A Prepping Guide for Etsy Sellers

Prepping Guide for Etsy SellersA Prepping Guide for Etsy Sellers or, not putting all of your eggs in one basket

Our little Etsy Shop was chugging along

We have been very happy Etsy sellers since 2014. A few minor bumps in the road but all in all a very good 7 years or so, growing sales and learning to deal with the changes in the Etsy selling platform. We have become accustomed to selling on Etsy. To help others we prepared this prepping guide.

As in most of the serious Etsy selling community, we tried to exceed customer expectations and maintain a five star rating. This was goal number one and all of our actions from providing accurate descriptions, offering fair pricing, using safe packaging and always shipping fast helped to keep us there.
That is until recently, when we ran into some problems that we had little control over.

The problems started with Shop edits

We needed to go in and change some settings in the shop. They should have been relatively minor changes but something strange happened when we got some errors. The errors continued to compound and our shop was basically shut down for two weeks. We could take orders but they could not be fulfilled and they could not be cancelled.

After a harrowing half a month working with Etsy Support, endless tickets and calls we finally solved one problem only to run into another even more serious problem. I will spare you all of the gory details but our shop was essentially shut down. A technical bug in the Etsy Shops payment processing algorithm stopped us dead in our tracks, no payments would clear, we could not cancel a sale and we were powerless to do anything other than reach out to those customers that placed orders and keep calling Etsy Support.

Panic sets in

Panic sets inSo we started to get very anxious. We started to read other stories of shops getting closed, shops getting poor ratings from late sales and all the other bad stuff one finds on line about this kind of stuff. It was not cool feeling so helpless, unable to solve our problems quickly.

We then did the thing that many do we began to panic. We started making explorations into Etsy alternatives. We thought that while we waited for Etsy to fix their bug that we could magically re-host our shop on another platform. This of course is the worst time to plan an exit. Especially when you should be focusing on getting the issues resolved and communicating with your customers.

The moral of the story

The moral of the storyIf you are going to be a proper business person you need to take the time to plan for issues that are out of your control. When using a selling platform that you do not have a great deal of control over you have to have a well developed contingency plan. You need to have such a plan ready, tested and documented before you encounter the emergency (that you will almost never anticipate).

Every day we read about shops that have been closed for a variety of reasons. Some the sellers fault and some (like ours) from a bug in the shops technology stack. Here is a quick check list to help you structure your backup/recovery plan.

A ten step prepping guide to help recover quickly

1. Know how to contact support. From tickets to phone contact methods. Don’t wait till you need it to understand this!
2. Understand what credentials you will need to contact support. This is really important because you will need a combination of your email, the physical address of the shop, your payment methods and access to other key pieces of information you used to set up your shop. Document them and put them in a safe place.
3. Know how to document your problem effectively and accurately. Most ticketing systems are limited to a certain number of words. Know how to get to the point and provide important facts. Don’t ramble, don’t exaggerate and be truthful.
4. Gain a full understanding of how the support system works with the platform you are selling on. This includes hours of operation, ticket service levels, escalation procedures, and learn to read the documentation.
5. Understand how to backup your listings
6. Keep a document of all of your settings (like Tax-ID, Shipping accounts, Bank Accounts, Payment methods and all of the details) you would need to either reopen the shop or migrate the shop. Put it in a safe place.
7. Understand how to dump all of your reports and listings. They are documented in Etsy but they are not very clear. You will need to understand not only the way to export them but also understand what format they will be produced in and how you can import them into a usable format.
8. Make a step by step list of actions to take should your shop need to be moved. Put it in a safe place.
9. Make a list of alternative selling platforms that you might migrate to if it becomes necessary.
10. Make sure that you have a backup method of accessing your shop if your computer dies.

Making this list will be very helpful in preparing you for extended downtime with your shop. It will also help you to start thinking about how to move to another platform. We came right to the edge of leaving Etsy but were saved by escalating the problem with some persistence but it easily could have gone badly. We were not prepared to re-platform in the “heat of the downtime”. Making your own prepping guide plan will help you to manage the anxiety and hopefully solve your problems quickly.

We will cover re-platforming in a future post. Thanks for taking a look. You can find our Etsy Shop here

Reducing Carbon Footprint for Hyperantique

The carbon footprint problem with selling on line

Facing facts, our Etsy shop Hyperantique is a recycling company. This is because we only sell used vintage items. These items have for the most part already “spent” their carbon decades ago. That puts us at an advantage over shops that make or sell new items but we also know that packing and delivering our products should be considered in the carbon equation. We wanted to take steps to lessen the impact of our packaging and shipping activities so that we might make a small difference.

