Etsy Teams: Expectation vs Reality

Merriam-Webster defines team as “a number of persons associated together in work or activity” Etsy says that “Teams are groups of organized Etsy members who network, share skills, and promote their shops and Etsy together.”

I’ve been thinking about the teams I belong and have belonged in the past and my experiences vs my expectations thus far. I think that teams and guilds (as they are called on Artfire) serve different purposes for different members. On the whole though, participation is key. Each member needs to ACTIVELY participate, at the level that is required in that particular group. As defined by Webster, teams are “associated together in work or activity”. One can’t actually associate if limited to no interaction occurs. Right?

So, #1, member participation is key.

What should member expectations be of the teams to which they belong? When I first joined etsy, I joined two fairly large jewelry focused teams. At the time, one of my biggest reasons for doing so was to sell more items in my shop. Now, with a bit more online experience under my belt, I see that this is a poor reason to join a team. Teams, in and of themselves, can’t help you sell more goods. They can, however, help you gain a better understanding about how to make changes, either incrementally or other otherwise that may lead to your sales increasing.

I think teams are the means to an end, not the end itself. And the distinction is an important one.

I think that one should expect a team to provide
• Camaraderie
• Shop/Studio appearance advice
• Photography tips
• Entry in to larger team events like group sales/specials and/or group purchases
• Skills and knowledge sharing around proper artist technique
• Marketing advice, experimentation and brainstorming
• Minimal, if any,  strife or infighting among members

Potential members should not be asking a team “what can you do for me”. Potential members should be asking THEMSELVES what are my expectations and how can I contribute to this team in order that those expectations are met.

Personally, my experience has been that the smaller teams are a better fit overall for me. I’ve found that the larger teams tend to deteriorate into a large mass that depends on a core smaller group to do all the work, essentially that team’s own mini team. Over time, it seems like this leads to grumbling from the mini team’s members, which isn’t particularly helpful.

I also like teams that are comprised of a nice mix of experienced folks as well as newbies. The experienced ones can coach the newbies and the newbies bring a fresh outlook and point of view that the experienced ones sometimes forget about.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that any team I join will be around for the long haul. Participation wanes, life intervenes. It is what it is. But I think that we, as members, should define our expectations up front and perform a bit of homework to determine if a particular team meets those expectations. Then after deciding to become a member, continually evaluate expectations vs reality. Adjust as needed.

What do you think? What has worked for you? What has failed miserably? What important components did I miss?

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  1. I had thought about the team thing and I don’t think that that is for me. I know that it’s good and everything. I work a full time job and I don’t have time for a lot of the activities that they have and I know that my participation would be low. But I’m sure that it is probably a really good thing.

  2. This was a great article! Like yourself I thrive better in and among smaller groups . I was on a very large team at Etsy for a year and felt completely lost there, I left as I did not like the over all experience for many reasons. I don’t regret the decision. I had joined mostly to find friendship among other artisans but it never really “clicked” for me at Etsy. I’ve just become a member of a guild at ArtFire–just joined so have yet to get to know everyone…but so far, so fun. :o)

  3. I definitely think teams are like anything else – if you don’t put much into them, you won’t get much back. The larger/more successful a team gets, the more of that mini-team thing starts happening, which is too bad, but I don’t see how it can be prevented other than with rules or restricting membership. I’m on two teams that have gotten really big, and I know that most of the members don’t participate, and therefore probably aren’t getting much out of being a member.

  4. Great article, Kristy. I think you’ve summed it up really well. I’m a newbie and part of SATeam with you. I thought it was a large team, but I take it from what you wrote that we’re not. Our team has been invaluable to me. I learned things I’d never have learned about marketing on Etsy. And the camaraderie and support has made a huge difference for me.

    On the other side, the time I spend keeping up with things can sometimes feel daunting and like it’s keeping me from moving my business forward in other ways. From time to time I’ve lost touch with the group because I was focusing my business efforts on other things – like learning about ArtFire, working on a team there, and doing other things to develop a stronger online presence.

    However, I’ve found that I missed more than I gained with the extra time during those periods. I have to keep reminding myself that being new means that everything takes longer and that I can’t tackle everything at once. I need to focus on one thing at a time and be more patient. The challenge for me is that I see experienced sellers like you who are thriving in several different venues and then I want to be able to do that too.

    Thanks so much for all of your help and inspiration.

  5. I joined a team recently (Etsy Supply Street Team) but I don’t feel like I’ve participated much. The thing is, I’m not sure how to participate. What does participation mean?

    We have a forum that I post on occasionally, when we have promo threads on Etsy forums, I’ll be sure to drop a post there. All in all, I don’t really feel like I’ve participated much. Am I missing something?

    In any case, your post is great! A good reminder that a team isn’t gonna bring you sales if you don’t help yourself first!

  6. I am active in an Etsy street team that basically has a large membership with a small group of active participants. The small group runs the website and any activities for the site. We do have a lot of fun with challenges, contests and promotions. The team recently culled quite a few inactive members that hadn’t been heard from in months and didn’t respond to convos. I have no idea what their expectations were when they joined.

    I’m in a guild on ArtFire that hasn’t gotten off the ground. Participation is zip and most of the people who joined have disappeared and don’t even check the forums. It’s been a disappointment. I read a comment in the forums by one member who expected the guild master to contact all the members and let them know about any activities. How’s that for participation?

    It’s true that you get out of a group what you put into it. It’s a shame that so many people miss out on what a team can offer.

  7. I absolutely fell in love with these poms when they were used at my baby seohwr this past March! These cupcake flags would have been a great addition to my party had we known about them sooner! These flags would be great for any party! I think I might use them at the Open House night at my school or during parent teacher conferences in the Fall. The colors are so vibrant that they make me think of changing leaves! I would love to make some tasty treats to stick them in on conference night to make the night a whole lot sweeter!

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