It's New Year's Day for me here today so this is the perfect post to bring in the new and mega-awesome amazeballs that is 2016. Everyone I talk to is pumped for the new year, but if selling handmade is part of that pumped up-ness (as it is for me) you need to have a plan so it's more than just inner fizz. I'm making my new year's resolutions and 'personal 2016 battle plan' tonight. In the meantime... read this. It is a hard road and you might get overwhelmed, so I have presented with LOLs as sugar for the medicine.
Recently there’s been a bit of a furore in the Etsy forums - in case you’re unaware, many sellers are of the opinion Etsy ‘changed something’ in the last few months that’s put in place a death knell on their shops views (and consequently sales). There are many who say they haven’t felt an effect, but there are many many more who say they have. Of course it’s more likely for people to post and complain about it affecting them - not many people are going to make a point of coming to the forums just to say they’re doing fine. However, a lot of the shops reporting massive downturn are well-established shops with good product and long-standing sales. So something has dropped a fly in the ointment.
(found on this huge thread)
250 X 42 is 10,500 listings.
In other words, in a search for ‘red beaded necklace’ I found better search results by going to the end of the page.
Sounds like a search engine that relies on more than ‘tags and titles’ to put your listing in the top, huh?
Again I tested my theory through a search, this time choosing 'green dress'. Pretty vague, and I didn't narrow it down through any subcategories. Then I went to the last page and randomly selected 8 shops to view. I went to their sold items... 6 of them had received a sale in the last 72 hours, the other two had sales last week. Interesting... I went to the first page of the results and did the same thing; every shop I selected to look at hasn't had a sale for at least 3 weeks. So basically if you get a sale, your place in search pretty much evaporates for a couple of days. Great.
Incidentally I checked my own shops against this and the pattern is the same for me - a sale or two comes along, then nothing for 3-5 days, then a sale or two, then nothing...
I wasn’t the only one presenting this theory on the forum, and Etsy admin responded by saying they’re just trying to make sure a variety of shops turn up in search rather than having several sellers dominating each page. This alludes to the second half of the quote ‘it wouldn’t be good if only a small subgroup of sellers can make a living selling on Etsy. That's not what we want.’
When it comes to categories on Etsy, there really aren’t that many places where supply (listings) exceeds demand (shoppers). Etsy quite simply has more stuff than there are people to buy it; but while I partially disregarded this idea based on customers wanting different things from essentially the same people, the reality is clear; if you're not even coming up high in results, your customer is not going to wade until they find you, no matter what their budgetary concerns are.
Just keep listing...
So here we have a site with millions of shops, all selling every different kind of thing, with all categories over-supplied, with more listings than search can display - and it’s all run by a company that want the total sales of the site spread out among all sellers rather than a few dominant ones, because it keeps the site looking huge and takes advantage of the vast demographic of users. That’s nothing to strike down; it’s business after all. In their defence they’ve tried to find a solution that leaves everyone fed but all it’s done is leave everyone sharing a pie that doesn’t have enough slices to go around.
So... has your brain melted yet?
So let’s look at the ways you can up your chances of being in that top selection, starting with the other criteria that go into your listing's search rank.
1. Your relevancy (right titles, tags)
2. Having the listing in a designated category
2. Having the listing in a designated category
3. having a completed ‘About’ page and policies
4. having good feedback stars and no open or closed disputes against you
5. How many people clicked on that listing as a result of searching the same keywords
6. If you’re in the UK or Australia, you’ll be shown to your country’s shoppers as priority
Let’s look at these in more detail:
To determine if what you have now is working, go to your stats page and set it to show stats for ‘this year’.
2. Having your listing in a designated category is something you might not consider worth worrying about, but evidence on the forums suggests it does hurt a listing not to be located in as many of the sub-categories as possible. I'm sure we've all noticed that invasive new drop-down menu that takes over half the screen whenever you mouse across it; these are the new Browse sections and many shoppers use them. If your item doesn't fit in these you got problems. Categories also count as tags.
But if for example you make sterling silver and gemstone jewelry and you only make one of every design, your search rank will pale in comparison to others who will make the same ring over and over again and who therefore use the same listing, riding high on its accrued ranking.
Having said that though, I just did a search for 'sterling moonstone ring' and one of the higher results was a 'quantity of 1'. It did have a lot of hearts - it also had a fairly high price (comparative to most shops) and I'm theorising this has actually helped. Plenty of people clicked on it in search just to look, never intending to buy. It didn't sell but it gave the listing search rank, so if you sell 'quantity of 1' at a high price your rank shouldn't be too badly affected. (Did I just tell you to raise your prices again? YES.)
Some forum goers are complaining of this, however I don’t think it’s much to worry about. For starters it’s helping you boost your presence in your home country market - always a good thing! - and for seconds, if you have a unique product that stands out for one or many reasons then your customers will find you no matter where you live. My vintage supply shop (Fagin’s Daughter) hasn’t seen any downturn in non-Australian traffic, and I’d maintain that’s because I sell unique things and have a fairly good following. My Australian buyer rates have gone up though, so I’ve actually benefited from that factor.
Now that’s covered, I want to go over the other ways to be found on Etsy that isn’t search - primarily the in-house community. There’s a lot that’s out of your control but you can up your chances:
1. favourites: make sure your photos are clickable, you’ll stand out in a person’s favourites page.
I can help you with those solutions, but it'll come later. Right now I want you to take ONE single pledge, right now on the New Year.
Promise me you will stop leaving it to Etsy to bring your traffic.
And have a happy New Year! 2016 is going to be astounding.
Pssst! Want to know more? There's a Part Two!