Friday, April 15, 2011

You need to take better pictures, no wait...

If you've sold or tried to sell anything on Etsy and tried seeking 'critiques' to see why your shop wasn't selling then you've heard the tired old line: "you need to take better pictures."

Now the marvelous circle jerk team aka Etsy 'engineering' has rolled out new quality image improvements. Tooting their horn, Etsy engineers have "built a new system for processing, resizing, and storing the image files that you upload to the site."

Well good job Etsy! The opening post shows a shop banner before the improvements, and after the improvements. There's only one problem; try as you might, you really can't discern any improvements. Some even dared to mention this to the circle jerk crew right in the middle of their mutual self-congratulatory phase. That's when Captain Obtuse, aka mgineer/Matt admits:

That sample banner is a case where there isn't much difference between the before and after. One characteristic of banners is that they are sometimes better suited to GIF or PNG format. Since our system only supports JPEG right now, we have to convert them, which can lower the quality. This change is the first step in a series of changes to make it possible to upload a PNG or GIF and have the site display it that way instead of converting it.

I'm sorry mgineer, did you just say that you guys implemented a system which will make some of our pictures look shittier? Really? Oh and while your at it, could you guys think far enough in the future to show a banner that signifigantly show your "improvements?"

The ultimate goal here is apparently to give everyone the option to upload images in .gif and .png as well as .jpeg. Yet - get this - Etsy's system still does not render any uploaded .gif or .png images well. So the engineers recommend that you convert them to .jpg yourself before uploading them "for a little while longer."

Highlighted Admin posts further dig a contradictory hole:
The feature is more a means of providing extra help to make your pictures appear just a little bit brighter or a little bit sharper.

Which is it ya geniuses? Are you helping us make our photos "better"? Or "lowering the quality?" Some post that they can see the difference, others not, to which Admin helpfully comments:
To those of you who can't see a difference, great! You see Etsy in it's most beautiful state. To those who do see a difference, great! Get ready to experience Etsy in all her glory.

Get that folks? Etsy is a girl. Write that down.

So the upshot of this? Your avatar, your shop banner, your product images will get a little "help" from Etsy. Yes, that's right folks - particularly you photographers - Etsy has changed how they tweak images.

Oh, before I close this post, let me note that:
The team working on this deserves a huge public thank you, so...thanks, guys!
You've put in a ton of effort making this rock.

Oh yeah guys..... you really rock. *eyeroll*


Stacey said...

Awesome. So they're going to 'fix' my product photos that I've already edited to work on their website. Years as a graphic designer/photo editor and I don't know how to make my pics look good on their site? Ha. Ha.


Jewelry On The Rocks said...

I'm so sorry y'all, and I'm glad that when ArtFire helps me, I feel like I've gotten help.

AngryEtsySeller said...

Let me just say this. I looked at the "before" and "after" and if I were to show my boss something that "I've been working on" for hours and then I show him "before's" and "after's" that look like that... I would be FIRED.

People in Etsy don't get fired. That violates their Calling Out policy... except when it applies to people Rokali wants to get rid of... like their CEO... Maria Thomas

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is really dumb! I love how they roll it out only for the stupidest shit - convo and feedback images. Why roll it out at all if it still needs work before people can discern a difference????

The Funny One said...

mgineer never (1) took a writing class, let alone a biz writing class (2) must be locked up in a room looking at himself in the mirror because he said nothing 4 times and still thinks he sounds kool (without making any sense) (3) mgineer obviously has no supervision--clearly no editor either (4) self-congrats is still no excuse for announcing nothing about nothing (& at THAT hourly wage!) and (5) Admins of all shapes and sizes are SO CUT OFF FROM REALITY that they don't have a clue how clueless they really are.

Announcing nothing about nothing (4 times!) is the new Etsy motto -- we do nothing, we know nothing, and we ignore sellers while we're not doing it! Ka-ching!

felicia said...

Do they have weed and champagne dispensers in every room at Etsy? Sure seems like it!

The latest "weather report" (the stats for how well Etsy is doing) was a bit off too: they compared February 2011 to March 2011 and it seemed as though March was dashing just a bit ahead of February (no need to worry about those pesky blogs and articles about Etsy's privacy breeches!)... ooops, except February is a shorter month than March. Well, no one will pay attention to that! Just pass around the joints and champagne and celebrate!

