Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We get mail

On occasion we get something in the inbox that is more than an Aux post, tip, or rant. Recently, I received an email from a journalist who couldn't tell who she's writing for, but she had the following questions:

1) Can you give me YOUR personal view of the future of the handmade craft industry? Is it enjoying a revival at this time? Will the flailing economy help the Handmade Movement?
2) Can you give me a short list of what you consider Etsy's shortcomings? How and where it has failed its sellers? Its community?
3) What could Etsy do to improve itself as a website?
4) Your views on the Etsy alternatives. How many in your reckoning are likely to become serious contenders for Etsy?
5) Lastly, you had a magic wand, and you could create the BEST handmade buy-and-sell site in history, what are the first 10 things you would do?

My first reaction was 'Hasn't she read the blog?' Then I talked it over with the other Bitches and they thought the same thing.

For one, if you can't tell us who you're writing for, chances are we're not going to give you an exclusive interview. Second, don't ask questions that are answered in the blog. And lastly, don't haggle about on-the-record vs. off-the-record with anonymous writers.

For me (Righteous), it's about integrity and personal responsibility, as a business and an individual. Etsy just hasn't followed through.

I'm posting below my response to the journalist, because I meant what I told her about everything being on-the-record. Plus, you might have an answer for her and now comments can be open for that:

After discussing your questions, we think you will find all of the answers on the EtsyBitch blog. Everything on-the-record is out there for the public. We don't hold back what we really think. We don't mind being quoted and linked to, we stand by everything we say and retract or update as necessary when things change.

If you're having difficulty compiling our responses from the wealth of information on the blog, primarily, there is no "short-list" of what's wrong with Etsy. Over the course of the few years they've been live they have been going downhill. It's everything from hardware and infrastructure to the lack of a customer service department and knowledgable admin. Take a look at
our Christmas list and the comments to it...that's the closest we can get to a short list. Nearly every post is about Etsy's shortcomings, what they can do to improve, and what we think a handmade venue needs. You'll start to see trends when you read through.

For some people, handmade never went away. It may be having a mainstream revival right now, due to trends, going green, or the economy, but that is beyond our collective effort and discussion. We have worked with some people who are promoting the handmade movement, and we appreciate it as artisans ourselves, but art and handmade have always been there, and always will be there, in some form.

We do think there will be some venues that give Etsy a run for its money, some sellers are already having better success elsewhere, others were successful before Etsy ever came to be. It'll be different for everyone and their needs. We have our favorites, but its due to our own experiences. There are many more venues and shopping carts that we'll be reviewing, but I'm sure we have not held back in the posts we've already done as to how we feel a particular venue's chances may be for surpassing Etsy


JustAJewelryDesigner said...

Honestly~ no secrets here Bitches lay it out on the line daily no holding it back..

(Rob Kalin is that YOU?)

Done said...

Nice, thoughtful reply, Righteous One. However, I couldn't get beyond their "flailing". Journalist indeed.

geelizzie said...

This whole idea of a 'handmade movement' is absurd. People have always made things, whether out of necessity or for the pure pleasure of it. I began making things for myself in 7th grade when I learned to sew, and took craft classes in high school where we learned pottery making, tie dying, sand cast candle making, leather working, macrame, etc. Yes, this was back in the late 60's and early 70's when everyone was doing hippie crafts. I started selling my crafts over 25 years ago, before there was an internet. Making things is nothing new, folks, and it certainly isn't what I'd call a movement, it's just easier to find handcrafts nowadays because of the internet.

geelizzie said...

oh, and yes, a real 'journalist' will tell you who they write for. and, yes, all of those questions have been answered on this blog. Very odd.

Jen Segrest (verybigjen) said...

With my IKEA blog I have I have talked to dozens of reporters. Without exception every email, every call, starts with "My name is _____, and I'm a reporter/writer for _____..."

Be it magazine, newspaper or blog, they ALL say who they are and what they are doing and for who.

Most of them actually want to speak to you, not send you a list of questions. Very internet.

I think this is a new venue trying to get you to give them info and too lazy to read it all.

The Funny One said...

Please add:
Complete lack of integrity, which leads to questionable business ethics.

Just check out the Shopping Cart. Etsy does nothing to protect its sellers. Nothing.

