In this continuing series, we bring you a review of alternative selling venues, website hosting services, shopping carts, and basically anything else that you can use to sell your lovely handcrafted goods. Next up is a venue we here at Etsy Bitch are actually pretty excited about. Why? Because the people working on it actually listen! There have been a number of issues that new registrants or members have had and they've gone in and fixed them, or added a feature they needed. The site is still in beta, but it's not an insolent teenager like another site we know. Let's talk about Artfire!
Tagline: Sell without fees, Create without limits
Company information: It's being developed by about 8 people in the U.S., the main person you'll probably interact with is Tony, the VP who handles a lot of the customer interaction. Also, one of the people they brought on board is actually an Etsy seller who has over a decade of design experience - they wanted the best for their ad campaigns (yep, they advertise! several million dollars worth actually).
The following sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Art Fire is your online interactive community provided and sponsored by over 25 of the internet's premier suppliers and importers of craft and art products. Art Fire was built as a marketplace for artisans to buy, sell, and interact with a focus on fostering a venue that celebrates handmade unique items. Art Fire is absolutely free for buyers and sellers and is paid for and sponsored by the site affiliates making us a truly FREE TRADE ZONE for all users, yep, no starving artists here! Finally, Art Fire is a place where artisans can prosper and grow their business and connect with likeminded members.
Storefront: Very similar to Etsy - your own banner, your own av, your own categories (unlimited), your own featured items, your own announcement and profile, even your own layout choice (currently limited to 2 gallery or list-type options), and all accounts get a unique web address (i.e. username.artfire.com).
Cost: There are two levels - free and verified. Verified members have unlimited listing with no fees, but it costs per month. Right now, if you sign up for a verified account, you'll have a bill of $7/month for life (it's normally $20). They are also having a "recruit 10 people to sign up and you get a free ride" - that's right, refer 10 people by the end of the month and you get the unlimited account for free, forever. Free, basic accounts have a 10 item limit at any given time. Listings are good for 120 days (4 months).
Features: Stats for verified members; the site is designed for your Etsy graphics to fit (no need to remake your banner); link back to your Etsy shop, they don't block outbound links; one click relist, bulk deactivate mode; view prices in any currency; vacation mode; integrated with paypal; the Forge (their version of alchemy); 10 pictures per premier listing/4 per free listing; one page listing process; sales mode coming soon, but there's a scheduled markdown manager for each listing; shipping profiles; opt in/out for allowing offers to be made on your items - read more for yourself and what's to come.
Receive Payment: Integrated with Paypal, Google Checkout, and Revolution Money Exchange (RME). Also have check, money order, and other as options.
Community: Forums, eventually member blogs, favoriting features, internal messaging system, teams/guilds for premier members coming soon, automated flagging system.
Customer service: Available in the forums, on twitter, and by email/contact form. There is also a separate "report a bug" form.
Items that can be sold: Three categories - Handmade/Fine art, Supplies/Vintage, and Design/Media. All represented on the sidebar and main page.
General impressions: The listing process is a breeze. Yes, the site is buggy at times, but it's in beta and worth checking out. Many improvements have been made in the past month or two alone based on user feedback. Now is definitely the time to check them out so a decision can be made about going verified before the promotion ends.
The folks at Artfire are pretty adamant about not making Etsy's mistakes, and we know they read this blog and take notes. We think this venue could really give Etsy a run for its money, and we're not alone.