December 31, 2009

The Critique Experience

With the new year beginning it seems that now is the time for change.  Ole Ignatts Kitty to the left must be contemplating the past year....

Some of us will change habits we have acquired, some of us will change the way in which we maintain our health and others will change their business tactics. 

I am going to change my business tactics.  The place that I have decided to start is with a good, honest, constructive shop critique.  Etsy offers several ways to obtain shop critiques. 

Team SASSY is available to help any seller and they have seasoned, well experienced members who can help in any area of selling or maintaining an online store that a seller might possibly need.  If you need their expertise you can contact them through this forum post:  Their spokesperson is TheHouseOfMouse.

The Forums have a section dedicated to shop critiques, oddly enough this section is called Critiques... go figure huh?  You can either read thru posts whose titles seem similar to your problem or post to the forum yourself.  I suggest that you sort of skim down the other posts and look through, you can always find something that will make you go hmmmmm... so the effort is worth it.

I chose the one on one approach and signed up for a critique partner from the Virtual Lab.  I have been selected to be in the "hot seat" for one of HeyMichelle's famous critiques and survived it well.  But I still like ongoing input so I put my name in the hat for a critique partner last week.

I am not going to tell you where my problems lie, nor the solutions offered for the problems but I will tell you what you might want to ask for when you need an overhaul critique.  My critique partner was truly helpful and a wonderful observer.

The following are questions that you might ask your critique partner to check on:

Start at the beginning:  Your Introduction page
     The first thing that anyone sees upon entering your store is your Banner - ask how your banner might be improved.

     Check your Introduction Title - that is the first line located just under the left side of your banner. -  Does it contain words that a Google search would pick up?  Does it tell the viewer what you have to offer?

     Your Shop Announcement - ask how it might be improved.  Does it also have key words in the opening portion that Google might pick up?  Is it a welcoming statement?  Does it give a good overview of what you are offering?  If you are having a sale, is that included here?  Is it possibly too long?  Short?  Does it make the buyer want to see more?

     Your Featured Photos - Do you have 3 items featured?  Would something else be better served by being one of your features?  This is your very own  "Mini Showcase"

     Your Shop Arrangement - How does it look in gallery form?  (Let's discuss pictures at a later date but do know that your photos are one of the most important parts of your shop!)  Do the pictures need to be rearranged?

     Your Sections - Does each section title reflect clearly what is in there?  Do the section titles contain words that Google will pick up?  Are there any sections with no contents?

     Your Photos - Someone is always gonna get you on this one so just grit your teeth and listen.  Are they too dark, are they fuzzy, are they interesting, are there 5 different photos for each item?  We all struggle with our photos and even though we think they might be just perfect there just might be a better idea from your critique partner.

     Your Item Descriptions - Does the item title contain descriptive words that Google will catch?  Does the description accurately explain the item?  Does it give enough description?  Including dimensions for the UK/Canada/Austrailia?  (These countries all use different measurement standards than the US... let's draw them in by talking their lingo!) Is the description too long?  Too short?
Here is a link to a forum post that is excellent to refer to when doing your item descriptions:

     Your Item Tags - Yes, the dreaded tags!  Do they accurately describe your item so that every search in the universe can pick you out?  ARE YOU USING ALL 14 TAGS on every item?  Each tag is an opportunity for someone to find you. 

     Your Profile - Do you allow the reader an insight as to who runs the shop?  Do they know why you make your items? Do they know how you create what your offer?  Do they realize that you truly know what you are doing in your shop?  Did you make them want to look further?

     Your Policies - Are you clear about what you will and will not do?  Are you firm but kind in your demeanor?  Can there be exceptions to the policy?  Did you cover custom orders?  Is your shipping policy clear?

Is your head spinning yet?  Yes there are a lot of questions but this is your store and you are proud of what you offer.  Why not be proud of the way in which you offer it?

I humbly suggest that you use this guideline to provide a critique for your critique partner, just remember word it kindly, be respectful, and show some humor - it takes the sting out of being criticized no matter how kindly the words are presented.  When you are the one doing the critique for someone else try to offer a suggestion about what needs improvement it shows that you aren't being harsh but that you are being caring.  When you are recieving a critique don't take the criticizm personally... yes it's your hard work that is being discussed but you are getting a different person's perspective.... it just might be the perspective of the buyers who didn't  buy from you - and now you might know why.

You never know, the one who gives you that critique might just become a great friend!  With all that said...........Have a wonderful new year!!

I would love it if you left a comment or suggestion!

Warmest Regards



  1. Great post Karen! This is a great resource for anyone looking to give or receive help!

  2. Wonderful write up. Keep at it, keep going, keep trying.

  3. Well I am glad to see you are still about helping people, I am not surprised, I wish more people felt the way you do. I appreciate the help you gave me,
    and interest are reassurance helps a whole lot to!

    No longer a newbie, but still newbie selling!

  4. wonderful post!
    i found the help within tsy to be amazing!
    and posts like this, only help even more!

  5. Thanks for this . It deffinitely leaves a person with lots to consider, if not to change but to continue to acheive the ultimate goal of a perfect shop where people will come in, shop, and feel confortable.
    Thanks again, Chris Fantasy Design

  6. Thanks so much for this helpful info. Appreciate it. - Sheila Checkoway CheckowayGlass

  7. Very useful questions I can start asking myself too. Thanks so much.

  8. Karen - thanks for the tips. I'll use them tonight.

  9. Great post Aunt Karen~ :) I've bookmarked it for future reference~ Ciao~


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