What is Artfire?
Artfire has been around for a long time – BUT, has it kept up with the times? 🤔
Artfire first launched in 2008 by John Jacobs and Tony Ford. They found early success by establishing themselves as an Etsy alternative and building many of the features that Etsy sellers had been wanting for years – like coupon codes! 😂 Which, sounds funny because coupon codes are so part and parcel with selling online these days; But, Etsy didn't have this feature for the first 5 years of their existence!
Artfire has been through many iterations over the years. You only have to look at how many times they've changed their logo to see that they're always changing things up!
They've strayed back and forth between allowing manufacturers on the site, to going back to their handmade roots. They've changed their pricing model, which I'll cover in the Fees section. They've also changed their management, with Tony leaving Artfire to start his own media agency, and John doesn't seem to be working on Artfire full-time either.
It's unfortunate that Artfire is on the decline, and the owners are clearly not as invested as they used to be, but they have enough going for them that they still made our top 10. Whether that will last or not, I'm not sure.
Artfire review summary
- Worthwhile if you're a new seller that's wanting to get a little bit of extra exposure.
- Fees are expensive, with high commissions on sales and costly membership fees for what you get in return.
- In 2016, Artfire removed their commercial category, vowing to "make handmade great again".
Artfire review scores
- Competitiveness: 5/10
- Exposure: 3/10
- Fees: 1/10
- Flexibility: 5/10
- Handmade ethos: 10/10
Total score: 24/50
This review is written for those wanting an alternative to selling on Etsy. So, I'll be reviewing Artfire based on the top 5 reasons people are looking for an Etsy alternative:
1. Competitiveness – Do your products have a chance of standing out from the crowd?
2. Exposure – Is there a good chance of increasing your traffic and getting more exposure?
3. Fees – How much does it cost? Is the pricing simple and predictable? More than that, are the fees fair for what's on offer?
4. Flexibility – How professional does it look, and how flexible is it to change?
5. Handmade ethos – Are they strictly for handmade, or can you sell anything there? Will you be competing against manufacturers of mass produced goods, that can easily beat you on price?
I'll give each of these elements a score out of 10, to arrive at a total score out of 50. I'll then use this score to arrive at the top 10 Etsy alternatives.
As of January, 2017 there are a little over 550,000 products on Artfire. That's not a large number at all, however with the poorly formatted search results looking like a hodge-podge mess (that's as polite as I can put it), it's going to be hard to stand out from the crowd.
For example, here's a look at the Artfire search results. There's a few items here that are actually quite nice, but they don't stand out due to everything going on around it. It's way too cluttered and just an all-round terrible design. If you try to visit the last page of the search results, it doesn't actually work either.
On Artfire, you get more exposure if you pay them more money. I like that their search results are ordered "Randomly" by default, as this lack of curation can give more sellers a greater chance to be seen. It's hard to tell if this "random" selection is prioritizing the $40/month sellers still. I'm assuming it does.
Unfortunately Artfire is not what is used to be. There used to be some good traffic on the site at the beginning, but it seems to have dropped off a cliff and is getting worse every year.
I don't know anyone who would consider AF a good investment at $40 a month. Numerous people left AF when the monthly fee was under $6. There is just no traffic. If you have to drive your own traffic, you might as well have a standalone website where you actually have some control. – Brad and Maggie, from Etsy's forums.
If the cost were cheap enough, you could justify listing some products to "see how it goes", but it just isn't...
Artfire's fee structure has changed as many times as their logo! Right now, I think they're very expensive for what they have to offer.
Their $0.23 listing fee and 9% commissions on sales seems a bit ridiculous, considering Etsy is only at 3.5% commission fee. It seems like they're forcing sellers to go for a monthly membership plan, which is at a more respectable 3% commission per sale.
When looking at $20 and $40 per month fee, as well as a 3% commission fee, and considering what Artfire has to offer you for that price, it's definitely very expensive compared to our other top 10 Etsy alternatives.
Artfire stores are actually quite flexible. You can have your own custom banner, a gallery of images where you can display your past work and you can even have add some blog posts to your store. I really like some of these features a lot, except I don't know why you'd want to have a blog within a marketplace store like Artfire or Etsy. That would be better suited to your own standalone website. But anyway, it's a nice option for people.
Unfortunately where Artfire loses points is in it's design. It lacks professionalism. A good user experience is important for a marketplace and Artfire really lacks in this area. I find it hard to navigate and just to locate where the blog and bio sections are was a struggle.
They've also be reprimanded in the past for "plastering ads on all listing pages". Fortunately they have limited the ads to only show on "Standard plan" stores (the one with $0.23 listing fees and 9% commissions). It's not a great sign, and with how often they change things, don't be surprised if they put ads on your listings too.
Artfire originally launched as a handmade marketplace. Due to demand, they opened up a Commercial section on the marketplace, which allowed manufacturers and resellers to sell on the site. However, in April 2016, Artfire has gone back to it's handmade roots removing over 1 million commercial items from the marketplace. Kudos to them! 👏
For that reason I'm giving Artfire a perfect score for this one!
In conclusion, Artfire might be worth a test if you have some time on your hands and are struggling to get views on other marketplaces. If you're an established seller, making sales elsewhere, Artfire is simply not worth your time. It's outdated and on the decline.
Artfire has finished up with a score of 24/50, which ranks them 9th in the top 10 Etsy alternatives list.