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ArtFire: A Rising Star in eBay Alternatives

I sat down to write this blog post about ArtFire, an emerging marketplace, this morning thinking it would be a good way to pass some time between then and my lunch break.

It didn’t take me long, however, to recognize that ArtFire is a pretty special marketplace and one that I should have given more attention to prior to now. Learning more about ArtFire has been on my to-do list for a while, so I am pleased to have finally dedicated some time to exploring it.

After a quick surf around their website, user forum and from reading some press they have received recently, I’m now convinced that ArtFire is a marketplace that we should all keep an eye on.

I’m intrigued by ArtFire for a couple of reasons:

  1. ArtFire was voted by sellers as the winner of the 2011 Sellers Choice Marketplace Ratings above eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and more. It caught my attention at the time because I hadn’t heard a lot about it or ever used the site to buy or sell items: I was impressed by the fact that a marketplace which was fairly new could take such a title.
  2. They take a unique approach to their relationship with sellers: In their words, rather than “selling traffic to sellers” like more conventional marketplaces, ArtFire instead takes your listings, after you post them on their site, and puts them in front of tens of millions of buyers via Google Merchant, social media aggregators, search engines and ArtFire’s partners.
  3. The owners come across as hugely passionate about what they do and are dedicated to ensuring ArtFire remains for the people (both buyers and sellers) through their Community Directed Development.

Anyway! Enough about what I like about them, you’re probably wondering, how much money can you make by selling on ArtFire.com?

Let’s take a quick look at some important info you need to decide whether ArtFire is for you:

What you can sell on ArtFire

ArtFire specializes in products that are handmade, vintage, craft suppliers, some kind of fine art, or media or design-related.  There is no denying that there is a likeness to Etsy.com here – a marketplace that specializes in handmade and crafted or vintage goods. This seems to eliminate a lot of sellers who sell more conventional items like DVDs or clothing but if you take a close look at the more faster growing marketplaces like Bonanza, Addoway, and RubyLane, you will see that there is a huge buyer market looking for these items. It’s clear that e-Commerce is heading in a crafty direction.

How much it costs to sell items on ArtFire

It is free to list and sell items on ArtFire: You don’t pay listing fees or any kind of final value or success fees. ArtFire makes money by offering Pro level accounts that gives you greater options for customization, promotional tools, more exposure and faster service. The Pro level account costs US$9.95 per month. There is no obligation to stay longer than one month and you can cancel at any time. You can also get a 30 day free trial of ArtFire here: https://www.artfire.com/ext/register/account

ArtFire did previously offer a basic seller account which was 100% free but did not include the extras that the Pro level account does such as greater customization options and added exposure. However, ArtFire recognized that sellers could not determine whether it was worth them upgrading to a paid Pro account without them being able to try it out first and seeing the benefits. Hence why ArtFire now offers you a full Pro level account for a free 30 day trial.

Will you make money selling on ArtFire?

In the same marketplace ratings that resulted in ArtFire being announced the winner, ArtFire was announced as the 2nd most profitable marketplace by sellers, second only to Webstore.com. This is a very strong sign that there is plenty of potential to make sales when you sell on ArtFire.

Based on what ArtFire sellers are talking about on the forum, getting sales requires more than just slapping some listings up and sitting back and waiting for the sales to roll in. Instead, ArtFire sellers engage buyers will social media by creating Facebook Pages or by blogging about their products (and product-related topics). They are also open to learning about search engine optimization (SEO) and willing to spend time making sure that their listings get found.

In other words, there is money and sales to be made on ArtFire.com, but expect to work for them!

Customer support for ArtFire sellers

ArtFire support has been praised as having the best available customer service across all marketplaces. They boast phone support for Pro members and a 24 hour return on email enquiries, even for free trial members. ArtFire also has a wide range of on-site help resources which allow you to get answers to frequently asked questions without you having to take the time to make a call or send an email.

Overall, ArtFire does an admirable job of communicating with their sellers and consistently asks their opinion on the direction of ArtFire which keeps the seller’s interests at heart and the ArtFire owners true to their founding principles.

From the horses’ mouth: The benefits of selling on ArtFire:

The following is an extract of an interview with ArtFire’s Chief Operations Officer

“ArtFire is a place where you can share the process with other like-minded people and let us (ArtFire) do the heavy technical lifting. We have built highly customizable studios, speed and SEO optimized pages, checkout-enabled widgets and promotional tools, coupon codes, batch editing tools and business management tools. We push product out to the shopping world for you, automate the SEO as much as possible, duplicate your images on 70,000 severs in 60 countries and auto-convert the shopper's view to their home currency. We educate, support and encourage you. Perhaps most importantly, we work to create a vital, sustainable and supportive community.

Our goal is to help you sell, even if it means you make sales on another marketplace. That is something that the eBay model could never do.”

Have you sold on ArtFire before? Are you intrigued to hear more about them and how they are different from many other marketplaces out there? Share your thoughts below.  

