Ah, the dreaded profile. It’s a notoriously daunting piece of seller language to nail down. Even for a seasoned wordsmith, writing about yourself can be an intimidating prospect. As with any self-portrait, it’s tough to capture yourself at the perfect angle and incorporate all of your best attributes in the frame.
But writing your profile doesn’t have to be a baffling enterprise. Answering a few key questions, honestly and in detail, can provide the structure for an engaging, insightful picture of who you are and what you do. A creative, concise, well-constructed profile is essential to the success of any Etsy shop. No matter where you’re from and what you make, it is worth it to spend the time really fleshing out and polishing up your seller bio.
Two reasons your profile is important:
- You are responsible for your buyer’s shopping experience. The difference between Etsy and many other online vendor platforms is that we try to make the online shopping experience feel as personal as purchasing from a local brick-and-mortar boutique. Your profile is the most humanizing portion of the Etsy sales experience. It is the equivalent of making conversation at the register. Think of that exchange and what might unfold during the interaction. Make it clear that you care about your customers enough to sate their curiosity. The more you can make the experience feel personal, the more buyers, especially first-time buyers are willing to make the leap.
- You deserve an opportunity to toot your own horn. You make wonderful things — handbags and cufflinks and armoires and a host of other goodies that take an enormous amount of energy and creativity to develop. The profile section is the place where you get to give yourself a little credit. Do yourself justice. Talk about your process, your ambitions, your creative inspirations. We know a lot of thought and energy goes into the items you make, so take some time with your bio and really make it shine.
Okay, so you know you need a profile. But how do you get started? Everyone knows one of the hardest tasks, even for seasoned writers, is to turn the focus inwards. But don’t fret! Here are some questions to help you get started. Not all of them will apply to you, but they are designed to inspire and get you thinking about what piques buyers’ curiosities. Especially with projects as tricky as the personal bio, I come from the school of “write first, edit later,” so put your pen to the paper and see what flows. You can always discard, revise and bolster your words later.
- Who are you? What is your educational and/or artistic background? What are your hobbies?
- Where are you from? How does your location/birthplace inform your work?
- What was the main inspiration for your shop? How did your business get its name? Name some objects/eras/events/people that inspire you.
- What do you make? How many varieties of items do you carry? Do you have a signature product? How did that come to be?
- What materials do you use? Where do you source them from? Are they green/sustainable?
- What is your process like? How long does it take? What is the most difficult step in the procedure?
- Is there a funny/touching/sad story behind one/all of your items?
- What makes you different from the other people that make what you make? (Or why do I need what you make if no one else makes it?)
- What do you enjoy most about making the things you make? How has the experience of handcrafting things for people or selling vintage been rewarding to you?
- What are your shop policies? Sizing? Returns? Exchanges? Damage? Shipping? Accepted forms of payment? These things should actually go in your policies page (edit your policy page here), but it never hurts to include the link and point your visitors there should they be looking.
- What are questions that come up from your buyers over and over? Do you have a product that is especially difficult to purchase sight unseen? Something people might want to sample before they commit? Try to anticipate the questions your buyers will ask and plug the holes as best you can.
- What other special services do you offer to buyers? Custom orders? Gift wrap?
- What is the easiest way to get in touch with you? How else can buyers connect with you? Your website? Facebook? Twitter? Do you have a newsletter?
- Have you been covered by the press? Have you been profiled or highlighted by Etsy? Have you listed any other major accomplishments? (For creative use of press in profile check out happyfamily.)
General Writing Tips:
Use humor. Don’t be overwrought or overwork it, but try to use language to delineate yourself and separate yourself from others.
Make sure your description reflects why you are different, not just from mass-market items, but also from the other shops on Etsy. There are hundreds of metalworkers on the site. Without directly comparing yourself to others, or disparaging anyone else’s collection, tell us why your creations are different. What makes you stand out? Be clean, concise and complete. Try to maintain an air of professionalism, while still keeping it fun and making it personal.
- Tell stories. Is there an interesting/relevant anecdote behind how your shop came to be? Did the accidental addition of an ingredient lead to a signature line of extra yummy cupcakes? Did an old photograph of your parents by the seashore inspire you to hand make vintage-style bathing suits? Even short, creative, fictional histories or anecdotes can add to the mystique of your items if executed well. Look to the creepy-charming description of seller rubypearl for some inspiration here.
- Did you say hello? Don’t forget to welcome us! Treat us like we’re entering your store. Make a good first impression. Thanking people and showing off your good manners never gets old. And engaging readers from the beginning will ensure they continue on to the rest of your valuable information.
- Lay out your points cleanly and concisely. Use titles to help draw the eye to the different topics you address. Try to avoid constructing one big block of text. Headings definitely help make profiles more readable, especially if you have a lot of information to impart. (Look at morrisonjewelry for an example of this.)
- Proofread! When a shopper encounters “free nipping” instead of “free shipping” in your profile or item descriptions, it doesn’t speak to your attention to detail. This is not a great impression to make as a seller of handcrafted items and/or custom goods. Proofreading is easy — it just takes an extra few minutes or a friend’s pair of eyeballs! Make sure you take a look at your profile both before and after you’ve posted it. Time and distance from what you’ve written will provide perspective. And remember, you can’t always see your own mistakes. Let friends and family members review your text after you post it to catch all the little things before your buyers do.
- Keep it concise. Make it interesting. Make it informative.
- Don’t overload your profile with press clips. Including 2-3 items — what is essentially the highlights reel of your press coverage — will instill confidence in your buyers, but an assault of press clippings in the bio section really takes away from the homegrown feel. It’s important to find that balance of using press to prove the value of your items, while still leaving room for people to feel like they’re buying items that are unique. You still want it to feel like a discovery.
- Don’t direct people to your store’s website as your only profile item – it feels so cold and corporate. Include your web address and other contact information in the profile, of course, but it’s important to make buyers feel like they’re dealing with real people when they access your profile, versus detached redirection.
- Don’t assume people know anything about your shop or items or policies until you tell them. You are the direct vehicle for information to your sellers, and only you have the power to inform, and inform well.
Here are some more interesting profiles to sample: gildapearl, FablesByBarrie, trixiedelicious, cloudninevintage, happyfamily, samanthasultana, beanforest, rubypearl, percyhandmade, morrisonjewelry, NoushKaDesigns, steffmetal.
You can read more from Stacey in this post, A Different Thing Entirely: How to Distinguish Yourself From the Mass Market.