When I was a kid there was no shopping on Sunday, anyone else remember that? Boy times have changed. Now I can sit in my sweatpants drinking tea 24/7 and buy not just from my local store but from people all over the world.
Browsing over oodles and oodles of amazing creations online sucks up more of my time that I like to admit. However I think of this not as time wasted, oh no, it’s “research”. It’s important to know what’s going on in my handmade community.
And there is SO much to be seen online isn’t there? Etsy.com, the largest of the handmade marketplaces, has over one million registered sellers! As a customer this is fantastic! As a seller this is terrible. How can you possibly stand out amongst that much noise? Not to mention that Etsy is only one of 1000’s of shopping sites.
The most important part of your online store are the photos. I’m not going to get into that today except to say, these MUST be brilliant.
Next, the writing surrounding the photos. Even the most brilliant of photos doesn’t stand a chance if your item description sucks. Remember that your customer cannot see the item in person. Don't assume that the qualities of your item are obvious to your customer or that your photos say it all. You might even consider describing your item as if you had no pictures for your customer to look at. Really make them feel like they are right there with your item. When I’m online I look at the items and glance at the text. You have just a few seconds to draw me in with the story of the item. SELL me the item.
Short paragraphs and bullet points are your friends. Visitors to your shop might be looking for a specific size or material, so make it easy for them to glean that info from your descriptions by cutting out superfluous language and making good use of bullet points. Think about your descriptions as a way to answer your buyer's questions.
This is a list to jump start your thinking when you write your next item description.
- What is it? While it may be totally obvious to you what the item is, never underestimate a customers’ power to be confused.
- What colour is it? The colour on your monitor may not be the same as mine.
- How big is it? Measure accurately not just the length of a necklace, also the size of the beads in it. Don’t just take a photo of the piece beside a ruler, spell it out.
- What is it made of? Tell me the materials and techniques used.
- How do I care for it? Tell me how to keep it looking as lovely as when I receive it.
- What is it used for? Do I wear it or hang it on a wall? Or both! (now there’s a feature!)
- How does it work? Does it slip over my head? Is there a clasp? Do I tie it around my waist?
- Do I get everything in the picture? I see 6 items in the picture, do I get them all or are some of them just props?
- Why is this one better than the one in the next shop? What is so special about your work, is it your skills, materials or techniques? This is where you tell me a story.
- What if it doesn’t fit? Will you exchange it? Who pays to ship it back? If I’m giving this as a gift can my friend exchange it if she doesn’t like it and how does she do that?
- How does it arrive? Do you gift wrap and if so what does the gift wrap look like? What shipping methods do you use and how long should it take to get here? It this ready to ship or do you custom make me a fresh one?
- What do those fancy terms mean? Don’t take it for granted that a customer knows what lampworking means, or PMC (is that like PMS?).
- Will I get the exact item in the photo? I want to know if there’s going to be any variations and how big those will be.
- Can I live without this? Of course, but my life will be SO much more wonderful with it! Tell me why. The earrings will make me feel like a queen, the artwork will lift my spirits every time I look at it. What is so GREAT about your work?
You are the expert of what you create. You know the size, length, and dimensions. You know the materials and components. Your words should tell the story your photos can’t. Don’t make them search.
As a shopper much as I like surprises, if I don’t know what it is, I am not buying it.