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How We Break Free of Etsy

This is the second post in our first series about the Marketplace Accreditation Program.  Click here to start at the beginning.

I spent a thousand dollars on a marketing plan that didn’t work. It came with a money back guarantee, but I didn’t get my money back, because I assumed it was my fault.

I figured I must be bad at marketing.

Then, I spearheaded the Etsy Strike.  And we got 82 thousand signatures on an online petition in only 4 weeks.  During that time, I spent a lot of time talking to a whole bunch of creative indie sellers just like myself.  In those conversations, I learned that I am not alone – by far – in having spent good money on a marketing plan that didn’t work.

For the first time, I looked back on that marketing plan with a critical eye.  It was made by an Etsy seller who had successfully moved her business off the platform, and it was specifically catered to indie handmade businesses.  BUT – not every indie handmade business is the same!  That expensive plan didn’t work for me because my business was too different from hers.

ALL of the information inside that marketing plan was available elsewhere on the internet, for free.  The difficult part of growing a creative indie business isn’t finding new techniques to try – it’s narrowing down between a million options to figure out which one will work best for you.  The person who created that marketing plan had specific recommendations.  Do this.  Don’t do this.  Some of her recommendations were great, but others were a complete waste of time for me.  And because I believed in her, I wasted a lot of time following those recommendations, outside my own instincts.

Anyone who runs a creative indie business knows that wasted time is your worst enemy.

I don’t think the woman who made that marketing plan was trying to cheat me.  I think she truly believed in her program, as evidenced by the money-back guarantee! I really think that she thought her methods would work for everyone – that she had discovered the “secret” to success.

When that expensive marketing plan didn’t work for me, it was a horribly demoralizing experience.  But I suck at giving up on things in general, and my business is quite dear to me.  I kept trying new things, keeping what worked, discarding what didn’t, and adjusting what came close. Today, four years and one hell of a grassroots movement later, I’m pretty sure I do know the secret.

But there’s a caveat.  The secret isn’t something you can buy.

The secret to success is community.  Because the exact path to success is different for each creative indie seller.  It all depends on specific aspects of your business, and how they combine with specific aspects of your personality – the things you enjoy and excel at.  The only way to find what works for you is to try everything under the sun.  Which means quite a few of your experiments will end in failure.  A community can offer you the support you need to get back up and try the next thing.  A community can reassure you when you’re doubting yourself.  A community large enough is guaranteed to have someone around with an answer, when you have a question.

Right now we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build that community for creative indie sellers.  We’re off to a great start, but we haven’t built it yet – we’ve just set up the framework.  Imagine with me what it would be like to be part of an Indie Sellers Guild with tens of thousands of members – with hundreds of thousands of members.

This would be an Indie Sellers Guild with a focus group for your specific type of business.  Inside that group would be people you could meet who understand the nuances of every single thing in your line of work. Our ISG community is already amazing because the ins and outs of earning a creative living online gives us a lot in common, even with very different types of creative small businesses.  Imagine what it will be like when you can connect based on what you create in addition to the fact that you create.

When we grow to these proportions, we’ll have the ability to crowdsource success for each and every one of our members.  The best possible techniques to grow your creative indie business will be right there in the collective knowledge of our community.  And our goal will be to get that knowledge out of our heads, and into the world where it belongs!

Imagine if there were a searchable, filterable database of tips for growing a creative indie business, arranged by topic, by style, by type of craft.  Then, imagine if there were a community of people with businesses exactly like yours that you can connect with to help you brainstorm the best way to apply those tips to your specific business.

I’m currently working on a complete overhaul of the membership area of our site.  An overhaul that will make all the starry-eyed dreams I just finished babbling about actually possible!  If you’re a verified seller member of the guild, and you would like to help us beta test the new membership site, reach out on Discord, or send us a message!

We’ll be unveiling our new membership site for everyone at the first annual Indie Sellers Guild virtual convention:

The convention is open to all. We hope to see you there!

If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll join the Indie Sellers Guild today. Membership is completely free. We are funded by donations, and powered by volunteers who have signed up because they truly believe in what we are doing.

If you’re already an ISG member, donor, or volunteer, thank you so much for your support!  This wouldn’t be possible without you. ♥️

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