We first heard about Artfire on various ETSY forums. Those touting Artfire were disgruntled Etsians at the administration or folks with shops that weren't doing well on ETSY. We couldn't see the harm in expanding when the site offered wonderful incentives to boot: one monthly fee, no percentage off sales and a wonderfully user friendly seller software program. (There is no doubt that Artfire is Seller oriented)
We officially joined in September of 2009 by showcasing 12 items we hoped would do well there, but really began concentrating on our shop in November, before the holiday rush. Glitz visited the forums on Artfire. She asked questions and took notes. The reception she received was very nice. Everyone was ready to listen and help her become as successful as possible. She also found the Administration to be very hands on and responsive.
In our elation, we tweeted our experience to others and some of them followed us there.
Amongst the various bits of advise Glitz received from a very welcoming community was a link to help her apply for the featured artisan spot, which she did. She received a message from Artfire that she had been selected. We celebrated.
Transferring data from ETSY to Artfire was effortless. They had a tool that imported all listings in a very presentable format to their site with one click of a button. We haven't found any hacks for Artfire nor seriously searched for them either, their software is pretty sophisticated and lacks for little, unlike ETSY's.
There are folks that hold up Artfire's front page as fairly shabby. The reason for that is that they are very egalitarian in their thinking. Everyone is featured on the front page, as every time something new is listed on Artfire, it is featured on the front page. The philosophy there is equality for all. The need for puppet accounts or shell accounts is a non issue.
Keeping both sites up and running was a simple matter, creating the listing in ETSY and uploading it to Artfire cut duplication out of the picture. In December, Artfire offered a one year break to it's sellers for a pre yearly purchase. We jumped at the chance.
Glitz's talent's hit their stride around the same time we began seriously working on the Artfire site. The new wire wrapped briolettes, the oxidizing of fine jewelry and the expansion into necklaces were well received on ETSY. The expectation was that these items might also do well on Artfire. We expanded the inventory on Artfire to 160 items.
The holidays came and left, eBay, (our biggest hope) was very disappointing and Artfire had produced only 4 sales in December. We would like to think that there were luckier sellers on Artfire than us.
With high hopes, we began preparing for the expected rush to come with the featured artist slot. The week before the article was to air, we uploaded the complete inventory, 356 items, to Artfire from ETSY. We wanted to be sure and have plenty of choices available and naturally we didn't want Artfire to be disappointed in us.
We waited, with butterflies in our belly's', for the page to change Saturday night.... and then suddenly, it did. We made plans to stay up all night and watch the action. We watched, we waited, we moved from room to room, (as we have a few computers in the house) and we moved again. Finally, very tired, we fell asleep with one eye open for the "RUSH".
On Sunday morning we awoke and hurried to the computer with anticipation, "Ok, no sales yet, maybe too early in the morning, after all, it's Sunday".
Monday came and left, Tuesday, brought all of our co-horts from ETSY to Artfire to give us support. Wednesday, a few questions, Thursday, another question. Friday, we were "hotlisted" a few times (ETSY calls it favorites). Saturday night, we watched as the sun went down and our week on the front page with it.
Our receipts for the week equaled $0.00. Not one new sale.
Ok, we shrugged our shoulders, hugged each other and poured a glass of wine to toast the new calm we could experience. It was over, the week we had anticipated so much and hoped would open a new venue for our goods.
Searching the net this past week, I came across a Blog written in 2008 by Crafty Equine "My Review of Artfire". where she predicted that by 2010, Artfire would equal, if not surpass ETSY, being the dark horse that would give ETSY a run for their money.
Here is what we have learned, just as the rest of America is learning, When you offer the "prize" to everyone equally, no one is a real winner.
Give us ETSY, give us the competition, the frustrations, the jealousy, give us Adman, give us treasuries, gift guides, demand excellence from us, push us to our limits and give us the loyal and wonderful buyers of ETSY.
Amen ETSY (What is the accronim's meaning anyway?)