Thursday, May 20, 2010


I tend to compartmentalize issues and speak to them individuallyNot that my opinion would change so much, as in the recent changes Etsy has made with regard to mature listings, but that when looking at the issues leading up to this change, more people are to blame for this change than just Etsy.

Etsy is still, in my opinion, at the very bottom of this issue since it is their lack of enforcement of their own rules that caused this.  When weeding through all that led up to this action, it is clear to me that sellers pushed the envelope too far.

Since mature items have always been allowed on the site (that follow specific guidelines) and there have always been treasuries made with these items, it wasn't until recently it was viewed as a problem.

With the introduction of Suggested Shops in each Etsy user's Favorites section, supposedly based on things you mark as a favorite and those that favorite you and their favorites it has led to a flurry of discussions.  First about it all being big sellers and Etsy favorite sellers, then about the items not appealing to a given user.  Then it turned to objectionable items; ie mature.  If this feature had been thought out a little better, it would have enabled each user to, at the very least, delete shops that didn't appeal to their tastes so that new ones would replace it.  And although the feature is supposed to change daily, as it stands now, in my own list, very little has changed except for the ones I marked as a personal favorite are now not showing.  I still have the same shops, shuffled around a bit, and a couple of new ones to replace the ones I marked.

Because of the lack of an option to delete and the generally static list of shops, now users with objectionable material in theirs are not able to avoid it.  So, they go to the forums and voice their opinions, calling out mature sellers of certain items.

In retaliation, mature sellers and their supporters go to that wonderful new feature called Treasury East, where anyone can make as many treasuries as they want any time they want and they never expire.  They put up a full page of treasuries of mature items and because of the controversy, they remain on the first page due to the 'hotness' factor.

Mature objectors are now becoming more vocal in the forums, because now not only is there a link on the front page to the Treasury East but the default first page is full of 'hot' treasuries full of mature listings. Some sellers feel, and I think they have a point, that some people are going to be offended, especially if that is their first exposure to the site.

The skirmishes in the forums led to using the Treasury East as a battleground in full public view.  Despite the fact that some items did not fit the rules of the site, treasury curators used them, probably as a shock factor to make their point. Escalation was inevitable and Etsy had to jump in and try to manage some sort of damage control.

I think the childish behavior displayed by both sides of this issue forced Etsy into making a hasty decision.  As far as I'm concerned, nobody looked at the long term effect of their actions, not the objectors, not the mature sellers/supporters and certainly not Etsy.

Sellers complain all day long that Etsy doesn't vet their front page features, but for some reason fail to comprehend the treasury curators responsibility in the equation.  If they vetted their choices, it stands to reason when Admin picks a treasury for the front page, it will already be in compliance with site rules.  Because Treasury East was used as a platform to air disagreements and not the promotional tool it was intended for, it is now going to be more restrictive.

I'd love to place the full blame on Etsy, since if they just enforced their rules regarding mature listings, none of this would be an issue, certainly not of the proportions it has reached currently.  Nothing has really changed except for the Suggested Favorites addition and the Treasury East.  Logic would indicate to me, that if all other things have remained the same, the problem is likely with these two changes.  Then you would have to look at what the common problem is, which is the presence of thumbnail pictures that have the potential to offend.  That same image, by Etsy rules, should be G-rated for all audiences. Enforce compliance and this becomes a non-issue.   

All of this aside, it does not excuse the childish behavior of the sellers.  What did they think would happen when the Treasury East was used as a battleground?  Did anyone ever stop and think that their actions might bring about consequences they didn't expect?  Did anyone look beyond their own offended nose to consider what might happen?  I'm guessing not.

Keep poking the tiger and he eventually will bite you. 

Do I agree with Etsy's choice in how to handle mature items?  No, I do not.  I'd much prefer they enforce their rules.  Do I think sellers got what they deserved?  Yes I do, unfortunately. I think they pushed too far in this instance and it backfired on them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


It never fails, the minute I defend Etsy on one count, they do something so utterly stupid and illogical I wonder why I even bother.  Today they announced this, apparently in response to several forum threads regarding the new Treasury East and a number of treasuries depicting mature items.  

So now, those sellers who don't bother to follow the rules regarding mature listings have now ruined it for the ones that do.

So, for Etsy site search you can 'opt out' of mature listings in your results, but in treasuries you have to 'opt in'.  But if you're not following the rules and don't tag mature, your item won't be filtered out and if you also haven't modified your thumbnail to be appropriate, then voila, your item appears to exactly the person who conscientiously tried to filter you out, opting in doesn't really make sense because they'd be there anyway.  But the default would exclude them.......again, only if they follow the listing criteria.

Etsy, you have literally just endorsed not complying with the mature listing rules, did you know that?  If someone following the rules is punished because of the rule breakers and nothing is done to those who break the rules, what do you think the end result of that is going to be?

Take down the listings and treasuries that break the rules!  You made the rules regarding mature listings, why don't you just enforce them instead of a useless filter that anyone can bypass??????????  Punish the rule breakers for once and not the ones following the rules.

Big Fat Etsy Fail!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

When You Let Everyone Play...Nobody Wins


As if the reseller problems aren't bad enough, Etsy's claim that 'hand assembled' equals 'handmade' has hit an all time low.

I understand the reasoning behind allowing the assemblage of commercially made products under the definition of handmade, but it is my belief that in doing so, it has opened the doors to so much abuse, that when looking at Etsy, it's difficult for the truly handmade to stand out.

Every time I see that Ladders commercial, with everyone running out of the stands onto the tennis court, I automatically think of Etsy.  "If everyone is allowed to play then nobody wins".

By Etsy lowering the bar on what constitutes handmade,  they have diluted (and polluted) the pool.

When someone who buys mass produced knitted or crocheted hats and clips or glues on a mass produced embellishment is considered to be just as handmade as someone's hand knitted or crocheted hat with handmade embellishments, then something is seriously wrong.

Just today I ran across commercial Pandora Beads on commercial Pandora Bracelets listed under handmade jewelry.  Apparently, because someone put those beads on that bracelet  with their hands, it is now deemed handmade according to Etsy standards.  Pretty low standards if you ask me.

I've been saying since the tagline 'Your Place to Buy and Sell All Things Handmade' was removed (under the guise of it not being inclusive of Vintage and commercial supplies) that it was a bad omen.  Etsy is no longer the place for handmade, and though it has never been officially noted, it appears that it's new tag line is more along the lines of a 'global marketplace'.

It was once argued that handmade was not in competition with big box companies.  That we are not Walmart, but guess again because big box is selling right along side you now with Etsy's blessings.

Many will argue that it's difficult to draw the line.  I say hogwash.  If integrity and handmade ethos were important enough to Etsy, they would draw that line and enforce it.  It's much easier to change the tag line to be all inclusive of what now is on Etsy than it would be to raise their standards and weed out what does not belong.

Too bad, so sad for those of us that joined years ago believing that Etsy was the Holy Grail for handmade artisans and crafters.

I could rant on forever, but the Ladders commercial really says it all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


From Meatloaf's song lyrics Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back
 (certain liberties have been taken by this author)

I want my money back
Say it like you mean it
I want my money back
I'm gonna rock your world

(chorus - hey - hu - hey)

It's all or nothing
And nothing's all I ever get
Everytime I turn it on
I burn it up and burn it out

It's always something
There's always something going wrong
That's the only guarantee
That's what this is all about

It's a never ending attack (ha)
Everything's a lie and that's a fact
Etsy is a lemon and I want my money back!

And all the Admins
And all the techies with their  stats
They're the ones who make the rules
It's not a game it's just a rout

There's desperation (there's desperation)
There's desperation in the air
It leaves a stain on all your clothes
And no detergent gets it out

And we're always slipping thru the cracks (slipping)
Then the movie's over fade to black
Etsy's a lemon and I want my money...

