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My Blog about SEO & eCommerce, Mitochondrial Disease & Disability, & the Good Life

Blog posts from Cindy Lou Who 2 - a little eCommerce & SEO, some discussion of disability issues (including mitochondrial disease), some jewellery info, & the expected topics of beer, travel & recipes. 

 

Filtering by Tag: ecommerce

Will Etsy Ads, The New Combined Ad Platform, Work For Sellers?

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Note how much smaller in size the amount I spent is compared to the amount I made. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to notice that part.

Note how much smaller in size the amount I spent is compared to the amount I made. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to notice that part.

For That Matter, Will They Even Work For Etsy?

We’re All About To Find Out

Etsy started rolling out its new combined ad-purchasing interface for sellers today (August 27, 2019), giving us the first real look at how this will work. While there are still some questions, and likely some upgrades coming to the stats and options, I am providing a quick summary now so no one is surprised when their ad costs suddenly increase overnight.

But first, a little background. Etsy Ads (EA) combines Etsy’s existing Promoted Listings (PL) with their little-used interface allowing sellers to buy their own Google Shopping ads. Once it has rolled out to everyone, sellers will no longer be able to purchase just one type of ad; if you want one kind, you will have to pay for both.

Why would they do this? CEO Josh Silverman claims that “Our sellers have found it confusing and a bit intimidating to try to manage 2 separate ad programs, and as a result, seller adoption of Google Shopping has been limited. We believe that sellers want a single, simple solution with a single budget, where they tell us how much to spend and we invest that on their behalf, on- and off-Etsy.” In addition, Silverman told investors that Etsy shop owners “have more appetite to invest than we have inventory to offer”, based on the fact that each day, more than half of the maximum daily budgets set for Etsy Promoted Listings go unused, as illustrated in the following Etsy graphic from the second quarter earnings presentation.

Etsy Promoted Listings currently spend less than 50% of the daily maximum that sellers set.

Etsy Promoted Listings currently spend less than 50% of the daily maximum that sellers set.


Now, I am sure he is correct on both points to some extent. There are a few sellers who find Promoted Listings and Google Shopping campaigns a bit confusing (as evidenced by questions asked in Etsy’s forum spaces). There are also some people who would like to spend more of their daily budgets on more ads.

However, these explanations ignore two points that likely represent a much larger portion of sellers interested in buying ads:

  1. Etsy’s version of Google Shopping ads has been widely panned as far too expensive for the average shop, with no control over maximum bids, and a low amount of sales. [Update (August 28): The program often bids on very generic terms that are unlikely to convert against commercial competition, and may not even be accurate for your items.] Furthermore, Etsy showed items from other shops across the top of the landing pages from Google Shopping, meaning that merchants are paying to advertise other merchants, not just themselves. In short, almost no sellers use Etsy’s version of Google Shopping ads because the return on investment (ROI) is very poor for individual shops, especially given that they are forced to pay to promote items that are not their own.

  2. Many shops find they have to set their daily Promoted Listings budget far higher than they want to spend, just to get a decent number of impressions and clicks. (Mine was set at $10 a day and I rarely spent more than $1; if I dropped it to $2 or even $5, Etsy showed my ads far less often.) This is the way this version of Etsy search ads has worked for a long time, and sellers have developed this strategy of high daily budgets to compensate.

While we can likely write off the CEO’s comments as spin, it is very possible that they didn’t realize point #2 was such a common practice. If so, Etsy has designed this new platform based on a false premise, which doesn’t bode well for its success. Looks like we are going to find out very quickly.

Etsy Ads - What you Need to Know

While the details are likely to change, given that the dashboard and tools seem so unfinished, there are some things you need to know right now:

  • Etsy Ads are available to some sellers right now, through the Shop Manager.

  • The new platform will be rolled out to all sellers by the end of September, and you will be automatically switched to it if you do not change voluntarily. Note that if you turn off your Promoted Listings or current Google Shopping ads, you will not be able to revert to them, and will be stuck with Etsy Ads as your only option.

  • Sellers still only pay for clicks, not impressions.

  • You can still opt to promote only certain items, but they will be shown on both Etsy and Google; you cannot select some listings for one venue and others for the other, as we can now.

  • You can no longer set maximum bids for individual items; Etsy’s software will do all of that for you. However, if you have an existing Promoted Listing campaign, Etsy will look at your current bid customization at first, then will revert to its own stats on what it deems will work best for you.

