Etsy Jam Episode 39: Kara from ACakeToRemember

In this episode we talked to Kara Buntin from ACaketoRemember. Two years ago Kara made the transition from selling wedding cakes full time to selling DIY cake supplies on Etsy. Join us for an awesome chat where Kara covers time management, pivoting her product line the misguided belief in 99 cent pricing, delivering wedding cakes through tropical storms and much, much more.

Etsy Jam Scoops

Before we start, we want to mention the Etsy Jam Scoops that we’re making. Etsy Jam Scoops are short clips of 1 to 5-minute chunks from the Jam that we pull out so for some of you who don’t have the time to listen to the entire episode can still skim the important topics out. We have a separate playlist on Youtube for these.

Here are the scoops from this jam!

How did Kara get started on Etsy?

In my late twenties, I decided to go back to Culinary School to do wedding cakes because I like to bake. At that point, we were up in Boston so I said that was something I could do from home. But in between that, I worked at a department store in downtown Boston. I was in Jordan Marsh. That was a big store and it was very busy so I learned a lot about retail there. When I had the idea of starting a business, I already half knew what I need to be doing. Fast forward when we moved back to Virginia where my husband is from. At that point when we had my daughter, I started doing cakes. So that’s when I had experience running a home-based business.

That is how I ended up doing cakes and then when the economy went into recession in 2008, all the brides started wanting things for cheap. Everybody wanted to DIY their own wedding. To them, DIY-ing isn’t to save money. They do it because they like to and they want to personalize their own wedding by doing it themselves. I knew then that I can’t raise my cake prices that year because no one is paying for a big cake.

To supplement my income, I decided that I’m going to open a shop and sell some stuffs online for the DIY brides. I was selling sugar flowers and things that they could put in a plain cake to fancy it up. But then along the way, I realized that people who weren’t DIY brides were buying my stuff too. Other cake decorators were buying the sugar flowers and they were starting to buy some of the supplies as well. My target market became very strange because it’s cake decorators, it’s brides, and people who were making their first birthday cakes.

Transition from the Wedding Cake Business into Full-time Online Etsy Shop Business

I was doing both Etsy and my wedding cake business full time. I made a lot of money back then. But I knew I can’t keep this pace up and honestly, Etsy was a lot easier in terms of having to constantly seek out customers.

When you think of an online business, you think it’s so uncertain. So I was reluctant to take the leap and quit my wedding business and just do Etsy. But then I realized, wedding cakes are also uncertain. I’m out looking for customers and I can’t be guaranteed of an income either. I don’t know what kind of bookings I’m going to get so why not just do Etsy full time? That’s when I decided to not do any more cakes.

Are You Prepared When Something Goes Wrong?

There are a lot of things that could happen. But since I had been doing cakes for so long, I wasn’t afraid of the cakes anymore. Usually, the bad things happen when you’re delivering it. It’s because if you bake something and it doesn’t work, you can always rebake it. But if you’re delivering the cakes and you slam the brakes on; and the cakes goes into the box or whatever, you can’t redo it so that’s the nerve wrecking part.

Time Management

It’s especially hard if you have little kids. My kids are now older so once they’re in school, you’ll have tons of time and you can do the work. I will say this: if you have a chunk of time, do the work. People think that they should go and get their groceries when the kids are not around. No. Go home and work and get things done so you don’t have to stay until 2 in the morning. It’s just a lot easier to do some work when there are no interruptions around.

There’s a really good book by Julie Morgenstern, Time Management from the Inside Out, and she says that you have to pick a schedule that fits your circumstances. For people who have families they have to balance, you have to look at yourself as the “Crisis Manager”; because you don’t know what’s going to happen on any given day. You have to build in extra time. If you think a work is going to take you an hour, give yourself 3. If you think it’s going to take you half an hour, give yourself two hours.

How to Know if Something is Worth Your Time or Not

I think this is a work in progress for most people. But I told myself this year and my resolution is to always say “What’s the best use of my time right now?” and a lot of times, asking yourself that question will pull you back from checking your email or checking your Facebook.

Kara’s Tip on Product Development

I love customer questions. I develop a lot of my products from customer questions. If someone asks; “Hey, can you do this in purple?” and a lot of other ones follow, then I take that as a cue that maybe purple is a popular color this year. Basically, you want to take your cues from what your customers are ordering, what they’re asking about, and try to get ahead of that.

Pricing your Listings

When you’re pricing your stuff, don’t try tricks. Just figure out your cost and figure out your labor. Think about all your overheads including your subscription to Marmalead. Figure out every single thing you pay for – all that goes to the pricing of your product. You don’t need to worry about tricks like the .99 cents at the end because the .99 cent studies don’t hold any truth.

How do you get new Customers?

Most of my customers are not repeat customers. I’m getting customers through SEO. I have a separate website and a stand-alone website and it doesn’t get the traffic that my Etsy shop does. That is because Etsy has such a built-in customer base. If you can’t get them into your shop, then there are things you can do in your shop to keep them there – like putting links or listings from one link to another. Second, making sure your pictures are good.

What Kara likes about Marmalead

I have a problem with finding good keywords. But you can go to Marmalead and use the Storm. I love that because I found some really weird keywords that I would never have thought of. So just be willing to look outside of what you are thinking of for your products and see what and where you can use it for.

Having a YouTube Channel for Your Shop

A lot of things that people don’t do but they should – is to have a YouTube channel for their shop. You can have a video of you showing the item and just turning it around. Having a 360-degree view of the product gives shoppers more confidence in buying it. People like to see that.

Personally, I use my YouTube channel to demonstrate how to use silicone molds. This is especially helpful if you’re getting reviews from people saying that they couldn’t get it to work. You can do a Youtube video showing it and explain how to get around that problem so that people can go and see it.

It’s a better shopping experience if the customers can see something in real-time rather than just describing it or looking at the pictures. It really makes a lot of difference for people.

Watch the Scoops from this jam

In this episode we talked to Kara Buntin from ACaketoRemember. Two years ago Kara made the transition from selling wedding cakes full time to selling DIY cake supplies on Etsy. Join us for an awesome chat where Karen covers time management, pivoting her product line the misguided belief in 99 cent pricing, delivering wedding cakes through tropical storms and much, much more.

