Why Etsy Stores Are At A Disadvantage Compared To Online Stores That Own Their Domain

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As part of my weekly regimen, I like to read and participate in various small business forums and one of my favorites is the Etsy forum.

For all of you who have never heard of Etsy, Etsy is a marketplace for do it yourself and handmade goods. Similar to Ebay, Etsy provides an easy way for talented crafters and artists to sell the fruits of their labor.

Why Etsy Stores Are At A Disadvantage Compared To Online Stores That Own Their Domain

The reason I like reading the Etsy forums is because most if not all Etsy users are casual shopowners who have a strong desire to make some extra money on the side.

Many Etsy users would eventually like to quit their day jobs. Many Etsy users have the desire to launch their own full blown online stores but are afraid of the technical and marketing challenges in doing so.

Anyways, I was reading the forums the other day and noticed more complaints than usual from Etsy users about low sales volumes and increased competition due to the sheer volume of shop owners on the site. In addition, the last Google search update seems to have hit Etsy users especially hard resulting in lower search rankings for many shops.

So today, I thought that I’d try to reach out to the Etsy readers and let them know what they are missing by relying solely on an Etsy store for income. The truth is that Etsy users are at a major disadvantage when it comes to selling and marketing goods to the end customer compared to shops that own their own website and domain. Here’s why.

It’s Difficult To Differentiate Your Etsy Store From The Rest Of The Pack

Back in the good old days, I used to sell a lot of stuff on Ebay. Whenever you have a large marketplace like Ebay or Etsy and you want to sell something, you have a tendency to look at other people’s shops and listings to get an idea of how to structure your own product listings.

At the click of a button, you can pull up sales statistics and other useful information about other shop owners in order to try and emulate their success. And that’s when the copying starts. On Ebay and Etsy, there is always going to be rampant copying of product descriptions because it’s so easy to do so. Joe Shopkeeper sells a ton of handmade bags? He must know what he’s doing. Perhaps I will borrow his descriptions. No big deal.

The result is that a whole bunch of other product listings will look and sound exactly like yours. While it’s true that getting plagiarized can still happen if you have your own website, it’s infinitely easier and more likely to happen on Etsy because all of the shops are within the same marketplace.

The other problem is that the format of all Etsy stores look the same and feel the same. Sure, you can customize your store header a little bit but in the end, almost every single Etsy shop looks identical which makes it hard for you to stand out in the crowd of other users. The double whammy here is that Etsy’s shopping format makes it very easy for consumers to comparison shop your products with other listings which tends to focus the consumer’s attention on price as opposed to quality.

To further illustrate the point about how hard it is to make your listings more visible, here’s a quote from a frustrated Etsy user I found on the forums.

As you already know there is a problem getting your items seen on etsy these days. With the batch loading system and the the increase in the number of shops.. it makes it difficult to get views. The scenario goes like this… you list/renew on item and another shop batch loads 30 items right after yours… your item then gets sent to the 3rd page… not a good place to be for views.

What this illustrates is that as the number of Etsy users continues to grow, you will have a much harder time getting exposure for your goods. Today, it appears that some users are resorting to relisting items prematurely in order to gain more pageviews for their goods.

Etsy Stores Are Hard To Rank In Search

Lately, there have been a number of forum threads from Etsy sellers complaining about a big drop in views and sales. My guess is that the latest Google update completely removed many shops from the search rankings due to duplicate content across listings. Now no one knows exactly how Google decides which content is original and which is the duplicate which puts you at risk of getting penalized by Google if someone else steals your content.

Even if you write completely original product descriptions, it largely depends on the order in which Google crawls your site and the page strength of the other shops in determining who possesses the unique content. The fact that copying occurs so often in marketplaces like Etsy makes it harder for you to rank in search.

The other more important point to emphasize is that the search rankings are largely determined by the volume and strength of the backlinks pointing to your site. It takes a lot of hard work and patience to build backlinks back to your shop so you have to ask yourself whether you want to be doing all of this work for a site that you do not even own.