  • Since the goal of Etsy Ads is to spend all of your daily budget, those of you who chose a high daily budget solely to increase your Promoted Listings impressions should decrease that now, before Etsy converts your PLs to EAs.

  • The cost for one click in Google Shopping is still very high compared to Promoted Listings, with sellers who tried it today reporting clicks up to 90 cents. [Update: (September 17): some are now reporting clicks costing up to $1.50 USD.]

  • Etsy put out a video summarizing the new platform. The example of the monthly overview shows a roughly 2 to 1 ratio for sales and costs, far worse than the vast majority of sellers would likely tolerate. Remember, this is the example Etsy wanted you to see; they could have used far better numbers if they thought far better numbers were going to be common. [Update (August 28): Etsy will be updating the video, and stated that the return shown is $5 for every $1 spent, which they consider “a pretty great return”. In contrast, many sellers have been posting vastly better return rates from PLs, suggesting they won’t agree with admin on this point.]

  • It looks like one thing that isn’t changing much is the fact your Google ads will be limited to one country in most cases, unless you have a big budget. “On Google, our smart advertising platform will determine the best region for you, so you can reach shoppers that are interested in products like yours and most likely to make a purchase. Etsy Ads targets the country of best return. As your budget increases, we regularly evaluate whether it makes sense to target multiple markets.”

  • Etsy is still displaying other listings at the top of your landing page from Google Shopping ads that you pay for. I set up the ads in my SEO shop as a test, and clicked on one; here is what I saw:

I am so glad Etsy decided I needed to see a completely irrelevant listing from my jewellery shop…sigh

I am so glad Etsy decided I needed to see a completely irrelevant listing from my jewellery shop…sigh


So, sellers are still being asked to pay to drive traffic to other shops. I expect that this will be a deal breaker for many.

  • Finally, Etsy is asking for seller opinions in a very short survey. If you are unhappy with this change, I urge you to fill it out and be specific about the perceived deficiencies of the new platform and in their reasoning. If you had a high PL daily budget, or previously tried and ended Google Shopping ads, tell them exactly why.


Things We Hope To Learn In The Next Month


At the top of my list of questions is: Will Etsy continue to buy Google Shopping ads for shops that do not participate in Etsy Ads? Right now, they spend a big chunk of their advertising budget on these ads, and have stated that they are Etsy’s top-performing promotions. It seems really unlikely that they will stop that entirely, at least not right away. I don’t think they can afford to lose that income. [Update (Sept. 6): so far, Google Shopping ads are continuing to run for people who are not buying any ads, and for listings that are not currently included in Etsy Ads, even if others from the shop are in Etsy Ads.]

Update: (Sept. 17) : some shops, especially those with relatively low daily budgets, can see that Google Shopping Ads were turned off for their shop, even though they are enrolled in Etsy Ads. I took the following screenshot of my stats page for my SEO shop on a day when stats were broken and reporting zero views, so I thought it might be an error, but many others are seeing the same thing:

This was the day I turned Etsy Ads on for my SEO shop; as you can see, Etsy immediately turned off my Google Shopping ads.

This was the day I turned Etsy Ads on for my SEO shop; as you can see, Etsy immediately turned off my Google Shopping ads.


Despite this, both of my items are still showing up in Google Shopping, even though I am only advertising one listing at the moment (as a test). So, Etsy seems to be paying for all of my Google Shopping appearances for the moment, although they have not confirmed this yet in my contact with Support.

The next question is, are they going to be improving the Ads dashboard? (It is shown at the top of this post.) Right now, it is pretty sparse, and the amount spent is tiny compared to the earnings. You can only choose 30 days or the past year as date ranges, which means that older shops that have been using PLs would lose their keyword data older than 365 days, if this format continues. I have copied all of mine into Google Docs so I don’t lose it; sadly, there is no way to download it. [Update (Sept. 6): Etsy has added more date ranges, and the ability to sort the listings table by various factors. Also, if you have turned off all ads but want to see your old PL keyword data, you can still use this URL: https://www.etsy.com/your/shops/me/promoted-listings/analytics/XXXXXXXX (change XXXXXXXX to your listing ID number) to access it. (Sept. 17): if you see zeros in your Ads stats, there is a workaround for that.]