Etsy Jam Episode 38: Where the Driveway Ends

In this episode, we discuss how to know when you should close your Etsy shop. When is the best time to move on? What do you need to focus on when you do? And how much traffic drives past the end of your driveway? Find out next on Etsy Jam!

Why you should NOT close your Etsy shop

No matter how successful you get online, if your Etsy shop is working for you, why would you close it? Why would you close an avenue that’s working. Why stop what’s working? Do more of what’s working.

The way I see it, you’re gonna find shoppers that know what Etsy is, and if they know what Etsy is, they are probably looking for a particular thing that is on Etsy. Now, there is this chance that they are going to find YOU. But ask that same person if they remember your shop name, and chances are they have no clue what that is. In fact, a lot of people that buy on Etsy might not even remember the shop names. They just remember that they got it from Etsy. These are sales you wouldn’t otherwise get if you have a separate website.

“It would be like having a lemonade stand in a food court. And I decide that I don’t really want to be in the food court anymore and so I moved it to the end of my driveway.”

If you think you are someone that needs an off-Etsy shop, you should keep your Etsy shop assuming it’s going well for you. Don’t stop doing what’s working.

If things are going great for you and let’s say you want to move to Shopify or Amazon Handmade, you are closing your Etsy shop because you don’t want the extra business? Then the problem isn’t really Etsy, it’s that you can’t handle that much extra business. Solve that problem. Pull someone in. Pull a friend, or a family member in or pay someone to come help you out. Don’t solve the problem by cutting off the business!

But selling on Etsy is expensive!

I hear people telling that Etsy is expensive. Well, business is expensive! You might not realize how much things cost until you go out there and actually pay for all these individual services that you have to string together. It adds up!

If you’re going to have your own site I’m pretty sure you want to be taking peoples’ credit cards. There’s a fee associated with that. That’s just the way credit card transactions work. You are going to have to pay a fee to be able to process those credit cards. So just like you’re paying Etsy a certain amount for every listing that sold, part of that goes towards covering the fees that Etsy has to pay.

Their hosting is fast too. When you’re on Etsy, you have good and fast CDN networks meaning that all around the world, people are seeing your stuff fast. Shared hosting platforms like Bluehost and Hostgator are not as fast. Yes, they are cheap, but not as fast. Also, you want to be serving up things like videos and images for your external website and once you get into all these stuff – it gets expensive! Etsy handles a lot of that stuff for you.

Etsy is so restrictive about my customers!

The other valid reason we keep hearing is – who owns the customer? Etsy doesn’t want you to spam your customers and get all promotional and we get it. No one wants their inbox being blown full of promotions all the time. But it’s not that hard to just don’t be spammy. Don’t go messaging people or throw people in an email list they didn’t subscribe to. If you have your own website, would you do that otherwise? Would you want to spam people if you had your own site because Etsy won’t let you do it? I don’t think so. Right?

A great way to ask for feedback is to ask for it. Follow up with customers. If you want reviews – follow up with them. Ask them if they are satisfied or if you exceed their expectations.

Every time I buy on Amazon, they send me an email saying:

“Hey, I want to reach out and make sure that the product we sent you exceeded your expectations. And if it did, we really appreciate if you would leave us a review.”

Are they selling me anything? No. They’re just following up. Because when someone buys a product from you, and they didn’t have a good experience, don’t you wanna know that?

How to validate your idea before setting up an external shop

Another thing you could do too that involves a little bit of testing, is to set up your separate website. Set up this site but don’t set up processing payments yet, just make everything on that site link back to your Etsy shop. So if they see a product over there, you send them to the product page on Etsy. It’s an extra step but they are gonna recognize the fact that it is Etsy and they can make a purchase right from that page. Then, check your stats in your Etsy shop and see how many people are actually coming from your external site that you’ve put together. Compare that with the amount of traffic that you’re getting straight off of Etsy. If you’re really going to get rid of Etsy, you need to make sure that this other page you built is doing an insane amount of traffic.

I just don’t want to drive my traffic over to Etsy.

There’s one more thing about Etsy that people complain about too. They say “I don’t wanna drive my traffic over to Etsy. Because then, the customer might see other shops too!”. Well, last time I checked, the internet is an even bigger place than Etsy. So if you think there are lots of shops on Etsy, the internet is a superset of that place.

That would be like Etsy telling Google “We don’t want to be included in Google shopping results because there are other people selling there”. When in fact, they just championed their relationship with Google to make it so they show up more in those results.

While there are other shops out there selling the same thing, if you have a strong offering, then you’re gonna be okay.

What I’ve noticed is, there could be competing products of the same kind and if I don’t know which one to get, I always go with the one that seems most helpful. The one that seemed to help me the most along the journey – I tend to reward them with my purchase. So if you’re thinking that there are shops that make a product just like yours too, you can still differentiate by offering the equivalent of someone walking into a shop and the person is there to be very helpful to you.

It's not hard to be better than the majority because the average is so much lower than you think!Click To Tweet

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In this episode, we discuss how to know when you should close your Etsy shop. When is the best time to move on? What do you need to focus on when you do? And how much traffic drives past the end of your driveway? Find out next on Etsy Jam!

Etsy Jam Episode 37: To Tag or to Title

In this episode, we talk about how you should put together your title and tags for the best SEO and which you should do first. We also discuss how the SEO grading in Marmalead works and what the TRUE meaning of keyword stuffing is. Spoiler alert – it has to do with turkey and gravy. Stick around for another great Etsy Jam feast.

 

There has been a discussion in our Facebook Group about how one should do their listings’ tags and titles. Eventually, it came down to two schools of thought. There are people who:

  • thinks that when you do your listing, you should do your titles first and then pick out what your tags will be from the keywords in your title
  • thinks that you should come up with all your keywords, put them as tags first, and then fit those into a title.

To Tag or to Title

If you start with finding the right keywords, it doesn’t really matter. If you want to take those keywords that you found and put them in your tags and then figure out your title – that’s okay. Or if you want to pick your keywords and put them in your title in an order that makes sense, and then putting those in your tags, that’s fine too. The ultimate and most important thing is to find the keywords first. Always start with finding quality keywords.

