The blog of BaggieAggie, designer of bags, gadget cases and other fabulous accessories handmade in Wales. Sprinkled with recipes, gardening chat, the odd piece of short fiction, and anything else that inspires (or annoys!) me. So pull up a comfy chair and stay a while.


Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Farewell to Folksy and a Mega Rant...!


1. Like most sellers, I joined Folksy because it markets itself as ‘British handmade’ and I had no reason to believe this wasn’t true. Imagine then the shock of discovering that Folksy allows British designers to have their items made abroad, and always has done. There is no mention of this anywhere on the site, and only came to light in a recent Q&A session.  When pressed to explain what exactly was meant by ‘only in small batches’, we were told no more than one hundred. One hundred! And as there is generally only one reason to have items made abroad (cheap labour), how Folksy expects UK handmakers to compete, I can’t imagine.  And, more importantly, what of Folksy’s buyers, who will quite rightly have expected their purchases to be British handmade, not made in India or China or elsewhere?  What indeed.

2. Thanks to the big November changes, something went horribly wrong with Folksy’s SEO. I and many other top-250 sellers of 2011 have sold practically nothing since, because Folksy has sunk into oblivion in Google searches.  My own Folksy sales, unlike my healthy website sales, plummeted to almost zero. My emails to Folksy Support were met with the stock answer that they’re using ‘best practice’ and that it’s up to me to ensure I’m doing everything I need to do. My responses (that I am doing everything I need to do) were shrugged off.  Sure, Folksy has now made it possible to relist items and keep the same URL (albeit six months too late!), and this may help. But Folksy’s SEO was superb before the changes, and that was without everlasting URLs.  I had originally planned to wait it out to see if this new feature would indeed make a difference (though, incidentally, it won’t make any difference to shops selling one-off items), but then along came reason number three, the final straw...

3. ‘Gold star’ badges. What, you ask, are they...? Well, as Folksters reading this will know, every couple of weeks or so Folksy admin find an item photo they particularly like and add the shop concerned to the front page as a ‘Featured Seller’.  This is very nice, as it’s free promotion and their shops remain on a ‘Featured Sellers’ list in the public domain for ever.  Unlike some sellers, I've never had a particular problem with this as the Featured Sellers' items aren’t being promoted (via this feature) as better than any other seller’s – it’s simply that they appeal to one person at Folksy HQ. So I’ve been genuinely very happy for selected sellers, and I wish them all the luck and sales in the world.
However, Folksy's decision to ‘reward’ the Featured Sellers (who, remember, have already been promoted for free on the front page, and remain on a special public list for ever) with gold star badges, is so wrong it couldn’t be any wronger! It wouldn’t be quite so bad if these stars were limited to their shops, but they’re not – they show (in the drop down search categories ranged across the top of Folksy’s front page) against every single item they have for sale. This marks their items out (to prospective buyers) as being superior to unstarred items.  Even though your unstarred items may be just as good or better, human nature being what it is, buyers will be swayed by what they perceive as marks of excellence, and may never visit your shop and see your glowing feedback, let alone buy.
Of course, some Featured Sellers during the ensuing debate said they don’t see the problem, but then they would. Some non-featured sellers have also said they don’t see the problem, but if they sell in large categories (with 1000s of items) these stars won’t be nearly so prominent and prevalent, and their sales may remain relatively unaffected. Some have even said they don't care, and, as someone who can’t abide unfairness, and simply wants to see a level playing field for EVERYONE, I’ve been truly shocked by such flippancy and apathy.  And even more shocked by those who chose to rub salt into gaping wounds and shout ‘sour grapes’...! If I was a featured seller, I'd be mortified to find I'd been awarded a star (of any colour) and was therefore putting non-starred shops and items at a disadvantage! Thankfully, these comments have come from only a handful of people, and most are as horrified as me (as my overflowing inbox attests) that sellers in the smaller categories and sub-categories will be adversely affected by this. And they absolutely will. For example, when I first discovered this badging the other day, there were thirteen stars on one sub-cat page alone. Thirteen.  And now that my items in that sub-cat are no longer for sale on Folksy, that number has risen substantially. There is absolutely no way on earth that prospective buyers won’t be influenced by these. Anyone who thinks they won't is being naive.
So if you thought Folksy was a level playing field, and you’re a Folksy seller, think again and add your vote here. (See update below! **) It makes no difference to me as I’ve cleared both my Folksy shops, but it could help you and your fellow-sellers no end.

So that’s it – my main three reasons for leaving Folksy to concentrate on my website. Just a few more points, and I’m done:

To the buyer who seems never to have noticed what and who the Shop Talk forum is for: It says, very clearly, ‘Ask other sellers about what to sell, how to sell and all “shopkeeper” issues.’ In other words, this is a forum to be used solely by Folksy sellers; not by buyers who have no concept of what life is like as a seller, how utterly frustrating and difficult selling on Folksy can be, and how it feels when Folksy gets things so hugely wrong. The sooner Folksy sets up the closed seller forum many of us have been requesting for a very long time, the better!

And to those who continually snipe at and bitch about everyone who makes valid criticisms about Folksy (the company whose wages the sellers pay, dear buyer!) and think the forums should be all cupcakes and candyfloss, I say this: The forums are (or should be) Folksy’s barometer – this is where they see how well (or not) they’re doing, and they should therefore be taking notes rather than locking threads for no good reason.  Most of us began such threads to instigate debate, because we cared that Folksy should be a successful selling platform, and a happy and viable one on which to work.  If you prefer to be apathetic and play tiddleywinks in the background while others use their valuable time to get involved in important debates, that’s fine. But don’t you dare criticise people for merely trying to make Folksy a better and fair place for everyone – including you.

