Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Silkfair Discount Code for EB Readers

A representative of Silkfair has passed along a discount code for us to offer you, our readers, to try out their new custom shops. The details are:

Free trial of custom shops for the first two weeks
$9.99 per month for the first six months following the free-trial period
$24.99 per month thereafter
Enter the promo code etsybitch1
*Promotion is valid for one month from date of post - August 15, 2009 (Edit July 17: Silkfair has extended the offer to the end of September)

Any questions about or problems redeeming the code or working with the site can be directed to or

We previously reviewed silkfair in our Etsy alternatives series. They have since released the custom shop option. A basic shop on the site is still free, but lacks the customizable features.


Mountaindreamers said...

I love your blog, doesn't silk fair have free shops with a % when you sell ? thanks Laura

The Righteous One said...

yes, there is a free listing option with a 3% final value fee. That was what was available when we did our review linked in the post.

RRobin said...

Today I am bitching about Etsy competitors.

I wasn't happy about SilkFair asking for credit card information just to open a shop, so I quit the enrollment process right there. Maybe Etsy asked for that, too, but I opened my shop so long ago I forgot.

I have decided to open a shop on ArtFire, but some of their categories are confusing. I don't understand why "jewelry" is a category in both "Handmade/Fine Art" and "Design/Media." I could understand if "Jewelry" were a separate heading under "Vintage," but on ArtFire vintage is lumped together with supplies, and under "Supplies/Vintage" there is a heading for "Jewelry Supplies" but to get to vintage jewelry you have to click on the single "Vintage" heading. Very confusing to both buyer and seller. Yeah, as a seller I could figure out or someone could explain it to me, but these are the headings that come up for buyers, when you hit "shop."

I have only a "basic" membership because $12 a month is more than I have ever paid in fees on Etsy, my volume is not that high. But it would be nice if ArtFire let sellers like me know in advance that we can't join Guilds and whatnot and not allow us to open the form and write our hearts out as to why we should be allowed in the guild, only to tell us AFTER we hit "send" that we are ineligible for membership unless we are "verified" (read: paying) members. So what happened to what I wrote in that block? And why allow me to waste my time writing it in the first place? Why didn't ArtFire tell me I am ineligible to join a guild before it let me fill out the form?

I am pissed off right now at the lot of them -- Etsy, ArtFire, SilkFair...

The Righteous One said...

RRobin, just for peace of mind on some of your questions I'll give some answers: Yes, Etsy requires credit card info on file for sellers, too. It's required before a member is setup to sell/setup shop.

I've seen that criticism of Artfire jewelry cats on the Artfire forums, too - it's a valid concern. They have running threads on suggestions like that if you want to contribute a buyer's perspective. The last time I perused those discussions the jewelry artists were debating assembled jewelry in design vs. metalsmitthing, wirework, etc in handmade. (On a side note, Dawanda recently redid their category structures according to their recent sellers email, so many of the competitors are still tweaking their setup).

Based on my experience and discussions I've read, the Artfire guild request form gets sent to the guildmaster of the guild, then when they try to approve you it'll say they can't. So what you wrote went to their inbox. Supposedly there are guild upgrades coming in the near future - hopefully they'll address the issues you raised. They extended some of the Premium options to the free shops recently, maybe (this is speculation alone) guilds will be eventually? The perks of each kind of account is listed on the page when you click "sell" prior to signing up

RRobin said...

Thanks, Righteous One.

But unless the site is juried, the smelters can clamor for separation from the stringers all they want, it still won't stop someone from putting a commercial charm on a commercial chain with a commercial clasp and listing it as a handmade fine art necklace. The person who put it together might even BELIEVE it's fine art.

I'm not saying it SHOULD be juried, only that there's no sense in splitting hairs amongst ourselves over what isn't or is fine art when anyone can list any item anywhere. Having fewer categories is probably easier on everyone, especially those who don't read the Artfire fora/guidelines, or don't understand, or don't care, who taken in the aggregate are probably in the majority.

The Funny One said...

