I realized I have not done a good enough job of getting all the ideas bouncing around in my head down on paper so that y’all know what we are working on. Here is an informal update from me to try and catch everyone up on what we’ve been working on, ‘cause Kristi and I have some big plans for 2024!
Marketplace Accreditation Program (our MAP):
This is our biggest project for the year. Since there are no real regulations or industry standards on how marketplaces treat their sellers, we decided to make our own. We spent 2023 conducting research on what creative indie sellers really want from a marketplace, and Samantha Close, PhD, is currently analyzing that data. We will use the results of the study to create an ideal standard for how marketplaces should treat their sellers and buyers, and then a program to rank marketplace who apply for accreditation based on that standard. The end result will be a directory of accredited marketplaces where you can see our analysis and ranking of the marketplaces. The directory will also be searchable by marketplace features such as country, type of seller permitted, etc.
We are also upgrading our Etsy Alternatives spreadsheet into a full database to make it much more user-friendly and searchable. The database will continue to have crowd-sourced information of every major marketplace our members use, not just the ones who seek our accreditation.
Finally, one of our amazing volunteers is working on a math tool that will let you plug your materials cost, listing price, and shipping cost, and see the fees for multiple marketplaces so you can compare them.
The goal of the program is to help break the monopoly power of the big tech platforms dominating the industry, hold marketplaces accountable to the promises they make to sellers, and support smaller or niche marketplaces that treat their sellers well.
Goimagine in the US and Mayfli in the UK have already applied for accreditation.
We will be holding public workshops as we develop the directory to make sure it is as helpful as possible. Like everything else we do, this project is for sellers and by sellers, showing what we can build when we work together.
New membership site
Our second biggest project for 2024 is building a new membership site for the Guild. This is a Kristi project, so I don’t know a ton about it. But we will be using UNA, open source software for setting up membership communities, and integrating it into our website. This way, when you log into your Guild account, you will be logging into this new community website with many more features.
As far as I can tell, the new membership site will work a lot like facebook or another social media site, but only for our members. It will make it much easier for us to share news, reach volunteers, and gather information.
Some of the new features include:
- Much more extensive profiles for our verified seller members with more options for photos and links
- A verified seller directory that is easier to search
- Ability to create groups around a certain topic to share ideas (ie. Sellers who use WooCommerce)
- Create wiki pages of resources and information for members
- Easier to navigate and connect than the Discord server
And it will be much easier for us to work with on the backend, meaning we can create more cool stuff for you!
First Annual ISG Virtual Convention
This project is ambitious, but we wanted to gather our members and supporters together to share what we’ve been working on. This is also a fundraising event to build up financial support for the Guild for the year.
Learn more and buy tickets here! Tickets only $1 to cover the costs of the convention.
- creative indie sellers outside our membership
- customers who want to support independent handmade, vintage, and craft sellers
- other platform workers looking for info about how to take action
- other organizations who care about creative indie sellers or platform activism
- not just the US! We want people to attend from all over the world.
- Show off what we’ve built together so far and what sellers can do with collective action
- Share our new projects
- Get our members excited about what we’re working on
- Spread the word to other sellers about the Guild
- Make handmade, vintage, and craft customers aware of the Guild and how they can help
- Fundraise a financial base for the Guild
- Create content we can build upon and use on social media throughout the year
Panels and activities planned so far:
- What to do if you get screwed by a tech platform – with Katharine from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Etsy Alternatives: Data and tools to help you find the best marketplaces for your business
- How to use your Etsy shop to direct traffic to your own site (without breaking Etsy’s rules)
- Results from our Marketplace Research Project: What do sellers and customers really want from an online marketplace
- Solidarity in the face of Big Tech: How platform users can work together to fight against exploitation.
- Interview with Racheal from Mayfli marketplace in the UK
- Interview with Jon from Goimagine marketplace
- Big Tech Must Pay: stories and research on how platforms mess with the money of those who make a living on them
- How customers can support small sellers
- Where was that made? Why transparency on product sourcing matters – with Wendy Rosen from the American Made Alliance
- How to shop your values – with Amanda McCarty from Clotheshorse Podcast
- Silent auction
- Vendor row
- Information from other organizations for creative indie sellers
- Research surveys to let your your voice be heard
- Giveaways and exclusive merch
We have a couple different opportunities at the Convention for our verified seller members. Our vendors at the event will be our verified seller members who create their profile on the new membership site before the convention. We will send out emails with instructions when we are ready for you to do that.
We will also have a promoted themed merchandise section for anyone who wants to create a product specifically for the event.
Finally, we are looking for verified seller members who can donate items to our silent auction fundraiser for the Guild.
For all the details, login to your ISG account and visit the Vending/Merch page!
Big Tech Must Pay
The more we talked to sellers, the more we realized that many of the problems Etsy sellers face are the same as other platform workers and small businesses face on other platforms. And that regardless of industry or type of business, there are a ridiculous number of ways big tech platforms can essentially steal money from the workers and businesses who generate the actual value for the platform.
So we decided to do another research study to find out more about what is going on and how widespread it is. The survey is up and running. If a big tech platform has messed with your money, go here to tell us your story. And please share!
COOL Online Act
We have not forgotten about this important proposed legislation. The COOL Online Act would require country of origin labeling (those “made in” tags) to be displayed for online sales. The goal is to have some way to combat reselling of mass produced goods fraudulently labeled as handmade. We are currently writing up a report for the US Congress on this issue based on the stories you sent us and our research study. Sign up here to support this legislation!
Building a UK branch
Our UK membership grew after the Etsy reserve debacle hit UK sellers extra hard in 2023. Racheal has volunteered to host a second monthly Guild meeting to focus on the issues facing sellers in the UK, and we have an ongoing relationship with Liz Barclay, UK Small Business Commissioner.
How can I help?
- Donate. I know it’s lame to ask for money, and everyone does it. But keeping all these projects going now takes a significant number of hours every week, and it is just not feasible for our leadership to continue to put in that kind of time without being paid. So if you feel that the Guild has given you something of value, please buy a convention ticket or donate what you can.
- Help us get money. We need people to help us get sponsorship for the convention as well as donate items to the silent auction. We’ll be posting more information about that soon!
- Volunteer. We are looking for people to help moderate the forums during the convention, contact their representatives about the COOL Online act, give interviews to raise awareness about what we are doing, and make graphics we can share. Join us on Discord to get involved!
- Spread the word. We make share kits for almost everything we do, so that you have ready-made graphics and blurbs to share what we are working on.
Whew, when I write it all down I can see how much cool stuff we are working on! No wonder my brain hurts sometimes, ha ha. Thank you everyone for your continued support and I am so excited to see what 2024 brings.