Etsy versus ArtFire

I need to get your opinion. On February 13, 2009, I joined ArtFire at the urging of my friend Mary Ann. We both got in on the $7 a month lifetime membership. To join now, the fee is $12 a month. And the "regular" cost is $20 a month.

I didn't do anything with my ArtFire shop until around the end of March. And since I opened shop, I have not had one sale. I almost had a sale, but when I contacted the buyer to gently ask her to pay, she wrote back and said she had clicked too fast and didn't realize she had actually made the purchase. So, still - no sale.

When I list the same item(s) in my Etsy shop on ArtFire, the item(s) in Etsy gets more "hits" than my ArtFire shop, and I'm getting some sales on Etsy.

So here's what I need your opinion about. Do I continue to pay $7 a month and keep listing on ArtFire, or stick with Etsy? OR, do I keep both and give ArtFire some more time? And if I stay with ArtFire, how long do you think I should give it before hanging up the towel?


  • Has been the industry leader in providing a venue for buyers and sellers, and until recently, they've largely gone without competition, until Artfire arrived on the scene in 2008.
  • Superior to Artfire in design and visibility.
  • Has a clean, streamlined design that is visually appealing and easy to navigate.
  • Their simple blue and white color scheme is uncluttered.
  • The important links to buy and sell are at the top next to their unfussy logo
  • Etsy wins in visibility and popularity. It has been around since 2005, making it a proven commodity.
  • Its userbase of buyers and sellers is large and diverse.
  • It has a Google PageRank of 7 out of 10 and returns over 11 million hits on a Google search.
  • Etsy has been featured in the mainstream press and made over $90 million in sales in 2008.


  • Etsy's size can be a negative to new sellers who find it difficult to get a foot in the door when there are already so many others selling similar items.
  • Etsy has been criticized for "playing favorites" with their featured sellers.
  • They have been accused of focusing on high-volume sellers, those who can put more into Etsy's coffers with the fees Etsy takes.
  • There are no fees for buyers other than what they spend on an item, but it costs SELLERS!
  • Etsy takes .20 for each item listed, then an additional 3.5% of the price for each item sold.
  • Relisting items regularly can boost a seller's visibility and sales, but those fees can hurt profits.
  • For a new seller, in particular, it's a double-edged sword!


  • No additional fees - just $7.00 a month (or $12 if you join now)
  • Artfire's homepage is also less discriminatory than Etsy's. It offers a large rotating gallery of recently listed items.
  • Its item of the hour is chosen at random.
  • Artfire is taking strides in integrating social networking. It makes it easy for sellers to integrate their listings with Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.


  • Artfire's current homepage design is cluttered and overwhelming, although a new design is on the way.
  • There are too many categories and the gallery is too big.
  • It requires too much scrolling to get to other homepage items, such as the featured seller and Artfire's official blog.
  • Artfire is still far behind in visibility.
  • Its Google PageRank is 4 out of 10 and a search brings up fewer than 500,000 hits.

So, what do YOU think?

Post Script: I just read (it's good to do that sometimes) that Artfire has a Basic Membership that is totally free where you can list 10 items at a time. Huuuuuum, maybe THAT'S the route I should go with them.


Susan Sager Brown said...

Hi Sherry,
This is a timely and informative post. thanks for doing my homework for me! I have been thinking about listing a canvas or two for sale somewhere. I can't add to the discussion but just wanted to let you know I will be checking back to see what type of feedback you get. Thanks. xoSusan

Sharon said...

I was asked to join back when it was seven dollars, but passedas I was to busy at the time. Thanks for all your hard work on this issue. I will be checking back too. Sharon

Lezlei Ann Young said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lezlei Ann Young said...


(Since I always have an opinion...)

Hmmm...keep it simple do the math. Right now you are running your artfire business at a loss. I think it is great that you gave it a month before your evaluation.

1. Change artfire to the 10 item need to back completely out. See what you can do promotion wise to increase visibility...what do THEY expect you to do?
2. some math. Are you giving them more than $7 bucks a month? You are well established there...while you are evaluating sites, keep it active so you don't lose ground.
3. Check out, a free site. I haven't really had a chance to take a look at it (still trying to get my first sale on Etsy).



Paco+Lupe said...

This is tough to answer. I have both. I started with ETSY first which was great for the first year. Now, perhaps it is due to the recession, there's a steep decline in sales. However, I think we're not alone in this.

I signed up for Artfire end of Feb and I had sales soon after. The commission-free feels great, I have to admit. I spend way over $7/mth on ETSY just to stay visible. It has become soooo competitive and over-crowded.

I decided to keep both and just spend less money on ETSY. It' a sacrifice I am willing to take. Artfire is going to catch up. It's top 10 on list of marketplaces.

Beeshebags said...

Hi Sherry, If you drop back your membership in Artfire...if sales pick up, are you able to get back the $7 a month deal? It seems like Etsy are charging you alot to sell..I personally would be wanting the cheapest, but best, exposure for my money! Think exposure girl...make sure your Artfire link is at the bottom of every email...I believe the more people that click on your link helps push you up in rankings on google etc. I would've said to blog about the two, but you've already done that.

One last thing...make sure your business cards have either just Artfire on there or Etsy as well.

I'd not heard of Artfire till I just read your there would be more like me out there.

Naomi from Adelaide, Sth Australia

Charmingdesigns said...

Wow, you covered the pros and cons...I think we are all in a quandary as to what is the best way to go. I have seen a big drop in sales. Laurie

Marilyn said...

Thanks so much for the research. You've given me a lot to think about before I try to start. I'm going to follow your blog to see what you and others have to say further.