Etsy Jam Episode 3: Failing Forward

Welcome to episode 3 of Etsy Jam. Today our topic is Failing Forward.

Before we get into that, we wanna talk about things that we’ve learned through our feedback on our Rock Your Photos report. You can check out what Rock your Photos is if you click here.


Takeaways that we’ve learned from Rock Your Photos reports:

  • People find sometimes that the most clickable photos isn’t necessarily the one they’re currently using as the primary image.

When people are getting their scores back from Rock Your Photos, some might find that the ‘Clickability’ rating on one of their other photos is stronger than the one that they have as their primary photo.

  • Keywords Ideas

The reviewers will go in and they will come up with different keyword suggestions for your listing. One of the things that people have found is that people throw out ways of describing things that they didn’t even think of. Like different terminologies of your item that may not be at the front of your mind. It could be completely different than what you have in your head.

  • The images that are coming back confuse people as to what is actually being sold.

An example would be if I’m selling something in multi-color, I’d usually have a photo of a color palette/color swatch in there. That sometimes confuses the people who are trying how to search for that thing and the keywords don’t necessarily come back to be accurate for what that listing is. Maybe you could show the product in those different colors instead.

  • Pictures with busy backgrounds are less clickable.

On average, photos with busier backgrounds seem to get a lower clickability rating than photos with much simpler plain backgrounds.

Today’s Topic: Failing Forward

"Failing forward is still allowing yourself to fail but making sure that you've learned something from it so you'd actually make forward progress."

Someone commented about failing forward in a prior episode. I think that’s a super important concept to highlight. A lot of people are afraid to fail or think there is only one path to success.

“I tried this one thing, and it didn’t work, therefore nothing will work”. That’s where this whole “I’m doing everything right and it’s not working” statement comes from. You’re doing what you thought would work, and it’s not. That just means you found something that doesn’t work, that’s okay.

I personally like this quote, “The master has failed more times than you’ve ever attempted”. Every time I try something and it doesn’t work, I think that there’s other people out there that have tried so many more times than me and that’s why they’re seeing more success.

"The more you try, the more you get after it, the better things are gonna go."

I don’t really follow sports personally, but Kobe Bryant retiring was a big deal recently. In his last game, he scored more points than anyone his age. Commentators also pointed out that he took 50 shots. Apparently that’s a lot.

What will everyone remember even just a year from now? They’ll remember the 60 points he scored in his final game, not the 20 or so missed shots. From that, I’d say go out there and try more and fail more. Just try to increase your percentage as you go along.

So when something doesn’t work, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”. I think that’s the best part about failing forward, when something doesn’t work, what did you learn? Can you take that to the next experiment with you?

When you say experiments, what kind of experiments do you mean?

When you’re doing experiments, say Etsy – product pricing, photos, how you promote on and off Etsy – make sure you try those things, but don’t switch up everything at once. In an experiment, you want to have everything in control and change one variable and see how it changes. Don’t change them all at once.

In business and in life, keep switching it up. Switch it up constantly. You will fail at things. This is how you know you’re trying. The magic happens outside of your comfort zone. Take this Etsy Jam as an example. If you think this right here is comfortable, it’s not. Being on video and talking about this type of stuff. I’m not an anchor, or a broadcaster; this is new to me, and it’s not a comfortable thing. Hopefully it’s something that works; so far it’s been great. This is episode 3, will we make it to 100? I don’t know. Is failure possible? Absolutely. The distinction here is we’re not trying to fail.

"We’re trying to win. It’s okay to fail when you’re trying to win. It's not okay to fail just for fail sake. Just accept that it happens. Take it as a learning opportunity."

How do you find inspiration for different ideas and things to try?

One thing I personally like to do is to see what other’s are doing. I try to take inspirations from everywhere. If for example, you’re doing a craft shop, check out what other businesses are doing. Check out what IBM is doing, what they have going on. Not saying to copy that exactly, but try to model and take things. Just because it’s working for someone else, means that it might work for you.