My last question is, how many more bugs are they going to introduce, and are they planning on fixing the old ones at some point? Promoted Listings have been showing completely irrelevant ads in many search results, and some of them are leading to click costs. Most sellers who advertise their shops through Etsy’s tools have previously found that PLs provide way better results than Google Shopping; reducing the effectiveness of the existing ads while combining them with less effective ads just seems like a bad strategy for the corporation.


What Should Sellers Do?


Wait to see what gets changed; I cannot believe they will continue to expect everyone to pay for ads with other people’s items across the top, with few stats, and with no maximum bids.

At the very least, they have to be planning to add something in that makes them think more people will pay for this. There are signs that they are going to be upgrading the Etsy Plus package, and perhaps finally releasing Etsy Premium. If both of those subscriptions contain lots of things most sellers want (many of which have likely been taken away recently, such as more detailed stats), and also continue to include “free” Etsy Ads budgets, they could end up maintaining most of their ad numbers. [Update: (Sept. 6): increasing the “priority placement” in US searches for listings that ship free, now up to 48 items from 24, is another way to push ads on sellers, if they don’t ship for free.]

And of course, if the ads end up having much better ROI than most of us expect, Etsy could end up making even more money on this than they did before. While I can’t see this new interface working for me, I am sure it will work for somebody.


But maybe they really did blow this one. If so, all of you who have heeded my constant advice to diversify your income streams will be pretty thankful you never got dependent on Etsy’s Promoted Listings!

This post will be updated as required. I’ll also probably fix most of the typos while introducing new ones - it has been a very long day!

UPDATED: Sept. 17, 2019

Etsy Free Shipping Priority Placement In US Searches - How It Works

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The top rows of US searches on Etsy now have items that ship free - except for the ads, of course.

The top rows of US searches on Etsy now have items that ship free - except for the ads, of course.

Etsy’s Push To Get More Sellers Offering Free Shipping to American Buyers Is Now Part Of The Search Algorithm, But It Isn’t As Powerful As Some Sellers Feared

Etsy’s announcement that items that ship for free will get “priority placement” in US search results upset many shop owners who felt they would be buried in search if they continued to charge for shipping, but so far the reality has not been as bleak as some had predicted. While there are no guarantees that this search change will continue working the same way, two weeks of this revised algorithm is enough time to get a strong idea of how it works now. Let me outline what me and my team of volunteers found.

  • In most searches, the top 24 items that are not paid ads (aka Promoted Listings) will either ship for free or have free shipping with a minimum order of $35 USD or less. This means that only half of the first page is reserved for items without shipping charges. The main exception is searches where there are fewer than 24 items that ship free; in very small searches of half a page or so, even the top-ranked item may not ship free. [Update (Sept. 6): Etsy sent out an email today saying that the top 48 listings in a search - the whole first page - will now be reserved for priority placement.]

  • Adding free shipping did not automatically mean your items moved up in ranking when the algorithm change kicked in on July 30th. Since Etsy search results change frequently now, some of the items the test team tracked actually moved down, even if they had free shipping activated. However, I added free US shipping to a few listings after July 30th and all did move up a bit, at least at first.

  • As I expected beforehand, items that already did well in search seem to see the biggest benefit from switching to free shipping.

  • There is currently no difference between an item that always ships free and items that have the $35 free shipping “guarantee”; you don’t rank higher by offering one instead of the other.

  • Note that digital download items are included in the priority placement spots even though they do not have a free shipping “badge” or a “free shipping eligible” notice underneath.

  • As mentioned above, the Promoted Listings slots do not have to ship free to be at the top of the page, so paying for Etsy search advertising is one way to secure a higher slot. However, some ads are now costing more they used to be as sellers experiment with this tactic, so it may not be affordable for many. This also may stop working as when Etsy combines Promoted Listings with Google Shopping Ads later in August. (There is more discussion and detail on the new “Etsy Ads” here.)

  • As can happen when Etsy alters the search algorithm, some sets of results shifted a lot, and many people are reporting more “clumping” (when several listings from the same shop appear on an early page of a search). If very few sellers are offering free shipping for a particular type of item, those who do could get more of those top 24 priority positions. The flip side is that if listings that used to appear at the top of certain queries do not offer free shipping, they may end up clustered on the bottom half of the first page.

