Artfire VS Etsy, Who wins?

I want to thank all the readers who contributed on my post last April (2011) comparing Artfire VS Etsy. There has been a call for a 2012 update and I'm pleased to announce that we're finally ready for you!

The rules of the internet are always changing and these two companies are by no means static. Almost everything has changed and I want to tell you why it's a closer tie for 2012. I also want to tell you why you might want to consider adding Artfire to your e-commerce mix if you haven't already.

The Rules have Changed. Etsy has listened! 

In our 2011 comparison, we really slammed Etsy for its confusing fee structure, manipulative search engine structure, shop limitations, and required sign up as the main reasons why Artfire was preferred. Now in 2012, Etsy has delivered changes and improvements that easily make up for or totally reverse these negatives from 2011. This calls for an updated perspective!

You Will Reach More People 
How Etsy and Artfire aren't in direct competition, and why you should care.

Before we delve too deeply into how Etsy has improved, let's look at how Etsy and Artfire have positioned themselves in the online world. Actually, you will find that these two sites are poised to go after two completely different groups of consumers, and are not in as direct competition as you think.

If you are selling online, your main concern should be whether you are seen by the people who will want to buy your product. If these two e-commerce sites deliver your product to the computer screens of uniquely different target consumers, your next step should be to determine who those people are and who your product will most appeal to- and maybe the answer is both.

Your Target Market Will Appreciate it 
 ...and you'll actually be able to find them

Many fall fast and hard for the great community and social currency system created by Etsy. But are your customers the kind that will truly appreciate and buy into their system too? 

Think about it- right now, Etsy rewards their sellers who buy from other sellers and leave positive reviews. They pass on those positive reviews to your shop, displaying them on your shop page as if it was you that had received that positive review. And guess what, leaving a negative review for someone else will hurt you too. This system was designed to induce creative people to buy from other creative people. This is their community culture and if you're selling on Etsy, other sellers and Etsy community members had better be your target market.

If however, you sell items that would appeal to those whom Etsy may not draw and capture (Men!!, Busy People!!, Non-Creatives!!) the list goes on, then Artfire is definitely worth a shot. Their intent is ease of use, not holding you hostage in a community where you will likely spend more than you sell. Albeit a very homey, lovely, bunting-wrapped hostage situation.
Google Will Love You Better has a very open user interface that feeds off 3rd party search results. As stated on their FAQ sheet, they use part of your monthly fee to advertise their site, with a typical monthly advertising goal of 100 million impressions in 30 days. Theirs is a no-strings attached philosophy with one monthly fee and unlimited listings. They don't require a consumer to be part of a community (or "sign up") to place an order. Meanwhile, has created its own online ecosystem, requiring sign up and constantly encouraging you to return through direct e-mail marketing. Their philosophy is to sell the customer not on your products as an individual seller, but to sell the customer on their shopping experience and community.

In the online world SEO (search engine optimization) is everything for being seen and heard. Etsy sells itself as an online community on outside search engines, where Artfire tries to get your individual products there next to the big box guys. Want to learn more about SEO? Read a Professional Marketing Consultant's #1 Tips

Musings on Internal SEO (for dorks only)

The search engine structure for Etsy no longer rewards those with the biggest pocket book by giving them the highest listings. Charging for the top listing in default search results was an unfair practice- both to the artist and consumer.  By listing in order of most recent listing, Etsy manipulated customer's search results by showing those products that had paid to be there, not those that most closely matched their query. They finally heard our cries and made this system better for the shop owners and the consumers. Now they just ask you to pay for an ad if you want to be seen at the very top (a Google-like structure). Artfire always recommended leaving your products alone after posting them, because deactivating or re-listing items could damage your placement in search results.  Now that Etsy has removed the costly and time consuming 20 cent re-listing scheme, you will see your 3rd party search engine results improve. Edits to your Etsy are now easier than ever too, and won't cost you a dime in re-listing fees. It's about time they caught on!

Artfire is Free to Try, You Have Nothing To Lose

Not sure whether Artfire will actually help you reach a new market? Try it and see. 

And if you're ever answering that age-old question "Do you sell online?" Don't direct them to your Etsy shop where your sale could be drowned out and eaten alive by a community of cannibals! Send them to Artfire, where buying your product doesn't require they buy into a whole culture, too.


