Monday, November 10, 2014

Spacefem's Guide To Starting An Etsy Team

I adore Etsy teams. I hope Etsy keeps this feature around forever. I can honestly say I would not be on Etsy still if it weren't for teams... I would have posted some listings, though "Well nothing's selling. Oh well." and then bailed.

But luckily through teams I got shop critiques, support, learned helpful tips, got dragged into the shop opportunities prototype, made a ton of friends and got to be the etsian I am today!

I've even started several of my own teams, and captained a number of them. You know my biggest team, EtsyTrades.com, I did not even start! I inherited! But more on that later.

How To Start An Etsy Team


Step 1: Don't.
No really - as I said, I inherited my biggest project. It's a trade team, there are lots of trade teams, it would be a silly idea to start your own trade team when you could use your talents to contribute to an existing one. Go searching for a team with a purpose similar to one you'd start, and jump in - so much easier than starting from zero! You might even ask the captains how you can help or volunteer to co-lead.

Some teams have no captains, or their captain went missing a long time ago. If your team captain no longer responds to convos, you might just start a thread asking the team whether anyone has heard from the captain or would support you in becoming captain. If your team is okay with it, you can contact Etsy, tell them the team captain has gone AWOL, and volunteer to captain yourself. I've done this a couple times and they always respond within a few business days - I clicked the "help" link on Etsy, looked for help on Community Guidelines > Teams, and used the contact form to get in touch.

Recently I found myself wishing I was in a team for people looking to increase their followers. I found The Circle Clicking Team - which had thousands of members and seemed to have that goal, at one time. But the captains hadn't started new threads in months. So I asked if they needed help, and guess what - they made me the captain! I am so glad I didn't start my own team from scratch, this was much easier!

Step 2: Or do
Then again maybe there is no team that fits your idea, so you start one, and that's okay too! Be sure to give it a cool icon and fill in as much info as you can about the goals and purpose of your team.

Step 3: So now you're a captain!
I say the first thing to do is get some threads started! Nobody wants to jump into an empty box. If your team has no active threads, you must start at least one. Make it an easy question that people will want to respond to. Make sure it demonstrates that you are here for others, not yourself.

Step 4: Invite invite invite
Etsy has a great feature on the left side of every team that leaders can use, it just says "invite" and you can type in any shop name, user name, or user ID and it'll resolve to a real etsian.

I invite shops to my teams like a crazy person. Who do I invite?

1) People who post nice things in the discussion forums
2) Shop owners posting cool new listings
3) Etsians who are favoriting the same things I favorite

You can send out 100 invites a day, and the first day you open a team I'd suggest using all 100!

Unlike convos, invites are unobtrusive and cannot be flagged as spam because they don't use the convo system. They just put up a message for people to respond to; they either accept or reject the invitation, it sits there until they do something so it's not as easy to ignore. Members can convo you back with questions about an invite, but you're not bugging them in convos, so I love them.

Step 5: Encourage other thread starters
I don't like starting all the threads myself, I think people get bored seeing my same icon over and over :) So I'll convo other people and ask them to start threads, especially easy ones like "post your items here" that everyone feels that every team should have (sigh). Having different people start threads makes it feel more like a "team" anyway.

Step 6: Join the Captains Quarters
Yes, Etsy has a team about teams! And it's awesome, you get an insider look at what the admins are doing, recommendations, help with staying active. It's a wonderful thing to join.

Step 7: Recruit more leaders
I think every team should have at least two other leaders besides the captain. You can't be there all the time. If you add a co-leader you get their help and perspective. My trade team has nine leaders which is a lot I know, but we have 3500 members and a mountain of activities so I appreciate the help. They all have a purpose - starting a monthly thread, maintaining the team page, cleaning up spam. Plus when there are other leaders involved, team members really feel like they're in a team, not just one person's idea. In my teams all the leaders get email addresses and email one another to coordinate so we can all talk at once, it works out great.

Step 8: Take suggestions!
Make sure your team is really a team of people who are networking and getting to know one another, not just a holding place for post-and-runs. Feel free to change up the direction every few years, accept new leaders and be open to new ideas.

So that's it. I've been running forums for years and a lot of what I've learned, I just carried right over to teams. I've made some friends and learned a LOT and hope to see you around!

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