I’ve held out for as long as I possibly can. I’m reopening my Etsy shop today. Even though I spearheaded an internet based activism movement that grew to 82 thousand people in 4 weeks time, somehow I can’t figure out how to earn enough on a standalone website to keep from being forced to return to Etsy — at least, not yet. Maybe that says more about the state of the world than it says about me.
I had to register a “throwaway” bank account to reopen my shop. Etsy’s latest anti-creator policy is to require each and every one of us (in the US at least) to give our bank account info to what’s been described as a “legal phishing” service in order to keep getting paid.
Just last Friday, we received a reprieve of an extra 72 days to verify. We think it’s likely that so many sellers were upset by the policy that Etsy was worried about it cutting into holiday season profits. The reprieve came too late for me — as I had already connected Plaid to my “throwaway” bank account.
And now here I am, back on Etsy. Back to being on call for messages every single weekend so I don’t lose Star Seller status. Back to sending hundreds of dollars every month to a platform that does not care about me or the success of my business. Back to waiting for the next anti-creator change I’ll have to spend unpaid time adapting to.
For every 100 dollars I earn in sales in my shop, Etsy fees could cost me anything from $10 to $22. Not knowing how much I’ll pay per sale really sucks. I’m adding a 15% surcharge to my Etsy prices in comparison to the prices on my website — but I know that if there is a week or month when too many of my sales are attributed to their offsite ads program, I won’t be charging enough to cover their fees, and they will come out of my income instead.
I became a leader of the Etsy strike movement on February 28th. My indie online business has a social media following of nearly 17 thousand people on Facebook. The first time they heard about the Etsy strike was on April 1st. Together with many other people in our movement, I shared this image:
For 4 years, while I watched Etsy kill my online business, I was that woman in the photo. I felt like I couldn’t speak out about the things happening on the platform. I felt like no one would listen, like no one would care.
I am so glad to have been so incredibly wrong about that.
Our customers shop on Etsy to support US. They are universally not-happy to learn of all the ways Etsy is screwing over its sellers. And so, until Etsy decides to stop screwing over its sellers, our customers will know.
I will continue to sell on Etsy, as I have no other choice, no other way to reach enough people in this tech-platform-dominated world. But that doesn’t mean I have to suffer in silence.
Each and every time an order comes through from an Offsite Ad, and I find myself with 78% instead of 90% of the funds from the sale, that package will contain a note to the customer, something like:
Hi! Thank you so much for supporting my handmade business. I want you to know that I have a website (auralynne.com), where I’m able to offer you much better prices, as Etsy fees more than doubled in less than 4 years, and I had to raise prices to compensate! For instance, since your order came though with an extra advertising fee, 22% of your payment went straight to Etsy.
I appreciate every single order from every single beautiful customer, including the ones who shop from me through Etsy — but over the past year, I’ve learned that you all don’t want to be kept in the dark about this! Knowledge is power. Thus this note. 🙂
Thanks again for your patronage, and happy costumed adventures!
Each and every time I receive a message on the weekend or on a day off, there will be an auto-reply:
Hi! This is an auto-reply. Sorry to do this, I swear I am a real person who offers individualized customer service! Etsy has this Star Seller Program that forces me to either be on call for messages 24/7, or set an autoreply every single time I want to take a full day or a weekend off. Since I like to unplug and be with my family from time to time, autoreply it is!
Thank you for your patience, and I will get back to you ASAP!
Other guild members have come up with creative ways to let shoppers know, like these labels by Lightbringer Designs:
During our fight not to be forced to share our bank account history with Plaid, we learned that the US government doesn’t consider us to be consumers, and so, consumer laws don’t apply to us. While setting up our labor organization, we learned that US labor law doesn’t consider us to be employees, and therefore labor laws don’t apply to us. Every law that exists to protect individuals against the excesses of giant corporations does not protect us.
There is nothing out there to help us. The only answer is for us to start helping ourselves.
Luckily, we’re doing just that, with the Indie Sellers Guild, our all-volunteer, free-to-join union for online sellers.
Before the Etsy Strike, I was alone, and I was powerless.
Today, I have no idea what the future holds. But I feel so much stronger now that I have found camaraderie, and community, with other members of the guild.
Individually, we are one drop.
Together, we are an ocean.
I’m closing this article with a note for all the lovely customers who have supported me on my website during this time. Thank you! Thank you all, so much. There have been moments since August when I thought I’d have to re-open my Etsy shop – but each time, I’d get a new order or two, and be able to hold out for that much longer!
Because of all of you, I feel confident that I will be able to keep custom orders and really limited edition things off Etsy (those are the types of things that their anti-creator policies hurt worst), and that will make things much easier.
Now that I’m finally done with the Etsy Strike series, I’ll be glad to be able to go back to my usual light-hearted style and babble about pretty things!
This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.