EtsyMCR visits the British Craft Trade Fair 2018

This April saw the British Craft Trade Fair set up for its three day event in Harrogate. This prestigious show, now in its 44th year, is a specialist event for artists and makers wishing to showcase their handmade products to a select group of retailers and galleries.

This year a number of EtsyMCR team members exhibited, some for the first time, others as established makers.

After having time to recover from the weekend, Charlotte Verity Jewellery Designer; Catherine (aka Swifty) of Swifty Bell DesignsSophie Cunningham Illustrator; and Kat Pearson Designs have taken a few moments to reflect on and share some of their experiences and advice with the rest of the team.

Charlotte Verity Jewellery at BCTF

Charlotte, our most experienced exhibitor, told us, “I’ve done this show for the last 8 years and the last 2 have been particularly quiet. I chose to exhibit at BCTF because it is a high quality show featuring UK made, handmade craft items from lots of different disciplines. The show has a good reputation and it’s a good way to meet new galleries and shops. I chose to do it expecting to get a few exhibitions, maybe some new shops, and hopefully a couple of trade orders.”

 

Swifty, who exhibited for the first time in 2017, had graduated to the Post-Newcomers area. “It’s been really good for me. Probably my most stressful time ever, especially in the run up!” Her reasons for choosing BCTF included first-hand experience of being told by retailers that they didn’t like being approached directly by makers, preferring to choose artists from trade fairs. Taking part in the event also enabled her to talk directly to shops and galleries to find out what they were looking for, and what sort of customers they have.

Both Kat and Sophie were Newcomers this year; both a blessing and a curse if all the advice and comments from experienced exhibitors were to be believed! The Newcomers Area is for first-time trade show exhibitors, who may not necessarily be new businesses, and was made up of a good mix of artists and makers at various stages of their careers.

Kat Pearson Designs’ Stand

Kat and Sophie found their first Trade Fair experience ‘a little disappointing, and an expensive experience’, however Kat added that it was “a huge learning opportunity”.

 

Kat and Sophie opted to try BCTF this year to develop the Wholesale side of their businesses, in a hope to cut down on the number of markets they needed to do. Sophie got off to a good start with an order in the very first hour! All Newcomers are warned not to expect sales at the event, but to chase up leads afterwards. One buyer even commented that, “Newcomers is the first area buyers visit and the last place they buy”. Not exactly reassuring, but made Sophie’s sale even more of a triumph!

 

Emma Darbyshire, team member and owner of Wilton Street Craft Co., went along for a visit and said, “It was worth visiting if you’re thinking of doing the fair, to see if it’s a good fit. Lots of the makers were approached and willing to chat freely about their experience and their learning points.”

Sophie Cunningham Illustrator’s Stand

And finally… Would they do it again? “Overall, the show was too quiet, not enough visitors, “said Charlotte, something many other makers agreed with. “Possibly won’t be back next year,’ said Kat, ‘but never say never. If I’m honest I wasn’t really ready for the step up to professional level but it was a great place to learn what I need to do next, I met some fantastic people and I would certainly consider going back as a visitor next year.”

 

We asked Sophie, Kat, Charlotte and Swifty for their Top Tips for exhibiting at BCTF and other trade fairs:

  • Make sure of your pricing, that it is consistent and that it is clearly marked on your price lists.
  • Have clear, consistent branding on your stand.
  • If possible, have some lower priced items, as these might encourage initial sales with first-time buyers.
  • Don’t expect to make your money back at the event and do chase up any leads as sales often occur after the event.
  • Don’t be put off by buyers ignoring your stand! They know what they want, and with so many stands they can’t afford to get distracted.
  • Be prepared! However long you think it will take to getall your products, pricing, catalogues etc. sorted, double it (“at least!” says Kat).
  • Only take your best work, and remember, Less is More. Don’t overwhelm your stand. Think carefully about what your key items are and make them the focus.
  • Take buyers’ details and make a note of what they’re interested in, so you can personalise any follow-up communication you have with them. And even if they don’t stop, many have their names/shops on their badges. There’s nothing wrong with making a note of them to research them further, with a view to contacting them in the future.
  • Plan your stand; they’re smaller than you think, and invest in ‘S’ hooks to hang work, as nothing sticks well to the walls.
  • Consider applying to put larger work in the Exhibition Area, as this can attract buyers to your stand.

Find out more about British Craft Trade Fair, and how to take part in future shows at www.bctf.co.uk

Thanks to contributors Sophie, Charlotte, Kat, Swifty and Emma for their help writing this article.

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SEO Magic: Tags and Titles

Titles and keywords can seriously affect your listing rank. A good, well thought out tags-and-titles strategy can help your listings leap-frog your competitors and will appear much higher in search results. In this article we give you an overview of what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is, how it can benefit your bottom line and what you can do to improve.

