…funk for the old soul…

Posts Tagged ‘etsy’

Twittering Your Business Away

Posted by crowbiz on June 30, 2009


Love it, hate it, # it

Love it, hate it, # it

Ah, social networking!  Say those few syllables over and over…. yes, it does take on the timbre of “anal itchiness,” “festering pimple,” and “supreme nausea.”  I would like to include “gaseous blowhard,” but it would require the British pronunciation “gas-ee-uss” rather than the clunky American version, “gash-uss.”


Do you wish you had a nickel for every forum poster who oozes about how great Twitter has been for their business?  How they find it so fun to spam, er I mean, post their items to their 11,000 followers and then sit back and watch the love roll in?  What is it about the magic number 11,000, by the way?  Did I miss the meeting where they handed out the secret code behind the pyramid that night?  And did you notice that after someone proclaims Twitter as crucial to their success, you check their Etsy shop and see they’ve made 7 sales in 2 years?  Then the chipper seller lets drop, “Well, I can’t be sure how many sales came directly from Twitter, but I know it’s helped!”

Yeah, it’s helped immensely – in sucking your time and your mind.

My feelings about the big twit are ambivalent.  I have some loose connections, do the occasional pimp, and mostly pick up links to hilarious sites that would take me too long to find on my own.  So right there, Twitter saves me time on my time-wasting, which I can now do in a much more targeted and efficient fashion.  Despite having over 300 followers, which is so low that I’m not even at the uncool kids’ lunch table, I’m still talking mostly to myself on Twitter.  When I eventually tweet the link to this very post, I’ll be able to watch the blog stats rocket upward by one.

There are several creepy followers who seem to be Stepford Twits, manufactured somewhere in that same factory that makes people to give testimonials for weight loss ads and mysterious work-from-home pitches.  They have what seem to be regular, homespun avatars, what with their undoctored faces, or pets, or children.  Yet their tweets seem to be a preprogrammed regurgitation of How To Get (fill in the number) Followers in (fill in the time frame).”  No other content, really.  Get followers so you can tell others how to get followers so they can say they got followers that will want to know how to get followers.  What does Jane Doe need with 11,000 followers?  

Once I boldly asked what the heck I needed with 10,000 followers (I was being conservative), and got an immediate reply from a nonfollower/nonfollowee with a curt, “I would think that would be obvious!”   It wasn’t to me.  It was one of the few, and certainly the quickest reply I ever received.  And the guy seemed offended.  It wasn’t as if I’d said, “Who needs liquids to live?” or “Oxygen is so overrated” or “Too bad you don’t know your real dad.”  Yet this stranger instantly heard my tweet – perhaps it registered on his Twitter Dissent Meter – and jumped in to scold.  Kind of like Big Brother and the Wizard of Oz combined, only without the rat cage or technicolor.

Take aaaall that time you’ve spent on Twitter.  Subtract out any real humanesque interaction – be honest now.  I’ll let you keep that, because sometimes it is fun to check someone’s link to a picture of the sleeping guy next to him on the flight (thanks, some funny guy who follows me).  Now how much time do you spend talking to the great void?   When you post your latest doohickey, do you rush back to check the views on Etsy?  Then back to Twitter… then back to Etsy… then…oh, right, leave a @reply to someone, because that will seem human of you, and there’s a 25% chance that the person you reply to might, in some future moment, click on a link that you’ve posted.  Which you will dutifully check by rushing back to Etsy.  Not that you’d be able to document this in any meaningful way, but you’d give yourself the idea that Twitter “definitely helps.”  

Is this your marketing, promotion and sales strategy?  No really, tell me it isn’t.  Visually, I picture it like this:  you run outside and leave your business card on the sidewalk, or maybe a picture of what you’re hawking with contact info.  Some people walk by, maybe even 11,000 people.  Maybe someone picks it up, maybe not.  After a few minutes, you dash back outside to check if anyone picked up the card.  If so, you put another one on the sidewalk.  If not, you go back and wait.  Repeat process indefinitely, or until you realize you sure need a shower or a meal or to leave for your real job.  