I want my money back
(Etsy's a lemon) what
(Etsy's a lemon) what about it
I want my money back
(Etsy's a lemon)

What about the site?
It's Defective!
It's always breaking in half

What about categories?
It's Defective!
It's never built to really last

What about search?
It's Defective!
All the batteries are shot

What about tags?
They're Defective!
All the parts are out of stock

What about SEO?
It's Defective!
It's corroded and decayed

What about faith?
It's Defective!
It's tattered and it's frayed

What about your Admins?
They're Defective!
They forgot the warranty

What about your shop?
It's Defective!
It's a dead end street to me

What about your answers?
It's Defective!
It's a pack of useless lies

What about your work?
It's Defective!
It's a crock and then you die

What about your sales history?
It's Defective!
It's dead and buried in the past

What about your future?
It's Defective!
You can shove it up your ass!!!

It's all or nothing
And nothing's all I ever get
Every time I turn it on
I burn it up and burn it out

It's a never ending attack
Everything's a lie and that's a fact
Etsy's a lemon and I want my money...

Etsy's a lemon and I want my money back
Etsy's a lemon and I want my money back
Etsy's a lemon and I want my money back
Etsy's a lemon (and I want) and I want (and I want) and I want my money back

Etsy's a lemon and I want my money back
Etsy's a lemon and I want my money back
Etsy's a lemon and I want my money back
Etsy's a lemon
And I want
And I want
And I want
And I want my money back!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Recently I've been in contact with a number of old classmates (Yeah Sweethome Class of 74'!!) who, upon noticing my Etsy Shop, have asked me about selling there.

After nearly 4 years on the site, what do I tell them?  Without going into the gory details, the struggles, and all the hard work, I've decided to come up with a list of things to keep in mind if you want to sell on Etsy.

1.  Look around the site, particularly the categories you want to list in.  Read the rules regarding what is allowed on the site.  I would recommend staying away from the forums.  It is a huge time suck, and 99% of the questions you may have can be answered by reading the FAQ's.  If you can't find an answer to your question and you know someone else on the site with a shop, send them a message.  You can also send an email to, though the wait time on answers can be long. 

2.  Etsy is a place to buy handmade, vintage and supplies.  Understand that handmade encompasses everything from obtaining your own raw materials and processing them yourself into a finished product to commercially, mass produced items 'put together' to form a finished product.  Vintage is anything (and I mean anything) that is 20 years old, or older.  Supplies can either be commercially made, or handmade.  This is the only place that mass produced items belong, as long as they are a craft supply that is used in the making of a finished product.

3.  Etsy has a hard time enforcing their own rules.  The handmade ethos has kind of flown out the window.  You can still find wonderful handmade products by talented artisans, but the site is also overrun with resellers selling mass produced clothing, jewelry and handbags (among other things) so this has tainted many a seller and buyer's experience.

4.  Etsy has it's own idea of what is popular.  Etsy has a reputation for being 'hipster'.  That's ok folks, I never heard of that term before either.  Consequently, the shops that have that cool, edgy, urban vibe tend to be the ones that get face time on Etsy.

5.  Etsy plays favorites.  Because of this tendency toward favoring a certain look and feel, there is a lot of repetition with front page features and blog articles of the same people and the same items.  Some people have made the front page hundreds of times, often multiple times daily and weekly.

6.  Etsy is clunky,  From the listing process, to search, to checkout.  It takes 5 pages to list an item.  If you don't hit 'finish' you lose your listing to the inactive section.  Choosing categories and tags is difficult because the category system setup is illogical.  Tags are subjective so tag abuse is rampant which messes up the search.  Paypal is your only option for credit card payments and is not integrated with Etsy, so people can 'buy' an item and take it out of your shop (goes into sold section) without actually paying for it.  Sure, you can relist the item and cancel the transaction to get a refund on your listing and final value fees and try and hunt your customer down to try and find out if they just changed their mind or they can't figure out how to pay.

7.  Etsy does no outside advertising.  Etsy has always espoused the 'viral marketing' concept.  You tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on.  Etsy sellers are expected to advertise for themselves which in turn brings more customers to Etsy.  Most of the articles written about Etsy and features done by people such as Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray and The View have emphasized the selling aspect more than the buying aspect and as a result, there are over 200,000 shops on Etsy and more than 5 million listings.  While Etsy may have a measure of built in foot traffic, don't count on it as a way to make consistent sales.  Especially if you're not one of the 'chosen few' that Etsy likes to feature.

8.  Etsy is not really cheap.  Sure, each listing is .20 for 4 months.  Sounds like a bargain, doesn't it?  Until you realize that sellers have learned to game the system by renewing listings daily, at a cost of .20 per renewal.  Why would people do that if a listing lasts 4 months?  Because Etsy search is based on recency and not on relevancy.  So prepare to absorb or tack on an extra dollar or two to each item you list so that you can renew items often.  Just remember, thousands of other sellers are also renewing all the time so it's constant pile on that you're never on top of for more than a few seconds.  The final value fee is 3.5% of the selling price.  Pretty reasonable until you read #9.

9.  Etsy has no tools for you to offer sales, discounts, gift certificates or coupon codes.  Sure, you can work around most of these things by having the customer send you a convo before purchasing so you can adjust a listing to reflect a discount, but that is tedious and time consuming and really deters those impulse purchases.  You can refund them the amount of the discount price via Paypal, but you will still pay the final value fee on the sold price, not the discounted price.

10.  Etsy does not 'care' about you.  There is a common misconception that Etsy is a community of sellers who support each other and that Etsy is our friend.  While up to a point it may be true, Etsy is first and foremost a business and their first priority is to make money and be profitable.  They have investors and venture capital.  This means that at some point, these investors want to see a return on their investment.  It also means that at some point Etsy will go public.  They will do what they have to to continue to make money, even if those of us who use Etsy disagree with their choices.  We can suggest and request for the things we want, but ultimately Etsy will decide if and when they will implement any given suggestion.  This is logical for most, but for others it has been a bitter pill to swallow to realize that Etsy is not their 'friend'.

Does that mean that I don't recommend Etsy?  no, not at all.  If you can accept it for what it is, keep your expectations reasonable, diversify so that you have other outlets in which to sell and realize that selling anywhere, regardless of how much foot traffic they have, requires work on your part then you should have minimal frustrations with Etsy.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I was waiting for the March weather report to confirm my suspicions regarding the 'low view, low sales' threads that have been overtaking the Etsy forums for the last month or so.  I don 't doubt that some are experiencing a drop in sales and/or views, and that Etsy and/or Google may have changed something that had an effect on this.  The fact is, sales have remained steady with a slight increase, so this tells me that while some shops are definitely noticing a loss, others are noting an increase.

The thing is, I'm betting the ones who have seen an increase in sales and views have no need to come to the forums to find out why.  I think that it's natural for someone to open a shop and expect sales to increase over time.  People come to the forums to either connect with others or to report a problem of some sort, so I feel like this issue is being blown way out of proportion.  Again, not saying that those complaining about a change for the worse are making it up or exaggerating, or that something hasn't changed, simply that the issue isn't as dire overall as the forums would indicate.

An overall observation of the forums shows multiple threads with shops reporting drastic drops in views and sales starting on specific dates in March.  Most, if not all, of the threads contain the same people reporting the same information, but as they drag on, newer sellers are jumping on the bandwagon to report similar findings, some long standing sellers coming to the forums looking for a correlation to their observations of a sudden drop in views and sales, and a fair number of sellers with no real history or data chiming in just in case the reason their listings aren't seeing the kind of views they'd expect or they aren't selling like they thought they would might be the same.

Then you have Rokali announcing that they made no changes on the specific dates in March, and that Google is introducing a change to their algorithm called 'Caffeine' that may or may not be affecting all of this.