The Simple Facts About Selling On-line

We figured that most of our footprint was in the cardboard, packing supplies and the transportation to get these supplies to us. To help fix that  we decided that planting trees would be a good way to offset our impact. We also looked at the transportation and shipping of our products to the customer as our second most intense carbon creating activity.

To offset shipping we decided to align with a charity that promotes renewable energy. We liked the idea of taking action to offset our carbon footprint so much that we wanted to share it with you.

The Hyperantique carbon offset journey

After about a week of searching for a way to donate to a charity that would offset our carbon footprint we found doing it directly through Etsy a difficult task. We learned that it would be much easier to just set up a special account and put aside monies from each sale. We could then donate once or twice a year or when the monies were more significant.

The reasons for this decision were twofold: Etsy (for good reason) is very particular about how you advertise your charitable donations. They want you to follow an Etsy process. Also, most charities that we found had a high bar set for setting up a corporate donation program. Many have a difficult signup process. We also found that many set minimum giving goal levels for corporations. We decided that we are way too small to deal with all of that so we decided to do it a bit more covertly and simply.

A Step by Step Process

Here is a step by step review of what we are doing at Hyperantique to help offset our carbon footprint:

We talked about the types of charities that we wanted to support. It was a short discussion but we wanted to make sure that the charities that we chose were in line with the goals that we set.

We set these three high level Goals:

  • To offset our carbon footprint for packaging and shipping.
  • Align Hyperantique with a charity (or charities) that had the lowest overhead to ensure maximum impact for our small donations.
  • Find a non political group that just has a simple goal.
  • Have some fun doing it.

Plant TreesWe made a broad category list of the types of charities that were designed to enhance or preserve the environment. We liked a charity that just plants trees. We wanted to keep it really simple so we sought out a group that works with the Arbor Day Foundation.

We also liked a charity that sought to invest in the promotion of renewable energy. Again, keeping it simple and staying away from overtly political groups was important to us.

We then researched charities that were in the categories we listed. We used Charity Navigator to sort out the most efficient charities. We only wanted to deal with the highest rated charities that delivered the most of the proceeds to the selected charity purpose.

We considered modifying the terms in our Etsy shop to make mention that we donate a certain dollar amount per sale along with a list of charities that deal with improving or preserving the environment. That thought was rejected for a umber of reasons. Mostly because Etsy has rather strict policies on mentioning donation activities. They require that you obtain explicit written permission from the charities in order to mention them in your shop. When we tried to obtain permission we ran into a very high “cost of entry” in process. Most charities also require a corporate agreement that usually comes with a pre-defined level of giving so we passed on that. We also considered that you might offend as many people as you attract simply by mentioning your charitable activities. Another good reason to not describe our plans in the shop.

So you can see for yourself here is a link to Etsy’s donation policies here. While they are not too complex the devil is in the details. Getting written permission to list the entity is a lot harder than you might think. Most of the really effective charities we looked at appeared to want to streamline their interaction with donators. We understand why but still, kind of disappointing.

Keeping it Really Simple

So, we now set aside a small amount of each sale in a special account so that once it hits a certain level we make a donation. We go back and forth between a hard dollar amount and a percentage of the sales lining price. We will fine tune that part of it as we go.

The main reason we chose to take the charitable donations off line is that most charities set thresholds for donations from companies and we did not think we could easily meet those thresholds.  It did not make sense for us to make transaction based donation but knew that donating perhaps quarterly would be much easier to manage.

Thanks for reading this and you can visit our shop at This location. Thanks for reading!

Taking Gutenberg editor for a spin

His first name was Johann and he was a German inventor. He was born about 1398 and reportedly died in 1468. His name was changed at some time as he was actually born as Johann Gensfeisch our Laden in Mainz Germany, the same area our ancestors came from. We like Gutenberg!

This is what Gutenberg was supposed to look like. Kind of funny looking by todays standards if you ask me. Well maybe not too different looking than today no?

WordPress has taken the namesake of Johann Gutenberg, shortened it to just “Gutenberg” and placed it on their new block editor for the WordPress content management system.

First we installed the Classic text editor

Initially we did not want to look at the Gutenberg Editor. So many people were saying it was a bad move on WordPresses part to put the new editor into core so we installed the Classic Text Editor Plugin.

The Classic Editor allowed us to continue using the method of post writing that we were used to. We avoided the Gutenberg plugin and the Gutenberg Editor for a number of revisions. We even looked at installing the Elementor Page Builder plugin to help us avoid coding and just publish.

