{thoughts on shops} Stella saves the Day

Welcome back, lovelies! Today we’re visiting my fourth and final (thoughts on shops) for April: the gorgeous handmade jewelry store of Stella saves the day!
I just love this unique shop. It’s filled with gorgeous, one of a kind, limited edition, keepsake locket necklaces, charms and delightful earrings.

{ Great storytelling }
Right away, I love how owner and creator Jennifer is a wonderful story teller. She perfectly weaves the tale of her creative origins, the history behind her work and the right amount of personal reveal for my liking in her listings, shop profile and shop announcement. This inspired me to talk today about the connection between WORDS and our indie businesses: and how words connect us, inspire us, help us build our businesses and more!

First off, I think Jennifer’s beautiful story-telling is a perfect complement to her beautiful creations and shop, where Jennifer has created a business where each piece of jewelry has it’s own story and history.

Before we get to the details of our shops, and before we can tell others our story, I think we need to all THINK about our stories, our shops, and our creations. I’d like to encourage us each to take a step back (to help us leap forward!) and talk about a few key elements in building our businesses.

{ Defining our Brand: in words }
Thinking carefully about our Brand and doing some pre-work before we aim to promote our work is not just good business, it makes good sense. Otherwise, if we write listings, try to promote our work without fore-thought it’d be like writing a book without having brainstormed plot, characters, themes, etc.
I find this easy-to-use checklist from Sarah Stern’s excellent Etsy article: Creating a Brand Identity for your Shop a great place to start:

“Defining Your Brand”

Discovering your brand identity is a process of business-minded self-discovery.

Try asking yourself these questions:
1. What are your shop’s values?
2. What are the unique features and benefits of your products? Why should a customer choose you over another company?
3. Who is your target market? And what do your existing customers already think of your shop?
4. What do you want your customers to associate with your shop? What are the emotional, somewhat intangible attributes that your customers can experience and identify with?”

What a great place to start! When I work with clients on how to better build their indie-businesses, I’m a big believer that stepping back from the day to day grind and working to articulate the big picture: your dreams, your obstacles, your markets, your unique strengths,  are all VITAL to growing and running a successful business.
I suspect that Stella saves the day has answered many of these questions for herself, even if only in an abstract ways. I’d suggest writing these things down. Put those thoughts into words. Then use these words in our promotions, listings and more. I think it helps us as creative entrepreneurs to reflect, plan and grow.

 

{The dreaded T-word: target market}

Now listen, nicies. I see it every day: folks cringing at the very mention of that phrase: target market! EEEK!

What is a target market? How do I get one? How do I find mine?

Luckily, we have lots of helpful articles on the topic, especially for Etsy sellers!
First, try this great Eco Etsy article by Herbanluxe on target markets: how to find yours and how to reach them.

Next, I found this fabulous  article in the etsy forums very helpful.

I’d suggest that you spend a bit of time defining who your target market is, Stella saves the Day. Then work toward it.

I truly believe that pin-pointing and then finding our target market is a  big question we all have to ask ourselves as creators and small business owners. The time invested in THINKING about our target markets is IMPERATIVE! Set aside a couple of hours on a recurring basis to evaluate and re-evaluate your markets.   This way we know who our audience is for when we tell our shop stories. Once we’ve figured out who we need to reach, we need to work at HOW to reach them….

 

{ Connect with your target market in meaningful ways }

After you’ve pin-pointed your audience, we need to connect with them. In commerce terms, we call this part of the marketing mix strategy: product, price, place (distribution) and promotion.

We could talk for pages and pages about each of these essential elements, but for today I’d like to talk about just a wee bit. And in terms of Stella saves the day, I’d like to speak to her beautiful products and brand she’s created. It’s obvious that Jennifer has worked hard at defining her creative style and branded her products, image and photos well. Now that you’ve created a beautiful identifiable brand visually (this helps us to stand out in the crowd in terms of great photos) next we need to embrace our WORDS to help us spread the word!

{Etsy and target marketing }

Etsy itself sure knows it’s target markets. And Etsy works HARD at not just responding to trends but creating DEMAND for trends they want to forward.
And wanna know something crazy? It’s not a secret. It’s not a mysterious puzzle.

Every month, Etsy pre-launches the WORDS it’s looking to forward in their merchandising report for the month ahead! IMAGINE! They’re telling us (how wonderful!) in advance the words and key plotlines and characters for their monthly tales: what they’re gonna feature. They’re telling us what the trends are and setting us up for success! So do it! Read the merchandising reports! Really really read them! Write down KEY words that apply to your work and shop or that COULD apply!
Incorporate these words into your titles, listings and tags!
Do it!

This is an area I think Stella Saves the Day can really benefit from. I see almost no merchandizing or specialty key words in her titles or listings. For example, in May Etsy will be promoting, among many other trends: (and I quote) “symbols, personalitization, vintage, vintage carnival, lockets, secret hiding places, skeleton keys, “ and key events like “mother’s day, graduation gifts, weddings, proms”

HOLEY MOLEY! These are all trends that Stella saves the day can tap into! ! It’s like Etsy is saying to YOU: stella saves the day: we wanna feature you! All of these particular trends describe your fabulous works and and your overall shop brand! You just need to connect to them by adding these words to your listings and tags.

