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.