Working on your shop can sometimes be overwhelming. Where to begin? As makers, we are very close to our products, which can make it difficult to judge whether we are taking the best photos or choosing the best keywords to describe our items. It helps so much to have a second opinion on all aspects of a shop. But again, where to begin finding a partner?
In July, three British Teams participated in our first Mentor Month. Each Teams’ leaders and captains gathered their interested members. They paired them up according to their strengths and weaknesses, and then guided them through four weeks of intense work on their shops. They covered topics like photography, SEO, branding, and marketing. After four weeks of big and small changes, each Team celebrated their hard work and unveiled their new and improved shops.
Expert shop owners, newbies just getting started, and everyone in between loved the program. It was so much easier to identify problem areas and stay inspired to work on those changes when you had a partner offering their opinion and encouragement.
The learnings and outcome were so inspiring and promising that we rolled out this amazing program to all of our Etsy Teams across Europe. We invited all European Team Captains and Leaders to host a Mentor Month in their team in September. Watch your local Team for an announcement to join in the program.
Find a team
This is a great chance for you to join an Etsy Team, if you haven’t so far. There are all kinds of Teams, may it be a topical one like European Knitters or a local one in your country or city. Just visit Etsy.com/teams and search for something you’re interested in or what’s relevant to you. Browse through the current discussion threads in the team and see if they are running a Mentor Month. If you can’t find anything in the team you can also reach out to the Captain or Leaders of the team and ask them if they plan to do one.
I’m not an expert. Can I still participate?
To join Mentor Month, you should be prepared to think critically about your own shop as well as your partner’s and then to work hard on making improvements. It doesn’t matter if you are a very experienced seller, just starting out, or somewhere in between. Before you begin looking for a partner, it is important to get a clearer view of yourself, your strength and weaknesses. Think about what you are really good at and also fields where you could improve a bit.
You may not consider yourself ready to mentor because your shop is not super successful, but you may have great photography. So you would be an excellent candidate to mentor someone who has lacking photos. Someone else may having lacking photos, but uses Twitter wonderfully. This person could mentor someone else about social media marketing.
What’s really important is that each person in the Team that would like to participate is working with a partner to improve their shops. Going through the exercises with a partner is what is most helpful.
Start with a Shop Critique
The initial Mentor Month in the UK started off with mentors and mentees getting matched up by their Team leaders and then going through a simple shop critique. A shop critique is a great way to start the month because it helps you see exactly what areas in your shop need attention. For a lot of participants the shop critique was the favourite and most rewarding part. Looking at your shop with fresh eyes makes a huge difference. Someone else might notice small details that could easily be changed which you were never aware of. The shop critique also helps you find specific goals to work on during the month.
Download the Shop Critique Worksheet
Set your goals
After the critique, each pair set a few goals to accomplish during the month. These ranged from expanding product lines to improving tags and titles. HuntedandStuffed, for example, worked hard to add very specific keywords to her titles and tags. “One of the most amazing things for me and my shop was seeing how much impact getting the tags and titles right has on views, sales and getting seen in general. I wasn’t really getting this right before.”
Elena Blanco from DreamyMeisme worked on refining her marketing strategy. She found it very helpful to define her ideal customer. “This came sort of easy after having the shop critic. And then from my ideal customer suddenly I knew what was what I was selling and how I should present it.”
Know someone who is planning on opening a shop?
Some people also used the month to start a new shop or even their first shop. It is good to have a partner that helps you with these first steps. And it is good to know that there is someone where you can go to when you feel alone in the Etsy universe or can’t stand it anymore to wait for the longing Ka-Ching on your smartphone. It’s also a lot of fun helping someone get to their first sale. We’ve created a referral program which gives sellers an easy way to invite their friends to sell on Etsy. In turn, for every seller who opens a shop, you both get free listings.
Mentors and Mentees
Whether you participate in the month as a mentor, a mentee, or some of both, the experience is very rewarding. Some Etsy sellers aren’t sure they have enough knowledge or experience to help. Tanya Stovold from Pininkie says, “To start with I was worried I wouldn’t know enough to be of any help. However, for me, mentoring is not about dictating a list of instructions to someone. It is about guiding them through decision processes, hand holding and giving confidence.” Tanya had a wonderful time supporting her mentee. “It’s just the start of her shop makeover and I am very pleased to have been there to act as a guide. I’ve picked up lots of ideas to improve my own store along the way. I also discovered I know a little more than I thought!”
Having a partner to work with is valuable because you will both have different areas of strength and weakness. Mentor Emily from cuttlefishlove says, “I feel like I have really learned a lot myself in the process of mentoring Alice – it has not just been a one way street. It has reminded me of things I still need to work on in my shop (like making sure I’ve maximised all my tags for the relevancy search, and browse), and she has skills in marketing and copy writing that she has shared with me in return.”
At the end – big event!
During Mentor Month, Teams work toward an end-of-month event of their choosing. The Brighton Sellers’ Team had a party at Super+Super where they introduced one another’s improved shops. The British Crafters and Makerhood Teams focused the good marketing momentum they had created into a coupon sale.
Each Team gets to plan their own end-of-month event. Some Teams may want to hold an in-person market or online sale to show off the work they’ve done. Other Teams may schedule a bonding activity like a Team outing or they may want to organize a Team project like a big, collective marketing push. It’s wonderful to have an event at the end of the mentor month to celebrate all the work each member has done and to come together as a Team.
Linda from UniquelyYourDesigns, who completed Mentor Month in July, wrote us to say, “Just wanted to add that the sales have started flowing. Had 3 over the weekend in my drastically improved shop.”
If you are interested in participating in mentoring activities for Teams, get in touch with the captain of your chosen team or look for a matching team here.