My suggestion is that this is perfect time to try out the new sites, including SilkFair which is mentioned in this post. This is pre-holiday, and it may be the only time in 2009 that you have a chance to make sales that you are no longer making on Etsy. Etsy has cut out so many stores and categories from their 24/7 controlled promotions, that even those with terrific sales on Etsy are no longer getting views, let alone sales.

Plus, Etsy has no ties to any of its sellers - no loyalty, and they place little value on sellers that have been with the site from the beginning. If you don't make what they like, you're out of sight, out of mind.

Etsy is a huge site with a tiny focus - and it's all about 20-30 somethings marketing and selling to each other. 50% of the stores on Etsy are gone and forgotten, they're just cash cows because collectively, those 150,000 stores are dishing over a lot of listing and showcase fees for nothing in return.

Etsy took the value and reputation out of handmade, and their branding and fixation on themes taht don't even match their own product categories (plus the continuing SEO debacle) doesn't help. They push marketing themes that are so wacky, it'll end up making shoppers think Etsy is just another dollar store.

It's hard not to compare the new sites to Etsy - however, Etsy is based on volume, not on quality. Anyone can open a store, including resellers, and they do, and they remain. It's not about handmade anymore, it's about market share.

At least give the new sites a chance. Monthly fees are often the only financially viable option for these sites - and some of them pre-screen, which is good for everyone who applies to open a store. Etsy rakes in most of its profits from listing fees and all it's gotten most sellers is 5 million items to compete against. And a branding bulldozer that leaves most sellers in the dust.

It's not about which site is best - it's about what site is best for you, your products, and your reputation.

And, this is a chance for sellers to save the reputation of handmade --- a value that was lost a long time ago on Etsy.

We're going to end up with the big-boxing of handmade, which may work for that one narrow consumer group making and selling to each other --- but where does that leave all the rest of us?

Fighting upstream for a lost cause.

Shoppers are going to Etsy for what's cheapest, and it's a great place to find what's cheapest, handmade or not. But is that what we want to happen to the value and reputation of the artisan and handmade?

worried said...

Hey Bitches!

Is it time for w write up about the recent site issues on etsy. Look at them all here on the blog.

RRobin said...

I was browsing ArtFire and saw a huge number of identical Harry Potter tchotchkas from a single seller in the "Most Recently Listed" section. Then I checked the site's fora and found a discussion on copyright violation related to all the Twilight and Harry Potter merchandise that was available on the site.

Some comments in the thread opined that the alleged copyright infringers have an "unfair advantage" over other sellers, and some sellers feared their own designs being ripped off with impunity.

From my perspective, a bigger problem is that the unchecked proliferation of all that derivative crap will give the site a bad reputation: "Oh, ArtFire, isn't that just for cheap Twilight lockets and Harry Potter pinback buttons? I had no idea you could buy real jewelry there."

And the unlimited listings feature just allows those sellers to post the same item multiple times -- because they actually do have several, even hundreds, of the mass produced things on hand and ready to go out the door, or they can churn out more from their button/mirror/magnet/keychain-maker in an instant -- and really clutter up the place, burying the one-of-a-kind creations.

If someone is selling supplies, and they have 100,000 beads that they are selling in small batches, say 10 for $1, and will replenish when they sell out, can they list the same $1 item 10,000 times? The way ArtFire is set up now, it seems they can. And there is no financial disincentive to stop them.

Not a good thing, that.

foxaz said...

There is another new site - Artistry Arts. They just opened recently and have upgraded to an all new site.

It's run by Stoned on Etsy, and her family. She sells supplies and lots of other goodies.

My shop:

The listing process is fairly simple, it has a "sell similar" feature ( which is nice) and the monthly fee is low. They also have a referral thing going on right now.
Check them out, if you like.

RRobin said...

In the bricks-and-mortar world, the best craft shows are juried, and for that reason don't have a problem with resellers or copyright violations or scores of $3 Harry Potter keychains.

What we need is a juried site for handmade, and perhaps one for vintage as well.

The Funny One said...

Thanks to RRobin for bringing up one of the larger issues for sellers of handmade. Pre-screening has to mean what it says, and the site that succeeds will match that with financial viability - no easy task. Etsy has set up such a damaging precedent, because they are making a lot of money but show how dangerous it is to push money and size over quality control and security for their sellers. If sites set their focus on making "Etsy-Money" all we're going to end up with is more of the same.