Then you have pandemonium again because now all these people who are 'complaining' are just 'whiners' and 'need to take better pictures, write better titles and descriptions and/or go elsewhere'.

Then, LisaJune opens a thread asking for sellers to post if they've experienced this phenomenal drop in sales and views originating on those specific dates in March so that the engineers can look into it.  She get's to 1000 posts and the thread is closed.  Of course, you have that same mix as in the other threads, some with data, some without, and plenty of twitching, head-desking and shiny distraction innuendo.

Then you have a thread started several days after LisaJune's thread was closed.  Wanting to know what the results were from that thread.  Nothing impatient about THIS crowd.  One poor engineer reported that after looking at 20 shops in that list, only 2 showed any drop  one showed a significant enough drop to mention.  Of course, then you have people demanding to know what criteria was used to evaluate this, because we all know that Etsy will just skew the numbers in their favor or even outright lie about it.

Just another day in the forums, there's a problem, people demand answers, they speculate and form conspiracy theories because they don't get answered fast enough, and when they do get an answer they still aren't satisfied because it isn't what they wanted to hear.  And laced throughout it all, like weaving random golden threads in a tapestry, you have your sighing, twitching, drinking, popcorn, pennies, pebbles and snide remarks about Etsy admin's maturity, hipness, intelligence, age and experience.

A few brave souls try to hang on to any kind of positivity they can and share it with the rest and they are shot down like AKA-47s firing on a colorful hot air balloon.  They aren't having any of THAT!  No sireee, there is "A PROBLEM" and there will be no one allowed to look for silver linings and God Forbid that someone else may not be sharing this problem.  Stomp those out immediately, because they are dismissing the concerns of massive hordes of sellers who KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Etsy Dream

When I joined Etsy in June 06' it was touted as THE place to buy and sell handmade.  It advertised itself as a hand-built site and stressed the fact that it was different than anything else out there.  Indeed. 

Although I wasn't there from the very beginning, I think I came on board early enough to watch and grow along with the site.  And boy has it grown.  I was there when they moved from a beta site and grit my teeth along with everyone else with the bugs, setbacks, outages, slowdowns, revisions and rollouts.  I knew (and still know) very little about how a site integrates with search engines, but I have come to realize that different isn't always better.

As I learn more about SEO (search engine optimization) I've come to understand that Etsy wasn't really built with that in mind.  In short, if a search engine such as Google can't find you, no one using that search engine looking for products like you have will find you.

Etsy has supported odd tactics that are not used on other selling sites.  And as they start to realize that this has the potential to do more harm than good, they are scrambling to become more mainstream.  The problem is, people who got used to the 'old ways' and especially the ones who were successful are now starting to feel the sting.

They created a listing for .20 that lasts 4 months, yet they have a search based on most recently listed.  This is fundamentally illogical.  If search had always been based on relevancy, what someone was actually looking for, instead of what is most recent (and often not relevant) then the constant renewing of the same products over and over again wouldn't be necessary.  Unfortunately, it was a practice that caught on and likely produces significant income for Etsy and I'm sure they're loathe to change it.  I don't doubt for a minute that sellers found this advantageous and now don't want to see it changed, but it never should have started in the first place.

The main focus had always been on handmade.  It has veered from that dramatically as the number of vintage and commercial supply sellers has increased.  I understand their inclusion as true vintage items are usually rare and unique, and certainly a site where people craft is a built in customer base for the supply sellers.  However, the increase in these two categories has forced Etsy to re-evaluate their tagline from 'your place to buy and sell all things handmade' to.......who knows?  This is another factor in the disillusionment many of us are facing.

Being unique is probably not a viable choice for Etsy and somewhere along the line they had to decide if they wanted to make money and grow or stay small and remain a haven for truly handmade, knowing that every seller and every buyer is there because they truly support and appreciate the handmade concept.

The recent problems we've seen, I believe, are just the tip of the iceberg.  Etsy has to change it's very foundation and work it's way from the bottom up.  The Etsy I joined nearly 4 years ago is very different from the Etsy today, and I have a feeling it will be unrecognizable as a 'handmade' site in another 4 years.

This realization saddens me, as I bought into the Etsy dream and vision.  I had a loyalty to Etsy in the beginning, and though I was often critical and didn't always agree with the way things were done, I was always hopeful that the changes would benefit the handmade community.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Here is what wire I use for which project, again, nothing is written in stone, my main considerations are what will fit through the bead hole, and if the wire size is in balance with the size of the stones or beads used.

For earring hooks, I generally use 20ga HH (half hard).  That seems to be an all around good size for everyone's ear holes.  18ga seems a little bit of an overkill and can be too thick for piercings, and 22ga just seems to flimsy, even if you hammer it.  I have used it in a pinch, especially with more delicate earrings, but it isn't my preference.  Some wire resources offer 21ga which is also a good choice, but in all my years of wire working I've never purchased 21ga wire.

For beaded links, where you link beads together to make a bracelet or necklace, I generally use 22ga (HH) wire.  If my beads are between, say 4mm and 8mm I think this is a good choice.  Sometimes I like the look of a b it heavier wire with 8mm beads and might go up to 20ga (HH) if the bead hole allows it.  The highest I have gone for linking beads is 18ga (DS) dead soft, and usually use that size for chunky, larger beads where I want a substantial silver look to it, otherwise I stick with 20ga (HH).  So all in all, for bead linking I use 22ga and 20ga (HH) the most.

For fishhook/shepherd's hook clasps  I pretty much use either the 18 or 16ga because I hammer them to harden them to keep their shape.  I will use 20ga half hard on more delicate pieces and hammer them well to harden them, and that seems to work very well too, but I would not go any smaller than that for a clasp.  You might be better off using a commercial spring ring clasp (which I will use myself).

For wrapping briolettes I try to use the largest wire that will go through the holes.  Generally, gemstone holes are poorly drilled,   26 and 24ga wire are usually the best wires of choice.  It's thin and can become brittle and break if overworked, so I usually recommend using DS.  These are also great knitting and coiling wires, so I always have a few oz of each in my inventory.  Pearls also have notoriously small holes, but I have been fortunate to be able to get 24ga wire through them without having to enlarge the hole.  This is much easier to do than to try to enlarge gemstone holes and a topic I will cover later.

For headpins, again my rule of thumb is pretty much whatever will fit through the hole.  Headpins should always be HH.  Length is also a consideration, I don't like using short headpins, they should be at least 2" in length and longer.  If you want to fit more than one bead on it you need to leave enough room to be able to make a loop and have enough 'tail' to wrap around a couple of times to make a secure wrapped loop.  You can make a simple loop as shown in the beginning of this link:   but I personally never, ever use that type of open link.  It's way too easy for the loop to pull apart and have your jewelry break.  You can probably get away with it for earrings, since there really isn't any tension on it, but I'd never use it to link beads together in a necklace or bracelet.

Well, that's all I can think of for now about the basic uses of wire.  I will end here by telling you what I normally stock in my inventory so I have what I need at the ready.  I will highlight in red the wire that I think you, as a beginner, should start out with and you can add more as you expand in your wirework.

26ga round DS
24ga round DS & HH
22ga round DS & HH
22ga square DS
20ga round HH
18ga round HH - this one isn't an absolute necessity and you can leave it off if you don't think you'll use it for the purposes I"ve outlined above, but I personally think it's nice to have some on hand.
18ga 1/2 round DS
16ga round DS or HH (some places only have the DS but because of the thickness of the wire, DS is pretty strong and easier to work with and you can hammer it in some cases to harden it further).


Ok, not professing to be an expert by any means, just passing along information that has served me well in my years of making jewelry.  There are several levels of wirework, from simply needing to link beads together to the more intricate coiling or knitting and crochet work.  Understanding the terms used for gauges of wires and tempers is the first step and creates the foundation on which to build to whatever level you wish to attain.