Finally, huge thanks to all those who so generously supported my Folksy shops, who helped with the terrifying techy stuff (!), and, last but not least, to those who took the trouble to send messages and emails of support and thanks regarding the disgraceful badging issue. I haven’t replied to all of you yet, but rest assured I will. :)

** UPDATE  It's official - despite one of the largest votes ever, Folksy has 'declined' to take your views on board (and closed the voting), and those gold stars will not only remain, but it seems that other similar badges will be added to other sellers' shops and items, putting those without badging at an even bigger disadvantage:
(No Status) -> Declined
Thank you for your contribution to this feature request.
We have no plans for removing the marker for Featured Sellers.
However we are planning to introduce other ways for Folksy designer-makers to be featured and promoted on the site (other than editorial ones).
Folksy Support


  1. oh, this is so very sad :o(

    i for one will miss you on folksy. your reasoned, intelligent, and fair posts on the forums are the ones i rely on to read for a sensible input into what is going on when i dont understand the technicalities.

    i wish you all the very best and fear i may not be that far behind you :o(


  2. A very thoughtful and well written piece summing up how a lot of people feel :-)

  3. *standing ovation*

    So very well said. I gave up on Folksy (was a teeny tiny fish with a handful of sales)a fair while ago but continued to follow the goings on in case things improved.

    I followed your gold star debate with interest and agreed with your point - gold star = excellence. Its so screamingly obvious, to pretend otherwise is naive at best.

    Everything you raised above I agree with wholeheartedly and Folksy's loss is just that - a huge loss.

    Good luck for the website and hope to see you on other selling platforms :)

    PS, I am part of the Chatter Queens :D

  4. Sorry to read you've left Folksy but I do understand.

    I was one of the 250 top sellers on Folksy whose views and sales have taken a nose dive since their "improvements". There is definitely something lacking in Folksy's SEO now.
    As for the new dashboard - any selling site that rolls out "improvements" that result in creating so much confusion amongst it's users (sellers) that they feel the need to produce a GUIDE on how it works (!) really needs to think again. I've never seen such an overly-complicated shambles that is my shop dashboard.

    It has spurred me on to build my own website though in the hope that one day I too can bid Folksy farewell.

    Good luck with your website and other online shops :D

  5. Interesting , I shall bookmark your website, good luck and I shall take your comments onboard x

  6. I was told about their pro seller badge and as I was under the impression this was for people who sold multiple quantities of items im actually a tad worried about what this means for folksy sellers ... if someone has a badge saying "pro" then there is no way on earth it doesn't make it unfair on those not paying monthly o.O

  7. Just wanted to add my support to your comments - my shop is in holiday mode whilst I'm on maternity leave and I'll decide next year whether to restock it or not. Wishing you all the best for the future.

  8. I have just returned to Folksy following an enforced break - I wondered where you and your shop(s) had gone. particularly miss your sensible words on the forums. Hope you are recovering well and your website is going in leaps and bounds

  9. Thanks, everyone, for your best wishes and taking time to comment. Really appreciated. xx

  10. Wow where was I when all this was going on? Rosie I totally agree with you. I've been so demoralised by the failures that have happened one after the other since November, where my sales, even though I wasn't in that top 250, did nosedive, and they had only just got going. Christmas was a disaster, and things haven't really picked up in the new year. Some improvements are good, many have created their own problems. Worst of all is the lack of vision from Folksy staff regarding where they advertise (Craft magazines...yep, 9,500 sellers already, that's a bit like preaching to the converted, we need to attract buyers please, that is NON-CRAFTERS).
    You know what happens when we speak out on Folksy though, so I keep it shut.
    I love the idea of the pro-seller, so I'm giving that a go. In other words Folksy have precisely ONE year to get it right, or I'm off too, I'm doing better on Etsy right now.
    Well said Rosie, I'll still be sending people to your website.

    Teresa (Creative Treasures)

  11. Thanks for your support, hun. :)

    If Folksy ever remove the gold stars (the only fair and logical thing to do) I'll probably restock and see if sales improve. I doubt they will, though, as they seem totally unable to admit to their mistakes. Thankfully, it looks like the Plus sellers have only had their shops badged rather than their items, so why Folksy couldn't do the same with the Featured Sellers, I've no idea. It wouldn't have been ideal, but it would have been a gazillion times better than what they (incredulously) chose to do and refuse to change.

  12. Sorry you had such rough time trying to put your point across. There are resellers and shops that use outworkers everywhere unfortunately and real crafters and vintage sellers have to compete with them. Over on Etsy there are regular forum posts complaining about them being allowed on what is supposed to be a craft, supplies and vintage site.
    I left Folksy after the major changes many months ago. I just couldn't find things after the changes and didn't like the layout at all.
    I had already set up an Etsy account and my own website as I had started to restore vintage bears and could not sell them on Folksy.
    I have been doing ok on Etsy so a couple of weeks ago went to my (nearly empty) Folksy shop to close it. I only owe 72p so cannot close the account as they do not bill for such a small amount and will not let me shut down until the 72p is paid! My only option now is to list a couple more things to take the bill up high enough so it can be paid, then I can close.

  13. Your absolutely spot on!
    The tag and SEO is a mess and although I sold well before the new site not a sausage since.
    And I didn't know it was supporting non hand made goods from other countries.
    Thanks for the post as I thought it was just my bad luck.

  14. Only just found this blog and I am very much in agreement with all the issues you raise - sadly they seem oblivious to their sellers' wishes and worries - sorry you left xx