Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Etsy Alternatives Update

We've noticed several changes occurring with some sites we've addressed as Etsy alternatives. So we wanted to make sure you were kept abreast of some of these things.

First off, there was a great conversation going on with a rep from Silkfair in the comments section of one of our latest features. It looks like this venue is open to discussion and suggestions, and they admit it is likely more appropriate for a certain subset of sellers. This is something to take into consideration - what will work for you and your business? The site also recently released fully customizable shops for subscribing members (the paid shops), including eliminating the Silkfair menu from the top of the page.

Mintd was a venue we reviewed in November. Unfortunately, the site is still extremely buggy and there are many people left hanging in regards to billing issues as they are attempting to rebill accounts (according to some members). Dawanda also now has fees that were retroactively collected (not everyone is happy about this), but they are keeping up with retail holidays and promoting their features via email newsletters. eCrater, one of our first reviews, has adjusted the look of their shop template, which allows for less freedom to feature categories on your own front page (you have to have at least 5 categories in order to have this option now). But they do have a fully integrated shipping calculator now - though there isn't a way to add handling charges.

The most encouraging improvements in recent months (well, weeks and days actually) are the adjustments Artfire has been making. The site has been actively following up with members to improve the site, including redesigning artisan studios, categories, and the front page.

Verified Artfire sellers can now fully customize the color and layout of their shops, including the Artfire menu at the top of the page to coordinate with their brand. Three banner sizes can be chosen from, to see examples, there is a Flickr group dedicated to sellers showing off their Fusion Studios, and the number of items per row and whether categories are shown can be chosen as well. The customized shop categories also now have their own URL's for directing buyers. The front page of Artfire has also been completely redesigned, even the colors, to match the new shop designs. We've been told that they are still making some minor adjustments based on member feedback.

The site has also re-opened their free ride program and discounted monthly memberships! They also now have a RapidCart widget to sell directly from your own website using Artfire as your shopping cart and listing software. This is a great alternative if you are having trouble coding your own site for item listings, shopping carts, and paypal integration.

The Forge (like Alchemy) is also now actively going on the Artfire site, though they are still adjusting it; they now have item quantity capabilities in the shops; they've enhanced the search to be faster and to include within shop searching; and they've added featured studio spots to the categories for on site advertising. In addition, Artfire is hiring editors and columnists for their blog from the community (separate from their administration).

Overall, Artfire is still looking like it's the site to give Etsy a run for it's money. They've teamed up with an internet radio station to have a weekly radio show about handmade, collaborated to create VoteHandmade for handmade items to be showcased for free, and been actively changing their site to meet their customers' demands. It's almost unbelievable how much progress they've made since our review - and they still say they're in beta! So there is likely much more to come, which will be great news for the world outside of Etsy.

32 Comments:

geelizzie said...

There's also another very new site that is very easy to use, has a really nice look, but so far, only a handful of sellers-trendyindie. They have a start up special of 6.49 for unlimited listings, no sales fees, and you can choose colors for your shop. They also have a listing template feature so if you list a lot of similar items, you don't have to retype everything. It looks like it is only for handmade, no supplies or vintage as far as I can tell.
Also, there is zibbet, with no fees for listing, just a fee if you sell something. That one has been around for a few months, but so far no sales and not much traffic. They started out as more of an art site for fine art, but have expanded to include all crafts, supplies, and I think vintage as well.
Bonanzle is a great site if you are selling anything as an alternative to ebay. No fees for listing, just a fee if you sell, or you can update to a monthly fee for more exposure. It's really easy to set up a shop and list and they have a 'list similar' feature.

The Righteous One said...

Thanks for the heads up geelizzie, we'll add those to the list of ones to check out.

We've done 10 alternatives in the series so far, but there are many more.

mamaslittlemonkeys said...

Thanks!! :)
I also like www.crobbies.com and www.madeitmyself.com
Always good to keep all options open!

Bootsy said...

cripes, you guys sound like an artfire commercial...with so much brown nosing it's hard to have the title "bitch"

BeautifullyWiredLynx said...

The artfire fusion shops are great! I have been a user for about 3 months and have made 5 sales and such nice shop owners! But I would love to hear more about 1000Markets, I sell there as well and I am so taken by this community of artist's and the marketplaces are top notch! That is a great alternative, although it is a selection of artist, so not everyone will be accepted. But it is worth the mention!

The Righteous One said...