  • Some searches have more irrelevant items at the top than they used to, but that is also normal whenever Etsy changes the algorithm, and usually sorts itself out within one to two months.

  • Items from outside of the US are just as able to receive priority placement as US listings are. Furthermore, I’ve not seen any major shifts in non-US searches, so while free shipping may have a small part of other countries’ algorithms, only Canada has pages and pages of free shipping in big searches. Countries outside of the US, haven’t changed much yet, but do not count on it staying that way indefinitely.


One of these things is not like the others …

One of these things is not like the others …

So, that is how everything worked as of the first day, July 30th. However, a few days later, some people saw one item that didn’t ship for free sliding into the top 24 slots, almost always in slot 24. Take a look at the search screenshot kindly provided by Ashley of Digitaldoodlebug to see what I mean. (Note that one of the other regular search results is a digital download, so it does ship free even though it doesn’t have a badge.)

I personally checked over 100 searches in the first few days of this new algorithm element, and I did not see this happening until several days in, even when other people did see it. As of August 14th, I am now finding it in a minority of searches, but rarely when logged into my main Etsy account.

What is happening here? you may ask. A very good question, one I do not know the answer to. It could be:

  • a bug

  • a test

  • personalization (which Etsy is finally using more often in search these days, after years of promising it)

  • an intended feature of the algorithm, where items that perform well can move up into the “priority placement” rows in the top half of page 1.

At first, I was leaning towards the last possibility being true, since it made sense that Etsy would want to reward a top-selling item with slightly better placement if it made them more money. However, it has been happening for a week, and these items are not moving up further, and it is not always the same item in that final slot. I’m reserving judgement on this phenomenon right now, until I see more examples. [Update (Sept 6): I’ve stopped seeing this now that Etsy has moved to 48 slots of priority placement, except in small searches, and only in my main account, so it could be personalization. If you see any other examples, please let me know!]

This, and all of the priority placement positions, could change at any time. Etsy may decide next week to fill the entire first page with items that ship free, or they could add a few rows at the top of every single page in large searches. I suspect that if they were going to move to fewer than 24 places reserved for free shipping, they would have already done it by now, but we can’t be sure they won’t do that tomorrow, either.)

So, do not assume that what you see today will continue for the rest of the year. In fact, we know there are other search changes coming which could affect this new factor, in addition to the possibility that Etsy will change how the “guarantee” works. They don’t plan on promoting the “guarantee” to American buyers until September, and could make further changes then.

Your best approach at the moment is to do what I always suggest:

  1. optimize for plenty of small searches so that you have a better chance of being seen

  2. do not rely on Etsy search for all of your Etsy sales

  3. do not rely on Etsy for all of your income

  4. do not spend too much time learning how to game this new algorithm, because it is going to change

Why do I keep saying things will change? Because Etsy has made it clear they want more free shipping, and this is only the US introduction of their tactics aimed at getting it. They will be featuring more items that have shipping included, and will probably also be linking to searches with the free shipping filter already checked. If you are like me and haven’t seen any dramatic impact yet, do not assume that our luck will continue.


Furthermore, Etsy has told me that the listing quality score part of the algorithm will soon involve more elements, with photo quality likely to be a factor. (I have been testing for this but haven’t found direct evidence yet; it will likely have little weight overall.) They said to expect more details by the end of the summer. Etsy is also getting more involved with shops that have what Etsy deems to be customer service issues, and the types of issues that lead to an email seem really stringent. They’ve promised to release more information, and I would not be surprised to see more negative ratings like this to be added to search. I could be wrong, of course!

This is what some US visitors are seeing at the top of the Etsy home page on mobile right now. Expect this to be the norm for all US visitors come September.

This is what some US visitors are seeing at the top of the Etsy home page on mobile right now. Expect this to be the norm for all US visitors come September.

[Update (Aug. 15): they are already testing various promotional banners and prompts for the $35 minimum order free shipping guarantee, although most visitors are not seeing them yet. I saw a thin dark blue banner across the top of the entire page on my laptop, and Angela from Arrowsarah sent me the phone screenshot shown here - thank you! They are going to push this a lot, to try to direct people away from the main search pages to a page where the results are all items that ship free with a $35 minimum order.]

So, expect more of my blog posts this fall, as Etsy search continues to evolve. If you see or hear anything interesting, please send me an email through the link on the top right, send me a convo on Etsy, DM me on Twitter, or send me a message on Tumblr (where you can read more short posts about SEO, ecommerce platforms, and other small business topics you are probably interested in.) Questions about this post? Please comment below.