My heretical suggestion is that you get your bum off Twitter now and then. Next, take that time and pour, shovel and cram it into something that might be called an activity.  Find better outlets.  You may even have to – god forbid! – spend a few bucks advertising to a qualified, target market.  Sure, go ahead and send the pictures of your fingers photoshopped to look like sausages (I laughed till I cried) – enjoy it for what it is and don’t count on it bringing in the sales.

Yeah, yeah, there are those who will vehemently disagree with me and insist that their Etsy business booms because of Twitter.  You are free to tell me I don’t know what the bedazzzler I’m talking about, and I don’t mind, because I know your secret; you come from that different midwestern factory where they make the rare bird who is a success right out of the starting block and don’t even realize it.  I think there are three of you.  Maybe you interpret my crabbiness as jealousy, but I’d redirect you to frustration instead.  Anyone who reads my blog knows the idea of constraining myself to 140 characters is like something right out of Dante’s Inferno.

To wrap up, self-interest dictates that I should drop my info here.  If you have a soft spot for the unflappable, uncool kid on the fringe of the cafeteria, I’ll be there with my flabby sandwich:

But I’m only one voice in 11,000.

Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

What Do You Call a Call-Out Outer?

Posted by crowbiz on June 9, 2009


You wish

You wish

As a rule, I avoid participating in the spit-spat stuff of the Etsy Forums, as long as you don’t count intermittent comical asides I insert to break up the longer paragraphs of peoples’ vitriol.  Much as I hate confrontation, I’m not above cheap voyueristic enjoyment of it, plus, nothing riles a flamer – or pops their balloon – like the suggestion that other people are having a grand time at their expense.  Requesting “Orville Redenbacher in Thread 3, please!” or dropping in lyrics from smaltzy 70s love songs is more my style, but nevertheless, I do read a lot of the back-and-forth to get of sense of where people think they lie in the Big Crusade.  After a particularly irritating thread I saw recently, I thought I’d post (I had no choice!)


These commonly degenerate into an I-may-be-wrong-but-I’m-righter-than-you smarmfest, and always, someone is wrong.  You can usually tell in the OP’s opening salvo that they are just dying to blow in some perceived wrong-doer, but they need enough agitation to go ahead and give the damning info.  Usually it’s something we can all backtrack easily enough, which is known as… CALLING OUT.  Did you know?  No, the OP did not give a name or serial number, but unless you are six years old and just signed up on Etsy yesterday, you and everyone else will be able to pinpoint the OP’s target du jour. 

Here is a sample of Etsy-rip, and see if you can find the item and seller:   “I’m so mad at this seller who makes an item that copies so bad!  I’m about to loose my mind!!!!!  They are something with frogs, which is that I have been selling my frog items since October of 2008 and not only but my friend’s shop has green magnets that this so unscrupled person is also selling, so both me and my friend are getting ripped off and COPIED.  I will not name names, but convo me if you want to know!!!”

(Regular readers, do not worry that I hit my head.  I was writing in the Etsy colloquial.)  

Did you locate the offending item?  In my shop?  In about four seconds?  Did I do a good job calling myself out without mentioning myself?  Newbies make this mistake often, but the shocking thing is that I’ve seen buckets of threads like this by what look like seasoned Etsians.  

The worst, however, are the posters who go around in alternating modes of justice and self-defense, digging the purported “offender” and whirling right around to clamp their hands over their own asses before eventually (cartoon sproingggg!), calling out another Etsian by name.  As a visual person, what I immediately see is a cornered rat snapping, retreating, lunging, trying to adjust its halo, and playing dead all in one pitiful episode.  The named-name call-out is almost invariably preceded or followed by a disclaimer of the “I didn’t want to have to do this, but..”  or “since you made me…” type, which, if the world were more perfect, would be paired with a 220-volt shock to the genitals.  Also eligible for corporal punishment should be, “I know I’m calling out, but…”  (And I’d like to trace the evolution of the word “but” as a useful conjunction to a magic word that turns a wrong into a perceived right – that’s “right” in both senses of the word.  “I know I shouldn’t call you ugly, but it’s just that you have that really bad skin and hair.  I’m just saying.”)