And more of the same just confuses the poor shoppers. They'll start to equate handmade with "cheap" and "what is it, really?" and that affects all of us.

Some of the new sites are using many of the same techniques that work for long-standing quality craft venues ----- they are only adding sellers that they invite to open a store. The fees and commissions are similar to consignment.

It's time for us to start thinking out of the "Etsy box" too ---- cheap fees gets you Etsy. And who wants another Etsy? We have to start looking at the new sites for how they fit our products and genre, not completely on what they charge in fees and commissions.

Etsy may be "cheap" in comparison, but cheap is not cheap when a seller spends long hours maintaining an Etsy store that gets little if any traffic, and no longer makes any sales because they don't fit the Etsy mold for trendy, cheap, and maybe handmade. We can't all compete with 5 million items - and a site that lost the distinction between mass produced and handmade a long time ago.

The only way to compete with 5 million items is to price your products so low that you lose money, and lose the value of your product-------and eventually the value and reputation of handmade.

silkfair said...

RRobin - ID Verification is one of the reason for the credit card verification upfront. It is a barrier, but it's filtering out a lot of scams (not all, but a large percentage). We also use other mechanisms to keep the site clean.

Everyone -

To clarify what you get at Silkfair :

In general - Etsy direct import. Paypal / GoogleCheckout integrated. Edit your listings as you see it (no multi-page forms). Adult content filtering. Flexible templating of pricing, taxes and shipping charges ( integrated shipping calculators for UPS/USPS/FedEx, shipping discounts, coupons are all coming soon ), integrated currency converter. Sub-markets for handmade, one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly, vintage and collectible items. Contents distributed worldwide via a global Content Distribution Network (CDN) for speedy delivery.

Market Shop - free shop, free listing, no limits on listings, 3% final sales fee. Your shop's domain is

Custom Shop - regularly $24.99/month, right now only at EtsyBitch - 14 days risk free trial, $9.99 / month for 6 months after that trial. 3% final sales fee. No listing fee, no limits on listings. Inventory is shared with Market Shop, so there are no increases in efforts in managing. Your own domain and brand. Automated GoogleBase submission with your own domain name. GoogleAnalytics and other snippets/widgets. Silkfair only appears on the bottom as "Powered by Silkfair". 10 free templates to select from, and you can change everything if you want. Customization via html for advanced, or via a point-and-click graphical user interface for the novice. Takes only a few seconds to activate the Custom Shop once you have the Market Shop.

If you are a developer/designer, you can make your own custom shop templates for sale.

Example of a Silkfair Market Shop :

Example of the same seller with Custom Shop :

"In simple terms, they are taking the best characteristics of Google’s Blogger and bringing them to the boutique web store (i.e. total customization, zero coding required, etc. – they outfit you with your own blog, forum, marketing tools, etc.)."

"Despite the popularity of using existing marketplaces, like eBay, Etsy, and other eBay alternatives, Dillehay recommended that crafters also invest in their own domain name and Web site, since the craft business online is largely connected to one’s own presence."

So, that's what we bring to the table for you : The ability to have your own professional-looking website (a Custom Shop) and be in a marketplace (with a Market Shop). The question now is - do you want your own online shop?

I'm aware of a seller who has been able to change career to focus on crafts with the use of our Custom shop. The benefit that was brought with the custom shop was the ability to use it as a professional tool to use for localized markets and wholesale.

Many of you are making efforts in promoting Etsy and alternatives. No matter which one you join, it's going to be the same. It's just not yours.

But at Silkfair, we don't want you to promote your Silkfair Market Shop. We want you to promote your own shop, your own brand, to focus your time on your own business, and not be restricted by a marketplace. A marketplace should just be an additional benefit to your main business/your main website.

This coupon / offer available at EtsyBitch is the only one that's available at this kind of level. 14 days risk free trial, $9.99 / month for 6 months after that trial. Do the math - pay listing fees or some kind of market store fee elsewhere, or pay for your own website but still be in a marketplace. Silkfair is not for everyone, but we're here if you are serious about your business.