Stephanie said...

What a crock of crap. That kool, hip "tool" is horrible. All I saw was over optimization.

bigetsyfail said...

All I can think of is that the emporer has no clothes on.

On a side note, remember that video etsy's press manager Adam Brown made? The one where the etsy employee got so drunk he had to sleep in the boat?

He says etsy's motto is "do it yourself" Is this what the fuck he means by do it yourself"?

Fail. Over and over and over.

Iron Horse said...

Seems pretty typical of Etsy, doesn't it!

Let's see:

Decide on a small improvement to the website. Be sure to make it inadequate and incomplete. Though this would have taken a normal person about 6 hours, have 2-3 people do it over the course of a week. Carry out the task poorly. Write a blog post about how 'awesome' Etsy is and how great the people who personally did the work are.

Blue Kitty Miniatures said...

I don't want my images changed. That's right I said changed not improved. Not lightened, not sharpened. I want my photos to look like I made them look and was happy with them.

Is that really too much to ask for?

Seinfeld said...

Yeah. We needed image management tools before an improved, updated, fixed, and re-vamped site search.

Etsy's ability to prioritize never ceases to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

Decide on a small improvement to the website. Be sure to make it inadequate and incomplete. Though this would have taken a normal person about 6 hours, have 2-3 people do it over the course of a week. Carry out the task poorly. Write a blog post about how 'awesome' Etsy is and how great the people who personally did the work are.
This is to distract from the fact the site is unprofessional and mismanaged.

Pre-Bot said...

Hello All,

We are creating a new website to help indie fashion designers, by creating a negative cash conversion cycle through exclusive group buying. Please let us know what are your biggest pain points with Etsy and similar sites.


Pamela said...

I post this reply after reading all the "crap" the admins were posting...

"The whole point of having "better" photographs is for SALES not for improving the look of your Avatar or Header. This is a PRODUCT site for SALES.

I have been a graphic designer for 25+ years and there is NO DISCERNABLE difference in the examples you have provided. I took the examples you provided and put them side by side...

The key to better photographs is to begin with a good photograph. Sharpening and color correcting won't improve a poorly taken photograph.

Why don't the admins and tech people concentrate on eliminating the over 40,000+ massed produced vinyl products and copyright violations that compete with handcrafted items, vintage items and supplies instead of worrying about sharpening pixels on a 75 pixel square avatar?

I also agree with the photographers who are concerned about your "improving" their photographs..."

Sacha said...

Seriously, does anyone on etsy staff have a f**king clue how to do anything in an even vaguely competent manner?
Is etsy some kind of theatre of the absurd, in which zillions on hopeful sellers just keep throwing their hard-earned at a bunch of entitlement-crazed hipster mediocrities?

I've never seen faster-than-light stupidity until now.

Chantelle said...

Iron Horse, you left out the part where etsy employees post in the thread about how awesome the changes are.


I agree with the people in the thread who suppose that the changes are coming from Rob's flighty, irresponsible, crazy ideas. The people who work for that nutty CEO have to do what he says... never mind what all of the customers want (like folders, or the ability to select multiple images when listing, or whatever).

Cat Power said...

Ditto what Sacha said! Love the "stupidity faster than the speed of light" quip.

trinlayk said...

I suspect the whole thing was an excuse to flash the banner of one of the cupcakes in the forums...

Great Pictures said...

WAIT! Etsy is improving seller pictures? Great!

Since the reason items don't sell is because "you need to have better pictures" the problem is now solved.

And the sales will roll in now right? Right. Perfect!

Sellers: be sure to report back here on your awesome sales upswing and big profits. Can't wait!


Eveline said...

Yup, I've seen it mention in the forums time after time, pleaaaase improve the Avatar and feedback pictures, they look horrible!
Out of all the things people have asked for, this of course was first on that long list of things that needed doing.
So please give a huuuuge thank you to the tech team because they put in a ton of time to work on this!


boiling over said...

Do this...Do that !!
Don't do this ...Don't do that !!
What is Etsy doing with my money ???? !!!
I feel that is all just a waist of time and money.

DisgruntledEtsyInsider said...


