Monday 22 May 2017

Cameras, Lawnmowers and Etsy Trauma. .

I made some shards the other week. Always fun to do

Well, it's been a funny couple of weeks. Not funny as in deeply humorous, but funny as in a bit odd or not like one would expect. Though a bit of humorous crept in too for light relief. Nothing all that exciting really, which is why I haven't blogged about anything for ages. But in the interests of keeping this whole thing going, I can just about scrape together enough mildly riveting things to keep you amused. Probably.

Green abused image transfer disk charms

My trusty, or up 'til now trusty, camera suddenly developed a fault. The on/off switch thingy had been very sticky for a couple of years at least, and I guess the extra strain involved in turning it on and off finally broke something. Just in the middle of a bead photographing session too. So I have a few beads with no photos to show scale, next to a ruler, as per my usual procedure.
Anyway, after ringing up a few camera shops I tracked down somewhere that actually repairs cameras rather than just selling them, and drove the 50 min to get there. It was touch and go as to whether Fuji still sent out the relevant parts needed to fix it, but eventually it transpired that they did, and I will have a large bill to pay. Annoyingly, not quite large enough to warrant me getting a new (to me) camera of the same type instead of paying for the repair. Oh well, I can claim it off tax as I use the camera mostly for product shots these days. . . I'll have it back in 10 days or so.

A collage of four shots of a single 'pot' dread bead type thing.

Mechanical Breakdown 2 - The rusty and trusty sit-on lawnmower that came with the house, as the previous incumbent was moving to a smaller place with no need of such a thing, and we would need it to deal with the big lawn, also developed a fault. The height adjustment was stuck. It was fixed quite easily, but we had to call someone in to do it. As it was such an old beast, we had to get an agricultural machinery guy in to sort it. Modern lawnmower repair men wouldn't know where to start with a 40 year old machine. Hah! It's proper lawn mower, in that particular shade of green that garden machinery and metal playground equipment like slides and roundabouts used to be, you remember. . .

Brown abused image transfer disk charms

Anyway, talking of on/off switches, the forums over at Etsy are in turmoil at the moment. A great many shops are complaining about their views and sales suddenly stopping, as if there was an off switch that had just been thrown.
Sellers moaning about low sales on Etsy forums is certainly nothing new, it's one of those 'death and taxes' type constants, but the scale and intensity of complaints this time does seem to be much higher than usual.

Coupled with the lack of views/sales is the state of the search function. From what I read it is really not fit for purpose, throwing up hundreds of items not really related to the search terms at all. Sellers feel that they are just not being found, through no fault of their own. They feel that there has been too much tinkering behind the scenes by coders and suchlike people.

Also, to add another layer of resentment, it seems that Etsy HQ is one of those kind of corporate hippy places you hear about and roll your eyes. There are Yoga rooms, free organic gourmet food a couple of days a week, a communal loom and something called a 'breathing room'. And that's just for starters. . .
Obviously oodles of money has been spent on such organic fripperies. This metaphorically chafes the collective rear ends of the sellers, including me, who have been paying Etsy listing fees and percentages of sales only to find that the employees have been lounging about in breathing rooms, belching organically while buggering up the search function completely. The money could have been better spent, one feels.

Ridged and textured tube beads

To add yet another layer of resentment to the ferment, as if one was needed, the ousted CEO, before he was ousted, had made a seemingly strange comment that he saw Etsy as a 'Tech Company'.

Eh? . . . Mulling this over, I eventually came to an understanding of what he might have been on about.

You may think that a site that sells things is primarily just that, a site that people sell things on. Well, when you get to the scale of Etsy, (and Amazon and Ebay etc) issues of server size come into play. They have a certain amount of server space in which to accommodate a very large number of things/shops. So what they allegedly do is rotate the visibility of said things/shops as that is much cheaper than paying for more server space. Sellers have been suspicious of this for years but any evidence is circumstantial. . . Etsy says nothing. . . The 'tech company' comment could well have referred to the possibility that Etsy staff might be employed to write algorithms that enable this rotation to happen in supposedly non obvious ways, and the idea that Etsy would then sell on the resulting algorithms to other companies who require such things. So Etsy could perhaps be seen by those of a cynical disposition, as just a sandbox in which coders could test their algorithms. Sellers being relatively unimportant. . .

And some image trans tile squares. Double sided no less. The images are the same beads from different sides

It also turns out, according to said ousted CEO, allegedly, that Etsy makes more money from listing fees from hopeful sellers, than it does from actual percentages of sales. Leading to conspiracy theory number two, that Etsy manipulates shop visibility in order to encourage sellers to keep on listing, and for new sellers to buy into the dream of giving up their day job and successfully selling their work instead. The idea being that the manipulation of sellers visibility allows them to just sell enough to keep going and to keep listing, and not notice the down times as anything other than the ups and downs of retail life. Give 'em just enough to keep 'em sweet. . . All very cynical. Who knows what the truth of it all is, but there are a great many upset sellers on those forums. . . The new CEO may or may not be inclined to address their concerns. Time will tell. But by then half the sellers may have left. . . Including me. . .
Until next time,
Jon x


  1. Agree on all your etsy comments, but we already knew the deck was stacked against us. Moreover, your pieces are goooorgeous! I got my package last week and I'm over the moon!

  2. Interesting. I have been popping in to the forums this week and noticed a lot of grumbling. I have been inundated with order this month though so maybe I'm one of the lucky ones at the moment. I have certainly felt the on/off switch over the years though - quite frustrating.
    Anyway, since I've got a spare bit of money for some beads, where can I find those green ones on this post? Ta

    1. if you meant the green textured tube beads - i just posted a comment below, then i saw the 'reply' box so here they are as well -
      the green disk beads are in my shop already -

  3. Hi Rara,
    I forgot to list them! Here you go -
    glad you like them ;-)

  4. I am not an Etsy fan. I honestly don't see the point in trying to drum up attention against 45 million other sellers. I do very well selling at shows and in galleries and prefer the one on one to Etsy's type of selling. However, I have a friend who is a real fan and I'm going to forward your post along to her. I'm always interested in seeing what she has to say about Etsy. I can pretty much guess what it's going to be so I won't take any bets...

    Your shards and beads this week are simply stunning Jon. You've obviously been drawing inspiration from your new locale even with a jammed up lawnmower/rider. We have one as we have a double lot and lots of lawn and I dread the day it goes down. I'd hate to have to go back to the pushmower....