Al of Silkfair

Rana said...

Here's a review of a book that addresses some of the cheapness vs. quality issues:

What struck me is what continues to strike me about a lot of the marketing at Etsy - the emphasis on pricing and economics overtakes the original mission of encouraging buyers to think not in terms of price (because then you're competing with Wal-Mart) or in terms of trendiness (because, again, competing with Wal-Mart) but rather in terms of investing in a limited-edition, quality product made by artisans and not factory robots.

I wish that this message was being pushed harder, not just at Etsy but at all of the handmade shop venues.

(Sorry if this is a derail - if so, I'm okay with the comment being deleted/not approved.)

RRobin said...

Noting the proliferation of Harry Potter keychains etc. on ArtFire in no wise means I am advocating Etsy, but that's how some sellers and admins on an Artfire forum are trying to spin what I said here.*

I suppose it's easier to disregard my comments by smearing me as an Etsy cupcake, which should be laughable to anyone who has read more than one of my comments here, easier than taking into consideration what new people see when they look at the ArtFire site, new people such as myself, potential buyers and sellers.

But it seems a cupcake is a cupcake is a cupcake, and there's a chorus of them on ArtFire, too, ready to attack anyone who doesn't drink their Kool-Aid, immediately and without question.

How sad.

*Here's the thread:

RRobin said...

PS: Why am I posting here instead of on the ArtFire forum? Because I feel safe here, and based on what I have seen on the ArtFire forum, I am as frightened of repercussions as I ever was on Etsy, sad to say, and I don't want my shop to be formally or informally blacklisted before it even opens.

If it ever opens, because I do not at the moment feel welcome as an artist, but devalued by the $3 Harry Potter keychains, or as a human being, when questioning whether the $3 Harry Potter keychains should even be there gets me branded as an Etsy cupcake by an ArtFire admin.

Shame on you, ArtFire admin, for suggesting that anyone who doesn't believe ArtFire is the ne plus ultra is an Etsy cupcake! So much easier, isn't it, to demonize someone than to take their valid criticisms into account. So Etsy shuts down shops and mutes people, but you try to discredit them. How is that better?

The night I saw the scrolling of some 150+ Harry Potter keychains etc. across the ArtFire front page, items that were by no stretch of any imagination original art (the seller refers to it as "useful art," but if it is "art" at all, it certainly isn't their own art), I had decided to open a "verified" account. Seeing that stuff changed my mind. And the response my articulated reaction received has certainly not changed it back.

The Righteous One said...

RRobin, I don't think the response was aimed specifically at you, but they have had to deal with criticisms of the glass house kind from Etsy enthusiasts since their inception.

I have to agree with the points in that thread - where does one draw the line? How much of a proactive stance does a venue have to take? If they are doing what they are required to legally, what more can they do?

The answers will likely be different for different sellers and you have to feel comfortable wherever it is you choose to sell. But the copyright issue is prevalent everywhere, I can't think of a single site without that issue. Even juried handmade sites

life-during-wartime said...

Al of Silkfair -- I think the custom shops might be a good way to go, but only if a seller can select an option to keep their items out of the market.

RRobin said...

Thanks, Righteous One.

Copyright violations aside, if the first thing I see when I go to craft site is a bunch of $3 Harry Potter keychains, it does not feel like home to me as a buyer or as an artist.

The Funny One said...

Thanks to Al at Silkfair for adding details to information about the site. The best suggestion you have is to set up your own domain with links to your other online locations, which are usually store-hosting sites.

This, however, is not a great thing for customers who are asked to do a lot of work to find you. And a lot more work when they get to store hosting sites because the navigation is UNIQUE TO EACH SITE and often doesn't follow any regular retail model. For heaven's sake, it takes 3 days to figure out what the damn categories mean! And enough subcategories to drive anyone insane!

I suspect that more shoppers are abandoning handmade sites than using them these days.

While Silkfair continues to make great changes, it's still a very cumbersome site for sellers to use and it's going to have to do 100 times the work to overcome its name recognition problem.

