I signed up on Indiepublic yesterday, probably for the same reasons thousands of others have signed up: free exposure and marketing that hopefully translate into sales and some good connections.
I thought that it was a place where products were the focus, but while I was still working on my page, I got several requests from people to be "friends". When you get a request, you don't see any info on who this person is, only photos of their other friends. So, you have to find their site, look at what they represent and then either accept or decline. I quickly realized that this is a networking site where people are bopping around, posting comments or their product as a way to get exposure. I felt annoyed.
Indiepublic is mentioned often on Etsy, which is one of the reasons I took the time to join. As I looked at these friend requests and explored the site, I soon realized that almost all of the members I was looking at were already on Etsy. Another misconception. I thought Indiepublic was a broader site which focused on independent designers and artists. Instead, it is almost like an extension of Etsy. I already look at Etsy's forum daily and spend enough time there, so this feels like preaching to the choir. The focus on the site is the "friendship" angle, not on product.
I think my greatest feeling of annoyance stems from the usage of the word "friend" as a contact. I did decline one friendship request from someone who sold t-shirts full of guns, knives and violent images. I felt guilty declining the "friendship". Maybe this comes from how I was raised- be polite, be nice to people, the golden rule. In using the word friend, the connection becomes loaded. I would much prefer a neutral word like "contact" or "favorite" or "bookmark"- something that isn't loaded with a personal judgment.
The second annoying factor was the amount of e-mails generated by joining Indiepublic. All these requests for friends and comments... ugh. Who has the time for this? I decided to go into the Etsy forum and do a search for past posts on Indiepublic. My annoyance was confirmed by posts of others who had the same experience. Several had closed their accounts because of it.
Marketing is key to generating more revenue for all of our businesses. Finding affordable venues drives us all into sites which may or may not pay off for the effort. If I had done a bit more research on the site, I probably would not have signed up. But, now that I am there, I'll leave it for awhile and see what happens. I have a feeling that this annoyance is a symptom of my age. I don't have enough time to visit with my real friends or to network with people who I find truly interesting or to work on my art. Perhaps these networking sites are geared more to the young who have plenty of time on their hands, as a friend of mine used to describe them, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
If you have never been on Indiepublic, you can visit my page, Rayela Art, as an example. I would very much like to hear from others of you who are on Indiepublic or other such sites and see what your experience has been.