Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Road to Etsy's Front Page

I've recently made a study of the items that make it to Etsy's front page. At first, I thought getting selected was equivalent to winning the lottery, but after taking a harder look, I now believe there are certain strategies sellers can use in order to increase their chances.

Beginning with Photos

I've been working hard on my photos (and I still have a way to go), but after reading numerous threads, surveying other sellers, and reading the photo FAQ's on Etsy, I am beginning to understand what it takes to not only take a good photo, but one that could get picked for a treasury, gift guide, or the front page.

1. Take your photos in as much natural light as possible, either outside or next to a window. For additional natural light - try an Ottlite. I found mine at my local Michaels Arts & Crafts store. I registered online and received an immediate 50% off coupon. My $100 Ottlite ended up costing me only $50. I find that it really helps me to see when I creating as well.

2. Set your camera on the macro setting for small objects like jewelry, and adjust your white balance.

3. The colors in your items will "pop" if you use a quiet background of gray, white, or beige. I've noticed that the majority of items picked for the front page use these basic background colors. Occasionally you will see an outside or indoor background, particularly with larger objects. Some items are displayed on a solid color background. Just make sure the color doesn't overwhelm your item.

4. Try to get a good closeup. I finally got a tripod to stabilize my camera, and it makes a huge difference. As still as I tried to be when I snapped my pictures, I somehow managed to take more blurry pictures than clear ones.

For more photo tips, see these Etsy articles from The Storque:

Observations About Front Page Picks

Photos are found through the Treasury, category searches, and search terms (using tags). The front page changes every half hour or hour. You will see all three types of searches throughout the day. Treasuries are chosen by sellers, and then picked by Etsy to move to the front page. Category searches and search terms are selected by Etsy staff.

There is always a dominant color (or color theme) on the front page that changes throughout the day. Most of the pictures chosen for a front page display have the dominant color in the item, but there might be one or two with a dominant color background. When Etsy staff picks items, they tend to select pictures with items that really make the chosen color "pop". I noticed a little more variety in the color schemes chosen in the treasuries, but they still have a color theme that blends well together.

Search terms appear to vary, but I've noticed categories of terms that might be helpful to know: colors, holidays, seasons, major world events, free shipping, and eco friendly terms. The search terms are based on the merchandising theme chosen well ahead of time by Etsy. I sent a convo to Etsy's administration team and asked them for the "front page criteria". They stated, "Some front pages are selected by our merchandising team. We try to consider relevant seasonal and holiday themes when selecting items for the front page. Read more about our merchandising in this series from our blog, The Storque:" I was excited to read their merchandising articles. They not only explain some of the key terms they use now, but they give sellers a "heads-up" on the merchandising plan for the future. Pay close attention to the key words used in this article.

Tagging Your Items for the Front Page

Appropriate and well thought out tagging is absolutely key (next to great pictures) for making it to the front page. I noticed a few things worth exploring. A number of Etsians who made it to the front page tag differently. I realized I tried to describe my items for buyers, but typical front pagers are describing their items for the Etsy merchandising team, and they are being found.

Here is an example of tags for a purse found on the front page: bags and purses, wristlet, leather, purple, grey, blossom, flower, summer, petal, midsummer, secret garden, lavender, meadow, grass.

It's obvious this seller is thinking beyond the buyer and choosing keywords that matches the "essence" of their item as much as the actual descriptive tags. This seems to be the key. Tag your items creatively (honestly, but a bit out of the box). When the merchandising team searches terms like lemonade, patriotic, nautical, picnic, and carnival (tags recently searched), then you want your items to pop up and catch their attention. Consider making items to fit into upcoming merchandising themes, or think about how your items fit into current themes.

Items are often searched by color, but don't limit yourself to primary colors. Think inside the crayon box. Is your item plum, lemon, emerald, coral, aqua, rose, seafoam, ivory, gold, metallic, cherry, grape, denim, or periwinkle? Try to describe the colors of your items with creative color words.

Holidays and season tags can be typical, such as Fourth of July, however, I noticed that Etsy searched for "Americana" and "patriotic". Think of descriptive words that describe both your item and the season. Christmas is also poinsettias, Santa Claus, red and green, and mistletoe.

Did you know the Tour de France is going on at this time? Etsy does, and so do a number of sellers. The theme of Tour de France has shown up on the front page several times in the last couple of days. I searched through the tags of each item for one of the front page showcases and discovered that sellers had one or more of the following tags: European, Europe, France, Paris, Tour de France, touring, bicycle, french, bike, and Marie Antoinette. Keep track of Etsy's upcoming merchandising themes and tag your items to match (appropriately of course).

I offer free shipping, but I never thought to put it in my tags until now. Etsy often puts up a front page based on free shipping or free worldwide shipping. In addition, they seem to like to use eco, eco-friendly, recycle, and organic a lot. If your items match these tags, I would use them.

This is based on a study of Etsy's front page for the past couple of days, as well as a number of Etsians who were kind enough to share information about their items that made it to the top. Getting on the front page apparently kicks up your views, and can bring you sales. It's worth your time and effort to take great photos, and to carefully choose your tags. No one can guarantee you a spot (I'm still trying to get there myself), and all of my observations are probably not true 100% of the time. These are attributes and trends I've noticed as I work to improve my own photos, and hopefully claim a front page spot in the near future.


  1. Excellent job! You pulled together a lot of valuable information here. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  2. great article! thanks for this information.


  3. I am thankful to you for helping me in my first steps into Etsy
    Sarita Cina

  4. Thanks for sharing all the information you've gathered. Lots of useful info.

  5. Thank you, Really helpfule information!

  6. Thanks for this post - lots of useful info!

  7. Wow, thanks for this great article! Very helpful.

  8. Great information! Thank you for sharing.

  9. You've given me new ways to think about my tagging, and I thank you very much!