16 April 2007

Etsy Mother's Day Showcase

Today marks the first day of the special Mother's Day Showcase on Etsy. I decided to take the plunge and sign up for a couple of showcase slots in an effort to attract a little attention from potential buyers. Unfortunately, today's showcase was fraught with problems, so I'm not getting the benefit of the extra international exposure that I was hoping for. Who knows, this may prove to be a blessing in disguise since I'm currently offering free shipping and I can see international shipping being my undoing.

My mom asked what the showcase is and how it works so I thought maybe some of the people who read my blog might wonder as well. The Etsy Showcase is a special area of the site which highlights 36 sellers by showing a photo montage of select items from their shops. The showcase area is accessed via a prominently placed banner on the front page of the Etsy home page. Since there are only 36 spaces per day of the showcase, there's quite a bit of competition for them. Showcase hopefuls must find out when the showcase slots will be going on sale, and then to be prepared to jump at the opportunity as soon as the slots open. It feels, on one level, like a classic feeding frenzy, although the interface is nothing like that.

The showcase has been somewhat controversial. It started as an advertising program prior to the holidays and special ads were purchased on a number of high-profile internet sites. Those early showcase spots were a bit of a train wreck. There were only 25 slots per day, there was little or no notice, and those few sellers who were lucky enough to find out about the opportunity snatched up as many spots as they could meaning that the opportunity was available to even fewer sellers than might have had the chance originally.

Etsy has tried to address many of the early problems. They added 11 slots to the showcase, limited sellers to 2 showcase slots per sales period, started giving more notice about when showcase slots would go on sale, and have had several special showcases which ran in tandem with the original showcase to increase the exposure opportunities. (Specifically a Valentines for Boys, Valentines for Girls and now the Mother's Day Showcase) Their solutions are far from perfect. Showcase slots still sell out quickly and, since they're usually offered around Noon EST, they're usually gone before many non-US sellers have a chance to check the site.

It is also very frustrating that Etsy has stopped (permanently? who knows? there's almost no communication between admins and the user base anymore) purchasing outside advertising linked to the showcase. Since that was supposed to be the purpose of the $7.00 USD charge per showcase slot, I'm a bit dismayed.

So why, you might ask, did I purchase spots in the Mother's Day Showcase? There are actually several reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that I need (want?) the additional exposure on Etsy. The vast majority of my work is listed in the jewelry category which is absolutely huge. I believe strongly that my work is different from most of what's in the category, but it is easy for a couple dozen pieces to be completely lost in the hundreds of pages of listings in such a large and diverse category. I am certain that if the right people see my work, they will want it. The Mother's Day Showcase is an opportunity for my work to be visible in a much smaller sea of jewelry.

I feel that the Mother's Day Showcase is particularly appropriate because the majority of my work is directed at an audience of knitters and fiber artists, many of whom make their mother's day gifts and then look for something to go with their handmade present. (Something exactly like what I make...)

I also believe that if we, as sellers, want the site to succeed we must do what we can to support it. Whether the money is used for advertising, which **WAS** the stated purpose and is certainly a part of what we must all hope for, or for site improvements it is in everyone's best interest to do what we can to give back to the site and support its continued growth.

Which is to say that I'm feeling a little frustrated today about the Showcase. Although Matt has said that Etsy will refund (remove the charges from our bills?) the costs of today's showcase,
That doesn't really address the loss of exposure, the time spent trying to get the showcase slots, the time spent tidying up the shop in hopes/anticipation of additional traffic, etc. I can't help feeling that the situation is made even worse by the fact that there has been no direct communication from Etsy Admin with the people effected by the situation. A discussion began on the forum last night when the Showcase was not up at Midnight EST which is when the changeovers and updates are supposed to occur. At almost 8 am, Matt posted that the situation was a result of some technical problem and would soon be resolved. No conversations or email messages were sent to effected sellers, no announcement was made in the Etsy Blog (which is where official news and information are supposed to be posted), and our monthly bills still reflect the charge for the slots we purchased.

12 April 2007

Radio Silence

I'd like to start by apologizing for my prolonged absence. The end of March, first of April, I went to Bowling Green, Ohio by myself to visit a friend and check out a fiber festival. It was a great weekend but a bit of a whirlwind. It was immediately followed by a quick trip to Louisville and then Indiana for photos of Sprout.

Prior to leaving for Bowling Green, I finished sculpting the last of a series of agateware goddesses for a Beads of Clay group bead swap. The beads were left for the weekend in the food dehydrator in my studio to ensure that they were bone dry for firing when I returned. Since I was pressed for time, I single fired the goddesses to cone 10. I didn't glaze them because I wanted to fit them all into a single firing, so I actually had some space for some colored porcelain beads that I stained with a wash of albany slip and blue stoneware glaze mixed. After firing, everything got a trip through the rock tumbler to clean it up and smooth away the burrs that sometimes result when beads temporarily fuse in the high temperature firings. (That albany slip/glaze wash can sometimes run slightly and glue the beads together. They pull apart easily enough but there is sometimes a rough spot where the beads were fused.)

This week, I've updated the MysticSpiral Etsy Shop and done a bit of metal work at the torch in an effort to be ready to make more shawl pins as soon as the current batch of faces, spindle whorls and other raku beads have been fired. Part of my motivation in this, as those of you who are here from the Lime&Violet podcast or message boards probably already know, is that I've been spending a lot of time hanging out on a knitting forum and was recently the recipient of some beautiful compliments from the lovely and fabulous Lime and Violet.

It's an odd experience to sit down to work while listening to a podcast that has become a part of your regular routine and to hear yourself mentioned by voices that have become familiar companions in spite of never having met. Such was my experience about 38 minutes into Episode 32 of the L&V podcast.(link to actual MP3 of the podcast) I'd read the show notes when I downloaded the podcast to put on my mp3 player, so I knew that they had received the shawl pins that I'd sent and that they were using some of them as half-way through prizes in the L&V Sock Marathon. Let's just say that it is probably not a good idea to be startled (or pleasantly surprised) while holding hot metal in the flame of a propane torch... I am certain that I sat there for a full minute and a half with a stupid grin on my face while I held the bronze rod in the torch flame and the heat gradually spread to my fingertips... I know from past experience that the ridge pattern of my fingerprints will grow back, but for now, my prints have interesting voids where I singed my fingers with the hot metal.

Well, I could continue typing and linking and typing and linking for quite a while so I'll cut this off here and maybe have something left for another blog entry sooner rather than later.