How to Receive Advice
Let’s see. Should I start out with “I grew up under a very critical father who damaged my ability to receive constructive criticism as a youth/young adult” or “Receiving constructive criticism is essential to growing a successful shop”? What? You don’t like either one of those? Well then, something is wrong with you, because it couldn’t possibly be me! Just leave me alone! (Insert door-slamming sound bite here.)
Thankfully, I signed on as a member of the “Get With It and Grow Up” program. It’s done wonders for me! Membership isn’t free—you have to be willing to trade in that big chip on your shoulder first.
After branching out into shop reviews, I am happy to say that 99% of you that have submitted your shop to me have received my advice very well. Several of you were excited to receive such a helpful review. Here is one such response:
“Again, thank you so much for taking the time to do this. This was so much more helpful than any of the reviews I’ve gotten from any other critiques.”
As I state in my shop reviews, I am not the know-all, be-all of Etsy. However, I have spent hours upon hours researching successful Etsy shops. My blog is actually dedicated to this very subject—showcasing successful Etsy shops and the personalities behind them. I love receiving the interviews back, because I always learn so much from each one.
A portion of my featured artists are ones that I have contacted, requesting an interview. The other portion is store owners who have submitted their shops for an opportunity at being featured. I have pretty strict guidelines, because I have a specific purpose in mind. This equates to lots of shop reviews, which is really one of the main driving forces of why I started this blog.
During my hours and months of research, I came across a site that people just raved about. They had to pay a (not-so-small) fee if they were accepted in order to get their shop on the site. I reviewed the other accepted candidates and felt that my shop would be a good fit. So I applied and eagerly checked my mailbox daily for a few days. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Then I got an email inviting me to apply for a Spring showcase. So I applied again. Again, nothing.
I have to admit that I was not only disheartened that I wasn’t accepted, but I was also a little put off by the fact that a) I was not contacted to let me know that I wasn’t accepted and b) I was invited to resubmit my work and was still not accepted or contacted in any other fashion.
This prompted me to start the blog, which brings around opportunities to give others gentle, honest, and hopefully helpful feedback.
I send each review out with a little trepidation, because I know how hard it is to be on the receiving end. It is just as hard for me to be on the giving end, because I never want my words of encouragement to be misconstrued. I try to share with each person about the many changes I’ve had to make to my own shop since really digging in at the first of the year. (Gotta give a shout-out here to all of the wonderful help that I found right here on www.handmadeology.com.)
As mentioned above, most everyone has been so extremely receptive. But enough about the happy people. Let’s talk about the other shop owner who must have grown up under a critical father as well.
I state in my original thread that if I’m unable to feature your shop then I will send you a shop review or try to be helpful in some other way. After all, my intent is to be helpful. The road to hell and all that notwithstanding. Each and every time someone submits their shop to me, I take a hard look at the shop: overall appearance, SEO, product photography, descriptions, number of sales, feedback, profile, and policies. I try my very best to find a way to feature the artist. Sometimes I only require product photography changes to a few items. It really is on a case-by-case basis.
After reviewing said seller’s shop, I contacted her and let her know that I did want to feature her, but that her shop photography needed to be improved. I included before and after photos of my own shop, and I also gave her feedback about some things I liked about her shop and a list of helpful articles for her review.
“I will try to say this in the least rude way possible, If I wanted criticism on my shop/photos, I would ask for it.”
I was crushed! I am very sincere in offering my help, and I replied back with apologies and let her know that in my original post that she applied to, I stated:
If I’m not able to use your shop for an interview, I will still look at your items to see if I can give them some exposure or send you a private shop review.
We should all want others to give their opinions about our shops. We are not just other Etsy shop owners—we’re customers, too.
One of the things I took away from my first marriage (besides my car) was the following piece of advice handed to me by my father-in-law: “Business is business, and personal is personal.” He also gave me other great advice, such as “A wise man learns from his own mistakes, but a wiser man learns from others” and “What you do doesn’t just affect you—it effects everyone around you.” I guess his son wasn’t around when he was passing out all of this genius. Oh, well. Live and learn.
Are you learning? Are you filing advice you receive about your shop under the “business” category or under the “personal” category? You’ve heard me say it before in other articles, but here goes again: You have to be your own worst critic. If you can’t look at your shop through business-minded eyes, then you better be extremely close to someone who can. Leave your emotions at the office door. Trade out your rose-colored glasses for a magnifying lens instead. You are in competition with roughly 300,000 other sellers. Is your goal to succeed or to settle?
To find out how to submit your shop for a review or for a feature, visit this link.