Etsy's Success Symposium

This past Tuesday, Etsy held their Success Symposium at Etsy Labs. While many of us watched what we could via livestream, Katherine Rasmussen of reiter8 was actually able to attend the symposium in NYC and was gracious enough to send me a writeup of her thoughts. A big, big thank you to Katherine who makes lovely upcycled bags and accessories out of used sails.

Lori of One Shade Greener who makes fabulous upcycled jewelry and gifts from recycled corks also sent me some really great observations from the videos she was able to watch on livestream. I”m going to intersperse her thoughts along with some of my own observations into Katherine”s writeup. Look for the blocks in italics and the extra bit at the end. (thank you as well, Lori!)

and here we go!

“By all accounts the Etsy Success Symposium was … a success! It was a day packed with small business information and inspiration tailored for the Etsy seller. It was relevant to those who are new to Etsy and those who, like myself, have been selling on Etsy for some time now. In this virtual age, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet face to face with well established and recognizable shop owners like Oktak and Metalicious, newbies like Bearstitches and Studio30kids and Etsy Admin like Vanessa, Morgan, Julie, Danielle and Kimm (just to name a few).

A warm, friendly, creative vibe was set out by the Admin in the morning and was the perfect platform for listening, learning, networking and generally being excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for us individually and together as a community. Throughout the day two sessions were held simultaneously in different rooms. The ones held in the new Etsy Labs were recorded and streamed live. Most are available to view here or here

Don”t have time to watch `em all? Here are my top recommendations:

Vanessa Bertozzi”s workshop: Beyond the Comfort Zone: Presenting Yourself Professionally. At the time of this writing it”s not uploaded to view, but was filmed, so check back for it because whether you”re a newbie or an old timer, hearing this Etsy veteran go through the do”s and don”ts is extremely valuable. It was almost like a checklist – clear and easy to follow. Vanessa has seen it all and sets out easy and achievable ways for you to improve and polish your presentation. Lori S. and I both watched Vanessa”s talk, and came away with similar observations.

Lori S. says:
There are four extremely important things that set the tone for your shop – Banner/Avatar, Photography, Product Descriptions and Shop Profile.

Banner/Avatar – Make sure your banner and avatar convey the image of your
company. The primary recommendation was to have a great banner and let your
avatar be a photograph of yourself – customers want to see you! There are others
who would promote a logo or key product for the avatar. You need to select the one
that feels the most appropriate for you.

One thing I noticed was that Vanessa also stressed the importance of being ready for featured seller opportunities/blogger write-ups by having a headshot/portrait of yourself (it doesn”t have to be serious!) as well as a nice photo of your workspace. In keeping with her preference for avatars to be of you and shop descriptions being written in the FIRST person, she stressed that the customer really wants to have a sense of who is on the other end of the transaction.

Attract Your Target Market — You”re Not Wal-Mart with April Bowles-Olin was very insightful. Download the worksheets here and here and then view the session here

This was an informative workshop where you will learn how to identify your target market and get specific about how you present your items in photos and descriptions to appeal to that market. I was always hesitant about targeted selling, thinking that a broader approach might be best because I didn”t want to leave anybody out. I think differently now. A broader approach is watered down and not compelling to your buyer. April explains hows and whys with examples and guidance.

I missed this one, but Lori S. notes that each shop may have several ideal customers and that is OK as long as you are clear on each of them. You need to determine the problem that you solve for them. Think about what those customers are thinking when they look at your product.

In my opinion, the other `must see” workshop is Let”s Get Off Our Butts: Building a Responsive Business presented by Lorrie Veasey, a.k.a. Lennymud on Etsy. Download the worksheet here and watch the session here. Lorrie acknowledges that we all have our reasons for not doing something even though we know if can benefit our business. We often say `I know I should be doing this or that, BUT…” She tells us to get off our `buts” and create our plan, take action and identify tasks. What really worked for me was further breaking those tasks down on the worksheet into what will be done in one month, six months and one year. I really liked having to get specific and dividing it over time which helped me avoid feeling overwhelmed if I didn”t tackle it all right away.

For me those three workshops where chuck full of ideas and `to dos” both big and small, quick and time consuming, but all that will positively impact your business. They were `think about it, write it down and do it” workshops … very motivating!

Have more time? Check out Noah Scalin”s workshop: Generating Creative Energy. As stated on Etsy: “Noah is an artist/activist and creator of the award-winning daily art project Skull-a-Day. His latest book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, is designed to help people reap the benefits of making a daily project.” This workshop was fun, fun, fun. Kick start your creativity and move beyond the obvious with this method of creating within a defined focus over a period of time. I felt the benefits of this method during the funny crazy 10 minutes that we spent creating at the end of the session.

Nancy Soriano was formally the editor of Country Living and now is the Community Leader|Publishing Director for Craft @ F W Media. She co-founded the Creative Connection Event which takes place this September in St Paul, MN which sounds like an another amazing experience and opportunity. Nancy”s keynote Speech was filled with wisdom and motivating advice.

If anyone has specific questions about the materials or anything else about the day, I would love to hear from you. Everyone that I spoke to during the day felt it was a wonderful, worthwhile experience. I believe it”s likely that Etsy will hold another and I highly recommend you attend either in person or online.

One last thing: As great as it was to be out for the day in person with fellow Etsians, I kept thinking (and tell people) about the Eco Etsy Team. I”m very grateful to be a part of such an active team that supports each other and serves as such a rich resource. Go team!!”

In addition to what Katherine said above, I think both Lori and I were quite struck by the last video, the second of the day by April Bowles on Achieving your Creative Goals.
You can watch that video here. One of April”s biggest messages is summarized here by Lori S.

Less choices is sometimes better. If you have too much to choose from, decision
paralysis may set in. Focus on the things you want to accomplish – set goals
so you don’t get paralyzed by potential decisions. I think this is relevant when
you consider breadth of product in your shop as well. You want to ensure your
customers aren’t so overwhelmed that they can’t make a decision to buy.

I also really appreciated how she emphasized that you MUST “get clear with the money”, meaning that if you don”t understand what you need to make and what it takes to make that with your current mode of operation, you might be spending an awful lot of time on a dream that will never come true. She stated that it didn”t have to be heartbreaking to see that to make your financial goal you”d have to knit for more hours than are in a day, that instead that information should free you to look outside the box and figure out what you need to change and/or STOP doing in order to get where you want to be.
She also emphasized reducing your daily tasks to things that are manageable (as Lori S. said: “Never create more than a post it full of “to do’s” for one day” ) and setting crystal clear rules for yourself and sticking to them. There”s a handy worksheet for this talk, but it doesn”t appear to be online yet. (If anyone finds it, please post in comments!)

In short, like Katherine said, these talks were incredibly useful, even if many of them did cover similar territory. If you have time and a decent internet connection, I highly recommend watching them.

Thanks everyone!

Black #5 upcycled pillow from the

Bonterra Wine Cork Key Chain from OneShadeGreener

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  1. I so love summaries…thanks for this. April Bowles’ “Achieving Your Creative Goals” is a wonderful mix of pep talk, learning from a mentor, reality check, inspiration, and realistic to-do tasks. Definitely time well spent. Looking forward to tackling some of those tasks today.

  2. Wonderful piece. I’m hoping to watch some of the videos today or this weekend. It was kind of hard hearing them, the other day, with the scroll saw and sanders going. 😉

  3. I watched the symposium from my office and I was soaking in every word they were saying. The workshops were great and next year I’ll be there if they run it again.

  4. Thanks for sharing.
    I plan on watching these this weekend. 😀