It takes a lot of bad ideas to find a good one. It’s like panning for gold. You sift through a lot of worthless dirt to find a small bit of gold. That’s the game. That’s life. It’s the thrill of the chase you have to love. If you’re going to keep doing this, and you’re gonna be successful – however you define success – it’s gotta be the thrill of chasing that.

"There really isn't just a magic formula. If there was, everyone would be doing it."

Everyone wants an exact recipe for success. The blueprint to find the gold. Has anyone ever watched the show Gold Rush? Those guys fail a lot. They sift through a lot of dirt. They start every season with every hope, map, scientific reasoning, they take core samples; they do all this and they always think that they will find millions in gold. But season after season they’re failing in some way. Their machines break, gold is deeper than expected, weather freezes them out. Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. That’s Murphy’s Law and it happens to them time after time. They always manage to find the bright side though. They’re always glass half full. They always take the time to learn from their mistakes. They talk about the things that happened, things in their control, out of their control, how they could have planned for them. They keep baking those into the next seasons. So every new season they talk about what happened last season and what they’re gonna do differently.

When you’re looking at other people for ideas, how do you know what would be a good indicator that that’s something to attack or even try?

It’s all about what’s gonna work for you. If something is working for someone else, then it must work for YOU too. How do you figure that out? That’s where being creative comes in. Be creative. Try to figure out, “Okay, these people are doing this, can I figure out why it might be working?” When you see something, think about “That’s working for them, but WHY?”. “Do I have the similar environment that I can use and remodel it a little bit to make it work for me as well?”

That’s how I think you can figure out what might work for you. Figure out if you have the right kind of environment. Understand why it’s working and see if you can adapt it. If it’s working for someone else, it’s a good indication that it might work for you too.

Speaking about what might work, Marmalead is an indicator. Based on what we see is working, we show you what has a good chance of working for you, too. Nothing is definitive though. The Marma-meters aren’t definitive, they’re not the end-all solution. Beware of snake oil that claims to be the end-all solution. Nothing beats getting your hands dirty and testing.

The only part of SEO that’s science is how to rank. All those things like H1 tags, meta descriptions, keyword density and all that stuff don’t even matter on Etsy. It’s different for every search engine. We focus on Etsy because that’s where your shop is and the main value proposition for being on Etsy is that they bring the audience. So really, if you want to try to rank on those other search engines, have your own site, because that’s a whole another animal.

You’re on Etsy because they’re bringing the audience, same reason you go to a crafts fair. They’re bringing the audience. You show up and it’s your job to close the sale and be found and be the booth people wanna stop at. But you’re not the one advertising, you’re not the one promoting around the city saying “Hey, come to this crafts fair!”. That’s kind of like what Etsy is, just an online version.

What to target is all about testing if it works for you. Marmalead with Marma-meters etc… it’s giving you indicators of what might work. Now go get after it and try it. See if it will work for you. Just because you can rank doesn’t mean you should. That’s also what the problems are with Google Keyword Planner, just because it has high search volume doesn’t mean you should rank on it. It doesn’t mean it will help you.

When you’re doing a bunch of stuff, how do you know something is working and not working?

I’d say from the bottom up. You want to reverse engineer what’s getting you sales. You wanna reverse engineer what’s working. You want to plant seeds and look for sprouts. When you see them, do more of that. What works for you is what matters.

I see shops everyday that worry about numbers that don’t matter. Google Keyword Planner numbers, how often you tweet, post on FB, Google Page Rank which doesn’t even mean what you think it does. Because Google Page Rank is not your ranking in a page. It’s actually named after Larry Page (co-founder of Google). It’s his system for ranking the quality of a website. Well, our Etsy shops aren’t really well set up for that. Search engines love content and they gauge things based on content, how credible this website is, and what people are looking for. So be careful with page rank out there.

Gordon’s take on Social Media:

You can’t put a financial number or a return on investment number in social media. You can’t always track back what/which tweet brought you a sale. Frame it more of a “return on relationship”. It’s not about what you’re saying. It is all about who’s listening to you, who’s engaging with you and how you can use that experience to improve your business.