Related: The Quick and Dirty Guide to Finding Great Etsy Keywords


As long as we’re getting to the same spot at the end – which are keywords that end up in our tags and in our titles, it doesn’t matter how you get there. Whatever is easier for you and whatever works out for you. It doesn’t really make that much difference.

Targeting Keywords


You can have one target focus keyword. After that, you can have a number 2 focus keyword, number 3, and so on. You want this to happen because the front of your title is the strongest in relevancy search. The closer it is to the front, the better off you are and the stronger Etsy search thinks it is.

How does Listing Grades work inside Marmalead?

Tags in Title

It basically means “Tag and Title Match”. How many of your tags can you fit inside your title? If you have your title keywords written EXACTLY as it is in your tags, then Marmalead counts that as a tag and title match. That is good because Etsy likes to see that.

If it’s different; say you have “wedding dresses as a tag, but you have “wedding dress” in your title, then that’s not going to fit because it’s looking for your tag in your title. But to add to the confusion, if you had wedding dress as a tag, but wedding dresses” in your title – that would match. Because that’s a subset of “wedding dresses” so it would ‘technically’ find that phrase in your title.

In our grading, you don’t have to fit all 13 tags in your title because you are limited by the 140-characters. We only look for 7 tag and title matches for you to have a full score. Etsy is a different thing because they don’t really care how many you fit into your title. What they care about is if the tag exists in your title. Marmalead is just measuring how well you’re making use of that title to match as many tags as you can.

Recency

Renewing is part of the grading as well. People have asked us before “Why is my grade changing when I haven’t changed anything on my listing?”

The answer is: Your listing is getting older. While your listing is getting older, the market space is constantly having new listings being added to them. When people renew or one of their listings get sold, they are automatically renewed and go to the top too.

Keyword Stuffing Explained

There’s a lot of places where people talk about keyword stuffing. We see this in the Etsy Forums a lot. It comes up in our Facebook Group every now and then too. There are other thought leaders in the Etsy space that talks about keyword stuffing a lot and unfortunately, most times that we’ve seen it used, people are using that term incorrectly.

To best understand this, we should get back to before there was Etsy. Back in Google days. Way back in the day when they wanted to figure out how well a site was geared to talk about a specific keyword, there became a term known as “keyword stuffing”. Keyword stuffing back then was the practice of writing really spammy content in a sense that you take a single keyword and you just insert it in every sentence you possibly can even though it looks awful and doesn’t really add a lot of value. It’s just the same keyword over and over.

If you’re putting a bunch of different keywords in your title and tags – that’s not keyword stuffing. It sounds like it is because you’re ‘stuffing’ all those keywords in there, but you are not using the same keyword over and over so you’re good. If your tag and title looks like “Wedding dress wedding dress wedding dress wedding dress” – that’s keyword stuffing. If you’re targeting something ‘wedding’ related, and 4 of your keywords have the word ‘wedding’ in them, don’t be overly concerned because they’re not the same thing.

We don’t grade the quality of your keywords

Your letter grade does not involve the quality of your keyword. At least not yet. That’s why we show the Marma-meter scores in the Tags table. We score how that tag is performing as far as Engagement, Competition, and Category Page.

Things that sellers can optimize to impact their ranking

First, is deciding what keywords you are going to target. You can always cite which ones you want optimized for.

Secondly, you can make sure that you put them together in your shop in a way that makes Etsy want to find you to be the most relevant. That would be putting the focus keyword in the front of your title and in your tags and make sure that those two things match exactly.

Third, is renewing. You can renew your listings to stay on top of the search you are trying to target.

Things that you can’t control

When people search for you and then they visit your listing; whether or not they purchase. Although you can technically control the outcome because you can have great photos and compelling descriptions, the right price point, and making sure you’re targeting the right keywords. All of these techniques can help improve your conversion rate.

Related: 12 Simple Strategies to BOOST your Conversion Rate

In this episode, we talk about how you should put together your title and tags for the best SEO and which you should do first. We also discuss how the SEO grading in Marmalead works and what the TRUE meaning of keyword stuffing is. Spoiler alert - it has to do with turkey and gravy. Stick around for another great Etsy Jam feast.

Etsy Jam Episode 36: Do Less Be More

In this episode, Richie and I share our top goals for 2017 and encourage you to think about your own goals too. We also go a step further and talk about what systems and techniques you can use to make sure you have the best shot of achieving your goals.

Gordon’s goals this 2017

First Goal

My first one is to be healthier. The way I’m gonna measure that is by losing weight. My goal is to lose 50 lbs. throughout the year of 2017. It’s a big goal for me and I definitely have to work for it, but I have a year to do it and I think if I stay with it, I’ll be able to hit that at the end of the year.

It’s not the weight that really concerns me but feeling healthier and feeling that I am in better shape than I am right now. I’d like to get back to something where I feel I am in a healthier spot in my life and I’m going to measure that with weight.

Second Goal

Number 2 for me came from a video by Gary Vaynerchuk where he was encouraging people to set up a goal for themselves to make $20,170 this year. The whole idea is by starting to sell little things around your house that you’re not interested in and then you grow that up over the course of the year to finding things that have a higher value on eBay and selling these things online. It becomes more of a side hustle with the goal of making $20,170 through the course of the year. Why $20,170? Because it’s 2017.

My real goal is not really the money end of things – but I like the idea of purging and going through the stuff that I have in my house that is just taking up space. Watching the video got me thinking about all that stuff and how it would be nice to either sell or donate them.

Third Goal

In our Phone Apps Episode before, I shared with you that I made a mobile game with one of my really good friends, Alex. Along the same lines, about 40 years ago, my dad started developing this idea that he had for a game and he was actually working with Atari at the time. Unfortunately, before it got to the end of the cycle where they were going to release it and put it in stores – the whole program got scrapped. It never saw the light of day other than the people and the relatives of people in Atari who got to play with it.

He always thought that this could be a cool thing to build. When mobile phones became a thing, he thought it would be the perfect mobile game to play because it’s a little fun game you can do on the side without having to devote a bunch of your time to get something from it.

