If you're a handmade business owner with a shop on Etsy, you could be worried that your shop is stuck in a rut.
You've read blog posts, articles on Pinterest, but your sales are not coming in.
How do you find the support need??
You’ve started an Etsy shop.
You’ve perfected your SEO.
Now you’re at a dead end.
You have nothing to do and nowhere to go, except sit and wait for those sales to come rolling in.
But more often than not, they don’t come quite as fast as we’d like.
And then, one of those days when you have nothing to do, you stumble upon the magical little button that leads you into the great big world of “teams”.
So it was with me, and I’m taking the liberty to assume that I’m not alone.
A whole group of crafters and collectors gathered to share, discuss, critique and help one another's shops.
While I readily admit there are benefits to teams, I just as quickly warn against the disadvantages and pitfalls.
I want you to enjoy your Etsy shop.
I want you to have that special light in your eyes when you tell everyone you know about your products.
I want it to be an endearing experience you’ll carry on for years and never once forget.
To assure that outcome, I hope you’ll keep reading.
We’re going to travel through the basics of teams, how they can help your shop, as well as a few words of warnings.
1. The Basics
In case you have yet to discover teams for yourself, let me introduce you to them.
There are thousands upon thousands of teams, varying in size, missions, goals, and shops.
Some are solely for promotion, some are for discussion, some are to sell items, others to talk about anything, even if it’s not related to Etsy.
All in all, it’s a unifying word for forum.
You can find teams to apply to on this page: https://www.etsy.com/teams
To find a specific team, type in a search term (i.e. promotion, games, discussion, critique, craft show, books, etc.) and you’ll be rewarded with several pages of open teams.
Sift through them carefully, apply to only the ones you’re interested in, and within a few days, you should hopefully be accepted into the community.
2. Join Teams One At A Time
While teams can be a rewarding venture, it has been my experience that applying to several (by several I mean 5-10+) at a time is a bad idea.
I originally started out with good intentions, and before I knew it I was in 100+ teams.
Most of them I had forgotten.
All but a few I didn’t use.
Let me clarify: at one time I did use them.
But gradually I stopped, making the teams I was a member of just a number, and not in the least an aid to my shop.
All things in moderation.
Teams can be excellent, and I've received stellar advice from many, but it's best to value quality over quantity. Instead of joining 30 teams that give advice, try joining one large, active group, like Etsy Success, which is led by Etsy Administrators who keep the atmosphere cool and inviting, as well as conversations under control.
I've benefited greatly from this affable community.
3. Promotional Games
If you stumble upon a group and the first few threads you see are titled as anything similar to the following:
“Fave 5 Above You”
“24 Hearts For Your Shop”
You should carefully evaluate if this is the crowd you want to join.
‘Faving' games typically do not benefit your shop.
Favorites that are not derived from search results (Google, Etsy, etc.) do not increase the item's likelihood of ranking on search.
“The only views and likes that help relevancy are those that come from search. It has to be relevant *to* something (in this case the search).
Let's say you have an xyz widget in your shop. I do an etsy search for “xyz widget” and favorite it from search. The item gains relevancy because my favorite deemed it relevant to the search term.
But, if I play a game and just randomly favorite something from your shop, it has nothing to do with seo or relevancy. It's just a favorite.”
“Team games can't improve releveancy. They can possibly do only one thing – make your listing visible to more people after your listing appear in feed of those who follows your fellow team game players. Some of these people might be interested in your work, some might not, but in any case it won't hurt.”
In fact, some assert that Etsy has learned to catch spamming games such as this and they can even hinder your shop.
Though this is not verified by Etsy leadership, many have noticed a change in ranking once they begin to participate in fave games.
In other words, what is projected to increase your sales and ranking on Etsy will likely do nothing at all in the long-run.
But, I will say this, if you need a morale boost, receiving hundreds of favorites a day will definitely do it (albeit that’s all it will do).
Keep that in mind next time you’re down in the dumps about low stats!
4. Beware of spammers
Recently, Etsy has given team captains the ability to send out ‘group messages’ with one click of a button.
Previously, if they wanted to send out a message to every member, they’d have to message each person manually, which is much more time consuming.
As a result, you didn’t get very many.
Some teams take advantage (or, shall I rather say, abuse) of this new tool.
I’ve joined some communities and received five messages in one day.
You may want to take an extra precaution and read the guidelines/info section of the team to see if they have any specifics on the frequency of group message send-outs. (note: this mostly applies to teams that play promotional/marketing games. So, if you stay away from those, you should be saved from the spammer groups.)
To answer the question probably going through your head, yes, this is my current inbox for my old Etsy account. I didn’t take the time to leave those 100+ teams, so this is what happens… Notice how many messages are in the trash. (288, in case you can’t tell. Those are only the ones I didn’t read. It would probably be around 2,000 if it included read messages.)
As an alternative to joining teams that will spam you, look for ‘quality' teams, teams with class.
For instance, I am involved in a local team, which periodically sends out a group messages on craft shows in the area.
I would encourage you to join such teams and take part in the local community around you!
5. Always Post With Discretion
I’ve talked mostly about marketing teams, but here’s one specifically regarding the forum side of Etsy communities.
There are some teams that are expressly dedicated to helping shop owners through their difficulties with buyers, and improving shop quality.
I’m a member of one and, at some points, it’s been very helpful.
I would advise you to be cautious, however.
I’ve heard tales of shop owners ranting about a customer who was being hard to work with, only to have the client be a member of the team and read everything they wrote.
You see, not all teams are just for sellers.
Many have no prohibitions, so even shoppers are welcome.
I would suggest that if you need advice for something that could possibly cause offense to a buyer you're handling, post in a seller-only group, and keep the post marked “members only.”
Works like a charm!
So, that about wraps it up!
There are many helpful aspects to Etsy teams, but there’s also a few areas where you should be careful.
Just remember to use discretion in everything you do, and you’ll be perfectly fine!
I hope you'll embrace the Etsy community and benefit from it exceedingly.
Madelyn is a coffee-crazed avid reader who delights in running her blog, Literary Cafe, and most recent Etsy shop. There’s nothing she loves more than curling up on a rainy day with a good book, or scrolling through endless pages of DIY boards on Pinterest .
She started her first Etsy shop in 2011, marking 5 years of successful entrepreneurship. Right now Madelyn is delving into the possibilities of a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of opening a new shop and online store focusing on hand lettering. You can find her on Pinterest here: https://www.pinterest.com/madelyncut/