Your time is precious.

Do what matters because you don’t have time for the rest. When you’re looking at numbers, looking at what to focus on or what to test, make sure you’re using the absolute best use of your time. Keep focusing on what’s working. When you get a sale, figure out where that sale is coming from. Actually talk to people, talk to your customers. Find out where they came from, or why they bought from you, all those kind of stuff. You need to learn so much about them because otherwise it’s all just like running blind. You need a system for prioritizing what activities you think will help you most. Because whenever you do some brainstorming, you can come up with 100’s of ideas. But the time to execute those ideas is pretty scarce because you’re doing so much more.

"Above all, you are a creative entrepreneur. Be creative. If a machine told you exactly what to do, all 1.6 million Etsy sellers would do the same thing. Guess what, it wouldn’t work anymore."

You need to plant seeds and look for sprouts. When you see them, do more of that. Is it working for you? That’s what matters.
I want you to forget the top level numbers. They’re just noise. You can buy followers on Twitter and FB. That doesn’t translate to sales. You can have teams view and favorite your listings, I hope they’re buying from you or it’s hurting your conversions and probably your rank.
Everyone thinks they want a big dashboard full of numbers that look important. A machine that says “Do exactly this”. Numbers that go up and to the right all the time. That’s a distraction, you don’t want that.

What do you want then?

You want the simplest view of what might work and what is working that you can possibly have. The bare minimum. You want numbers for engagement. Sales, views, favorites. These are your currency.

Closing:

That’s been it folks. I hope you enjoyed this episode. You’re welcome to attend next week! Etsy Jams every Thursday 9AM PST / 12PM EST.

Quote of the day:

"It's okay to fail as long as you're not trying to fail. You're trying to win."

Etsy Jam Episode 2: Jen Carey

Welcome everyone to the second episode of Etsy Jam!

First before we jump in to stuff too much, I’d like to make announcement that we’ve released the worksheets we talked about last week thru an email. If you didn’t receive the email, you can login to the Marmalead website and as soon as you get on to the Keyword Search page you’ll see a link to the videos describing what the worksheets are and a link to the worksheets themselves. You can download them and start using them!

Basically what we’re trying to do with those worksheets is help you guys measure when you’re making changes to your listings whether or not those changes are actually having a positive impact.

With us here today is our guest Jen Carrey whose Etsy shop is THEmodernBAZAAR!


How did Jen get started with Etsy?

Jen: “I started beading and bought buttons and make things out of it. When I started on Etsy I thought, “Oh I’m just gonna find a shop that is really successful and I’m gonna emulate that and duplicate what they do and I’m gonna make just as much money as they are”. That wasn’t working and I think once I’ve found my authentic self in designing, I kinda started to take off. It was really good.”

How did Jen achieved success?

Jen: “It’s just working hard, being diligent with it, great customer service, and photography. You have to work your butt off, and if you do, it can be great! We support our family on it [her shop].”

Did you try selling at Craft fairs or other places online before you opened a shop on Etsy?

Jen: “No we didn’t. I was a Chemical Security Expert before this, so no. I actually quit my job last March and it’s been a year since I’m doing this full time.”

I like selling on Etsy because…

Jen: “I love what I do, I love our customers, and I love being on Etsy. They provide us with a really great opportunity. It’s even gotten better when we started using your tool!”

How do you decide what listings to attack and which listings to do research for?

Jen: “Last night, I went on and I looked up ‘personalized ring’ and I know that’s a very broad keyword but I was wondering if I can rank on that. Then I noticed that the #1 and #2 listing under ‘personalized ring‘ was a coordinate ring – which we sell. So I was like, “Huh, that says something right there, cause we’re not even ranked on ‘personalized ring’“. We don’t rank in the top 500 at all, but our competition sells $18 rings and it’s cheaper than ours (since it’s plated).

What I did is I went in and I opened up their listing. I copied their tags; I took one of my listings, I took all of my tags, figured out which ones to keep and which ones to add. I took that listing and I copied it. Then I changed my title and tags with the same keywords as theirs. From a brand new listing, I automatically created a new listing that is ranking on page 3!”