Almost no one here actually listens to Kalin. We just yes him to death and then do whatever we want to. Guess what you don't understand is that Etsy has become a whole bunch of autonomous groups that do whatever they please, however they please.

Yeah Okay said...

Time after time sellers are told (sometimes lectured) by frosted-topped favorite sellers that they need to take better pictures. Well if Etsy is making it possible for *everyone* to have awesome pictures, what are the cupcakes going give advice/lectures on now I wonder?

Janice said...

I'm not even on etsy, I just come here for the amusement (and outrage); I'm glad I put my drink down before I saw the "before and after" or I would have spit my milk all over the monitor.

Sarah said...

OMG. When I clicked on the banner in that forum post I was like: I can not believe this. why are they wasting their time on such a small improvement. HELLO WE NEED A BETTER SEARCH! but no no we get this. I honestly dont think they are bright enough to fix the search so they keep throwing smoke bombs in our direction to hopefully distract us from the real problems.

Jen said...

I am so sick of them shoving the idea that 'items aren't selling because the pictures are great' ideal down everyone's throat. And sellers jump on this bandwagon, too, believing that if your photo is anything less than perfect, the item won't sell.

I like my not so great photos. Why couldn't they do something useful, like add more sections?

jeff said...

@don't remember my handle - asked the other day this blog, WHY AMDRM, (instead of etsy or others). After reading these comments and others I can't help but wonder why not, Granted we are the new kid on the block, however I hear you are not making sales on the other sites, you are not happy with how things are run and how you are treated. Why stay and put up with that junk? With your input we can continue to build a great marketplace for handmade. We are offering a clean, no outside advertising site, using member suggestions to add things that will make the site more useful and functional, and we care about our customers- buyers and sellers. Privacy is private, nuf said. We have changed our buyer home page and are working on other changes to our seller home page. We have ads running for buyers and are working on search functions to bring more traffic to the site. And our sellers are selling. We are dedicated to handmade and small business, resellers and fakes can go elsewhere.
Take your anger and put it into something that will produce results for yourself. Leave the resellers, flea marketers and fakes - come to give us a try, you really won't be sorry. Help us grow and add the things that will help you be successful.
Thank you for the opportunity.

for the hell of it said...

@Disgruntled, if the staff is working semi-independantly of real supervision, what is stopping any of you from putting together tools that could actually help the sellers? Seems to me that it should be easy enough to BS Kalin as far as what the coding is going to do.

Have any of you taken your concerns to any of the board members?

Who's calling the shots of what gets prioritised within Etsy? If you could give me the name or names of the "decision makers", it would be appreciated. I've never been very good at being a "yes man" and have no problems with working my way up the food chain.

@ Jeff, I read your blog and didn't really see any stand out information. It was anecdotal, as opposed to anything measurable.

JewelryOnTheRocks said...

Why don't y'all just move to ArtFire or Zibbet where they actually care what happens to you.

Would you believe my capcha is "sentin"?

TheKinkyOne said...

Fixing the search on Etsy has been needed since the day Etsy started. The search is 'fixed' alright. Just like you might 'fix' your cat or dog.

Rest assured, if Etsy does anymore fixing to search they'll just break it some more.

We get it that you have made an alternative site to Etsy called AMDRM. Now we'd like to point out that our comments section is not for your site promotion, mmmmmkay?

Anonymous said...

So many Etsians have moved, by accident or design, to other sites because of all this nonstop nonsense. I am glad you gave us alternatives like Shoply!

Anne Onymous said...

It's taken me a full week to work up the nerve to post this, so I hope all y'all are still listening. Etsy is not going to be happy unless and until they can send Annie Leibovitz or someone equally tony around to everybody's house to photograph their stuff. They have some bizarre ideas about the ideal photographs, and--face it--with thousands of sellers, they're never going to achieve their idea of class and style.

This hasn't stopped them from entertaining a parade of idiots in the Storque and other places, all waving and flapping their arms about what makes the "ideal" photograph, and most of them advocating heavy use of Photoshop. Natural light is your friend. No, natural light is your mortal enemy. Use Photoshop's contrast and brightness tools. No!! No!!! Use Curves, lest your photos appear flat and bland. You need an expensive DSLR camera, the pricier the better...or you can take decent pictures with your point and shoot. Whatever. NONE OF THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT, AND ALL THEIR ADVICE CONFLICTS. All they do is pontificate--loudly--and confuse the hell out of people who are foolish enough to try to heed their bullshit.

