The Email That Made Us Lose It

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Etsy sellers don’t trust Etsy anymore. We don’t believe the platform cares about us. We don’t believe they want what’s in our best interest. We’re there, not because we like to be, but because we’re stuck.

When people want something handmade, they go to Etsy. We know that. Etsy is the game we have to play, because they’re the only game in town.

On February 24, 2022, Etsy sent their sellers this email. We didn’t take it very well. 

In fact, here is a translation. The words of the email. Followed by what I heard in my head when I read it.

Dear Seller Community,

 At Etsy, we’re focused on building a marketplace that allows sellers like you to turn your creativity and passions into real, money-making businesses. 

Hi.

We love the money we take from you each month so much. We want that to grow, as we find more, and more, and more, and more, and more of you!

Last year, active sellers increased their sales by 23% on average compared to 2019, and in 2021 alone, we showed more than 90 million active buyers worldwide that there’s an alternative to big-box, automated shopping.

By the way — active sellers did well in 2021. If your business did poorly, it’s probably your fault.

Together, we’ve made Etsy the global marketplace for unique and creative goods.

But we’re a team! A team! And it’s just so great to have you with us.

We plan to make significant investments in marketing, seller tools, and creating a world-class customer experience so we can continue this tremendous growth. To support this goal, on April 11 we will increase our current 5% transaction fee to 6.5%.

Wow. What a great pandemic it’s been for us! We grew so much, and it was so nice, and we want it to continue! We’re already squeezing a lot out of you, but we’re pretty sure there’s an extra drop in there somewhere, and we plan to find it! Isn’t that wonderful?

This change will allow us to make improvements in three key areas: 

Bringing more buyers to Etsy: Last year, we spent nearly $600 million on marketing. This year we’ll be investing even more, including on TV commercials, influencers and tastemakers, billboards, podcast advertising, and email marketing that bring new buyers to Etsy.

We’re bringing you buyers! Buyers! Aren’t you excited? Wait, you aren’t? Oh, you think those buyers will be more interested in the mass-produced junk we’ve been allowing onto the platform? We have no idea what you’re talking about!

The support you need: We’ll grow our support team by more than 20% this year so you can get help more quickly and easily, including faster email responses, expanded access to live chat, and prioritization of your most urgent requests.

What’s that? Oh, you’re saying you have no support at all — and 20% of zero isn’t that great of a number? Sorry, but we’re putting our fingers in our ears now! We won’t hear anything else you say. Yes, 20% more support, just for you. Aren’t we awesome?

Keeping Etsy unique: We’ll build on last year’s roughly $40 million investment in the teams and technology that help make our marketplace a safe and secure destination for handmade, vintage, and special items. This year we’ll expand our efforts to remove listings that don’t meet our policies and help you resolve issues with buyers.

We can’t admit that our platform is flooded with sweatshop-produced products in the first place. But you can totally trust us to crack down on them. Because we say so.

These are some of the great things we’ll invest in to keep Etsy a beloved, trusted, and thriving marketplace. We don’t take fee changes lightly, and we believe that these investments will enable Etsy, and our seller community, to continue to grow.

Yes, there are other mysterious things we plan to do with your money. They have to do with growth. We won’t actually mention them in the email. Please, focus on the earlier parts. It’ll all be good. You can trust us!

Thank you for making Etsy a one-of-a-kind marketplace.

It was followed up by a smiling photo of Josh Silverman, Etsy’s CEO. 

Josh Silverman. The guy who got on the board back in 2016. In 2017 he ousted the CEO who actually gave a shit about us, laid off a ton of Etsy employees, dropped Etsy’s Public Benefit Corp certification like a hot potato, and then, proceeded to make all the changes that I have been describing in this series.

That smug, self-satisfied, completely tone-deaf email was the final straw for me.