Sure, you can build backlinks back to your Etsy shop but all you would be doing would be strengthening Etsy’s position in the search rankings. If Etsy were to ever screw you over by increasing fees or closing up shop then guess what? All of that hard work would go down the drain. When you own your own website and domain, you own the fruits of your labor and no one can take that away from you.

You Are Completely At The Mercy Of Etsy

Recently, a similar site to Etsy called Artfire abruptly decided to cancel all of their basic accounts. And what was the result? Many shopowners suddenly got the boot without much warning at all.

Here’s a quote from one Artfire user who was lucky that he hadn’t invested too much time yet.

Just found out that Artfire is discontinuing all of their basic accounts… really frustrating after spending two days setting up my shop over there to try it out as a second venue. Anyone else know of this? Glad I found out before dedicating yet another day to making more changes I had planned. Heads up everyone!

The truth is that companies like Etsy, Ebay and Artfire don’t really care about you. They care about making money for themselves. So when the sh$t hits the fan, guess what? They are going to do whatever it takes to stay profitable.

So what are the implications for you? At a moments notice, Etsy could raise their fees dramatically and put you out of business. It doesn’t matter how much work you put into your store. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve made in the past. All of your hard work could be flushed down the drain because of factors outside of your control.

It’s Time To Take Charge

So you need to ask yourself why you are building up a shop that is controlled by someone else? Do you want to be in control of your own business and costs? The only way to do this is start your own web property. So stop relying on the Etsys, the Ebays and the Artfires. These sites are good for getting your feet wet but will prevent you from ever growing.

It’s about time you started writing your own rules. I’m not saying you should abruptly stop using Etsy. Instead, you should plan on transitioning your business away from a model where you call the shots and are in control of your own destiny.

Any Etsy users want to share their thoughts?

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114 thoughts on “Why Etsy Stores Are At A Disadvantage Compared To Online Stores That Own Their Domain”

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I’m a full-time artisan and Etsy seller who has been thinking for many months now about moving away from Etsy as my main platform. My views and sales this past month have been much worse than in the past. That, combined with your article above, has given me the incentive I needed to make the leap to opening my own store. I’ve scheduled a meeting tomorrow with my web developer (who is also, conveniently, my husband), and we’ll get the development of my online store underway. I can’t wait to see all my items beautifully displayed in my own store, not just in Etsy’s impersonal interface.

  2. With all due respect I have to disagree with you when it comes to selling on Artfire. I have two Pro studios on Artfire and I am a very strong supporter of Artfire. I also have two websites.

    For those people who have never sold any products online I feel that the best way to start out is to sell on Artfire. Although I started out selling online back in 2002 by creating my own website the time that it takes to get set up creating your own website, optimizing it for the search engines (SEO), researching about shopping carts and installing a shopping cart is much greater than the time that it takes to start selling on Artfire.

    Selling on Artfire is much cheaper too. The current price (until August 15, 2011) to sell on Artfire is only $9.95. As of August 16, 2011 the price will be going up to $11.95.

    Artfire is in my own opinion the best selling venue for handmade, supplies, and vintage.

    Artfire has a low monthly Pro studio fee with no listing fee or final value fee.

    Artfire has terrific customer support and a great forum. Tony, the COO of Artfire is always in the forums posting what Artfire is up to and helping sellers succeed on Artfire. He even made a banner for one of the Artfire sellers.

    Having a forum with sellers that are willing to help other sellers succeed on Artfire is an advantage that you don’t have selling on your own website. Unlike the Etsy forums the Artfire forums are self moderated.

    Some other advantages to selling on Artfire over having your own website is the ease of setting up your Artfire studio. There is no need to know anything about HTML and you don’t need a shopping cart.

    Artfire is in the process of making lots of changes in the very near future which I feel will bring more sellers and buyers to Artfire.