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24 Comments Add your comment
I am so happy that Artfire.com is receiving attention! It is a great place to buy and sell hand crafted goods. We have many talented artisans, eager to show their items to the public. Reply
Thanks for the tips.!! This is really what I have been looking for, for a friend who does Scrap book wedding albums as a one off for people after their weddings etc or anniversaries etc. anything in that line. She makes a beautiful job of them too. they are really sort after pieces of art work, rather than just scrap-booking per se. Thanks for this. I shall pass it on. I really enjoy your many tips. Someday soon I hope to be able to start using Salehoo myself. Sincere regards, Danella Reply
Artfire really is a great place to sell. Did you notice all the workshops and guides for sellers to make their shops the best they can be? I teach a learn to sell online class and the very first place I tell people to try is Artfire. Reply
ArtFire is different than other selling venues. It is more like a "hybrid" webhost that offers all the perks of a selling venue plus a lot of customizations that you would only find on a stand alone website. By combining both into ArtFire, sellers and buyers get a truly unique experience. The staff is super helpful and they share so much knowledge and information. It's like having a free MBA in business when you start reading all the information they offer to their sellers. They are terrific! Cheers, Nathalie Reply
I have two Pro studios on ArtFire, my husband has a studio and so do both my youngest daughter and eldest son. We could not be happier with our choice of venues. Everything you wrote about is true, and there are many other perks as well. The FaceBook kiosk is outstanding, it has made sales for me that I would never have made without it, I get 15 or 20 incoming hits from it a day. The Rapid Cart and Shop Window are both excellent tools that can be used on stand alone websites or on blogs or personal pages of sites that allow them. The thing I love the very most about ArtFire is that it's entirely family owned and operated. It is my firm belief that when you own something you take good care of it. Everything I've seen leads me to believe that John, Danielle and Tony will do whatever it takes to retain ownership of the company and grow it organically. I love that ArtFire is debt free. Reply
Site Admin
Thanks for your comments everyone! I'm not surprised there has been so much positive feedback about ArtFire, but it's exciting to read! Interesting to read all the favorable comments about the owners/directors of ArtFire. It's something we are seeing a lot of in emerging marketplaces such as Bonanza and Addoway where the sellers know the owners by first-name and engage with them regularly. (Does anyone know any eBay exec's on a first-name basis? ... Sorry, couldn't resist the dig). I was quite taken by an interview I read with Tony Ford which I think all your ArtFire enthusiasts might be interested in reading: http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y210/m09/abu0271/s03 (particularly you, Nathalie). I really like the way he describes the difference between old and new marketplaces. I think he is absolutely spot on and seems like such a visionary for e-Commerce. Reply
How easy is ArtFire to use... I set up a great shop in 15minutes as an experiment... I'll see how it goes. These sites all look great but for Australian sellers it is a bit difficult due to high postage costs, and things are just more expensive here, and it doesn't appear to have the Australian following yet... But with the free 30 day trial and free listing there is nothing to lose:) Reply
Just another thing to add... What I love about this which you can't do on Ebay is promote other online business you have, they give you a little spot just for your links... Super... Only some of my things are handmade.. but the majority are not and people can still look at those aswell and choose to buy from my website and combine other items.. $9.95per month is great cheap advertising aswell Reply
Thank you for shining a favorable light on Artfire. I have 3 pro studios on this innovative marketplace where selling and buying on-line never made so much sense. Reply
In my opinion, Artfire is the best selling venue for people selling handmade, vintage and supplies. Artfire does not charge a listing fee or a final value fee. Artfire only charges Pro sellers a small monthly fee which is currently $9.95 per month until August 15, 2011. Anyone that signs up to sell on Artfire after August 15, 2011 will pay a slightly higher fee of $11.95 per month. The customer service provided by Artfire is fantastic. Tony, the COO of Artfire reciently made a new banner, for free, for one of the Artfire sellers. Artfire does an excellent job of keeping their sellers informed of any changes that are going to be taking place in the future rather than just surprising their sellers with those changes when they are implemented. Artfire listens to their sellers. When sellers are asking Artfire to make some kind of change Artfire will look into the benefits of making that change. If Artfire doesn't feel that the change will be good then Artfire will inform their sellers why Artfire will not be making the requested change. Reply
I've tried many ecommerce venues over the years and Artfire is, hands down, the most innovative, responsive, and creative site I've been associated with. I love that they not only give me the tools to sell successfully but teach me how to use them. I love that my level of success is a direct function of my level of effort. I especially appreciate that Artfire staff participate regularly in forum discussions, field questions, offer suggestions, just seem to really care about the individual seller. It's a great place and I hope others will check it out. Reply
Good morning Alice! Yes, Tony really knows what he's talking about. He's a gem and so helpful to sellers. He's an extremely talented photographer and as such, he has also started (awhile back) a Photography Q&A thread in the ArtFire forum to help sellers take better product pictures and get to know their camera better, etc. He is extremely generous with his time and knowledge. It's the mark of a great man. John is more a behind the scenes guy, but just as generous as Tony. They make a fantastic team. It is comforting to know that we have two very talented business professionals at the helm. Reply