Get this:  When you call out, do not imagine that you are the renegade star of “The Legend of Billie Jean” – possibly one of the worst movies ever created (thank you again, Lazypedia).  It should be required viewing for every person who intends to post in a forum.  If you haven’t the the time or the stomach for a mid-80s mind-bendingly bad teen flick (with Christian Slater, no less), here is the nutshell.  Teen gal and younger teen bro are victimized by some bad characters (theft, attempted rape, etc) and the law, and subsequently have to break a lot of rules to enoxerate themselves and expose the bad guys.  But they are innocent, man, ’cause they had no choice!  It was the only way!  By trying to bust an Etsy offender in the forums this way, you are not doing a righteous, if unpleasant thing.  You’re doing a wrong thing, since you are not Billie Jean, this is not MTV, Etsy administration is not a byzantine system of crooked cops, and that seller with the mistagged vintage item for $3.00 did not try to rape you behind the scooter shop.

Get your sorry ass back to your workspace and get busy on your own concerns.  You might make a killing by selling reclaimed wood, handcarved shit-stirrers.

By the way, I really like Etsy Call-Out.  Call me crazy, call me complex, just don’t call me out.

Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The First (and Last) Bank of Etsy

Posted by crowbiz on May 29, 2009


Shake it, baby!

Shake it, baby!

That’s it, I’ve officially declared myself as having “been around.”  Not that around, the other around.  No, I can’t play longer-than-thou on Etsy with any clout, like all those “I remember when there were just the four of us back in 2005…  Oh, remember how great the fall of 2006 was before all those (thinly disguised pejoratives) were signing up every day?”  But having ground out a hard-won 20 months, I’m a veritable geezer in Etsy world.


It’s working OK for me.

Why it may be working or not working for you is an apple to my orange.  Or melon, if you don’t mind.  

There is no “key,” so stop looking for it.  But there are about 1000 keyless entry doors you’ll have to go through, some that lead into little worlds of warm, fuzzy successes, often temporary, and some that open over a precipice down which you will plummet like Wiley Coyote.  Stop obsessing and make decisions.  Quit microanalyzing the frigging Google Analytics and make something.  It might be an object, or a phonecall, or a difficult decision (yeah, that crocheted thingie is bone ugly).  There will be failures.  Try some stuff.  It’s your issue to figure out.  And it does not matter why someone in Texas visited your site 12 times yesterday between 2:00-3:00 am.

I’ve said this many times in forums when I can pull myself away from eavesdropping on catfights or things like the “hair disc” thread:  Etsy is not an ATM.  Yeah, it sounds crabby, like a jaded old-timer who isn’t willing to help a newbie, but friends, that’s the simplest, most helpful thing you might hear all week or all month as you spend hours of your life trolling the forums looking for “the way.”  It’s your business.  Maybe it’s your hobby, in which case, you’re probably not annoying the world with your worries, and I thank you very much.  For many people, it starts as a hobby, then becomes an obsession once a little money trickles in.  Dangerous territory.

If I see one more of those tv or magazine “Great Way to Make Money” plugs that mentions Etsy, along with medical billing, stuffing envelopes and inventing a market-sweeping new gadget, I may or may not audibly groan, but I will shake my head a little like that old timer sitting next to the pickle barrel, and keep on slowly rocking.

Oh, and just a reminder:  did you know it’s actually Etsy’s site, and you are allowed to do business on it?

What Crow needs to do is take some B vitamins, drink some iced tea, and lay off.  Eventually.

Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Lemonade Stand Mistakes for Etsy Sellers

Posted by crowbiz on May 13, 2009

This is a parable about some really bad ways to start your business.  If you can’t uncover the parallels, you might want to compress your head in a sliding glass door for 30 minutes, then come back and try again.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Look within.”  

Growing up, I lived in an odd, remote semi-suburban, semi-rural compound that could be called a neighborhood.  It was a small arc of a “street” containing exactly 18 houses, with another six facing the busy roadway from which our lonely road sprang.  We were bordered by the busy road on one side, and large tracts of woods and farmland on the other three.  We had ditches in front of our houses. The road was not paved, but was made up of an unappealing oil, tar and chipped stone mixture.  Summer fun sometimes involved popping the tar bubbles that swelled up, and since we had no traffic except for the few, not-very-on-the-go residents, a kid could actually sit in the middle of the street doing something as mindless as popping tar bubbles. Every eye from every house would widen and follow any nonresident car that happened along the street.  

