All of a sudden there was a big orange notification above my banner. I clicked the “Edit new shop” button, and when the preview came up, my banner had totally disappeared. It seemed that only my dull old shop icon was going to serve for branding. My heart sank, as I jumped to the conclusion that Etsy was turning shop owners into faceless contributors, mere cogs in the wheel of the new Etsy corporate reality.
I admit I tend to be something of your glass-half-empty type. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to overrule my emotional cynicism with frontal lobe reasoning. I remembered that actually, Etsy is so big now that shop owner depersonalization or invisibility was already the case, long before the revamp. We’ll be more efficiently integrated within the Etsy machine, but at the same time, Etsy genuinely seems to want to maintain/improve its image as the premiere marketplace for individual artisans. So this revamp might actually help sellers to stand out better.
I’ve known for a while now that the only way I can deal with the problem of getting lost in the massive sea of shops on Etsy is to market my own shop outside of it. True, this effort often does just end up sucking more people into the Etsy machine, where it’s all too easy to click away from my store. On the other hand, Etsy offers a lot of advice on how to improve getting found from within its site. After taking their advice, I did experience significantly more views and favorites, compared to last year's stats.
Also, I appreciated it when Etsy simplified shipping for those of us who don’t have a mailing service to keep up with all the post office rates and price changes. Best of all, Etsy provides me with a fairly cheap place to sell my stuff. I’m no business person, and my operating budget is super low, so I appreciate all that.
I’m probably not the typical Etsy artisan — assuming that the true “typicals” are the young, go-getting, mostly New Yorker types that are often featured in the success-story articles and what not. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not much of a business person. I’m reclusive and enjoy working alone. I’m never going to get into manufacturing because I don’t want employees. I’m never going to try and get a wholesale deal because I won’t enjoy making multiple items of the same design over and over.
I want to make whatever I'm inspired to make, whenever I want to. It doesn't appeal to me to mechanize or even specialize too much, just because it’s supposed to increase sales. Quite a lot of my stuff is original and one of a kind. Coming up with a new design sometimes involves research, re-doing elements, wasting materials (especially wire). I often spend much more time on an item than I could ever charge for. But it’s interesting work, and to me this is the best part of having an Etsy store. Also, I take pleasure in the idea that people in far-flung places are wearing or using something that I made.
I think I’m older than the average Etsy shop owner, and my priorities reflect that. I was an employee for most of my life. I held fairly creative jobs, but I can’t say I enjoyed my life. I pushed way too many things to the back burner because of my job. Now that I’m “officially” retired, I don’t want to be pushed and pulled by the demands of business like I was back then. I’m definitely much more poor these days, so sure, I’d like to increase sales. But, thank God, I also won’t starve these days if I don’t always jump to the tune of capitalism. I find joy and satisfaction in creative work, and now it’s a survivable decision if I want to put that first.
So anyway, I was initially shocked by Etsy’s upcoming changes, and maybe I didn’t like that nobody asked for my vote on all this revamping. But it’s here, and that’s that. I can either quit Etsy or move along with it. My decision: focus on the positive aspect, hunker down and get to work! There are a couple improvements I’ve needed to make anyway. I’ve been putting off updating my personal photo for ages, and I really need to make a better “About” page. I don’t even have the same workshop space any more!
My old banner (shown above) is definitely not going to work with the new cover photo or “billboard” concept. Shop owners do have the option of keeping our old banners as is, but it won’t show up on smart phones and such. I decided not to hang on to mine. I think the “masthead look” is pretty much an artifact of the Etsy past.
I’m not sure whether I want a cover photo or not though. I don’t think I can come up with one in just a couple of weeks, so I immediately did something about my boring shop icon. The new one I came up with isn’t the simple, straight-forward image that Etsy seems to want, but it shrinks down to about half-an-inch well enough. I can always change it again if I decide I want that great big image-splash on top. Then my icon should probably become simpler and even more shrinkable.
Overall these changes are going to make shopping on Etsy more streamlined. But some of the changes do improve the seller experience as well. Brief, to-the-point shop policies will simplify understanding for customers, and foster more confidence in shop owners as a result. (Some shop policy pages are extremely convoluted and confusing!) Rearranging our listed items is going to become worth the effort for shop owners, because the position will stay put, even after renewing a sold-out item. We get five additional sections now (total of 15). It sounds like working online on our shops, uploading items, and editing generally will become easier too.