    Aftfire also provides great tools and guides for their sellers.

    Artfire also provides a blog for their Pro sellers.

    Artfire is a very young company. It is only 2 to 3 years old. The amount of improvements that Artfire has made since the company was started is unbelievable.

    1. @Jim
      The point of the article was not to bash on Artfire or Etsy per se. Both platforms are good for getting your feet wet but are not good in terms of positioning yourself for significant income growth. Artfire is still young and once upon a time both Ebay and Etsy were great places to list products. Let’s wait a few years when Artfire is under pressure to increase revenues and profits and we’ll see what happens. They may well increase prices or make the selling terms less attractive, but for now it’s ridiculously cheap in my opinion. Something will have to change at some point for them to show profit growth.

      My main point is that unless you are investing your time into your own web properties and your own platforms, you are at someone else’s mercy. So hurry up and get your feet wet and then transfer over to something you own and you have control over.

  3. Clara says:

    I am an etsy seller too. I agree of what you said here. It’s hard to be seen if you are selling what the others are selling, like Jewelry and painting. However, since day 1 I started my biz, I never depended on etsy to do my marketing for me. I did it myself, I searched my own target customers, I did advertising on magazine and online. It paid off I got a good biz after years of building. However, now I also realized that because of the people i brought to etsy, I got more competitors now in etsy then ever and I have to bring my customers back to my website (still in progress), so that my customers will focus on my store instead of many other new stores from China or other places. To build up a customer base is important. Etsy sellers should not think Etsy will do anything for you because they won’t. They don’t even do anything for the shop who sell electronic books (not written by them, they pdf all the book and sell online). Etsy is all for money grabbing, of course, that’s what ebay and etsy do, that’s how they run the biz. My plan is eventually I am going to leave etsy for good, but now before my own store truly running on its own, it takes time I know, just like my etsy’s store, I will still keep it.

    1. @Clara
      Good for you! Unfortunately, most Etsy users do not have the same sort of mentality. Based on your comments, I have confidence that you will succeed at whatever you decide to pursue. Good luck!

  4. Richard says:

    Great post Steve! I agree, there are just too many distractions on Etsy. I have had listings there and didn’t even have any views. It is more work to open an online store but it is definitely worth it.

  5. I just found this website via the BizSugar FB page. While there are many risks and hurdles we can NOT control, the venue through which someone sells their goods or services is not one. By owning your own domain you take away that risk, and create more control. There are extremely cost effective options now to truly own your own site and store. If you are selling any volume at all on Etsy, EBay or whatever you could have bought your own, customized solutions with that money!

    On a more personal note, I love shopping for handmade goods and for unique supplies to feed my own crafting addiction (its a hobby not a business for me). The search option on Etsy is so *awful* I’ve given up shopping there. Unless someone gives me their link I avoid the site. In that case why not give me a link to your own domain?

    1. @Nicole @Richard
      Thanks. It seems as though many sellers especially on Etsy have been feeling the heat lately which has caused other services like Artfire to proper.

  6. Patchtique says:

    I agree with Jim Juris. Artfire is a great place to start if you aren’t quite ready for your own website. They are discontinuing the free basic account because too many sellers were setting up shops and then abandoning them. Currently the cost is 9.95/month for unlimited listings, that cost for new members will go up to 11.95/month starting Aug 15. There are no final value fees or commissions charged.

    Also, Artfire will shortly be rolling out their new graphic interface, individual shops will all have prominent banners and avatars, other than the Artfire logo, they will not all “look the same.”

    Etsy jumped on the Facebook bandwagon and is turning into a social network. Artfire remains an affordable selling platform. But, each seller has to determine which venue works best with their own business model.

    1. @Patchtique
      No argument there. Artfire, Etsy and Ebay are great places to start but not great places to end up. Enjoy Artfire for as long as they remain affordable, but keep in mind that things will eventually change and the only way to kick butt is to be in charge of your own selling platform.

