December 7, 2011

Focus. Re-Focus. Focus.

Ok, so I might have gone a little over the top with my reaction to some of the relevancy issues.  The most important aspect that I've taken away from the whole change in Etsy's search function is exactly that:

It's changed before.  
It'll change again. 

I've never been one for multitasking.  I like to take one thing and do it right, instead of spreading my effort around a few tasks at once and mess them all up... which has happened.  From simple tasks;  Sometimes I'll spend a day just answering emails and doing internet work, or maybe just spend the day welding ring blanks.  To larger elements;  Narrowing my jewelry line from many styles to primarily one wedding band style, selling through a very limited set of websites/vendors, or maybe keeping my hobbies and personal art projects very specific (trust me, this can get out of hand real fast).  Even in regards to physical items;  One coffee mug that I've used everyday for years (in my left hand as I type!... (oh yeah, I still tend to type with just my right hand *cue screeching from my grade school typing teacher here* (Two sets of parentheses in (now three and four!), I feel like I'm in Inception or something (Maybe I'm just horrible at grammar??)))), and another one for tea. 

While this focus has it's benefits, and is my natural work flow, sometimes I'll be too focused on one thing for too long and not paying attention to another.  In this case I became so focused on just filling orders over the past year that I really didn't put enough effort into the media, promotion, and advertising side of things.  As a small one man business, I do need to be all things all the time, but as an artist and craftsman I need to leave suitable time to create, be inspired and not burn the fire completely out.  My art is my job and my job is my art, and to do it properly I need to periodically focus on one thing, and re-focus on something else and so on.

Listings will change.
Searching will change.
Etsy will change.
The internet will change.
Styles will change.
Traditions will change.
Everything will change.
How will you stay relevant?

None of this is really ground breaking stuff, I'm just always trying to find better ways to be a business and an artist at the same time.  So far this post is just a bunch of text, let's break it up with a picture of vegetables.

In respect to Etsy's search changes, I made a solid effort to switch up the titles and tags on my items.  While originally I had them more as names, they are now closer to a physical description, with a name after a hyphen:

"Men's Gold Band - Love is on the Inside White & Rose"
"Wedding Ring Set - Silver Minimalist"

Each listing has a slightly different title, to help add diversity to the shop (for the robots) even if some of the rings are very similar.  With slightly different names there's a higher likelihood that one listing will turn up in most any search for rings.  I've tested this throughout the week, watched the stats, and for the most part all the listings are getting higher quality views.  I've also geared the terms toward popular search phrases, and tried to keep in mind the way most people search.  Some of my previous titles, tags were just to technical (descriptions too, but that's the next overhaul).

December 2, 2011

Relevancy Robots

So the basics of the new relevancy search on Etsy is that the first 3 or so words of your title are the most important when it comes to searches.  Then tags and recency and a few other small factors.

I get it, really, I do.  Etsy's just trying to make things easier for buyers, and this is a commonly adopted SEO.  But at what cost?  In a site full of handmade and one of a kind items, what happens when all of the titles we give to our work end up the same?  When the first few pages of searches are filled with the same title, "Black Hoodie - Screenprinted" "Men's Gold Ring", where does the individuality come in, doesn't that creep further away from art and closer to Amazon and Ebay, have the robots already won?  Just some thoughts for now, I'll post more later with actual constructive ideas.  For now let me know which listing appeals to you more as a consumer? (click the links for more details)

Those not immediately fluent in Binary may find this useful,

Staying Relevant

In the last few months I've had a little more down time (aka slower sales) to focus on the website side of things.  There's always work to be done even if it doesn't involve building and shipping rings.  With this time I was able to launch my new site, yay!

With that under control I moved on to cleaning up some of the social networks I have photos and links on, and then with a little extra time (aka even slower sales) I worked on rearranging/cleaning the shop and office, new pricing structures, and some more web updating.

After that was taken care of, I decided that since the year is coming to an end, I should go through some figures and accounting for the year, since I still have some down time (Hello? Sales?)... Wait, this is a little too much down time... even for this time of year.  Something must be off that I'm missing...

Ok, so it's not cat related, but sometimes you just need a cat macro.  Digging through the new Etsy stats function I started to notice that views and searches were way down, and most of the traffic was coming from off Etsy, through a link to my Wing Ring on Pintrest. (I should note here that 95% of my sales still come directly through my Jesse Danger Etsy page. I'll cover that aspect in another post.)  This seemed to really kick in mid August, about the same time sales slowed down and custom order inquiries, as well as treasury emails, were few and far between. 


I hopped on a different computer (one without all my saved web data) and did a search on Etsy for wedding bands under a few common search terms, knowing I had just relisted a dozen or so the day before, to see which of my listing showed up, each search was more and more specific to my rings: Wedding bands, gold wedding bands, mens' gold wedding bands, silver and gold wedding rings, modern silver wedding rings, women's rose gold wedding ring, etc. 

Search 1: 15-20 pages in, no listings
Search 2: 15-20 pages in, no listings
Search 3: 15-20 pages in, no listings
Search 4: 15-20 pages in, no listings
Search 5: 15-20 pages in, no listings
Search 6: 15-20 pages in, no listings

At this point I had been digging around for at least 15 minutes, just scrolling searches.  A little panicked I hunted through the Etsy forums and blogs to see if was missing something, if maybe others we're seeing this too. And nope, I wasn't alone.

Etsy Blog, Aug 9th:

Default Search is Now “Sort by Relevancy”

Hmm, guess I missed that... I'm sure they sent an email, and I probably glanced over the blog at some point between answering a flurry of emails and building like crazy from two of my busiest months ever (80 rings shipped between mid June - mid August).  I didn't fully understand the ramifications of what RELEVANCY meant until my shop started drifting into the sea of irrelevancy, and I had time to sit down and read about it.

December 1, 2011

Around The Shop

Hi blog world!  I've been busy overhauling all of my webpages this week.  I'm working on few blog posts about navigating SEO and the recent changes with Etsy, and also about my plans for the coming year.  That's not ready yet so I thought I'd post some recent stuff from around the shop.

The open house the other weekend was surprisingly busy, I must have had a few hundred people filter though the shop over the course of the day.  It was nice getting to meet other local artists, and I took a few minutes to explore some of other shops in the building.  Everyone who stopped in was great and seemed to enjoy the space, though I secretly wish I had hardwood floors every time I try to clean that carpet (carpet is evil). Here are a few early morning shots when the sun was nice and bright (see, clean as promised!). I hardly ever turn the lights on in here, I usually just let the daylight flood in.

Gotta keep a little space for the guitars, and my flee market balalaika!

A stunning wedding set I just finished.  These are done in 14kt white gold and rose gold, probably still my favorite combination of metals, the colors just blend so naturally.  With the all gold (opposed to silver & gold) versions I can also make the metal ratio about 50/50, so you can see more of the rose from the profile.

Late night shipping party, about a dozen bands ready for their new homes.  It was a two coffee kind of day.