Hello everyone! I would like to apologize for not blogging recently! I have been very preoccupied with a lot of exciting things that have been happening and I think it is high time that I filled you in!
I should probably go all the way back to the beginning–no, not the beginning of time, just the beginning of October. I have alluded to many of the things that have happened, assuming that most of you probably follow me on Facebook and have therefore heard my news several times a day… Well, you know what they say about assumptions… so I apologize!
October 1, 2013:
On October 1, 2013, Etsy made an announcement that shocked and angered the majority of its sellers: Etsy, the self-proclaimed “handmade marketplace” would open its doors to sellers who wished to use manufacturers. I won’t rehash all the details because this story has been covered on hundreds of blogs already, not to mention many major news outlets, but I will say that this announcement was a giant slap in the face to the handmade sellers who have made Etsy successful and have given Etsy its name recognition. The worst part is that Etsy is still going to claim to be a “handmade marketplace.” They’re just going to change the definition of the word “handmade” to suit their new needs. I must have missed something in my five years as an English major, but I’m pretty sure you can’t just repurpose a word to suit you…
October 2, 2013:
On October 2, 2013, something crazy happened. I had an idea–no, that’s not the crazy part–the crazy part is that people liked my idea! I thought: Hey, why not start a group of the real handmade sellers on Etsy? And what if there was some kind of badge I could give them to show buyers that their shop was truly handmade?
Etsy allows members to create groups called “teams” that can be for any purpose the team captain chooses. There are teams for sellers from Missouri, teams specifically for quilters and jewelry makers, teams for sellers who cater to certain markets and so on. The idea behind a team is that it is as involved as the team leaders choose. There is a discussion board for each team and there is an option to see all of the shops run by team members. It’s essentially like an online artist’s guild within Etsy.
So I said to myself, this might be the way to fight back against the new Etsy guidelines! This might be the way to do something about it! So I did.
The All Handmade By ME Team was born:
I set up my new team so that new members would have to apply for membership so that I would be able to guarantee that every member of my team was a handmade seller–that of course, meaning the real, dictionary defintion of “handmade.” I only anticipated that somewhere around 20 or 30 people would want to join this team, so I figured, no big deal, I can handle those applications! Boy was I wrong! Within the first 24 hours, the team had over 100 members.
I was absolutely shocked! This was new territory for me! I’ve been coming up with wild and crazy ideas my entire life, it’s just who I am. But this was the first time anyone really took me seriously! Me! Some 23 year-old kid with no real leadership experience whatsoever! All of a sudden, everyone wanted to be a part of something that I created! Me!
To apply to the All Handmade By Me Team, or for more information, click here: www.etsy.com/teams/19087/all-handmade-by-me
October 6, 2013:
I had my very first Etsy sale! I sold my favorite piece, “A Life for All Seasons” to a fellow All Handmade By Me team member! I can’t really explain the excitement of the first Etsy sale, but if you are a fellow Etsy seller, you know what I’m talking about. It was like a validation of sorts. Like, all of a sudden I knew that I was a real artist for the first time. It’s a truly incredible feeling!
All Handmade By ME Week 1:
During the very first week of the All Handmade By Me Team, the team leaders and I accomplished A LOT! Whereas I had expected only a couple dozen members, there were a couple hundred who wanted to join! I knew I couldn’t handle the whole team by myself anymore, so I decided to bring in help right from the beginning. I invited a couple active team members to be team leaders and things took off from there with a running start! Within the first week, we had a Facebook Page for our team, a team Twitter account, a group board on Pinterest and a blog on Tumblr.
On the one week anniversary of the team, I wrote our first Tumblr post to kick things off:
All Handmade By ME Weeks 2 & 3:
After the initial rush of new members and the task of setting up everything for the team on social media, things started to slow down a little bit. And by “slow down” I really just mean that things were manageable for the 10 leaders who were running things. The team was still growing and we were coming up with exciting new ideas every day. We had several things to keep our members actively promoting handmade!
I created this image and it circulated on Facebook with a lot of interest!
I had created my own “handmade badge of honor” when I created the group. This badge was (and is) available to all team members to put in their shops so that buyers can recognize them as handmade sellers and members of the All Handmade By Me Team. The badge itself was originally only created in gold, but several members began to express concerns that the artwork did not match their shop branding. I agreed. I didn’t want to impose on anyone’s creativity or style, so I decided to offer the badge in several basic colors. When I did so, I noticed that it started appearing on more and more shop banners!