Bootsy, if you didn't notice, we've written posts on 10 alternatives, 1 UK only site, had an update dedicated solely to ecrater, and then wrote this update on 5 sites, not just Artfire. AF just happens to have made a lot of changes since we wrote about them, and we want to make sure everyone has up-to-date info on Etsy's competition, especially if they're doing things that Etsy won't, can't, or refuses to discuss.

We're glad there's a site that might whip Etsy - notice how they're running around trying to change things (and fucking up in the process) - it's because of the competition. If they could implement things without the fuck ups, we'd have less to bitch about and might actually be handing out cupcakes. The competition is good for you and all other sellers and buyers. It means more features, lower selling/shop costs, and more exposure.

notacupcake said...

It's been cemented for me. With this latest issue with the metatags, with the relevent search still not working, with admins' rampant thread-closings if you speak out against the Holy Etsy, and with admins' cavalier attitude about just about every bug and issue, I've had it.

I just emailed Artfire about resurrecting my shop there, with an upgrade to Verified.

Etsy could be a great site, but they need to make some serious changes.

Thank you, Bitches, as always, for bringing us info on alternatives and for TRYING to keep Etsy accountable.

The Funny One said...

Great update, and the spotlight on Artfire. The right approach for the new sites and Etsy alternatives are - what works for your business. If you don't produce what Etsy likes to promote, and you don't care to be second fiddle to a brand name and brand strategy that diminishes the name and reputation of the seller, then one or 2 of the newer sites may better meet your needs.

The new sites are getting better, but they still, unfortunately, are telling sellers that social networking is the sellers' responsibility (and the main marketing tool)--- a strategy that has little effect on a dramatically depressed online retail environment. Instead of coming up with new marketing tools, they might fail entirely to meet the changing needs of sellers of handmade. They may end up with the same product mix as Etsy --- $15 and under items geared to a finite audience.

What may have worked for Etsy turned Etsy into a brand, not a site for individual sellers to sell their handmade products. It would be a shame if the new sites made the same mistakes, especially with half-baked marketing, without investing in totally new approaches to helping their sellers sell sell sell.

AdobeSol said...

I'd love to see your review of http://www.1000markets.com

I am a seller there and really love the changes, for the better, that the site owners continue to make.

Thanks for the reviews you have done so far. Much appreciated.

The Righteous One said...

AdobeSol, the tag "etsy alternatives" is on all the posts in this series, available here http://etsybitch.blogspot.com/search/label/etsy%20alternatives

On the right sidebar are the tags for our posts, the first one is "1000markets", it will show all (there's just 1 right now I think) on that venue

BiteMe said...

You sound like a AF infomercial, The "FORGE" does not work and never has! The regulars on the forums are BITCHES and that is putting it nicely.... AF ADMIN is more concerned about pleasing those little bitches and trying to up-sale there ad space so they can make up for the fees they don't charge!

AF should be spending some time marketing the site and making it customer friendly although they are still in BETA and Will be until they can afford to get out of it!

There is little to no traffic on that site although there are many that believe what ever admin tells them about the traffic and you would think that some of them are really blowing Tony over there!

The good things to come out of it is that ETSY is making changes to try and keep up and F@ck up! and they may even get it right! for once.

AliciaMae said...

I have both an Etsy shop (had 3 actually) and an Artfire shop, and my Artfire items get 10 times the views my Etsy items ever got (even when I had a stocked shop and was listing constantly). Most of my views on Artfire come from Google searches, my items are uploaded to Google automatically when I list. I have several hundred visits to my Artfire shop a week, and I barely touch it. Meanwhile my Etsy shop gets 5 views when I list something, and then sits there. I don't spend much time in the Chatterbox, and I'm waiting for some updates to the guild halls (which they said should be coming in a month or so).
I also have a shop on Silkfair (started it after the review here - not for handmade though) and the listing process is pretty decent, too many options though. I wish sellers could cut the listing page down to just what they need for what they're going to sell.

Oh dear... said...

Bite Me...well, I'm bit :-) I have yet to encounter any nastiness on the AF forums and have only encountered nice people who really helped me out.

I have had more sales on ArtFire than Etsy this year (which is 0 btw), so it's working for me. My shop gets lots of traffic on AF as opposed to Etsy - it's so depressing to log in and see that the same item on Etsy has gotten only 3 views after a month.

As with all sites, one's mileage will totally vary! I really like the sound of Bonanzle, maybe I'll check that out.

cupcakes are gross said...

