I'm a fan of any site that promotes handmade but is it too early to spend $7.00/month for Artfire? After reading many of the posts about Artfire in the Etsy forums, a lot of Etsy members would say "yes!" Artfire is still in the primitive stages of development, both in look and feel, ease of use and most importantly (because we all want to sell our creations), in buyers. According to the reviews I read, Artfire's user base is still rather small and most of the users are sellers. Views can be very low and discouraging and many people have closed their shops.
There's got to be something good about it though. I started a thread in the Etsy forums asking for positive experiences with Artfire. The responses were a bit more encouraging. I would love to have learned more but the thread was closed by Etsy because it violated some posting rule. Oops! The number one positive feedback was about the customer service. Many of the people who posted in the thread felt that it was very easy to approach the Artfire team and work with them to implement changes and resolve problems. According to users, the support staff are very friendly, quick to respond and accommodating. Although some of the responders said they have closed their shop or are thinking about it, most of them said they were happy with the site and/or willing to give it a try for awhile as new features and improvements are constantly being added or made.
Some of the recent improvements include: Customers do not have to sign up to make purchases (a BIG plus) and the launch of Rapid Cart. Rapid Cart is a widget you can install on your blog or social networking site that shows your product. Buyer can purchase directly from the widget without having to register and without being redirected to your Artfire shop. That makes shopping a lot easier!
Another pro is that there are no listing fees, no renewal fees and no sales fees. It is currently $7.00/month flat fee to be a verified user. If you list or relist and/or sell a lot on Etsy, $7.00/month might be nothing to you. There is a Basic User option which costs absolutely nothing but the features are pretty limited and there are some restrictions. If you are interested in signing up, the $7.00/month fee is only available to the first 5,000 accounts. There are currently 1,467 accounts available at this price. The proposed fee after 5000 accounts are opened is $20.00/month. A little steep! To open an Artfire shop now, click here.
Obviously there ae pros and cons to the new site. That goes with every site, new or old. But time will tell. It will be interesting to see what happens with Artfire and whether it effects Etsy sales.
If you decide to become an Artfire user and need help setting up shop, visit Timothy Adam's new site, Handmadeology. On this site, Timothy shows you step by step how to make the most of your Artfire shop.
Well, after weighing some of the pros and cons in this post, I have decided to open an Artfire shop and live the evolution of a new artists' community. Pardon my shops appearance as I begin to put it together - naturemanipulated.artfire.com
If you use Artfire, please share your experiences with us.