Thursday, May 19, 2011

Does Etsy Have a 'House Style'?

When I began listing my jewellery on Etsy I had a particular way of photographing my work.  Mostly on a black background.  The logic being that for a silver item to stand out it would need to be against a contrasting material.  Silver on a white or pale background just didn't make sense to me.

I did my research, read through forum discussions on the best way to present products on Etsy and looked at how other shops used props to style their photographs.

I knew I needed to make my 'thumbnail' image stand out on search pages.  I knew my image needed to be 'click worthy'.

This resulted in my shop looking like this:

hybrid handmade , Jewellery by Cari-Jane Hakes on Etsy, May 17 2011
Now, I admit, my sales on Etsy have been less than stellar.  I made the usual excuses 'jewellery is a crowded category' and 'well, I'm still new' and so on.  I make most of my sales through private commissions but I still want my Etsy shop to work.

At the beginning of the year I began to get involved with some of the teams.  In particular the European Street Team.  I loved making treasuries (a wonderfully joyus activity where you get to be a curator, collect up a whole load of beautiful, amazing, quirky products and put them all together in a harmonious titled collection, see here) and so I joined the treasury making group within the European Street Team.

hybrid handmade Jewellery by Cari-Jane Hakes on Etsy, 17 May 2011

Three things happened which caused me to radically reassess the on-line image of my on-line shop.

Firstly - I reaslised when I was making treasuries I often wanted to have a bit of negative space around each product.  This combined with the Etsy treasury format looked good graphically.

Secondly - I realised that really, using contrasting backgrounds for my products was not making my shop look very harmonious.  It is unlikely that people will find my work through searching for products of a particular colour or typing in 'necklace'.  Even if I re-list an item, when I search for it more often than not is it already buried on page 10.  Therefore, making my products stand out on search pages with the punchy backgrounds was really not helping me.  It will be a rare person who will trawl through all 1000+ pages in search of that ideal ring or necklace!

Thirdly - therefore, in my non-so-niche area of jewellery, my best way of being noticed is probably in treasuries.  The European Street Team has a pretty good track record of getting their treasuries on the Front Page of Etsy.  That combined with an email from a fellow Etsyian telling me I really should improve the photography of my products!

Before and After photography of the Summer Roses Brooch 
Thank goodness from some frank honest advice!  It confirmed all my nagging thoughts concerning my Etsy shop (which I had done nothing to alter other than tweak a few photographs).  It was the kick I needed (thank you Esra of sunshineartdesign!).

Below is a screen shot of how the shop make-over is progressing:

hybrid handmade Jewellery by Cari-Jane Hakes on Etsy 19 May 2011
Cleaner, brighter, fresher!  I am even more indebted to Esra as my work was accepted by a major juried on-line marketplace in the UK a few months ago.  I have been working hard sorting out logistics and developing some new designs.  I'm really pleased with this new look and will use it as a basis for my photography for this new site.

In conclusion - I don't think Etsy has a particular 'House Style'.  But your own shop - it has to have consistency.  I forgot this along the way and got too caught up in props and punchy background colours. Now, I'm just focusing on the jewellery and letting each image focus on the details and the qualities of each piece.  Which is just straight forward common sense really!

Part of me wishes it was a real shop.  Fresh cut white roses on the counter, a few vintage tea cups and a mix of modern and brocante vintage furniture.  We could sit and design something wonderful for you, look at sparkling cabochons and hold them up to the light.  That would be fun, don't you think!


  1. Very cool It looks fab and your pieces are morvelous!

  2. The new look is really eye-catching and makes your pieces pop.

  3. I love the new look! So classy, uncluttered, and bright! You're jewelry is beautiful too, by the way. =)

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and advice - and I love the new look!

    I also love the photo you use as your blog banner - is that your studio? So creative and rustic.

  5. This is all great feedback - I'm really glad people like the new layout. And, yes, this is me in my summer studio, it's one of my favourite places. In the winter I have to retreat into the house.

  6. Awesome transformation! I look at the photos of the first few items I sold 2 years ago and cringe, lol.

  7. I loved it, Congratulations, a beautiful transformation!
    Your work is amazing, and really the pictures are very important in an online shop!
    I think you're going the right way!
    Again congratulations:)

  8. the new photos really do make your pieces pop and gives your shop a more sophisticated aesthetic. i'm constantly looking for ways to improve my own photos and shop, too.

    looks great!

  9. Thank you Amiable and Tricia. Of the Fountain - at least they sold though!!
    Sandra, fellow EST Member, thank you for your encouragement.
    Snake and Roxy - your right - it should be a constant process - I need to be careful and not just think that I'm done and I can just leave it static again.

  10. Hey, funny enough, much as I like the lighter brighter version, i think those props....especially the timber, the wool and the tape measure really make it easier to see/understand the piece. They provide some scale which makes it easier to understand the size of the piece. Without that, particularly with some of fiercely feminine pieces which are quite big it would be difficult to tell. The other comment I would make is that when there is silver on a light background they don't pop as much. The ones on the front page that really stand out to me are other shiny/dark or made 3d somehow - i.e they don't lie flat, which usually means they are on a prop.....Whilst the more neutral lighter tones don't compete so much, if you get too light some of the pieces might not lift off the page as much. There you go...there's my 10c. :)

  11. I know the feeling! Your pics are coming along beautifully. I have redone my photos sooo many times, and am about to do it again!

    Best of luck!

  12. Thanks for sharing your journey, which in our 'packed category' is very important. Your pictures are definitely coming on a treat, and you discovered very quickly, like I did that the plainer backgrounds work best. I still have a long way to go! Good luck :)

  13. Andrea - I'm with you - I loved all the bright backgrounds and like I said at the beginning I wasn't a fan of silver on white/pale but I do think it was limiting my exposures in treasuries and therefore visibility on Etsy - something had to change. Good point re: scale, I always try to include a picture of the piece worn (there are 4 other images uploaded per product) - I agree, some of my stuff is BIG and some is tiny!
    Erin and Rachel - I shall keep snapping away, revising and editing - looking forward to getting back to my work bench though :)

  14. I completely agree!
    shops need consistency. I was having hard time with this and most of my pictures turned out very "yellowy" instead of a crisp white.
    I have slowly been revamping my shop with clear, crisp, "white" photos.
    Thanks for the post! Great Work!

  15. Thanks Anna - you can sometimes alter the colour balance in some photo editors to get rid of any tones you don't like - or just up the exposure to bleed out some of the colour.

  16. p.s As my neigbhour reminded me today, there are half a million odd stores on etsy....she uses 'madeit' which is an Australian one, and some others instead because there is still good exposure but less stores to compete with.


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