Gauges:  AWG is the American standard of measuring wire, it uses numbers such as 22ga, 20ga etc.  SWG is the actual measurement of the wire diameter using the decimal system and commonly used in Europe.  There are plenty of places you can Google for conversion tables so I won't go into specifics, but for the sake of what I am comfortable using, I will be using the AWG standard.

In AWG the higher the number, the smaller the diameter of wire.  For example, 22ga is smaller (thinner) than 16 ga wire.

Temper:  Wire comes in 3 basic degrees of hardness; dead soft, half hard and full hard.  IN my experience, dead soft is good to use when you will be manipulating the wire a lot, as in wire sculpture.  Half hard is good for making wrapped loops, findings such as headpins or clasps.  I have never used full hard wire, although if you were making something such as a pin (broach) it would well because it would hold it's shape and has a strong 'spring back'.  Think of a safety pin and how securely it's held closed because of the force of the sharp end tries to 'spring back' against the part that holds it closed.   Also, try and manipulate a safety pin, it's not easy to bed is it?  It's not really a wire for a novice and in my experience even for an advanced wire worker, it really has very limited and specific uses.

Dead soft wire will harden somewhat as you continue to manipulate it, this is called 'work hardening', so the finished product will hold it's shape.  I personally do not recommend using dead soft for simple projects such as wrapped bead links, I find the links easily bend out of shape and tend to look sloppy.  There is something you can do to harden dead soft wire if that is all you have to work with.  My method requires a pair of pliers and a hand drill.  I cut a length of wire and close one end in the chuck of the drill, hold the other end of the wire in my pliers, hold it taut and twist the wire until it breaks (usually at one end) or  just before it breaks.  You get pretty good at guestimating after you've done it a few times.  I probably wouldn't use this method on wire thinner than 22ga because it can become brittle.

You can also harden it for things like hook clasps or earring hooks by hammering it with a rubber mallet.  The rubber mallet will harden without flattening the wire, but you can also use a chasing hammer (or hardware store regular old hammer) which will flatten the wire as well as harden it.

Wire shapes:  round, square and 1/2 round.  Round is probably the most commonly used wire, I normally carry round wire in 26, 24, 22, 20, 18 and 16ga.  It is ideal for making wrapped links, findings, coiling.  I use square wire when sculpting because it usually requires two or more wires together and square wire allows the wires to lay flush side by side and are much easier to bind together with the 1/2 round wire.  You can also twist square wire to get that lovely twisted/faceted effect.  Half round is exactly what it sounds like, domed on one side and flat on the other, and is most commonly used to bind other wires together

Although you can Google wrapped loop tutorials and find tons of them, Here is one for you to begin with:  I would like to add after viewing this video one more tip.  Chances are the loop will be off to one side, so just slide your round nosed pliers into the loop and gently straighten the loop so it sits more evenly above the wrapped part.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


As you advance in your wire work you will be adding many more tools to your collection, but for beginners, these are the things that I think are basic necessities.  My first pliers set I got from a flea market and it served me well for years.  I then upgraded to a mid priced set of pliers.  I mostly look for ergonomic handles as this reduces the stress on your hands.  I would recommend starting off with an inexpensive set and use it for awhile to find out what qualities are important to you and upgrade as necessary.  Just be sure wherever you get your pliers that none of them have the gripping grooves in them, some of the hardware sets will have chain nose pliers with those grooves and they mark your wire terribly.  So look for a set specifically for jewelers and you should avoid this problem.  You can google them all day, and I hesitate to recommend one over another, but I have bought my tools from Urban Maille as Aislyn is a friend of mine, so I am linking you to her tool page.  I can say her prices are probably the lowest you will find for the brands, and that her standards are very high so I know even her cheapest tools are quality.

Round nosed pliers:
Chain nosed pliers:
Bent Nosed Pliers:
Flat Nosed Pliers

Chasing Hammer:  A new household hammer will work, I stress new because the hammering part will not be marked up thereby marking your wire.
Rubber Mallet:  Again, hardware store mallet will suffice.  However, my hubby picked up this set of mini hammer with changeable heads for me and I use it all the time!  And it's cheap!

Rawhide Hammer:  I did finally invest in one of these, but my dog got ahold of it and chewed it to shreds.  Although it is often recommended, I don't find it a necessity so it's up to you.

Anvil:  A lot of jewelers recommend a bench block, but I find my small jewelers anvil quite adequate for my purposes and cheaper as well.  Here is the one I have: 

Steel ring mandrel:  Not a necessity, again, it depends on how far you want to go with your wire work, but making simple rings is fun and expands your repertoire a little bit more.  I recommend steel as opposed to the cheaper aluminum or wooden ones, simply because you can hammer to harden your ring shanks on the steel without marking or denting it.

Tumbler with Stainless Steel Shot:  This is probably the most expensive beginner investment, but worthwhile.  It is amazing the amount of shine tumbling finished jewelry will give.  It really brings that finished piece to a whole new level.  I bought a Lortone single barrel tumbler and have used it for years with the same belt and no problems.  I do have a backup tumbler I got from HarborFreight which is cheaper but I've heard mixed reviews on it.  It is a good starter tumbler though.

I cannot stress enough about using stainless steel shot as opposed to just steel shot.  Stainless steel shot requires no upkeep, and will not rust, the steel shot is very high maintenance and will rust even with the best of care.  Oh, and I cannot forget the strainer.  I use an old tupperware strainer that is dedicated to my jewelry making, you can just dump the contents of your tumbler container right into it, rinse it and pick out your jewelry to lay it out to dry.

I will add tools to future posts for those who might want to move on in their wire working, but for now, I think this covers the basics.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I'm about 1/4 the way through this discussion.  My first thought is people really need to learn the art of discussion and debate and stop getting offended by someone elses opinion.  Why do so many people personalize any sort of criticism?  Granted, the original post could have been worded better, a little less critical and a little more helpful, but some of the responses would like to dismiss the whole subject because of the 'tone' rather than looking past it to actually find the message within.

A few other people have come along later in the thread to relay the message in a more pleasing tone, but it appears that some are still stuck on the original post and totally miss the points made.

What I got from it is that there are a few fonts that are overused and misused.  I have absolutely no graphic design background and couldn't tell the difference between  arial and zippedy doo da.  What I do know is that on a subconscious level I do associate certain attributes to certain fonts.  Just like the signage I see on brick and mortar stores gives certain impressions about the content within.  Not that a fancy sign necessarily means that the stuff inside is fancy or of good quality, but to put forward that impression might at least get a customer through the door and possibly purchase something.  I can't speak for anyone else, but if there were two dress shops with exactly the same merchandise inside and one had a fancy, professional looking sign and the other had a hand painted posterboard sign, I'd probably be more inclined to go into the first store because I would feel a little more confidence.

I think it's just another part of an overall look you are trying to achieve.  Like your photos.  Blurry pictures, poorly lit pictures, pictures taken at a distance and don't allow for any view of the details are usually a put off.  While it may not be a reflection of the quality of the merchandise, it gives the impression of poor quality.  What is that saying about first impressions?  When you go on a job interview, you try to present yourself in the best light possible.  If you are one of a hundred applicants, and your qualifications are all pretty much the same, then the choice will depend on other things.  Personality, presentation and someone who gives the impression of being a good fit for the position.  They can't really know for sure, so they go with the candidate that best fits their aesthetic.

