Etsy Jam

Etsy Jam Episode 29: Monette from DigitalPapercrafting

In this episode, we talk with Monette from DigitalPapercrafting and ShinyDesigns.  In fact, Monette’s first shop, ShinyDesigns has been around since 2005 – pretty much the dawn of Etsy. Stay tuned to hear all about Monette’s journey, lists, clutter, fan mail, the creative process, criticism and a quick discussion about Etsy SEO.

Meet Monette

Hi, I’m Monette from DigitalPaperCrafting and ShinyDesigns. I’ve done a lot of things, one of which was that I had a local retail store. That was before people bought things on the internet – it was in the early 90’s! The internet was there and it existed but we didn’t have e-commerce.

I moved on from selling retail and became a CPA for awhile before Etsy came out in 2005. I saw right away when it came out in Beta that I might use it one day. Early on in 2006 or 2007 I used to sell quilt patterns. I sold them wholesale for awhile and some of them are on Etsy. I also moved on to do some writing and been able to publish 3 books! The last few years, I have come back to Etsy and I started a digital shop and that is going pretty well. Also, I came back to my other shop Shiny Designs to get it going like it should have been in the first place.

When I first started digital paper crafts, it was right before Etsy started offering digital downloads. A friend of mine encouraged me to do it and I remember I used to use a third party digital download software because at the time, you had to get their email and send them your files. Thankfully, Etsy came out with their hosting where they host your files for you. Because if they didn’t, I probably would not have kept selling digital arts – it was just too much hassle!

What was Etsy like back then?

I’ll tell you one thing from Etsy from the beginning, they’ve made good progress from the start. It was a new company way back. But man, the back-end of it still looks about the same. They changed some things like that new Listings Manager and a few but some of the other stuff are just old, almost vintage! It’s been that way since!

What are the other places online that you’ve setup shops with?

I have an Amazon Handmade account right now. I have not built it out because you know, there’s only so many hours in a day and I’ve proven that I tend to go from project to project. This is my biggest downfall as I quickly get interested in the next shiny thing.

How do you structure your time?

It dawned on me that working at the computer for long periods tended to make me tense, fidgety, and anxious. This isn’t good for me! So I started limiting it to an hour or two at a time. I actually had to set up a timer because you can get lost in it! It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been doing that and I find that I’m spending less and less time at my computer.

I also like to do a short to-do list. It’s not long, maybe about 6 items and some of it are easy so they get crossed-out super fast. There’s also a Today list. Like today, I wanted to do some gift listings for Christmas in my Etsy shop. I find that having a Today list tends to keep me from just getting lost in checking Facebook, etc.. It keeps me a little bit more on the task at hand.

Fan Mails

I get some emails from customers and I call them fan mails. Most of the time I get things like “I really like your work!” so I always respond to that (because it would be rude not to!). I keep those in a little folder in my inbox that says “Fan Mail”.

Criticizing your own Work

I don’t teach art but I have taken a class here and there. I remember people always looking at their work and criticizing it. They see little imperfections in their work because they are just so close to it!

Back off! I tell them to back off because you’re never gonna be finished. No one’s gonna be viewing that piece of art, or that painted wall, or that stained woodwork from 6 inches away! They’re gonna be 3 feet or better. So back off already. It’s amazing how changing your perspective and backing off will do for how good something looks. And don’t point out the errors. Just don’t do that!

If you’re too familiar with it, you’re gonna know every single thing that went wrong. Don’t tell people your mistakes. I’m not saying to put work out that has mistakes in it necessarily. There’s that balance between “I gotta make it perfect” which means you’ll never be finished or I have to make it “good enough” to release to the world. Make it good enough, with good quality, and have standards.

Handling Criticisms

Criticisms seems to be another thing that seems to undo creative folks when it comes to “Is my work good enough?” Critics of your work are everywhere. I mean everywhere. Some of them are well-meaning, some of them are completely thoughtless, and some of them are outright malicious. There’s that and also the question of how to take criticism.

