By Kerri Anne Ladish from Kerrianne.org
Etsy is a first Internet love of mine. I’ve happily spent many an hour ogling handmade everything, from calendars to scarves to belts and bags made from re-purposed seat belts. It’s no secret I’m a fan of mustaches, real and imagined, and the very first felt mustache that sparked (Sisterhood of the) Traveling ‘Stache was from a favorite Etsy seller of mine. More recently, my primary purpose for scouring Etsy is to appease my obsession with prints of all shapes and artistic varieties, as I now have a weekly place to gush about my favorite pieces of art via Style Lush.
All of that to say: Etsy and I are pretty much BFFs.
As much as I verily love it, Etsy can also be pretty overwhelming sometimes. If you don’t already know where to start, or how to search, or who your favorite sellers are, it can be pretty easy to find yourself suddenly lost in a sea of overpriced tomfoolery.
Here’s my foolproof way for wading through the masses to find the handmade gems and your favorite creative types, and to altogether avoid the stuff that belongs in Regretsy’s or Craftastrophe’s respective halls of shame.
1. Sign up!
No, really. It’s free and super easy and it’s also the simplest way to keep track of your favorite places and items. I use my personal favorites list (Warning: it’s perhaps a tad, ahem, excessive in length) as both a gift list for friends and family, and as a way to remind myself of items I want to share/buy/write loving odes to. Etsy has also recently added a “You Might Like” feature which showcases their personal recommendations for you based on your purchases and favorites directly below the treasury as it updates (which you have to be logged in to see). Think of it as artistic mind-reading.
2. Use the treasury.
Speaking of the treasury, check it as often as you can without Etsy ODing. The treasury is front and center on the home page, features hand-picked collections of handmade goodies from Etsy users, and updates every few minutes or so. I’ve rarely seen a treasury list that didn’t feature at least one thing I didn’t want to favorite. It’s the fastest way to see a collection of Etsy’s best and brightest based on shape similarity, color, or whatever the treasury-creator happens to be loving on that particular day. For a comprehensive list of recent treasuries, just click the “See more” link from the home page.
3. Shop local.
By “shop local” I’m not telling you to ditch your computer and go find a local shop in which to purchase your handmade goodness, though many Etsy sellers also have personal shops and local art shows, and/or sell their items in stores you might very well be passing on a daily basis. What I mean is find your local Etsy sellers, the ones who live in your city, and see what they’re making and selling. You can do that super easily with Ety’s very own handy-dandy “shop local” search engine. I’ve found some of my favorite printing presses and jewelry shops by focusing solely on Portland-area sellers.
4. Get specific, and then forget what you were looking for in the first place.
When I’m in a nautical mood, I search for whales. White whales. I’ve even typed “Call me Ishmael” into that search bar. When I’m looking for lovely cards, I start with “letterpress” and then get specific about what I think I want the front of the card to look like. Just searching for “cards” or “bags” or “something cute for my apartment” isn’t really going to get you very far. (Though in a moment of desperation I did once search for “adorable scarves.” Perhaps needless to say, I didn’t get very far. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I got much too far.)
On the flip side of the “Get specific” coin, stumbling on an Etsy seller or a print I absolutely can’t live without when I wasn’t even looking for said seller or life-changing print is one of my favorite parts about navigating Etsy, and, just like in actual exploring, sometimes you have to lose sight of the trail to find the real treasure. (OK, OK, I know that metaphor was potentially eye roll-worthy, but don’t act like you haven’t seen The Goonies, or Pirates of the Caribbean, or Name Your Treasure Movie Here. Some of the best things can’t be found without a bit of online trailblazing, is my overall point. So get adventurous!)
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re looking for something super specific (or just something you can’t seem to find), don’t hesitate to use that “Contact” button. In my experience sellers love engaging with handmade fans, and as a lot of them work full-time selling their creative wares, they probably have a pretty good idea where to find what you’re looking for, even if they can’t make it themselves. You can also totally email me. I’ll happily play Etsy Enabler any day of the week.
Do you have any etsy tips or tricks, or favorite shops that you want to share with the rest of us?
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