Mark my words, the "fix" is going to make everybody's pictures look as though they were snapped at midnight in the garden of good and evil. Etsy will go gray--the same shade of gray as your back deck when you haven't sealed it for five years.

Why am I in such a state of anguish? Because it took this post to tip me off that the photography schizophrenia has afflicted the blog of my local street team--a blog I'm supposed to contribute to several times a year. They are terrified that an unworthy picture might sully the purity of the blog. They've put the fear of God into their members. The result is that everybody--self included--is terrified to post anything, lest it be rejected. My solution at this point is to make regular reviews of Etsy shops which I select on the basis of their photography.

I'm tired of it. The cherry trees are flowering outside. I'm going to go take some pictures, but they'll never show up on anything to do with Etsy.

Prof said...

I'm a professional photographer and college-level photography teacher whose work appears in national magazines and on Emmy nominated CDs. That's my day job; it's not what I sold on Etsy. I mention it just to say that my product pictures (and my products and prices) were at least as good as -- and usually better than -- anything ever seen on the FP -- but I was never on the FP because I am not an Etsy favorite. If you believe sales and placement are about the pictures you take, well, there's a bridge in Brooklyn you might want to buy.

for the hell of it said...

@GlitterCritter, didn't find Artfire any better than Etsy,just a different style of combat

Artfire has no more accuracy than Etsy. They just tell slightly different lies.

sark said...

I do photography.
Photography, contrary to what the "fine art" team on Etsy idiotically believes, is actually an art — a fine art.

I can tell you that I don't fucking know how to crochet. Now, I could go out and buy some hooks and balls of thread and maybe even a book for beginners — but let's fucking face it — the first thing I make is not going to be a table cloth... unless maybe the legos are having a fancy picnic.

Photography is an art. Good photos don't happen instantaneously. It takes practice and an understanding of what the fuck a photograph is. Not all photos achieve the same visual goal, so there isn't one direct path to what constitutes a "good photo."

That and I've actually clicked on some of the photos of those front page repeats and favs — the vast majority of the time they are mediocre at best. Anything wire wrapped that is shot in macro is usually hilariously crappy. Is that how you look at it when it's hanging from your neck? I think there's a name for that eye condition: macular degeneration. There's a dress maker that has some seriously shitty photos.

Honestly, motherfuckers, you know simply by looking at them whether your photos are good or not. Either fucking ask someone who knows something about photography what you can do to get a desired effect, or well, get the fuck off the pot.

If you don't own photoshop, then chances are that no one can really help you with your photos, because no professional photographer worth the cost of their camera uses free shit from the internet...

I'm not a front page fav — so that's actual photo advice. Learn how to use your fucking camera, practice, practice, practice, and own professional software so that if you need advice then someone who knows their ass from a hole in the ground can help you. Gimp = eye roll.

Boy, I can't wait for Etsy to fix my photos. You know, since they have to be saved as IEC RGB because etsy strips the color profiles. So, uh, yeah, I can't wait until they "add" a color profile to my images. Yes, it should be fabulous.

Of course, here's the thing: no one fucking sells anything on etsy. So, you could spend hours, days, weeks, years on "improving" your photos, but when etsy can't catch up to shifts in the parameters of google merchant? Well, how the fuck are you going to sell anything anyway?

The "improve your photos" thing is just nauseating. Etsy needs to improve it's ethics, work on google base compatibility, and find us all some fucking customers.

Even the most generic search on ebay will demonstrate that people with "shitty" photos can sell like motherfuckers. So, have some fucking confidence in your fucking photos already.

This is just one more useless fucking thing — that Etsy is going to fix your images after they fucked them up by stripping the color profile.

*head desk*

Anne Onymous said...