Etsy does little for the reputation, quality, and pricing of handmade.

Etsy is for Etsy and not much else. Now that Etsy controls 100% of ALL promotions on the site, only Etsy-approved stores and sellers get Etsy-attention.

The fact that they allow their employees to operate numerous stores on the site and profit from their status as employees, well, that about sums up Etsy.

Disappointed said...

I doubt that was a journalist at all.

teawithfrodo said...

I was a journalism student in college. I find it odd that she wouldn't disclose who she is writing for. As a journalist that's just bad form, even if she's just writing a freelance article she would have stated that.

Also seems strange that she doesn't read the blog she is writing her article about. I;m not sure what "off the record" info she was looking for.

if this person is indeed a real journalist...they suck at it.

I'm not your average Granny said...

Journalist? Nah, just more immaturity. A well thought out response, EBs.

forum rubbernecker said...

Information gathering FAIL.

sillygirl said...

I hope it is a real reporter from something BIG. I have always thought that people should tell whoever they can in the press that Etsy is an embarrassment to handmade and the hard working artists who are on the site.
Yes, we sell there, but unfortunately, no one can deny that their name is entrenched in the craft world now.
People ARE going there to find craft.
It seems like more and more craft magazines and well known artists are kissing their asses.
It's a brilliant concept run by amateurs.

I've have had a great month selling many things and I STILL want to see them crash and burn...

Gracie said...

Somethin' smells fishy . . . Hmmm

buddy said...

That's no journalist. Journalists identify themselves, identify their company and medium (print, web, video, radio), and ask objective questions.

Most of those questions are directly negative Etsy. Sounds like some of the new management asked an admin what the problems are, and the admin couldn't answer without some bogus research.

Hi dxo! (waves)

buddy said...

OK, just for chuckles:

On my short list of problems: it's a problem that Etsy runs an article about the "Featured Buyer" in the Storque blog, which also scrolls across the front page, and that "buyer" has not made any purchases, and has no feedback.


life-during-wartime said...

Handmade movement?

The 'handmade trend' has been on the scene for a few years before there was an Etsy, riding sidecar with 'massclusivity' -- these two trends being a way to market to consumer 'individualists'. (cf. 4 part video series CENTURY OF THE SELF which can be found on YouTube amd visit trendreportDOTcom) The clean-n-greens can't ride the sidecar, they're walking along behind. Etsy flirts with all of these trends, playing resellers (vintage, supplies, and factory handmade) off against the homebased artist/artisan in a competition for relevance, hipness, and visibility on the Etsy site. Etsy's investors, owners, and admin worship the almighty $$$ and the trend smooching is all a pose. The rest of the story can be found here on the EB blog and on the Etsy community forum.

foxaz said...

a featured buyer with no purchases & no feedback?(The dude in the bandana? - he looks hipster-ish)

I'm falling outta my chair laughing... Way to FAIL, Etsy.

KPP said...

Well, Jay McCarroll is relatively famous and his winning Project Runway line did have some cool fiber stuff, if I recall correctly. So, I think it is sort of neat that he deigned to do etsy. I think its pretty clear that he probably either only shopped/favorited on etsy to do the article (which doesn't make it terribly interesting) or he normally shops under another name (which he'd now be violating rules).

The question is...when is Leanne of Leanimal going to return (recent Project Runway winner) who actually had an etsy shop and shower etsy with a little attention (not the shop, do an article like Jay's). She is, of course, now doing bigger and better things. Oddly enough, she'd be a great Quit Your Day Job, but that includes quitting etsy. Ha.

come on, etsy said...

What screams "etsy" to me is the last question, with its oh-so-quirky and hyperbolic language: "magic wands" and "the BEST site in history", indeed!

Megan McGory said...

Real reporters would tell you who they're working for. I used to be a journalist--can you imagine what it would be like if you tried getting into a high-security event with a bunch of politicians and tried to pull that crap? You wouldn't get in. Hell, I was an actual journalist and I almost didn't get in because I worked for a two-bit free newspaper that didn't issue photo IDs to its reporters.

I really admire your response to that. If the journalist doesn't feel like doing any work she could always pull a quote or two out of your email back anyway. Besides, this blog is fun to read!