Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creating an Etsy Listing from My Phone

I've definitely enjoyed having the Etsy app on my iPhone. The "cha-ching" sound when something sells gives me a thrill. It's also been nice to instantly respond to conversations. I don't know what your experience has been, but I've found that most people that contact me tend to ask a question and then never respond to the answer I send.

They'll ask about a custom order, adding a necklace to a pendant, etc. For custom items, I tell them that they'll need to pay in advance and then I never hear from them again. The majority of the convos I get on Etsy are asking about items I sold in the past. Since we tend to make things as the mood hits us, much of what we make is pretty one-of-a-kind. We often don't have the same materials available to be able to make more of the same item.

Today was a much more positive experience. Someone who had been searching the Internet for a specific items was happy to find what she was looking for in my shop. The color wasn't exactly what she wanted so she sent me a message. After some conversation back and forth via the Etsy app on my phone, I knew that I had what she wanted even though I didn't have it listed in our shop. I quickly took some photos and was able to list it through the app. Within minutes, she bought the item and was very happy.

Have you tried adding a new listing through the Etsy app?


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Inadvertent Infringement

I would guess that a good percentage of sellers on Etsy end up being accused of copying another person's work or of some sort of rights infringement at some point. My first brush with this came over the last year when someone sent me a message saying that a design on one of our stone necklaces was a copy of their friend's design. My response to her pointed out that the design was based on a very common Native American symbol and that my husband had altered the design to fit on the stone and incorporated some design elements that matched his interests.

Sometimes the problem with seemingly identical designs can happen by accident. More than one person could come up with a particular idea. In the tatting community I have seen this happen and I think that it happens as people try to figure out a way to make a specific design since they use common patterns and stitches. Designs may look the same but were not actually copied.

My latest experience came this last week with a message from a company about my use of their name in my product description. Even though the buttons they objected to were made from photos of the blankets and shawls made my that company, I don't know how much standing I actually have in using their name in the description. I've heard of some crafters getting into trouble for making jewelry or other items from Lego building blocks, both because of using the Lego name and for selling items made from the blocks. The second part of the objection to my buttons was that they pictured blanket designs trademarked by that company. I hadn't really thought of any of this being a problem, especially since you can't properly describe the items without using those names. (It reminds me of all the ads currently running that reference "The Big Game" since using the actual name of the NFL's championship game gets you in trouble.)

Has anyone else run into similar problems? I'm curious to know what crafters can do with these trademarked names and copyrighted designs. Would a photo of someone holding one of these items be illegal to sell? After hearing the horror stories of people losing their Etsy shops over accusations like this I wasn't willing to take that risk. I removed the questionable items from my shop. What would you do?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Etsy to Provide Phone Support

Providing phone support for a major website may seem like something that would happen automatically, but that hasn't been the case for Etsy. One of the biggest frustrations for shop owners who have had their shops suspended by Etsy is that they couldn't call and talk to a real live person. Sorting out that kind of situation via email isn't the best way to handle it and took more time.

Etsy has announced that they will be launching phone support for shop suspensions and problems with Direct Checkout. You still won't be able to call Etsy for help. Instead, there will be a way to indicate that you want someone to call you and tell a little about the situation. The Etsy support person will then research the situation and call you. At first I didn't like that setup, but it made more sense as I had a chance to let it sink in. Allowing the support person to do some research before you talk to them will save time in the long run. If you had called in directly, you'd probably be spending a lot of time on hold as they checked into your concerns.

Here's to long awaited progress!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Etsy overhauls its feedback system

Over the last week, Etsy rolled out a new system for providing feedback on purchases. The old system
allowed the buyer to rate the seller and the seller to rate the buyer. It was created back when more sellers were accepting checks and money orders as payment and needed to know if they could trust the buyer. With most purchases being made with credit cards and through PayPal, rating the buyer is more of a bother, especially if you make a lot of sales.

"Feedback" is now gone and has been replaced by "Shop Reviews," which can be found in the "Your Shop" menu dropdown. Shops can receive ratings in a 1-5 star system as well as comments about their purchase. Etsy has incorporated processing and shipping estimates into the system, so be aware that buyers may not be able to review their purchases immediately if Etsy believes that they won't receive the items for several days.

The details for Shop Reviews are up as well as an FAQ area. I believe this is a good change, but only time will tell. Some shop owners are nervous about not being able to respond to negative reviews. Because the reviewer's profile is attached to the review, I'm hoping this will discourage those who are abusive with negative reviews. Etsy is also supposed to have a way to report abusive reviews as well. I think the new format is much more attractive and usable for prospective customers.

Have you looked at your shop's reviews? What do you think?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Etsy Gives Us a Dashboard

While playing around in my Etsy shop this last week, I noticed there was a new feature. Etsy has given sellers a dashboard to put all your shop information in one convenient place. I love it! You can see some quick stats and it compares them to the previous month and the previous year. I like seeing the tally of how many sold orders are not paid or not shipped and how many orders will expire in the next week, how many are expired, and how many are sold out.

At the top are links to the more detailed information for your shop and at the bottom is a showing of recent shop activity.  Read more about the dashboard on Etsy's blog.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Who Controls Your Etsy Shop?

Is your Etsy shop really yours? You may own your merchandise and may even have trademarked your business name, but that Etsy shop doesn't belong to you. I was reminded of this recently as I read about shop owners whose shops were shut down temporarily or permanently and Etsy had ultimate control over the situation.

"That will never happen to me," you say? You agreed to a pretty long list of terms and conditions when you joined Etsy and started selling. Etsy makes the final call on whether you exist on their site or not. I suggest you read about some of these experiences and see what they've gone through.

One of my sons has a friend who was able to quit her day job when her Etsy shop became successful. Things were going amazingly well for years and then, one day, she received an email from Etsy telling her that her shop had been closed because an item she was selling violated somebody else's copyright. Even though she tried taking the item out of her shop, explained that she wasn't aware that someone had a copyright on the word she was using on that item, and promised to be more careful, the shop stayed permanently closed. Etsy deleted it and she was suddenly out of business. No chance to alert customers and let them know where to find her. No access to product photos and descriptions so she could set up on another handmade site. Out of curiosity I Googled the word/phrase she had used and although it was part of the title of a book (where the complaint originated), it was used so commonly across the webiverse that I don't think they had a case for establishing a "copyright." She still had no right to even confront her accuser.

I recently had someone contact me about an item in my shop, asking me to remove it because it was a copy of someone else's work. After I got over being furious...and that took some time...I replied to them and explained the process behind that particular design, the inspiration, and how it ended up the way it did. I also explained that it's not uncommon for more than one person to come up with an idea, especially when working with cultural symbols. The complainer never responded to my explanation, but I was still a little anxious since just an accusation can get a shop shut down.

I'm not saying that you should leave or avoid Etsy. It's still the best platform for me as a seller and I plan to stick with it. Other similar online sites have the same risks. What I am saying is to be prepared. We bought our own custom domain (www.nativeandpilgrim.com) early on, keeping our customers connected to us if we move our shop (plus it looks better than the Etsy shop address). My goal is to eventually have our domain point to a site that combines this blog and showcase and link to our shop rather than sending it directly to Etsy. I've also realized I need to preserve my product photos and descriptions somewhere, just in case.
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