I don’t want to overshare here but my dad’s health isn’t the best; it’s been declining – so one of the things I want to focus on this year is building out this game and engaging him with it to make sure his vision of the game is in there while modernizing it so it is still relevant in today’s culture. My third goal is to complete and publish the game by the end of this year.

Richie’s goals this 2017

First Goal

Unsurprisingly, I fit into that 75% that also share Gordon’s first goal. I’d like to lose 25 lbs. and the reason goes back to the same – it’s not about what the internet says my number should be. I am between 6’2″ and 6’3″, I currently weight about 245 lbs. But if I lose 25 lbs., I’m going to be in that 220 lbs. range. It is still way higher based on BMI standards but based on the best shape I’ve ever been in, that’s the weight I weigh. So based on my personal experience, I feel that’s a really good one.

I think it’s true for so many things too. What’s the right amount of this? What should I be doing? Do you feel good about it? If you don’t feel good about it, it’s probably not the way you should be doing it.

Second Goal

I’d like to focus only on the things that matter. The things that are really valuable so I can be fully present in them. It goes back to being busy vs. having a full schedule.

Full schedule could be busy. That’s one way to look at it but sometimes, busy is just unorganized chaos. So if I want to do a lot of stuff, I want it to be intentional. Intentionally full schedule as opposed to having a lot of things going on but chaotic, unfocused, and plenty of unintentional noise.

What I’m trying to do is instead of doing a bunch of stuff in a bunch of little pieces, and not really being in it; I want to just focus on the things that matter and be present for it.

Third Goal

For my number 3 goal, I’d like to go with “learning to learn”. I think we all have a pretty basic understanding of learning things. Some of us are visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners, or even a combination of those. I find myself to be more of a kinesthetic learner – I definitely learn more by actually doing it.

I want to go beyond that. Learning to learn faster, learning to learn more thoroughly, and having more things stick – that’s my goal. Because there’s a lot of things I still want to do in life and I want to make sure that I don’t spend 10 years learning something where I could get proficiency in a couple months.

Systems to Achieve those Goals

Breaking Barriers

A lot of times, goals are set like: “Im going to run this many miles per week” or “I’m going to hit the gym X days a week”. But a lot of times too, we build up big barriers why we can’t do that.

Maybe it’s something like “Do 50 push-ups”. The problem with lists like this is the next thing you know you’re building up excuses why you can’t do it today. You’ll say things to yourself like “I’m wearing this polo shirt, and I’m going to get all sweaty doing push-ups, then I’m gonna have to take a shower”, and then this and that.

But if your list just said, “Do pushups.” then the barrier disappears. If you do even 1 push up, then you technically win. Right? But once you do 1 push up, you’ve broken the ice. Now you can do 50.

Reducing Friction

From a systems point of view, you need to remove the things that are going to clutter up the system. Look at the failure points of your system. Things that are going to make it harder for you to achieve your next tasks – you want to remove those and you want to add things that can make it easier.

Let’s say your goal is going to the gym. Just go to the gym. Even if you just set foot in there, and you did a couple of curls, you already won. But how do you make yourself do that in the first place? Well, you know you’re going to change clothes and bring your gym bag with you, right? Put the bag down where you know you’ll be walking. You will eventually and intentionally step over the gym bag reminding you that what you’re supposed to be doing is going to the gym.

Fun Fact: Apparently, within the first 10 days of the New Year, 90% of people have abandoned their goals. By the time this is posted, 90% of you have already abandoned your goals. Get back on it!

Related: Gary Vaynerchuk on New Year’s Resolutions

Dealing with Non-stop Phone Notifications

Gordon: For emails, I use Inbox. One of the cool things about this app is it can suppress certain messages from you. When I get stuff from Facebook or promotional messages from email lists I’m subscribed to, it doesn’t give me a push notification. Now if I look at the app icon, there’s a little badge there that lets me know there’s a message, but it’s not interrupting me with those things. If you’re getting an email from a friend or family, it prioritizes those things and the app will shoot you a notification for it. Overall, it’s been really good at hiding things that you don’t really need to be interrupting you throughout the day.

Richie: I found way too often, I check my iPhone for notifications. Maybe it’s a notification from our FB group. I’ll check it on the go and now, I can’t stop thinking about it. Because it’s on the phone and it’s with you all the time. When I get this email or a message or whatever it is, I get aware of it and I want to respond to it as fast as I can. If I’m doing something, I have to drop whatever it is because I’m thinking about it and I want to act on it. All because I went and checked it when I wasn’t ready to actually work on it. So it’s best to limit your time checking your phone for notifications.

Do Less, Be More

Do less, be more, and just do it now. Go execute today. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Always set up yourself to win.

Good luck with whatever goals you guys have set up and let’s continue the conversation on our FB group too. We’d love to hear back from you guys and what systems you have found to work well for you!

Will false hearts make Etsy search break up with you?

The question, “if an item gets a lot of views and hearts and doesn’t sell it will lose relevancy in Etsy search?” has been asked many times in many ways.

The answer? It depends.

Background

There’s a lot of noise in the how does Etsy search work space. Maybe you’ve heard of click parties aka clickathons. In case you haven’t, they’re based on the false belief that random views and favorites on your listings will increase your search ranking. Clickathons are a waste of time for so many reasons they deserve their own post.

On the other hand we have the shops that are very worried about getting non-buyer clicks and favorites for fear that it will sink their search ranking.

This topic is entirely about how Etsy’s search handles listings.

Search and Non-Search Traffic

Etsy distinguishes between views that come from search and ones that don’t. They get really granular, but for our purposes they either come from search or they don’t.

Views that don’t come from search are just whatever. We all get random visitors to our sites so it’s expected that the quality of view will differ.

Search results however are prime real estate. We’ve all seen it and Etsy has stated they incorporate performance (sometimes called listing quality) in search ranking. They take the listings that do a great job of being relevant (Etsy SEO), and they give them a shot at great rankings. If the listings perform well, they stay up there. If they don’t, they give other listings a chance. Etsy wants to present shoppers with listings they’re likely to purchase. The best way to predict that is whether others searched for this and ended up purchasing.

When does it matter?

So back to the original question. Does it hurt listings to favorite them and not buy?

It doesn’t matter when the view comes from outside of Etsy’s search.

It does matter when the view comes from within Etsy’s search.