Updated September 6th, 2019

QUICK REVIEW OF ETSY’S 2019 SPRING & SUMMER TRENDS GUIDE FOR SELLERS

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Etsy releases periodic seasonal trends reports these days, and recently came out with spring & summer trends for 2019. If your shop relies a lot on hitting trends, or if you want more ideas for featuring the items you already have in stock, you will want to read the whole thing yourself. If those aren’t your main focuses, read this post!

My coverage mostly centres on the search term and keyword highlights (with just a few exceptions). These are terms you should use on your listings when they apply, and if you have any items or ideas that aren’t currently listed but fit here, then let me be the first to tell you to get those listings up as soon as possible! Some of the trends mentioned are still on the rise, so if you have stock, or even just an interest, consider putting a few new products in your shop (or on your website - many of these trends are not exclusive to Etsy).

Note that most of the stats about increases in search traffic compare 2017 to 2018, so there is no guarantee that they will continue to rise in 2019. However, I expect Etsy would want to focus on trends that aren’t yet post-peak, as it wouldn’t make sense to tell sellers to hop on a bandwagon that has already passed. Etsy wants sales, after all. Some keyword lists cover the spring and summer seasons of 2018; use those as a reference only, and check whether broader interest is still high by entering individual terms on Google Trends.

All quotes and graphics are from the linked pdf file; copyright belongs to Etsy. My editorial comments are in square brackets, including some Google Trends data I added for perspective.

Etsy Search Term Data for Optimizing Your Shop

The top searches across all Etsy categories, from April to August 2018, were:

  • slime 

  • engagement ring

  • bridesmaid gift 

  • home 

  • wedding decor 

  • jewelry 

  • decor 

  • enamel pin 

  • dog collar 

  • bridesmaid robes 

["slime” is slowly dropping in Google searches since 2017]


Page 5 did a chart with the top keywords and themes for the 5 spring & summer holiday and event occasions: Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduations, Fathers’ Day, & US Independence Day, shown below.


Words and phrases with an increase in Etsy searches from 2017 to 2018 (percentage increases in brackets):

  • sustainable (137%)

  • storage (129%)

  • “shelving-related searches” (51%)

  • DIY (49%)

  • wood toy (30%)

  • self care (211%) [this is still increasing on Google]

  • meditation (32%)

  • dried flower (81%)

  • reusable (in Home & Living; 106%)

  • flower (in Art & Collectibles, 31%)

  • botanical (in Art & Collectibles, 31%)

  • linen + clothing terms, or within the Clothing category [not sure which; see page 20; historically, this is a May-June trend on Google] (54%)

  • bow (in Clothing, 38%)

  • western (in Clothing, 33%)

  • hoop (in Jewellery, 76%) [yes, Google says this is still a big trend]

  • mismatch (in Jewellery, 85%)

  • men/him (in Jewellery, 59%)

  • custom (in Accessories, 66%)

  • boho [unclear if this is within Vintage only, or is site-wide. Check page 31 for context] (42%)

  • positive (in Paper & Party Supplies, 78%)

  • pampas grass [probably in Weddings only, as opposed to site-wide; see page 38] (758% - not a typo)

  • acrylic seating chart (461%)

  • sashiko (in Craft Supplies, 87%) [seems to be rising on Google as well]

Other random search term/sales info:

  • apparently, “boho” searches top out in May on Etsy. [Note that Google search hits for “boho” by itself hit top volume later, usually in July or August, and are still on the rise year to year]

  • 60% of the top jewellery & accessory items offer personalization [which is why Etsy promotes them so much]

Top Home & Living searches (pets & wellness/spirituality both saw big growth in 2018 over 2017)

Top 10 plant- and garden-related Home & Living searches in 2018:

  • planter 

  • gardening 

  • plant stand 

  • hanging planter 

  • macrame plant hanger [this one is still rising on Google]

  • garden gifts 

  • succulent planter [just past peak on Google, but still hot]

  • plant pot 

  • garden 

  • garden tools

Popular Clothing searches April-August 2018:

  • lingerie 

  • maternity dress 

  • t-shirts 

  • linen dress 

  • kimono 

  • bikini 

  • mommy and me outfits [still rising on Google]

