Featured Member: Sandie Russo is a Shop Critique Maven!

Featured Member: Sandie Russo is a Shop Critique Maven! Rhinestone Earrings Vintage 1950s Estate Swarovski Forest Green Antique Brass

Rhinestone Earrings by Zaftig Delights

Some women are practically superheros, and today’s featured member is definitely a member of that group. In between running two very successful Etsy shops (Knitzy Blonde and Zaftig Delights ) and “riding herd” on her teenage grandson, Sandie Russo also manages the SASsy Critique Team, an impressive Etsy team if we’ve ever seen one.

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SASsy Critique Team is a dream for new Etsy sellers that need help figuring out the next steps. Here’s how it works: Etsy members request a mentor to look over their site and assist them to figure out concrete problems they can work on that will help them drive sales or improve their items. Her group of mentors and commentators work tirelessly to help Etsy members by providing critiques that help them push their shop to the next level. And despite this crazy schedule, Sandie generously sat down to talk with us last week about the top four things that Etsy shop owners can do to get found and drive sales.

Sandie Russo’s Top 4 Etsy Shop Checklist

1. Photos

The images in an Etsy shop are the first opportunity you have to make a good impression, and it’s one of the things that is the hardest to get right, according to Sandie, who shot fashion photos professionally with her husband. “Even I struggled to get my item photography exactly right in the first year or so, and I’m a pro!” Sandie exclaimed.

Good photos are well lit, in focus, uncluttered by distractions in the background, find props or settings that appropriately display the items…and that’s just scratching the surface of all the ways you can tweak your photos to drive more sales.

For more info on creating great product photos, check out this recent post on product photography.

2. SEO

Focusing on SEO in your product descriptions and titles is the next in Sandie’s top 4 list. She’s critiqued hundreds of shops since taking over leadership of  SASsy Critique Team, so she knows better than most the value of fine-tuning the language describing your items to help those dream customers find your shop.

Sandie particularly recommends focusing on the title of the photographs, making sure that you are describing the item, not just providing the title you’ve given the piece. “People often name their photos – particularly photos of artwork – something artsy.” For instance, if you titled a creative oil painting of your dog ‘Ellis the Blues Hound’ it wouldn’t help people who are looking for oil paintings of a blue dog find your work.

For more help polishing your SEO, check out this post on prefecting titles and descriptions.

3. Promotion

Getting the word out can be hard, particularly if tooting your own horn is something you’re a bit uncomfortable with. But according to Sandie, getting online and finding your audience is key to driving sales. She recommends several social sites for Etsy owners, including Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Squidoo. She also recommends Kaboodle, a social site that is similar to StumbleUpon, but for shopping! What a perfect Estsy seller match!

Not sure how these different tools work? Check out our recent post on social media tools for Etsy sellers.

4. Inventory

Every interview should have a surprise, right? This one is no exception. Sandie gave us the inside scoop with her last tip, really opening our eyes to how much hard work it is to be a successful Etsy seller. “The truth is, four or five items in your Etsy shop isn’t enough to be an Etsy superstar,” explains Sandie. “You really need a certain amount of inventory to cross the threshold into a professional Etsy shop.”

So how much is enough?

“Once my Etsy shop crossed that one hundred item threshold things really took off.” Sandie’s dedication and patience in building up her work is something that she recommends that every Etsy seller strive for in order to be successful.

No wonder this Etsy seller stuff is such hard work!

Sandie RussoSandie also had two words of advice, literally! “I always tell new shop owners, especially the ones that have been open for less than 6 months, you have to remember the two P’s: persistence and patience.”

You can find SASsy Critique Team on Etsy and on their own piece of the Internet at EtsyMentors.Blogspot.com.  And don’t forget to check out Sandie’s shops – she’s an expert if there ever was one!