Saturday, January 31, 2015

How To Create Professional Etsy Policies
Part 1
Tony Hershey,, provided valuable insight for creating your Etsy policy and information sections.  In the on-line selling biz for a number of years and with Etsy since 2010, Tony is approaching 700 sales on Etsy alone.  He also has 220 reviews with a 5 star average. 

Part 1, of this series covers Shipping and Refunds.  First, let's peek into the unusual, rare and quirky world of  With 585 listings, you are sure to find something wonderful. (Listing links follow photos.) 

Rare Czech Pitcher and glasses - $80.00

Antique Marble - German Cloud - $250

USA Mint Olympic Stamps - $19.99
Tony indicated the Return policy is the most important followed by Shipping Information.  I put shipping first, because one always ships, but hopefully will rarely deal with returns. 

  • Turn-around time. 
  • How to charge for shipping 
  • International shipments 
TAT - In the instant society in which we live, people like next day shipping. Tony recommends using the 3-5 day category in your listings. If you can ship faster, you have an impressed buyer. If you can’t, the buyer expected that anyway, so no disappointment.  (Blogger note:  Tony has daily sells and a huge shop inventory.  The 3-5 day process time gives you the opportunity to organize and be more efficient.)

U.S. Shipping Charges - Etsy does not have an embedded shipping calculator, so you will need to know how much to charge for shipping. The major carriers (USPS, FedEx, UPS) have on-line shipping estimate calculators.  A visit to your preferred vendor site, some experimenting with weight, box size and distance will help determine the right amount for you.  Though time consuming research, it is important.  Most sellers use USPS, because it tends to be the cheapest.  

How to determine the right amount of shipping, when you don't yet know where the item is headed?
  • Some Etsy sellers simply select a City and State far away from their home location, and set that amount as their standard shipping rate. 
  • Others take an average of several points across the US. 
It is easy to refund a portion of the shipping if you so choose. But shipping charges aren’t just postage. They include tracking, insurance, packing materials, etc.  Remember to calculate these somewhere in your pricing.

International Shipments? - If you answer yes, read on.  If no, skip ahead to Refunds.  From the Blogger: First step is back to those carrier calculators.  I use, USPS for all International Shipments, because consistently it is the cheapest.  Adding locations in your Etsy shipping profiles by country is easy.  I have about 20 countries listed and then "Everywhere Else."  Countries were selected based on the percentage of total views received by my shop during 2014.  (Not very scientific, but I am growing and learning about international shipments all the time. ) 

Tony says, "Remind international buyers that you have no control over shippers or customs agencies. As a result, shipments can sometimes take weeks or months." Remind them that any value added taxes (VAT), customs fees, or brokerage fees are their responsibility. If you choose to exclude countries that can’t be insured, state that plainly.  Although it is rare, you may be asked to falsify information in order to reduce the customs fees.  That is NOT a practice we endorse or participate in. 

Time for a short commercial break and another look at Tony has some wonderful historic photographs.  Below are a couple with autographs.  Listing links follow.     
President Carter, First Lady and The Pope
signed by The Carters - $345

Signed Marcel Marceau - $79

This is probably the most important policy section and needs to be done carefully. Make sure you include the following:
  • How long people have to return items. 
  • Whether or not you will refund shipping
  • Language about partial refunds
  • Refunds without return of item

Standard times for return are 7-14 days from receipt of item.  A “No refunds” policy is both useless and detrimental. Customers will be wary and you will lose sales.  Both Paypal and credit card companies can force a refund in certain situations, and savvy customers know it.  

Refund Shipping - Yes, for damaged or lost items.  Otherwise Tony recommends no for either direction, because it is a charge for a service that you cannot recoup. Additionally, one of the primary reasons for return requests is buyer remorse. Allowing such a return is likely enforceable by your buyer.  But they should also participate by absorbing the shipping costs.  The primary exception to this is an obvious mistake on your part, such as an incorrect description. In this case refund both directions, and take the loss. You’ll not make that mistake again, and your buyers will be happy with your customer service. 

Partial Refunds - Tony says, "NO!" And spell it out in your language, as in "No Partial Refunds." Partial refunds set you up for post sale pressure, which is essentially the same as asking for a discount up front. 

Refunds without return of the item to you - Again, Tony says, "No."  Why not just accept a picture of a damaged item item? There are two compelling reasons not to. 
  • The item may be repairable and re-sellable. 
  • Protection from a common scam:  "A person owns a vintage, mass-produced item (not a one-of-a-kind artist-made one). This item gets broken. They search online and buy one just like it from you. Once it arrives safely to them, they contact you claiming it was broken. You ask for a pic, and they take a pic of their original, broken item, not the good one you shipped. They get a refund and a new item…for free."
You can always loosen up your policy depending on the situation.  You may want to state in your policies that you use multiple photos and secret marks to confirm the validity and original condition of returns. Secret marks are advisable, especially on expensive items - some tiny mark, in a hidden location, in a way that will not cause damage. Photos of the secret marks and wear patterns will help you identify your item has been returned.  

Stay turned for Part 2 - Payment and Seller Info, coming soon.  And thanks to Tony Hershey of for his contributions to this article.  

