Etsy Success Symposium 2012

The 2nd Annual Etsy Success Symposium 2012 was held on March 30, 2012 at Etsy’s Headquarters, NYC.

A handful of lucky Etsy sellers got to attend this awesome symposium and I was ecstatic to be one of them. I paid $50 for breakfast, a full day of workshops, one-on-one consultation with one of many Etsy business experts (from Etsy and outside Etsy), and lunch. Oh, and networking with other Etsy sellers and Etsy admin were added bonus.

Took this photo of the Brooklyn Bridge from middle of an intersection. I don't recommend you do this if you ever get to visit NYC.

If all the knowledge I soaked up wasn’t enough, meeting energetic, informative, and a fun silly bunch of Etsy Admins was definitely worth trudging down to Brooklyn during rush hour. Did I mention they are e.n.e.r.g.e.t.i.c. and F.U.N.??? And friendly?

Between you and me, I don’t think they take their job too seriously. I think their real job is to have serious fun and doing all that fancy foot work to help sellers is just a “front”. I sure wouldn’t get anything done if I had that much fun. Seriously.

But I take my hat off to them; they did an awesome job in putting together a day filled with chock full of info and still managed to leave us with some energy left because I was eager to revamp my whole shop when I reopen.

So, let me tell you what I learned at Etsy Success Symposium. Obviously, you can download the workbook here and watch the videos here  but here are my personal take aways.

Holy Nicky!! The genius who put the whole symposium together!

Etsy Success Symposium 2012

The symposium started with this uber informative session on “what” Etsy is looking for when they curate your items. We all know the obvious: amazing photos, proper tagging, right themes, and of course, quality goods. But I learned specific ideas on how to improve our shops.

Get Featured: How to Grab the Eye of a Curator

  • Fit a Seasonal Story – i.e. Season, Holiday, Colors, Press, Styles and Trends
  • ‘WOW’ Factor – photograph your fascinating piece that makes a statement for your shop. What is your ‘statement’ item?
  • Engagement – activity feed, favorites, treasuries, circles, intriguing comments on Etsy blog posts
  • Pinterest – cultivate others – pin other people’s items
  • Photography – use seasonality to reshoot your photos. Bring your aesthetics and brands to your photographs.
  • Size & background of your photo – can you “see” your item in ‘search’?
  • High Resolution – curating the content needs big photograph, as in, Etsy blog. So make your photograph with high resolution and make it a good size.
  • On Search – think “literal” but never forget styles and trends. Use literal words like ‘floral’, ‘rustic’, ‘table’, ‘furniture’. Flowery language doesn’t work since an average person might not think along the same line.
  • Use interesting backdrop and piece but state specifically what it is in the title. – “Series No. 2” is NOT literal.
  • Branding – think about a broader picture and idea but be cohesive so anyone can tell that it’s your shop. Create a boutique feeling. Also, having varied prices can be a reason to be a featured seller.
  • What is your story? – what makes you differ? What is your story behind your products? Do you have an interesting “Profile”? If your profile is missing, a curator might wonder, is it a business or a hobby? Fill out your location too. How serious are you about your business? Are you engaging outside Etsy? Are you blogging? Are you connected with lots of followers? Write all those in your profile.
  • Tagging – a great exercise you can do to see if you are tagging correctly. Show your shop to your friend or a family member. Have her/him look at your shop. Then, open the home page and have them ‘find’ your item on search. <—This was such a great idea!! 
  • IMPT: OOAK is NOT good for Press since you can’t duplicate your items. Made to Order is OK.
  • In the order of importance for Social Media Importance: 1) Blog (most important), 2) Facebook/Twitter, 3) Pinterest
  • You’ll hear ‘yours truly’ asking a specific question in this video how to tag “eco-friendly” items since this question comes up a lot in our team. While Emily stated that she looks at every possible combination of terms – eco-friendly, ecofriendly, eco, green – when it comes to eco-friendly items, I am still waiting to hear the specific answer from the Etsy geek squad on whether to use the “hyphen” or not for general search-ability on Etsy.

UPDATE: The engineers sent me a message that hyphens DO NOT matter. Ecofriendly = eco-friendly. But don’t use “-” in front of any word as it will negate the word. “-white” will delete the word “white” THANK YOU ETSY GEEK SQUAD! If you have have any questions about algorithms or any programming questions, e-mail or follow @codeascraft on Twitter and ask away. They actually get back to you!! 

