Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mind Your Own Business

Swimmy the Fish swims into deep water...
Remember "Swimmy"? Don't worry. No one else does either.
When I saw the title of a recent "I hate Etsy and here's why" themed blog post, I was so offended I almost didn't read any further. What's more, when the author was called out in the comments on the use of the particularly inappropriate word in her title, she vehemently defended her choice, siting semantics as her only defense...not that anyone should be surprised about that. (I'm choosing not to link to it out of respect to anyone who has endured violent trauma, but if you're curious, a Google search will help you find it quite easily)

I went ahead and read through the article hoping to see some sort of vital insight or new point of view to justify the use of such a shocking title. But unfortunately it just came off to me like sour grapes from a citizen of the privileged masses that seem to think that just because they spend time on something, they are somehow deserving of their every selfish desire to come to fruition.

"What about ME? What about MY shop? MY business?" That's pretty much all I hear from the people who are taking the time to complain about these things. Oh sure, some couch it between catch phrases like, "save our community" and "handmade is better" and "corporate greed", to make them seem like they have some altruistic intent. And that does get them followers. Good for them.

But when these same voices are asked, "So if you're quitting Etsy, where will you go?" and they respond with, "I haven't found another site that can touch Etsy's reach so I have to stay." Really? Hm. No. You don't have to do anything. Why not say, "I'm working hard to improve and grow my business every day so I can be less dependent on platforms I can't control." Why not, indeed.

While I agree that the low priced import sellers have increased the atmosphere of bargain shopping on Etsy, all of that really started with hobbyist sellers who are "just trying to make money for supplies" without a care for making a true profit or growing a business. There was a lot of complaining about that in the early days too. But eventually those sellers get tired of working so hard for nothing or they figure out how to run a business and make the move toward having a profitable shop. Lessons learned.

But does any of it truly matter? I find that most new Etsy customers simply don't care all that much about where their stuff is coming from. Sure, they should care. It would be nice if they did care. But they just don't. The bargain shoppers buy the cheap stuff and the quality shoppers buy based on reviews, photography, and listing copy. In the end, everyone (including myself), does a bit of both.

Change is hard, but the last time sellers were promised a "handmade marketplace" was just before the returned founder got canned for the second time in 2011. Like I said in a previous post: Etsy jumped the handmade shark years ago, and anyone who thinks they'll somehow wake up one day to see the error of their ways and go back to their founding ethics is living in a fantasy world. It just ain't gon' happen.

In the meantime, the truly successful Etsy seller is out there just doing their thing, promoting their business, using Etsy like the business tool it is, diversifying their online presence, building their following, and paying attention to what's going on but ultimately choosing not participate in the hype. You know, like a real business owner that takes responsibility for their own decisions and finds it distasteful to credit or blame another business for the rise and fall of their success.

We can scream and fight and argue and disagree and blame and point fingers all we like. But to what end? Businesses have to grow. Investors must be paid. And Handmade just isn't an inherently scalable business model. Yes, yes, it can be done, but only by the most determined of the bunch...and they're not getting involved in the debate. While we may not like it, they simply don't have the time because they're busy doing what is best for their business. Just like Etsy.

Just like you?

Huge thanks to the ever-awesome Betsy Greer for asking the questions that prompted me to share my honest truth today. Be sure to check out her excellent post "Why Etsy Owes You Nothing" and find out what the McRib is doing in a post about Etsy... <3

Monday, May 4, 2015

When Teaching Becomes Learning

I have a confession to make.

Well, let me back up a bit.

Back before the launch of my CreativeLive classes, I spent the better part of a month gathering information and writing content so I could do my best to effectively teach a couple of classes all about starting an Etsy shop and improving SEO for Etsy.

For as many classes as I've taught and as many people I have helped, I found it surprising how many of my personal insecurities came out during this process.

"Do I really know what I'm talking about?"
"My shop isn't remotely what I would call successful: why would anyone listen to me?"
"I'm not sharing anything new or groundbreaking...I should be doing more."

But loudest one? The loudest one was the one that said, "I'm too fat to be on camera."

Yep. I'm a "plus size / big girl / fat chick". But that doesn't mean I can't teach you a thing or two :)
Huh? Seriously? After all of my years helping craft makers build their businesses and teaching and being chosen go to Etsy HQ to learn about their process and teaching at great conferences like Craftcation and School House Craft and even being featured in the Seattle Times...

THAT is what my lizard brain is going to throw at me to try to bring me down? Sheesh. I'm way better than that...aren't I?

Now. This isn't anything surprising for me. I come from a long line of women who are obsessed about weight and perfectionism. Not to mention that in my "former life" many years ago, I was an actor in Hollywood struggling to get people to pay attention to me. I always thought I was too fat back then too - even though in retrospect I really wasn't.

But I kept going. Even though my insecurities continued to ebb and flow...I knew I had to keep going. I had no choice, really. I just powered through, put my head down, worked hard, researched until I was cross-eyed, prepared class materials, put together lengthy slide shows, typed my fingers numb, and ended up putting together what I think are some pretty information-packed classes! (Find them here: Etsy 101 and SEO for Etsy).

And you know what?
  • Even though this is the most I've ever weighed in my life
  • Even though I felt like I could have been more prepared
  • Even though a few things went wrong (but luckily much more went right!)
  • Even though I was super nervous and giggly and had a hard time not looking at the monitor making it look like I had my eyes closed most of the time (haha!), meh...whatever...


I worked hard and conveyed the information I wanted to pass long. From the feedback I've heard so far, lots of people - both experienced Etsy sellers and beginners alike - learned a lot of helpful stuff too.

So I have to confess...
I'm pretty happy about that.

Now it's your turn.
That thing that's really hard in your life right now? That thing you're struggling with?
I really do think that you have what it takes to get through it. Just do your best. Do what needs to be done and you'll get there. Yes. Keep going. Keep pushing forward. You'll see.

I believe in you!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My CreativeLive Classes are Tomorrow!

Hello everyone from CreativeLive land!
Ooh boy. I'm writing this the evening before my big CreativeLive classes. I'm super nervous but excited at the same time! I know it will go well though because I have an amazing community of people all rooting for me...and I am SO grateful!

If you want to check out the classes, if you're reading this on Thursday, March 5, 2015, you can go to the CreativeLive site and watch me streaming live!

9am to 12pm: Etsy 101 - Launching Your Online Shop
12:45pm to 4pm: SEO for Etsy

If you're reading this after March 5th, then you'll see a link to purchase the classes there so you can get all the videos plus all the bonus materials I put together too - including my new e-books
"Handmade Value - a pricing guide for artists and craft makers" with the 101 class
And "Small Object Photography for Online Sellers" with the SEO class!

I am also offering a bonus FREE link list for signing up for my upcoming newsletter over at - it would be awesome if you'd join me there :)

Okay. I'd better go get some sleep. I'll see you online!

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