So tap into that, nicey!
Add these words to your titles, tags and listings. Promote toward a few of these timely seasonal trends along with your other target market promotions. Doing this, will, I believe, greatly increase your chances of being featured and folks finding your lovely lovely shop!

{Optimize your listing TAGS & functional words}

You have gorgeous works, Jennifer! And you tell a great story. But there’s room for tweaking in terms of the individual functional words in your shop.
I like a few of your tags, nicey, but I think there is room for improvement. First off, I’d like to see some colour words in there. I ALWAYS search for colour terms when I’m building blog posts and treasuries and handmade items to feature in articles. Some of your listings include descriptive colours, but I think ALL should include at least the main colour of the item (i.e gold or black) .

I’d suggest a TAG party. Ask a few eloquent friends to brainstorm with you words to describe each piece of your jewelry work.  Rank the words so that words occurring most often are included (this would mean, in my eyes, that more frequent words would be more searchable) Check your google analytics to see which key search words are bringing folks your way. If these aren’t the words YOU think of about your shop, then look at tags again.

Also, you have a totally unique, well-defined style, Jennifer! Many businesses work years to achieve this. But I don’t think your descriptive words are linking you to those attributes. For example, when I see your items I instantly think: steampunk, Old world symbols, Heart and crown, Nautical (anchor) , charm, victorian steampunk and yet I see almost no sign of these vital descriptive words in your tags. If I was trying to find your unique lockets, and I had a vision of one in my head, those words instantly come to mind. Especially in a gigantic sea of listings like jewelry listings:  I would guess that folks are likely searching more specifically to narrow their searches.
While we don’t want to be pigeon-holed as creative artists, we want to make sure folks searching for something specific can find us, too! Let’s help those potential buyers out!

{optimizing TITLES}

I’ve heard it argued many times that the single most important words we need to think about in our listings is our titles. Basically, this is because our titles are searchable key words. It’s how folks might find our listings in the big wide world of the internet (beyond Etsy) and within Etsy itself. Titles need to include VITAL descriptive words to help folks find our shops when they’re out looking for something in particular, and also when it’s a more general search.  Think about how folks will SEARCH for your item. What words will they use? What words would YOU use? Then incorporate these vital words into your titles (and then tags and listing descriptions)

Here’s a great video by Kim at Everything Etsy about SEO and keyword research. It talks about using Google Adwords to figure out what folks are searching for and how you can use this info to your best advantage in the your listings and shop.

Also, as I’ve learned:  put the important stuff FIRST in titles– we want our item titles to be relatively short but very DESCRIPTIVE – the first few words of the title are the MOST important – so move words like SALE or other info to the end. Put key search terms like, for example:  “necklace locket personalized “at the beginning. Use the Etsy listing tool of *google seo* to make sure the words in your title are being used to their optimum potential. We want as many folks to find you as they can! Let’s communicate with them thru these vital words!

{ words in LISTINGS}

I really love so much in your listings, Jennifer.
Just a few tweaks: In some listings, I see, right near the top, a great story-telling line. THE HOOK, we’ll call it in literary terms.  It brings folks in and welcomes us! Love it! But not all of your listings are consistent with this. So, in each listing, I’d kinda like to see that trademark Stella Saves the Day story telling at work. I think just an opening line about something nostalgic to hook us as the visitors, followed by your lovely product details. We don’t want too much non-detailed info in our listings, but a little creative prose at the beginning can go a long way to make our listings engaging and part of the overall story arch of our creative shops! Let’s handmake our listings in a creative way to match our creative creations. I think it’ll go a long way to forwarding our handmade mission statements.

{ adding a dash of *Value added* }

On the topic of listings, I noticed that in your shop announcement that you’ve mentioned that each locket is handmade by a design house in a neighbouring state. This, to me, is something economists & financial folks like to call *value added *: the extra features of an item that add benefit but not expense.

Finding ways we can incorporate *value added* info into our products and what we offer is brilliant business. For example:  folks that value handmade would see a comparable item that is either a) factory mass-produced or b) small-scale handmade as having the latter production as the most valuable. And eco friendly is not just great ethically, but would be considered value added to a customer looking to buy a jewelry that is also into sustainable shopping.

I’d like to see that value added info in each listing, because unfortunately we can’t bet on folks reading the shop announcement. But if I was trying to decide between your item and another shop’s work and read that  not only are your lockets created by you, but also handmade nearby, too, I think that would be the delightful tipping point to me choosing your shop.

And speaking of eco friendly: I love reading in the listings how your item is eco-friendly: how it’s made; what it’s made of; how it’s wrapped in thoughtful packaging. Good stuff!