"I don't usually try to rank for 'personalized ring'. I don't like to do it if it has a lot of competition. If I find a market with low competition and people are talking about it, then that's where I wanna rank usually."

How are you deciding which keywords to keep, and which ones to scrap or borrow something else they have?

Jen: “I take out generic ones. Like ‘gold rings’ etc. I took that out and replaced it with mine like ‘coordinates’, ‘stamped rings’ and ‘personalized jewelry’.”

How often do you renew?

Jen: “I don’t even know how much I renew per day. I renew almost hourly on all my targeted listings.”

Gordon's Pro tip: If you've used our worksheet, you can modify that and start tracking how many hours and see when you might fall off of that first page. That would give you a good sense of how frequently you might need to renew things on average.

Being fresh to Etsy, teaching yourself jewelry crafting and all that can be overwhelming. Where did you go for resources for all of that, how did you know all that stuff?

Jen: “Trial and error. I read a lot, learned stuff from them, learned stuff from you guys. I do not go to the forums, that’s the only thing I don’t do on Etsy. And I’m also part of a jewelry designer community. That helps me a lot too. It’s all trial and error. Hard work and kept studying things.”

What are you doing to promote your Etsy shop?

Jen: “I use Pinterest a lot. I used to have an ad running on FB. Im not really doing much on social media but luckily we have a decent following on Facebook and Pinterest. I also use Promoted Pins a lot.”

Do you still actively seek out press opportunities? Did they just call you up or email you one day? How did that happen?

Jen: “I’ve never actively searched for anybody. We’ve been in InStyle magazine last Mother’s day and that was just people that picked us up or saw our stuff on Etsy. I have not done anything, even blog outreach.”

How do you compete with cheap versions of your jewelry?

Jen: “That’s a great question. It’s happening with our ‘gold filled’ rings. We’re competing with Etsy shops that have $18 cheap gold plated rings that they buy overseas. What I’ve done recently is that I started adding more value to my listings. I educated my customers what the difference is between a gold filled jewelry and a gold plated one. That helped. We’ve been thanked a few times for giving that information and explaining the difference between a $18 ring and a $60 ring.”

You don’t go into the Etsy forums. What lead you to steer away from the Etsy forum?

Jen: “I think it’s easy to get caught up in what’s Etsy is doing and I try not to be a part of that only because it is nerve-wracking a little bit whenever they change their algorithms. I guess I just didn’t want to jump on in any negative bandwagons. I keep thinking that if I work hard, it’s good enough.”

"We're not ones to sit on forums and complain about things. If something is changing, we just change with it."

Can you talk a little bit how you price your jewelry?

Jen: “I have a formula. I take the cost of goods, plus labor if we have people to help us polish and things like that. Also we have multipliers for wholesale prices and a multiplier for retail pricing. As far as pricing goes, I do look at my competition and this is one of those things that you can go crazy over how you compare to everybody else. If you do your thing, and you’re confident what you’re putting out there, and the reason why you do this and if you can justify the money you’re asking for, then I think you’ll do well.”

You mentioned your customer base was changing. How would you tell other sellers to recognize when your customer base is changing and how to get to know your customer base?

Jen: “To be honest, there were younger people that bought $28 bracelets from us and were leaving negative reviews. We figured they are not the age group we were targeting. We’re targeting people in their 30’s primarily, people that have this experiences that they can put on our bracelets and necklaces. People that had gotten married, had babies, bought a house, all different coordinates, people that have had a lost in their lives. I want to work with people that are having these life experiences either happy or sad. We want to be there for every event in their life.”

Jen’s why: Why she do what she does.

Jen: “My Dad died 5 years ago and I wore a charm with his name on it. I wore it on my neck for about 2 years and found such comfort in that. It became important to me to help other people that are going through these similar things that I went through. I hear sad stories everyday from customers but knowing that we are helping these people get through tough times mean everything to us. I have to stay in tuned with that and if I keep that in the front of my mind then things go well for us.”