While you explain the significance of Silkfair to the Silk Road, I doubt most shoppers are going to get it or care to figure out the name before they shop.

Why is everyone making the customers work so hard to shop for handmade?

I don't think Amazon got where it is today by making up categories and themes that have little or nothing to do with selling handmade! All this constant confusion is NOT GOOD for handmade.

TRush said...

Ugh. I just wanted to find a way to sell some things I really enjoy making. Have a good time, make a few dollars in the process. I'm just a little frustrated now.

silkfair said...

life-during-wartime - why would keeping an inventory out of market a necessity?

Funny One - Send us your idea and design, and we'll check out the feasibility for implementation.

Amazon success is due to its unique model and its affiliates.

itsashame said...

I have to agree with RRobin. The Artfire forums are guilty of everything they claim to hate about the etsy cupcakes and their admins behavior is far worse than anything I've ever seen on etsy.

I had my shop deleted from artfire and I am so glad I did. The aesthetics has not improved, the items scrolling across the front (twilight keychains et al.) are enough to turn anyone shopping for true handmade away. One might as well shop on ebay or their local flea market.

life-during-wartime said...

silkfair said...
life-during-wartime - why would keeping an inventory out of market a necessity?

It's not a necessity for most store owners.

I took another look at Silkfair (several actually) when EB posted the entry about your special offer.

Browsing through the site -- there is no way I can tell for sure what the items really are (antique, vintage, handmade, OOAK) other than that there are reseller items assorted throughout all the categories I mentioned. That's fine if you want to create a 'world bazaar' kind of atmosphere. Not what I am looking for, though, as a buyer or a seller.

There are plenty of build-your-online-store hosting sites out there that don't have a market, and the price is comparable to Silkfair custom stores. If the market would be an asset to my business credibility, that would be an extra feature. But as Silkfair appears today, it would be at best neutral -- and at worst, confusing or even off-putting to the buyers I am seeking.

silkfair said...

life-during-wartime - maybe what we need to do is a visual identification for the antique, vintage, handmade, OOAK, rather than just textual. let's say a stripped ribbon on the corner of thumbnail image and the actual listing.

life-during-wartime said...

silkfair -- After reading your response (thanks!) I took another look at Silkfair.

I selected BUY at the top of your FP, then CATEGORIES from the menu that appears. I found OTHER ANTIQES (under miscellaneous?) and the category was empty! Yet if I click on Antiques from the list on the left side of the Silkfair FP, there are items in there -- not antique items, but something is in there.

Back to the page of categories, Silkfair has no subcategory for handmade and/or hand assembled jewelry. I found handmade jewelry from vintage bits under the Antique/Vintage subcat under JEWELRY.

From a shopper's perspective, the market on Silkfair is confusing, at best. Before Silkfair adds little flourishes, like the ribbons you mentioned, you folks have to make the categories from the CATEGORY page line up with the Categories on the front page. You also have to do some research and learn what handmade is, antique is, vintage is, collectible is, OOAK is -- or maybe stop using these terms. I think I saw a subcat for Maps and Globes under Handmade? But not Antiques?

Ribbons will not fix your market.

The Funny One said...

What's best about the comments here is that it includes strategic thinking about selling handmade online - and despite Etsy's bumbles, stumbles, and complete lack of communication skills, Etsy has led to one good thing ---- we can sell our handmade products online. Buying and selling handmade is now an accepted retail activity.

The questions now is how do we go forward and make this work for the long term? I don't believe Etsy's the answer, because they jumped on the big box, branding bandwagon based on volume--------and left more important issues on the table including site and shopping cart security, quality assurance, and customer service. (And they aren't going to start providing those now after 4 years, so forget it.)

And how can sellers get together to push for the best changes for all of us? If Etsy continues to refuse to provide those services, what can sellers do to steer the new sites in the right direction?

AliciaMae said...