  • one piece swimsuit 

Etsy also provided some suggestions on clothing & seasonal occasions on page 19:

clothing occasions Etsy.jpg

Popular Accessory searches, April-August 2018

  • enamel pin [not yet over, according to Google]

  • patches 

  • keychain 

  • lanyard 

  • personalized leather 

  • baby headband 

  • flower crown [definitely a spring trend, and dropping a bit every year on Google]

  • iron-on patch 

  • cufflinks

Popular Jewellery searches, April-August 2018 

  • engagement ring 

  • earrings 

  • name necklace

  • initial necklace 

  • rings 

  • statement jewelry 

  • necklace 

  • opal ring 

  • celestial jewelry [surprisingly big on Etsy; flat demand on Google]

Popular Vintage searches, April-August 2018 

  • vintage clothing

  • vintage t-shirt

  • vintage engagement ring

  • vintage dress

  • vintage rings

  • vintage jewelry

  • ‘90s clothing

  • vintage wedding dress

  • vintage ring

Top Paper & Party Supplies searches, April to August 2018

  • wedding invitation

  • gender reveal

  • bachelorette party

  • planner

  • graduation party decorations

  • pregnancy announcement

  • baby shower

  • unicorn party [a rare search that dipped then rose again on Google]

Top Weddings searches, April-August 2018:

  • bridesmaid gift

  • wedding decor

  • bridesmaid robes

  • wedding invitation

  • wedding dress

  • wedding cake topper

  • wedding gift

  • groomsmen gift

  • flower girl dress

[I think it is really interesting that one of the top wedding searches is for “wedding gifts”; that expands this category considerably. Do you have anything that could be a wedding gift?]

Top Craft Supplies & Tools searches, April-August 2018

  • cross stitch pattern

  • succulents [still rising on Google, but definitely bigger in spring]

  • washi tape

  • terrarium

  • planner stickers

  • fabric

  • crochet sunflower pattern [probably past peak]

  • embroidery kit

  • crochet pattern

  • address stamp

Easy/beginner level craft supplies and instructions are big right now:

craft supplies easy.jpg


Page 43 offers some tips on how to make use of this data. Note they suggest putting crucial keywords in both titles and tags; these are very competitive searches and require that repetition for optimization. Remember, though, even if you cannot rank for the most competitive searches, you can still show up well in “long-tail” (very specific) searches by using these terms with niche words, because long tail searches often have the most popular terms as part of a longer phrase.

Update on My New Business Forum, and Other Developments

I am still working on finding new places to host my business/SEO forum. My shorter news posts are now on Tumblr, and I hope to move my forum off-Etsy soon, and open it to new members at that time. If you have ideas on where I can start a new forum, please let me know in the comments, or email me. Sign up for my blog emails, or follow me on Twitter, to keep up to date on Etsy news and where I am reporting it.

UPDATED: April 18, 2019

What We Know So Far About The Etsy Forum & Team Migration, January 2019

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A screenshot of the new Etsy forum, as shown in an Etsy blog post.

A screenshot of the new Etsy forum, as shown in an Etsy blog post.

You won’t be able to post on Etsy Teams or in the main Etsy forum

for almost 2 weeks; here’s what you need to know

In case you missed it, Etsy is suspending the forum and teams from January 10th to 22nd; you will be able to read the current forum as well as public teams and teams you belong to, but will not be able to post during that time.

As of January 22nd, the new forum will be open and available for all members to post in, as will all teams that have had posts since November 2016; older teams will not be moved to the new format. So if you have an inactive team you want to save in the new format, make sure you post a thread on the team by the end of January 9th.

Etsy provided a short blog post with more details including a few screenshots, and has also written a help file for team captains and leaders, providing more information about this transition. (Please read that if you are a captain or leader; I don’t summarize every detail below.) But some of this is written in Etsy-speak, and as usual, staff have clarified some points elsewhere, so I’ve compiled the most relevant details below to keep you informed. If I have missed anything, or have made any errors, please post a comment to let me know, or send me an email or convo with the new content.

Key Points About The Etsy Forum & Team Transition

  • They really did mean it will take 2 weeks. I have seen some debate about how long the closure will be, but Etsy has confirmed that they meant the whole time period. Of course, they may finish earlier, or it may take even longer.

  • The Bugs forum will remain open for new threads and posts. No explanation was provided as to why this one section can stay open while the other ones will be frozen.