  7. I agree with Jim Juris.

    I have 2 Pro studios on Artfire and would choose Artfire over Etsy any day. Artfire has all the tools and information you need to set up and grow your own business, which makes it an ideal marketplace for newcomers and seasoned sellers alike.

    Your article makes many assumptions about Artfire without any real knowledge of how it works and what it has to offer. Artfire is not like Etsy or Ebay. We don’t get fee’d to death. We don’t have to re-list every time we turn around, our storefronts show our individuality, and we have a great rapport with the Artfire staff and management. New tools and upgrades are rolled out all the time. (Oh and they are well tested first.)

    Come and see what we have to offer and how different we are to Etsy and Ebay. We are Artfire!

    1. @Nanations
      I didn’t mention anything about fees in my post. In fact I actually think Etsy’s fees are somewhat reasonable compared to Ebay. The key point is to take control of your own fate and not put all of your eggs on a platform you do not control.

  8. I beg to differ, in regards to Artfire, with statements like, “these venues do not care about you,” and “will prevent your business from ever growing.” Artfire has a completely different business model than Etsy and offers tools and education to let sellers build their OWN businesses. Having your eggs in more than one basket is wise, and having your own website that crosslinks with an Artfire shop is wise. Each has to figure out what works best for them, and like Jim Juris and Patchtique said, a stand alone website takes a while to grow. Starting with and keeping an Artfire shop is an excellent foundation to build with.

    1. @Drunkenmimes
      Your quote “Artfire has a completely different business model than Etsy” clearly illustrates my point. Ultimately, Artfire is a business with an intention to make a profit and as they grow, they will have to consistently demonstrate and increase profits and revenues. They are really inexpensive right now and I believe that will eventually have to change as pressures continue to grow.

      I do like how you’ve summed things up. You need to do what works for you. If Artfire allows you to get something up quickly in the short term, then that’s great. But in the long run, the best way to run your business is by having your own shop and your own website.

  9. Steve,

    But unless you are going to fully develop the website yourself, you as the business owner don’t have full control of your site. Many of the ‘package’ websites while allowing you your own design are awful when it comes to keeping everything working as intended and paying for a developer is $ $ $.

    I do sell on artfire, even though my husband is a web developer and I could have everything I wanted and the closest to full control I could get even he says Artfire is the better way around.

    Artfire gives me full control over payment options, I don’t have to just take paypal and I can have propay integrated (at a cut price for being an artfire seller) and process credit and debit cards right there on my site, I can even use amazon payments and offer alternative payment methods, unlike etsy or any other venue (who would see me trying to organise an alternative payment for my customers convenience as fee avoidance.)

    Artfire gives me an onsite blog with no third party code injected into my interface (slowing the site down) it’s all fully integrated and that lovely facebook kiosk so I don’t have to think about stock control between facebook and my site (because if I had my own site I bet the developer would tell me to use a third party app for facebook sales and that isn’t going to get more people to my site.)

    Artfire also gives me nice little SEO boosts, and keeps me informed on how to optimise my store, if I left that to a web developer it would cost me a fortune having everything optimised. Or spend months myself researching only to find once I’ve finished researching I have to do it all over again because it’s changed.

    I pay for my domain and point it at artfire, ok if one day the proverbial was to go flying upwards I haven’t lost anything because all my customers have been coming to me from my .com but for as long as artfire keeps listening to their sellers and providing the best service I have ever seen (no not even my husband would provide tech support on the weekend unless something was VERY wrong.) I’m not going anywhere.

    Any web developers out there that want to give me everything artfire offers for $9.95/month? $20/month? didn’t think so.

    1. Hi Scarlet,
      First off, I just want to say that Artfire is an excellent deal, but right now they are trying to “get you pregnant”. They want you to sign up and base your business off their platform because it’s hard to transition away once you are established. If you stop and do the math, offering unlimited bandwidth, hosting and item listings for only $9.95 a month is not sustainable in the long run.

