Semantics

I love pretty things and clever words print by EMC Design Lab

Today’s post is from Viv Smith at Poppy Sparkles. As a previous English teacher, Viv is in a great position to share with us some tips on the words we use to describe what we do and how our choices can alter perceptions. -Isa

What’s in a word? Aside from letters and the literal meaning of a word, quite a lot. Our experiences shape the connotations we associate with words.

Whether a female is called a lady or girl will conjure up a range of associations and effect the perception of that female. Using the term ‘lady’ may bring to mind the image of someone who is sophisticated, well dressed, polite, refined. Ideals which society believe ladies to possess. Girl, on the other hand, will lead us to think of someone youthful and fun.

Writing copy for your website pages, product listings and profiles is often that hardest job. Trying to capture what you do, your values and your product is tough and it is difficult to be objective. There are many blog posts advising on how to write scintillating product descriptions and top tips for writing profiles, such as throw yourself a word party. What I’d like to ask you to do is actually look at your key words, the building blocks of your sentences.

Look at the words your use to label yourself and your work. Whether you call your work handmade, homemade or handcrafted will affect the perception of your work. For me, handcrafted denotes the presence of skill with the idea of something being crafted, whereas homemade is something made at home with or without the presence of skill. Homemade isn’t negative, but when shopping for something handmade, it doesn’t fill me with the same confidence as something that has been crafted. Food is the exception to this, homemade food is delicious and wholesome (even cake which is an essential food group*)

*this may not be entirely true.

Similarly, the term you choose to define yourself will inevitably lead to judgments being made. Whether you call yourself a crafter, designer, designer maker, maker or artisan will impact on how others view you and your skill. Some terms may feel uncomfortable to begin with. A lack of confidence is something that many creative people battle with. It may feel more comfortable to call yourself a crafter rather than the more lofty sounding ‘designer’. Before potentially selling yourself short ask yourself whether you are being kind and fair to yourself and the work that you so carefully and skilfully produce. For those who were not professionally trained in their chosen creative area, this is often where confidence wanes. As you confidence in your work grows and your skill set increases, match this with your chose of words.

HOMEWORK

In true English teacher style, I’d like to set you some homework. Take some time to read through your copy from profiles to product descriptions and even communications with customers or press. Pick out some of the key terms that you use to describe yourself and your work. Brainstorm the range of words that could be used and replace them where you can with words that aspire higher.

Viv Smith is the owner behind jewellery brand Poppy Sparkles. She aims to create lasting pieces of jewellery that are fresh and contemporary with a classic style, making them pieces to love, wear and cherish. As well as selling from her website, Viv also has a shop on Etsy.

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