I Have Been Cheating On You

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I feel like I have been cheating on you. I have been over on the Etsy website looking at a lot of the other shops and “Favouriting” items, following Shops, and having Convos with other shopkeepers. While doing this I have been spending less time reading (and writing) my favourite blogs.

When I started this blog I was not particularly concerned with being strategic about attracting readers, and just let it grow naturally. Now that I have been in the blogosphere for a little while, I am a bit more savvy about methods of attracting and connecting with other people, and having opened my own Etsy Store I am inclined to become a little more purposeful about drawing attention to what I am doing. I hope that doesn’t affect our relationship!

Etsy is a site that hosts shops for handmade and vintage items. It has a system where you can put little hearts on things that you like which flags them as favourites. You can also “favourite” or follow a whole store. If you want to chat with a store owner, you can send them a private message which is called a “Convo”.

Etsy has a lot of great educational resources for people opening and operating a shop which explain various aspects of the business. One thing that was very helpful was the explanation of how keywords in titles and the keywords are are used for searches. After learning about that I changed a lot of my product titles to be more diverse to attract people on a wider range of keywords.

Once I had a few products in place, I started searching on the keywords that I was using and bringing up other products that used that word. I then scrolled through the list and put a heart on anything that grabbed my attention. These were not necessarily products like mine, for example I searched on words like Paris, butterfly, umbrella and found lots of beautiful and interesting items. This approach was strategic to the extent that I was thinking that people who sell things using the same keywords might have an interest in that theme, and therefore like my cards. For example I have a Corgi dog in one of my cards, so I looked up Corgi and liked a few things that came up.

I hope this doesn’t seem like a cynical exercise. I am still getting the hang of how to make myself known and connect with others without resorting to insincere gestures and corny tricks. When it comes to the items I am giving a heart, I only do that if I do find it appealing, and in sympathy with my own tastes and interests. I have resolved the problem of differentiating what I like in general from what I really like by putting hearts on a lot of individual items to express a general appreciation, but only putting a heart on a whole shop if that product range is a very strong personal favourite.

A by-product of this exercise is that I have learned a lot about my own taste, and what appeals to me. Its like a psychological test where I am presented with multiple images in quick successions, and have to make an intuitive response that I like something. This has built up a “taste library” of objects which reflect my aesthetic sense. I learned that I like bright colour in general, particularly turquoise and any other blue, green or purple. I like interesting shapes and objects, like umbrellas, merry-go-rounds and butterflies. I like some retro graphics and vintage objects, especially Art Deco and Art Nouveau. A big surprise was that I like quirky illustrations of whispy girls with big eyes. I did not know that before!

The hardest thing for me to look at is other photography, because there is so much excellent work on Etsy that I feel rather overwhelmed. I don’t go out of my way to look at other photography as I am afraid I will crawl into a hole and stay there. However I decided not to exclude photography items from my random likes and have made a few nice connections with other photographers. I think I just need to be brave and stand my ground on my own work.

I regret that until the income starts to overtake the outgoings I can’t buy anything on Etsy. I wish that I could show other shop owners some support by purchasing their products, but spending on pretty things is not on the budget just now. I also feel a tension between the minimalist direction I have been heading in, and this new connection with the world of beautiful handmade items, and the desire to support small scale artists and creatives. It will be interesting to see how that ends up being resolved in the long term. Maybe I am not as minimalist as I thought I was.

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