I've done it!
Don't worry, this is not going to turn into a tutorial on creating banners and avatars - nor a sales pitch for anyone who does create them (although, more power to ya, gang!). This is just one poor technologically-challenged shop owner's triumph over her fear of creating inferior banners and avatars for Etsy.
When I first opened a shop on Etsy (http://www.bellissimaminerals.etsy.com/), I was pretty excited - and nervous. My first thought was that I didn't belong this group of incredibly gifted and talented artists. After all, my sister is the one with all the art ability in the family. However, I had browsed around and found some wonderful sellers proudly marketing similar wares, so I decided to jump in with both feet.
And was immediately stopped in my tracks by something called an avatar. In every case where I had encountered this term, I had always just uploaded my company Logo. But for some strange reason, this didn't work on Etsy. So after several frustrating days, I just started using product photos, like many other sellers do, but still felt something missing.
And then came the terrifying banner. Now, I worked in newspaper advertising for several years - and my time in management forced me to work very closely with our graphics departments, so I know some terminology and a bit more than I care to admit. But 760x100 pixels? How the heck do I do that? Every photo I uploaded stretched out and looked hideous. I went back to all the help pages, articles and tutorials and started over.
I actually managed to make a photo collage in my Snapfire Photo Editing program - and even figured out how to put text on it so I could have my shop name on it - but I still wasn't happy. It looked too busy and crowded - not crisp and clean. It looked slightly blurry and offcenter somehow instead of clear and precise. In other words, it was pretty hack.
And then one day in utter frustration, I wandered into my paint program. I had used it occasionally to correct the backgrounds of photos (you know those pics where you've got more of the light box in the photo than the actual product) and edit snapshots of web pages, but hadn't thought about it for creating ads, banners or avatars.
After a few days of trial and error and lots of deleting - I finally got it! Suddenly it all made sense to me. I started scanning in cool graphics, cropping photos and playing with fonts and color.
I made my first banner - and avatar to match!
Then my second and third! Now I've got matching banners & avatars for my shop for every Holiday, any season and even to spotlight promotions and planned product launches! I'm swimming in them!
So to all of you Etsy Shop Owners who have yet to win the Battle with the Banner, keep at it. You'll get it and you'll be so proud of yourself for sticking with it and learning a new art!
And for those of you who choose not to go to war, there are lots of sellers on Etsy who specialize in graphic arts and will gladly create a custom banner and avatar for you at very reasonable prices.
And my hat is off to every one of them!