Someone mentioned that anyone could buy a professional banner so it's not really a reflection of the quality of the merchandise in a shop.  A crappy crafter could buy a really impressive banner, but it doesn't improve the quality of their stuff.  Very true.  Just like a crappy crafter can hire a professional photographer to take their product shots and make them look like a million bucks.  But truth be told, which will you be more likely to look at, the poorly lit, blurry picture of something that could be of great quality or the fabulous, artful shot of something that is (not so obviously) poorly crafted?  the whole point about signage is to get people through the door.  The merchandise then has to meet the customer's satisfaction.  It's just window dressing, but it is a proven fact that the more attractive the outside, the better your chance of enticing the customer in through the door.

So, what does this mean on Etsy?  If the site was set up in such a way that storefronts were the first thing that was visible to a shopper, then this might be an extremely important aspect.  If you were able to meander down a virtual street lined with shops, the signage would probably be of utmost importance.  But Etsy is more focused on the product shots than anything else.  I know as a shopper on Etsy myself, I barely look at banners, much less notice what font they use.  If I am drawn into a shop by a product they carry, my next focus is to see what else they have that I might like as much or better, or if they carry (in the case of supplies) other things I can combine to stretch my shipping dollars.  Is this to say that banners aren't important?  Not at all.  They definitely have their place as a part of a cohesive, overall look, but I'm inclined to think that it's not on the top of the list when judging whether or not to purchase from a particular shop.

My ex-husband is a musician.  We couldn't go to a concert, whether it was a symphony orchestra or local bar band that he wouldn't at some point start critiquing the music.  It drove me nuts that he couldn't just sit and listen and enjoy (or not) in silence.  It dawned on me later that this type of behavior is inherent in one who is intimately familiar with a subject.  I, as a maker of jewelry, find myself looking at other makers of jewelry and noticing things that would probably not be on the layperson's radar.  Such is the case of banner fonts.  Those with graphic backgrounds or backgrounds where fonts play an integral part of their craft will always look at that aspect of a shop much closer and more critically than a layperson.  I believe any perspective they can offer should be considered, and assessed and used as readily as product photography advice, or any other advice offered as a way to improve your shop.

Does that mean that everyone should change their banner text because they are using Papyrus or Comic Sans?  Of course not.  But, if it got you thinking about whether or not your banner text is portraying the look you are trying to achieve, then that is a good thing.  If it expands your knowledge base on something you formerly had no clue about, that is also a good thing.  Push your delicate sensibilities aside for a few moments and actually look at the information presented.  You can take it or leave it, but do it based on the actual information presented and not the 'tone' you think it's presented in.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Ok, I needed a break, and went through my bookmarks looking for that hilarious lip syncing dude.  Seriously, this guy makes me smile every time I watch him.


This is the second Thursday that Etsy is tweaking the search feature and making 'relevancy' the default, as opposed to the usual search by recently listed.  The first Thursday was pretty eventful and the forums were filled with both opposition and support and pleas to give more information so people could figure out how to get their items in the top of the search.

As I expected, not much information was forthcoming, as I expect Etsy had to use that first test as groundwork to figure out what exactly they were going to do.  I found a few threads that had this quote in it by one of the engineers (?), though I can't seem to find which thread it originated in.

"jasondavis says:

Hi all. Sorry for taking so long to answer some of your questions. We've been working super hard to address some of the concerns everyone has brought up here. On Thursday you should notice several improvements over last week - I'll mention a couple of big ones here:

1) Penalizing extra-long titles: some of you noticed that some of the search results had very long titles. Titles with 5 or 10 words are fine. If your titles are much longer than this, the search will penalize them slightly (or more, if they're much longer than this).

2) More recency weight: We'll be incorporating more emphasis on item listing recency, something which many of you asked for. This will help promote your newer, more recently listed items over older ones."

It's good to see that they noted the excessive titles and are attempting to address them.  People are still claiming to see them in the first pages of their search so I'm not sure how this works.  I suspect that similar to google, while you may have excessively long titles, the search only actually picks up on the first 70 or so characters, so regardless of the title length if the first 70 contain keywords associated with that search they will still show up.  This is just a guess on my part.  I don't think that Etsy search would just automatically kick out excessive titles, but only use a portion of them, which would explain why they still show up.

As for weighting recency more in the search algorithm, I am totally against this.  My personal feeling is that when something is listed has no bearing on what I am looking for, it should not even be a factor used in that search.  A search based on listing dates already exists, if you weigh listing dates in a relevancy search, how are the searches going to differ from each other?  One's a little more recent, ones a little more targeted?  That makes no sense whatsoever.

I really resent the move to cave on this, I really do.  I was really hoping that Etsy was looking to actually improve the search capability of the site, not cater to the ones who are used to renewing and are now crying because relevance eliminates that tactic.

If all you were really going to do was make the current search a little more targeted to what a buyer is searching for then you should have said so in the first place.  Some of us actually thought you cared about what buyers want.

I will say again, recency has no place in a search based on relevancy.  At. All.  The date something was listed on has no bearing on anything I am looking for.  If it was listed 2 minutes ago, a week ago or 3 months ago, if it fits the search criteria, it should show up.

Perhaps if Etsy did take recency completely out of the relevancy search algorithm they could focus on making more folks relevant to the search queries.

Monday, January 25, 2010


"I have 23 items all tagged the same, how come they don't all show up on the same page?"

"Why is someone with 47 items all tagged the same dominating the first few pages?"

"I think Etsy should randomize the results so there is more variety"

"Why are there so many different items showing up in my (general) search?"

"I'm so upset, people who stuff their titles making them 5 lines long are taking over and pushing my stuff back"

"I just changed some of my titles to include more relevant keywords and my items are moving up in the search"

"Please make Etsy's search more like Ebay's, I can always find what I'm looking for there"

"Please don't make Etsy's search like Ebay's, I left there because I was buried and couldn't be found"

"OMG, put the search back the way it was, if it ain't broke, don't fix it"

"Etsy, please for the love of everything that is good and pure, fix the search so people can find what they're looking for"

And on and on it goes.  Here's hoping Etsy can separate the facts and data from the rest of the crap.  While theoretically I support a relevant search and feel that the current 'renewing to be seen' is a recipe for future disaster (as more and more sellers discover this method and adopt it, rendering it useless),  I'm pretty certain that either way they go will result in someone being unhappy about it.  As long as the decision is based on data and facts and not swayed by emotion, I'll be happy, even if I personally don't like the final decision.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Even though the first test day is over, this subject is obviously still on a lot of people's minds since the next two Thursdays are slated to revert to the relevancy default as Etsy continues to test, tweak and listen to feedback.

In continuing where I left off in this thread, I came upon a comment that I couldn't let pass without giving my thoughts on it (yeah, something new, right?)

"Ok, I'm trying to think like a buyer and see if this relevancy searching thing benefits me. Yes, if I'm looking for what I sell (hand stamped necklaces, etc.) the results ARE relevant. They are hand stamped necklaces. But I feel like it shouldn't be "random" (although I know it isn't actually random) where I end up in the search. I liked being able to control where I end up, by paying to get higher in the list (when all items are the same kind of items, and truly relevant). When your category has thousands of options, I feel like people SHOULD be able to pay for premium placement..."

You may feel like you are in control of where you are in the categories right now with the recency search, but I don't believe it is common knowledge for the majority of sellers that this is what is going on.  It is spreading daily as people either come to the forums and see it suggested or someone figures it out on their own, but if only 5% of the sellers on Etsy come to the forums, that's a lot of people who are not yet aware of this and therefore are not doing it.  I don't think the comment above is looking very far into the future, nor are they considering the impact of 200,000 sellers constantly renewing to be seen.

At some point even renewing will become useless, as you would have to renew so frequently that you would likely use up any profit and wind up paying Etsy more than the value of the product and wind up with a loss.  Etsy, and the sellers using renewing to stay visible in categories and search were able to coast along for a time before it hit critical mass, and Etsy had to retract their statements of support for this practice due to some features not being able to support it, such as the recently listed scrollbar at the bottom of the main page and the enlarging of the batches of listings that are uploaded to the inventory database.  Even though you still have a chance at being seen in the recently listed or the top of your category, it is no longer a given and can not be guaranteed.  And I think Etsy would be disingenuous to leave things as is because they had the shortsightedness not to see the potential for this to get out of control.  I know I mentioned this a few times during my forum posting days, but logical, well thought out ideas tend to be like trying to swim against the tide.

