Here I have compiled what wisdom and experience I've gained regarding Shop Appearance - for your viewing pleasure! Tips and tricks and a touch of advice on the subject for the new (and even not so new) Etsian!
Appearances Can Be Misleading:
Etsy gives you a few simple options when it comes to customizing your shop's decor. Your Banner, your shop announcement, your avatar, and they've also added a feature that allows you to rearrange the order in which your items appear. Although it doesn't seem like these would be controversial, this is where opinions tend to diverge the most. So again, experiment, and find out what works for you.
Banner: They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but your shop and its merchandise will often be judged by the sort of first impression given by your banner. The conventional wisdom here seems to be that banners should include photos of what you sell. This is particularly true in a case where the title of the shop doesn't hint at what the shop's contents may be, but otherwise, I don't really see the point. (I mean, if they're in your shop - they can pretty much see what you sell, right?) Right. But it really is up to you. It is my opinion that a shop banner can have anything the seller wants on it, as long as it looks well-done and professional. Fuzzy, stretched, or disjointed photos make your banner look unprofessional. Etsy is a HIGHLY competitive marketplace, and you need every advantage you can possibly find. An unprofessional banner will immediately turn off any prospective customer, as it gives the impression that the seller's products may be equally shoddy. If you owned a brick and mortar store, would you want a dirty old sign made of cardboard that is about to fall apart out front? Of course not. So take the time to make a really good professional-looking banner. If you don't have access to the right software to create your own, or you just aren't that interested in doing it, Etsy is full of graphic designers who would be more than happy to custom design one for you, or you can even buy pre-made banners for your shop on the cheap! It's Easy! And as always, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, until you do! I personally like to keep a repertoire of different banners, and swap them out depending on what I have in my shop, I like to make sure the banner doesn't clash with the items in my shop. Ideally it should all fit together quite seamlessly, and give an impression of what your style is all about.
Avatar: Your avatar is a 75 X 75 pixel image that identifies the shop owner. It appears next to your posts in the forum, and also identifies you in the chat rooms, so make it "clickable" (tempting to click on) as it links to your shop. Again the conventional wisdom says to choose a photo of a particularly hot item in your shop so that others get an idea of what you sell, however, that is not always the way to go! For example, your avatar will appear even smaller in the chat rooms, so words and images can look busy or garbled or just a blur of color and lines. A white background is usually best if you decide to use a photo of an item for your avatar. Keep it simple, keep it stark, keep it identifiable, and definitely make it clickable. Trial and error is what has worked best for me. Even when you think you've gotten it right, double check and ask for a critique in the Etsy Forums The key word is "simplicity".
Your Shop Announcement: Your shop announcement appears below your banner and is one of the very first things a person lays eyes on when he or she visits your shop. There are infinite ways in which to use this space depending on your needs, but think carefully about the benefits and drawbacks of each style! Some people put a lot of information in their shop announcement, others think it is better to keep it short because the shorter it is, the more room there is for your items to show up on the front page of your shop. Some people use the space for special offers and deals, others simply welcome shoppers to their store, or write an introductory paragraph about their goods. Again, it is up to you to figure out what works best for you. Some people lay out a few of their shop's policies there, but there is a separate tab specifically for store policies, and many sellers use a link to refer shoppers to that in their announcement.
Rearranging Your Shop: If you don't use a "custom" setting, your items will appear in the order in which they were listed, with the newly listed items at the top. Personally I like to select items to showcase the broad range of prices available in my shop. And of course, the items I consider my best "eye candy"! There is also an option to "Feature" three of your listings, and I recommend you use all three! These three listings will appear at the top of your shop, side by side, and the photos will be larger than the little thumbnails below, so choose wisely! Those featured products should be your most spectacular items, but don't be afraid to switch it up now and then and give other items some time in the spotlight! Shuffling your items can help shoppers notice things that perhaps didn't stand out their first time through, so don't underestimate the power of the shop shuffle!
Playing with all of these components is a good activity to try while you are waiting on sales. It keeps you busy and improves your shop all at the same time. The more you familiarize yourself with these settings, the easier it will be to decide how to customize your shop. Don't be afraid to look around at other shops and see what makes you want to buy, and what turns you off, what seems to be working for them, and what doesn't. But be sure to invest some time and thought in the appearance of your shop!
Good Luck and Happy sales to you! Hope you found some useful tips today!
-Joan of JoanHunterHandmade on Etsy