  • Etsy is transferring forum threads with posts in the last 3 years, but note that they closed all threads older than 2017 many months ago, so none of those threads will show up in the new space, according to staff. That means over a decade of community history will vanish. Make sure you copy or screenshot anything you want to save for posterity!

  • All existing team threads will move to the new space. We were told last September that only the last 2 years of posts would be be part of the new Team space, but after many of us protested last fall, they delayed the migration and decided to move everything. Please note that does not include threads captains have deleted, which captains can currently see, and even restore, in the existing format.

  • The new format will include new tools, including the ability to like posts, to indicate that your question has been answered (which should cut down on those 7 page threads where everyone says the same thing because they didn’t read the other posts), and basic formatting.

  • We’re getting a notification feed which will include all replies to our posts and any mentions. Yes, you will be able to tag people in posts! (I will find that useful; right now some people post that they hope Cindy Lou shows up to comment , but I don’t necessarily see those in any timely fashion! Feel free to send me a message if you want me to post anywhere.)

  • No more closed teams that do not accept new applications, and no questions for team applicants to answer. We will still have the ability to reject new applicants if we chose, but we won’t be able to close applications entirely as we can now. Please note that I will simply be ignoring all new applications to my SEO team, as it will remain closed for the time being.

  • Teams will automatically see a banner with “important” Etsy news when it occurs. I expect that will mostly include new tools they want us to pay for, and will not necessarily include everything we need to know. Think of all of the notifications on your shop dashboard that people complain about! (e.g., the holiday banner) I am quite disturbed by this, & am now more actively looking for off-Etsy alternatives for my SEO team.

  • The new forum and team spaces use the same software that eBay and PayPal use for their forum spaces. This software can be substantially modified for each site, however, so Etsy won’t necessarily work exactly as those sites do.

  • There was a beta testing group, but they are not allowed to talk about what they saw during the test. Of course, some people have posted what they saw anyway. Apparently, there are going to be many new forum sections, and some of the existing ones, including Promos and Chit Chat, did not appear in the beta test. That does not mean that Etsy will not keep them in the new format, since the beta test was supposed to be a way to get user feedback on what needed to be changed. Also, team posts are apparently private only, meaning certain promotional threads, or posts like my recent ecommerce and SEO news thread, will no longer be available to non-members. I am actively searching for an alternative in case this happens; please let me know if you have any ideas. We will have to wait and see if all of this is true.

The reaction of a few forum regulars when they found out their fix will be closed for almost 2 weeks.

The reaction of a few forum regulars when they found out their fix will be closed for almost 2 weeks.

Why Is This Going To Take So Long?

We don’t know. They said it is because there are so many posts and teams to transfer, and also that they need to put finishing touches on the new spaces. However, many of us have participated in larger system transfers that have been completed in far less time, and Etsy originally meant to do this in the fall, so they have had plenty of time for testing to see if everything works.

I would not be surprised if they drop something new while the forum is closed, but please note I do not have any inside information that leads me to believe that. It just feels like something bigger is going on.

In the interim, I have opened a Google+ collection that will provide the usual Etsy, SEO and ecommerce news I post on my team. Please post there or in the comments here, or email or convo me, if you have any news you want to share.

Many teams and forum regulars are migrating to Slack, Reddit, Facebook and other forum/chatroom options while the Etsy community is read-only. Check your team forum now to see if anything has been set up.

I will update this post as necessary.


UPDATED January 7, 2019.

Canada Post Alternatives: Other Shipping Companies in Canada

Cindy Lou Who 2

There Are Many Different Ways To Ship Into And From Canada Without Using Canada Post, Including Options For Small Businesses

Worried about backlogs at Canada Post after the strikes (get updates here), but you don't know any other affordable shipping companies to fill the gap for your small business?

Need a cheaper way to ship within Canada or to the US?

Need an alternative for shipping into Canada from other countries?

Fortunately, there are many established options out there, including several services that will truck packages across the American border to ship via the United States Postal Service, incoming and outgoing.

Note: The following lists do not mean I am endorsing any of these companies, and I have not received any compensation to link to any of them. I am sharing this list because I spent some time compiling it for Canadian Etsy sellers I know, and thought it might be useful to others too. 