My artfire shop has really picked up in the last few months. The automatic loading to google base is brings in lots of search traffic, and these people actually buy. I can list an item, get a dozen or so views, and then it sells because some one found it through a google search. That doesn't happen in my etsy shop very often anymore. It has definitely taken some time. I've been patiently waiting for things to pick up on Artfire since November. It really is on the upswing. I made more sales in my artfire shop than from my etsy shop last month. And spent way less on fees.

subeeds said...

BiteMe, it sounds almost like you are an etsy sockpuppet. I have shops on artfire and etsy. I am much happier with artfire-especaily the admin.. I changed the credit card I was using for billing and there was some confusion over it. I was actually able to call artfire and speak to somebody about that!! A live human being. When questions are aked in the forums or bugs reported, artfire admin is right there within an hour or 2 answering the question/problem.If you email them about something, they are back to you within a reasonable amount of time and it isn't a canned response like etsy. I was on etsy about 3 months before I joined artfire and I saw nothing like that on etsy-still don't see it, either. You can believe whatever you want to believe about how "there is no traffic to the site"-my google analytics tell me different. So, you continue to bash artfire all you want too. There are a lot more people who know the truth and are speaking it about artfire.

shipwack said...

For what little it is worth, one of my first listings on Artfire was twittered by one of the Admins, and that got me 70 hits my first day.

While this didn't result in any sales, this is 1000 times more promotion for me than ETSY has ever done.

Sugar said...

(Guys, try sounding like you're not out there to purposelly promote AF next time, okay? It's really obvious! We're not stupid!)

notacupcake said...

Eh.. I happen to agree with BiteMe. I had a shop there but ditched it for a multitude of reasons. Etsy, even with its flaws, is still superior.

The Cranky One said...

Fuck you sugar. Seriously. Get the hell over yourself.

We last reviewed Artfire back in December, and they are in the progress of a major site overhaul and have added more features and improvement than anyone else, ofc ourse we gave them more time.

Are we supposed to overlook the fact that they've made SO many improvements and enhancements since our review? That makes our previous review invalid with the number of changes they've made.

trusk4u said...

This is all well and good. I like seeing what other sites have done or not done. Have you been back to Winkelf at all? It has changed a lot and they have added many new features. You reviewed them once, just like these other sites, so be fair and give them a second look too. You will be pleasantly surprised!

grumpy said...

So many of these alternative sites just have the worst names! They're spelled oddly, don't roll off the tongue, are hard to remember, or are just awkward. Been wanting to grumble about that for a while, actually.

'ArtFire' is awkward. 'Coriandr' seems to have something against the letter 'e'. 'Silkfair' sounds like fabric and clothing only. '1000 Markets' sounds like a seen-it-on-tv place. And the worst of all, 'WinkElf' - are you kidding me?

At least 'Etsy' is short, memorable, and easy to say.

grumpy said...

Oh yeah, and 'trendyIndie' *should* be an oxymoron.

The Righteous One said...

grumpy, I take it you weren't around Etsy for all the threads about how to pronounce it, how hard it was to get people to understand how to spell it, and all the mistaken Esty stuff

trusk4u, thanks for the heads up, I'll pay a visit to Winkelf and see what they've done

RRobin said...

I agree with Grumpy to a point.

The name "Winkelf" makes me cringe. It sounds like a site for burned-out flower-children who frequent faerie festivals and re-read The Hobbit daily, and the J.Jill crowd who like "PiperLime."

"Coriandr," with its missing vowel, is too awkward. If, as an artist, one is telling possible customers about it, it requires too much explanation: "My stuff is on 'Coriandr.' That's spelled like the spice, but without the final 'e.'" Sorry, you've already lost them. They won't remember it. ("What was that site she said?" "Um, I think it was 'cilantro' without the 'n'")

"Silkfair" isn't bad, but it has an Arabian Nights bazaar sound to it, like a place for exotic goods such as belly dancing costumes, and potential bargains, but where you can't be certain of quality or whether the seller will even be there the next day.

"Artfire" isn't bad either, but it sounds like an offshoot of Fire Mountain, the jeweler's supply site.

"Etsy" works in people's minds because it evokes "eBay," and like "eBay," has no previous associations to make one groan, but The Righteous One is right about the initial response to it. It is only through the unpaid labors of we, the craftspeople, that the site is as well known as it is, and its name therefore sounds easy.

"Trendyindie" makes me cringe, although not as much as "Winkelf." It sounds like it's for cheaply made, overpriced and uninspired knock-offs of things available at Urban Outfitters (hmmm, sort of like what Etsy is hellbent on becoming).

