Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Open Letter To Etsy Admin

See More Of My Artwork on Flickr

To whom it may concern,
Sorry it took so long to get back to you I had to search so many forum posts to find what you might be asking about.
First thank you for contacting me about this. And thanks for all your efforts in trying to bring the issue to some sort of workable conclusion. All I wish for, is that Etsy gets better and other sellers are happy and well informed, as many like my self, are serious about our businesses and their continued success. And it is very difficult to make a plan B if you have no way to know how plan A failed.

I'm not sure exactly which forum post you're referring to. I have tried to keep a record of most of them but have also been busy formulating my plan B. Which ever post you are referring to I'm pretty sure it was a result of trying to find the answers to my own questions, which are:

Was it ever "promised" or "guaranteed" that each of our items would reach the front page when renewed or relisted?
What constitutes a promise or guarantee in this type of business arrangement?

Two areas of concern which relate to your question and mine are outlined here for your consideration.

When a person signs up for a new account they cannot complete the process until agreeing to terms of use. In a perfect world everyone would be serious and actually read the terms of use but they don't, many just click the button.

When I sign up for any account I definitely read the TOU as I consider myself to be a professional and want to understand all the facts. And I'm sure any other serious business person would do the same.

So after reading the terms of use,and hoping that I understand them all, I would like to know more, so there is a menu bar on the left hand side providing much of the pertinent information I would be interested in.

"Selling Faq" which is located in that menu would be a first stop for me.

Selling FAQ »
info about setting up shop here

I would read every topic I would want to be informed about.

And naturally I would want to know how relisting and renewing work so would probably read every word until I understood thouroughly.

Renewing an Item

What does renewing mean?
Renewing a listing means you're restarting its life on Etsy. It will be given a new listing date and a new expiration date four months from the date of the renewal. It will also be sent to the top of your shop and appear in Etsy shopping features just as if it was a new listing.

**What exactly are the "Etsy shopping features" referred to here? I would think the clickable scrolling pictures of newly listed items on the buyers landing page would be considered a shopping feature.**

Down further on the page

I would find:

Becoming an Etsy Seller

Help! I need ideas for improving and promoting my shop; got any suggestions?
There are many resources on Etsy for ideas and help with promoting your shop:

One of the links under that heading is to this article:

* The Storque: "I Heart Marketing My Etsy Shop and You Will, Too!" article series

The author of this article advises the following

"...1. List a new item each day. If you don’t have a new item to list, relist an old item. Every time you list an item, it cycles through on the homepage and in the “Time Machine." New items also show up on the first page of a search. For example, I make a shirt about zombies. If I list a zombie shirt every day, when someone searches for the word, “zombie,” I am always on the first page of results. Sweet! Listing a new item only costs 20 cents. You can’t go wrong with spending 20 or 40 cents a day."


This information has since been changed it now says:

1. List a new item each day. If you don’t have a new item to list, relist an old item. When you list an item, it has a chance of cycling through on the homepage and in the “Time Machine." New items also show up closer to the top of chronologically ordered search results. For example, I make a shirt about zombies. If I list a zombie shirt every day, when someone searches for the word, “zombie,” I have a chance of being on the first page of results. Sweet! Listing a new item only costs 20 cents. You can’t go wrong with spending 20 or 40 cents a day. [Note: Admin edited this post to reflect the growth of the marketplace. Relisting or renewing does not guarantee your item will show up on at the very top of the heap, since there are so many items being listed at once! See this post for more info.]

The list of links to selling tips continues:

...* EtsyWiki: Selling Tips from Etsy members

which links to this forum thread:

NEWBIES ~ Here's a few Etsy tips for you

which says this in the second paragraph:

...So, here are a few tips about etsy:

* Each time you list an item, it screens across the bottom of the etsy homepage, and it also appears in the "time machine" functions. It also raises you to the top of the category list in whatever top-level category you've chosen for your item (which a viewer sees when she or he chooses that category under the the "sell" page). For these reasons, it's best to space out your listings instead of posting them all at once when they're ready. Posting once or twice a day if you can is great. Of course, when you're first setting up shop you need to post more frequently than you would normally, but once you have at least enough items to spill onto a second page you can slow down....

