You know the Shop; Now meet the Crafter

Friday, August 29, 2014

Double Feature!!! (Part 1)

~ Feature Friday V~

Last week lots of things that happened in my personal life, so I missed a feature, but I refuse to get behind. I decided instead of delaying the reviews, we will have a DOUBLE FEATURE!

Every Friday I will be reviewing a different shop. When inquiring about this type of post, my fellow Etsian's have surprised me with a positive and abundant response to my blog request I sent out.

To better understand the review read this:
*The category I reviewed is the Largest word before or in the bold text.
*The bold text tells what I am looking for in the category for a positive score.
*The red or blue text that follows is what I thought of how the store does in the category, red meaning needing improvementblue meaning no improvement needed.

Without further ado let's get this review going.
What we have up today is the wonderful little shop, with 26 items, PressingNeeds Handmade Block Prints Opened on April 20, 2011, and is at 33 sales.

Banner: Is there a professional looking banner that depicts what the shop is about, or sells?

Yes. 10/10 points

When it comes to the photos it is important that they are very clean and use white light. Which is the best type of lighting to show the items true color. Make sure there are a variety, and shows off all the important parts of the item. The photos are the most important part of your shop.

While browsing the shops photos, I found that most of the pictures were bright, and close up of the art on the different prints, cards, and notebooks. When clicking on the listing that peaked my interest, I then became disappointed. Why? While most of the main photos are bright, crisp, and eye catching when going to "see more" of what I am looking at, I don't find what I would like.
Your notebook has lined paper? Show me. Is your card blank on the inside? Show me. 

99% of the time, I do not take off points for not using all of your photo slots. (Because you do not need to use all your photo slots if the photos you have give all information a buyer may need to make a purchasing decision). 

But in this case, I see a lacking here. I would click away after seeing a few listings with not all of the info I need to know what I am looking at. Also, consistency is KEY, your first photo catches the eye, your 2nd and 3rd should close the deal. Keep your photos crisp. 25/50 points Google, or search in Pinterest for free DIY instructions on creating your own cheap lightbox!

Tags: When listing your items it is very important to put what you would in the search bar. Views = Sales.

While looking at the tags, and item titles I wasn't surprised. Many people do not know how to properly tag, and this is saddening because it can be so easy to learn. 

ALL 13 tags were used in the listings. So there is a plus, but that's were it ends. When describing your Mason Jar Card, put together "blank inside" "recycled card" "greeting card" Putting these words together will further your views. No one searches the lone word "Blank" or "Food" when searching for cards, or prints. (Example: Title: Strawberry block printed ACEO + The tag: printmaking = A less viewed, favorited item.) 5/10 points Also, many people don't know this, but pluralization does NOT matter when adding tags. Which means you can add even more tags. So be creative!

Descriptions should tell you even more information about the item you're looking at. If you are looking at a purse, it should have the size, or size options listed. You also should also verify what the potential buyer is looking at. Mentioning your packaging and where to find your policies is always an added bonus.

While Suzanne doesn't link to her policies, or talk about her packaging, she does detail the size of the item you are viewing. She is also sure to let your know what the photo doesn't show you, and reconfirms what it does show you. Also, Suzanne be sure to give more than one type of measurement for all those across the globe! 

Bonus points for subtly mentioning a great default gift for hard to buy parents. (My mother is so hard to buy for, and her default is anything coffee related, and the listing put me in the gift mindset when I came across that line.) 20/20 points

Featured items: What are featured items, and what items should I feature? You should feature any 4 items that are your personal favorites, and you should pick your favorite from different sections of your shop. Having a variety of different items that all grab your eye will help your shoppers know what they may find while browsing.
You MUST use all 4 featured spots, never letting a slot go unfilled for a long period of time. This makes your shop look unkempt, or inactive.

Suzanne makes sure to fill all 4 spots, and even with the entire shop is made up of block prints purses and cases that doesn't stop her from putting a verity of different types. 5/5 points Just a suggestion, but try mixing up your different products as well. That way viewers can click on a different feature, and see the different products you offer, not just art types.

Shop Sections: I need a want a coffee print, a holiday/Christmas card set to send out, and a gift for a cat lover. Can I find that easily?
With the shop sections I can. Use all 10 sections on your shop, and make sure you use one for sales, clearance, or destashing items. Even if it's not used very often, this will help for the bargain hunters that pop into your shop from time to time.

Suzanne's sections did help me navigate to what I was looking for, and even though I didn't see a sale/clearance/destash section, that doesn't mean there isn't one. I know I have a "reserved items" section that 9/10 isn't there until I get a custom order. The only thing that I had an issue with was, even though things were categorized by type, I still had an issue locating the notebook. You have a "Cards" section, add a "Notebook" section, as well. Along with a "Framed Prints" section. This will help fill out your shop, and will increase views with convenience browsers.  10/20 points Note: If all of your prints come framed, and matted you need to add this to the title and tags, too.

