So after some advice from both etsy personnel and other sellers, I changed my avatar to a product on July 31st.
But it's summer, No Big Deal.
That's what happens in the summer, I say to myself.
The Olympics are on, and kids are going back to school.
Folks are just busy. Too busy to look at shineys.
I switched back to adorable kitten last night, at the gently pushing of a fellow etsy seller that she missed the cute kittens. I was planning to switch back to a product shot tonight.
My overall item views increased some by 10 to 20 views (even on the LAST pages)
and my shop got 7 new shop hearts, and 6 new items hearts.
Moral of the story?
Just because EVERYONE thinks it's "better" to do something a certain way, doesn't mean it is.
Do what has proven itself BEST for your business, even if it's not what is the "textbook" thing to do.