Almost every week – without fail. . . I receive a message on Facebook that gives me the chills. Someone’s life has just been turned upside down in an instant.
Etsy has shut down an Etsy seller’s shop. The shop is suspended. Closed. Gone. Vanished. Nothing.
Disappeared – A stitch has gone awry!
Etsy provides a selling platform – and Etsy can allow or disallow anyone they want on their site. The Etsy shop you are building is not on land you own.
News Flash – this is old news. Every experienced Etsy seller knows this. We still sell on Etsy. Opportunity > Risks.
We hope it never happens to us.
If you have an Etsy shop, you accept this small risk. We hear of it happening to others. We look for ways to diversify our revenue streams.
In short, we think to ourselves, “Etsy is a good opportunity for my business where the opportunities outweigh the risks”.
Unfortunately, suspensions happens more often than you might think.
Since I have worked with Etsy sellers every day of my life for almost 8 years. . . I feel I have a better understanding of this “horror story” than the average Etsy seller.
I’m filled with empathy for these Etsy sellers. It happens to small shops and shops that bring in $100,000 in revenue per year. It happens to both new shops and established shops. It’s always a surprise for the seller, too. Those that have had their shop shut down feel powerless.
Hours of work and effort are flushed down the toilet.
Titles, tags, descriptions, photos, prices, shop info, and a whole lot more is gone in an instant. It sucks!
But many shop suspensions are legit…
Since I hear of so many suspension stories, I don’t have time to look in to and investigate any of them to determine if it was a legitimate suspension or not. Through experience, I’ve learned that even when it seems “blatantly obvious” that justice was served or misappropriated, I realize I probably don’t have the full story. I admit it . . . Etsy has a difficult job as a police officer – I don’t envy that job.
Many Etsy sellers break rules or don’t pay their fees. Some treat their customers like trash. Others are repeat violators that are harming the Etsy selling community. Some are just pure “spammers and rule breakers”.
Either way, a legit suspension or illegitimate suspension mean the same thing for the seller.
Their life is now flipped upside down. . . and in my position, I hear about many of these stories.
What does this mean for you and your Etsy shop?
I wanted to write this article as a simple reminder. Tomorrow, your Etsy shop could be gone in an instant.
It’s not likely to happen, but unlikely things do happen. They happen more often than you think. Are you prepared?
You’re probably not prepared!
None of us are. It’s impossible to be fully prepared for something like this.
Historically, there’s not been many practical ways to prepare for something like this. Recently, an Etsy app developer reached out to me and we started talking about an app he had developed with his wife. I did some research about their app and I was intrigued at its capabilities.
Backtsy Backs Up your Etsy Shop
Noam & Sigal Zakai designed an app based on her needs as an Etsy seller – called Backtsy. The app makes a “back up” of your Etsy shop on a recurring schedule and stores your files on your behalf. It also allows you to download all of your files onto your hard drive. Backtsy is the service that backs up your Etsy shop for you.
I had a couple of video chats with him discussing the app and its functionality. He made some improvements based on my suggestions. I tried it out. I loved how this app worked!
I Backed Up My Own Etsy Shop
It was easy. It was automated and recurring. And boy oh boy . . . did I feel better knowing I had a current backup of my Etsy shop all in one place – ready at any moment I might need it! HUGE SMILE
4 Steps To Minimize Your Risk Surrounding An Etsy Shop Suspension
Step 1 Backtsy– Make sure you have a current and quick-one-stop access to your shop’s data (titles, tags, descriptions, images, etc). I suggest using Backtsy (it’s like insurance for your business). I believe the value and peace of mind I gain easily outweighs the costs of using the app. FYI – the annual plans are the best value. I believe that EVERY Etsy seller that derives a significant portion of their income from Etsy should use this app. NO EXCEPTIONS. It’s simply a wise business decision and way to minimize a potential loss that you don’t have to think about ever again.
Step 2 Alternate Selling Platform – Make sure you know exactly which selling platform/location you will focus on generating online sales in the event your Etsy shop is closed. I suggest your own website for complete future control. I like GoDaddy, Host Gator, and WordPress. This takes a lot of time to implement, but it should be on every serious Etsy seller’s radar.
Step 3 – Review that you are following all of Etsy’s rules by rereading through their terms.
Step 4 – Spend 5 minutes writing down a plan if the unthinkable happens to you. It might go something like this: Take a deep breath. Keep communication open with Etsy on a professional level. Work with them to make things right – be reasonable. Business is done between people and good relationships. If you are in the wrong – suck it up and correct it or move on. If you are in the right – do whatever it takes to fight for your position. This might include writing physical letters, showing up at Etsy’s doorstep, and sharing your story with media via social networks. Make sure you start directing your fans and customers to your new selling site. Seek wise counsel from others that know you and your business well. Answer their questionnaire with diligence – provide EVERYTHING they are looking for – you can’t give too much detail. If necessary, file a complaint with the BBB.
Closing Thoughts From Jason:
Every business faces risks. It’s rare that you can eliminate a risk completely. Even if you do manage to eliminate a risk completely – another risk tends to pop up in its place.
Etsy gets many shop suspensions right, but their track record can’t be 100% – no one is perfect. Look for ways to take greater ownership of your business – including ownership of its related risks. This is part of what it means to be a responsible business owner.
If you sell on Etsy, having your Etsy shop suspended is a legitimate risk – I know…I hear from these sellers regularly. My goal is to make sure you’ve stopped and thought about this risk adequately. Have you taken the actions you need to appropriately mitigate or plan for this risk?
Re-read Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4 from above. SERIOSLY! Re-read them and decide if you need to take any immediate actions. If a “shop suspension” hits the fan – you are at least somewhat prepared. Otherwise, you just read an Etsy-related business article that accomplished very little for you and your business. Etsy-preneurs are both readers and doers.
Regards, Jason Malinak of Etsy-preneurship.com