Thoughtful Thursday – How To Navigate & Why It’s Worth It

For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, it’s a host site, similar to one like Ebay or Artfire, that only allows handmade, vintage (20 years or older,) and arts and crafts supplies. Of course, the non-vintage resellers and the “this was handmade by someone” resellers creep in, and I apologize ahead of time for that. (Clue – read the description – if it seems strange, or blatantly avoids the words “handmade” or “vintage,” it might not be legit.) We, the Etsy sellers, do our best to flag, or report, these kinds of sellers so that the site stays true to the vintage and handmade movement.

We’ve been on for over a year now, and have seen lots of growth and changes. There’s a huge social aspect to the site that allows sellers to discuss business topics, ask Etsy about bugs, and talk about life in general. There are forums, chats, live feeds. There’s an Etsy blog filled with helpful tips on how to run your own business, how to survive craft fairs, and inspirational articles. There’s a “Treasury” section where artists can feature everyone’s items but their own (well, you can do it, but it’s frowned upon) and possibly get their treasury featured on the Etsy home page.  Oh yeah, and then, then there are the shops.

Wait – did you find them? I know, I know. You clicked on one link, thinking it would take you somewhere, but it took you to a totally different place. This, along with non-vintage, non-handmade resellers is the biggest complaint amongst Etsy sellers. I’ve heard several comments from family members who found it nearly impossible to navigate Etsy.  So, since there’s no tutorial on the site guiding you through the maze that is Etsy, here are a few tips:

1. If you’re looking for a specific shop, go up to the dropdown button next to the search box. Click that button, select “Sellers,” then type the exact name of that seller into the search box. If you don’t enter the username correctly, chances are the shop may not come up in the search results.

2. If you’re looking to stay in that specific shop, use that shop’s sections, and the “forward” and “back” buttons on your browser or on the Etsy page to look at items. Once you’ve clicked on a specific item to view the listing, use the “shop” link to go back to the store’s home page, or use the “forward” and “back” buttons on your browser.

3. Other links within a specific listing: If you click the shop name, it takes you to the seller’s Bio. If you click “favorites,” it takes you to that seller’s favorite items and shops. If you click “feedback,” you can look at the feedback that seller has given and received. Click “contact” to send a private conversation to the seller.

4. If you are searching for a specific kind of item within a seller’s shop, use the search box at the top of the page, but be sure the dropdown button says “This Shop.” If you don’t see that option on the dropdown button, navigate back to the shop’s home page using your browser arrows, then try.

5. If you’re searching for a specific kind of item and want to search all shops on Etsy, select your category from the dropdown button. Select “All Items” if you want to search in all three categories: vintage, handmade, and supplies.

6. If you’re searching for an item, but don’t know exactly what you want, select a category on the left side of the Etsy home page. Searching by category allows you to narrow down your search and find the item you want.

7. If you have trouble remembering the names of the shops you like, or the title of an item you wanted to buy later, make an account with Etsy as a buyer, and click the “favorite” button on the shop’s main page, or on a specific listing. Then, you can click the “Favorites” link at the top of your page to see the list of the items you like.

So, there you have it. There are lots of ways you can search on Etsy, and lots of ways you can end up in places you didn’t intend. “Why bother?” you ask.

First, there are few sites you can shop that sell a wide variety of only handmade and vintage items. Etsy sellers take pride in their product, and put time and effort into making quality things, and researching quality vintage. You can rest assured that you’re buying something special, and that there was a lot of love put into the creation or selection and listing process of that one thing.

Second, you’re supporting small business. In tough economic times, supporting small business is one of the best things you can do to keep our economy going. Not to mention, you’ll boost their morale! Often, you’ll make a friend for life when you find a reliable seller who truly appreciates your business and is willing to go the extra mile for you because of it.

Third, you can almost always find exactly what you want. Many of the handmade sellers on Etsy take custom orders and/or customize their items. That means you get the size, color, shape, scent, flavor, and price you want. Just convo a seller you like, or put a request in the “Alchemy” section of Etsy for the item you want. Take a look at some alchemy requests, and you’ll see that there’s no such thing as too “out there” for Etsians! Somebody, somewhere, knows how to give you just what you want. And that makes it totally worth it.

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