I have a silkfair shop for used books, I took this discount offer as an opportunity to try the custom shops. I don't like them. For one, there are limited templates to choose from and customization is extremely limited unless you want to recode the whole thing (no color choices for some elements on the page). The address doesn't apply to the custom shop, you either have your own domain to assign to forward to it or you have a long, painful web address. It doesn't pick up featured items either, and it's confusing about banners and logos, one place in the customize tab and another in the profile. Basically, there's no reason to pay for a custom shop unless you're using silkfair to host your site and as a shopping cart. I'm not impressed.

Silkfair said...

life-during-wartime - the categories in the sub-markets are from the main site category. So, let's say an item is tagged with Jewelry/Bracelet, and also marked as Handmade, then the item will appear under the main market under Jewelry/Bracelet, and under the Handmade sub-market under Jewelry/Bracelet.

If there are 5 items tagged under Jewelry/Bracelet, but none of them have been marked as Handmade, then The Jewelry/Bracelet category will not appear in the Handmade market. But that category will appear in Handmade submarket as soon as an item is tagged as Handmade. Category would only appear if there are items tagged for the specific sub-market.

The implementation of sub-market like is our attempt to avoid creating multiple disjointed systems like and then maybe something for Handmade only - let's call it as an example like Is that something we can do? Sure. But we were exploring to see if this combined methods is feasible.

What you see are a start, and reqires inputs. We're not trying to dictate how things have to work. Nothing is set in concrete. Please understand that what you see is what we put forward, to get feedbacks. If it's absolutely unacceptable, then they just simply gets dropped and we move on to other more accepted functions/business.

Also, these sub-markets - maybe they need to be more tightly controlled, so that sellers can't just arbitrarly drop things in.

FunnyOne - what are the site/cart security problems you saw over there? We get daily hacked/scanned by HackerScan, and adhere to PCI compliance. Any serious security problems would be visible on the site and shopping cart.

How about starting a wish list? At least we can respond, and provide either a product roadmap or obtain some understanding of what's important.

AliciaMae - thanks for giving it a try and the candid feedback.

WindysDesigns said...

Well, the proliferation of front pages on etsy featuring twilight and harry potter items really takes the cake. I realize they can't legally shut them down unless the copyright holder contacts them, but to blatantly put them on the front page sends the message that it's allowed.

And why shouldn't the rest of us jump on that bandwagon? Who's going to stop us? I need to make money too, ya know.

*shakes head*

yourmom said...

Uggh. This twilight crap fad is so lame. I'm so sick of seeing those "original" items that are inspired by the books. Having them on the front page so often makes it look like stealing other people's intellectual property is not only allowed but quite profitable too.

I had a close friend on etsy she made beautiful original jewelry. She quit seeling her designs to sell twilight inspired rip offs exclusively. She made over 40,000 dollars on etsy in a year. She won't speak to me anymore because I hate twilight and I told her she is a sellout.

Aint' that about a bitch?

SNOOT said...

Another aspect of the Twilight and Wizard crap is that it caters to the youngsters. Youngsters can't afford my stuff, and don't appreciate it.

I need a juried site that won't take such a chunk out of my profits that it feels like piracy.
I have Etsy and ArtFire shops, but don't feel either are suited to my level of expertise-- not because I'm all "the best", but the greatest stuff just doesn't seem to be as visible as all the mediocre or trendy stuff.
(Good thing nobody knows who I am or I would be considered a snoot, which is probably worse than a snob!)

So, I have my hard-won personal website and hope for the best. I have this fear of dying with all my artwork still sitting in boxes, because everybody in the galleries and shoppes want a 100% markup and the consignment shops are not secure or reliable.
But, I work my ass off every day anyhow. What else am I going to do, dragons? Now, that's prostitution.

silkfair said...

8/5/2009 - Practical Ecommerce by Armando Roggio :

Silkfair Market Shop and Custom Shop - rated 4 out of 5 stars

"Silkfair's custom shop is a hosted ecommerce platform that addresses two major categories of ecommerce entrepreneurs. Many new ecommerce business owners fall into one of these two categories.

First, there are subject or industry experts who decide to create an online presence.

Second, there are some ecommerce business owners that are web experts and decide to put that expertise to use selling something.

These two kinds of ecommerce owners have very different needs where ecommerce platforms and shopping carts are concerned, and it is the rare solution that addresses both."