Pricing is something that is tough for many people, I wouldn't bat an eye dropping $200 on a watch at a retail setting. With the knowledge that others have successfully purchased prior and been satisfied with the quality that was advertised, I wouldn't bat an eye elsewhere.

Suzanne's prices vary from $3 - $44. The time and the craftsmanship, plus the love put into each piece make this a very reasonable amount for the product offered. At the same time, your smalls can be too small, try making multiple smalls and bundle them together, give the buyers more variety. 10/10 points "Do I want one notebook, or do I want a whole set of different, yet similarly themed ones?" NOTE: No one wants to pay the same price for shipping, as the item itself.

About the seller: As long as this newly added feature is filled out, with no spelling mistakes I'm happy with it. This is another MUST DO, you want your buyers to know whom they are supporting with each purchase.

This is true for Suzanne20/20 points

When it comes to reviews they speak for themselves:

Lastly, I popped into the review section of the shop, and found 2 pages of 5 star reviews. Two of the things that caught my eye in the review was those raving about her super fast shipping, and those raving about product quality. 5/5 points

So, with all of that said, I give PressingNeeds Handmade Block Prints, a 110/150 

1- 30  Not worth my time
31-60  Not worth my money
61-90  Would heart
91-120  Would buy from
121-150  Would buy from loyally

About the seller: I asked Suzanne, one of the faces behind PressingNeeds, 6 questions here is what she had to say:

1.) Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live out in the sticks, just downhill from the Appalachian Trail. As far as formal training, I'm a musician rather than an artist. I look after lots of critters (cats, chickens, a pony and a mule). I'm a dancer, a sewer, a finder of swell vintage goodies, a Quaker.

Bird's nest block printed ACEO - "Spring nest"

2.) What first made you want to become an artist?

I didn't know that I wanted to become an artist, it just sort of happened: my family is generally crafty and creative, so we all have a tendency to try different things out, and occasionally, something will stick - that's what happened with printmaking. I was short on cash at the holidays one year, and making gifts wherever I could - and it turned out that I had the supplies for block printing on hand, mostly pilfered from a stamp carving kit I'd gotten. Afterwards, I showed the prints to some friends, and they started asking about buying them... and when a market smacks me upside the head like that, who am I to say no?

3.) Please describe you creative process how, when, materials, ect.

I start with either a sketch or a photo (hurrah for digital photography, which means I can take lots of pictures and pick those that will work best as blocks) and transfer the image to linoleum or soft rubber. I use gouges to carve away all of the bits of the block that I don't want to print - that part is a little like sculpture, removing all the parts that aren't what you want to end up with, and it's where the "art" of knowing how to adapt an idea to the medium comes in. Then I use a brayer to roll ink over the block, lay a piece of paper oh-so-carefully over the inked block, and press, with a barren, a spoon, or my hands. When the paper is lifted off, there's your print! It's simple (though not always easy), direct, but still kinda like magic...
Block printed "Coffee" Moleskine pocket notebook

Prints that involve more than one color of ink take a separate block for each color, so the trick there is making sure everything aligns properly. On some prints, I'll add color afterwards, most often with colored pencil. I love getting to play with different combinations of ink and paper with my designs.


5.) What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

Etsy can be a tough place to sell original art, but one of the beauties of printmaking is that since I can get a number of prints from a block, it spreads out the labor costs a bit, so i can sell prints at a price that is within "impulse buy" range for many Etsy shoppers, and still decently pay myself. I'm not sure I've got a whole lot of advice beyond the usual "good photos, good descriptions, treat everybody - including yourself - fairly" but since I had a couple of vintage shops on Etsy when I started making prints, it seemed natural to offer them there.

 Strawberry block printed ACEO
Strawberry block printed ACEO

6.) How do you promote your work?

More of my prints sell in local (and not-so-local) shops than online, so a lot of my promotion is just getting them where people will see them. For example, just recently, I arranged to hang some of my critter-themed prints at a local veterinarian's office, along with business cards to let folks know where they can get one of their very own...

What do you think of this shop? Was my review fair and accurate? Tell me below in the comments.

*All participating parties have consented to the review above, along with opinions, and permission has been granted to use likenesses, photos, and links from the shops owner and operator.
*Opinions stated by shops reviewed do not reflect or represent the opinions of AshleysHomeSpun.


  1. I love these products! And the story is very interesting, there maybe should be a little more story peppered throughout the listings as well as the about page. I totally agree that the listings could use more description and photo detail. Something a little more about the history of the block print itself would be nice as well. Great overall job of review. Thank you both for all of the time spent here and at your work!


  2. From the works it seems that Suzanne is an extremely talented artist. While I agree with most comments in the post, the listings chosen to be displayed here did not give her work a fair justice. There are lots of possibilities to develop block prints into more versatile products and I see great opportunity ahead for her!

  3. Very interesting shop, with great items, good following review suggestions esp. on photos..., you should be in great shape!

  4. One of my readers doesn't have the means to comment, so I will for her. This is what she'd like to say:

    "Suzanne - good job! Fingers crossed for your little shop! Wish you lots of sales:) I like a few of your prints:)"