Sunday, November 10, 2013

Handmade Artists on Etsy Part 1

If you are a regular reader of this blog, it is very likely you have a good understanding or are at least learning how to tell what is "handmade" when it comes to jewelry and jewelry making materials.
If not, click around, follow us through social media and you'll soon have a clue about the current handmade jewelry making movement.

But if you search on the internet for "handmade" jewelry, beads, anything...
How can you, the consumer tell that something is made by an artist?

It gets frustrating and disheartening when you really start to think hard about if something is purely handmade or not.
All handmade artists use some sort of material for their work that was produced by an outside source: mother nature, industry manufactured or mined materials, artist components, and so on.

So let's throw away that purist "handmade" attitude and move on to a "handmade" attitude that includes items of good taste, original artistic expression, uses quality materials, and of high craftsmanship.

There used to be this awesome handmade website called Etsy where you could go and find items that were handmade, supplies to make your handmade, or vintage items.
But it is getting harder and harder to navigate through their search to actually find their "handmade goods" because that term "handmade" has become diluted with mass produced items.
November 2013 Explosion of Etsy Treasuries of "Handmade" items.
With how huge Etsy is, it is practically impossible to sort through all of the items that are on there that show up through the front page clickable searches to find items that you are looking for. Forget trying to find anything handmade through those default searches.

AND as an artist listing items, to try figure out how to label items so that they show up from those clickable searches is beyond frustrating and seemingly impossible.
Then you have to compete with people severely underpricing their work which undervalues the entire handmade artist industry...

No wonder why people and the handmade community in general are in an uproar!

It's a puzzle by Joe on Etsy

I searched: ~ Jewelry ~ Necklace ~ Statement ~ All Items
and this is what came up: - Jewelry - Necklace - Statement - All Items
I then noticed an extra button and clicked from "All Items" to "Handmade" thinking
"Ah, ok! That will get rid of all that - in my opinion - trending junky cheap jewelry - and will bring up actual handmade artist items".
Talk about disappointment...
Most of that crap was still there! - Jewelry - Necklace - Statement - Handmade
So I question - Why is that happening?
The simple answer: it's in the background settings and the way computers work (based upon decisions made by Etsy and the way they want their Search to work).

Know what I would love to see?
Etsy Marketplace which would be the Etsy as it exists now.
And Etsy Handmade the Etsy of yesteryear.

It would mean an overhaul and re-sorting of what exists there now.
And that shops on the Etsy Handmade site should need to prove their level of handmade.
A huge undertaking technologically speaking, but very much worth the effort.
And with all this technology and updates to how they are doing things -
Really - would it be that hard to do?
They have done it before.
They will surely do it again as technology moves forward.

My question is WHY would a company as well known as Etsy and as powerful as Etsy not want to embrace such a strong and passionate community of artists to give them their online selling home back again. 
Why not give the consumer a clear place on the Etsy home page to click and find individual artist handmade without having to go crazy and give up on searching for unique items flooded with crap?
Heck - make the handmade version of Etsy the default and make the marketplace the "clickable" link. Put handmade above all else!

You may be thinking: Marsha. Why do you care? What is the point?
Isn't Etsy just some big company trying to make money and that doesn't care about individual artists?

Well, I'll tell you why I care so much.
Etsy to me is an awesome marketing tool.
Pure and simple.

WE - the handmade community - have done a great job at getting their name out there, getting people to shop their site, and I want those customers to find my work, feel something about my work, and hopefully - buy something.

I love being part of Etsy Teams and the camaraderie that comes with promoting work with like minded shop owners (for the most part).
And the way you can share your work or treasuries through social media via Etsy has helped promote individual items, and through teams - a bunch of items from many shops.
It feeds that need that some people feel of being part of something more, outside of your own little world.

Yes - some things DO need to change if they want to save their company.
Please - Etsy - Make the right changes to help support "handmade" once again!

And as people that love to use, make, wear, handmade items, it is up to us to help educate the public to be able to find "handmade" that includes items of good taste, original artistic expression, uses quality materials, and of high craftsmanship.

More to come from me next week on this topic of "Handmade Artists on Etsy".
Part 2 HERE.

Please post your creative thoughts and comments on ways that Etsy could be improved.
How do you market your work?
Are you on any Etsy Teams?
What things do you really enjoy using on Etsy and to make your selling and marketing experience better?

We all know how "bad" it has become, and don't need negativity, so please avoid straight out bashing as that does nothing to improve the current situation.
Find the positive twist to what your negative feelings are saying and find a solution.

