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PSS Guide to Etsy: Etiquette

Welcome to part 2 in my ongoing series on running your Etsy shop.  See part 1 here.

Today I want to talk about Etsy etiquette both for customers and  shop owners.

1. Imititation as a form of flattery?

Perhaps the number one most frustrating thing designers mention about having an Etsy shop is when they get ripped off by other shop owners. It has happened to every single seller I know and it’s happened to me on more than one occasion.

So what do you do? I don’t know that there’s a solid way to make sure that it doesn’t ever happen – it most likely will, especially if you’re doing cool stuff. The first step you can take is to convo or email the seller directly and make sure that they are aware of the situation. Many times what happens is that the offending seller has been shown an unsourced image of someone else’s work and asked to recreate it. That’s certainly a scenario I see on a regular basis. “Hey,  I love this particular design; can you make something that looks like it for me?”  In this instance, you can use it as a chance to educate the other seller on who you are why it’s so offensive that they are ripping you off.

But what do you do if they don’t remove it? There’s always the recourse of reporting them to Etsy, sending them a letter from a lawyer, or taking them to task on social media and asking all your followers to barrage them with hatemail (I’m only halfway kidding about that last one.)  In the end, you may or may not achieve the resolution you hope for.

Many times I’ve been eaten up emotionally for days over this kind of thing. At some point I decided that I have to be willing at the end of the day to take a deep breath and let it go. Focus on the fact that you are creating the very best and that you can’t control what other people are doing, you can only control what you are creating. If I refocus all that negative energy into creating something wonderful, then I’m not losing precious hours of my life focusing on the bad.

2. Spread the Good News

Switching gears from the bad news, let’s talk about spreading good news. People love to get good news, so if you blog about an Etsy seller, or create a fabulous treasury with their item, let them know about it! Send them a Twitter or FB message, or even an Etsy convo. Oftentimes the Etsy shopowner might not have even known that you mentioned them.  Leave a comment or send a message letting them know that you saw what they posted and that you appreciate the consideration.

3. Hey, where’d you get that?

Another situation I frequently encounter is an email or message from another seller asking for product sources. This is a sticky situation as oftentimes this is considered proprietary information to the business. Emailing shopowners to say, “I love that and I want to make it too” doesn’t exactly make the shopowner want to share their sources. While I’m definitely of the camp that “there’s enough business for all of us to be in business,” I don’t appreciate emails from people when it’s clear they haven’t put the time into researching it themselves.

Sourcing of items can be a lot of work, time, and energy. Certain items, such as cell phone case manufacturers, aren’t exactly difficult to find, so when a message is received asking for sourcing, it’s frustrating to the seller because it comes across that you’re not willing to do the work to find it yourself. If you want the sourcing for something, be willing to go out there and hunt for it. However, other things can be more of a needle in a haystack,  and I understand being frustrated at not being able to find it.  In the end, as a seller, I’m not likely to part with many of my sources with only a single email.

My best advice in this situation is to build a relationship with fellow Etsy sellers. Explain your situation if you’ve been hunting for something for a long time. Communicating clearly and building relationships are the best and most polite way to accomplish these goals.

4. Pitching

So you’re a blogger and you love a certain Etsy seller’s item and you think your readership would love it too. That’s great – and I know that as a seller we appreciate the publicity. However, many of the emails follow a similar theme:

I love your _____ product and all of my readers will love it too! Would you send me a sample of ____ product for a review? I’d also love to offer a giveaway to my readers too!

Blog giveaways and/or product reviews = advertising to a seller’s business. As a seller, plan on having an advertising budget so you can distribute items without going nuts. Just because a certain blog wants you to send them stuff doesn’t mean you should.  Advertising dollars need to be spent wisely; does the blog fit your demographic? Do they have enough readership to make it worth the time and money? Will they talk about (amplify) your item on their social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram, etc) in addition to their blog? Set your boundaries up in advance, including a post date, so you aren’t left wondering what happened to your money and your advertising.

If you’re a blogger, work on creating a better pitch than just “I’d like one of these to review.” Reviews of items aren’t enough to galvanize me to action, especially if I’ve never heard of your blog.  Put together a savvy pitch – have a plan for what you’d like to do with my product. Designlovefest has an excellent article on how to pitch to brands, and this can apply even to smaller brands such as Etsy shops.  Include a media kit with how many followers you have on all social media, number of pageviews monthly, and any fantastic press you’ve received. I need to know that more than just your mom and your husband are reading it.

Etsy Sellers: I’m curious to know your experiences with Etsy etiquette. What are your dos and don’ts?

Etsy Consumers: what are your thoughts too? Pet peeves about Etsy etiquette?