If many people find your listing in search, view it, favorite it, and NOT buy it. Eventually, yeah it will hurt the listing. It establishes a track record of shoppers passing up that listing despite finding it in a relevant search. Etsy wants to display listings with the greatest chance of selling. The key there is that the traffic is coming from search.

Conclusion

I certainly wouldn’t ask a group of people to search “xyz keyword”, find your listings, and favorite them just for fun. The result would be totally not fun.

I wouldn’t worry about casually liking something. I would continue to promote your shop everywhere that gets you in front of shoppers. Business cards, packaging inserts customers can give to friends, and online communities where your customers want to hear from you to name a few.

The best thing that can happen to your shop is to consistently get found in search and close the sale. You make money, Etsy makes money, shopper is happy, win win win.

Etsy Jam Episode 35: 2016 Year in Review

In this episode, we celebrate 2016 in true Marmalead fashion – by the numbers! We go over some interesting stats from 2016 concerning Marmalead and Etsy and offer some peeks into when different seasons begin trending. Enjoy some insights and get ready to make 2017 your year! We’d love to have you as a guest on Etsy Jam this year too so hit us up at success at marmalead dot com!

Shops Helped

This is probably the one that means the most to Richie and me, and that’s the number of shops that we were able to help throughout 2016.

Personal Support

One of the other things that we pride ourselves on is our level of Personal Support that we provide. We’re not just some kind of closed-off tool that it’s really hard to get to people behind the scenes if you have any questions or stuff like that. We want to make sure that we are super accessible via emails and Facebook but one of the best ways to reach us is through the Contact Us button inside the app. Throughout 2016, we were personally able to help over 3,000 Etsy sellers which is awesome.

Forgotten Passwords

Also, in 2016 we had over 18,000 Forgotten Passwords. That’s just not good – that’s crazy! That’s 4 times more than 2015! Use Lastpass, guys!

Keyword Searches

Keyword Searches inside Marmalead. In 2016, we had 1.27M keywords searches which is 7 times more than 2015! That’s fantastic growth and we’d love to see this continue on for 2017 too. We want to get more people in the tool using it and more people getting meaningful information about SEO by doing keyword searches inside Marmalead.

Keyword Comparisons

Another feature we have is Keyword Comparison. If you’re an Entrepreneur inside Marmalead, you can easily compare up to 4 different keywords and see quickly which ones has higher Engagement, which ones have more Competition, and what the Price Spread looks like for the different keywords. Throughout 2016, we have almost a million comparisons done inside Marmalead between different keywords. It’s gotten 29 times more than 2015! We think it’s a super useful tool as you are trying to drill into which keywords you should be using inside of your tags and title.

Related: Get Found on Etsy with Marma-Meter

Total Searches

Recently, we just crossed the 3M keyword search mark total since Marmalead has been around! We think that’s awesome.

Top 5 Most Searched Keywords

New Features

Keyword Storm

It’s a way of brainstorming keywords for your listings based on a seed keyword. You throw a keyword at it and it will start coming up with a whole bunch of keywords for you. As you add more keywords into your bucket, new ones will pop up.

Listing Scores

Now, you can tie your shop to Marmalead. We will analyze every single one of your Etsy listings and give you a letter grade score for how that listing is performing with respect to SEO. Anything that impacts SEO gets factored into this grade.

Listing Details

You can drill in any one of those listings to see even more information about that listing. Things that don’t necessarily impact SEO but stuff that you might want to keep a close eye on. A lot of that has to do with descriptions – how long that is, how readable it is, and sentiment whether your description is leaning towards being positive or negative.

Entrepreneur Course Library

Entrepreneur's Course Library

If you’re an Entrepreneur on Marmalead, you’ll have access to a library of videos which we will constantly be adding to throughout next year going forward.

Related: The NEW Marmalead

Storms

We only introduced the Storm right at the beginning of November but just in those months, we’ve already had over 35,000 Storms generated by Marmalead users! It helped people find over 271,000 new keyword ideas.

Listings Analyzed

We talked about scoring listings. Over the past couple of months since this feature has been released, we’ve analyzed over 20 million listings for Etsy sellers!

Entrepreneur’s Course Library

Our course library has started small with only 2 courses out there so far (we plan on adding more as time goes by) but even just in those couple of months with those 2 courses – we’ve had over 735 people participate and seen those videos. We also thrown in an ebook in there. So check out the courses + the ebook!

2016 Top 5 Keywords with the Highest Engagement

What is Popular When?

Christmas

It’s good to know when things are starting to pick up on Engagement for different holidays. You can look at the graph above and see that Christmas starts to pick up a bit in September but really starting to ramp up in October and November. Expect lots of Christmas engagement during those months and then it tapers off a little bit in December.

Wedding

Wedding searches throughout the year are pretty constant. There’s not one part of the year that really jumps out above the others. We do have little peaks around August and May, and a little bit on January and February.

Mother’s Day

Very beginning of May. No surprises there. But the big lead up to that is in the first two months before that – March and April.

Father’s Day

Can’t forget the fathers! The big months for that are May and June.

Fourth of July

Common theme here. A couple of months ahead of time. June and May have the highest engagement right ahead of July.

For anything you’re considering – whether that’s Halloween or Valentine’s day – a good practice is to assume that the first couple of months leading up to that are going to be the best months to start working in those tags into your listings; so you can start showing up in people’s searches.

Shop Fitness Calculator

It’s another cool tool that Marmalead offers and you can find it here. It’s a free tool you can use to grade your whole shop.

Looking across the data from 2016 – we can see that on average, the average Etsy seller has 4,277 views per month across all their products.

In that same vein, the average seller sees about 39 sales per month across all their listings.

The really meaningful part is when we combine these two numbers together – we can figure out the conversion rate (an important number to keep in mind for any person doing e-commerce). The average conversion rate for an Etsy seller right now is about 0.9%. Etsy says to shoot for 3%, but the average that we collected from sellers seem to be about 1%.

2017 is Your Year

Set your goals, set your sights on what you want to hit this year – whether it’s a certain sales goal on your Etsy shop, whether it’s leaving your day job, whatever those goals happen to be, set those up now and make 2017 your year!

Go get after it. Don’t overthink it, don’t over-plan it, just go – take action. Do it.

