picks are curated by Etsy and the pages of items that follow are relevant to the search term that Etsy is featuring. These are clues that I started using to determine my daily/weekly plan to get my shop back on track and make this the best year yet.

IDENTIFYING KEYWORD PHRASES

I took a look at a recent Etsy Newsletter that featured “Creative Ideas for Kids”. When I click on the link it takes me to a landing page full of photos and corresponding pages. Let’s check out the by-line under the title For Kids & Babies.

how to increase your etsy sales

It says “Make every day magical with inspired finds for your little ones — from whimsical baby shower ideas to stylish kids’ clothes (plus: the best maternity gear for mothers-to-be)”
Just this statement alone is choke-full of keyword phrase clues. I typed several of these words in the search box to see what would come up as popular choices. These are a few that I found:

magical girl
magical boy
little one
whimsical baby shower

Moving down the page you’ll find keyword phrases that are more obvious like Toddler Girls and Baby Boys. When you find a category that fits your shop item I encourage you to click the photo and look more closely at the search phrase that Etsy is using. 

how to increase your etsy sales


Let’s take a look at “Matching Siblings & Twins”. The search term used here is twins children - which is not what I expected to find. Using this keyword phrase in a title and tag may significantly increase the sales for someone selling children’s clothing. It may not be a phrase that many people type in the search bar BUT it will get you on the 1st or 2nd page of this link in the Editor’s Picks.

Doing this kind of research may take some time but I can tell you from experience that it can make a huge difference in your sales. I started doing this for my own shop during the first week of November and doubled my sales from the previous November and December.

Now that the holidays are over I thought that my sales would drop but since I’m continuing to use this technique as new Editor’s Picks are introduced I’m still seeing increased sales.

NARROW YOUR FOCUS 

I start out my work day in front of my computer and one of the first things I do is check my email for the latest Etsy Finds or Etsy Gifts newsletters. I click through all the links that are relevant to my shop to see if any of my items show up on the first or second page. If not, I know where I need to concentrate my efforts. These few steps each morning help me identify a handful of listings that may or may not need my attention, therefore narrowing my focus so I can use my time more effectively.

CHECKLIST 

I can’t say that this list is foolproof but these are the things I look for when I want to improve the ranking of one of my shop listings.

√ Have I updated my listing? Sometimes I’ll find an item with really old tags on it from when I was on treasury teams or outdated information in the description.

√ I sometimes find that switching the order of the first and second keyword phrases of my title can make a difference.

√ Add a newly identified keyword phrase that is relevant to the Editor’s Picks for the day/week

√ If I know my listing is completely optimized for that search term/phrase, I often just renew it to increase the chance of that it will pop up on the first page.

STAY INFORMED 

I’m just like everyone else, my inbox is jammed full of emails messages. As a business owner on Etsy, I have found that it’s really important to look at/read every email that they send me. You can see how I’m using the Etsy Finds and Etsy Gifts emails to my advantage. I also make sure to read every single one of the Etsy Success emails. Staying informed can keep you on the front edge of success! I wrote a blog post on how to subscribe to Etsy's Newsletters here.

Best of success to you!!

How to Sign Up for Etsy Newsletters

I've mentioned on several occasions that a key to building a successful business is staying informed. One of the ways you can do that is by signing up for the Etsy Newsletters. There are several to choose from and you may or may not want to receive them all. No matter what you sell, I highly suggest that you subscribe to Etsy Gifts, Etsy Finds and Etsy Success.

How to subscribe to Etsy Newsletters and links to info about how you can use that information to increase your etsy shop sales


DIFFERENT TYPES OF EMAIL NEWSLETTERS


Etsy Finds: This daily email is a “shopping guide” featuring a variety of Etsy sellers.

Etsy Gifts: This weekly email is full of seasonal gift ideas. 

Etsy Fashion: You’ll enjoy tracking fashion trends on Etsy with this biweekly e-mail newsletter.

Etsy Weddings: A weekly email full of handmade and vintage picks for brides, grooms and everyone else who loves weddings.

Etsy Dudes: A weekly email featuring gadgets, gear, fashion and accessories — just for guys.

Etsy Success: Etsy news along with tips from admin and top sellers, sent biweekly.

In addition Etsy sends newsletters in French, German, and Dutch, as well as ones for crafting communities in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and Canada.

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO EMAIL NEWSLETTERS
  • Scroll to the bottom of the front page and click the BLOG link under "Discover and Shop"
  • You'll find two links at the bottom of the right-hand column - Etsy Finds and Other Newsletters. Click the "other newsletters" link to find ALL the newsletter options and more. 
  • A full list of options are there with boxes to check. I've checked almost every one of them but the choice is yours. If you find you are getting way more info than you prefer then simply hit the unsubscribe link in the email OR revisit this page to update it. Every time you update your information make sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and click "save settings".  
For suggestions on how you can use some of the newsletter information to increase your shop sales you may want to visit my "Editor's Choice" blog post