{Thoughts on Shops} Some Tweaks for Betsy and Bess

For this week’s Thoughts on Shops we visit upcycled purse and accessories shop – Betsy and Bess.

Betsy and Bess is an Etsy shop owned and operated by maker Elizabeth in Tennessee. Her shop profile begins:

I am a poet,
A daughter, a sister, a wife.
An artist,
A sewist, a woman, a life.

(totally perfect – we are immediately drawn into Elizabeth’s world – she doesn’t write very much in her profile – but it totally works for her – it leaves me wanting to know more about her – if she had a blog link I would have been checking it out immediately)

Betsy and Bess has lots of great model shots, her backgrounds are not so busy that we are distracted from what she is selling – her banner is good – you can’t go wrong with great product shots in your banner and she is smart enough to use solid backgrounds for the model shots she uses here. I immediately know what she is selling and get a great sense of her best thing – upcycled, handmade ooak handbags, that are well-made.

(I think the care and skill we show with our shop photos and layout sends a subliminal message to the buyer about the care and skill we take with our makings)

Her shop name (this is a good reason to have a unique name for your Etsy shop – I wish I knew this when I set up shops here) and her shop tagline are both very searchable and have garnered Betsy and Bess a top google search spot for “upcycled purses” within just a few months!

(Click on the images to enlarge)

So we see a lot of things that Betsy and Bess is doing right- now what can she do to increase her sales numbers.

I would do enough re-listing to keep something within the first few pages of a search for her most important search terms – it looks like to stay within the first 5 or so pages for upcycled purse, upcycled bag, upcycled clutch – she will need to re-list daily in whatever category she is focusing on.  She should also take advantage of the rearrange your shop feature to keep her first 3 items representing her complete line (these are what show up in people’s favorites) – clutch, shoulder bag, messenger bag, etc. I would also update her featured items weekly.

She could try out setting up automatic re- lists at peak times for her shop categories with Uncle Gravy’s Renewing Agent, too. I haven’t used this yet, but have heard good things from sellers who have about being able to find peak periods for re-listing (I know from my own experience being featured seller at a time when the front page wasn’t as busy as it is now – I was on the front page for 48 hours straight, mid-week – that my peak times for viewers and shoppers were noon EST, around 3 pm EST – maybe because this is noon PST – and nights – not as scientific as the renewing agent should be).

Betsy and Bess has a lot of hearts for a fairly new shop (I didn’t really start to sell regularly until I had about 1000 hearts).  Adding new items at least weekly will help with this. If she could get up to 3 full pages of makings she will certainly see an increase in views and sales. I am not sure she should have so many handbags from other sellers in her favorite items  – I might add a few pages of things that are not in direct competition with her makings (I realize Elizabeth has a passion for handbags and in particular vintage handbags and I want her to be able to mark things she loves, but with such a focus on our shop profile these days, I would just favorite some more non-handbag items so the handbags don’t stand out as much). This is not selfish thinking in any way – we work too hard to get that customer into our shop.

I really love her raincoat/trench coat upcycled bags and would be tempted to advise a laser-beam focus on upcycling raincoats and branding her shop around that.  Upcycled sellers may need to be doing 1 of 2 things with their makings to create a distinctive brand – either use the same material and work with that (which is what has worked for me and I think the easiest way to brand) or use various materials and create one thing with them in different ways. It is very hard to create a distinctive brand using various materials and making various things with them. It is definitely not impossible though.

Betsy and Bess Upcycled Purses and Accessories

One way is to create an identifying, unique look with your photos and packaging. Sellers that do best on Etsy often have a very distinctive look – you see their items and you know immediately that it is them. This is difficult for ooak sellers and ooak upcycled sellers in particular- and something that Elizabeth will probably continue to work on – especially with her photos (an example would be  Moop‘s early plant photos which were highly branding and memorable) – she may need to find something that is uniquely her own with this. There are sellers that also stand out for the work they do beyond their shop and that draws people to them also – there are likely lots of ways for handbag sellers to do things to stand out- for example supporting a charitable cause, that will be  a win-win for both and help their shop stand out from the competition (women getting back on their feet and working again comes to mind as a cause that needs a handbag maker) .

