It’s that time of year again when emails have gone out to IDEAS Birmingham team members to give them the nervously (well- in some cases, maybe!) awaited news on the outcome of their Etsy Made Local application.
This is the time of year when happy sellers joyfully announce that they’ve secured their stall with a triumphant fanfare across all of their social media platforms. It’s the time of year when the team leaders might start excitedly revealing tantalising snippets of potential plans for the event. It’s the time of year (before the reality of how much work we need to do sets in!) when there’s something of a celebratory, enthusiastic, ‘filled with the promise of what this year could be’ party atmosphere going on.
But what if you didn’t get in?
What if you had that heart-sinking ‘sorry you were unsucessful’ email sitting gloomily in your inbox?
What do you do?
Do you curse the team and all the team leaders and promise revenge on the selection committee (who clearly are evil and have no taste)? Do you jealously stalk the pages of successful applicants, enviously questioning why their obviously sub-par products got a spot and yours didn’t? Do you splash your disappointment angrily across your social media accounts, warning your followers off the event and doing your utmost to sabotage the whole thing to serve the team right? Or do you just sit and cry, and tell yourself your work is awful, you should never have even tried applying and you vow to never attempt to put yourself out there again?
I’ll admit – I’ve been very tempted to react this way in the face of rejection before (especially the crying part) and I wouldn’t blame you for feeling some or all of these emotional responses. Your shop is important to you, you put your heart and soul into it, and rejection is hard because it feels really really personal. But here’s a little fact from the other side of the selection committee (yes- I’m on the committee, and I’m not evil…though the matter of taste is subjective) – IT’S. NOT. PERSONAL.
There are all sorts of reasons why you might have been rejected this year. It isn’t because we don’t like you. It isn’t because we think your work is terrible. We had a very high standard of applications this year, and we have a limited number of spaces. We can’t cram you all in (seriously- limited space for customers is not a good thing for anybody, as we discovered in our first year when the venue was smaller than we had been told it would be!)
So, if you’ve managed to curb your emotions a little, and accept the disappointment, what can you do to give yourself the best shot for next time? Here’s a few suggestions –
Have a look at your Etsy shop –
Did you give us the opportunity to really see your products in the best light?
Is your shop well stocked or, if not, did you provide us with links to social media or your own website where we could see more of what you do?
If you only gave us four or five products to look at, we aren’t going to be able to judge you fairly against someone with a fully stocked shop, and we might wonder whether you could actually fill a stall come December.
Do your photographs really show off your work to their best potential?
You don’t have to be an amazing photographer, as we do try to look beyond face value of the image, but a clear photograph is definitely helpful to a judging panel.
Do you explain your process in your Etsy shop?
A good ‘About Page’ is a wonderful thing. We may not understand your process or materials and what makes them special, and we do actively look for this information to help us to make our decisions, especially when we’re unsure. Tell us a story: your story – you might just win us over!
Have you joined in with team events or on the team threads or social media pages? –
We don’t give places based solely on how much you interact with the team, but it definitely helps to get involved for a number of reasons:
Etsy Made Local events are very much a community affair. They come together through hard work of volunteers, so if we know you are a team player we won’t be able to help but view you in a positive light as a result. Being inauthentic and putting on a pretence of being a team player by helping out with something small one or two times in the hope of getting something in return won’t do you any favours. But we do totally understand that people have ‘stuff’ in their lives to deal with, whether that’s being busy with family, juggling a job, or if you are socially anxious and scared to death of in person meet ups, or any other number of things. Find the way that is comfortable for you to be part of the team and join in whole-heartedly – not because you think you should, but because you genuinely want to. You will get so much more out of it that way.
Being part of the team also means that you can be given opportunities, at meet ups and in the forums, to learn how to improve your shop- whether that’s photography tips, filling in your about page or best utilising social media. It might just help you to up your game and secure your place next time round.
Whether you are a new applicant, or a previously successful applicant that didn’t get in this year, take a look at your product range –
Is it exciting and unique, or is it possible that we had to decide between you and similar sellers?
What is your unique selling point? What makes your products yours and nobody else’s? Do you have your own distinct style? For example, most people can tell just by the style whether a film is by Pixar, or an illustration is by Quentin Blake – strive to make your products as recognisably your own as possible, and avoid emulating others. In the case of a lot of the successful applicants this year, during the selection process we commented about their work: ‘we haven’t got anything else like that this year’. It pays to be different.
If you have previously sold with us before, has your product range developed?
Have you been creating new exciting things to keep your shop fresh and engaging?
Finally – one of the best possible things you can do when you’ve been rejected is to GET INVOLVED IN ETSY MADE LOCAL 2018 ANYWAY!
Just because you don’t have a stall with us, doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the event. We are looking at potentially having a ‘ Team Showcase’, which you may be able to get involved in. There may also be opportunities to host a workshop at the event. We are always in need of volunteers to help us behind the scenes at Etsy Made Local, and getting involved in this is a great way to get an understanding of the event and get some ideas of how you can adjust your approach and tweak your shop to be in with a good chance of being accepted at the next event.
It’s tough to bounce back from rejection, but persevere! Put some of these tips into practice and we’ll be looking forward to seeing you apply again next time!