Where to sell handmade: Artfire profile

In a previous post, I provided a list of venues for artists, artisans and artisan crafters.

This week I’m profiling another of those sites. Artfire is relatively new to the online handmade selling venue catalog, but their growth has been phenomenal over the last few months. (See the graph from Quantcast below).

Alexa ranks them at 87,085 overall, but take note of the more recent traffic ranking numbers from the last week or so below.

I asked John Jacobs, the President of Artfire, to tell us a bit more about the venue.

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

What is the site name and where can artisan sellers find you?
ArtFire can be found at http://www.ArtFire.com

We maintain a social media presence and can be found on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and Myspace. We are also developing features to help our members manage their social footprint using these sites as well.

Tell us a little about your site’s history. What are its origins?
Our parent companies have an e-commerce background and we have been in the trenches and abused by huge online market places and venues for years as sellers and business owners. The ArtFire site was born out of a need to offer a better alternative for sellers of handmade to represent themselves in a fair and equitable manner. Many of us over the years have been challenged with the ever changing environment of the Internet frontier and have very little time after performing our core business functions, to build a web site, market and advertise our wares, and keep up with the changing social media landscape.

Up until this point sites like EBay were able to prey on small businesses and artisans and charge incredible fees for their venue and traffic. In fact some calculations put the actual server and bandwidth cost of a listing on eBay as low as just .02 cents and falling! So after years of abuse, and repression, we decided that we would not take it anymore. So we built a better community with a focus on supporting its members and a spirit of service. We think that the future of the internet is aggregation of micro segments and we want to help support this movement while nourishing a unique market segment that is close to our hearts, and that often lacks adequate respect; the artist community.

Tell us about the site’s staff.
I don’t code, and can barely even spell PHP ;o) , but I do know a couple guys that can! Here are the people we owe our success to: The Team:  Kyle, Matt, and Aaron are some of the best programmers I have ever met. That is important, but you know what’s really impressive? Their attitude, drive, and dogged commitment to making the community better! These guys never stop, they never sleep, and they are always innovating and adapting!

I am not sure how we were lucky enough to find such a talented team, and this really rings true in the case of our lead site designer Jen. I am certain we would not be where we are today without her insight and holistic understanding of not just aesthetic design, but function and User Interface.

Those of you that track us on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/ArtFire have met Sara, one of our super fast, multi-tasking, gen-Y cyber editors who is an all around riot to have on our team, and Twitters circles around me! In fact she is ranked in the top 250 “Tweeters” on the internet! She also reminds us to have fun and laugh at ourselves, which is refreshing after a long 14 hour day!

And then, there’s Tony Ford. When Tony and I were in our Master’s Degree program together we always challenged each other to perform better and eventually found that when we tackled projects together we reached even further and could not be beaten. Tony Ford is perhaps one of the brightest marketing guru’s that the Internet has ever seen. During the development of ArtFire, we brought in consultants, SEO, SEM, development, and marketing companies. You know, we fired every one of them, and do everything our selves now. Tony is always right there on the front lines, not just pushing the proverbial ArtFire cart, but pulling it, and the rest us, up the hill along with it!

What is your plan for the site? What are your goals?
Our mission is to support artists and their businesses. We approach this goal in a little different manner however as compared to other sites. We don’t worry about what venue an artist sells their item on, we offer tools to increase success in general and even on sites that some may see as our competitor. Take for example the new Market Hub feature (see image below) that displays an artist’s full social footprint for a potential buyer to explore. This tool allows a buyer to fully understand, discover, sample the depth and efforts an artist employs to sell their wares.

Who is your target seller audience?
ArtFire supports handmade artists. We also have additional categories to list supplies, vintage, and media items. Our site is designed with small business in mind and aims to reduce the time spent by designers in establishing and growing their business on line.

Who is your target buyer audience? How will you drive buyers to your venue?
There are many affinity groups that purchase handmade, from the environmentally conscious to those who desire unique quality items crafted with meaning. We run an extensive traditional and online media and viral marketing campaign that adapts to successes in near real time; changes to suit the shifting market almost constantly; and employs emerging techniques and strategies that maximize reach. You will see us in national publications and hear us on small town radio stations around the US. But our marketing extends beyond traditional and even new media to viral, community driven promotion of the handmade ethic. We understand that a market place must bring buyers and invest substantial resources in growing a robust buyer base. We want to bring not just bulk traffic to the site, but qualified individuals that appreciate the values that make handmade items so unique.

Is this an international, domestic US, Far East or European focused site?
Our market is global, though most members are creating from the US. We always keep an eye out for better ways in which we can support international transactions, buyers, and members. We built the site with a currency converter on every page and offer extended support for non-US based members. As we grow we will remember that the US may have borders but artists and great art do not.

What differentiates this venue from other online selling venues?Why should artisan sellers consider utilizing this site as a resource instead of other, older sites or their own sites?
We coined a concept we call Community Directed Development (CDD) which puts the community in the driver’s seat of site direction and features. This requires us to move very quickly, put our leaders on the front line of service, and this allows us to adapt to the needs of our members in real time. For example on Christmas eve we decided to roll out Google Analytics and within 120 minutes of sitting down to discuss rolling out of GA, we were up and fully functional, site wide. This feature and many others are absolutely free to the community, including instant and automatic submission to Google Shopping (Google Base).

We encourage and offer tools to increase your social footprint, teach members to promote their business and their personal brand, and challenge sellers to manage as many channels as they comfortably or effectively can. You never know which channel will bring in the most buyers and we believe that members should embrace an ArtFire AND ETSY approach to selling handmade items, not an ArtFire OR ETSY position.

How have you structured your seller pricing?
After many years of paying insertion fees and final valuation fees, we chose a simple straight forward plan that puts the member (seller) first. List 10 items at a time, when several sell, put more up in their place, absolutely free. If you would like access to enhanced features, and want to list UNLIMITED ITEMS, it will only cost you $20.00 a month! We are currently offering the next several thousand members a $7.00/month upgraded “Verified” account, which will never increase in price, ever. (Note from the editor:  Right now, as a reward to join and help work out all the bugs in the beta version of the site, you pay $7 a month. That’s it. No additional listing fees, no final value fees, no sales commissions. Ever. And it’s $7 per month. As long as you own your shop. And, if you refer 10 individuals to the site that open Verified accounts, your shop fees will be waived FOREVER. Very cool! More information here )

What else should we know?
We roll out new features constantly, adapt quickly, interact in our own forums, and I can be contacted directly on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ArtFireJohn

Thank you John!

Author’s note: I posted when I opened my Artfire shop here. If this sounds like a venue you might want to utilize to sell your handmade items, click here to join.

Stay tuned over the next weeks as I will be profiling more artisan handmade selling  venues with interviews from the site owners. You can find this site’s traffic rank according to Compete.com  here

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  1. Great interview! Thanks so much to you and John for posting this interview. I hope the current upset will settle down soon and we can all get serious about promoting our business first!

  2. Very interesting article. It made me feel really glad that I had decided to become part of this community. My shop is empty for now. I had a few items but didn’t get any traffic. So I decided to wait until I have some time to learn more about ArtFire and how to get noticed.

    I love the philosophy of the founders!

    Thanks so much for this information.

  3. Great interview, nice to hear straight talk. I joined a few weeks ago, have more hits everyday in ArtFire than I do on my other site. They offer so much and are there for you, doing everything they say they’re going to do. I’m thrilled to be a part of this new and growing community.

  4. I’m joining Artfire too. New to Etsy, but I don’t feel like it’s a good fit. I’ll try Artfire’s free membership level and see what happens there. The prices look pretty low, though.

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