@Prof-I don't doubt you for a moment, and your photographs are probably a feast for the eyes. But this morning's FP treasury is the perfect example. It's featuring the color yellow--only it's not yellow, it's brownish yellow. The two human models are both wearing gray. The two photos/paintings (can't tell which) both feature weathered gray wood along with their mustard. Jewelry not being modeled is shot against gray backgrounds. Monarch butterflies are brownish. It's all sad, wan, and washed out, and I submit to you that the Etsy powers probably think it's pretty hot. I'm looking at it on a brand new Mac, so I feel pretty confident of my color descriptions. One yellow-on-gray image might look intriguing. A whole page of them is just depressing.

for the hell of it said...

@photography peeps, since pictures ARE your product, is there anyway you could legally stop Etsy from tampering with your work?

Jewelry on the Rocks said...

@for the hell of it, well, at least all of our products show up on Google Shopping now. I'm sure the crew would have rather spent that time finishing up their latest project but I'm grateful that they backburnered it so we get that exposure. I'm pretty happy with what I get.

Prof said...

"Good photography" and "the kind of pictures Etsy likes" are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories, but they are most definitely NOT the same thing.

for the hell of it said...

@Glitter, no they don't and never did. I'm still searching for THE honest venue, but don't honestly believe that I'll find one.

The closest to honest is Amazon.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

@For the Hell of it, well, maybe they don't, who knows? I'll go on thinking that when the COO takes almost 12 hours out of his day to help me, personally, one-on-one, that means they care. Whether it's that they care about their sellers or care about their business works out the same for me.

Anonymous said...

for the hell of it said...
@GlitterCritter, didn't find Artfire any better than Etsy,just a different style of combat

Artfire has no more accuracy than Etsy. They just tell slightly different lies.
Artfire has lots more credibility than Etsy. They don't lie to their sellers or shit on people. When there is a problem, they work on solving it.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

You know, I don't especially try to hide my identity, what with the identical avatars and all, but the way one of these posters continues to call me by my supplies shop user name. It is beginning to annoy me because I've basically closed that business(not handmade items, commercial supplies for the most part) and it's interfering with my branding. It's rude to do that to a peer.

J said...

for the hell of it said...
@photography peeps, since pictures ARE your product, is there anyway you could legally stop Etsy from tampering with your work?

Yes: by not sending your photos to Etsy or purchasing their services.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

Anonymous said...
for the hell of it said...
@GlitterCritter, didn't find Artfire any better than Etsy,just a different style of combat

Artfire has no more accuracy than Etsy. They just tell slightly different lies.
Artfire has lots more credibility than Etsy. They don't lie to their sellers or shit on people. When there is a problem, they work on solving it.

And when there's not a problem they build new tools and create more opportunities for their sellers. They spend an enormous effort with marketing us and in helping us learn how to market ourselves.

for the hell of it. said...

@Artfire defenders,

I don't see any major differences between omissions (Etsy) and partial truths (Artfire).

I read the latest update concerning the Google shifts posted in Artfire

Etsy, as usual is keeping mum.

Both of these sites will prove to be problamatic, espeacially for their vintage and supply sellers because there is no way for these sellers to add the newly required information that might exist for their products, such as the UPC codes MPNs and ISBns for books.

Etsy and Artfire never took the time to fully integrate the Google attributes as a tool for their sellers. Both sites seem to prefer shifting the blame over to Google and crying foul, as opposed to just doing what doing what Google wants done concerning the product feeds.

Bonanza and eCrater have both incorporated editing functions to allow their sellers to add the needed data to satisfy Google requirements and are NOT now experiancing the problems that Etsy and Artfire both need to back peddle over.

To learn a bit more about the Google attributes:

Etsy and Artfire's lack of foresite could wind up creating some pretty problamatic areas for their supply and vintage sellers who may need to know a given UPC code, an ISBN number or an MPN to get their items accepted into Google products.

At this time, there are product lines that are exempt from certain criteria that are required by Google. Google, though does seem to shift their requirements on a fairly regular basis, so who knows with any certainty, when the rules may shift, yet again.

Both bonanza and eCrater required the sellers to file for exemptions on an individual basis to ensure that a given shop would still be eligible to get their items into Google products. My products on these sites are good to go, My exemption requests were approved.

Etsy and Artfire's poor results from Google shopping "might be" from generic search habits of online shoppers OR it might be due to a lack of the official Google tagging system, which are known as the "google attributes".

It might be best, going forward, if all sellers learned to do some independant research for themselves.