* The Forums: Business & Marketing Forum
* The Forums: Critiques Forum

Whether or not anyone else would stumble on this information, or want to ferret it out, is a different story. The fact is it is there if anyone wants to find it.

Another item at issue would be this:
Chad Dickersons tech updates, September 24, 2008 states

"...So, is renewing for exposure worth the $0.20 if you don't land on page one each time? Ultimately, that's up to each seller to decide. While your item may not appear on page one for jewelry, it may be on page one of specific search for blue flower earrings or steampunk cufflinks or a specific subcategory page (like necklace within the jewelry category). Also, items still appear in other browsing features that function independently of the batch loading system, such as Time Machine 2, Recently Listed on the home page and Shop Local. "

**items still appear in other browsing features that function independently of the batch loading system, such as Time Machine 2, Recently Listed on the home page and Shop Local.**

Was there a change made causing the batch uploading to affect these features which it supposedly didn't affect previously? If so when was the change made? and Could you have informed us any earlier?

As stated previously I only want the best for Etsy. I am grateful everyday for Etsy and hope this whole thing turns into to be a win win situation for all of us.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Copyright Infringement, and Resellers On Etsy , SHHHHH!

Sooo, One of my regular customers who uses my images for making pendant jewelry, and is always concerned with doing the right thing as far a copyrights for images, sent me an email today. In all caps she said, "LOOK AT THIS! HOW CAN THEY BE ALLOWED TO DO THIS?
Under her message was a link to an Etsy collage sheet seller's "Twilight Inspired Images" collage sheet. Another perfectly good forum thread had just been closed discussing this issue and she had no idea about it. Later she sent me another email telling me she had asked the seller if the images were legal and if she could use the images to sell on a piece of jewelry , the seller's reply was
(not exactly a direct quote here):
"there are ways to get around that", She told her to "say you're not selling the image. You are selling the piece and the image comes with it for free" (She said this to a serious professional jewelry maker/crafts person) Then the seller went on to tell her with a very professional tone, "when you buy my sheets you're not buying the images you're paying me for the time it took to make the sheets the images are free" (and I guess whatever time it took to right click and copy the hijacked images). Though I'm not a bit surprised by the answer, I am really appalled.

This is how it affects the "community" in case anyone still has any doubts. It affects jewelry makers who don't want to break laws because they are serious about their craft and need/want it to be legit. We all know what a fiasco the over saturated jewelry categories are and how frustrated the sellers are. It has gotten much worse in the last year or so, and drastically worse since September. To have to compete for views with people selling popular images, illegally piggy backing on a marketing powerhouse is like asking the soap makers to compete with Sephora or The Body Shop with competitive prices, not an even playing field. Sephora and The Body Shop have established, reputable names and spend big bucks to advertise, that's what sells their products ! This does not represent what I thought Etsy was supposed to be about (I believe it had something to do with promoting hand made and giving artists a venue to make a living doing what they love?)
The same problem is going on in my category Supplies> Handmade> Collage Sheets, and many other categories. We have to compete for views with pirates, bootleggers, counterfeiters, and thieves. We have to answer suspicious customers who think we're among the lot of them, and turn away customers who ask us to make sheets with stolen images, because they think if others are doing it it must be okay.
I know that Etsy has to protect their interests($$$) But I am truly saddened that they protect this kind of behavior and stick to their own rules like some out dated dogma. I am saddened that other sellers defend these sellers with remarks like "maybe they don't know it is wrong" or "maybe they just do it a little bit" or have the nerve to suggest it is no one else's business what they sell or who it affects. If you are claiming to be a small independent business owner and you don't know the regulations you need to follow to be legit you shouldn't be selling or you should educate yourself and find out what the rules are, because the Federal law trumps Etsy's rules and Etsy will not defend you when you have to explain yourself to Disney, or San Rio corp, or Twilight, or another seller whose hard work you've stolen for profit. Take the junk to the flea market and stand in the sun all day, but don't attach yourself to a company (Etsy) that is supposedly known for its handmade goodness and awesome crafts people.
Seriously, Etsy has spread itself too thin already. New sellers are often disappointed because they haven't sold anything and haven't got a clue how or why.
They have bought into an *Idea* that is just an illusion at best.

