Saturday, February 21, 2015

Etsy's New Categories: My Review of Etsy's New Art Category

Custom Dog Portrait Painting
          ..  In addition to selling my custom pet portrait paintings here and from my site, I sell a lot of portraits (also house portraits) on Etsy.  This week they made some changes to the categories.  This is my early review.  Overall, I'm pleased etsy is tackling the job of fixing the categories which were woeful before.  They say they will be using them as a part of the upcoming changes to Search, which is double good, because that has been in pretty bad shape for a while.  But.....


The structuring of the categories has moved from the handmade/vintage/supplies to sorting by what it IS, not how or when it was made.

So instead of Categorizing by, for instance, Vintage/Housewares/Serving/Bowl, and seeing ONLY vintage bowls, the category basically is by Bowls, and in that result is every kind of bowl up for sale is co-mingled.  Vintage bowls, crocheted bowls, wooden bowls, ceramic bowls.

The buyer can then narrow the search.  Etsy says that will give more visibility (someone might not even consider a hand turned wooden bowl, for instance, when they thought they wanted a vintage one).  I have no argument with that.

IF the categories were ready for prime time.  Which they are not.  SOME categories are minutely detailed, even ones with few items for sale get their own subcategories.  And others, nuttin' honey.  Here they all are:


In particular, I take issue with the Art and Collectibles category.  Firstly, they are two large categories that need to be broken up.  Etsy says can be collected, which is true...but for some things, Collectible is the useful category.  In particular, I'm thinking of vintage ephemera. Someone looking to purchase a birthday card to use now is not going to be the least bit interested in an Victorian birthday card.  And the collector of vintage greeting cards is going to be mighty off put that they can't find them.  Because they are in a category of Craft Supplies/Scrapbooking/Paper Ephemera, which is where they are currently placed by Etsy!

And the art category doesn't follow the taxonomy of every other category.  Instead of the main categories being WHAT IT IS, it's by media except for one thing: ATCs.  Which is a TYPE of a collector's card that, it just happens, ARE NOT FOR SALE.  The correct term, as has been shared with Etsy is ACEO, but still, that's not a medium, it's a size.  The media list is incomplete as well.

So what does this mean?  It means that a buyer going by category has to be so enamored by the way the pigment was applied to support that it trumps every other preference in buying art.

Someone has to prefer to buy an acrylic BECAUSE it's an acrylic, for this to make sense.  And that's not how art buyers buy.  Few buyers think "I'd like to buy an acrylic painting for that little nook in the kitchen.  No oil paintings for me!  I don't really care WHAT it is of, whether it's an abstract, a custom pet portrait, a landscape, as long as it's an acrylic"

And we who sell directly to art buyers know that's not how they think. (Of course, there's the search by sofa color....)!  The first category should be an alphabetical list of genre/subjects.


Then there is the mistagging issue within the art category. Reproduction "prints" (using the common usage, I know the difference between repros and original, handpulled prints) are in the same category as originals.  There is no way to drill down to find only originals or only prints within the category system.  So any repro print that uses the word "original" in its title ("Print of Original Watercolor Painting of Gnomes") will show up in the Art & Collectibles/Paintings/Watercolor category unless they move it manually to "prints".  If they even know about the change in taxonomy.


Two things: Here is how I think the categories should work.  For instance:

    Originals/Reproduction Prints.  Choose originals --> Watercolors (or other media if they are so desired).  Choose Reproduction Prints, you're as far as you can go!

Handpulled Prints should be a subcategory under orginals.

And even more importantly, Etsy needs to enforce proper placement for the sake of buyers using either Categories or Search, since Categories will impact Search.  It is unfair to them and to the honest sellers to have items purposely misplaced.

Like reproductions showing up in searches for originals.  Etsy's engineers can surely filter out anything placed or tagged "original" from certain Originals category merely by seeing if it includes the word "print".


Etsy says the categories are going to be relied upon more in the Search algorithm.  That's why this really matters, since few buyers search via categories.

I think the categories are a great START to improving search so that it's not just titles n tags.  But EVERY item on Etsy deserves to be properly and completely categorized, right now.  All hands in DUMBO ought to be on deck for this very important project to be completed.

And the art and the collectibles categories need to be discarded and made to conform with the rest of the taxonomy on Etsy.  By WHAT IT IS, then down the road, by how it was made.  Agree?  Please send your opinions here:
By the way...Etsy has put dollhouse and miniatures into their Toys section, which apparently is illegal for sellers to describe any non toy thusly.  I believe etsy's going to changed that toute de suite, so didn't address that here.

I'm a pet and house portrait artist, actually I paint custom anything.  My portraits are private homes literally all over the world.  I sell from my site and from my Etsy shop.  I also collect and sell old stuff, here's my Vintage Shop on Etsy and my shop for antique original prints.  I welcome your comments, good bad or whatever, if it's on topic, it will be included here.
Cat Portrait in Colored Pencil
by me, artist Robin Zebley

Boxer dog oil painting by me
artist Robin Zebley

House Portrait, Watercolor and Ink

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