Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Marketplace Accreditation Project

What is this?

Marketplace Accreditation is our collaborative project to transform the internet – from an internet where online marketplaces are monopolies that seek to extract maximum profits from creative small businesses into an internet where marketplaces are supportive partners that share in our success. 

Who are we?

We are the Indie Sellers Guild – born of the Etsy Strike of 2022.  Together – and with zero advertising – our movement reached 82,000 people in only 4 weeks.  And that was only the beginning. Today, our grassroots people-powered guild supports thousands of creative indie sellers across 17 countries worldwide. We offer free membership in the Guild and support all creative indie sellers through the ISG Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education, and outreach.

How will it work?

Together, we will bring down the barriers that stand in the way of community-focused marketplaces – barriers that block them from forming in the first place, barriers slowing their growth, and barriers that make it difficult for creative indie sellers to join and support them.  And finally, when those marketplaces do achieve success, our guild will hold them accountable to the promises they made to their community.

How can I help?

If you haven’t yet, please take our Marketplace Research Survey!

If you’ve already taken the survey, please help us spread the word!  The more people we can inspire to participate, the more accurate and helpful our data will be.  Our Share Kit – complete with social media graphics and posts, and even printable business cards and flyers – is coming soon!


  • Open-Ended Research Survey

    Open-Ended Research Survey
    In order to support and accredit community-focused marketplaces, we must first know – definitively and comprehensively – what sellers and buyers want and need in a marketplace.  To this end, we are conducting a rigorous academic research study in partnership with Dr. Samantha Close of DePaul University.  Our open-ended research survey, where we invited buyers and sellers to expound on their ideas and preferences in detail, received 215 responses.
  • Multiple-Choice Research Survey

    Multiple-Choice Research Survey

    Our next step is a multiple-choice version of the survey informed by the answers received in the open-ended version.  We included topics such as: shipping, customer service from the platform, type of sellers on the platform, search features, fees, platform policies and enforcement, and more.  The more responses we receive, the more accurate and valuable our data will be.  Please help us spread the word about our research survey!

  • Accreditation Program Development

    Accreditation Program Development

    We will publish our research as a whitepaper on best practices to develop a community-focused marketplace.  We will also start rolling out accreditation to marketplaces recommended by our members. Each accredited marketplace will receive a rating, and a listing in our marketplace directory.  Currently, there is no alternative to Etsy for many types of creative businesses. We can help fill these holes by informing marketplace founders of these no-competition niches.

  • Marketplace Accreditation Phase 1

    Marketplace Accreditation Phase 1

    In this phase, we will spread the word about our directory of community-focused marketplaces.  We will provide creative indie sellers with training to help them determine whether a specific marketplace is a good fit for their business, and whether they have the resources to take that step.  We will help sellers manage expectations when joining a new marketplace, and encourage sellers who try a new marketplace to stay with it long enough for a true test of whether it is a good fit for their creative indie business.

  • Marketplace Accreditation Phase 2

    Marketplace Accreditation Phase 2

    The Indie Sellers Guild is uniquely positioned to learn – from our seller members – when a marketplace is employing a successful strategy to bring shoppers to the platform.  We will study these strategies and share them with our accredited marketplaces.  We will encourage new marketplaces to collaborate, not compete – by choosing a seller niche not yet served by one of our accredited marketplaces, using creative ideas to reach buyers in that niche, and sharing those ideas with other marketplaces in the program, so they can be adapted to other buyer niches.  We will provide creative indie sellers with training on how to develop buyer followings, and bring those buyers to new marketplaces.

  • Marketplace Accreditation Phase 3

    Marketplace Accreditation Phase 3

    A single spot to search for all types of creative indie products will always be more convenient for shoppers.  In the third phase of our Marketplace Accreditation Program, we will overcome this aspect by building an open source federated search engine – a Google Shopping equivalent for products from indie sellers in accredited marketplaces.  This search engine will help buyers find our sellers at whichever marketplace they choose, and it will help brand new marketplaces gain buyer traffic much more quickly. If you’re a developer who is interested in helping to build this search engine, please contact us.  We’ll add you to our list, and reach out when we are ready to begin this phase of the project.

A Deeper Look

Why are we building this complicated Marketplace Accreditation program, anyway?  Why not cut out the middleman and skip straight to building an Etsy alternative marketplace for our members?  These posts take a deep dive into the reality of building a marketplace, and explain why that’s not our plan. We also start talking about what we’re doing instead: creating a program to accredit and support ethical alternatives to platforms like Etsy, and hold them accountable to their promises.

Imagine a free internet for your creative indie business.  Imagine an internet where you can sell your beautiful creations or curations at a price that is fair to your customers, and offers you a fair living wage. Imagine a world where reaching those customers doesn’t require paying so much of your income to unaccountable tech platform monopolies. In this important series, we reveal our full vision for our Marketplace Accreditation Project, and explain in granular detail our plan to achieve that vision.