June 7, 2011

Tips and Tricks Tuesday: Writing an Effective Listing Description

Thanks to JuneAtNoon for today's topic idea!

The styles that sellers on Etsy use to describe their items are as varied as the items themselves. I've always thought that less is more with descriptions-- You want to cover all the important information, but don't babble or tell an unnecessary story.

What IS the important information, however?

1. What are you selling?
Be specific: Not "a shirt", but "A hand embroidered yellow cotton button-up shirt"

2. How was it made?
It isn't necessary to provide a detailed tutorial by any means, but state the technique used. Hand embroidery is different from machine embroidery or screenprinting, so it's important to say your items are hand embroidered!

3. What does it look like?
Assume that the buyer's monitor may not show the same colors or textures that your monitor shows. If the shirt is canary yellow, say so! Describe the artwork if applicable.

4. What size is it?
Provide measurements in addition to any common size descriptors (small, large, etc.).

5. What is it made out of, and how does the buyer need to care for it?
Specify the fabric content when applicable. Even if care seems obvious, at least mention it. For example, many people wear their jewelry EVERYWHERE so they may need to be reminded not to wear a bracelet with a fabric base in the shower or pool.

Above and beyond this basic information, you will probably want to include something about what the intended purpose of the item is. For example, I include a short paragraph about giving my monogrammed handkerchiefs as wedding gifts. If your item is made to order, it's smart to include an estimated turnaround time. You may also want to explain the reason for a seemingly high shipping cost (if the item requires Priority mail, for example).

Now, I'm off to check my own descriptions!


  1. Definitely necessary basics! I think it can be hard to find a balance between enough and too much when it comes to product info. I've seen a lot of people recommend sharing the "story" behind the piece, yet they also recommend keeping listing brief. It definitely takes some practice!

    One other hint I came across recently is to, at the bottom, add a link to another related item in your shop that buyers might like instead of or in addition to. For example, I sell my note cards individually or in sets, so I include a link to the alternate listing in case a customer would prefer a different quantity. I think I'm also going to start adding a link to my note cards from my illustration listings so customers know they can get smaller sizes of the prints....

  2. This is so helpful. Thank so much!

  3. I think some items may dictate a "story", like a visual art piece (your illustrations for example), but it's hard to not have a story come across as pretentious. I know several people who use stories to sell their jewelry, though, and it works for them... They keep it tongue-in-cheek.

  4. Thanks for the specific five questions to answer. I never know if my descriptions are good enough, but those questions let me know I'm on the right track!


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