If they scrap relevancy as the default, I hope that they let all sellers know that in order to be on top of the search in their category they must renew items frequently or risk being buried and never seen.  I imagine they wouldn't do that though because the onslaught of 200,000 sellers all renewing constantly all day long, every day would render that completely useless.  And then what?

It is my opinion that Etsy, for all it does poorly, is actually trying to do something right.  The execution may be lacking, but looking at the bigger picture I believe they are trying to make a stable, reliable search tool.  Of course there are going to be flaws in the beginning, to expect it to work perfectly the first day is not realistic.  And without a group of active sellers to test it out and try to figure out ways to game the system, how are they ever going to refine it and make it useful?

To think that Etsy hasn't taken into consideration that the renewal revenue stream may be impacted by this is foolish.  I am quite certain they are aware that if they make renewing less necessary that there are people who will stop renewing.  I'm pretty certain someone at Etsy figured out that at some point people were going to start complaining that renewing is useless because they are still landing way back in the pages of the category.  Actually, people are already complaining about that, blaming 'batch listing' as the devil.  It would have been so much more practical to have renewing just extend your listing another 4 months and not have it go through the newly listed process because the concept of 'fresh listings' is really not accurate if the majority of those listings are renewals.

Etsy and some sellers rode the crest of the renewing wave, but all waves peak and then drop.  You can't ride a wave forever.  Thank goodness someone at Etsy realized this and decided to do something about it now rather than waiting for another critical mass situation.


Resellers, those shops that try to pass off mass manufactured products as handmade are getting a strong foothold in the Etsy doors.  Allowable reselling are in 2 categories;  vintage
and commercial crafting supplies, nowhere else.  It is even not allowed to buy an item on Etsy and then turn around and resell it, unless it is a commercial crafting supply or vintage.  Any other category is reserved for handmade by the seller.

So, how do you identify who is a reseller, or if a seller has items that are not h andmade by them?  Most of the time, people who are in the a specific craft can pick them out much easier than those that aren't.    And you tend to have at least 2 different kind of resellers, ones who have a shop of handmade stuff who are usually trying to unload stuff they don't want or won't wear anymore.  For example, a gal that sold simple handbeaded jewelry, also had cast rings with stamping in them.  A red flag is when certain items just don't fit the sellers skill set.  Of course, that in and of itself isn't enough proof, so a little detective work is necessary to see if you can find out where else this type of thing can be purchased.  Sure enough, in this case, I found the exact ring sold in Target, so my guess is she bought if for herself at one time and either can't wear it anymore and figured since she already had a shop with handmade jewelry she could slip it in.

I often find the casual sellers are a little more difficult to back with proof of reselling because a lot of stuff is picked up here and there over a few years and might no longer be in the current inventory of the store they bought it from.   They're profiles are usually pretty general and they might elaborate on their love of crafting and creating the perfect thing and yadda, yadda, yadda with no real details about their craft.

However, the career reseller, one who's shop is dedicated completely to items purchased from a wholesaler  is usually easier to spot, but still it is much easier for those in that particular craft to discover them, they are more familiar with the wholesale sites that carry these items.  And of course, some shops just give themselves away by stating that their item is new in the package,  or new with tags or imported from wherever.  They also use names like Gucci, Dooney and |Burke and other famous brand names, and whether they are the real thing or knockoffs they are reselling and not allowed.  Unless, of course, they are vintage, and then the vintage people can spot the ones that aren't vintage.

Resellers often have no location listed, very scant announcement, no policies, their descriptions might give specific details as to size, material content, but there is no connection to the buying public  and they tend to use only 1 or 2 tags only.  The pictures can be another clue, even though we have some artists who take spectacular pictures, there is something about catalog pictures that gives them away.  Oftentimes you can google their shop name and find other places they sell that will describe their items as imported.  That's a nice piece of proof that I have used before when reporting a reseller.  If the same items on that website are the same on Etsy and the website says their imported and Etsy just implies they're handmade by avoiding mentioning it, it's pretty safe to assume they're reselling on Etsy.

I'm sure there are more little things I've omitted, so feel free to add to them.  I don't think anyone who isn't familiar with a craft can spot them like those who are intimate in a particular craft can.  I'm quite sure though, that we have knowledgeable people in every category who could go a long way to weeding these sellers out,                                                                 

Friday, January 22, 2010


I finally ventured out of the same thread I've been in for 2 days straight, to be assaulted by this ignorant post.  Where the hell do I start.

Since when did forking over .20 to renew constitute 'hard work'?  Since when is renewing any measure of how hard anyone works on their business?

All renewing for visibility shows is how people 'game the system', a flawed system, I might add.

You might take a clue from your own words:

"If people here are saying the relevant search is no good, instead of opposing their view, think about why they say that. Are they whining and complaining? No! They are upset that all their hard and honest work is now being pushed aside and lost in a severely flawed system."

If people here are saying the most recently listed search is no good, instead of opposing their view, think about why they say that.  Are they whining and complaining?  No!  They are upset that all their hand and honest work is being pushed aside and lost in a severely flawed system,

See?  It works both ways.

"I really think it's great that many have succeeded here on Etsy, but they did not get there by sitting around waiting for Etsy to hand them the sales. They worked for them and they worked hard! They got out there and did what ever they needed to to get to where they are and where they want to be. And now a search system comes along that makes all their hard work here on Etsy disappear under pages of sellers that break TOUs and stuff titles etc...I really think it's great that many have succeeded here on Etsy, but they did not get there by sitting around waiting for Etsy to hand them the sales. They worked for them and they worked hard! They got out there and did what ever they needed to to get to where they are and where they want to be. And now a search system comes along that makes all their hard work here on Etsy disappear under pages of sellers that break TOUs and stuff titles etc..."

Um...ok, so you are saying because a seller refuses to jump on the renewing bandwagon.and or because they support a relevant search tool they are just sitting around waiting for Etsy to hand them sales?  You didn't really say that did you?  Cause, that's a helluvan assumption to make.  I will add that breaking the rules is not ok for anyone to do, and I am of the opinion that this will be addressed as the relevant search is fleshed out and improved.  As it is, people are breaking the rules in an effort to be seen under the current search, so I really don't see this as a valid reason to scrap relevancy.

"But reality is, if you want to run a business you need to invest in it and work at it yourself without taking shortcuts!"

Ok, now that I have finished laughing at this sentence, I might point out the rather obvious fact that renewing to be seen is a shortcut in itself.  It's an easy loophole that has been exploited and made to appear legitimate because it was easy for Etsy for a time, and also generated revenue for them.  The fact is that Etsy let it go on for so long, to the point where it is only beneficial to a handful of sellers who are able to renew on a constant basis, and now those who have benefitted from it are scared of losing that edge.  Maybe when it gets to the point where 160,000 sellers start renewing their hundreds of thousands of items daily (in addition to the newly listed and relisted products) and sellers are consistently finding themselves on page 10 or more immediately after renewing they'll realize what a leaky boat they've set sail on.


I'd be banging my head against the wall.  Rather than everyone waiting patiently to see if what is currently being done (tags, titles, descriptions) can be worked into a useful relevant search, sellers are desperately trying anything they can to be 'on top'.  How any reliable data can be parsed from this is beyond me.  I sure hope it's possible.

If your whole business and/or livelihood is dependent on one day's views and sales, then I would say you don't have much of a business.

