Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ARTFIRE - A New Alternative to ETSY

By on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 11 Comments

First there was eBay which revolutionized online selling and buying. But artisans were understandably dissatisfied to have their creations amongst secondhand goods. So Etsy came about - a wonderful site for top notch hand crafted products. But with a crowded handmade jewelry section, some artisans were beginning to chaff at the listing fees. It's actually quite modest - 20 cents for a few months per listing. But if you have a lot to sell and nothing is moving, it all adds up.

As with anything, there is always something new sooner or later which delivers what people want. That something is ArtFire. It is an Arizona based start-up.

This new online artisan marketplace is somewhat similar to Etsy but with a couple of significant differences in their payment system. You pay them a set sum per month no matter how many items you have for sale and there is no commisson. They are currently offering $7/month (for life) for the first 5000 accounts. According to their website, they have 1500 signed up already. They also plant a tree for every person who signs up! (Update: Note Artfire allows you to have a free store but you won't have access to certain features. The current rate is now $12/month)

Let's compare ArtFire with Etsy with simplified scenarios. For $7, you get to list 35 items on Etsy which you have to pay again if they don't sell after 4 months. You pay ArtFire $7 a month, every month irregardless of how many items you have for as long as you like. For the sake of comparison, let's say you have 35 items in ArtFire too. To make the math easy, let's say every single item in both stores costs $10.

If you sold everything you had in one month in both stores :
On Etsy :you will make $10 x 35 =$350. They charge a commission of 3.5% so your take home is actually $350-12.25 = $337.75. Take away the listing fee, you are left with $330.75.
On ArtFire : you get $350 minus the $7 monthly fee leaving you with $343.

If you sold everything you had only in the 4th month in both stores :
On Etsy : As you've already paid the listing fee for four months when you first listed, your take home is the same as above $330.75. (ie you didn't have to pay for relisting yet)
On ArtFire : Now that monthly fee comes into play. Four months of listing, that's $7 x 4 = $28. So your take home is $322.

In real life it is actually more complex than that but I would say Etsy is a better bet if your stuff sells slowly and you only have a small shop. But if you are a prolific producer and your creations sell quickly, then ArtFire may be the way to go. There's also nothing wrong with having two stores too!

At the moment Etsy is the better known site so there is more buying traffic there. Is ArtFire less competitive for jewelry artisans? I don't think so. Even at this young stage, there are already about 13,000 jewelry items up for sale. The nearest categories below that are Accessories and Craft Supplies, each with about 2000 items for sale.

Does anyone have anything to add about their personal ArtFire experience? I know some readers have ArtFire stores.

For more tutorials check out my Jewelry Making Tips

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11 comments:

  1. Seems there are others out there too - hadn't heard of this one. I will have to check it out. By the way - wonderful math you did there, impressive. I can barely count on my fingers so someone who voluntarily does math for someone else is a gem (giggle) in my book! :)

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  2. Hi
    I have an artfire store and am really liking the site so far. Its very new, doesn't have a ton of traffic yet, but the Administrative team is FABULOUS. The site improvements and enhancements have been phenomenol since I've been there.

    What do I like?
    1. Very good shop and site statistics
    2. Randomized search results... so no need to relist your items incessantly
    3. An administrative team that is REALLY listening
    4. Ease of use for the seller..especially around the listing process
    5. Traffic is increasing, at a much faster rate it seems than some of the other handmade venues that have sprung up recently.

    I could go on. :-)

    I actually posted a profile of Artfire with responses from its President on my blog that may be of interest.
    Artfire Handmade Selling Venue Profile

    For me? So far so good.
    :-)
    Kristy
    ShinyAdornments on Artfire

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can also sell on Art Fire for free... But I haven't tried it yet, so can't offer the voice of experience there!

    And I second the appreciation of all that MATH! Made for a very interesting comparison that I hadn't considered.

    You ARE a gem... as usual.

    Tamara
    Freyja's Jewels

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  4. I keep my Etsy site, and my Artfire studio (I like the studio term better) and my personal website. And all my business is from person to person contact. But I have gotten inquiries from people from all three internet venues. Having a blog with Ganoksin also helps. Many different ways of advertising you self. Oh as an afterthought, I have a new sales outlet near Myrtle Beach as a result of my Artfire studio and my website. A gallery near the beach contacted me to see if I wanted them to sell my jewelry.

    John

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  5. Well, math was the only way I could think of to make some sort of meaningful comparison between the two sites!

    Kristy - that was a great interview on your blog which I now subscribe to!

    John - your point about all your business from person-to-person contact is a very good one. Many jewelry artisans get excited about selling on the internet and forget that their best customers are local ones. The majority of people still prefer to buy jewelry they can handle, try on etc. However internet stores are important to showcase your wares.

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  6. Oh, yes the best customers are the local ones. But web sites give you some credibility for some reason. I've recently put my eggs in www.bevsjewelry.1000markets.com I've noticed that lots of such sites are popping up. Like Artfire 1000 Markets is free to sign up.

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  7. Thanks for this great post Pearl. Just joined artfire and will see how it works for me. I am impressed with how quickly administration answers my questions.

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  8. Thanks for the info. Just signed up tonight to give Art Fire a try. Have a stand alone store already but interested in expanding my web coverage and thought this may be a great way to explore that.

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  9. Good luck to everyone who are setting up ArtFire Studios! Yes, expanding web coverage is a good thing.

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  10. I forgot to clarify that ArtFire is indeed free for the first 10 items but Etsy is for now, the much larger site so Etsy delivers traffic. Like I said, you could try 2 stores!!

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  11. hey great comparison...I wanted to try etsy once but the fees dont really work for me as I have to convert everything to dollars and back again..but that way ebay was much better. anyway will check out artfire also

    ReplyDelete

 

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