National Courier Companies

Most large courier companies in Canada have locations in most provinces, and provide national and international services. However, coverage can be minimal to nonexistent in many remote or rural areas, and prices are all over the map. One company may be cheaper for mailing between points A and B, while another company gives the best rates between cities C and D. Also, courier prices are often more in line with Canada Post rates for a larger package, but small items are several times the cost of regular mail, so this is not a viable option for many of us.  

The following list shows the cost to ship a small bubble envelope with a $50 value from Calgary to St. John's, Newfoundland on October 19th, 2018 (tax not included, cheapest/slowest rate selected, no customer discounts applied):

Signing up for an account may make you eligible for discounts (e.g., UPS gives me a small business rate of 20% off the price listed above), as can a high volume of packages. Note, however, that couriers will sometimes limit their services to existing customers for the duration of any Canada Post disruptions and during the busy holiday season, so you will need to contact these companies to make sure they will be able to cover your needs.

There are also numerous companies which offer access to better rates at couriers and for Canada Post than many of us can get on our own, including Chit Chats. Their prices, reliability and customer service can vary, so check reviews carefully before signing up for their services.

Regional Shipping Services That Deliver Outside of Canada

There are many businesses that provide shipping and freight services within a city or region; therefore, I have restricted this list to those who ship outside of Canada (although some also provide in-Canada service as well). Do check with each company for more details on their current service levels and time frames, and other details regarding requirements, as some request a spreadsheet detailing each of your parcels being shipped. 

(If you are a high-volume seller but don’t live near one of these options, consider couriering your packages to the closest office; contact the company you wish to use to get their recommendations on the cheapest way to reach them.)

Chit Chats Express: the most national and established alternative that ships via the United States Postal Service (USPS). Opened in 2001, they now have multiple offices in Ontario, BC, Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Fees are 65 cents to $2 per package, plus the US postage cost. They also have courier arrangements to ship within Canada and internationally. Print US postage at home or in their offices; check with your nearest location for details, as services vary by city. (Note: they did not reply when I emailed a few questions, which is a bit of a red flag for me)

DYK Post: shipping via USPS from their offices in Calgary and Edmonton, with drop off locations in Edmonton North, Red Deer, Innisfail and Lethbridge; they also offer pickups in Calgary and Edmonton. Costs $1 and up per package to ship via USPS through their location in Montana. Print your own USPS postage or do it at their office. They also offer discounted DHL and other services to ship around the world.

Parcel for Less: southern Ontario shipper with main offices in Hamilton and Mississauga, with some services in other surrounding cities. Their fees start at 60 cents per package for shipping to the US and other countries. Print USPS postage labels online or at their offices. 

Runnin’ Red: based in Winnipeg, they ship with USPS and UPS from North Dakota, starting $1 per package. You buy labels online yourself then drop your packages off.

Do It Yourself Shipping from the United States

Live close to the border? You may want to try shipping via USPS (or other American service providers) on your own. Make sure you do your research first, including contacting your closest border crossing to get their advice on the quickest legal way to bring your packages into the US. There is a per-crossing fee (or you can pay for a yearly pass), and border agents generally prefer any parcels remain unsealed so they can be inspected if necessary. While many USPS offices allow you to use a Canadian return address on their packages, some online merchants prefer to set up a PO box in the US to avoid any issues. An American address is also necessary to use some online label services. 

Services That Ship Into Canada

Outside of Canada and want to ship things to your loyal customers here? If you don’t want to use the courier companies listed above for shipping into Canada due to the high brokerage fees, there are other options for your Canadian customers. Most common are cross-border services that allow Canadians to receive mail at a US address, and then have it brought across the border for local pickup or delivery. DYK Post, Runnin’ Red and Cross Border PIckups are three companies that offer US PO boxes to Canadians, and bring the mail back over the border for pick up in their respective cities.

Other companies such as My US Address will let Canadians pick up their mail in the US, or will reship it in Canada for them. Some businesses such as Kinek have multiple US locations that their customers can drive to for package retrieval. Note that the prices on these services vary, and may not always be cheaper than using conventional couriers, so it is best to ask your customer what they want to pay when giving them these options.

If I have missed any useful tips, or if you know of any other companies that should be included here, please send me a message or leave a note in the comments. This post will be updated as required. 

For media enquiries, please email me by clicking the envelope icon on the top, or contact me on Twitter. I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

UPDATED: November 27, 2018