July 28, 2010

The Critique Experience - a repost.

Looking at what the world has to offer.
With each new season it seems that it is the time for change. Ole Ignatts Kitty must be contemplating his changes too....

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: http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6236215 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: http://www.etsy.com/forums_thread.php?thread_id=6236215

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 season!!

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

Warmest Regards


July 27, 2010

Conclusion of Double Critique #8

This is one critique that is concluding with fantastic results!

What a difference!  MaineLadyBug has taken your comments to heart and truly made her changes count!

This is what she had to say about her critique experience:
Hello All ~

I have updated my listing and posted it. I appreciate all your wonderfully helpful comments.

I took more pictures using a white background. I took several that show the ladybug charm in detail. I am working on making sure I have all 5 pictures slots filled with each of my listings. I don't have someone at the moment to model my jewelry, although that is a good point.

I updated the description of the bracelet and used all 14 tags. :-) I raised the price a bit. I'm still struggling with pricing across the board.

jswrites: I appreciate your proof reading! I corrected my errors. :-) As to the "gold" question. I have struggled with that. I do use good quality gold plated chain and findings. I'm not trying to be deceptive, but I feel that if I use plated in the title or the initial description buyers won't even look. I would like them to view the pieces and then decide on whether they would like quality fashion jewelry or real gold jewelry. I also feel that most people realize how much real gold and gold filled jewelry costs. The price of gold is over $1,000 per ounce. I always say exactly what type of materials I use in the materials section. I hope this answers your question. I appreciate your feelings on this topic.

As I reread all the comments most everyone suggests using a live model. I will definitely try to find someone that is willing to wear my creations and pose for pictures.

Thank you, thank you everyone! This has been a great experience. Thank you Karen for hosting this blog and for setting up the critiques. Thank you also for working on my avatar. Take a look at the one I have up now. I found her on the beach the other day. :-)

Happy Day! Happy Creating!

Gini, thank you!  It is so inspiring to see how hard a shop owner works to keep the store fresh and new!  Love the newe avatar, too!

Thank you - all who have viewed and all who have commented.  It's you who keep this feature going!

Oh...as a side note... I've installed a measurement converter on the sideber for all of you to use when you need to change to/from metric and inches.  Just a little gift from me to you!


July 21, 2010

Double Critique #8 MaineLadyBug and JadedHopeChest

Today we have two shop owners that won the comment quick contest.  I selected the items from both shops.  They are older listings that have had more than a few views but have not sold.  Let's help them sell their wares!  Don't forget to check out their descriptions and tags.

MaineLadyBug-  beautiful bracelet!
MaineLadyBug joined Etsy in July of 2008.

She lives in beautiful Maine near the shore.  It looks like the shore is her inspiration for this bracelet!

JadedHopeChest -  what a fun critter!
JadedHopeChest joined Etsy last March

Two sisters run this shop and upcycle odds and ends to create imaginative wonders!

Now we get to do the fun stuff - Shop Peeking!  Let's give these ladies our best, shall we?

July 19, 2010

Critique # 8 Candidates

I'll be posting two more shops this week.
JadedHopeChest and MaineLadyBug.
Get ready ladies!

July 15, 2010

Signs of the times?

You know how you are driving along starting to get a bit bored - and then a road sign appears that makes you do a double take?  I've found a couple of them to share with you.
Does the song "Gotta Go Gotta Go Gotta Go Right Now" come to your mind?

Must be a rough convention!

The last one doesn't have a picture - I wish I'd had a camera though when I saw it.  We were driving down the highway from Kansas City going to Branson, MO.  There had been construction going on sporadically but the views were so beautiful you barely noticed the construction. 

After a good amount of time there was a construction warning sign. You know the kind the black square with lit up words in red warning you about the hazards ahead?  Well whoever authored this sign had a sense of irony.  The sign read:

The first screen flashed - Road construction next 26 miles
The second screen flashed -Prepare to be annoyed!

We laughed for 26 miles on that one!

July 13, 2010

Results from the critiques of LauriesCustomCreate and MyLittleGirlsCloset

These two ladies really paid attention to the critique comments! The comments left for these two items were very helpful and honest. It looks like everyone was spot-on! Nice job everyone!

Laurie will be re-shooting all of her nature based backgrounds to blur the background and pull her earrings forward in her pics.  She improved these earrings by shooting them on a textured white background.  She reworded her description and she includeded "earrings" in her item title. She also fixed her link to and from her matching items.

Nice job, Laurie!

Kathy has temporarily shifted her pictures around to better show the gingham in her photo. She's been a victim of weather and hasn't been able to re-shoot her items.

She has rewritten her description to include the washing instructions and is in the process of doing the same for all of her clothing listed.

Kathy you had a few roadblocks but you've improved this dress listing very nicely!

Thank you to everyone! It is you who volunteer and who comment that make this feature successful! And I thank those of you who have voted in my Poll (on the sidebar) Your telling me what you would like to see more of makes it easier for me to give you what you want!
Next week... Critique # 8!

July 05, 2010

Double Critique # 6

Let the fun begin!  We have two terriffic shops looking for a critique on one of their items. Laurie from LauriesCustomCreate and Kathy from MyLittleGirlsCloset.  We've seen them appearing in the Virtual Labs and they each have an item that they would love help with. 

I selected the items from each shop.  Let's see how you would improve these wonderful selections.  Go to each store and check out the item's title, the item description and the tags too.  Leave your critique in the comment section of this post.

Laurie's Ruby and Hematite Crystal Dangle Earrings
Look at the item title, description and tags as well as the picture.

Kathy's Pink Gingham Floral Shirred Dress Size 18M -3T
Again, look at the item's description and tags as well as the picture.

You can click on each picture and be directed to the item's shop.  If you have further comments about any other thing in the shop don't be afraid to comment on that too!   Remember to be thoughtful in your words but don't be afraid to state your suggestions!

At the end of this week (Saturday) I will have each seller adjust their items to reflect what they feel needs changes.  Be sure you check back and comment on the listings' new look! 

There is still room for one more volunteer on the previous post.   If you want your shop looked at be sure to comment!..... you don't have to beg!

Alright.... let's go peeking!