7 Key Takeaways from the 2017 Etsy Search Updates

Etsy has just released an article which details plans for the 2017 Etsy search updates. Last year they acquired Blackbird Technologies – a machine learning company. The purchase caused a bit of a stir in the Etsy community and spawned countless questions and even more conjecture. But now we finally have some details about Etsy’s plans. Here are 7 key takeaways from the announcement:

1. Etsy and its sellers are a team

Right off the bat, Etsy makes a point of reminding sellers that when they are successful, Etsy is successful. Etsy knows that search updates and algorithm updates can cause stress for sellers and they want to help minimize that by reminding sellers that Etsy’s success depends on seller success. Etsy says:

"When you're successful, we're successful."

2. Watch for search bar updates

Etsy breaks their 2017 search focus areas into two groups: helping buyers find the right items and building better tools for sellers.  The first way they plan to help shoppers is by “getting them started with the right search terms.”  This is almost certainly a reference to their search bar suggestions which they’ve been providing shoppers for quite a while. As shoppers type in the search bar, Etsy provides suggestions from a pool of other recent search terms. In order to help shoppers get started, they will undoubtedly be providing more personalized search term suggestions right within the search bar to help each shopper begin with the best possible search term for them. Etsy says:

"getting them started with the right search terms"

3. Changes to the search results page

The next thing Etsy plans to do for buyers is to help them “navigate their results in meaningful ways.” This could partially be referring to new filter options for shoppers which Etsy covers later in the article. But this likely includes other changes as well. There are vast possibilities but this could include things like quick product views on the search results page to pull key listing information further forward. This could also include features like “suggested listings” based on the search term and personalized browsing history. Etsy says:

"navigate their results in meaningful ways"

4. More specific ways to describe listings

As part of their list of updates for sellers, Etsy announced that they will be providing new ways for sellers to “convey specific information” about listings. This will likely be tied to some of the upcoming search filter updates. This will allow sellers to fill in information which helps to differentiate their listings from others. Etsy says:

"convey specific information about your items"

5. New search filters

Etsy announces new search filters in 2017. Currently, shoppers can filter by category, location, handmade/vintage, price, color, and ordering options. New ways to filter results could include things like seller rating, downloadable/handmade/vintage, size, and item quantity. Some sellers are even hoping for the ability to filter by items with coupon codes or those which are on sale. Etsy says:

"new ways for buyers to filter and explore their search results"

6. Don’t freak out

Again, Etsy is sensitive to the apprehension that surrounds any updates to the flow that helps customers find products. They remind sellers that they’ll keep them up to date as changes are made and will be sure to provide actions that sellers can take to make sure their shops are in the best possible standing. Etsy says:

"We'll continue to update you when we make any permanent changes to search"

7. Did I mention Etsy and sellers are a team?

Just as they opened the article, Etsy closes it with a reminder how important their relationship with sellers is. The last thing they want to do is completely turn the system upside down that is working for so many sellers. Changes will be slow and careful and deliberate. Keep an eye out for updates, make the necessary changes to your shops and everything will be fine. Etsy says:

 So what does this mean for the future of Etsy Search and Etsy SEO?

As Etsy begins to take advantage of the specialties of Blackbird Technologies, they’re looking to deliver a more personalized and intuitive search experience for shoppers. So what does this mean for SEO strategies? The core components that affect rank aren’t likely to change anytime soon. Etsy will still draw from listings’ tiles, tags, and recency. The majority of the changes are around HOW shoppers will get to those results pages and how they will navigate them. There will be other factors that Etsy introduces which will affect rank but the core algorithm is unlikely to drastically change. What does this mean for you as a seller? Sit tight and keep doing what you know works until Etsy announces changes. There is no need to jump the gun and start guessing how to update your listings for changes that may or may not happen.

What does this mean for Marmalead?

Marmalead’s algorithms measure engagement with search terms. Etsy is changing how they help shoppers find the right search term. So measuring which keywords they arrive at and which keywords enjoy the best engagement is still just as important as it used to be. In fact, with the crippling of Google’s Keyword Planner and Etsy’s planned changes to the search bar suggestions, Marmalead is becoming even more valuable to sellers as the best Etsy SEO solution available.

For the latest interpretations of Etsy SEO and search updates, subscribe to the Marmalead Blog.

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Etsy Jam Episode 34: Awesome Phone Apps Part 2

This episode is part 2 of a 2 part series about the apps Richie and I love most on our phones. So if you haven’t heard part 1 yet, check out episode 33. In this episode, we continue to cover a wide range of solutions so stay tuned and find out about some more killer apps you may be missing.

News Apps


Gordon: For tech news, I tend to use Flipboard to keep up on app releases and other things and features that they put out.

Utility Apps


Gordon: I have Speedtest to be able to check network speed. There’s another one called Fast; which does the same thing but it’s built by the folks behind Netflix.

I have Google Home which allows me to control my Chromecast. I got Chromecast plugged in to a couple of my TV’s and it allows me to cast stuff from my phone really easily to the TV and it will work with things like Netflix. More and more apps are including it – NBC and SNL support casting now so you can play something in your phone and throw it up on your TV.

Richie: I have an app that controls my router. It’s been fairly useful for things like turning off network on an iPad that the kids are using.

As far as utilities, I have Hiya, and it’s a spam call identifier app. With iOS 10, it ties in to CallKit so you can block spam calls before it rings you.

I also use this app called Key Ring. It’s a place to store all those loyalty and membership cards that you get from shops. It is exactly as it sounds like – all the cards that you would keep on your keychain; except that you’ve digitized them all. Lastly, I got Contacts Sync. It allows me to flawlessly sync my contacts between iCloud and Gmail.

Games


Gordon: I have DuoLingo which is more like a gamified language learning. It’s really fun and I think they did a fantastic job with it. So if you guys haven’t checked out DuoLingo and if you ever have felt interest learning other languages other than your native tongue, I would suggest that you check it out. They do a great job of making it fun to learn a new language.

They also have another app that is called Tinycards. They’re basically like flipcards that you flip when you’re trying to study something.

I have a game here too that I wrote called Block Blasters. You can’t actually get it on the iTunes store anymore but you can still get it on Google Play Store. Lastly, I picked up Super Mario Run at the time it got released.

