Tuesday, August 10, 2010


So, at the risk of boring people to tears with another Etsy-themed post, I think it's about time I talked about Treasuries. Do you know what an Etsy Treasury is? If not, Etsy's answer is that the "Treasury is Etsy's ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery." Note that they diplomatically left out the part about it being the Etsy equivalent of crack.

All you need is an Etsy account (not a shop) to make a Treasury. You start by window-shopping through the entire Etsy site until you have collected the Listing Numbers (basically, Ety's version of a SKU) for sixteen items that work well together in color or theme--or, if you are a Treasury expert, in color AND theme. In doing so, bear in mind that the number one rule of Treasuries is that you never feature your own stuff in your own Treasury. The distant-second number two rule is that you should only feature one item from any given seller. The third rule is that you should have a variety of items (i.e., a mix of jewelry, fashion, bags, artwork and paper goods) unless the type of item is your theme. Once you've culled your Listings, you plug them into the proper blanks on the Treasury page, you move them around until everything is where you want it, you give it a clever name and, if you're a polite curator, you convo the sellers with the link to let them know they've been featured. In the event you're having a hard time visualizing this, here is a simple rainbow-themed Treasury I put together with a link so you can see it on Etsy:

Does this sound silly to you? Does it sound like a blatant marketing ploy by the powers that be at Etsy to get its own users to generate mini-promotional campaigns for other users and Etsy itself? You're probably right.

But have you tried it?

There are two things that make the Treasury a downright brilliant idea and they are two things that also contribute to the larger success of Etsy as a whole: (1) creativity, and (2) competition. As to the first item, there's no denying that people who lurk around Etsy are a crafty folk. Curating Treasuries gives them a break from working on their own projects and lets them create art from the art of others and obtain instant feedback via the comments section. It's also a lot cheaper than a regular craft project in that it is free.

As for the competitive aspect, Etsy is a capitalist marketplace at the end of the day, despite the feel-good communal vibes it is always generating. The Treasury used to be a lot more competitive and complicated than it is now. I will not go into all the old rules of waiting into the middle of the night for the Treasury to "open" and life spans and whatnot, but suffice it to say that Etsy got rid of them. And when they did, die-hard Treasury curators got MAD. Back in May, I went to a meet and greet for San Francisco sellers with Etsy Administrators right around the time that the Treasury rules changed. There was a Q&A session that I thought would be dominated by questions about SEO and marketing co-ops; instead, it was a bunch of angry crafters whining about the Treasury being less competitive. They apparently derived a high from the race aspect of it and were experiencing serious withdrawal. I hope the Administrators had the sense to use the buddy system in returning to their cars after the event lest they got shanked by a rug-latching hook in the parking lot.

However, two competitive elements remain. First, the Treasuries are ranked according to how "hot" or popular they are. Second, and more importantly, the best of the best Treasuries are rewarded by being placed on Etsy's famed Front Page for twenty minutes or so. It is the goal of most curators to have their Treasury make it to the elusive Front Page--which is a pretty awesome, feel-good communal goal given that they cannot include their own items.

So making Treasuries is fun and addictive, but being featured in Treasuries is also a great perk of selling on Etsy. I don't make Treasuries that often and I've never had one make the front page, but I have had three or four items of mine featured on the Front Page by virtue of being included in someone else's beautiful Treasury. I can attest that the Front Page's rewards, in terms of increased shop traffic, hearts and sales, are everything they're rumored to be. But more importantly, it just feels great everytime someone (usually someone I've never met from another part of the world) contacts me to let me know they liked my work enough to include it in their Treasury.

If you want to see some of the Treasuries featuring my work (well, at least since Etsy changed the Treasury rules and made them searchable), look here:


(Be sure not to miss the Royal Tenenbaums-themed Treasury. As a film geek, it's one of my favorites.)

And this is a Treasury I recently put together as a virtual Thank You note. It features the work of sellers who had recently included my stuff in a Treasury. It was a challenge to find notes of common ground in such a diverse collection of shops, but that's part of the fun of making Treasuries.


  1. This is WAY up my alley as just one more way to categorize ones's life by color.

    I was glad to see that you are just so colorful you get put in lots and lots of categories.

    That's my girl.

  2. riley, you have suuuch a great eye!

    curator after my own heart ;)

  3. Wow - thanks for all the info on treasuries. I knew a bit, but not that much. Now I feel like kind of an expert.