"Zibbet" is amusing without being too cute, but could, like "Coriandr," confuse people with its spelling. It sounds like "rabbit," so the "e" could be easily mistyped as an "i."

"Madeitmyself.com" sounds extremely juvenile, like a place for your kid's refrigerator art or ceramic ashtray, not for serious artists. "Aw, isn't that cute?"

I'm not sure what to think of "Crobbies."

"1000markets" is way, way too close to "Ten Thousand Villages," a fair-trade site which sells handmade goods by third-world artisans.

"iCraft.ca" is pretty good. I like the double meaning of that "i." Too bad it isn't a dot-com, not everyone who might buy our stuff is totally internationally internet savvy.

Of them all, however, I think iCraft.ca, Crobbie, Zibbet, and, yes, Artfire, have the best names.

LiquidGoop I dont drink said...

that's funny and contradictory : 'etsy evokes ebay' and 'like ebay has no previous associations to make one groan.' Yeah, right! Etsy = Ebay = Greed!

If you know etsy since their beginning, then you would know etsy originated from 'netsy.com' which was a web business to sell web storage space. They were a part of a bunch of domain names that the SuperDuper 4 operated under IO Space. The origin contradicts their claims about being there for crafters, because it was never about that. That's why they refused to clarify the origin of the name. It all got started with their web work for a small crafts group. Yeah, you gulped down that kool-aid, knows you are drinking it, and still drinking it. You just don't wanna see that you are paying for that disk space like what they intended. They gotcha by your emotions.

All those site names would work, they just need familiarity. Try analyze twitter, facebook, youtube, msn, google, yahoo, threadless, amazon.

trusk4u said...

The name "WinkElf" actually has a meaning behind it. The "wink" part is a Dutch word for "shop,store" and of course we have all heard of the "elves" who work in these shops. Thus you have "WinkElf". So maybe some of you shouldn't judge the book by the cover. Or was lesson not taught to you as a child?

silkfair said...

Silkfair originated from "Silk Road", which were ancient trade routes around the world covering a myriad of goods and services, and word-play / objective is to be a trading post that's fair for buyers and sellers alike. Pretty strong historical background that can be easily associated once aware.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silk_Road

Our new Custom Shop is much more than just a removal of Silkfair menu/logo. Your products, your shop, your brand, you promo efforts are on your own web shop, and you'll still have a market shop without additional efforts. We're the first and only place to do this.

Here is an example :

This seller had quickly built up a Silkfair Market Shop,

http://bjohnsonjewelry.silkfair.com

and then owned her own domain, and within a few seconds, was able to get her Silkfair Custom Shop up

http://bjohnsonjewelry.com/

This Custom Shop is completely customizable via a graphical interface that's very simple to use. Additionally, you have full control over the html/CSS and you can do whatever you want. We have seller who's customizing and integrating into their existing blog. To quote what several sellers who tried it have said - it's simple like using blogger.com.

And best of all, you own your own brand, and can have the same inventory within your own custom shop and in a market shop without additional efforts. There is also a bulk-editing feature if you have lots of inventories. And you don't get penalized just for having a wide variety or quantity of products. So, basically, we're all about helping you having your business your way.

Although we have a wide variety of product categories, we do have special landing zones (sub-sites) for handmade / one-of-a-kind products. We welcome all inputs on how we can make that suit your needs.

Al of Silkfair
http://www.silkfair.com

grumpy said...

trusk4u - buyers will judge the book by its cover, so must I. A venue's name needs to be "right" or it just can't happen.

justbitchy said...

I know of a few people who have had "interesting" experiences with the 1000markets staff.

Based on their explanation of what they went through it's no better and maybe worse than the "Etsy Admin Cupcakes and Favorites Brigade."

Get you own websites, even if it is just a storefront at BigCartel using your own URL.

Andrew said...

I'm sorry to rain on the parade but none of these sites even pull 10% of the kind of traffic Etsy does.

This means less sales.

Hopefully Artfire will do better soon, they look promising.

The Righteous One said...

Andrew, my artfire shop gets 10 times the traffic my Etsy shop gets, and I don't promote it.

If we have to bring in our own customers anyway, it doesn't matter how much traffic the site homepage gets, it just matters who we want to do business with. I'm not comfortable giving Etsy my money anymore.

KitCameo said...

I haven't read through every comment, so I apologise if someone has already brought this up, but have any of you heard of Putiton.com? It's a completely free gallery site, but as to the selling part, you have to work it out with your buyers. I realise it's not the same as these venues, but it's got something, none-the-less.