The standard colors available for the All Handmade By Me team badge
October 23, 2013:
Several members of the team had told me that they were having difficulty adding the badge to their shop banners. For me, something like this is rather simple because I am a graphic designer and work with computers, but I understood that for many, this was not a simple task. So, as a solution, I offered a listing in my Etsy shop for the small fee of $2.99 to add the badge to a team member’s banner for them.
This service was extremely popular and I was swamped with requests! To date, I have added my badge to so many banners that I have lost track of the number!
To purchase my banner assistance, click here: www.etsy.com/listing/166761162/all-handmade-by-me-team-banner
October 28, 2013:
The colored badges had been so popular that I decided to offer specialty badges as well! These would not be free to all members because they are an “upgrade” to the standard badge. I also started offering custom badges for members who wanted something that would match the exact shades of certain colors in their shop banners, for a slightly higher price.
These were also extremely popular!
Specialty badges: $3.99 for your choice of one of the badges pictured here
To date, these are all the banners on which I have personally added my handmade badge:
October 29, 2013:
This is when the most exciting things began to happen. I was contacted by a journalist from Yahoo Shine! She was working on a story about the seller reaction to Etsy’s new guidelines and she had seen something I posted on the main Etsy forum. I had written about how I had taken the negative changes and turned them into something positive (the team) and she was intrigued! She contacted me and we set up a phone interview for later that day.
I was so nervous! I sat down and wrote out two pages worth of notes in preparation for that interview. I wanted to make sure I portrayed everything in a positive light, rather than airing my countless frustrations with Etsy.
By the time I hung up the phone, I was beyond excited! The reporter hadn’t heard about the All Handmade By Me team and was thrilled to hear about my “handmade revolution.” She told me the team would be the new focus of her article that would come out later that same day.
When the actual article came out, I was a little disappointed. The reporter had spelled my name wrong in a couple places and she had several typos. I almost decided not to share the article with anyone because I wasn’t thrilled with the quotes she had chosen to focus on.
But then something happened. The All Handmade By Me team had over 650 members at this point. When the article was posted, about 40 new applications appeared in a couple hours.
This is the link to the Yahoo! article:
October 30, 2013:
October 30, 2013 was the biggest, most exciting, COMPLETELY UNBELIEVABLE day, probably of my entire life. At the very least, it was the most exciting day I can remember. At this point, the All Handmade By Me team had 689 members. My shop was just over two months old and in that time had had a total of 8,737 views…
…Then the Yahoo! article was posted on the Yahoo! front page…
Featured on the YAHOO! Front Page!
…In one day, we–the team leadership and I–responded to hundreds of applications to join the team. I personally accepted our 1,000th member that day.
The response to this article was absolutely phenomenal. I received dozens of messages from people who read about me on Yahoo! and wanted information about joining the team. I also received many messages from people looking to find team members’ shops so that they could buy only truly handmade items this holiday season!
I don’t think I have ever been more proud of anything in my entire life. I am still shocked every single time a team member thanks me for what I have created. I am so humbled by everything that has happened. I wake up every morning expecting that this whole thing has just been a really great dream. It hasn’t. It’s real.
On October 30, 2013, my Etsy shop had well over 2,000 views. In one day. Wow.
October 31, 2013:
For a couple days after the Yahoo! article went viral, the team leaders and I were still swamped with applications to join the All Handmade By Me team. The exposure was wonderful for our cause!
In the excitement of the publicity, a childhood friend of mine, Sydney, approached me about her idea to start a blog to feature team members. I was thrilled! Sydney is not an Etsy seller, so her decision to write a blog about our team was even more impressive!
I was honored when Sydney featured my shop as the first feature on the new blog! To read her kind words and to follow the All Handmade By Me Team Blog, click here:
Also on this day, I surpassed the 50 sale milestone in my Etsy shop! The majority of those sales were for banner assistance, but regardless, I still get excited when my phone gets an Etsy notification and goes: CHA CHING!!
November 2, 2013:
November 2, 2013 marked the one month anniversary of the All Handmade By Me Team. Only one moth old and the team was at nearly 1,200 members! I cannot believe how much we have accomplished in only one month! It is completely unheard of! Nearly 1,200 handmade sellers from around the globe have teamed up to promote and sell truly handmade treasures! Wow.
