Friday, April 4, 2008

Of Course I Like You...Now Buy My Stuff!

Community and Competition
Part 1 - Promotions

Let me start out with the positive stuff. Etsy was my very first forum experience, I met my first troll, saw my first flame war, and over the last two years, I watched some truly amazing acts of kindness unfold. We are, it seems, all in the same boat and because of that we are bonded in a very real way. People freely give advice and wisdom without hesitation. I wonder however, amongst all this goodwill, if people are really forgetting that we are all ultimately, in competition with each other.

Some of us are only competing in a loose sense, for the disposable income of consumers, but others are in very direct competition. I've always been a bit confused at the way this dual relationship plays out, especially in the Promotions forum. To make my point, I'd like to break down the basic kinds of posts we see there:
  • New Listing/re listed, etc. - Basic cry for attention.
  • Show me your Red/vintage/wedding/flowers, etc. - Focused cry for attention, slightly more likely to draw customers with a specific need.
  • BNR/buy from this list - Snake eating its own tail.
  • Sale/Milestone/Hearts and Views - advanced cry for attention, unlikely to draw customers, only other sellers with a similar need.
  • Let's support each other - often begins with the phrase, "aren't you just sick of people who post and run". Seemingly designed to make people who have other things to do with their time, feel bad.
The weirdest promotion thread, in my opinion, is the last one. I'm sure that there are people around that honestly just want to support the community, but how can those people fault others for wanting to make a buck without wasting time in the forums. I've noticed that most of the top sellers stay out of the forums for any length of time. They come by and chat in etc., or offer wisdom or ask questions in one of the other categories, but rarely venture into promotions. Why do you think that is? I think it's because they have separated the community and the competition of etsy. They are probably spending time promoting in places that more consumers gather and making quality products.

Let's face it, we all want a little attention for our shops, for our products and for ourselves, but does that mean that we need to spend hours making false compliments and replying in the same forum thread to legitimize posting your newest item. I get it, I do, you don't want to spend your time looking at my listing, if I'm not gonna look at yours. What I think a lot of people don't get is, getting views, especially from other sellers does not equal sales. Sure, we've all gotten a sale or two from the forums, but not because you spent an hour complimenting other people. You got a sale from the forums because someone, a buyer, saw what you posted and liked it enough to buy it. That same buyer could have seen you on the time machine or a simple search.

After I had my baby, I took a long forum break. When I returned, I began to quickly notice that the familiar faces were gone from the forums, but not etsy. I tried to get back into the swing of things on the forums and I'm ashamed to say it took me a long time to figure out why they had most likely left. I'll still jump on the promotion bandwagon from time to time, but I refuse to feel guilty for not looking at something I'm sure I won't buy or not leaving an insincere compliment so you'll look at my stuff. No one really needs 100 views on an item from people who would never buy it, when 1 view from someone who would is so much better.

Next: Part 2 - Street Teams


monamigreetings said...

Great post!
It's interesting that the top sellers never chat in the forums... maybe there's something to be said for just making stuff and listing them instead of trying to promote in the forums :)

Anonymous said...

I AGREE with you.
I am new to etsy and have been told to participate in the forms to get sales, but in my heart of hearts I think it's a waste of time. Don't get me wrong there is some useful information, but it is just someone opinion and it all feels kind-a shallow and desperate. I mean asking for critiques from people you know nothing about. I mean if you knew them would you value their opinion? Any way--good post.

Aly- Bliss Monkey Studio said...

One could waste a lot of time being insincere. Your last post struck me as sad. I haven't been drawn to the promtions forums.

I like to post on the bloggers forums, read other blogs, get blog tips, share ideas for getting the word outside of etsy.

Why are people trying to get other etsy shops to buy their stuff? I don't suppose etsy shoppers (people with etsy accounts who don't have a store) get on forums to find things they might want.

There's lots to chat about with other etsyians, street teams, how to do things like wholesale, that don't involve trying to get other sellers to heart and buy your stuff.

Sorry if this sounds like a lecture, it's not my intention, just baffled.

I love your tatting!

Sleepy Cat Hollow said...

I've truly been enjoying your posts lately.

It's funny, I have a shop on etsy, but do not promote what is in it on the forums. I like reading the blogs, you learn more about the people.

Grizzly Mountain Arts said...

Your tatting is beautiful! I believe tatting artists don't get the kudos they deserve. It's so wonderful to see that so many are learning the art!

woolies said...

I avoid the promotions threads. I used to hang out there, but.....
And more and more, I'm trying to - temper - my etsy addiction with more time spent doing what I love - and then listing it in my shops.
great article!

DJ said...

Wow, thats how I've felt about promotions from the start. I'm a hit and run. Good post!

cjbc said...

Good points!

yellowplum said...

It's so true, what you've said about the forums. I don't think I've had sales from hanging out there (although I'm still fairly new and haven't had that many sales yet at all). Mostly I go to the forums for news and information, and for a sense of community. As a full time artisan I don't have co-workers and sometimes I miss the camraderie of working with others.

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the best posts I've read in a very long time. Very sincere and right on the money. I'll be back for more!

Waterrose said...

What a great editorial. I have had similar thoughts when I think about who is doing well and realizing that I don't see them in the forums, or in chat rooms. What are they doing? They are busy creating, filling their shops, and at times make a treasury or stopping to ask a question or giving someone a bit of advice. One thing for sure, we all need to spread our wings a little bit more and find some other avenues to reach potential customers.