We love the Elementor Page builder but we did not wish to purchase the professional version nor did we really want to learn a new method for page building. We started to think that we could spend the time fighting Gutenberg or just start using it. We checked to make certain that our WordPress Theme was compatible.

Our First Gutenberg Post

This is our first actual Gutenberg post. It took a pretty long time to build as we had to read a number of instructional blog articles to get our bearings. First we had to change a setting in the Classic Editor to allow users to switch between editors. See the circled text for what settings need to be changed to allow Block editing. You can also address the editor selection in the WordPress user area.

WP Editor Choice

We will be looking at SEO statistics for the post

With sales in our Etsy Shop a bit off, we are focusing on the web site. We plan to use the Gutenberg editor for all future posts from now forward. This post was written using Desktop Server on our iMac. We took it by cutting and pasting from the desktop server instance to the server were we host our site.

Our Google Analytics page has been copied to set a bench mark for the performance of this post over posts written in the Classic Editor. We will also monitor the Google tags in our Etsy shop for any deviation in performance. We will follow up with a post detailing our results.

Coco Chanel high value sales on your Etsy Shop

The pitfalls of selling Coco Chanel on Etsy

We have been selling vintage Chanel on Etsy for a total of 8 years. Overall our experience has been excellent but selling high value Coco Chanel leather glovesChanel Glove Tag, earrings, hats and scarfs can present difficulties to the Etsy seller. Not only are these items of high value but they are readily counterfeited – just take a walk down Canal Street in NYC.

Canal street has historically been lined with fake everything including Chanel, Rolex, and all of the most desirable high-end brands. We strive to ensure that our Chanel items are authentic and of the highest quality that is available. Many of our items are new old stock that has been unused or lightly used.

We have bought and sold Chanel for almost 10 years now. All of our transactions have been consummated, delivered and completed with very little drama. We choose to sell from the large inventory of Chanel vintage items from the early 1990s. These were accumulated through our work with Chanels boutique on 57th street in NYC. We also managed repairs of high value Chanel handbags and other clothing accessories.

Coco Chanel gloves exquisite detailsCoco Chanel Gloves

We absolutely love the details on the many pairs of gloves that we have acquired for sale. Beautiful and well made, these beautiful gloves can only be found on our site. Here is a sample listing for an amazing pair of longer formal leather Coco Chanel gloves right here Etsy Shop

Other Chanel items listed appear under the section for Vintage Fashion section.

How We protect High Value Chanel Inventory

First, we only sell authentic Coco Chanel items in our Etsy Shop that you can visit from right here Etsy Shop . Other items are also for sale in our shop but only authentic Chanel items are sold by us.

When we list a high value item the seller must agree to the following: Pay for insurance using a USPS priority shipping method, Insurance must cover the cost of the item as well as the shipping and packing charges, A signature is required for delivery and item must be paid for prior to shipping.

We carry many Chanel items as well as hundreds of other interesting and unusual vintage products. We try to ship the same day that we receive an order. In the worst case we ship within one business day unless the order was placed on a holiday.  We attempt to answer any questions about the product, packaging and shipping as soon as we see the request or question.

From a curb on Canal Street, NYC a decal that was placed on the iron Curb.  We would love to have you visit shop because Best of all – Love is Telepathic. See you on line!

Get Google Analytics Working for Your Etsy Shop

Get Google working for your Etsy shop

One of the first things you might think about doing is to set up a Google Analytics account for your Etsy Shop and get Google working for you. While you can track your shops performance by viewing your Stats in Shop Manager you will get an unfettered view in the tools that Google provides.

There are instructions in the Etsy help home but here is a quick step by step guide:

If you already have a Google Analytics account you can skip this step:

Here is a link that will guide you through the process of setting up Google’s Marketing Platform: Google Marketing Platform

Just press the “Start for free” button and follow the instructions. 

Once you have completed the account set up come back and set up your Etsy shop.

You will need to go to Etsy Shop Manager

Settings

Web Analytics (in the top tab). 

Place the UA-nnnnnnnn-n number that you got from setting up your Google account. 

Press save and wait about 24 hours to start seeing analytics.

 

 

 

 

For more information on Google Analytics you should take a look at the YouTube site here where a recap of what Google is up to is available Google Videos on Analytics

How to sell on Etsy without making it a full time job

Here is a check-list for those looking to sell on Etsy:

Selecting what to sell on Etsy

Item selection is very important but not for the reasons that you might think. For an Etsy seller, size and weight matters almost more than any other attribute. Of course the items must be of high quality but if you can not ship it cost effectively you might just be wasting your time listing them. Choose items that are easy to ship and do not weigh too much. Unusually large items will not sell unless they are extremely interesting or rare.

