Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hot for ArtFire!

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Last week I talked about how Etsy made selling handmade cool. Now, I have to admit, I have found something I think is even cooler.

There are a number of new sites aiming to refine the handmade online experience. ArtFire is one of those sites, and in my humble opinion, they are going to give Etsy a run for their not-so-proverbial money.

I signed up for ArtFire a few months ago. At first, I was dissapointed in their layout, especially once you got into the categories. It seemed like it would be pure chance that anyone would ever find my beads, and I became hesitant to invest to much in my ArtFire shop.

However, members of my online groups kept praising how great the ArtFire team is at responding to feedback. A few days ago, I went back for a real look-see at the site. It is amazing!

First off, each category has a section up top for random items to be featured at the top of the item page. These are random, not paid for by the artists, like the seldom noticed Etsy features that run at the top of item pages (never noticed those? I hardly do either!). Next, they have created an interface where you can sort items by price, time listed, and number of views. If you are one of those people who get a rush "discovering" a new artist, ArtFire gives you countless ways to get your fix.

Second is the fact that every item listed gets on the front page, and it is in a nice large format, not that tiny little filmstrip Etsy has running. They also have a great search feature that lets you decide if you want to include supplies and vintage in your quest. You can then narrow down your items further by price, or excluding certain terms. They have made finding items very easy for you.

Finally, we have to talk about price. While Etsy is affordable, I found that I was regularly having bills of over $20 when I would list regularly. The listing fees were on .20 but they would add up quickly with the 3.5% commission. ArtFire does it different, very different. If you only want to have 10 items in your shop at one time, you can have an ArtFire shop for free. Yes, FREE! If you usually keep more items stocked, you pay a flat monthly fee. Right now (and for the next week), you can sign up and only pay $12 a month for everything. No matter how much you list or how much you sell, you will only have to pay ArtFire $12 each month.

I know that this might not be the best choice for everyone, but if you want to budget exactly what your expenses will be for selling online, this may be for you. I personally love it.

This really is not to say that I don't like Etsy anymore. I still do, and will keep my shop there are well. But, if what I have seen so far is any indication, ArtFire will force Etsy to step up to the plate and become more responsive to its sellers.

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