Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Etsy Product Descriptions: Do You Read Them?

This is not seller advice. This is just another one of my Etsy observations meant for entertainment only.

How important are your item descriptions when listing on Etsy? A little bit of personal research shows that how much and what you say about your items isn't really that important.

I try to give my Etsy item descriptions a little bit of flair. Sometimes I say a little about the item, sometimes I just sort of ramble on. I like the stuff I post on Etsy, and I like to write about it. So for me 50 - 100 words is no big deal. Besides, Etsy says it's a good idea to write full descriptions.

The following quote is taken directly from a link on

"Many people don't realize that, in addition to the facts, a brief story about your handmade object can create a dramatic impression on your viewer. Let the shopper know how you picture the item being used, or tell them a story of what inspired you to create the piece. Many people who appreciate handmade items also enjoy the story behind how it was made, who created it and where the idea came from.

Of course, it's also important to inform the buyer of all the facts. Color, size, dimensions, textures, materials used, washing and care instructions, fabrication process, and allergy alerts are essential. You may also want to consider if your item is for a certain age group or suggest it as the perfect gift for a special occasion."

I read this a while ago and it's pretty good advice. However, I know that lots of people are not good writers, or if you are a good writer, maybe you don't like to write or you don't have time to write tons of detailed descriptions.

I began looking at some of the more successful clothing sellers and found that many of them keep their descriptions under 20 words. They pretty much tell you the size and materials and that's it.

But I think this says a lot more about buyers than sellers. I think serious buyers are generally interested in pictures first, then want only to know the size and price. The rest is fluff to them that they just have to skim through - if they even bother.

To test this, about 18 months ago I listed one of my best selling tops (black & gray butterfly) in four different formats. First I listed it as a "Made To Order Custom Size." In this listing buyers had to read all of my flair PLUS they had to read the vital info PLUS they had to read how to request their size.

As a result I didn't sell a single one in four weeks.

I then posted three more black & gray butterfly tops. This time I listed a small, a medium, and a large. I used the same pictures and same tags. But I slimmed the description down to the bare essentials.

Guess what!!! I started selling them right away!!

Of course this wasn't very scientific so a year ago I tried another little test. I listed two black and gray butterfly tops in the same size with the same 65 word descriptions, EXCEPT I put the line "convo me with the word 'discount' and get fifty percent off of this item." I continued to renew the two identical tops each time they sold for one entire month. I sold the top with the discount line in it twice and neither buyer convo-ed me. So it was obvious that - at least those two - buyers didn't read my description.

To summarize: if people can't be bothered enough to read a 65 word description close enough to catch a 50% discount there's a good chance they don't care what color stockings you think that shirt will go with. I've decided to cut my descriptions short and put a little more time into making clothing, taking pics, and conducting silly experiments. If you're a good reader prove it by posting a comment on this blog.


  1. I've always wondered about this same thing... I tend to write lovely descriptions for all of my items, it's something that comes naturally for me. However, with all of the studies being done pointing to shorter attention spans and lower reading comprehension in each successive generation... it doesn't surprise me. Thanks for posting the results of your experiment! Always something to learn.

  2. mr uxn design = = krisOctober 30, 2009 at 4:21 PM

    what an experiment! sooo very coool!
    i was just thinking, if people are strange, the time has changed, or people selling art projects, are in the wrong location then.

    i am a person who likes people to understand what happened in my mind, what the idea behind the piece of art is really.

    sometimes simple looking things can be so much more interesting, if people were more open minded. we are here to learn, to discover, to have fun, to meet our self.
    this means, people have to slow down again, in order to see the truth.

    i will try a similar experiment! it sounds fun!
    love n hugs

  3. Amazing! I've gone etsy crazy lately, believing all the "advice" etsy spills out. I really appreciate your little experiments. I will give the shorter descriptions a try too.

  4. So clever! I would never have thought to do something like that, but I agree, I am better spending my time listing more or creating than the time it takes to write descriptions that people don't/won't read. For the record, I LOVE reading descriptions!

  5. I love reading descriptions, but maybe that's where I'm going wrong with my etsy shop, apart from the fact I hardly ever list any items I only ever state the facts and done go into much about the piece of art.

    Maybe I should write a little bit about the character! I'll give it ago :)

    Thanks for the good read.