Forum Fundamentals

Before I discovered Etsy I had never really been a part of an on-line community. I may of had a myspace page but I abandoned it after a few days. I never really understood the whole making friends with people you would never really know in the real world. I guess I'm showing my age with this one since all the college kids have grown up with whole communities at their finger tips.

I think you can a lot about an Etsian (the common term for an etsy fanatic whether they are a buyer only or seller), by how they feel about the Forums. When I first joined I quickly got sucked into the entire world of etsy. I read the forums obsessively but didn't really start responding until I started selling. Then for the next 6 months or so I was on the forum whenever I had a free minute at work and for about an hour every night. The luster has definitely faded for me now but I do still find them to be a useful tool and they are an amazing resource to a newbie looking for support and answers to specific questions.

I've noticed a much more negative vibe in the forums of late and a general lack of respect at times which can be annoying. I personally avoid the Etc. section entirely since I don't find it all that useful or interesting. If you are really looking to form some close connections it is probably the best place but I really don't feel the need to mix my personal life with my shop. Things tend to get out of hand and pretty unprofessional down in the Etc. section and if you have thin skin or virgin ears I would definitely stay far away.

The help section is the place to go if you are having trouble with some aspect of Etsy or running your shop. Be aware that it is against the rules to discuss a specific transaction on Etsy so you may have to speak in very general terms if asking a question. I use the forums primarily to network and to promote my shop and I've found that you can get more attention by giving a well thought out answer to a newbie then rambling on in other sections.

The business section is the meat and potatoes of the forums and I spend the bulk of my networking time in this area. If you have a question on how to promote or market or other general questions this is a good place to get a serious answer. I may go into the critique section occasionally and look for people who appear to actually want a critique of their shop but most of the requests there are very thinly disguised promotions.

Which brings me to the much maligned promotions section. I actually have spent a great deal of time here. I don't know of any sales that have directly come from the promotions section but I know that others speak of great success with well placed promotions threads. I have gotten most of my trades through the promotions section and have gotten many views as well. Since just listing or renewing an item does not guarantee 15 or so views like it did when I first joined I have found that I need to "pimp" my items more to see the views going up. I don't know why but it drives me crazy to have the view total of an item too low. I know that it only takes 1 view to sell an item, if it the right person but if I'm not seeing those totals rising I get a little down. You can get several views by listing your item on other people's threads by looking for appropriate places to post them. For example people will start "post your blue" or "newest listing" type threads all the time. It is considered polite to look at several other people's items in the thread and to not just "post and run".

It is tacky to go through and post random things in random threads and you will do more harm than good if you start spamming other sections in the forums. You will get even more views by starting your own thread in promotions, but be prepared to babysit it. You will have to go in and comment on other people's items in order to keep the thread from dying a quick death. The promotions section has been overrun with BNR (Buy and replace) games and other contests as of late. I have never done a BNR except for a treasury once. They can be ok for a newbie who wants to see how the buying process works and to get some feedback going but otherwise I think they are kind of a waste of time. Don't get me wrong I love to buy on Etsy but I don't want to be limited to a specific group of people, and I want to do it on my terms.

Since starting my blog I've spent much more time exploring other people's blogs then I have on the forums. I haven't been getting as many hearts, but honestly I prefer reading blogs at this point than the craziness of the forums right now. I still spend a few minutes here and there to catch up on anything important and to promote new listings but I don't see it as the all important social network that it once was to me. I know that I no longer see most of the people that were constantly there when I started and it is a whole new set of avatars so I'm clearly not alone.


Periwinkle Studio said...

I completely relate! When I started, I was obsessed with all things Etsy and read the forums a lot! It seemed I was on it all the time. Not so much anymore. I am having too much fun with my blog and reading others! :) Fun!

Leah said...

great post. I visit the etsy forums almost daily but often just to check on team threads. When I have a little more time, I might comment in the site help, business, or critique section too.

Kerstin said...

Great post - I think I am considered a 'newbie' (joined near the end of August), and have found great help in some of the forum areas. I also have been cyber-embarrassed by some seller's comments, and the distinct possibility that buyers are reading them and perhaps unconciously standing in judgement of all etsy sellers.
How easy it is to forget that one comment potentially represents all etsy sellers to a reader.
Keep it up, Lenox :)

CB said...

I'm still pretty new to Etsy, five months now, so I joined around the time all the complaining seemed to really start up on the forums. The business section is really starting to get crowded with promotions I noticed. Oh well, Etsy is still fun for me. :)

Heather said...

You know, I've never been an Etsy forum person. I've been on a couple times, but never really got into them. I like reading blogs better too! :) Thank you for your post!

MySweetThree said...

What a great post..and I could not agree with you more. I don't spend nearly as much time in the forums as I used to. I would spend gobs of time there...that lasted for probably 2-3 weeks..and then I felt like I had to wean myself off of them..hee hee. I have been to Etc only a handful of times, I feel like I need to have a special backstage pass or something to be there...Oh which I don't have. lol

The Verbal Warrior said...

Forums are a difficult game to play....I tend to avoid them, because you never know when what you might say might piss someone off and start a firestorm of cyber-ian proportions :D

I'm a lurker if anything, and reading individual seller blogs is much more interesting! I've never been a clique-y kind of girl. I'm a loner, Dottie! A rebel! :D

Great post!

Mea Culpa Bath and Body said...

awesome post!!! I was obsessed with the Promo section, but all it does is waste my time. Except for couple decent threads that you actually talk to people in normal way. I am looking more and more in business and critiques and the Site help sections. Much more laid back.


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