How do you do SEO for very similar items without finding yourself competing against yourself?

Jen: “I’ll compete against myself all day long! I don’t see a problem with that.”

"I'm a firm believer that the difference between people that succeed and people that don't is just the people that do it. It's only a matter of actually doing it."

Etsy Jam Episode 1: Q&A

Welcome to the first episode of our weekly Etsy Jam! We have asked a couple of questions inside of our FB Group and people jumped in with their own questions. We picked them up and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.


1. With Patterns now, are the SEO algorithms for websites separate from Etsy SEO formulas? Do they market the websites more for search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo?

With Pattern, they’re serving up a separate website. The SEO for that will be completely separate than the SEO you’re used to for your listings to be found inside Etsy. The separate website is going to be on the internet. Of course, the SEO will be separate for that and people will be finding Pattern sites using search engines and the SEO for that is gonna be driven by how the SEO works for those search engines which is very different from how SEO on Etsy works.

Keep in mind with Pattern, also, is a way to be able to have a little bit of extra creative control over what your Etsy shop looks like without going to fully owned hosted like WordPress type solutions. Your normal Etsy shop not using Patterns also gets picked up by search engines, so you’re going to see that optimization for Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

2. I have a vintage jewelry shop and it’s very difficult to find optimal keywords in Marmalead for my items. It seems that market is very refined. Any suggestions for non-handmade items?

Its a lot of the same as with handmade items. You have to find and kind of step out of the uniqueness and start to think about the way people are gonna start finding your items. I know a lot of your stuff is one-of-a-kind, maybe it IS one-of-a-kind for your shop, but its not a “one-of-a-kind” in the world. I am sure there’s a problem that it solves – some solution that is gonna be consistent across other products. I would try to find those.

3. I would like to know if there’s a plan to somehow connect by correlation (maybe a factor or something) Marmalead engagement with Google Keywords. Any 3+ word strings seem to have Low or Very Low Engagement and the 2 word string ones are just too broad and there is too much competition to be realistically seen in a market like ‘jewelry’.

When you’re attacking one of these really broad keywords, typically these ones that we see like ‘jewelry’ have extraordinarily high engagement and competition level on those keywords is excruciatingly high. This spaces are super competitive and super crowded and there’s a lot of people vying for attention for keywords like jewelries. To succeed in this markets, aim for more niche sections. People are able to compete in this super duper crowded spaces but it often relies on something more than just putting the keywords at the beginning of your title and inside your tags and renewing your listings. Those are the 3 main factors which will influence your rank on Etsy.

Since this places are so crowded and so many people are doing those things, Etsy has to rely on something else to decide how to rank these listings. It could be your review scores, it could be number of sales that you have, it could be the percentage of people that convert to be customers after they visit your listings. These are the kind of details that Etsy doesn’t directly share with us – how they’re algorithm works. We know those are factors; we don’t know how they play into things. So for those really broad keywords that have a lot of competition, you might not be able to jump in right off the bat and compete in those spaces so attacking those longer string keywords is going to be your best bet even though they might have lower engagement. You’re going to be seen there more than you will if you attack those really generic keywords. Once you build up a history of reviews, sales, repeat customers, and things like that – you can try attacking those broader keywords and you might have more success in those spaces.

Furthermore, if you get ranked on page 10 for a highly engaging keyword, then you’re not really getting that true engagement. You’re not getting the views because you’re so far back. You’d be better off being on pages 1 or 2 of something not as highly engaged.

4. Is there a threshold for views per week which is a number that we share with you guys in Marmalead that would determine whether it’s good or bad? Or is this factored in with competition/listings featuring this keyword?

When we score engagement in Marmalead, we factor everything together. We’re looking at “Views per Week” which is the clearest indicator of engagement that we have from Etsy versus the amount of competition that you’re seeing in those areas. If you’re in a competitive area, that’s gonna require more views per week to drive the engagement score up. There isn’t necessarily a threshold that you should be looking at that “Views per Week” number. You should just be balancing that with the number of results that are showing up and the number of shops competing in that space to get a sense of which keywords that you’re looking at have the highest engagement against the competition.