  1. Yes, Etsy has made some improvements.
    They now offer the ability to make two types of coupons, % off and free shipping.
    Artfire's coupon creation system offers many more choices, including the ability to limit the studio category the coupon applies to, and create gift certificates. Artfire also has a global editor that offers many editing choices. Etsy only has outside companies that offer global editing, it's not built into their site.

    Artfire is more upfront and pro-active when it comes to updating the site to meet with the changes the search engines are making, especially Google's Panda update. They redesigned to listing page to include information formatted for google.

    I have actually seen on Artfire where my product showing up in online searches leads to sales. Etsy still is mostly internal traffic (people who come to Etsy and then start looking).

    Artfire has also separated out resellers into a commercial section that buyers have to specifically click on to see. Etsy still looks the other way when a commercial seller (who makes a lot of money for them) is blatantly selling factory made goods. Resellers are out there posing as handmade on every site, but at least Artfire admits it and has done something about it.

    Another big difference I've noticed in the forums of Artfire, is the number of sellers who come over from Etsy and just import their Etsy listings to Artfire and expect to have sales. Artfire is different for it's SEO tools and tutorials, not using them will not bring in sales, it's that simple. Also, duplicate listings are penalized by google and will not show up well in searches.
    The days of "if you build it they will come" on the internet are over, it's a global competition and thinking that posting things online without much effort will bring in sales is foolhardy.

  2. From the 19 comments on this point there is one strong negative response for Art Fire and all the rest kind of voted for At Fire over Etsy, I see. I use only Etsy because there is so much to learn in online selling and I just barely made it. My business card has the Etsy address too, so I did not try AF yet. Sounds like AF is not all free...I have to find that out. Etsy has a lot of help too, like Teams, chats Forums ets, where they try to help the seller. I don't if AF has that too. Any way, this is where I am. Thank you. Dita.

  3. I was a member of Artfire for 3 years until this year. I posted my opinion on the forum about the price increase and was banned from the forum.

    The problem is that those of us who signed on to Artfire for the $5.95 per month (for life) fee were being asked to opt in to pay $6.95. If we did not opt in, we would be penalized in the searches. My opinion is what anyone with a little knowledge of finance and business would be: Artfire needed quite a bit of money fast. Hence the $1 added fee from each life time member.

    Artfire forums are useless, since there is no way to offer an opinion unsanctioned by the management. Another problem with Artfire is their 'learn as we go' method of business management. Too many changes, too fast alienates customers.

    As for sales on Artfire, they just aren't there for most people. It's got a smaller customer base. The design isn't pleasing, either. I don't think anyone assumes that online sales will just appear. But with marketing, hard work, etc., they should appear at some point. They do on Etsy, right?

    People don't get as many sales on Artfire, because Artfire just doesn't have the sales or the traffic. I compare it to craft shows where the bulk of your sales are from other vendors not walk through customers. That just isn't going to work for long. My Etsy products always show up in Google searches, not sure what the problem is for others. Obviously there are a few who find that Artfire is lucrative, but it's not the norm. Personally, I don't see Artfire being around for more than a few more years.

    The bottom line is that Etsy is where the sales are. And in the end, that's whole point, isn't it?


  4. Hello,I have read many of the comments on both Etsy and Artfire and they both have good points and bad,I hope to become a seller soon on one of these sites but need to check out several things before I decide.HR in Oregon

  5. I started a shop on Etsy in May. It is nearly a month and a half and no sales. I did a search to see who my competitors were and was surprised to see sooooo many mass produced in China jewelry items. Many, many shops with the exact same items. I have reported some to Etsy, because after all they are listing as handcrafted. Nothing was done. They are still selling their plastic stones and clogging the searches. I have gone through a few hundred pages to see if one of my items is listed. I got tired and gave up. I'm trying Artfire now and am impressed with the professional look of their site. Wish me luck!

  6. Let us know how Artfire is....I am on Etsy as well, for the past 2 months with zero sales. Although I really need to Network,Link, and promote my site listings (under 20 items as of today's date). I am interested in Artfire and Zibbit.


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Content by Laura Gabriele