Luckily, I had several friends around my age, so childhood life went along almost normally, except for the strange themes that we developed because of our isolation.  We were rather like specimens on the Galapagos Islands, following the general rules of life, but evolving our own bizarre mutations.

Thus is was that we decided to open a stand to sell something.  Something.  I don’t recall what the actual stand was – an appliance box, perhaps, or a piece of hand-me-down fort from neighborhood boys?  Whatever its form, the physical stand was the impetus for opening shop, though we had no plan.  We lacked supplies for lemonade or Kool-Aid .  So after straining our collective brains a bit, we came up with a suitable alternative:  salad dressing.  Into the blender went a load of ingredients, a pinch of this, a 9-year-old’s fistful of that, until we whizzed up what we thought was a perfectly acceptable concoction.  It tasted salty, so that was good, and it was a loud green color.  

Great as a marinade, too!Now, to marketing.  The name we agreed on (by a committee of four) was “Grople.”  Pronounced GROPE-uhl.  Like Snapple, but with Grope instead of Snap.  And way before Snapple was invented.  Say it a few times.  Mmmm.  We kept the Grople in a large plastic container and planned to dispense the customer’s portion into a paper cup, the kind you’d use for, oh, lemonade, say.  We expected them to run right home with it, eager to try it out, so we wouldn’t even bother with a lid.  Or perhaps we thought customers would rush our stand with their naked salads and use the cup to dip the lettuce in.  Our target market consisted of street traffic.  If you’re not sharp, you may want to reread the second paragraph.  It was a sweltering summer day.  All systems were go!

Let’s spare ourselves the grueling details of the grand failure and just skip to the part where we disband later in the day having sold not a drop of Grople.  What happened? we asked.  How could this have bombed so badly?  Were we not shouting loud enough to attract people?  Did we set up the stand too far away from the street?  Were our signs hard to read, or written too small?  Was it the economic climate?  It was a blend of mystery and disappointment for all of us.  Not only did we not make a penny, we had wasted a good summer day sitting there minding the stand, had shouted ourselves hoarse, and had a gallon of spoiled green oil and spices to deal with.

Have you started looking within?

When you’ve grown close to something, it’s hard to see its faults with a clear eye.  Your project, your product, is your baby, just like our Grople was to us.  After a session back at the drawing board we crafted some important changes and vowed we wouldn’t go down in retail flames again.  Several weeks later we reopened another shop with new conviction.  Our sweeping changes?  The salad dressing was now lighter green, and we’d rechristened it Grople II.  If you can’t guess what happened, you probably should have just left your coat on.  The bus will be coming soon.

Sweet mother of invention, we can be thankful there was no public outlet for our distress.  Nowhere to ask, plead and beg for answers about why we weren’t selling.  No one to hear us lament, “OMG, the kids in that subdivision a mile away are copying us!  They’re selling liverwurst in ceramic mugs…that’s food, that’s cups… It’s so unfair!  How come our parents won’t do anything about it?”  No one to ask, “How long did it take to sell your first cup of hot, green salad dressing?”

Don’t be a Grople Wanker.

Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Hey Stranger, why DO you want to be my Facebook Friend?

Posted by crowbiz on May 5, 2009

* This was posted in the Etsy Forums a little while back after I had a minor wave of shameless  spammy Etsy Facebookers hitting me up *

OK, I’m posting in Business, as FB is batted around as one of the marketing “tools”…but if you need to kick my flimsy thread somewhere else, I understand.

Now then, I’m not a big social networker. The term makes my skin crawl. Sure, I joined Twitter and dropped it like a hot rock not long after, but Twitter is the cheap one-night stand of social networking, so I have no regrets. I even paid for the drinks. Once in a while I give it a friendly call, but it knows I’m just teasing. But I find Facebook to be more personal, yes, despite that my mug and my kids and my dog and my inane comments are there for the world to see. I use my *real name* and you can see some of my *real live friends* on there. So how the heck did you dig me up, stranger? How many gazillions of people with a passing reference to Etsy did you have to friend before reaching ME?