I maintain a 100% success rate for my items that are listed on Bonanza and eCrater, and eCrater views are approximately 70 to 80% Google generated.

Neither Etsy or Artfire are even in the ballpark of upload success rates of the other 2 sites. IF Bonanza and eCrater can get my all of my items into the system, it seems to me that Etsy and Artfire "could" do the same. But they can't and would rather continue to blame Google, as opposed to just doing things according to how Google has set up tools for this.

Oh, and did any of you know that Google has an official attribute, "artist"? Wouldn't that be a usefull little tool towards getting "names out there"?

Materials is an attribute
Occasion (possible uses of item or event like wedding, Christmas, Mother's Day, etc)
Made_in (country of origin)

The problems have not been Google; the problems stem from both Etsy and Artfire.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

That's weird, all of my ArtFire items show up on Google Shopping and most of my items come up on the first page of Google for my chosen keywords. I'm not sure what forthehellofit is talking about.

Monique7500 said...

Wait... so they're making it so you can use gifs as images? Does this mean RESELLERS will have an easier time uploading the same images used on these asian wholesale sites? Yeah, I guess so....

So much for my pretty jpeg images I use.... but with 14 sales in 4 years (which came from my google traffic I sent them), it's no wonder etsy is just turning into a junk site.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

Monique, I don't know what you sell or what your target demographic is like but if your items are geared for an older market you might want to take a look at ArtFire, especially if your traffic was coming from Google anyway. Etsy has some interesting ways of feeding information to Google that greatly interferes with actual item listings showing up there.

Anonymous said...

for the hell of it. said...

Ecrater is not only not very well known but the instructions for the "google attributes" are pretty much useless.
The UPC etc thing is a nice idea but not practical for many things. Handmade jewelry for one in addition to vintage etc. Its a nice little one-size-fits-all that doesn't work. The search on Etsy is screwed because Etsy screwed it themselves.
And do you think you could possibly use spell check and/or grammar check? You seem intelligent but all the errors detract from your posts.

for the hell of it said...

@anomymous, and how petty, you appear to be, to pass judgement based upon spelling errors. Do you feel that trying to insult me is an effective ploy to get me to doubt myself concerning the impending Google shifts and how poorly the Artisan sites have prepared themselves?

I offered some help so the sellers could make educated decisions, in order to help themselves.

But, you wander back to whatever sites that you came from and continue to listen to each site's given propaganda.

@AngryEtsySeller, Breyer got rid of Maria, Kalin is little more than a puppet king.

My exemptions for both eCrater and Bonanza have been approved, so it's of very little inportance if Etsy and Artfire continue to screw up the uploads into Google products. Both of these sites continue to keep pace with the ever shifting "improvements" that Google rolls out.

And its a refreshing change of pace to NOT see the inane judgement calls regarding "resellers", "garage sale quality vintage", and other artisan, PROP UP MY EGO based debates within the forums of the artisan sites.

eCrater's traffic rank is at a better position than Artfire. Etsy's traffic rank continues to benefit the few, and Bonanza is at aprroximately the same level as Artfire.

Anonymous said...

for the hell of it said...
@anomymous, and how petty, you appear to be, to pass judgement based upon spelling errors. Do you feel that trying to insult me is an effective ploy to get me to doubt myself concerning the impending Google shifts and how poorly the Artisan sites have prepared themselves?
The only one I see who is petty here is you. Sorry that you cannot conduct yourself as an adult. Why don't you crawl off to Ecrater? Then you won' t have to post here.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

Let's see, I have 227 items listed on ArtFire. When I search Google Shopping for "bohowirewrapped" that's exactly how many items come up. Maybe you need to explain more about these attributes you're referring to, forthehellofit because it's not making sense to me.

for the hell of it said...

:) @ anonymous and the Critter,

Ladies, you should both try, really, really hard to stop REACTING to my commentary. For starters, reactions are a font of information for me, ... AND the very act of reacting places you in subordinate positioning, thus, Critter, I have no need to concern myself with your argument of me being rude to a peer.

Peer implies an equality. You are NOT my equal. It also seems to me that IF your branding efforts were effective, they'd be working.

Jewelry On The Rocks said...

Oh, I see. I thought it was a dialog and that you actually had something intelligent to say, my bad. I can certainly ignore trolls.