Get ready for it: since the end of the Etsy Strike, a core group of volunteers has been creating a formal organization to help sellers
The strike is over, and Etsy’s anemic response has inspired us to keep working on next steps. We’re forming an “Indie Sellers Guild” that will fill the role a union would fill in a traditional workplace. In this post, we’ll talk about what we’re planning for the organization, and what’s been going on behind-the-scenes to make it a reality.
Our Goals for the “Indie Sellers Guild”
The mission of the Indie Sellers Guild is to to promote the interests of online sellers of handmade, unique, vintage and craft goods all over the world, and our objectives are to not only fight for sellers’ livelihoods in marketplaces like Etsy, but also to support the creation of a co-operative alternative marketplace, lift each other up through information-sharing, and to represent sellers’ interests together as one democratic voice to the public and media.
Our goal is to create an organization that works for members: structured democratically to consult the membership and respond to their concerns, one-voice, one-vote elections on leadership and actions, representing the interests of sellers in the public sphere through both the media and online, and offering immediate benefits to members:
- Services and resources to help sellers become more independent of Etsy. We have a member-curated list of all available options to build a standalone store on your own domain, and we plan to publish this list and work on resources for how to use each option. Having a successful standalone store requires being good at marketing and promotion via social media, and we plan to publish resources to help our members in that area as well.
- Continue to grow and bargain for a seat at Etsy’s table. Etsy is basically a monopoly – so we want to make it a place where it’s possible for a small business to grow, and the only way that can happen is if they start listening to their sellers. We will continue to fight for every demand listed in our petition.
- Create peer support spaces for sellers. We already have a Discord server that has become an amazing peer support space for indie sellers, and we would like to expand the idea off of Discord – since not everyone uses Discord! We have a Facebook group in the works, and a subreddit that we plan to make more active in the future.
- Provide authentic indie seller branding, with guild membership verification, badges, digital collateral, and a membership directory with shop URLs
Once the organization is off the ground, we will vote on our next actions, such as future strikes or other collective actions.
We have no current plans to charge membership dues. We do not want there to be a class barrier to being part of the Indie Sellers Guild and will always work to keep that true. With a worldwide membership of incredibly skilled volunteers, our operating costs are currently minimal. As a democratically operated organization, any future changes to the guild structure, such as dues, would need to pass a majority vote in order to be approved.
We do plan to have a big tent so all of our indie sellers can join: handcrafted, vintage, and craft supplies of all shop sizes.
What’s Been Happening Behind-the-Scenes
To make these goals a reality, a core group of volunteer organizers has assembled on our Discord server as an interim leadership team, and we’ve been dividing into areas of responsibility: in Tech, Internal Organizing, Social Media, Blog, Solidarity, Media Outreach, and more. The core group has expanded by 50% in the past couple weeks as more “rank-n-file” Discord members have begun taking ownership of this movement.
Ad hoc leadership provided by the core interim leadership team until the democratically-run organization is off the ground. All voting members will elect the leadership council within the year.
Until then, the ad hoc team has been building the bones to support the rollout of a sign-up period which will begin this month and expand over the summer: drafting organizing documents and developing the governing democratic infrastructure of the organization. To deal with the sheer scale of our numbers, we’ve been consulting with other professional organizations and organizers.
Our blog writers have launched and written content for two publications to help members: a new magazine on Medium named Creators Rising that will provide stories of indie sellers and their movement to the general public, and our on-site blogs that will provide announcements, track Etsy’s actions to keep Etsy on notice, resources, and informative and educational blog posts for sellers.
We’re finalizing the website right now for launch and a soon-to-come media announcement. The website committee has been finalizing the Terms of Service and testing out our membership application workflow and database and we’re going to start a beta test soon to ensure web functionality. We’ve been creating a sign-up system and a membership verification process, so all members are true indie sellers and anyone who sees the guild symbol at a business can shop with confidence. We can’t wait to join hands with you, and we’re almost there. In the meantime, watch this space for the big launch, and if you can help – we are still recruiting volunteers! Come join us on our Discord server and #sign-up-to-help.