Lesson 2: Writing Item Descriptions – ArtFire Success Series

Hello and welcome to the second edition of the ArtFire Success Series where you learn how to make the best experience out of your ArtFire shop, for both you and your shoppers!

Today we cover how to write buy-worthy item descriptions.  Hint: Tell a persuasive story.

Great item descriptions = getting your items one step closer to a sale!

Optimize your shop with effective and descriptive text in product listings.

When selling your handmade products online, people don’t want to buy just things, they want to buy an experience.  Your job as the merchant is to give your customers that experience.  People want a story, they want to know the story behind the item.  The Item Description box is the place where you get to describe what you’re selling and give people a reason to buy from you.  Make sure the item you’re writing about tells a story not just about what it is, but how it will make your customer feel when they wear it/own it.  You’re not just selling earrings, you’re selling a night out on the town.



Who is buying (or would buy) your items?

Before you write a single word in the Item Description box you need to think about your ideal shoppers, the lovely people most likely to buy your product.  Imagine you’re a woodworker, you design and make all sorts of home furniture and decor, and you make the occasional jewelry.  Who would be your ideal shoppers?  Stay at home moms?  New homeowners?  Teenagers?  New homeowners need new furniture!  Moms redecorate!  But how do you convince them to buy your product?  Or at least to add it to their shopping cart for later splurging?

When you write an item description with a huge audience in mind, you get a washed out “yeah, yeah yeah” description and you end up addressing no one at all.  Start by imagining your ideal buyer’s language – what kind of humor does he or she appreciate (if any)?  What words does he or she use?  What words does he or she hate?  Consider how you would speak to your ideal shopper if you were selling your product in a store, face-to-face.  Incorporate that language into your online store so you can have a similar conversation that resonates more deeply.

Tell a story filled with sensory language, help shoppers visualize the item and give them a call to action.

Create an inverted pyramid of product information

The most important information about your item should be front and center in your Item Description – not only because shoppers want the 411 on your items as soon as possible, but also because it’s a smart way to optimize the way your description displays in Google search results. You can even repeat the words used in your item title, in fact we encourage it.

Naming your item

First let’s clarify the difference and importance between the Item Name and the Item Description.  The most obvious difference being that you get less characters (70 max) for the Item Name, which means you have to be strategic in naming your item.  Use descriptive and relevant keywords, this means maintaining a list of the search terms used by shoppers to find you and write with these keyword terms in mind.  You can find these terms in your Google Analytics account, under Behavior > Site Search.  If, for example, you find that after a few months no one searches for the term “chevron jewelry” then use something else – this part requires constant experimentation.


Your item’s name is the most important part of your listing for reaching shoppers when they search for items like yours.  The Item Name is the first thing shoppers read after being lured by your flawless photography, and it can make all the difference between making a sale or not.

First person? Or Not?

If you’re a solo operator, it’s best to use the first person perspective in your listings.  In fact, it can be a big selling point for shoppers who love to personally connect with makers.  Handmade items can really benefit from writing first person descriptions.  Think of your item descriptions like meeting a new friend: you want to make a lasting first-impression by being polite and respectful, while at the same time being your natural beautiful self.  If you’re not sure how to translate your voice onto the page, try describing your product aloud and recording it, then play it back and type down what you said.

Your writing voice establishes your shop’s distinct personality and style.  Descriptions shouldn’t be all about you, the seller, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let your personality shine through because it should!  Keep in mind that your voice can – and should – change over time as your shop evolves.  If you are no longer a team of one, switch your writing perspective from single to plural.

Short paragraphs and bullet points are your friends… but don’t be vague

Visitors to your store might be looking for a specific size or material, so make it easy for them to find that info from your descriptions by cutting out unnecessary “fluff” language and making good use of bullet points.  Pretend visitors only get 15-30 seconds to view your item (which is pretty close to the current human attention spam).  Did they find what they were looking for?

A good description is the best way to help buyers find your items via search engines.  Your description is also searchable from within ArtFire; your items will show up in ArtFire searches if buyers search for keywords that you use in your description.  Including additional text such as the inspiration story behind your design, or promotional text to include any info you think would be important for buyers to know, will help set it apart from other similar items.

Sell an experience

Think of yourself as a shopper, and think of the things you notice when browsing items online on sites like Amazon or Pinterest.  First, there’s the great photography right?  It’s what initially draws you in to click on a product; it’s the first sales pitch and it better be good.  A good picture helps the product sell itself.  If you haven’t already taken the time to take great item photography for your ArtFire shop take a look at Basics of eCommerce Photography.

Take the following sample descriptions for a crochet scarf:
  1. Made by me using my own variation of the honeycomb stitch pattern.  All my scarves are made with lots of attention to detail and love.  Packaged by me with a note of appreciation.  Length is 12ft.
  2. It’s a beautiful autumn afternoon and you’re taking a stroll around the park.  Suddenly the wind picks up and the weather gets chilly.  You reach for your bag and pull out your warm and cozy crochet scarf.  The orange colors matching perfectly with the setting around you.  Your outfit is complete.  Now you can enjoy the scenery and not worry about getting cold (or catching a cold).  Get one for yourself or gift it to a friend before you get caught in a windy situation.

Which item description were you more willing to buy from?  Number 2 perhaps?  Of course!  It painted a picture and it put you (the customer) front and center, you even tried on the item in your mind.  That beautiful handmade orange scarf was yours.  To practice this copywriting technique start a sentence with the word imagine, and finish your sentence (paragraph) by explaining how your reader will feel when owning and using your product.

Description Number 1 on the other hand hardly mentions the shopper, it’s seller centered, which can be quite the turnoff for shoppers.

You are the expert, no need to reiterate.

Keep the technical lingo to yourself, your audience already views you as the expert, all you need to do now is offer them the benefits of your product in layman terms.  Numerical measurements alone tend to be less than helpful, especially when people are shopping for jewelry.  Instead, use physical reference points such as “chin length” and “just below the collarbone” to convey size.  You can include specific measurement and other technical info further down in the item details.

Etsy Imports

Perhaps you’re in the “multiple online shops” category of sellers and you’re not worried about having to write new descriptions because “it all transfers over,” right?  Right, but…two online marketplaces are never the same.  Always double check your descriptions when using a CSV file to transfer item listings, sometimes useless extra characters get thrown in, messing up your Item Name and/or Item Description.  So, remember to edit!

Temporary end all sales on your Etsy shop, and then export a CSV file so your ArtFire items don’t end up like this.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you export a CSV file from Etsy and you have items that were running a sale or discount, those images will appear with a white Etsy bar at the top with the Sale or Discount description.  This can be distracting and confusing to shoppers.

Edit and edit again

Show the same quality and care in your writing that you put into your products by proofreading descriptions for grammar, punctuation and clarity.  Trim out unnecessary bits and do spot-checks:  Is the writing style consistent with your other listings and the rest of your shop?  Don’t be afraid to ask another pair of eyes to review your description.

Family, friends and fans are often willing to read something for you in exchange for a coupon code or out of the kindness of their hearts.  You can ask these helpers, “Are you bored to tears?  Is this too much information?  Am I missing something?”  Editing your work with fresh eyes before going live can also cut down on customer questions later.  Sometimes writing doesn’t always come through the way you intend it to the first time.

Watch the video

Stay tuned for Lesson 3 of the ArtFire Success Series!

Next Lessons:

Lesson 3: Pricing To Sell Lesson 4: Product Photography

Previous Lessons:

Lesson 1: Buyer and Seller Communication


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