A new series called Thoughts on Shops kicks off today!
Every Thursday we will take a peek at a different team member’s shop and do some public (these are some brave shopkeepers, folks) critiquing and tweaking and try to offer them some tips to help them sell more of their makings.
For this week’s shop tweaks we are going to focus on visuals.
The “B” Word – Some people hate the word branding because it conjures up images of large corporations and things that may not feel like they have any connection to us as people and as artists and crafters, but taking a few minutes to define our work – and when we work from our hearts this is alot easier to do –
(I know, we can’t be defined and put in a box, but our shop is kind of a box, so trust me for a minute)
can help us create a more consistent visual for our Etsy shops. If we were opening a brick and mortar store right now with our work how would we explain it to people? What would it look like?
1. Define the best thing you offer
Take some time and think about defining the single best thing you do. This could be what comes to mind when people think of your work or what makes you unique could be the reason you create your art or the life experiences you’ve had which have shaped you as a crafter. There is no right or wrong answer.
2. Create a key phrase built around this best thing that you offer
Work towards something that is very short and to the point.
3. Create imagery to reinforce the message visually
Having a visual identity to go along with your branding statement is vital.
Opening an Etsy shop and then thinking, now I need a banner, is not what you should be thinking if you want to stand out and sell your makings.
Before you need a banner you need an identity and then you need a kick-butt banner and kick-butt pictures that reinforce that identity.
RemaineWicked is a new Etsy shop owned by the very talented Rain. Rain is a Maine designer and maker crafting children and adult clothing and much more from old materials. She is passionate about creating new lovable things from discarded, unloved or outdated items. Rain has crafted a wonderful profile and shop story that drew me right into her world!
Let’s take a look at how Rain might answer those branding questions – 1. Define The Best Thing You Offer – Well, Rain clearly has a passion for sending repurposed materials back out into the world in new and unique ways. Her mother is an upholsteress and Rain’s first job was helping her mother tear apart furniture. Her history and life experiences have given her a unique insight into giving new life to old things and this experience and passion is definitely her “best thing”.
2. Create a Key Phrase – Rain’s shop tagline is – reincarnated clothing and accessories (this tag is also very important to SEO or search engine optimization) I would probably tweak this to – Repurposed Clothing and Accessories Handmade in Maine
(reincarnated clothing is not a term many people will be searching for on Google, but I do love what this word implies about ‘new life’ and I’m sure Rain does, too, so she should definitely use it somewhere else, maybe just not here where it is so important to Google – also I chose the word ‘repurposed’ over the word ‘upcycled’ because Google pulled almost twice as many items for upcycled clothing as repurposed clothing, so she should rank higher eventually)
3. Create imagery to reinforce her message visually – OK, now here we need to do a little work.
Rain’s AVATAR – I love Rain’s avatar (I like to see who I am buying from and I think other people do, too) – it is a nice warm, friendly picture and her target market – moms concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases – will see themselves in Rain – it is perfect .
Rain’s BANNER – Now if we think about Rain’s best thing – her passion for giving new life to old things – I am not seeing this in her banner. If we think about her tagline – repurposed clothing and accessories handmade in Maine – I am not seeing that in her banner either, so basically Rain needs a new banner.
The biggest problems with banners on Etsy is when they do not represent the work for sale in the shop, include boring stock imagery or use pictures that have been poorly stretched into banner size, so she wants to avoid these things.
I would try to incorporate Maine (old farmhouse, etc) and Rain’s work and process into her banner in a visually appealing way and then her shop name in one strong font Remaine Wicked and then her tag – this would be a good place to work in the word “reincarnated” if she wants to use it (maybe Reincarnating Wearables Since 1995 (whenever?) in a second lesser font.
Rain’s PICTURES – Rain’s pictures are clear and bright, but I think her backgrounds are just too busy. Because the very nature of her upcycled, pieced clothing gives it an eclectic, textured look – it is important that her backgrounds be warm (think cozy Maine cabin) and simple (no distracting lines and background color changes) – we want her work to stand out.
I would also try to get some different angles on her first photos so they might have more visual impact.
Photographing item after item from the same full-on viewpoint can be less interesting than changing things up a bit. Don’t hesitate to get really close to your subject.
Clothing makers really need live models. I understand this can be a challenge, but the impact is immediate. She wouldn’t need a live model for every piece of clothing since her pieces are one of a kind, but a few more great model shots throughout can be dramatic. People like to see clothes being worn.
(I think everything being sold on Etsy should be shown in use – worn, hanging on a wall, sitting on a shelf, etc – how will this purchase fit into the buyer’s life – how will it change their life – why should they buy it?)
Long-time seller Sewn Natural does a great job with simple cool backgrounds that do not fight for the customer’s attention with her work and with integrating model shots.
Rain could do an Etsy search for her items- do they stand out on a page with other similar items? Take a close look at the photos that do stand out (Rain’s customers are not necessarily looking for upcycled clothing, so she is competing for the customers’ eye and attention with all clothing makers). She could also make a treasury with some great clothing photos and see how her pictures fit in and how they don’t. This may get her thinking in a new direction.
Lazzia.com is a site that allows users to test an image’s clickability – since Rain has a blog she could set up a little test run if she decides to retake some of her photos.
I think photos with simple warm backgrounds, interesting angles on first photos and model shots for other first photos, more empty space to balance her eclectic textures and watching where her photos cut (cutting items off in photos in only one place) the entire item does not have to visible in the first photo, sometimes it is better if it isn’t- but the subject of the photo should only be cut off in one direction – we also need to check out the effect of Etsy’s thumbnail cropping on photos that are not square – if we cut the head off the model purposefully our eye moves to her dress – if we cut off the dress, too- our eye doesn’t know where to go and the picture just looks off.
Here is a link to some great photography tips from the Etsy blog.
Of course, this is all a process and none of us gets all of this right and ‘getting it right’ isn’t our goal anyway. But, if Rain stays true to the spirit of her passion for her reincarnated makings and gives her visuals some tweaking she will certainly increase her shop sales over time!
NOTE – Adding measurements to the growable children’s clothing items and working her SEO optimized tagline into her item descriptions will help Rain, too!
Next week we will take a look at a team member’s handcrafted bath and body works shop!
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