November 4, 2013:
On November 4, 2013, the All Handmade By Me Team leadership launched a new team forum separate from Etsy for our team members. We did this for several reasons:
First, managing an effective forum on Etsy had gotten impossible. Etsy does not allow teams to have much freedom, so we couldn’t delete threads, edit threads, or organize things in any way. With over 1,200 members, it was getting difficult to keep things organized and we were getting messages several times a day from members asking where to find this or that. The Etsy forum had become a headache both for team members and for team leaders.
Second, moving our team discussion off of Etsy allowed us more freedom to speak openly about Etsy and their changes without fear. Etsy has been notorious among sellers for censorship and for banning members and closing shops that do not agree with them. By moving off site, we don’t have to worry as much about Big Brother looking over our shoulders.
Third, this new forum is just more fun! Plain and simple. We can sort threads into folders now so we can have more threads without having to deal with clutter. We can add videos and pictures to our posts and we have the freedom to use different colors! For an artsy crowd like this team, the freedom is so rewarding!
November 5, 2013:
Trish from Bathe Happy wrote a wonderful blog post about the team! To read it, click here: bathehappy.net/2013/11/05/all-handmade-by-me-an-epic-movement/
November 6, 2013:
I had sold art to several team members at this point, but it wasn’t until November 6, 2013 that I sold my first piece of art to a random stranger! My very first sale to someone with only a buyer’s account on Etsy was very exciting and means that my artwork is actually being seen by the general public!
The piece I sold was my “Big Orange Couch” Print:
November 8, 2013:
As of November 8, 2013, I had received 30 FIVE STAR REVIEWS on my Etsy shop. Any Etsy seller will tell you that reviews are essential to success. They make your shop look credible to complete strangers who may not know anything about your business other than what is said in your reviews. I am so honored and blessed that people think so highly of my business!
To read my reviews, click here:
Yesterday (November 11, 2013):
Yesterday, I was thrilled to be featured in a wonderful blog by Cathey Ihms! She featured my shop and went into a lot of detail about my items! It was a fabulous post and I hope you all read it! I also hope you’ll take a moment to check out her Etsy shop! Her items are beautifully painted!
To read Cathey’s blog post, click here:
Also yesterday, I worked on a new custom shop banner for Stephanie. She liked my work so much that she decided to write a blog post about her new banner and the importance of shop branding!
To read Stephanie’s blog post, click here:
Today (November 12, 2013):
Today I was featured in another wonderful blog! Maisie is starting a sequence called “12 Shops For Christmas” and she featured SMARTdesigns as her first shop! It is another great blog with really kind words about myself and my shop!
To read Maisie’s blog post, click here:
In the past few days and weeks I have created a lot of new artwork. I now have over fifty items for sale in my Etsy shop and I have many more to come! I have a lot of exciting ideas up my sleeves!
I am anxious to hear your thoughts on the excitement from the last six weeks. I thank you all for reading this ridiculously long blog post! Thanks for bearing with me! I know it was a lot of information and I promise to update you much more frequently in the future so I don’t have to post another novel like this one. Please comment below to let me know what you think!
Visit my Etsy shop to see what’s new!
Comments on the original post:
UNREAL…It has been wonderful to be along with you and the team. This is fun and exciting to read! Thank you goes out to the team leaders and all of your work and the time you have put into everything. –Holly
I really like that you have put everything in a sequential order about what has happened and what you have done about it, as always I love the images you provided and the links too. Thanks for keeping us informed and I’m Proud to be a member of you team! :) –Kristi
It’s an amazing ride that I am lucky to be a part of! –Nadia
Your blog was a great read, so full of pertinent info. You and your leaders have done a great job getting this team off the ground. I appreciate all you’ve done. Now if I could jus become computer savvy and learn how to follow everyone meaning all the handmade shops, it would be a start for me. Congratulations. –Jeannine
Great blog Stacey, and yes it has certainly been a big roller coaster of a month and a half. I feel like we haven’t stopped for breath yet! –Teresa
It has been quite the ride! I?m thankful so many amazing and talented individuals have been brought together, many of which I would never have crossed paths with if it weren?t for the team! I?m glad to be here with you all?and a huge thank you to Stacey and the rest of the leaders! –Suzanne
Great post – I am proud to be a member of this great team. Keep up the good work – I really appreciate it. –Nancy