Get Noticed: How to Romance Blog and Magazine Editors

  • Twitter. Need I say more?
  • Establish a relationship with the editors and curators via social media before sending your e-mail.
  • Have a catchy subject line. Give detailed email. Send Press Release, if you have it.
  • Don’t send your product or sample until it’s requested.
  • Give magazines 3 months lead time. So think 3 months ahead if you are pitching your product for a magazine spread.
  • Have great, high resolution, and large size images ready but don’t clog up their inbox with a huge file size in your first e-mail. 2000px and 300 dpi is perfect.
  • If you don’t get a response, try again with a difference subject line or wording. Don’t badger them.
  • Just in case you DO get featured, have enough supplies, printer ink, or items to sell. Merriweathercouncil was featured on the Today show 13 days before Christmas and she went through hell trying to keep up with 80 custom orders that she received immediately after her items were shown on the program.
  • In the order of preference. Made to Order > OOAK > Vintage. In other words, magazines LOVE unique Made-to-Order items. OOAK can’t be reproduced so they are not too keen on them.

"We go through life collecting experiences in order to have interesting stories to tell."

Get Storied: Behind every product is a story

  • Past/Back story is present story.
  • People do not buy the product, brand, or object. They buy the story that’s attached to it.
  • Read J Peterman’s catalog some great examples of product stories.
  • Think of these five points when writing your product story:
  1. Origins – The circumstances makes your story. The back story defines you. Brand is as strong as your integrity. Be dramatic, tell a whimsical tale but don’t misrepresent.
  2. Ingredients – transparency, authenticity, what does ingredients symbolize. i.e. Footprint Chronicle of Patagonia.
  3. Formulations – how to, process, tools, how are your things made.
  4. Experiences – “we go through life collecting experiences in order to have interesting stories to tell” It’s part of what they are buying from you.
  5. Identity – You get to create their buying experiences from your shop.
  • Story telling cheat sheet: 5 questions your can answer regarding any objects you are selling:
  1. Where is it from?
  2. When was it created?
  3. How was it made?
  4. What does it do?
  5. Why is this meaningful, special or rare?

Get Pinned: Build Your Community and Brand with Pinterest

  • Factoid: Pinterest Founder, Ben Silbermann pinned its first item on Pinterest from Etsy! Did you know that? I didn’t.
  • There are 14 million items on Etsy on Pinterest, and growing!
  • Etsy is #1 brand on Pinterest. Did you know that? I didn’t either.
  • Prime pinning time is M-F between 4-11PM EST.
  • You can pin your own items but sporadically. Make comments on other people’s pins. Engage with others.
  • Copyright issue is still unfolding. Not to worry too much but if you are uncomfortable, don’t pin.

Get Out There: Using Craft and Wholesale Shows to Support Your Small Business

  •  How ‘handmade’ is it? Do you make everything  yourself or do you buy applies and put them together? i.e. jewelry
  • Sale-ability – is the price realistic?
  • Inventive usage of material. Reuse, Reinvent. (YAY!)
  • Is it unique?
  • Excitability and appeal
  • Upload your craft fair photo gallery and submit it with the application
  • Craft Show fees are “cost” of doing business. Can’t view the amount of “direct sales” vs. Cost of Craft Fair fee
  • Testing Ground for your product
  • Networking opportunity with Press and buyers.
  • Increase chances of getting ‘found’.
  • If display doesn’t “work”, change it during the show. Put the most important stuff in the front 2 ft of your booth.

"Heymichelle" and "Daniellexo" having too much fun at their job.

Get Found: Conquering Searches on Etsy and the Web

  • Have a lot of items in your shop ~200. More entry points to your shop by having more items in your shop.
  • Key words and phrases. Use the search drop down menu. Use materials and styles and put in some words in the search and see what shows up.
  • Think like a buyer and come up with terms buyers might use.
  • Look at your descriptions for key words.
  • Ask other people what they think. Ask family and Etsy Teams
  • Important keywords should be in all the items.
  • Important words should be in the first line of your title, like Google’s rule about having words in the beginning of the title.
  • Use important key words but mix them up with different words. Color style, texture, pattern, and size (blogorama)
  • Make clickable titles. Line of text with a phrase and not just words.
  • Make photos clickable. Search and see what other items on that page look like and see if yours is clickable. Make a treasury and include your photo and see if yours standout.
  • Be consistent. Make your shop be consistent. You don’t have to be ‘out there’. Just be consistent for ‘branding’
  • Use your shop stat and see what keywords are working.
  • Ask your team if your keywords are ‘working’.
  • DON’T use “Vintage Category” for re-designed vintage jewelry. Use ‘vintage’ as a keyword tag.
  • Go slow. Change keywords little at a time. Do five a week and see your shop stat.