SEO, to some a complete mystery of the internet age but, if understood and implemented well, it can help you to climb up those listings, ensure you get found more easily and regularly and, critically, can put your products firmly in front of customers’ eyes…and we all know that can’t be a bad thing!

So…how about that SEO stuff, huh? Yup, I’m sure at some point we’ve all had a head-scratching moment trying to understand what makes the world of internet searches work. Just me then? Okay. Fine!

SEO explained! Kind of.

What does SEO stand for? Why, Search Engine Optimisation of course. Yes! Ten points to Gryffindor! Google is a search engine. Yahoo is a search engine. And Etsy has its own search capabilities. It’s all about making sure your tags are relevant and both human- and machine-readable. Etsy will take those tags that you apply to your product – yes, make sure you use every last one of them! – and will match those with the searches being performed by those thousands of lovely potential customers who are looking around on etsy.com each and every day. If your tags (and titles) contain words and phrases that most closely match the shoppers’ search terms then, hey presto, your product is more likely to be at the top of those glorious results. What you’ll end up with is that golden opportunity; eyeballs looking at your stuff!

Research is the key to finding great tags. Ask friends, ask family, ask random people on the street. Show them your product and ask them to describe what they see. Use this as your base. Record your findings and implement them.

Gettin’ it now? The upshot is that you’d be mad not to take this stuff seriously. And you’d be mad to ignore it. Yes, it can be slightly technical and not everybody’s cup of tea but if you take your business seriously and you want to make some coin from your shop, I think you should, at the very least, pay attention to the following tips.

The skinny

The Etsy Manchester leaders have all sat down (there was wine on the table!) and we’ve come up with some fabulous SEO tips for your consideration that, if researched properly, can help your items more favourably in Etsy’s (and other search engines) rankings.

  1. Think like a buyer.
    Step outside of the creator mindset for a little while and think about what your customer would be searching for to find your items. What words would they use?
  2. Review your stats.
    Go to Your Shop » Stats, choose a time frame such as Last 30 Days and scroll down to ‘Top keywords’. These are the key terms people are using to find your items, add these to your titles and tags to get more views!
  3. Do your Research.
    Start typing your keyword/s into the Etsy search and Etsy will show you a list of the most searched for terms which use your keyword. Use any that are relevant in your title and tags.
  4. Ask family and friends
    Give a group of family and friends an item of yours to look at and ask them to describe it and tell you what they would search for if they were looking for this item. For a bonus tip, don’t forget that age and gender differences can really affect what terms people search for! The youth of today will often come up with a word you never thought of!
  5. Research the competition.
    Type your key terms into the Etsy search and choose a selection of the top items to look at. Try to spot patterns of words that are used in their titles and scroll down to the bottom of the listing to see what tags are being used to get ideas for your shop.
  6. Remember to use key terms.
    Use “Coral Blue Necklace” instead of just “Necklace”.
  7. Forget duplicates
    Try to use all of the available characters and don’t worry about variations in UK/US spellings. Etsy automatically shows items that use both variances of a spelling e.g. when searching for “jewellery”, items with both “jewellery” and “jewelry” will appear in the search. However, if your item is named something else in US English, be sure to include both keywords to reach a wider audience e.g. “Handkerchief” and “Pocket Square”.
  8. Mirror, Mirror!
    Mirror your title key terms in your tags. Whatever key terms you use in your title should be replicated in your tags. If a key term is too long to fit as a tag, break it down into smaller tags. E.g. “Funny Anniversary Card” can be tagged as “Funny Anniversary”, “Anniversary Card” and “Funny Card”.
  9. Keepin’ it real
    Don’t add tags that are not relevant, you’re only fooling yourself! Don’t try to appear higher in the search for terms that are not relevant to your item. If a customer is searching for something specific and your item doesn’t match what they’re looking for, it’ll stand out, but not in a good way.
  10. Promo
    Don’t forget to tag your shop name and, if you’ve got a spare tag to go, add the #EtsyMCR tag so that we can find you and get yourself onto our regular treasuries.

This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list but it’s a good, solid start. Go through your listing and slowly make the changes.

Think like your target audience. Always keep asking yourself “Is this tag relevant to my product?” and “What is a customer expecting to see?”

You may have the expectation that your stats will uplift. You may not observe an up-turn in your stats for a few weeks as, well, the internet is chock-full of data and this stuff simply takes time to filter through. Don’t be disheartened if you’re not propelled to a level of rockstar seller. Be patient. And until that happens there’s always more products to be made, more kick-ass product photographs to be taken and product descriptions to be spruced up. An Etsy seller’s work is never done, am I right?!

Links

In need of more help? You can check out the Etsy Seller Handbook, specifically their Getting Found section.