Inventing For Dummies
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For many crafty Etsy types, the idea of writing anything — let alone a piece about themselves — is about as enticing as spelunking in Yucca Mountain. But a succinct, clever, well-written bio, or shop story — both the one that appears in your public profile and the one on your About page — is essential to the success of your Etsy shop. Why? Lots of reasons. Here are just two:

  • Your bio enables buyers to see who they’re buying from. Through your bio, you become a bona-fide human being in your buyers’ eyes.

  • Your bio lets you toot your own horn a bit. Maybe your work has been recognized in some way. Or maybe you studied your craft at the most prestigious school around. If so, you want to make sure that everyone who visits your shop knows about it!

Start with a few essential questions

If writing your bio seems a bit daunting, don’t freak out. Writing your bio is a process, just like anything else. It starts with writing down answers to a few key questions:

  • Who are you?

  • What’s your educational and/or artistic background?

  • What do you make? Do you have a signature product? If so, what’s the story behind that product?

  • What do you enjoy most about making the things you sell?

  • What are your hobbies?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • Who or what inspires you?

Armed with your answers, you’re ready to write the first draft of your bio. Notice the words “first draft.” That’s code for “Don’t try to be perfect right out of the gate.” For now, just put your pen to paper (or your fingers to keyboard) and see what comes out. The idea is to tell buyers a little bit about yourself, your business, and the products you sell.

Some people write their bios in first person, while others opt for third person. Our view? Unless you’re the queen or you play in the NBA, stick with first person.

Tweaking your first draft

With your first draft complete, it’s time to tinker and tweak. As you do, try incorporating some or all of these tips:

  • Say hello. If you were the proprietor of a real-world boutique, you’d certainly greet customers as they entered your store. Do the same for folks visiting your Etsy shop. While you’re at it, thank them for stopping by. It’s just good manners.

  • Start strong. The first few pages of a novel need to grab readers by the throat and shake them until their lunch money falls out of their pockets (figuratively speaking). Likewise, the first paragraph of your Etsy bio needs to seize buyers by the eyeballs to convince them to read on.

  • Be friendly and approachable. This strategy will yield substantially better results than taking the opposite tack — being rude and inaccessible. Also, a little bit of humor can go a long way.

  • Tell a story. An anecdote about how your business started or a story about the spark behind your store name may be just the thing to pull a buyer in.

  • Go the fictional route. If it’s true that all fiction is autobiographical, why not opt for a clever fictional “bio”?

  • Keep it short. It’s your Etsy bio, not War and Peace. A few short paragraphs will do.

  • Break your information into sections. For most people, reading large blocks of text is about as appealing as chewing gum pried off the floor of a subway car. If your bio is running a little long, people perusing it will appreciate your use of sections, with titles, to break up your information.

  • Proofread. Before you post your bio, triple-check it to make sure that it doesn’t contain any spelling or grammatical errors. Better yet, ask your English-major friend to check it for you.

  • Be professional…sort of. No, you don’t have to wear pin-striped suits and practical pumps and drive a no-nonsense four-door sedan. But you do need to project an air of competence — even if your shop is all about fun. That being said, the tone of your bio needs to match the tone of your shop and products. If your business is about whimsy, a stuffy bio just won’t do!

Add a few extras

In addition to sharing your story with readers, you can use your bio to include the following information:

  • Press clippings: If you or your business has garnered a nod in the media, don’t hesitate to provide a link to the story in your bio. Just don’t go too crazy with the clippings. Having links to more than a few may make your shop seem more corporate than co-op.

  • Product info: If you find yourself answering the same question about one of your products over and over again, consider spelling out the information in your bio.

  • Disclaimer: If your product merits a disclaimer, you can include it in your bio. For example, if you sell vintage items, you may want to include a disclaimer indicating that your goodies are old and used. If you sell, say, copper jewelry, you can mention in your disclaimer that your pieces may turn people’s skin green.

  • Charitable giving: Many Etsy sellers donate a portion of their take to charity. If you’re one such seller, you can indicate that in your bio. (Note that charitable listings and shops are subject to a few rules.)

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