Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Most Overused Word in Etsy Descriptions

Anyone who works on Etsy knows how important writing is. Think of all the copy we write, just by listing our inventory! That doesn't include our blogs, FB pages, portfolios, and all the other social media outlets we manage.

Like many shop owners on Etsy, I have training in areas besides crafting and business. One of these is writing. I have an M.A. in Writing and Literature, I'm a published poet, and I've written
fiction, freelance articles, resumes, and textbook content. I'm so grateful for this skill, because the written word, whether it's an in-depth article about the nature of amethyst or a 140-character Twitter update, is a powerful tool for communicating with each other and with our clients. We, as artists and craftspeople, believe in community; the power of writing can help bind a community together. This includes making a connection between you, your item, and your client.

I'm beginning a series of articles about copywriting for the craftsperson. We all need need a little help in this area sometimes, regardless of our experience. Let me begin with a word that I'd like to see virtually eliminated from Etsy.

The Most Overused Word in Etsy Descriptions


This word means "like nothing else," implying it's the only one of its kind. It's also appropriate to use it to mean "distinctive" or "unusual." The problem is that it's everywhere on Etsy. It is so often used that I'm not sure it makes much of an impact to a potential buyer.

Of course we think our items our unique. We make them with our own hands, or we work hard to find that special vintage dress or unusual cabachon. To make our copy distinctive, we must think of what actually is distinctive about our item rather than relying on a word so many shop owners use.

Here's an example of a common Etsy-type description based on the photo above:

This gorgeous one-of-a-kind necklace is made with howlite, white mountain jade, Swarovski crystal, and a beautiful, unusual pendant. This unique pendant features a sterling silver dragon on a purple jade background...

Not bad, right? I made this necklace, so naturally I think it's unique and fabulous. Everything I wrote is true in my mind. And there probably isn't another necklace exactly like it.

Consider, however, what happens when I think about what I really love about this necklace. The word "unique" isn't what comes to mind--that just seems to come out when we write copy. What I really love about it is the colors, the feel of the howlite next to the white jade (which is actually marble), the way the amethyst-colored crystal blends the purple jade of the pendant into the white of the beads; and the dragon. The dragon is what inspired this necklace in the first place!

This is what I wrote when I connected to this original inspiration:

In Asian cultures, the dragon is regarded as a strong, benevolent creature. The dragon symbolizes luck, strength, determination, and protection. This pendant is a nice blend of yin/yang: the powerful dragon (yang) is backed by soft purple jade (yin)...

In only three sentences I've provided a little history, cultural relevance, strong, positive nouns ("determination"), SEO ("dragon" three times), and color. Now the potential customer can connect, through the written word, to this piece of jewelry in a way the word "unique" cannot provide.

The bottom line is to write something that is uniquely connected to the item you're selling. Yes, I used it on purpose! If you're using copy that sounds like what so many others write, how can you truly identify what is distinctive about your item?

Write from your own connection to the item you love and you'll already be on the right track.

Good luck, and good writing!

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