I'm another happy shop owner on ArtFire. Actually, I have two pro shops, and have never doubted the value of the space and features I receive in return for my small monthly payment. There are so many reasons why I love it there, that it's almost impossible to pick out my favorites. The tools are far superior to any other site I've sold from. There have been many times when I've thought there was nothing more they could possibly provide, and then Tony or Kevin will announce a new feature that makes my life easier, both as a seller and a shopper. One feature that is unique to ArtFire, and is of special benefit to our shoppers, is the check-in button. I equate the act of checking in, to putting the open sign up in the window of a B&M store. It tells my shoppers that I'm around, and I'll be available to answer questions, provide more information, and most importantly, to ship their purchase quickly. As others have already said, ArtFire is more than just another shopping venue. It's a community of people who truly care about each other, and we work together not only for our own success, but for the success of ArtFire and it's founders/owners. Thanks so much for featuring ArtFire in your blog post! I hope it catches the eye of potential new sellers, and of course, new shoppers! Reply
Site Admin
@Anita Scott: I hope you enjoy using the trial! Yes I know what you mean about competing with local sellers when you are shipping from Down Under - it can be tricky if you are selling items which other local sellers are also selling, but if you have something different it can really help. I suspect a lot of ArtFire buyers are looking for specifically for unique and handmade items... and might not mind the extra shipping when they find exactly what they want. In fact, some buyers might love the novelty of buying something from Australia! At a guess, I would say that ArtFire is a popular place to buy gifts for friend's birthdays, etc so perhaps offering free gift wrapping and sending the gift direct to the buyer's recipient might appeal to your potential buyers? Good luck! Reply
Site Admin
Thanks for your insights, Trish, Jim, Coolstraps and Canadianrockiesart. I love hearing about how much you love the site and it seems like you are all beyond satisfied with the communication and level of customer support you get from the ArtFire team. Where do you guys think ArtFire will be in 2 years from now? Where do you think ArtFire can take *you* in 2 years? Reply
Very potential marketplace. Very useful info, thank you so much. Reply
It all sounds very exciting. I'm hoping to get on their free trial and show some of my one of a kind crafts..I do Painting on china and also pottery. I've not had any luck on e bay. But I did learn how to sell there. I tried to find a niche in crafts but couldn't find a drop ship supplier so I've changed my niche. Still hoping to get into my first love of offering crafts to customers, I feel there is a real need for this. Thanks Alice for the information. Every day that I turn on my computer it opens a new door. Have you heard the phrase "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear"? Reply
Site Admin
@Joyce: I'm pleased you are considering giving ArtFire a go - it should be a good place for you to sell crafty items. Maybe take a look around and see if other sellers are offering the same/similar items as you will be and check out how they are going with sales? Remember to post on the Suppliers Wanted category on our forum if you want some help finding craft item suppliers - http://www.salehoo.com/forum/wanted As I mentioned, I really think we are seeing a huge emergence in crafty/vintage items being bought and sold online so it's worth taking a look into this market. You mentioned you have taken the time to learn about selling on eBay, good for you, but if you are hesitant about having to learn a whole new marketplace and how it works, know that ArtFire has some really great resources for new sellers such as yourself. Even better, they have a supportive community where you can get some help from other sellers when you need it. I haven't heard the phrase you mentioned, but I like it! Reply
I am really very happy with you, thank you for all tips. I wonder if anyone can sell this site because I understand that they are selling things made out of hand, then a person who has no talent to do something, can not sell this site? Who sells on this site and only those who make their own product? I wait for your answer. Reply
Site Admin
Hi Oleg, Artfire supports businesses geared towards handmade, art, and indie. They do not have any policy stating that only those with talents to create handmade crafts can sell here, but I can see the products are pretty much leaning on the arts and crafts niche, and to share the process with like-minded people. :) For conventional stuff you can try the other selling platforms like Bonanza and Addoway. :) Reply
Hi- I sell among other things, antique prints from out of print books. I have a mat cutter and cut and mount all of my prints. Artfire sounds a lot like Etsy except for the social media direction Artfire wants/has...That is my problem, I am not much of a social media guy. Is there much sense in listing on Artfire if I don't do the Twitter/Facebook thing? Thanks Reply
Site Admin
@OmahaGuy: It is not a prerequisite that you are on Facebook, it is just one of the applications they have (the Facebook Kiosk) that members can use to sell on Facebook and to reach a large community on the web. They have a forum where you can interact with other members, and pretty soon you will realize how using social networks won't hurt in helping to expand your marketing efforts. :) Reply
Add me to the list of happy Artfire sellers. The artfire staff and the other sellers and buyers on it are just amazing. Another marketplace I use to sell my stuff is ListingDock.com, great place to buy/sell/trade with ease. The website is easy to navigate and when I have questions the help desk is very helpful. Reply
This is exactly why Ebay and Amazon have the monopoly they are free to list sign up and list, all these "alternatives" are charging money, and that's their death knell, if they want to stand a chance of competition make it FREE Reply
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