Productivity Apps


Gordon: I have Wunderlist as my go to to-do list. I have Trello on my phone too because we use Trello a lot. That’s where we manage projects and move stuff around.

Richie: I use Todoist as my go to to-do list. I also have this app called Mile IQ. If you have a business where you pick up supplies and make drop offs to customers, Mile IQ will automatically detect when you’re driving so you don’t have to remember to record your mileage. It’s useful if you do any driving in your business using your personal vehicle, Mile IQ makes that really easy.

Closing Thoughts


Since we’re talking about phones; the phone is a great tool when used well. It’s very very easy to clutter up your phone and I think that every once in a while, you need to take a serious hard look at what’s on your phone, what you’re doing with your phone, and if it’s serving the purpose you want it to.

Perfectly fine if you wanna use it to veg down on the couch. As long as it’s intentional though. Sometimes, it’s really easy to think you’re being productive on your phone and then find out that something particular is taking up your time.

Bury those distracting apps deep and make them harder to get to. Or uninstall them even. Keep the stuff that’s good for you in front.

Etsy Jam Episode 33: Awesome Phone Apps Part 1

This episode is part 1 of a 2 part series about the apps Richie and I love most on our phones. We cover a wide range of solutions from todo lists to photography and videography to relaxation and games. Stay tuned for this episode of Etsy Jam and find out about some killer apps you may not know about yet.

Weather Apps

Gordon: I like Weather Underground. It’s hyper-local which is what I like about it because I don’t end up with some inaccurate forecasts.

Richie: What I like about Weather Underground too are those webcams that they have in there. I can really see the weather because there’s an option to view nearby webcams. You can see if it’s a blue sky, or there’s snow on the ground, how much snow is there, or if it’s raining and those kind of stuff.

Chat Apps

Richie: I have Facebook Messenger. Family uses it and a good amount of random people I meet.

I have Snapchat too. There are couple of people that I talk to on there. Otherwise, I usually watch other people’s stories on Snapchat. My cousin is on there and she’s a flight attendant so I get to see the photos she took from different places in the world and that’s cool. I follow people like Gary Vaynerchuk, JLD from Entrepreneur on Fire, Alexis Ohanian from Reddit, and Justin Kan from Justin.tv and Twitch because they have some good stuff on there.

I also have WhatsApp. I have a handful of people I talk to on there. I have the default Messages on iPhone too for texting because a handful of people still use that. And then I have Signal. Signal is there for being the most obscure no-one-knows-about-it that you could possibly use for messaging.

Gordon: The other chat app that I have that Richie hasn’t mentioned yet, is Slack. Richie, Kevz, and I use Slack to talk as a team and it’s really convenient. It keeps everything organized for you – you can have different channels and things like that. It’s been a good solution.

Bonus app for Etsy sellers:

For you Etsy shops out there that maybe don’t want to put your mobile phone number, you can go ahead and get a Google Voice number and have people call that or make it ring you on your phone. Or maybe put it in Do Not Disturb if you don’t want to have people calling you on specific times of the day. It’s also a really easy way for you to put that extra touch point out there so if people really need it, they can give you a call. It has voice mail and all the regular features your phone already have; it’s just another number that you can throw around.

Music Apps

Gordon: I used to listen to a lot of podcast when I had my commute. I kinda have fallen off the podcast train since and I know I need to find a good point in my day where I can do that. I use Overcast for a really long time which I really like. Other music apps that I got is Serato Pyro. Serato Pyro is a fun one for anyone who is a music enthusiast and really likes the concept of the Genius feature in iTunes. Serato Pyro does that but it does it based on tempo. It’s almost like a DJ where you give it a list of songs and it will figure out the tempo of all those songs and feed them in order next to one another so that it smoothly transitions from one song to the next.

I’ve also got Amazon Music, Google Play Music, and Shazam.

Richie: I have Spotify which is in my home screen because I found it by far the best. I love their curated playlist and stuff. I think they really do a nice job of putting stuff together. They also have a bunch of playlists by mood and while I know a bunch of other services have those things too, I feel like Spotify nails it pretty well.

Movie and Entertainment Apps

Gordon: I have iMovie which I like. It’s good for manually editing videos but one of the really cool things that I like about iMovie is that they have some trailer presets that you can use. Just simply drop in your own footage and it will make a movie trailer sort of thing. I’ve done this a few times and it’s really fun.

I also have a cool one called Magisto. This is a cool app and I recommend you guys play with it at least or purchase their plan that they have with it. But it basically allows you to throw a bunch of videos or photos into a movie. It uploads your photos and footage to their servers and they go through it with their algorithm that figures out which are the most interesting parts of that footage is. Then it automatically edits all those pieces together for you and puts in a music that you choose. You also choose how long you want the clip to be and then it dumps out a movie for you at the end.

Richie: I have the Kindle app. I like to read on my phone because that’s what I have with me most of the time. I also use Pocket. Pocket is what you use when you find an article on the internet – whether it’s a blog post or a magazine or something. What you do is you save it to Pocket and this app strips out all of the distracting stuff like ads and just shows you the content. More importantly, this is the place where I put all these stuff for when I want to read something later.

Document and File Management Apps

Richie: I use two things. An app called Tiny Scanner so I can digitize paper documents. The other app is called Shoebox. Shoebox is a great little app for receipt retention. So pretty much anything I’m gonna need for tax related stuff; I scan them with Shoebox. Any business expenses are gonna get scanned in as well. They also have this optical character recognition that will extract the numbers off of it and identifies what it was, and where it’s for etc. I pay for that service just because it saves me a lot of time from not having to look at all the receipts and sort them out myself.

Photography Apps

Richie: Google Photos. I really like Google Photos. It does a really nice job of grouping things. It makes it really easy to make albums for me. They have a decent photo editing capabilities in there too. I like it and it’s good enough for me.

Gordon: I have a handful here. Simple DOF Calculator is one of them. If you take photos with a DSLR this could be handy for you. It basically helps you figure out what to set your aperture to on your camera if you’re doing manual shooting. It will help you calculate based on the kind of camera body you have, the lens type you have, what the focal length of the lens is, how far away your subject is – it will tell you where to set your aperture to get that nice blurry background which is called bokeh.