If you don’t know how to take criticism, I would argue that you are really not ready to be able to put work out there and to let it go in the world. You’re gonna have to be able to make something, create it, give it life, and let it go. That’s what you do. You have to release it into the world to fend for itself and it WILL get criticism. There are only a few ways to deal with that – you can either completely ignore it (which is not helpful) or look at the criticism you got and ask yourself:

  1. Where did it come from? Who criticized you? Was it your snarky sister-in-law? If the source is someone who actually has some bearing of knowledge in your subject, maybe you should listen.
  2. You have to look at the meat of the criticism. I have had some really ugly criticism of some of my work. Some of it has merits, some of it are baseless. So you have to look at the criticism and look at the part of it that you agree or disagree with. That will bring you to a point where you can take the criticism that you’ve got and then make a plan to address the weaknesses.

That gets you to taking criticism and taking it for what it’s worth. Not blowing out of proportion and not dismissing it entirely.

It’s like basically taking all kinds of criticism and making it constructive whether or not it’s intended to be constructive in the first place.

Tips on Writing Copy

List your features and your benefits. For example:

Features = Benefits

Recycled Materials = it’s green and you’re helping the Earth.
All-in-one Kit = you don’t have to go buy anything and saves you time.

That’s how I do it. Sort of a mechanical approach. Feature Feature Feature, then Benefit Benefit Benefit.

Tips on Finding Keywords

A lot of people struggle with this. When I think of something, I’m just naturally not going to think of searching for something the same way that everybody else in the world is gonna be searching for it. Or the same way my customers are gonna be searching for it. It helps a lot to ask that exact question and ask people how they would search for it. Show them a picture of something you put together and ask “What would you type in to Google to find this?”

In Marmalead there’s also a Rock Your Photos Report so if you’re interested, these gets sent out to people who do shop on e-commerce. We ask them to describe how they would search for it. It’s a cool way of generating a bunch of ideas of how people might look for something that you might not even considered.

You can also send it out to people you know on Facebook to get the same kind of response and that’s a great place to start if you really don’t know where to start. Then you can take those keywords into the Storm feature inside Marmalead and see where it goes from there. This is a good way to attack this problem.

Why Renewing Matters

I think the reason they give so much weight to freshly renewed listings is because it’s a way of distinguishing who is really committed and who’s not. What they do is that they put a little money on it. 20 cents is not a lot. It can add up but it’s not a lot.

You’d be surprised how many people are opposed to spending that 20 cents. You know what, it’s between being way over here at the bottom where no one’s going to see me and spending 20 cents and popping up at the top where I could actually be purchased. What people don’t realize is that placement where you might renew your way to stay at the top for awhile is that once you start to get some sales momentum, you’ll stay there. Every time you sell you’re gonna get renewed and secondly, once a listing is doing well – you can go from ranking really well on a less competitive keyword to rank on just about any keyword. It’s all possible because for Etsy, you have a proven track record. These are things we’ve observed, heard from shops, and then also Etsy admins have confirmed!

Why Some People Don’t Get the Results They Were Expecting

Sometimes people would come to us and say “Hi, I’m on this page and I’m ranked but I’m not getting the views I am expecting.” But if you go and look at that search, you’ll see that their listing images are not as engaging as the other ones. It’s not standing out, it’s not really popping off the screen, it’s not screaming ‘Click me!’ And if people aren’t clicking it, Etsy will remove it. For those that have been in retail, if something is taking prime real estate in your shelf and people are not touching it, it goes to the back of the store! There are other factors at play and all that other stuff is important too because if you don’t do the SEO fundamentals, then you won’t even be considered!

In this episode, we talk with Monette from DigitalPapercrafting and ShinyDesigns.  In fact, Monette's first shop, ShinyDesigns has been around since 2005 - pretty much the dawn of Etsy. Stay tuned to hear all about Monette's journey, lists, clutter, fan mail, the creative process, criticism and a quick discussion about Etsy SEO.

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