We started selling on our own site last fall. I think if we'd really thought things through thoroughly, perhaps we wouldn't have tried it at all, since it turns out we didn't really know what we were getting into. We did have help, and our website guru did a great job setting up our site, it looks great, and she tried to help us, but the truth is, we had no idea what we needed to do to really get our name out there and get people buying, and we really needed more guidance than one person could give us. We kept trying to sell to the same small group of people, not really knowing how to reach out to a broader audience, and that's not really a good formula for a successful business.
After selling a few things back around the holidays, we hit a dry spell. We couldn't figure out what to do to get more interest in our jewelry. We were trying to use Facebook, but only with limited success, and giveaways, while they got us a little more attention, didn't result in any sales. So, in frustration, we started looking around to figure out what we should try next, and we found Artfire. What makes Artfire different, and what made it appealing for us? Several things, really, but these are the top five reasons we're glad we found it:
1) We signed up with a Basic account, which was absolutely, positively FREE. Yes, FREE. No fees to list stuff. No commission fee if you sell stuff. No monthly fee. No limits on the number of items you can list. And all the help guides for setting up your studio, understanding and using SEO, how to get your items seen by other people -- all included, absolutely FREE! It's a great deal. A Pro account is only $9.95, and again, no fee to list an item, no commission fees on sold items, unlimited items allowed, no need to relist items, ever, unless you sell out and restock.
2) The help guides. In addition to being free, they are easy to understand, and they cover pretty much everything you could ever need to know to sell online successfully. I'd never heard of SEO until I signed up with Artfire, but I keep reading the guides they've made about it, and I think I'm getting better. They have guides for basic stuff like setting up your studio and listing items, and they have guides for getting the best pictures possible of your items, and I'm sure there are other guides I haven't even looked at yet.
3) The forums. If the help guides aren't enough and you still have questions, you head over to the forums and ask other Artfire users. You'll have answers to all your questions within hours, probably quicker, and sometimes even from Artfire staff. Everyone I've dealt with has been friendly and helpful. The general attitude seems to be that helping any one artist do well on Artfire will help every artist on the site.
4) Automatic Google feed. Every time a seller lists an item, that item is automatically fed to Google, Google shopping (if it's eligible for it) and other search engines, like The Find, Bing, and probably a lot of others I don't even know about.
5) The general feeling of respect, for both buyers and sellers. I know this is intangible, but I think it's important. What I mean is, as sellers, the fact that staff answers questions, both about the site's features and about things like photographing items or the best way to write descriptions is very appealing to me, not to mention that it is okay to complete sales off-site, if that's the way that will get you a sale. I think that that shows that they want what is best for the sellers, not just what is best for the site. For buyers, I think it's great that they will allow you to buy from an Artfire studio without having to be a member of Artfire, so if you're the kind of person who keeps your online presence to a minimum to keep your privacy intact, you don't even have to give Artfire your name. As long as you can contact the seller and pay them, Artfire doesn't need any information from you.
Are you or someone you know interested in selling handcrafted or vintage goods or crafting supplies online? If you use our Artfire referral link you can get your third month free, and we'll get a month free.