Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Etsy vs. Artfire: observations from the sidelines

As the year winds down, people are making plans for a better New Year. Eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, clean out the garage; those sorts of things.

One of my plans is to have a successful art life in 2009. Which brings me to two websites that may be part of my "GOAL!" equation. Etsy and Artfire.

As a few of you know, Etsy is a site that allows people to buy and sell "all things handmade." You can also buy and sell vintage and supplies.

However, the site is becoming bloated. Tons of sellers sign up everyday. Etsy's search system cannot accommodate that many items. And, search results list chronologically (most recently listed) instead of by relevancy. In other words, having a descriptive title and perfect keywords will not guarantee that people will find your item, if it was listed weeks ago.

And, the Art category is a mess. There is no clear location to look for original art. Grrr. I just had some sweet Almond Hersey Kisses and do not feel like ruining the high by bringing up that topic. So we'll move along.

Etsy does have a couple of major things going for it. It is a really nice and clean looking site. And, it has Traffic. Many sellers list on Etsy to cash in on the "foot traffic." But, with the bloating of the site, traffic is getting less and less for individual shop. Less traffic is good during rush hour, not good for a selling site.

Well, not too long ago another handmade site popped up. Artfire. AF appears to be picking up everything that Etsy is lacking. Such as stats for sellers (if you become a verified member), a monthly flat fee, one page listing, and a few other seller perks.

The downside is that they are in Beta. So the site is still buggy. Slow loading at times and search results still have kinks.

Being the tepid foot that I am, I have not signed up to Artfire's $7 monthly program. Instead I'm opting for the free 10 listings setup. And, I'm keeping my Etsy shop open (eggs in several baskets as they say).

As an experiment, I have a few new original mixed media pieces that I will list on both Etsy and Artfire. I want to see which player works best for me. Who has the best combo, most powerful special moves, best agility . Or, maybe both players will work for me. I'll use one for certain levels and the other for the other levels. Use one for the stage boss. Use one for the world boss.

Time will tell where I will go.
Here's to 2009.

(sorry for the video game references. The holidays make me nostalgic for my departed Super Nintendo)

(The image uptop is from the game Art of Fighting)


rockcreekcreations said...

I'm on etsy and artfire also. It will be interesting to see how everything turns out in the long run. Good luck

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

Great article (and I love the Nintendo image :)

I think your plan is a sensible one -- keep both shops open and test fly the new venue.

The only thing you're missing not upgrading to the $7 thing is access to stats. I find the stats are blowing my mind. As you can see, I advertise via Project Wonderful (as I suspect you do, too) and being able to see exactly where my traffic is coming from helps me make better decisions for my business.

I'm so tired of the same old struggle at Etsy to get some basic customer service that I've decided to put most of my focus in AF. Only time will tell ... :)

strawberryluna said...

heheheh, that graphic is awesome. well played!

315thomas said...

very interesting... haven't heard of artfire, i will have to check it out!

Top Shelf Totes said...

Really enjoyed this article. I'm on both right now, but Art Fire is slowly taking the lead for me (mainly because of stats and the ability to know how my ad campaigns are working). Because I'm doing more off-Etsy and off-Art Fire marketing, stats are extremely important to me. Also important to me is a site that appears to be looking forward in their technology rather than sticking with status quo.

Time will tell, but so far AF is making a good impression on me.

Pfeiffer Photos said...

I'm keeping my Etsy shop alive and posted 10 items (or less) to ArtFire to give it a go. Also on Red Bubble with less than 30 items but nothing is happening over there...yet. Good point you made about the art searching on Etsy. I still believe they should have a designated spot just for photography...I can wish since it's the holidays, right? :0)

ShinyAdornments said...

Good post and good luck on your 2009 endeavors!

I've got a shop on etsy and artfire, and well, so far so good for my new artfire shop. Their admin are responsive, their business/site development model is unique and the seller functionality, including statistics, is pretty fab.

And, according to the latest traffic metrics from Alexa, they are garnering more and more visitors each day. Pretty sweet for a brand new site.

I’ve listed and ranked by traffic a big list of places to sell handmade online.
Where to sell handmade

Lots of comments from folks and I’ve included interviews from some of the venues listed, with more to come.

CT said...

Keeping both sites is excellent cross promotion. The more visits the better your ranking in the search engines. Keep us posted on your obs from the sidelines. Have a wonderful new year! - CT