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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