Sellers cannot make a living on one venue such as Etsy – we will all probably need to do shows, wholesale, etc to make our businesses self-supporting. She may already be doing some of these things and they can definitely help her to expand her brand.

She should also be submitting her work to handmade, indie and design blogs. There is a great post at Design Sponge on the best ways to do this (note – we should all have our shops together, up to date and looking amazing before approaching bloggers – we only get one chance to make a great first impresion folks). I would start with a blog that features items for Betsy and Bess’s target market and submit to them and look at the other blogs they feature and move on to them if she doesn’t hear back from the first blog within a couple weeks (don’t email a bunch of blogs all at once because they want their posts to be original and they don’t want to post content other blogs are posting at the same time).

Advertising her shop can also work for her. I would suggest looking first at a blog she likes to read and that her target customer would like to read and then check the blogs that this blog links to, etc. She will need a great banner ad in different sizes for this. Blog advertising is not always something that generates direct sales, but it does enable a seller to get their brand noticed and remembered. Some blogs also do write-ups for their advertisers and this is not only great publicity for sales, but the links created for SEO are really priceless.

Double Click Ad Planner by Google is an awesome tool for planning some strategic advertising. It’s free and based on the incredible amounts of information Google collects from us daily, probably very accurate. We can use it in 2 ways: 1. by looking up a site’s url and even better 2. we can search by audience where we can choose our own parameters. I love to enter a site where I might want to sell my work or buy advertising, etc and then click around on the other sites the same people visited.

Of course, this is all a process and there is no ‘end zone’- we are never “finished” (and some days that thought makes me tired but most days it makes me excited that we always get to do things again in new ways). My thoughts here are just that- my thoughts, nothing more- sometimes it is good to have a fresh set of eyes looking at things- but we all need to work from our own hearts doing what we love! Elizabeth’s work and shop is very beautiful and it will be up to her if she decides to focus her brand a bit tighter first or jump into off-Etsy promotion to drive traffic to Betsy and Bess either way she is off to an excellent start and will surely continue to expand!

Next week  – we will peek and tweak a beautiful sustainable jewelry shop!

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  1. Elena - SimplyNu says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Another stellar post with lots of very valuable tips, Cat! And thanks for volunteering your shop for scrutiny, Elizabeth. Your shop is off to an amazing start!

  3. Thanks for suggesting these tweaks for my shop! Off to start working/tweaking!

  4. Another fabulous rethinking post Cat…I too am learning so much!

  5. So many great tips. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve got a lot of work to do on my shop and I’ve added a number of the things you mentioned to my to do list. Thanks so much!

  6. Thankyou for the great advice! And I say, ditto what Darryl said! Terrifying…

  7. Another absolutely wonderful post! I’m learning so much from these. :)

  8. Ok Jenn! I will add you in, too! xo

  9. this is filled with really wonderful tips ..thank you so much for this series … i need all the help I can get , I really appreciate the time and effort put into these! Go Betsy and Bess!!

  10. Thanks SOO much for this, Cat! I am going through my shop with a fine-toothed comb now based on what you said! I would love to get put on the waiting list for this as well.
    Happy Spring!

  11. Yes Darryl- I will add you to the list! xo

    • Darryl Black says:

      Thank you sooo much…though I must admit I’m quaking in my boots now!!!LOL nervously!x

  12. Lori at One Shade Greener says:

    Another great “thoughts on shops”! I love how we are all able to learn and think differently about our own shops even when we aren’t the one up for the review. Keep the great feedback coming!! :)

  13. Darryl Black says:

    I am loving these peek and tweek posts – so much useful information – Terrifyingly I would love also to be considered for one of these.Can I put myself on a waiting list or something?
    Thank you so much