{expanding your reach: TAP into new markets & new listing categories}

Once you know your target market, you can focus on events, ideas, occasions, andethics important to your market.
For example, I think Stella saves the day could focus on the the bridal market and the graduation market this season to expand her sales.
As we all know, weddings are big business and a great opportunity for creative selling. Find out where and how brides shop online. Do some research.
VARY your listing categories. This allows searchers who are looking for something specific beyond the overwhelming category of Jewelry to be exposed to your beautiful work. Try listing a few items in Weddings. Try appealing to Brides by offering sets of custom bridesmaids gifts.  {and it’s a really great tiered marketing idea, too!} Contact a few bridal blogs, magazines, design sites with your gorgeous work. There is a niche market waiting for you, sweetie! Discover it!

Tap into other markets: lockets as keepsake graduation gifts with a special symbol inside from parents to their child (the graduation market is a biggie) Generate ideas FOR YOUR POTENTIAL customers on how they need your item, who they can gift it to, etc! Include these ideas when you’re choosing where to spend your advertising ideas.

 

{Spreading the word: Your blog as an effective communication vehicle.}
From Jennifer’s shop links I can see she also has a business blog. Great! I’d suggest an even stronger online presence, beyond Etsy, too! Your blog is lovely. Jennifer.It showcases her work and promises to delve into the world around her jewelry: So I’d love to see more of that on the blog. I think effective creative blogs by artists (who want to forward their products but more important, ideas related to their products) showcases new items they’ve made (yes!) but also tells a story beyond the creations. You’re a gifted story-teller, Jennifer. I’d love to see more of it on your blog. I think it would bring more folks your way and therefore bring more folks to your beautiful work, too!

Also, I’d recommend JOINING some other teams. And get involved. You’ve got eco friendly covered. (YAY!) Now.. what else appeals to you? Antique reworking?  Jewelry in general?  Join groups beyond how to build a business that share like-minded ideals (like eco-etsy! Yay!) like-minded attributes (jewelry artists, antique reworkers, your other interests) Building our communities online is an excellent resource. It gives us support, camaraderie and opens up our work for a whole new group to see and promote and share.

BEYOND WORDS

{ Standing out in a crowd }
Now I don’t know much about selling jewelry, but from an outsiders point of view I think there are a few givens: 1) the jewelry market is always in demand and there is more jewelry both listed and sold on Etsy then any other category. (this can be good news for sellers!) and 2) there are more jewelry listings then any other kind of handmade work online. So jewelry artists really need to know how to stand out in a crowd! And Stella Saves The Day does!

We’ve talked before about how to stand out in a crowd online and build your brand. So beyond words,  lets talk about what folks SEE first in our shops: Our photos.

A review of some helpful tips: –> Create a great cohesive colour palette for your shop
While each piece of beautiful jewelry is unique, Jennifer has brilliantly set an overall colour palette for the shop of rich brassy golds, black, off whites and highlights of reds and blue. This aptly links together each piece as a whole collection: a look we’ve talked about before as a key to creating shop consistency and key to building a recognizable brand. Bravo!

Cohesive photos:
While there are various backgrounds at play in the product shots, Jennifer sticks to cohesive colour palette for her photo backgrounds, too. This means that my eye isn’t distracted like it might usually be! I think it’s an effective example of how if you have a certain STYLE of handmade work (Stella saves the day sure does! Excellent!) you have some wiggle room in terms of simple backgrounds, so long as they complement that colour palette and best showcase your work! Well done!

Tweaking exposure and contrast in photos
I would suggest tweaking the exposure on a few of the photos that read quite dark to me, Jennifer. It’s a quick photo editing fix that allows for more opportunity for being featured, AND a consistent exposure throughout the shop adds professionalism and continuity, too!

about the 5 listing photos: Some of the listings do a great job of utilizing all 5 photos to their best potential. I love, for example, this listing for a secret heat locket that shows the detailed close up, a photo of the locket closed, a photo of the attachments and then of the possible thread colours for the custom embroidery! Great stuff!

I would add that I’d like to see this item displayed on a mannequin bust or model. I see from some of your other listings that you have a  gorgeous patina-ed mannequin available. Whenever I buy jewelry online I like to see it in all it’s glory displayed in action if possible. It helps me get a better visual sense of size, how it looks, etc. This is usually a good rule of thumb for ALL of our businesses.

…..

Alrighty! So there we have it. A few ideas and great inspirations from the wonderful Stella Saves the Day shop!

It’s been a pleasure!

Gosh! What a great team we have!

This post was written by

rikrak – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.

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Comments

  1. Great ideas as always! I may have missed it, but it would be nice to have a direct link to the shop being featured in the article.

  2. This is such a great feature! I am learning things to work on in my shop as
    well. Danielle should put this in her reading list! Thanks for the time and thought
    you put into critiquing this for all of us to learn and benefit from!!

  3. thanks so much for your kind words, sweeties! it was a pleasure visiting your beautiful shop, jennifer! you’re so very very talented!

  4. You offer some great tips for other Etsy sellers. Before reading this article, I’d already seen Jennifer’s shop and I love her work. Her jewellery is so beautifully made. As you say, she tells a great story too.

  5. Jennifer Shingelo says:

    Oh Krystal… You are amazing! Thank you so very much for your brilliant ideas and thoughtful tweaks for my shop. This helps me tremendously and I will work on all the things that you suggest. I can’t thank you enough! Happy Spring!