This is the thing we’re trying to do with Marma-meters. The scaling you see there (from Very Low – Very High) is weighted to account for the crowdedness of the space you’re looking at.

5. What would you say is a good conversion rate from views to sales?

Etsy suggests that 3% conversion rate is a good target and in our Shop Fitness Calculator we’re seeing about 1.1%. The average that we’ve seen with the Shop Fitness Calculator is right around 1.1% and this is from sellers just like yourselves on Etsy reporting how many views they’ve had and how many sales they’ve had over a certain time period.

There’s a misconception about the Shop Fitness Calculator that people are saying it’s biased because the only people that are taking it are doing really well on Etsy. That’s not true. We actually have people from all walks coming to Marmalead and taking their Shop Fitness Test. So whether you’re just starting now, been here for a long time, or maybe you haven’t found success yet it’s really a mix of everybody. It’s an accurate sample.

6. Discussion about results when using refined words vs. more common words. Why it is important to use both?

Generic keywords and long tail keywords, if you think about it, they are stages of a customer’s buying cycle. If you’re the shopper, chances are you’re starting with something pretty broad, maybe you need some ‘wall art’. After you start looking at some wall arts, you’re gonna start to get more refined with your search. You might go with something more particular – like an ‘oil painting print’. You’re going to be more and more specific about the item you want and the more specific someone is about their search – the closer to buying they are. That is why it is important to use different types of keywords because you’re reaching different stages of people in search of an item.

7. Difference of views based on Etsy search page vs. Marmalead and why there is a discrepancy.

There are a lot of reasons for this now, and Etsy keeps giving us more reasons for this. If you’re logged in Etsy and you’re doing some searches, the results you’ll see are personalized to you. The general order are gonna stay roughly the same but here and there they’re going to sprinkle some things: maybe listings you’ve visited before, or shops you purchased from before etc. So if you go to Etsy and search that same keyword and go to Marmalead and do the same, the results they’re delivering to you are personalized for you and the ones you’re getting back from Marmalead are a generic set of results – since we’re not passing your identity back to Etsy to pull custom results for you. Marmalead shows you generic set of results that haven’t been altered in any way.

If you’re not logged in to Etsy or you’re using Incognito Mode, you can still see some small discrepancies in the way search results are returned to you versus returned through Marmalead. The reason this happens is because Etsy likes to play with their search algorithm to keep each search result fresh for potential shoppers.

The other reason why this happens is because the results Etsy is returning to us through their API is much closer to how they deliver results through their mobile app. If you do a comparison of what you see in the mobile app vs what we show you in Marmalead, those two are much closer than what you would see in their website.

8. The right way to use the Marma-meter. Is this really just green-green-green?

Yes, those are ideal. Those are great scenarios but if you find something that has lower competition and has decent engagement, and you think it’s something that’s gonna start to sprout; feel free to invest in that. If we’re thinking long term, it’s okay to invest in some keywords that you think will grow over time as far as engagement goes. Especially if they have small competition to boot with.

When you look at the Marma-meters, the number one thing that you should consider is Engagement. You always wanna be finding keywords that have High Engagement. If you’re targeting keywords that people aren’t engaging with (i.e. they’re not viewing, they’re not favoriting) then you’re going to have a tough time finding sales in that area.

Bonus: Is it Working Tracker

We’ve been hearing a lot from people that they’re enjoying Marmalead and they are getting addicted doing a bunch of searches and stuff (thanks a lot guys!).

But how do you know it’s working? We have put together the simplest way of measuring this.

It’s called the “Is It Working Tracker”. You can get a copy of the PDF file here and the instructions are available as well. Hopefully it’s not too hard for you folks.

Closing:

That’s been it everyone. I hope you enjoyed our first episode. You’re welcome to attend next week! Etsy Jams every Thursday 9AM PST / 12PM EST