Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Why Your About Section and Products Need a Compelling Story

Learn how to tell your unique story and communicate the little things that make your creations special so you can connect with customers.

By Michael Margolis Mar 20, 2012
Photo by theshophouse

Think of your favorite celebrity or role model of success. Steven Spielberg? Martha Stewart? Your great-aunt? What is that you remember about them? Odds are, it’s their story — from humble beginnings to stardom or other versions of success, to how they live their life today. People’s stories are what we connect with most. The same is true in business. And it’s at the heart of the DIY culture on Etsy.

We often self-sabotage our ability to connect with people. If you’ve ever been out on a date or a job interview, you know that feeling when you second-guess yourself: "Did I say the right things?” Let's talk about your shop's About section and why you need to tell a story here as well.

On the Internet, the “about” section is one of the most important elements of any website. If you pull up Google Analytics you'll often find that the “about” section is one of the top 5 pages that people visit. [Ed. note, check out your Shops Stats to see how many people are viewing your About section.] It’s where people go to locate themselves in your story and to decide if there’s something of relevance for them on your website. This is core to building a brand. And since you’re probably the creative genius behind your artistic creations, your About section needs to capture your personal story with flair.

Share Your Story

Here are five elements to incorporate in your About section:

1. Nail down precisely why you are relevant.

Right out of the gate you want to establish your relevance for your viewer — who you are, what you do, and who you serve. This is basic positioning. In the case of your shop's About section, you want to describe your shop’s focus and specialty (for example, fashion, knits, jewelry, prints, etc.) and for what audience (vintage lovers, tweens, etc.).

2. Fly your freak flag.

Let your audience in on your secret passion. Are you embarrassingly obsessed with pastels? Do you have an entire steampunk ensemble that you wear to cons? Maybe you're unable to create something that doesn't have polka dots! Describe what makes your pulse race or your heart sigh contentedly.

3. Explain your superhero origins.

Provide a back story for your passionate streak of genius. Maybe you discovered your true talents in the 4th grade pageant. Go ahead and reveal that crazy thing that happened freshman year of college (if it’s good, they’ll remember you for it). Anchor your brand story in the past, and establish “natural authority” for your subject. Pedigree is always nice, and it can be established in any number of creative ways (your uncle was a tailor, your grandmother was a jungle explorer, your dad is a race car driver…).

4. Show your trophies.

If you’re a DIY revolutionary, you want to balance your story with external validation, so that your authority in your arena doesn't just feel like fairy tales from the land of make believe (and if your arena is fairy tales from the land of make believe, get some testimonials from Snow White, Donald Duck and the rest of the gang). Mention media outlets, recognition, credentials, or other markers that reinforce your “in-demand” success, although be careful not to lead with bragging and boasting (this can be a total turnoff). Lead with your story first.

5. Be authentic (even if you're eccentric).

Your About section needs your personality. You don’t have to share your entire life story or every detail imaginable, but you do want a few details that are uniquely you — hobbies, guilty pleasures, and idiosyncrasies. For example, I’m left-handed, color-blind and eat more chocolate than the average human. And my TV guilty pleasures are Millionaire Matchmaker and Celebrity Rehab. Now don’t you suddenly feel like we were separated at birth?

Have you ever noticed how many of your favorite products come with a little story? From Cabbage Patch dolls to Moleskine notebooks, we love a back story on where an item comes from and how it’s imbued with meaning.

How do you share your story in your About section and item descriptions?


Michael Margolis

Michael Margolis is the president of Get Storied and host of the Reinvention Summit 2, the world’s largest virtual conference on storytelling. As the Dean of Story University, Michael has taught thousands of marketers, change-makers, and entrepreneurs how to tell a bigger story.


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