Monday, May 3, 2010

Etsy Tutorial: Treasury Tactics

I've been taking it pretty easy in the Etsy world lately, spending my time and energy on non-Etsy projects (which I will blog about when they're done!). My business volume has gone down accordingly and expectedly, and life has been moving a little slower. Not all that bad, actually. I hadn't made a treasury in months, and in that time frame Etsy rolled out a new treasury venue called Treasury East. It's a little different than the Main Treasury and Treasury West, the other two current options for making treasuries.

So maybe you are reading this and haven't a clue what I'm talking about. If you are an Etsy shopowner, treasuries are important. But, you ask, what is a treasury? Why should you make one? What good will it do? And, more importantly, how on earth do you make one?

I'll tell you a little bit about treasuries in general and explain the difference between the three options (Main Treasury, Treasury West and Treasury East).

What is a treasury?

According to Etsy, a treasury is simply a curated list of 12 items (plus 4 alternates) listed for sale on Etsy. That's basically it. Sounds boring, actually, but since there are literally millions of items listed, the possibilities are, for all intents and purposes, endless. Items featured in treasuries can have everything or nothing in common; color, theme, shape, season... if you have an Etsy account (free but required to shop on Etsy) and can find 12 things to fill up the spots, you (yes, you!) can make a treasury. The 4 alternate items will come into play if one of the featured items sells if it's on the front page. Sold items will not appear on the front page (so don't feature sold items in your treasuries!). If more than 4 items sell and all the alternates have been used to fill in, Etsy will default to displaying items from the previous front page feature to fill the spots (this explains why sometime items don't seem to fit well with the others).

Why should you make a treasury? What good will it do?

Well, there are several benefits of making treasuries, but they all stem from the fact that Etsy regularly selects treasuries to be featured on the front page. This means that humble little you or me could be choosing the front page items. People would pay big bucks to have an item featured on the front page of Etsy (meaning it would be seen by the bazillions of people who are looking at at any given moment). However, that's a privilege you can't pay for... there is no way to pay anyone any amount of money to get on the front page. You have to earn it by having front page worthy photos and by getting Etsy treasury makers (potentially me or you or anyone else registered on Etsy, and sometimes the Etsy staff) to like your listing enough to put it in a collection that ends up being selected as Front Page material. To see some recent past Front Page collections (some were treasuries, some chosen directly by Etsy staff), you can go to The Vault at Craftcult. Making treasuries can help you make friends with other Etsy shopowners, a wonderful thing in general but also useful for banding together to help get on the front page. Without actually discussing it, per se, shops tend to group in Survivoresque alliances to the shared benefit of all involved. A sort of "I feature you, you feature me" mentality. If you get the right people featuring you (people who know how to make a good-looking treasury), you could end up on the front page. And wouldn't that be nice?

How do you make a treasury?

To answer this one, I'll have to explain the differences between the three treasuries. It's important to note that treasuries from any of these 3 options may be selected for a front page feature by Etsy admin. Explicit directions for the Main Treasury can be found in this Storque article.

Main Treasury: This is the original treasury function and is linked to from the Front Page (see below). New treasuries can be made when the number of treasuries goes below 333. They expire after 2 days (plus a random amount of "bonus time", up to 24 hours, added to them at the moment of creation). Each user is permitted to make one list in each treasury at a time, and you may include one of your own items, if you wish. This is only my personal opinion, but I think including one's own items is tacky in general (and your item will not be included if your treasury is chosen for the front page) since treasuries aren't intended for direct self promotion. It feels like fishing for compliments. Users are allowed to delete their own treasuries, but no more may be deleted when the number gets to 333 (this is important because if there are 333 left and the next one will expire in 5 hours, you will actually have to wait 5 hours... no one will be able to delete in that time frame to open up the treasury for new lists). A little bit of strategy here is that you may actually want to delete your list at a certain time to be eligible to make a new one, since you can one have one at a time. If the treasury will open in 1 hour but your current list will expire on it's own in 2 hours, it makes sense to delete it to get a new one that will last longer. Savvy?

Treasury West: This is just like the Main treasury except that it is less well know (not linked in an obvious way on the Etsy site), and the number must go below 222 rather than 333.

Treasury East: A bit different... these lists do not expire, and there are 16 feature spots rather than the normal 12 + 4 alternates. If it makes it to the front page (I know this because one of mine made it!), the topleft 12 will be featured unless Etsy admin mixes it up. So plan accordingly. Again, you may delete your own list when you decide. I'm of the opinion that there's no reason to keep lists that have a) already been on the front page, b) are very old or c) are made up largely of items that have sold (this happens as list get older). For example, a week-old list that has not made it to the front page is probably never going to get there. Delete it and make another.

Anytime you're making a treasury, it can be helpful to prepare ahead of time in Poster Sketch. This is a useful tool, unique to each IP address (any given poster sketch can only be seen on the computer it was made on). Here you can arrange, rearrange and edit to your hearts content, then copy and paste it into a treasury later. Or you could take a screen shot to share on your blog or other related places.

After my recent neglect of all things Etsy, I have decided to get more involved. Making treasuries is a great way to do that, so I made my very first Treasury East and a Main Treasury. Amazingly, both got featured on the Front Page! I also had an item featured in someone else's treasury that made it to the front page, so I had a few very encouraging days. I am feeling a bit more motivated now :)

*Update after publishing*

As an aside, I suppose I ought to discuss Treasury etiquette. Back in "the day" (maybe a year or more ago), NO ONE sent out convos telling people they were featured in their treasury. Now it seems, most people do. For some sellers, these little "hi you've been featured" convos can really add up. I used to be annoyed by it, considering it spam. Treasuries are not elevated to Front Page status by popularity (number of views and clicks), so it didn't make sense to me. However, if you really want people to know that you are doing them the kindness of featuring their work (and it really is something to be grateful for), sometimes you need to let them know. I don't think anyone at this point gets upset about being notified, but (again, this just my opinion) I CAN'T STAND IT when people remind me in the convo to click around and comment to improve the treasury's stats (more clicks, more views and more comments make a treasury go up on the "hotness scale"). Being asked to "make sure to tell all my friends" about the treasury just irks the sneakers right off of me. So, moral of the story, politely letting someone know they are featured and then leaving the ball in their court is great... beating them into submission, maybe not a good way to make friends. If you are featured or just want to be sociable, it's good form to click each item and leave a nice comment.


Jodi said...

Interesting. I was curious about what it meant when you posted on facebook this morning. It's making more sense now. :)

Krivenkostudio said...

Thank you, as a newbie, I was wondering what a Treasury was and it's purpose. I subscribe to your news feed. I'm also on Etsy as Krivenko, I do small paintings. Just started a blog my self.
Thank you for the info will be following.