Our First Real Breakthrough

Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

I’ve mentioned before how online communities for Etsy sellers tend to not be very supportive if you’re having issues with Etsy. When I tried to spearhead an Etsy Seller strike, I discovered these spaces are not supportive of striking Etsy sellers either.

Wait. Did I say “not supportive”? That’s an understatement of laughable proportions. If we put pro-strike vs anti-strike sentiment on a scale, they’d be off the scale at the negative end. They believed we were all idiots for trying to plan a strike. They weren’t at all shy about telling us.

As of March 3rd, 2022, I had only tried making posts to share info about the strike in spaces with “Etsy Seller” in the name. It was a rather demoralizing activity.

And it didn’t match real life experience. I knew quite a few Etsy sellers. All supporters of the strike. All in complete agreement with every one of our demands. All completely fed up with Etsy’s corporate greed.

And I mean, logic. Our basic fees to use the platform had more than doubled in less than four years. On top of those basic fees, we were paying out the nose every time one of our items sold through an Offsite Ad. All this while objectively, the platform is much worse now than it was four short years ago.

Were people really happy about that?

Things were starting to look a little hopeless. How could our movement gain any traction if all the online communities ostensibly by and for Etsy sellers were so rabidly against what we were trying to do?

On March 3rd, 2022, something changed. A random series of events that resulted in our first major breakthrough. Value Added Resource (an online blog that posts “Ecommerce News, By Sellers, For Sellers”) wrote an article about us.

Even though Value Added Resource is a small publication, I was still very excited to discover they had featured us! I went to Reddit, and started to post it to r/EtsyStrike. Then I thought, wait, this article looks newsy. It’s pretty similar to the type of content I see posted to r/News. What would happen if I posted instead to r/News?

My post was removed from r/news. For being from a “disreputable source”. It happened at exactly 100 upvotes, so I think it was an action taken by a bot. Still, it was the first real breakthrough of the Etsy Strike project.

That post made it to 100 upvotes in only a few minutes. It also got quite a few comments in that time. 100% positive comments. From Etsy buyers who were fed up with the platform being full of the same mass-produced junk you find on Amazon, Ebay or Aliexpress. And even a few from Etsy sellers who completely agreed that we needed to band together and try to fight back.

A lightbulb went off in my head. I realized if I wanted the Etsy Strike to reach enough people, we needed to find a way to reach Etsy sellers outside of communities with “Etsy” in the name. I had no idea what was going on with those spaces — but obviously those weren’t the people we needed to reach.

I also realized I needed help — lots of it — if I was going to come anywhere close to the number of people I needed to reach. 5.2 million active Etsy sellers is a lot of people. So that meant the people I needed to focus on reaching were the people most likely to jump in and help.

Who were those people? People like me. People fed up with the bullshit.

When Etsy killed my online business, in a way, it made me lose faith in America. Like many people in my country, I used to believe America was this magical place where anyone can make it, if they work hard and never give up.

I had worked so fucking hard. I never gave up. I poured more than a decade of my life into a platform that had chewed me up and spit me out, just as soon as businesses like mine were no longer the ones they found most profitable. I was so fucking angry, and still, I wasn’t giving up. I was fighting back.

I needed to find other people like me — people disenchanted with the system, and ready to fight back. I knew exactly which subreddits to find them in. They were the same ones I’d been hanging out in myself, trolling for snarky memes about “Late Stage Capitalism” and similar topics.

My primary disadvantage was that 5.2 million Etsy sellers is a lot of people. It was also my main advantage. I could throw a rock into nearly any online space, and if I didn’t hit an Etsy seller, I’d probably hit someone who knows one.

I finally had a strategy, and I would see where it would take me.