Etsy Shop Audits: the good, the bad, the alternative | Episode 165

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Etsy shop audits. What are they? Is that the same as a shop critique? Should you invest in one? And why I don’t offer them!

Years ago, I DID offer this as a service. I have done hundreds of Etsy shop audits.

An audit is a review of your shop. The point of an Etsy shop audit or shop critique is to provide personalized feedback. In my case, we would screen record it, so the seller could see me going through their shop, looking at each section, making notes and comments, and making suggestions in different areas. I would send that screen recording, which was usually about 15-20 minutes long, along with a summary of written points, supporting material, or whatever else I felt could be helpful to or relevant to that seller.

I did shop audits for sellers at all levels, in all different niches, for all different types of products – handmade, vintage digital- all of them.

And what I found was that I was repeating myself quite a bit. Even in the follow-up written points, the additional resources, the extra input, and beyond – even when people would write back with questions… they were the same questions.

I know now that this is because until a certain baseline is implemented, the information that people receive in audits is not personalized. 

It is all excellent information, and the people receiving learned a lot – because it was all information they had to know. But it wasn’t truly PERSONALIZED; it was stuff EVERYONE has to know. It couldn’t be truly personalized because they weren’t at a place where personalized information would matter or be effective yet.

Personalized information can only lay on top of a baseline foundation. When people would come to me for shop audits, the first thing they needed to know was the baseline information. That was the pattern.

That’s what I kept finding with every single audit I did. I just kept repeating the same information to get them to that baseline. Again, fantastic info, and they needed to know it, and it helped them, but it wasn’t the truly personalized info it should be – and it wasn’t the best way to distribute what it WAS, either.

This became so much of a pattern I decided it wasn’t worth it for either party to keep doing them. There were better ways for people to receive the baseline info AND the personalized info. 

There were a lot of issues and gaps in the audio format. For starters, an audit would only cover that one short period I was in the shop -a snapshot of time, 20 to 30 minutes on the day I happened to look at the shop. Also, the audit only could cover the front end, customer-facing side of the shop. There’s so much value in what goes on on the admin side and ways to use that information. Audits didn’t allow for that coverage.

Audits can have a long-term positive impact, but they do nothing to really help sellers LEARN how to do this for themselves in the future. The commentary from an audit only applies to what’s currently going on in the shop. But if you plan on being in business for a while, like more than 48 hours, you need to know how to self-critique and analyze, make decisions and build the shop out properly from the beginning.

Audits don’t train you; they TELL you. And if you rely on being TOLD, you are not independent or resilient. I hold resiliency in high regard when it comes to Etsy, and it is one of the first three steps to Etsy success as far as I know them.

So we stopped offering the audits and built our Training Course for Etsy Sellers. 

Since most people needed that baseline of information, we put everything we know from all those audits and from my personal experience with Etsy, and from the experiences we’ve had working with other handmade business owners and Etsy sellers into the training course. 

The course format allowed me to cover so much MORE. Shop audits have to have parameters and time restraints; courses can cover much more ground.

In my case, that training course for Etsy sellers that I built covers absolutely everything that we know, fully, from top to bottom, about optimizing an Etsy experience and provides the insight and training that sellers need to implement that strong baseline in their shop. The training covers the tools, insights, and all of that ‘supporting information’ i was sending people – and preemptively ANSWERING the questions everyone had. 

Overall, the course format WINS on every critical point.

  • The course format allows people to go through the information on their schedule; they didn’t have to wait for availability on audits.
  • The course format also allows people to go through the information over and over, as needed. It is a much more natural process than the shop audit, which sellers often told me felt like a bit of a deluge. An overwhelming number of things to do right now.
  • The course format supports people not just in learning the baseline but in LEARNING how to UNDERSTAND the platform. They can stand on their own two feet better. They can better process new information that they receive and make better decisions in their shops going forward. 
  • The course format allows every seller taking the course to identify what they uniquely need at every stage of business to self-audit and critique. 

The personalized info everyone seeks out? Sellers who take our course DO GET THAT; they just get it from themselves. This GREATLY offsets what they need from other people and makes them more independent and resilient. They rely on themselves, not others.

So that is why we no longer do shop audits and why I don’t think audits are a practical investment for most sellers! 

Everything that we know is in the course, and the course is a more valuable resource for sellers. 

Because full spectrum understanding does not come from an audit, it comes from knowing what to do, what’s important, how to handle it, and how to maximize it. Being trained as the Etsy shop owner to figure this out at every turn for yourself is hugely important. Otherwise, you’re just waiting for your next shop audit, which is just another snapshot in time. 

Here’s another BIG thing we know: on Etsy, everybody has the same structure. 

Every single Etsy shop is the same structure. Every Etsy seller has access to the same tools and areas to implement in. Save for the very minor differences in the Etsy Plus layout (which, by the way, Etsy plus is not needed and does not impact your relevance on Etsy in any way, shape or form.)

Finessing that standard set of areas and knowing how to show up in those spaces is what you need to know! It’s not personal. It’s standard.

You’ll want to know how to use each space and those tools and that access that you do have on Etsy, every single day, week after week, year after year, not just once.

An audit is more effective when you have a decent amount of experience to look at and where you have complete and utter freedom. On Etsy, you don’t have complete and utter freedom. There aren’t new rules per person. But something like your marketing plan — where you do have complete and utter freedom over what you do, how you do it, when you do it, where you do it — that’s something that might benefit from an audit.

Instead of an Etsy audit, invest in learning about the platform, how to show up within it, and what you need to know to make the best decisions for yourself Long term.

If you want our help building an Etsy shop that works harder for you than you do for it, check out our full Training Course for Etsy Sellers.

 

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Oh, hi! Welcome to The Merriweather Council. I’m Danielle and I am a maker in business and mentor to other makers in business. I teach you how to turn your crafty tendencies into profits!

Oh, I’m also really into crafts, boy bands + iced coffee. Email me anytime to say hello or send cute Backstreet Boy videos or dog pictures .. or whatever! danielle (at) merriweathercouncil.com Thanks for stopping by.

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