The ignorance of how even a basic search works is just astounding.  The utter lack of patience and the demands for Etsy to tell them the recipe for relevance is unbelievable.  I'll give you a clue here, because I am the generous type.  If everyone titled, tagged and described their items accurately and somewhat uniformly, it would go a long, long way to understanding relevancy.  But, rather than do that, people spend their precious time trying to game the system, stuffing titles, adding to titles, subtracting from titles, stuffing tags, changing the order of tags, stuffing the materials section with non applicable text.  And then, come screaming into the forums wondering why their item isn't on page one of a general search, or they can't find what they're looking for, or the search is a mess.  Of course it's a mess, you people are making it that way, worse than it was before.  I certainly hope the engineers were supplied with a pillow for their desk yesterday, they are going to need it.

I don't know yet if a relevancy search will work on Etsy.  There are too many variables that affect the outcome of any search that need to be fixed first, such as tag and category abuse.  But I am willing to at least give them a shot at trying to make it a useful and beneficial to both sellers and buyers.  And that's a lot more than I'm seeing currently in the forums.

Nearly every single thread I have read in all my 3 1/2 years on Etsy about complaints, or suggestions for Etsy has included 'fixing' the search.  'Search is a mess', 'I can't find what I'm looking for', 'buyers are turned off because Etsy's search is worthless' and on and on.  Now that Etsy is trying to 'fix' the search people are screaming for them to put it back the way it was.  Suddenly now, the current search isn't 'broken'.  What?  Since when?  I'd laugh if I wasn't crying.

Suddenly renewing for visibility isn't such a bad idea.  Never mind that it should have never been a tool for visibility in the first place.  I'll be honest, I wish they'd disallow renewing until an item has expired.  I'm sure that opinion won't win me any friends, but there it is anyway.  But don't worry folks, I don't see Etsy changing that to suit me because even if they went to a completely relevant search, people are so conditioned to renew to be seen, they'd continue to do it anyway.

I've seen a few people mention that relevancy search will hurt sellers who put out new and innovative designs because buyers won't know to look for them.  They are conveniently forgetting that Etsy has tools to see what is newly listed, not only in the category pages, but in the Time Machine 2.  It would be nice if search wasn't just a duplication of those, but another way to explore and discover and find what one might be looking for.  Why even bother having a feature to show the most recently listed items if the search is just going to be the same results?

Yes, for certain, if I were anyone at Etsy right now I'd be one frustrated individual.  Probably more so than I am right now.  Heh.

Relevancy Search.....continued

There is just so much fodder in the forums lately regarding this experimentation of the relevancy search it's hard to keep up.  I'm only on page 50 o f this thread and it's all I can do not to come back and post on my blog every few minutes.  I think it's running about 50-50 of those opposed and those in favor.  Some of the opposed make some very good points, especially about the title stuffing that is apparently happening, and the alleged stagnation of certain seller's items in certain categories.  I say alleged, because I haven't researched this myself.

Etsy definitely has some housekeeping to do in terms of fixing these and a few other things, such as tag and category abuse, and as much as people complain about experimenting in a live setting, I really, really think this was the only way to go to find potential pitfalls, especially in such a short amount of time.  You have to admit, testing in a controlled beta setting is probably not going to be as useful.  Etsy's past performance on rolling out features that have supposedly been beta tested first didn't have a whole lot of success either.

Which brings me to the latest post that has gotten under my skin.  Now, I will start off by first conceding that I do not make my living on Etsy.  While I certainly treat this as a business, it is not a means of dependable income, so this may color my views to a point, but because I do treat this as a business, there are certain things that being in business would require of me, or of anyone who's intention is to establish and maintain a business as an artist or crafter.  Preparation and planning being among the top 2 items.  Ok, so here is the quote:

"This might be a good thing to test for maybe two hours a day for a week. But as a seller with two children who has found a way to make this a viable income producer for her family by getting between 10-30 sales a day, let me just say that having zero sales today is like showing up at work and being told, "We're doing an experiment with payroll today. Work your butt off and mayyyybe you'll get paid!" Completely changing what has been working well for 24 hours: not cool.

I would like to reiterate that even if this helps buyers find what they are looking for today. The quality of high volume shop products will go down if their incomes get slashed. (I can't come out with new designs if I don't have the income to support the back stock.)"

Ok, I am not unsympathetic to a sudden loss of sales and income due to the search change.  Even for one day.  But there are a lot of things that could also cause this one day loss that don't have the potential for positive change.  Etsy could just plain take the site down for a day, or two or longer, believe me, it's happened before.  You could be in a car accident and be incapacitated for an extended period of time, one of your family members could become ill and you might have to tend to them rather than your shop.  These sorts of things should be taken into consideration when planning for your business.

As for 'the quality of high volume shop products going down if their incomes get slashed', well, I don't really believe this statement to be even a tiny bit truthful.  Quantity?  maybe.  Obviously if you are not selling a lot you won't continue to produce at quite the same rate as you would if you were selling multiple items daily, but it should never affect the quality of the items.  Especially if you are relying on the income of those sales directly to fund the creation of new ones.  I would imagine most of us do this, to a certain degree.  I know I do, but I also have reserves set aside so that I can buy supplies if I want to try a new idea or if I want to just continue to produce inventory for my shop.  Naturally, a portion of my sales go back to those reserves to help replenish it, but I felt it was a necessary business decision because not all business take off immediately, and the potential is always there for something to happen that might slow down or cut off one of my income streams.

All in all, I guess what I am trying to say is I really resent the emotionally charged reasoning rather than the factual reasoning.  If Etsy is going to scrap the relevant search, I'd much prefer that decision be based on the hard data that tells them it isn't going to work rather than a bunch of sellers crying that they have lower views, fewer sales and they are ultimately going to have to go elsewhere if this continues.  If the hard data shows that sales are still up, then it probably means that the sales are being spread out a bit more and as much as that might hurt your business, it is probably helping someone else's.

Here's a piece of unsolicited advice.....spread out your eggs into other baskets.  Start advertising your shop and bring in your customers and stop relying on Etsy foot traffic.  That foot traffic is a bonus and not a given and, for one, am glad that Etsy is trying to spread out that foot traffic more equitably. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Relevancy Search and Random Questions

A discussion was opened for comments regarding the relevancy search.  I would like to point out a few of the comments made really illustrate just how seller-centric people are refuse to see the benefits to a potential buyer.

"But if there are 1866 amethyst rings and I am searching for an "amethyst ring", how is ring number 1866 ever going to get to the top? If my ring was number 1866, I would cry not being able to renew to get to the top. I don't like the relevancy search idea. When I renew and I am seen, I get sales. Otherwise I'm stuck in the middle of the 1866 amethyst rings. It's not all about the buyers. Without sellers, you can't have buyers."

First of all, while someone may be looking for an amethyst ring, I'm fairly sure there are other qualifiers they have in mind which will alter the results and potentially give anyone the chance of being in the top of that search.  Do they want gold? silver? faceted or cabochon stone?  Do they want a single stone ring or multi stone ring? these are things that will narrow down their search results, and based on what criteria they use will determine who appears at the top of that search.  Using broad search terms is a act of frustration because logically, broad search terms will give broad results and is meant to so the buyer can narrow down what they are looking for.  I don't understand why people don't understand this.  Not everyone can be on the first page of a general search, it's impossible, but the more relevant your items are to what a buyer is searching for, the more likely you are to appear in the first pages of that search.

"Didn't we just go through this last year? It didn't work then, and it looks like it isn't going to work now."

The difference, as I understand it, is that back then, they didn't really follow through and tweak it or change it based on user feedback or data.  People complained and they finally took it down.  I honestly think if they are interested in making it work, they need to put it out there and make it work.

"I think a Random search would be so much easier to put together and fairer as well."