By the way, Tony has his wares at: Top of the Class Antique Show, at Bone Student Center at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois this weekend. If you are from the area, go see Tony from now until 4 pm Sunday, Feb 1, 2015. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Stella Erwin's™

Scenes from last Saturday's backyard bird feeder photo shoot. The Cardinals are frequent visitors to Stella Erwin's™ table. These photos were taken in anticipation of a magazine article featuring The Stella Erwin Feeder™available at These pieces (blue $79 and sunburst $64) would look lovely in any backyard and clearly attract birds.  

Stay tuned more more about the magazine article, coming later this year.  Links to listings follow photos.

Photos by: Justin Jansen, © 2015 Stella Erwin's™.  All Rights Reserved.

Female Cardinal

Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal striking a pose

He's either coming or going

Male Cardinal 
Female Cardinal and Carolina Chickadee sharing a table

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stella Erwin's™ 

Just about anyone you ask or anything you read about being successful on Etsy, emphasizes the importance of great photos.  Picking up from the last post and keeping with the "how to take great photos" theme, Kevin of shared some of his photos tips with Stella Erwin's™. To showcase his great photos below are 2 items from his shop.  Listing links follow.

Wooden Drawer Shadow Box - $78
$36 - Burlington Sandblast pipe

To begin says Kevin - "Use the Program feature on your camera and properly adjust the white balance & exposure settings. This may take some practice and lots of sample photos to get the perfect settings for your lighting conditions."

  • Set up a small area for your indoor photo shoots. 
  • Use a white or neutral background. If you don’t like a stark white background just make sure your background is not too dark.  My wife uses old gray colored barn wood and an old crusty white painted ceiling tin. Just about anything neutral will work. (Blogger Note: The photo in the listing below is sitting on the barn wood with the white ceiling tin behind.) 

Excess Baggage Print - $16

  • Make sure there isn’t an overwhelming pattern in the background. You want your item to be the main focus, not the background.
    • With a little luck you can get a huge white vinyl pull down (rolled type) window shade or an old vintage projector screen to use. They are easy to hang, clean & store. They are also cheap usually under 10 bucks. 
    • For smaller items painted boards or poster board work well. If you paint a backdrop make sure you use satin or flat, not a gloss paint. 
    • Large paper roll backdrops are a pain, they tear and get dirty. 
Blogger Note: - More examples of Ohio Pickers fantastic photos
Steampunk radio parts $48
$28 - Vintage Keys

A word or 2 about light bulbs:
  • Use correct light bulb color spectrum 5,000 – 6,500K (kelvin rating).  6,500K is the best. The lower the spectrum rating the more yellow your photos will look. Do not use incandescent bulbs as you will be fighting with a yellow tint in your photos. You can buy 6500K Daylight GE energy smart compact fluorescent bulbs for a few dollars each. Make sure you get the 26 watt (100 watt replacement or equivalent) bulbs. If the boxes are not marked with the spectrum most of the time the bulbs are marked on the base. They may be a little hard to find as most of the bulbs sold are lower (softer light) spectrum bulbs. 6500K is the key.
  • I use 6 bulbs total. Each bulb is installed in a work light reflector that can be purchased at any hardware store (about 10 dollars). 
  • don't use the camera flash, soft white incandescent bulbs or "auto" feature on your camera.  
    • the flash will overexpose most photos and wash out the image
    • incandescent light bulbs will give your photo a yellow tint
    • auto feature will often make your photo look dark is a successful Etsy shop, with over 2600 sales, 8150 admirers and 1066 reviews - all of that since 2010.  

Visit, take a look at the fabulous photo listings and spend some time shopping through a great eclectic mix of history.   

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How to build a light box - cheap!!

Ever wonder how some Etsy shops have the greatest photos, with sharpness, detail and no background noise?  I pay to have "The Stella Erwin Feeder™" photos done.

Joanne, from, built a wonderful light box, that contributes to photos like these from some of her Etsy shop listings.

Links to each of these listings follow below the photos.
Galvanized Water Can - $38.00
Mod Necklace - $9.25

Green Cat Eye Marbles - $11.50

How did she do it?  She started with a white styrofoam box, added lighting and paper, set up her camera on a tripod and voila!!  A photo of Joanne's box follows along with items you will need.

The styrofoam box, which you can find FREE from a local vet, doctor, hospital or medical supply store, has inside dimensions of:

  • 15" front to back
  • 17" high
  • 21" wide

Joanne added clamp on lights from Home Depot for under $10 each and poster board for the inside at about $1 per sheet.  She bought the cheapest point and shoot camera that would work with the 80's aluminum tripod pictured.  The legs on her tripod extend for more height if a top shot is required.

Joanne of, is from Maine.  Because of the limited days of light and really cold temps, taking pictures inside is a necessity.  She has over 500 fabulous items in her shop and adds listings daily.

Does it work?  You bet.  Joanne has been selling on Etsy for over 3 years.  She has sold more than 850 items, has 340 - 5 STAR reviews and over 1100 admirers.  Go check out her fantastic array of Fresh Picked Maine Vintage and Antiques.  Just click this link:

Check back here for more about photos and lighting.  An article about tips and tricks for good photos including the right lamp bulbs to buy is coming soon.

And check out the new 2015 Stella Erwin Feeder™ line at

© 2015 Stella Erwin's.  All Rights Reserved.