My Dad was the king of cheesy but endearing adages. One of these was used frequently enough that the question portion was enough to make the point: “You know what happens when you assume?” The answer of course being: “You make an ass out of you and me” (ass+u+me ; get it?).
I realized as I was composing this week’s post and working on potential upcoming posts that I have taken for granted (also known as “assuming”) that the whole entire world knows what Etsy is – or at least everyone stumbling upon this lil’ ole blog. As a general rule, however, I don’t like to be an ass, so I thought I would write a sort of “Etsy for Dummies” post for anyone that may not be familiar with the wonder that is Etsy.
Etsy is many things. It is not, however, any of the following:
-a type of sushi
-a department store
-a children’s cartoon
-a celebrity baby name
-a skateboarding move
-a television network
Being the scholar that I am, I would usually turn to a more reliable source (like the Oxford English Dictionary), but for this particular word, Urban Dictionary was the place to go:
Etsy: 1)An online community of artist and crafters. 2) A online community where one can buy and sell handmade goods, vintage items, and related supplies. 3) An online collection of independent stores. 4) An alternative to auction websites such as ebay. (Source: urbandictionary.com).
Now, I know what you’re thinking – first, definition 1 should read “artists” not “artist,” and definition 2 should read “an online” not “a online” – and I’m glad you’re so grammatically conscious . Typos aside, however, this is a pretty accurate general description.
You can find anything on Etsy. Seriously. Think of something random, type it in, and you will likely find at least one product. The artisans are all around the world and will even tell you ahead of time how much shipping will cost and the likely turnaround time for the product to be made (if applicable) and for it to get to you. Most Etsy artisans also have quirky and/or beautiful wrapping and shipping materials. Shopping through Etsy allows you to work with independent merchants around the world (if you’re trying to be local, you can look for merchants in your area) and they take great care in making and sending you their wares. The bulk of Etsy products are handmade or repurposed somehow, but Etsy also has sellers of vintage items and craft supplies (like beads to make jewelry). Etsy serves as a sort of market where all sorts of cool independent artisans and vintage sellers rent a virtual shop or stall to display their goods.
So here is a screenshot of Etsy’s homepage (this is assuming you’ve already created an Etsy account, at which point, your username will appear where the green box is).
In the nice grey bar, you can see Etsy’s search engine. If you were to click on the arrow next to “Handmade,” you would see the following drop-down menu:
So if you want to do a keyword search, you would leave “Handmade” selected, enter your keyword(s) and click search. I think “Vintage” is pretty self-explanatory, “Supplies” would be where you search for say beads to make jewelry, “All Items” would include all of these things. If you knew the name of a “Shop” or person on Etsy and wanted to locate them, you could select one of those headings.
Now if you just wanted to browse (WARNING: browsing can lead to a rapidly diminishing checking account. ), you could choose one of the categories from the left-hand sidebar:
Every time you go to your Etsy homepage, you will see a Treasury. This is Etsy’s term for the collection of themed thumbnail images of products:
Treasuries are collections made my other Etsy users, usually with some type of theme. Anyone can make a Treasury and they’re a great way to see items you may not have thought of searching or, or find similar items. If you were to click on a product photo, you will be redirected to the page for that item.
So here is a screenshot after you have pulled up an item that you like, to help you understand what’s going on (I’m betting you know what the “Add to Cart,” “Favorite,” and “Contact” buttons do ):
I encourage you to check out the information below the product photo (“additional product info”). Here you will get details about size, materials, store sizing policies, if they offer custom sizes, different colors that are available, which items are available. Reading this info will help limit misunderstandings – especially when ordering customized items.
You can add items to your virtual “cart,” and then check out with credit card or PayPal information and your items will be shipped to you (or someone else, if they’re gifts).
Spreading the Love
Etsy artisans are independent artists and businesses, so they want your patronage and they want you to tell your friends. Facebook or Tweet about items, click the heart “Favorite” button on items you like sot hat you can keep track of them and the artists know what people are interested in. When it comes to Pinterest, however, please be careful. I generally recommend avoiding pinning Etsy items to Pinterest – as much as I love Pinterest, it can become a black hole for artistic property. If you can’t resist pinning something, I would suggest contacting the seller to get their permission to pin – then make sure to “Pin” directly from the Etsy page, and include the full URL in the description. Also, don’t pin Etsy photos in DIY-themed Pinterest boards – someone worked hard to develop that idea and we want to be respectful of that.
Gift it Up
Use Etsy for your gift giving: birthdays, babies, weddings, holidays, whatever. Not only are you supporting cool independent artists, but you are turning new people on to the wonder that is Etsy as well as the individual artist. So when I gave my sister personalized stationery from Etsy, she wanted to know where it came from – so I got to tell her Etsy AND the artist that made it, and she gets to share that info with everyone that receives and asks about her nifty notecards. Etsy sellers are usually really awesome about sending the item directly to the giftee and some will even provide some sort of special wrapping.
Etsy artists are often busy, but they’re also really friendly. If you see something that you LOVE but it’s in the wrong color or you don’t see your size, contact the seller. Most sellers will also do some sort of custom order. I have many stories about the wonder of custom Etsy orders, so if you have questions – please let me know, I’d be happy to share! I’ve had many times where I needed a rush order or a funny size and the artists were more than willing to accommodate, sometimes they were unable to, but I only knew because I asked
This is an incredibly crucial part of Etsy. When you buy and receive an item, you are asked to leave feedback to help other buyers. Here’s a screenshot of the feedback screen (with my purchases:) ):
Here you can see my purchases from Sarah’s Memory Makers and Buligaia (both featured Indie Maven artists!). Now, you select “Positive,” “Neutral,” or “Negative,” type up a comment, submit a photo of your new item if you are so inclined, and submit. Now this is VERY important: Etsy is NOT like Amazon or Ebay, and this feedback is critical to the sellers. Now, I will bet that most (if not all) times, you will be 100% ecstatic with your purchase, but if for some reason you are less than happy, Etsy etiquette is to FIRST contact the seller directly and discuss your dissatisfaction. Most sellers will do anything within reason (so be reasonable ) to fix the problem and make you happy. Negative ratings are detrimental to Etsy artisans, so please take the time to work with them BEFORE submitting anything less than a rave review.
I love Etsy and I love the products and artists that it supports. I can only cover so much information in this post though, and I wanted it to be a general sort of overview. If you have any other questions or want to share your awesome Etsy experience, please comment below!
(Header font is Dawning of A New Day by Kimberly Gaswein.)