20 Jun 2009

Shop Critique, Toil & Trouble

This Saturday is the start of a new feature here on Autonomous Artisans. I have offered to write critiques for peoples handmade shops. These will not be scathing nit picking reviews, more just picking out the things people do very well and a gentle nudge to let them know the things that they aren't yet getting quite right. Please go to the persons shop that is being critiqued in the article and leave them some helpful, constructive comments here about their shops. Remember that all these shops have humans behind them that have feelings, so please don't be heartless and cold in your comments, be encouraging and helpful.

Our first brave volunteer is Toil & trouble, who has a knitwear and felt goods shop on Etsy.

When I opened up her shop the first thing I noticed was the banner. The bright colours are perfect and they suit the goods you find in the shop perfectly. I love the font, but I did find it a little hard to read as it blends a little into the busy grass background. That can be easily cured in photoshop, leaving the font more readable and the background intact. Aislin if you need help with that contact me and I can help you sort it out.

Next I noticed the Featured items that Etsy allows you to have at the top of your shop. I love the way they tone well together. It gives an over all coordinated feel to the shop. Also what is great about the items you have chosen to feature is the fact that they are of a variety of prices. If all you feature is high end goods it may put some people off looking further. The mixture is great. Remember to change them regularly to give all of your goods a feature. I would suggest once or twice a week.

The categories are used well, so that shoppers can quickly find what they are looking for. I particularly like the category "Newest" as it encourages returning visitors to the shop to see what you have just listed. I think I would change the name to "New Arrivals" or "New Designs" to denote just what you get when you click on it, because I wasn't quite sure.

Now onto Photographs. Your photos are well staged, which I like very much. They show all angles of the items and details and close ups. The majority are crisp and in sharp focus, but one or two of them are a little out of focus. Not by much, but they could be slightly crisper. You can achieve this by using the macro setting on your camera when you take close ups and using a tripod to avoid hand shake.

This one is beautifully crisp...

this one is very close but not quite in focus.

The only thing I would add is to tell you that by having your items modelled on living breathing humans can put some people off buying. I personally don't mind it for goods like yours, but some people really do and it would prevent them from feeling like they can purchase from you, because they feel that the goods are already used if they have been worn at all. For them it appears to be a question of hygiene. This isn't really a criticism of your photographs, it's just a heads up of how some people feel.

Your descriptions of your goods are wonderful. They give all the details about the item for sale and they do it in an enthusiastic way. Enthusiasm is catching and it makes buyers more keen to own the goods. The only thing that would improve them is if you could put dimensions on every item and put them in both inches and centimetres. On most listings you already have inches, but remember some people don't really use inches any more and can visualise sizes better with measurements in centimetres.

I like your profile. It gives an insight into who you are and it is a light hearted read so your customers will feel like they know who they are purchasing from. That's very important on-line as they don't get to meet you in the flesh as they would in a bricks and mortar shop. It gives them a little more confidence to hand over their money.

Your shop policies are written in a factual but friendly way. The only thing I would add is to tell international buyers what method you use to ship the goods to them.

Your Feedback from customers is so glowing it shows me and all other visitors to your shop that you make great goods and have great customer services, so you are obviously getting that side of things completely right.

Over all I think you have a fantastic shop and think you will do very well with your gorgeous handmade goods! All you need to do now is promote, promote and promote a little more. Thank you for being our first volunteer. I hope it wasn't too painful.

Written by Lynne of Pirate Pixie Crew and Hyperloop Hoops


  1. Wow - what a helpful and constructive critique. Thanks for sharing it with us all, Lynne and the very brave Toil&Trouble.

  2. This was awesome! It definitely made me realize that I have some weak spots in my shop. Thanks Lynne and Ana :]

  3. Thank you Lynne!

    This really wasn't bad, I think she was very kind to me!


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