Not quite sure what you mean by random.  It seems to me right now any search term you type in will give you random results, results pulled from every category with those words used in the item in some way.  That's pretty random to me.  Theoretically, relevancy is the fairest search both for the customer and the seller, provided the buyer is looking for what the seller is selling.  Now, so far, I have to agree that we're not quite all on the same page as far as efficiency is concerned, there are a lot of factors such as mistagging, miscategorizing and lack of suitable categories for all items, BUT, the potential is there to make this work.  It's just going to take a lot of time and patience and rather than trying to fight Etsy every step of the way, to try and work with them and help them.  It ultimately helps you.

"it really stinks that people have spent so much time researching the best time, day of the week, types of items, etc. to renew. People have built a marketing and business strategy around this and now it means nothing."

What is really kind of 'sad' is that this was ever promoted by anyone in the first place.  I remember the day it was announced by a seller that they used this tactic and found it successful in generating more sales.  It took awhile, but eventually Etsy itself jumped on the bandwagon and suggested it as well, made reference to it in their FAQs and blog articles  and then subsequently, when everyone started doing it and the site grew larger and larger it became impossible for certain site features to continue to support it.  Eventually Etsy had to retract their support of this as a way of getting seen, but the damage had already been done.

This is also why I fear Etsy giving out too much information on how to become 'relevant'.  If they give too many precise details, people will jump to conform and then 'everyone' will fight and claw to become tops in the search and find ways to circumvent the system to get on top.  General guidelines and some parameters to force people to comply (such as limited characters in titles) might be useful, but then, I imagine there will be an outcry that this is too restrictive.  Rock and a hard place, if you ask me.

"If I search for "caramels" I get an entire first page that includes art, clothing, jewelry, housewares, handbags, quilts -- all in caramel colors -- but not a single edible. Yet the odds are that a buyer searching for "caramels" is looking for the candy, not the color."

Again, expecting specific results out of a general search query is asking it to read your mind.  I did this exact search, and yes, the very first results are everything and anything 'caramel'.  But if you are wanting something edible, you look to the left and there is the category called 'plants and edibles' and if you click on that, the results show yummy and delicious looking confections that will get your salivary glands  pumping.  If you go to Amazon and put books in the search box, will you get books relating to astronomy in the top results?  Probably not.  You have to be more specific either in your intial request or drill down using categories.  It's not rocket science!

"Really, I'm just pretty flabbergasted that you guys think it's a good idea to "experiment" with the entire site like this."

While I understand this comment, I have to wonder how it would have played out had Etsy beta tested it privately and then released it as a done deal and we had to accept it 'as is'?  People complain all the time that they don't get a say in new features and that Etsy should have asked the general populace what they thought and that they should get more input from users.  We're actually getting what has been asked for.  How are you going to have any affect once it's beta tested and then rolled out?  Sure, some changes might come after that, but not nearly as many as might take place now with them testing it out for everyone to give their opinions and suggestions.  Etsy is giving users what they've asked for and even that doesn't make them happy.  I guess it's a 'no win' situation, but at least this time they erred on the side of giving too much than not enough.

"im not liking this change, because it seems no one will know how to get relevant, then someone who is relevant, they will try to copy those who are relevant and everyone will have the same thing... then who is relevant? I know im not too relevant and I have things set up correctly.

 This post made me giggle.  I can just see the crossed arms and pouty lip.  I wonder how anyone knows whether or not they are relevant.  What are you comparing yourself to?  Ok, kidding aside, what I'm getting from this based on the category this seller is in, is that for high volume sellers who dominate the category at any given time by relisting sold items, that they will no longer dominate in a relevancy based search.  I get that.  It's got to be tough when it's something you've gotten used to and come to depend on, just like those at the opposite end of the spectrum have gotten used to low views and sales because they don't have the volume to relist or the funds to continually renew.  The difference is, the change finally levels the playing field for all sellers.  And in reality, it's only the search that is being affected, because if you go to the category you are still going to see the most recently listed items, so you haven't completely lost your 'edge'.

"If etsy wants to switch to a default relevancy search, fine. But give us some warning and guidance about how we should be listing to be relevant. And don't allow abuse of titles.

What I have a problem with right now, that I don't like being part of an experiment for 3 days out of the next 3 weeks. We all try hard to run our shops well and to change the rules on us as an experiment doesn't seem right to me.{If etsy wants to switch to a default relevancy search, fine. But give us some warning and guidance about how we should be listing to be relevant. And don't allow abuse of titles."

This kind of goes with the comment earlier, but  my thought is that not giving us guidelines ahead of time is part of the tweaking process.  To find out what is currently working and what is not.  I'm of the feeling that everyone running around changing tags and titles in an effort to be seen as relevant is probably doing more damage than good to the data results.  Everyone should have been tagging for relevancy in the first place, I mean, if you're selling red widgets, wouldn't you tag, title and describe those red widgets so people could find them?  In my estimation, any buyer confusion is most likely a result of sellers changing things around trying to guess what the winning combination will be rather than a relevant search.

"From the FP--> (ignoring the annoying drop down suggestions,) type in Clutch in the handmade search.

THE FIRST ITEM THAT COMES UP IS A BALL! The last item on the first page is a pair of EARRINGS!

Seriously, are you kidding me?"

Again, we have a perfect example of how people just do not understand the mechanics of a search tool.  A general search for anything is going to give you general results of anything containing that word.  What have you given the search tool to understand that you are looking for a purse and not a pair of earrings with a clutch back?   The search tool cannot read your mind, you have to help it along, so to help you help the search, along the left side of that page result are some categories for you to narrow your search.  And   I just did that very search ) ) and found satisfactory results, the first page, with the exception of a pair of earrings actually did show all clutches of the purse variety.  But to eliminate any other items other than purses, you can choose from the following categories:
All Items
Once you select your category, you can further refine you search using any other qualifiers that relate to what you are looking for.
"My confusion is this... when I search for 'finger puppet' I am on the third page, fine. Most of the items on the first two pages DO NOT HAVE FINGER PUPPET or PUPPET as a tag. The term is mentioned once in the title, once in the description. The item isn't really even a finger puppet. So I'm confused. Will any of my items ever be in the first few pages of a search? Or am I lost near the middle forever?"
Ok, I did this search,  and got 1197 items on that list.  The first page was dominated by a seller selling ipod covers that doubled as a finger puppet.  While I understand your frustration with not being more relevant than that seller, if I were looking for a finger puppet for a child I would probably scan that first page or two and then look at the categories listed on the left and select the toy category.  In which case, one of your items appears on the first page.  Once again, I will reiterate, a general search term will yield general results.  You must be more specific both in listing items and searching items to find what you are looking for.
"A lot of stores are paying alot of money in relisting and renewing items to find were are now at the back of the listings and old listings (2-3 mos old) are at the front, we will loose alot of customers to this system and Etsy will loose alot of revenue why should we pay to renew or relist if were not getting any exposure."
This is getting redundant.  There is no evidence that Etsy will lose any revenue, as a matter of fact, their revenue could remain the same or increase if buyers are able to find and purchase what they are looking for.   And I have to ask, if your customers are complaining to you that they can't find you, then how are you receiving these complaints?  lol.    The fact that older listings are appearing in the search is actually proof that the search is working.  That is what it is supposed to do, return results that are relevancy based rather than listing (or renewing or relisting) date.  Once again, sellers who are successful under the current system are going to resist any changes that might impact that.  I understand that.  But with the number of sellers and items listed and that continue to be listed there has to be a better, more equitable system to find whatever it is that someone can be searching for. Ok, that's enough for now.  this is getting too long and I'm getting increasingly irritated with people who do not know how to tag for relevance to their own items.  If you are listing a dog bracelet, then for goodness' sake, tag it dog bracelet and look up the breeds of the dogs for the correct spelling.  It's Lhasa apso not asa apso.  Cripes.