How to Form a New Team on Etsy for Etsy Sellers and Buyers
During 2011, I had the pleasure of co-founding a brand new team on Etsy with five of my favorite people on Etsy. We had been part of a team for several years that was dying due to lack of leadership and were ready to take the great elements of our team to a new level of challenge and promotion. We took the leap and started our own team. This process promoted me to write this article. Many of the team components that I describe here apply to any type of online team. Thus I hope that this is applicable to many more people than simply those on Etsy.
The actual process of creating a team is very simple. Go to the Etsy Team page and click on the blue Create a Team button in the upper right hand corner. You will need to complete the following fields: Set the Basics, Write a Description, Set the Rules, Gather Information, Choose a Logo, Add Tags, and Add Related Links. It is important to take the time to think through all of these components before jumping into a new team. I will cover many of these aspects of a team in this article.
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The three biggest questions to address first before you consider any other details are:
Why do you want to start a team? Make sure that your team idea is unique. Etsy is flooded with teams. You don't need to be a duplicate team who is competing with the existing team for members.
What will the purpose be? There are many different types of teams on Etsy. Some are open to anyone with very few requirements. Some are limited to people who meet certain requirements and then must abide by certain rules and requirements to maintain membership. There is not one right way to run a successful team. Figure out what is appropriate and what will work well for your particular team.
Who is involved with the initial start up? Make sure that you have enough people committed to the responsibility. Ideally this should be 4-6 people. Leadership can (and will) change over time but you need to have this commitment up front to get things off the ground. Even if you don't have all of the specifics worked out yet, start working out basic categories for jobs such as social media and team e-mail announcements.
Once you've answered these three questions, you're ready to start working out the details for your team.
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Social Media and Blogging
These two components are essential for any Etsy team and should be part of the leadership duties right from the start. These venues will be a vital aspect of your team recruitment strategies and campaigns. At a minimum, consider Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. Many Etsy teams use either Blogger or Wordpress for their blogging platform. As it becomes more popular, many teams are also joining up on Pinterest.
As always with social media, make sure that your content on social media is meaningful and relevant. Stay away from being overly promotional and provide content that is valuable to both the team members and your followers. Take the time to reply to all messages.
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E-mail List and/or Forum Announcements
It is important to have a method for contacting the entire group. Some teams use e-mail while others use a forum site. Some teams use both. Typically sending team messages is not a very time consuming job. It can be one of several duties that a leader takes or can be one simple job for a member who wants a minimal time commitment.
There will be times when you will need to make team announcements about any number of topics such as team events (i.e. promotions, giveaways, etc.) and changes to the team (i.e. modified requirements). Consider sending weekly or monthly updates with team happenings, reminders, encouragement, and more.
The size of your team and the number of requirements will largely affect the time required for team accountability. It is okay to have a larger team with a few major requirements, but be prepared for the time that it will take to monitor all of this and follow up with team members. Typically teams set certain dates or at least a specific number of times a year that they will check in with members about compliance.
The bottom line is that if there are team requirements, you need to make sure that all team members are meeting them. Of course there can be exceptions. Unexpected things will come up for anyone with little or no notice such as illness and family emergencies. Other exceptions can be given for planned absences such as vacations and scheduled surgeries. If team members are open and honest about their circumstances, things will run smoothly (for the most part anyway).
Some teams simply don't have any or have very little accountability requirements so this simply isn't an issue. For example, there are a couple blog teams on Etsy that anyone with a blog can join and then can participate in the forums however much or little as they like. As long as everyone participating in the forums has a blog and is participating appropriately, there are all meeting the requirements. This is fairly easy to monitor.
Conflict Resolution with The Waterboy
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Here’s the thing - leadership and conflict go hand-in-hand. Leadership is a full-contact sport, and if you cannot or will not address conflict in a healthy, productive fashion, you should not be in a leadership role.
Conflict Management Method
The need for conflict management is yet another reason why it's important to have a leadership team. Even on the best teams, there will be any number of conflicts that can arise. The more quickly the leadership can address these problems, the more smoothly the team will run.
Currently I am part of two Etsy teams in which I also have a leadership role. On both of these teams, we work through conflicts as a team, which often has a much more positive outcome than decisions coming from a single leader would have.
Typically the leadership team communicates through an e-mail list or a private forum thread in which all leadership members can read and reply to all messages.
One of the best parts about being on a great Etsy team is the regular interaction that you get to have with other Etsians who share some of your interests and/or passions.
Many teams choose to use the Etsy team discussion section while some teams choose to use other venues, such as the forum sites that I mentioned above. The biggest advantage to the team section is that it's easily accessible for everyone, including new and potential members. However, the biggest disadvantage is that team leaders don't have a lot of control over what happens there. It can be easier to monitor and intervene on other forum sites. I highly urge potential teams to explore a handful of options to determine what will work best for your team before setting on a single option.
Logo and Blog Banner
Before you get established anywhere online, it is important to have a logo and a blog banner. You can update it as needed over time but have something that you can use initially. Using a default logo or having no logo is a big turn off for potential members and followers on Etsy, blogs, and social media.
If no one on the team has the skills to create a logo and blog banner, consider asking a friend to help out or hiring a graphic designer.
One reason that many people join any type of team on Etsy is for the promotional aspect. There are a wide variety of methods for promotion. It is completely up to individual teams what type of promotions you want to do and how often you want to have promotions. Figure out what will work bests for your schedules and your shops. Consider sales, giveaways, treasuries including BNRs (buy and replace treasuries), blog hops, and link ups. Many teams do extra promotions around Etsy promotions, such as Christmas in July, and during the November/December holiday season.
Don't forget to use social media to promote. Be careful to send strategically placed reminders instead of unleashing a floodgate so that people pay attention to the messages.
Don't Forget to Have Fun!
With any team, it can be easy to get caught up in team drama or to become overly focused on the competition for challenges. One of the best parts about Etsy is the community. Enjoy the chance to interact with fellow artists with similar passions and don't get caught up in petty issues.
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