I also have Snapseed for editing photos which I used to love. Then there’s Prisma and it allows you to apply fun and artistic filters to things if you want to mess around. And then the last one I have under Photography is Lightroom. I’ve been a long time Lightroom user on my computer but on my phone, I recently snagged it because they just enabled RAW shooting on the iPhone 7 Plus so you can shoot in RAW mode. Most photographers will tell you to shoot RAW because it allows you to change photos with a lot more flexibility than you have when you’re shooting on Auto mode.

Security Apps

Gordon: Big ones for me under my security category would be LastPass and Google Authenticator. We’ve talked about LastPass in our Tools to Keep You Safe Online episode so if you guys haven’t seen or watched that yet, you should definitely check that one out. LastPass is a password manager basically and it’s super handy.

Google Authenticator allows you to do 2-Factor Authentication for your accounts. It’s another step when you log in to an account to help you lock down that account that if someone does get your password to your account, they won’t necessarily be able to log in as you because they are missing this piece of the puzzle. It’s pretty easy to use and pretty easy to set up.

Richie: I have LastPass but I don’t have Google Authenticator. I use something called Authy instead. The extra benefit of Authy is back ups. So if you switch phones or stuff like that, it’s much easier to transition to another device.

That wraps it up, but watch out for Part 2 of our Favorite Phone Apps!

Etsy Jam Episode 32: Awkward Holiday Party

Welcome to our extra special super awkward holiday party episode. We take a break from the super serious no nonsense talk you’re used to from Etsy Jam and offer some answers to questions which will help you get to know Richie and I better. If you like ugly sweaters, awkward pauses, uncomfortable ice breakers and all the other fantastic parts of holiday parties, stick around!

What’s your favorite part about working full time at home?

Richie – My favorite part is having the family right here around the house. I can eat breakfast with them without worrying about rushing out of the house before they wake up or being late to office in traffic.
I can eat lunch with them and not having to miss dinner because I’m stuck in traffic either. Probably the lack of having to drive around makes that really nice.

Gordon – Not having to commute is the first thing that comes to mind. It was a real pain. Honestly, I didn’t realize how much of a pain it was until I stopped making that commute every day.
The other thing I really like about working from home is being here while my son is growing up. It’s really cool because even if I’m not engaging with him all throughout the day because I’m working – I’m still around for when certain things happen like that first time he laugh, or smile, or starts to really say things, or does something silly. I’m in the house for those things so when they can happen, I can be there quickly instead of totally missing out on those things.

Most challenging part about working full time at home?

Richie – Work – Life separation. It’s hard to leave something at the office when you live in the office. The same space where I keep the books and the whiteboard and other work stuff is right here. I walk by it all the time. So if I have an idea, I wanna run in and do something with it. It’s really hard to disconnect from it.

Gordon – Along the same lines of what Richie was saying; it’s the same deal of wanting to be accessible and be involved – but at the same time, I also need separation. I also need to be able to focus on work stuff and get things done too. Part of the problem is my office being here in the house; if they have a toy that’s broken, they come in to my office and now I’ve got not only my work stuff but also personal things are coming in as well. That’s one of the challenges. It’s keeping that separation and it’s also tough to set expectations because I don’t want to have a rigid schedule since I always enjoy flexibility and variety.

Top 4 Most Recommended Books

What would you say are your top books that you recommend people to check out if they haven’t read them already?

Richie:

Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Its real focus is on the power of the present. Don’t worry about the past. Past is gone, past doesn’t exist. Future. Don’t worry about it because it hasn’t exist either. So to worry about anything aside from what your current reality is doesn’t make a lot of sense because you don’t know what’s gonna happen in the very next moment.

Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. The book is really not about working less, it’s about working smarter. So of the 40 hours a week you work, what’s the 10% that’s actually the most productive and the most valuable? The most valuable 4 hours of your entire week. You don’t have to go through the book and do everything. Use it as lessons but the point is still to look for those 10% of what you do to get 90% of the results and see how you can implement that in your life.

Running Lean by Ash Maurya. This is part of the Lean Startup series. It’s a way to de-risk business ventures early on. Or projects in general. The idea is basically validating and seeing if this thing (your idea) has legs before you go out and spend a bunch of time and money on it.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I feel like a lot of people get caught up when they have business ideas. They need inspiration and they need to know it’s okay. This book has those lessons in it – you look at something, and you take that idea and you realize that it’s okay to do it because you’re doing something that’s different.

Gordon:

StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath. This was one that my previous job recommended. The premise of the whole idea is that a lot of times people tend to see what their weaknesses are and work to improve their weaknesses. The whole idea behind StrengthsFinder is that you identify what your strengths are and then you make sure you are amping those up as much as possible.

The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks. The concept behind the book is that you can’t just throw more people at a problem to solve it. So if you do have an office job, or if you are in any kind of management type position – this is probably a really good book for you. It’s really interesting. It’s a quick read and I like it!

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty. The next ones are children books. Failure is okay. It’s okay to fail as long as you keep pushing forward especially if you have a passion at something. It’s a cool message that I don’t think often gets spoken about in children’s books and so I thought it’s a really cool one to share with kids. And it’s a good reminder for all of us.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It’s a short story about a tree that just keeps giving and giving and giving until it has nothing left because it loves this little boy so much. He doesn’t really realize at all that the tree is sacrificing for him until later on.

Favorite spare time activities

Richie – I like to spend my time in the water. When I was in Cleveland, I love being on Lake Erie. I love boating as well and being at the beach. So back when I lived in Cleveland, Lake Erie would be my jam and when I was on Florida, loved being in the ocean. One of my favorite activities too is hiking in the mountains. There’s something about mountains that I find really calming and humbling at the same time.

Gordon – In true nerd fashion, I would say almost all that’s related to my computer. Whether it’s a side techy project or messing with Raspberry Pi things, any kind of Linux thing, and computer games too. I’ve got a little fun project that I’m doing right now and that is to build out my own home automation control security system that’s running on a Raspberry Pi. Messing with Philips Hue lights with their API to do some pretty cool things are one of my favorites too. Just random techy tech things like that.