Whirled is a new social networking site with user created content. That’s right, if you made it yourself then it will be right at home on this website.
At the moment there are an average of 1000 users on there at any one time. Some use it as a chat room; try not to be put off by the incoherent teenagers with satanic avatars, they’re not the only users on Whirled, just the most visible ones (of course if you are an incoherent teen with a devil fixation then the chat room aspect may be just what you’re looking for). Some play games; there are some brilliant games on Whirled, like Bella Bingo which can really help get through those tedious “waiting for a treasury to open up” minutes. And some use it as a way to display the contents of their imaginations; now that’s when it gets really interesting. It seems to me to be an excellent promotional tool, especially as the Whirled management don’t feel the need to restrict external links (like flikr) and although the Terms of Service prohibit junk mail, spam, chain letters and pyramid schemes (and rightly so) using this social site for the promotion of your business is allowed.
I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface with what I’ve been using it for so far. Here are my ideas of how it could be useful to Etsy sellers:
The first thing you’ll need to do is create an account, which is free and doesn’t ask for a lot of personal information. Once you’ve signed up you’ll find that you have a tofu avatar and you’re sitting in a mostly empty room. There are tutorials to help you change that avatar to something more appropriate (mine is a purple ball of yarn) and start working on your room. If you are a graphic artist then this will be heaven for you as anything goes and you can really show off your style for example look at this one Dr Irene’s room. Even if you’re not a computer art person you can always pick up other users’ content in the shop (more about that later) and add a few choice items of your own. Here’s an example from one of my rooms. I used a backdrop that someone else had created, which I bought from the shop, then I took photos of my son’s artwork against white backgrounds and cut them out using a paint programme, finally I uploaded them as furniture items and framed them with frames from the shop.
When you make a new room it spends a few minutes or hours (depending on how busy Whirled is) in the Hot New Rooms section which is on the rooms tab. You’ll find lots of random people wandering through during this time and that’s good. Especially if the room has a huge unmissable link to your Etsy shop, like this spider promo room I made earlier.
Top Tips for Rooms
– There are often room building competitions on Whirled. If you win one you get some serious exposure on the rooms front page and a nice gadget, here’s the details although the last contest was quite recent, I’m sure there’ll be another one along soon.
– When you make your new room, before you publish it, make sure it’s as good as you want it to be and then give yourself 5 stars (you’re allowed to so why be modest?) This will bump it up to the top of the New and Hot list, however be prepared for a lot of grumpy teens to give your room 1 star, just because their Mom won’t let them go to that party on Saturday.
– You get one room for free after which any new rooms are 11,000 coins, this currently translates to around 10cents, I think this is a bargain.
– You can embed rooms using a link at the bottom of the Whirled browser, this means if you have a website and you make a great promo room you could put the whole room on your website.
– I linked to the Spider in Tokyo room from the Etsy forums. I thought it was a more eye catching way of displaying the product.
Whirled has it’s own monetary system, it looks complicated, but it’s pretty easy. There are coins which you can earn by playing games or by uploading items to the shop and having other users buy them to put in their rooms. Here’s a book that I uploaded to the shop which is pretty popular. The other monetary unit is bars, these are available at the tiny cost of 10 cents each and are currently worth about 11,000 coins. Whirled has an exchange rate system though so those rates will change, I couldn’t tell you how they’ll change, that’s too much economics for me.
Unlike rooms, items in the shop are searchable from the shop front page so you can add your items and they’ll always be available for other users to see. You set the price of the item you’re selling yourself and there’s a ratings and comments system. Perhaps most importantly, there’s a description box and this is where you could put a little sales pitch and the URL for your Etsy shop. You can’t make it a link, although there’s nothing in the rules to explain why not.
You can make the following types of items to sell in the Whirled shop:
– Backdrops, these would be a great promo tool if you are a graphic designer
– Furniture, this is literally anything that you could put in a virtual room so it’s great for toymakers or people who make household items, for example I can imagine that a bed linen maker could could have a virtual version of their linen on a bed in the Whirled shop and the real life version in their Etsy shop. This is my Spider in the Whirled shop
– Avatars, this is a highly competitive arena and I would say, it’s not for the fainthearted. There are some extraordinary animators working in this field. Of course if you are an extraordinary animator, this may be just what you’re looking for.
– Toys, Games and Pets, I don’t see how these kinds of items could be useful to an Etsy maker, as these are more programmed items. But I could be wrong…
– Images, if you were an Etsy artist you could upload a small section of one of your pieces or maybe have a virtual ACEO?
– Music, I know there are some Etsy musicians, maybe this would be a great place for clips of your work?
– Video, quite an unexplored area for me, but I really think it has potential. A friend of mine was saying only yesterday that we should make a low-fi video of my toys going on an adventure…hmmm.
Top Tips for The Shop
– According to the “comment guidelines” (which are new) it is against the Whirled rules to post an advertisement in the comments of a shop item, however you could post a link to your Whirled room where the virtual item is in use and then have an external link in that room. Just like I’ve done with my spider
– You can make actual real life money from selling items in the Whirled shop (although not much) I tried this when DH and I made an animated remixable snowglobe we made a massive 37cents, although you can’t cash it in until you get at least $50. You might have more luck than we did. In order to do this you must list the price of your item in bars, not coins. Bear in mind that unless your item does something extraordinary it’s unlikely to sell for the equivalent of 11,000 coins. Things I’ve seen listed in bars include musical instruments you can play with your mouse or small games you can add to your rooms.
– I don’t have to tell you to be careful with your work, so I’ll just mention it here in passing. User content sites can be pretty fierce and although the Whirled team frown upon the use of other people’s work in what is uploaded, there are still some unscrupulous types. Don’t give away too much, leave them wanting more.
There is a groups option on Whirled and so far no group with anything to do with Etsy or Handmade. I simply don’t have the time to be the only manager of such a group, but if anyone fancies joining me I’ll put up the cash (a whopping 30cents) and we could manage a group together. You know where I am.
One last thing…
In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that this is my husband’s day job, he is one of the programmers of Whirled. No, that doesn’t mean I get free coins or special favours, it just means I’ve been on Whirled since (very nearly) the beginning and I’ve been playing around with it for a long time. As you can see if you step into my library
If you do join Whirled then come and find me, I could do with some virtual friends my Whirled name is MrsBos.