Want to check out a few more "handmade bead and jewelry artist" groups that helping lead this current handmade artist bead and jewelry movement?
Art Bead Scene
Art Jewelry Elements
Creative Bead Chat and Artisan Whimsy
And of course - us - Love My Art Jewelry

Here are a few images you can use on your site, shop, blog, etc to help get the word out:

Thank YOU for supporting and caring about handmade!


Dzign by Jamie said...

Well said! Sadly, there's not much focus on handmade with Etsy any more. That's why I promote The CraftSar. They're still about the handmade artisan.

stacilouise said...

thank you for addressing this Marsha. It is such a blow to so many. I just don't understand why? why not make a separation? they built etsy on us artists- buy and sell handmade. I think we should all write to them- because I don't want to leave, I think it is good for marketing. People know the name and trust shopping there (which wasn't the case 8 years ago).

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

This is a good post. I am not an artist, but I did like Etsy as my to to place for artisan jewelry and supplies for beading and needlework. I have become frustrated in all the poor quality mass produced items that clutter the searches. Will Etsy go back to its Handmade Domain...I doubt it. There are probably plenty of buyers for the cheap mass produced items. Hopefully they will adjust their search system to allow buyers to once again find exactly what they want.

Mary Harding said...

Bravo Marsha!! I too think that the Handmade part of Etsy is worth saving. I think we should band together and promote handmade and not give up. Etsy has been a great place for me and I am not planning on leaving. I want to work to strengthen their handmade community. Let me know how. I am starting with one of these buttons on my blog and I will be adding something to my banner as well.

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Great post Marsha, very thoughtful. Thank you so much! I have had a shop as a placeholder for a while, though I haven't put anything in it. Reading about the concerns the artists who I follow on facebook and through blogs have expressed is disheartening. Etsy was built on the backs of the handmade artist. I really can't fathom why they're allowing the mass produced items. I don't go there for that. Separating handmade from mass produced sounds like a great option.

Shel said...

Awesome post Marsha! I believe your solution for an Etsy 'marketplace' vs. Etsy 'Handmade' is super and one that would not only solve their 'handmade uproar' problem, but more than likely make them a ton more money being a 'bridge' to both worlds for shoppers the globe over. Kuddos to you for reminding us to stay positive since there are so many complaints we have, but being positive and finding solutions will only make this a win/win for all involved. I'm looking forward to your second post on this. And, I'm grabbing one of the handmade buttons, too - thanks so much for these!

Keith@ Vintage Crab Jewelry and Crafts said...

Great post! As a brand spanking new artist to Etsy even I see the problems there. I feel like Etsy is trying to fool the consumer into thinking massed produced items are handmade. I posted your sign, thank you. I chose the one at the top of your blog post and for the caption I said, "don't be fooled into thinking mass production is handmade". Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Awesome Post! Etsy does have some amazing handmade jewelry. Did you know you can sell your jewelry on they have one of a kind jewelry that is handmade! They specialize in fashion jewelry, but its worth a try!

SummersStudio said...

Well said! I really like that you've come up with some alternative solutions to preserving and promoting the handmade part of Etsy. It's all well and good to grump but it won't really get you anywhere at the end of the day. Just so you know I've been in the grump camp. It's good to see hopefulness. Thank you!

Ann Schroeder said...

Thanks for this post. I would love to see this solution implemented. I find it so easy to access many of my favorite artists on easy from my carefully curated favorites list. Also, your post encouraged me to figure out how to post one of your images on my blog. Yay!

baymoondesign said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such a powerful piece about Etsy. As someone who makes jewelry, I am well aware of the impact that the new Etsy policy has had on my shop and what a search for jewelry brings. I hope Etsy adopts your solution.

Unknown said...

Your ideas really tickle my mind of trying some new handmade crafts before Christmas. I love doing this myself. Handmade jewelries are like treasure since these are made with great creativity and self expression. Thanks so much for sharing all these splendid ideas.


Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

Thank you all for posting comments! Please come back and post more if an idea strikes you!!!

We are working on some ideas to help the handmade artist (although we have a limited reach - we will do our best to really get the word out about buying unique and handmade items from people!)

Unknown said...

Great post, and thank you for sharing those lovely images. I am an artist and if it's alright with you, I'll be sharing one of your images on my social media sites. Thanks again!

Jennifer said...

Great post and well said!Thank you for sharing the nice images. I will share them on my social media... and spread the words! 😉 Thanks again!

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