Debunking Etsy Myths

One of the key myths about Etsy is that the more items you have listed, the easier it is to be found in search. More listings means more opportunities to be found in search, which means more customers and sales.

I agree, to a point: you have to be found in search before anyone can buy your work.

When I first opened, I wanted to join the Female Photographers of Etsy (f/POE) team. I needed about two dozen images to qualify, got busy, and was on the team in a few weeks. I’m glad I did, too; I’ve met a lot of great friends that way. (Hi, ladies!)

My next goal was to reach 100 listings, then 150. Earlier this month, I hit 152. I must really on my way, right?


None of it made the slightest difference, so I joined a promotions team. I started making a lot treasuries, got into many, many more, and began playing games to build followers and favorites. And I was successful, too! Except… ninety percent of my followers and faves are from other people on the promotions team, and they aren’t buying.

So for my next step, I’ve decided to really make an effort to learn all about SEO – search engine optimization. SEO has been called a black art consisting of keywords, tags, and mystical, constantly-changing algorithms that only Etsy and Google understand. To sell on Etsy, good SEO is essential, but it takes a lot of time and experimentation to get it right. You make a few changes at a time, see what works, what doesn’t, and make more changes. It takes time to figure out. (The fact that my favorites and followers are cluttered up with people who are required to favorite my items and follow me makes it that much harder.)

It was tIme to make some drastic changes.

First, I’m reducing my team participation to the bare minimum. Once the fake faves and follows drop off, I’ll be able to make a few SEO changes and actually be able to see what works and what doesn’t.

Second, I’m getting back on track, aesthetically speaking. They say that if you do what you love, success will follow. Well, I took a good, long look at my shop this morning. Visually, I was all over the map: black and white, intense color, architecture, landscapes, nature. I couldn’t tell what kind of photography I loved, and I know me!

This had to change immediately.

My first love is black and white photography, followed closely by alternative imagery like pinhole and iPhoneography. So I spent most of the morning deactivating any listings I didn’t love. I’m down to about 100 now, but the shop finally looks like just one person made the images.

Will it make a difference? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath. Comments are welcome.


Crazy times. No pinhole photos.

I just realized I haven’t posted in about a week. It’s been crazy: torrential rain, thunderstorms, tornado watches, threats of ice cubes falling from the sky…

Update on Pinhole Day. I did not shoot any photos Sunday; I spent the time prepping for an Apple interview that evening. It went well, but I don’t know yet if I move on to the second interview. This is my third attempt to get hired there. Each time I get a little closer to the prize – an email address ending with “” and an iPhone-sized name tag hanging around my neck.

Tomorrow I drive my MINI to Crown for an inspection and wheel alignment. (I know I can get my car inspected anywhere, but what are the chances that “anywhere” will have the parts if it needs something? Michelins have to be ordered in, for Pete’s sake.) I don’t even try to get in at Checkered Flag; that’s a lost cause until they double their service bays. It’s so bad that Crown – 90 miles away in Richmond – refers to itself a Tidewater MINI dealer.

I’m taking my camera and some knitting with me.

Sunday April 27 is World Wide Pinhole Day!

Jessica-DittmerI’m probably more excited about this than you are — or anyone else I know for that matter — but I like oddball photography, okay?

Pinhole is photography at it’s most basic: image-making without a lens. It’s not for everyone, but for the visually adventurous, it’s a lot of fun. You’d be surprised what you can do without a lens. Pinhole images aren’t tack-sharp, but that’s part of the charm. Pinhole dates back to the Renaissance and the camera obscura, which worked the way our eyes—and all cameras—work: a small hole allows light to enter a dark chamber, and an image is projected onto the opposite wall, upside down.

Back in the day, most beginning photography students built a pinhole camera using an oatmeal box, aluminum foil, and black tape. For the camera body, you’d cut a hole in the box. For the pinhole, you’d drill a tiny hole in the foil with a sewing needle, which you’d attach to the box with some of the tape. A second piece of tape would serve as the shutter. To make an image, you’d put unexposed photo paper in the box, make an exposure outside, and process the paper in the darkroom. The result was a paper negative. To get the final print, you’d place the negative on top of a second piece of photo paper and expose under the enlarger. Many people got hooked on photography via the oatmeal box, including me. There’s something about that first image coming up in the tray…

Will I be out there, shooting on Sunday? Probably. Will I be using an oatmeal box camera? Hell no! I’ll just put my pinhole on my Nikon, set the ISO way up, and have some fun. If I do get a chance to go out and shoot, I’ll post a few of the images. For more information, go to