Do you know who I am….not? Anything about me? No? Many people in the forums don’t even know if I’m a man or a woman. OK, you can play the odds and get it right, but some folks remain unclear unless I say something like “that time my bra got caught in the document shredder…” (which is ONLY an example and needn’t be mentioned again)…. What are you seeing in me?

If this is for some ultimate business-growth & casual marketing gain, and not just a spiral of love, lemme set you straight. Believe you me, miss & mister, I’m your weakest link in the social network. What’s worse, I get peevish. I rashly confirmed a couple unknown-to-me Etysians and now the floodgates have opened. Now I can’t find my friends’ updates for all the unrelated baloney that clogs up the “news feed.” Just like on Twitter; I somehow inadvertently tapped into a well-spring of angry, pimply teen Goths who followed me. Cripe, you make a skull magnet and next thing you know you’re getting invited to online Marilyn Manson-themed funerals.

A few things you might want to know:
As an avidly non-religious curmudgeon, I don’t want to hear how God gave you the grace and guidance to crochet a “Starbuck’s Saves!” hot beverage sleeve. But I’m happy that you’re being productive. I won’t be bringing 3-bean salad to the “Hot Gluers for Jesus” virtual potluck.

Sending me things on FB? Don’t – every blasted app on there causes my laptop to cough up a lung. 
Sending me a drink? Really, if I want a drink all I have to do is climb up to the top pantry shelf and guzzle some Johnnie before getting the kids off the bus. Any day. Any day I want.

Sending me some flair? Please, people mistake me for being Amish, so your flair is falling on plain ears….er, clothes.
Inviting me join a cause? Wait, my eyes just rolled out and under the table…. ergh…ah, there now.

Am I just a grumpy asswipe destined for a lonely death in a pool of soil and regret? Not really. I like friends – I even have a few. Here are a few questions to consider for friending anyone, not just me with my cranky elitist, exclusionary standards.

Have I ever responded positively to your comments in a thread? Have I said “haha”? That’s a good start. Even better is “hahahahaha” or “woo boy!” 
Have we ever had a private convo, that is, one that didn’t end with either of us saying “please stop convoing me or I will contact administration” ? There’s another good start. Can you name ONE thing about my personal life? Know my name? Age? Marital status? Family? Pets? Past events? Failed attempts with musical instruments? Embarrassing jobs? Secret crushes? Shameful food cravings? (the filet o’ fish is another thread)…. Got anything? Even one thing is better than no thing.

(on my knees now:) Please, let’s think before we friend. Putting me in a position to have to “ignore” is so…so… something. 

Happy handiworking, folks!

To see the whole thread and some of the usual suspects’ comments, go here.I just don't know what to make of it all


Now then, since it’s my blog, I can shamelessly direct you to my biz fan page, where you will find a quiet group of fans who could be described as the sort who are kind enough to always buy the fundraiser candy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Wait – I wanted more than 15 minutes

Posted by crowbiz on April 30, 2009

As mortifying as our fame-craving culture is to me, I take great glee in providing you a link to my latest venture into the airwaves.  Because, you know, it’s always fun to deride something until it happens to you.  Then you want to ride it like a mechanical bull until you run out of change.

This news story focuses on the relative health of mom-n-pop stores in my city neighborhood, the Elmwood Village, in Buffalo, NY.  This was aired on our public station, WBFO, run out of the University at Buffalo.  Quite handily, the reporter had scads of leftover audio from a previous interview which aired on NPR’s Day To Day in March.  If we’re lucky, maybe we can cut and paste another five interviews out of it, and I won’t have to risk stepping into any more oratory poop piles.

People have been kind enough to send sweet hurray notes to me, butpage31a this expose has not been without its critics.  After I sent the link to Mr Crow, he replied via a terse email: “Awesome plug…I can hear your cough on air.”


Dig it!  CrowBiz speaks!

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