Does the Item Photograph well

Larger items are difficult to take a meaningful photograph of. Smaller items can be much easier to take a good photo of and will sell on Etsy. Do not use distracting background and try to place something in the picture that will show scale. Use pleasant but neutral colors in your background. Use natural light when possible. Make sure to put any defects, scratches or patina in a photo for full disclosure. Use all 10 Etsy photograph slots if you can. If the item is simple (like a bowl) use as many as you can to show the item and use the rest to place the item into a good contextual use case – like put fruit in the bowl.

Items are art

We sell antiques and vintage items. One of our goals to sell on etsy is to try to pick out items that are made with interesting materials. Those made using a process that is extinct are the best for us. Our favorites are items items that are essentially impossible to duplicate because the process is too complex or the maker used materials that are not abundant any longer. These items sell the fastest for us. Luxury items that are gently used are also very popular. We specialize in Chanel stock items from the 1990s along with an eclectic mix of unusually well made items. Take a look at our shop here Middle Cove Antiques

Item Title

The Item Title is important for the (internal) Etsy Search Algorithm. We will talk more about internal search later in this piece. More importantly, the item title that you provide is submitted to Google and other search engines by Etsy as a snippet. Most interesting is that Etsy uses only the first 66 characters of the item title to submit to search engines. See the attached image where the preview uses the first 66 characters and the word by and your shop name to construct the first part of the preview.

This makes it extremely important to use your best efforts to describe the item as you would imagine a buyer searching for it. The second part of the submitted preview is the first 160 characters of your item description.

Item Descriptions and Stories

If you want to get found inside of Etsy and more importantly in search engines you will need to focus on your item description in two parts. First you must concentrate on the first 160 characters and then the balance of the description quite differently.
To be effective you really need to try to concentrate on how you would search for what you are selling as you construct first 160 characters of item description. Use the balance of the item description to talk about size, condition and other important attributes you wish to convey to a potential buyer.

In Middle Cove Antiques we try to spice up an otherwise boring description with a little bit of a story. That said, don’t write a novel about your item. Tell your prospective buyer what the item is, what the condition of the item is, the size and weight of the item, the color and materials that the item is made of.

It is also very helpful if you know what the item actually is. While this sounds strange, some items are so out of place in modern times you need to be able to tell your customers what the item is and what it was used for. They will like you to be truthful so don’t make stuff up. If you have some amusing tidbits about the item, how you came across it or how you think it might be used in modern times add it to the bottom of your description.

Tags – use them all

Etsy describes tags as tools to help get your item found. Etsy tags are limited to up to 20 characters. We try to use the first 5 tags to add great search triggers. We try to use the remaining 8 tags to place context around the use of the item. For example if you are listing a bowl, use the first 5 tags to clearly lockdown descriptive search keywords: soup bowl, glazed ceramic, etc. Try to use the other 8 to capture different related keywords that are highlight the practical use of the item. We get creative with tags but we try not to get crazy with them.

Clearly Etsy messes with the search results constantly so I suggest that you read the article at Etsy SEO

What I have written here appears to work well for us to sell on Etsy, your results may be different. At the end of the day Etsy has their own rules for placing your listing into its search results. Once the snippets go to Google or Bing only they know what actually makes them important or highly ranking in search.

Materials Tags

Materials which are optional appear to show up in the product overview under “materials”. Looking at what Etsy has to say about materials does not really shed much light on their actual purpose. I suspect that they may be part of some filters that Etsy uses somewhere in internal search algorityms but I am not clear on their impact on the ability to get your item found in outside search engines.

Etsy Search – Tag and Title Relevancy

Here are some notes from Etsy on internal search relevancy: “Items in Etsy’s search results must match the buyer’s search word or phrase. Items that do not match a buyer’s search won’t be included in results”. (This was taken from Etsy’s “Factors in Etsy’s search placement” article).

Exact phrase matches are stronger than matches on individual words. For example, a search for “banana backpack” would return all items with the words “banana” and “backpack” in the tags or title, but items with “banana backpack” in the title would be considered a closer match.

If a word or phrase in a buyer’s search appears in both the title and tags of a listing, the search algorithm considers that listing more relevant than a listing with that word or phrase in the tags or title alone.
According to Etsy the words at the beginning of titles are considered more important than words at the end of the title.

All I can conclude from this is that while a customer is in Etsy, using Etsy search you better use your tags and your titles in a manner that is consistent with Etsy’s search algorithms. Once you are outside of Etsy, search engine placement is a whole different ball game. We will talk more about this in another article/post. In the meantime let us know how you sell on Etsy.