thought bubble embroidered notebook
What comes to mind when you think about spring cleaning? Probably a lot of physical organizing, right? Rearranging things, tidying, dusting, de-cluttering, freshening up. Maybe a few mental refreshes as well – new ideas, aspirations, goals?
You may be overlooking something big.
What about refreshing your words, your tone, your message?
In this increasingly online world, the way you communicate in writing has a huge impact on how you are perceived and, let’s face it, how successful you can be. I recently focused in on my own written communications, and today I’m going to share some tips and examples of how I made some small changes to my product descriptions that made an amazing difference. In fact, I’m not even going to show you pictures of my products in this post! Let’s focus on the words.
Some of my listings, like the one above, had some great pieces to start with. I loved “lighthearted” as a descriptor, so I kept that. But, from there I just started writing.
Tip #1: Get it all out there. Start by being generative, dumping all your thoughts and ideas out there in writing. Then, when you go back and edit you’ll have a lot to work with. Not sure where to start?
Tip #2: Think about how you’d talk about the product. For each of my listings, I thought about how I would describe to someone when or why they might use it. This can be tricky if you have a lot of similar products. Think about what makes each item unique – if you really can’t think of anything, you may need to reconsider why you’re selling that item.
Some of my listings were pretty lacking in description, as well as reading like “icky marketing.” I remember writing this second “before” example (above) late in the evening and not wanting to spend any more time on it than I absolutely had to. That’s why it’s one measly sentence that definitely does NOT read as fun or heartfelt, despite the words being right there in the text.
Tip #3: Be extra descriptive. Exaggerate for emphasis. Back when you were being generative, you hopefully jotted down a bunch of adjectives that describe your item. Now’s your chance to pepper them throughout your description by replacing any less-descriptive adjectives with better ones. For example, don’t write about a “large pillow,” write about a “enormously fluffy pillow.” (But only if it’s true, and also include absolute measurements.)
Tip #4: Write the way you talk. This one might be controversial. If you tend to talk in obscure slang, use a lot of profanity, or never use complete sentences, this is probably not your tip. But the idea is that for handmade businesses, or businesses based around an individual, your customers need to see you in your descriptions. Be a little less formal, a little friendlier.
Please don’t think that interesting descriptions that are true to one’s personality can’t also contain useful information! In fact, the last example (above) has tons of information in the “after,” while incorporating a bit of humor and sounding much more human.
Not a shop owner? You can still use these strategies to improve your writing – think about describing how you’ll use an item in a thank you note, or being extra specific and detailed about something you’re talking about in your next email to a friend. It’ll bring out more of your personality in your writing. After all, people are typically reading your writing to hear what YOU have to say!
Thanks for the great tips and examples! It’s so amazing how the way we write and communicate is changing all the time – it’s reflective of the world we live in. Writing fresh content for my site is an ever-evolving process and a great resource for me has been the book, “The Yahoo! Style Guide”
Thanks jessika for the spring cleaning session! I have enjoyed all if them . Zoe, thanks for sharing your tips . It’s so important to have the right words describe the product.
I love it! Frees me up from trying to be too practical and pedestrian when it comes to descriptions. I was always afraid of being myself, that if I peeked out in my descriptions my customers would run in horror, screaming. Well, not exactly but you know what i mean. Thanks so much for a great post! I’m off to share my personality with the world.
Wonderful, Zoe! I love the makeover – personally, working on #4.
Thanks for sharing!
I love this advice! Thank you for sharing. I wanted to share your post with all of my readers so I put up a blog with links to you. Hope that’s okay. Thanks again!
A wonderfully refreshing post, Zoe! I believe that handmade sellers can “get away with” fun, personalized product descriptions like these . . . more than a non-handmade company could. Handmade customers are attracted to a personal writing style that allows them to connect with the designer. Why not try some humor and excitement?!? Thanks for your insight!
I love this article. It’s so informative. I’ve been meaning to give my product listings a makeover!
Love it Zoe! I had already noticed your awesome product descriptions and am thrilled to read more about creating them with personality….something I really need to work on. Appreciate the inspiration! xo
Thanks for the refresher we all need to do this as we can get into routine descriptions.
Thank you so much for sharing these examples Zoe! They’ll really help me as I try to make my descriptions less boring and add a bit of my personality into them.
Thank you VERY much Jessika for this months spring cleaning posts. They’ve all been so helpful and timely.
You are so super welcome Margaret! I am really happy to hear that they have been helpful to you: ) I know I have sure gotten a good kick in the pants this month!
just want to thank you so so much for all the things you´ve being teach me. I’m improving my business side by email, and it’s amazing.
all the tips help me so much, you guys have no idea! I’m learning to describe my products, and it seems easy, but in fact, it’s not at all!
thank you! thank you! thank you! with all my love!
This is such an awesome article! I have the hardest time coming up with descriptions that are worth reading and this totally gave me more inspiration to sit down and do it.
Fabulous post! Thanks for the tips; I am always thinking that my descriptions are somewhat boring so hopefully I can start spicing them up!
Great great great info. Thank you!!
This post is perfect I started this week trying to write more interesting descriptions of my products. I think you gave a me lots of good ideas 🙂
Fantastic advice, so descriptive. It’s not often I find a “HELP article” that is unique, new and fresh. Thanks so much! I’m inspired to go do some brainstorming and change up my descriptions in my ETSY shop.
Zoe! You continue to amaze & inspire!! Great post 🙂
Awesome article! (I’m sititng her trying to be descriptive with my comment…) Thanks!
Milene & Lisa, you are right – it is surprisingly hard to write well even though you know your products well. It helps me to practice saying out loud how I’d describe it (even try with a friend, maybe) and then write that down and edit.
Deena & Jenn, glad you’re finding the tips useful!
Ana, perfect timing! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Shiloh, thanks so much, I appreciate your kind words and I’m excited to see the fruits of your brainstorming.
Thanks, Kerry 🙂
Laura, too funny – I think you can edit even when commenting. I often will type out my thoughts, then go back through and replace words with more descriptive alternatives even on Twitter!
Me too Zoe! I always edit my comments/tweets, sometimes excessively. I really like to make sure that what I am saying is what I really WANT to say.
Great tips! I was already trying to find the time and creativity to edit my descriptions. It helps me to type my descriptions in a word document so that I can go back and edit later if I have a creative brain storm. With one of my first listings, I had the perfect wording, then with a glitch of the internet, poof! all gone!
Thanks for the help!
What a great post! I have so many things I need to put up on etsy. (vintage items) I find the most difficult part of online selling is the description. I am great at talking about something and showing my passion, but have writer’s block on the web!
Tanks for sharing your words of wisdom…
This is very helpful! I’ve always struggled with my descriptions and think I’ve let my shop slack because of it. Not any more! Ready to revamp!
I was on your site last week when I got the email from Etsy success and when I looked at the Etsy Kit for 2.95 🙂 I did not get it that day I had to go out etc, is it still that price? and if not when will it be again?
Thanks Janet Wood of Owls nook
it looks fantastic and I really need it.
Thank you for this article, I am going to try and inject some creativity into my boring shop descriptions!
Fabulous article. Thank you!
Thank you very much, this is very useful information to us. Kind thoughts and carry on the great work. ALSO, thanks for helping us making our contents more exciting by giving us free access to your knowledge and experience. We are very grateful to you. Have a nice day. xxxx
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