Final Thoughts

Finally, I got to meet our team member Elena of SimplyNu! Yay! We had a great lunch together with other awesome sellers (Met Snackaby at lunch and she has applied to join our team! Yay!) and a couple of Etsy Admins, including Natalie who listened to my myriad of suggestions over a vegetarian fair.

On a “green” note, the first image of the Pegasus above is from a fabric envelope that held the sponsor goodies – very minimal. No plastic bag. (Score!) Coffee spoons and lunch boxes were compostable, there were about equal number of vegetarian fair at lunch as non-vegetarian, and we signed online disclaimer forms and not on paper.

All in all, it was an amazing experience to be in a room full of empowering Etsy sellers who want to make their shops successful full-time businesses, like we all are.

(On a personal note, if my college classes were this much fun, I would have learned a boat load of stuff and became a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. And that would NOT have been fun. And I would have never ended up here, leading Team Eco Etsy!!)

Hope this recap was helpful. I strongly suggest you watch the videos as they answered some questions that I might not have covered here. I hope you’ll get to attend at least one of these symposiums in the future as the feeling you get afterwards, besides the inkling to retake all the photos in your shop, is indescribable.

Speaking of photos, sorry these photos didn’t come out sharp as I was hastily taking them with my phone as I forgot to bring my camera! 

Now go get successful!

ecokaren (Here is my “unofficial” version of the symposium.)

2,247 total views, 2 views today

About Karen Lee

As a former Captain of Eco Etsy and one of the current leaders for the team, I am really excited to be hanging out with like minded team members to share ideas on how we can leave the least amount of carbon footprint.

I sell eco-handmade and vintage goodies in my Etsy shop and consult small business owners on Karen Lee Consulting where popular Etsy Starter Kit is sold. And as a retired Chiropractor, I share natural health news and green tips on Check out my past posts on Eco Etsy!


  1. great re – cap – thanks for posting all this useful stuff. I only managed to dip in and out of the live stream so this is fantastic. Much appreciated!

  2. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for this summation. We appreciate all the work that you put into it. For those of us who were not free to participate on that day, this is a great resource.


    • That was my intention! Being that I live close, I wanted to take good notes so those sellers who couldn’t attend can read the bullets. Besides, I felt like I was in college again, being the note taker!

      Glad it’s helpful!

  3. Thank you, Karen, for taking the time to consolidate so much information so well! I am looking forward to watching each of the videos and learning more so I can continue to take my shop to the next level.

    • Mary Ellen,
      You are welcome! I learned a lot just from taking notes to write this post. I don’t think I wold have paid as much as attention as I did, if I didn’t have to. :)

      Glad it’s helpful.

  4. So glad you survived the intersection! Great recap! It’s nice to feel like we are getting some info first hand. Video? Did I miss something? I’m looking for a link but don’t see it. I would really love to see that.

    ps. I didn’t know you had such an artistic photo-eye, Karen. The Brooklyn bridge photo is awesome. Makes me want to be there …well near there, like maybe on the sidewalk.

  5. I had the live stream on all day while I tended to other things, mainly my 2 year old, so I caught bits and pieces. I was only able to actually sit and attend to the Pinterest session which I didn’t get much from to be honest. You took awesome notes though and having the entire symposium listed in bullets is enormously helpful. I’m not sure I could have done that even if I’d full attended. Thank you so much for the recap! I really think it will help give our entire team a boost, some inspriation and direction!

    • Hey Melissa,

      I was taking notes, knowing that I was going to write this, which helped me to focus more! I hope it’ll be helpful to those who couldn’t watch the video. :)

  6. Awesome recap and reminder of ways to tighten up ship & get with the increase in sales! Thanks for attending & putting this together for all of us to benefit from. After the holiday I’ll have more free time & fully intend to watch the video. Thanks Karen, you rule :-)

  7. Thanks so much, this is a great summary!
    I did listen but I didn’t really take notes so this is great!