Our shop made the top sellers list after three months with no promoting, just providing a supply that was high quality and legit and d**n good if I may say so myself. We intentionally did not copy any of our competition. We filled an empty space with our shop providing sheets with images no one else had, and we still try to be innovative and different while maintaining quality and great customer service. Every day in our category there are new collage sheet sellers many of them are selling images that are copyright owned, and trademarked characters. Many of them have just switched to selling collage sheets from selling other unrelated products ( jumped on a bandwagon so to speak) We are constantly coming up with new ideas and as soon as we do, we are "copied", subtly, but copied none the less.
By September our sells were plummeting in spite of the fact that we had started promoting and had opened our own website, and blogged, and stumbled, and twittered, and networked, and ning-ed ourselves ragged....yada, yada, yada. I truly believe this happened because of the upsets over at Ebay and the influx of unhappy (or ambitious) Ebay sellers and other Etsy politics.
Morale on the site has deteriorated to an all time low.

Etsy will evolve, it's inevitable. Into what? That's up to the sellers who want to continue to use the venue for their business. If it wants to maintain the Handmade "Stickiness" factor which it has branded itself with, it needs to consciously evolve in that direction. If not it will evolve with the aid of chaos which will determine an unpredictable outcome.

As for the buyers who think this doesn't effect them, well how would you feel if you purchased a beautiful bar of " soap" on Etsy but when the package arrives it's a bar of Ivory soap? What if the description of the soap was so vague and misleading there was no legal action you could take because you weren't really deceived?
So seriously should Etsy have a Buyer Beware reputation? Do sellers want to be associated with such a reputation? I hope not!! I get into these discussions in the forums because I want Etsy to be what it said it wanted to be over two years ago when I found it by accident and thought~ WOW! Finally!~ And when I first joined selling vintage and handmade recycled clothing that I could never even ask a fair price for on Ebay , for a while it really felt like~ WOW! Finally!!~ It doesn't feel that way to me anymore and that doesn't mean I want to leave, It means I want it to improve. The site is down in spite of record sales and record sellers the proportion of vendors to buyers is FIVE to ONE!! Sellers are beginning to bite and claw at each other. Buyers come into the forums to complain about the site. Resellers come every Friday night and camp their flea market junk on the site until Monday, unless they are "called out in the forums" which gets them closed down faster but is a big NO! NO!
The resellers have even been so bold as to start their own forum threads. One was selling Hair Extensions, another was asking if she could sell imported Indian scarves and other accessories, the thread title was "can I mass sell here?" and she argued that she would go ahead and do it because she knew Etsy would not do anything to stop her if she tagged the scarves as supplies This thread turned into the funniest thread I've ever had the honor of participating in. The same person started another thread and was actually selling or giving away a 100$ free facebook advertising Coupons. These were all in the same night!! And all forum posts that went on for hours without being closed by admin. All the while the leather purse sellers and the Oil paintings on canvas painted in sweatshop art factories in China (copies of other legit artists' works), and the Tibetan Silver Jewelry sellers, were doing their usual weekend gigs on Etsy. I don't believe anyone even called them out that weekend except in jest in the other two huge threads that night. Of course those threads were closed by Admin. The coupon thread had already fallen to the second page of threads so I went in an posted a simple " Well?" to bring it back to the top so admin could close it too.

And today after the thread about Disney cracking down on sellers was closed for "calling out" which in the opinion of many who participated in the thread, never happened, TopShelfTotes started a thread asking Etsy to define "calling out" "Trying to understand thread closures". This "spin off" thread, discussed the same issues as the previously closed one and even yeilded quite a few "snarky" comments directed towards me (supposedly an offense punished by thread closures and admin admonishments) . (Meow mix anyone?) . And that thread is still alive! We never heard from Etsy after that, no answer to the ever ambiguous, undefined, question.
However this "Resellers!" thread from 3 days ago is still open even though there were plenty of clues and plenty of "dissing" directed at the offenders, and a direct link to this "are they back?" thread which was active at the same time where I just lost it and blatantly posted links to the stores that were reselling. Inspite of my bad behavior it went on for hours before being closed down. So if anyone thinks they know what calling out is >>Maybe they really don't know at all it's the unanswerable question like:
  • Which came first the chicken or the egg? (We all know the rooster came first!)
  • And what is the meaning of life?
  • Is there intelligent life in the universe?
  • And what constitutes calling out?