Press "Enter" to skip to content

Our Plan to Hold Marketplaces Accountable

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

My business name is auralynne, and since 2006 when I started my business, I’ve had the domain  In 2017, I almost lost my domain because I bought it from a web host that wasn’t ICANN-accredited.  Their hosting kept going down on me, and their customer service was terrible, and when I tried to transfer my website and domain name to another web host, they put my domain up for sale!  I spent months yelling at people over email, and I even threatened legal action.  

Finally, I reached out to ICANN themselves to see if they could help, even though my host wasn’t one of their accredited ones.  ICANN talked to the registrar that provided my host with their domain names (who was accredited), and they made my web host release my domain for transfer!

ICANN stands for Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers.  They’re a nonprofit org that regulates web hosts and domain registrars.  Before ICANN, the internet was the Wild West, and you just had to hope that the place you bought your domain name from wouldn’t try to hold it hostage eventually.  ICANN offers an accreditation program, where domain registrars agree to abide by certain standards of customer service, including allowing people to transfer out on request.  If you’re having issues with your host trying to hold the domain name for your business hostage, and refusing to let you transfer out, you can submit a report to ICANN to have them look into your issue.

When I bought my domain, ICANN existed, but I didn’t know about them. Nowadays, most web hosts and domain providers are ICANN accredited, because if they aren’t, too many people know that means they’re sketchy, and they can’t get enough customers to stay in business.

I also joined Etsy in 2006.  In those early days, Etsy was AMAZING.  I loved Etsy so much that I referred to myself as “the lead singer in the choir of Etsy’s praises” in my series of blog posts telling the story behind the Etsy Strike.  I helped 3 friends and family members start handmade Etsy businesses, recommending the platform to them.  By 2016, they had been so amazing for so long that I decided to make my website just a blog, and sell my products solely on my Etsy shop.  

Then came the Wallstreet takeover of 2017, followed by years upon years anti-creator changes – all those changes that we’re protesting today.

We need something similar to ICANN for online marketplaces. Something that can let us know, instantly, whether they treat their sellers well – whether they’re a good place to build a business.  And in cases like Etsy – where they create something amazing, and then in return we help build the marketplace for years, only to have it turn on us the instant it sees higher profit potential elsewhere – we need an organization to hold marketplaces accountable for the promises they make to their sellers.

That’s exactly what we’re working on with our Marketplace Accreditation Program.  I hope you like hearing about it, because you’re gonna hear a lot more about it in the months to come!  Marketplace Accreditation is really the keystone of what we’re building here at the Indie Sellers Guild.

You see, when online marketplaces first form, often they are absolutely amazing places – at least policy-wise – for creative indie sellers.  But no one is shopping on them yet.  And that sucks.  It sucks for the sellers – because they get their hopes up like crazy reading the marketplace’s mission statement and goals and then those hopes are dashed several months later when they just can’t justify continuing to put their limited time and income into something that isn’t paying off in the form of enough sales.

And it sucks for the marketplace, because that marketplace is working SO HARD to attract shoppers, but so many of those shoppers are looking for things that just aren’t there yet – and when they can’t find them, many of them won’t come back to try again.

When a marketplace is new, ISG can help, by officially recommending them as an up-and-coming place with really good terms for creative indie sellers. And perhaps more importantly, we can recommend them (and keep recommending them) to our movement’s supporters. That is the first goal of our Marketplace Accreditation Program.

When a marketplace starts getting established, typically it continues with its original terms for a while, as it grows by leaps and bounds while all the people part of the ecosystem are talking it up to their friends and family.  I started my Etsy shop in 2006, but 2012 is the year when it started to actually be viable for my incredibly niche business – when there were enough of my own awesomely weird crowd who went “Oh! I should search for that on Etsy!” and found me.

Etsy was a certified B-Corporation during the years from 2012 to 2017. There are similarities between the goals of B-Corp certification and our Marketplace Accreditation program – but there’s an important distinction too.  When Etsy dropped B-Corp Certification almost immediately after the Wallstreet takeover of 2017, I had no idea it had even happened.  I’d be willing to bet that most other Etsy sellers had no idea either, because we don’t follow the B-Corp movement.  But what about a certification from an organization created by indie sellers, and for indie sellers, that’s free to join, so it’s possible for every single creative indie seller to be a part of it?  Accreditation from an organization like that is something marketplaces might have more reason to fear losing.

That’s the second goal of the Marketplace Accreditation Program – the longterm goal, which will become possible when we aren’t a brand new nonprofit.  ICANN does an amazing job making sure that small business owners don’t lose their home on the web to sketchy providers.  ICANN has been in existence since 1998.

We’ll be launching our Marketplace Accreditation program at our upcoming virtual convention:

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

We’re just getting started here at the Indie Sellers Guild, but we have amazing things in the works.  If you haven’t joined us yet, please sign up! (Did we mention, it’s free?)  If you have, thank you so much for being a part of our grassroots guild!

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.