      As for developing your own website, most of the code is already written for you thanks to open source. I did not know a lick of php programming or website development when I first started. I relied on an open source shopping cart which was free and all I had to pay was $6.95 a month for hosting. There are many talented web designers that sell professional web templates for as low as 15 dollars. As a result, you can get a fully featured and fully functional shopping cart website for very cheap. The best part is that you have full control over everything should you choose to make any changes.

      Once you have your site up, the open source cart supports all of the common used payment options as well. The hard part is not setting up the site, the main hurdle is promoting your business which of course is the hardest part about any business. As for SEO, their advice is mainly about promoting your products through search that are listed on artfire.com. So in fact, you are boosting the rankings for Artfire and not your own domain. Pointing your domain does not help your SEO because your site simply redirects to Artfire(depending on how you set things up)

      So to sum it up. Artfire is great deal right now but I don’t think it will stay that way long term. If you want to have control over your business, you should have your own platform even if takes a bit more up front investment. Stick with Artfire for now but have a plan to have your own setup later.
      If you’re curious about open source shopping carts, you can sign up for my free newsletter and take a quick look.

  10. I liked where you were going with this and agree up to a point but…

    I have 3 Artfire Studios and my own web design/consulting business. I’ve sold on ebay since 1998, sold on Etsy for 6 months, and when Artfire came along, I knew a good thing when I saw it. I joined December 2008. I ♥ Artfire.

    One of the many great tools and features included in my monthly fee is the ability to put their Rapid Cart on a website (by copying and pasting code) that looks like a sophisticated shopping cart with all my handmade items built right into MY website. Visitors see something and can buy it right then and there. The same applies to the Artfire Kiosk they built to help their sellers succeed. If a potential buyer finds my Studio on Facebook, they don’t have to join Artfire to ask me a question or make the purchase and they don’t have to leave Facebook to do it. We are also taught SEO and other important information in order to succeed, encouraged to use our blogs and how to use social media, link to other venues where we sell, link to our websites, and communicate with our customers however we feel most comfortable, including outside of Artfire. There are so many innovative solutions that they have created for their sellers and the classic barriers to growing an online business that you point out about having an Ebay or Etsy business truly doesn’t apply to Artfire.
    Trish

    1. Hi Trish,
      Just a quick comment about Rapid cart which I believe is where you disagree with me. The way rapid cart works is that it opens a completely new webpage that points to Artfire.com whenever someone clicks on the buy link. Sure you can embed this onto any website of your choosing but if you already have a website, you may as well host your own open source shopping cart. Why rely on artfire when you can sell the goods directly on your own site with no redirects?

      The fact that you are redirected to another site leads to a confusing shopping experience. For example, when I used Paypal standard as my only payment platform and users were redirected to another site for payment, I lost a lot of customers during the checkout process. The best way to stream line your operations is keep everything on your own site with no popups or new windows.

      I don’t want to discount the education that Artfire provides. They are certainly doing things the right way and are kicking butt as a result. The amount of loyal users commenting on the post is a direct result of that. But bottom line, at some point you need to start thinking about owning your own web property which is the main point of the article. Relying on a 3rd party platform that controls your product URLs and shopping cart is not ideal for any business which is why you don’t see many small businesses using 3rd party platforms.

  11. Skeptic says:

    There’s not a doubt that etsy “doesn’t care about you,” it’s widely known they openly disdain the majority of sellers and aren’t concerned about seller success.

    I question your statement that etsy sellers use the etsy site because they are “afraid of the technical and marketing challenges” of having their own website. That shows a basic misunderstanding of the concept of crafters banding together to sell. They do this for multiple and layered reasons, the least of which is fear.

    The fact that Etsy has failed as a viable venue for selling handmade does not mean the automatic solution is to have your own website.

    I get that you are about convincing people to have their own websites. Your site success relies on sticking to this point (and this success presumably includes finances). You’re here to market this idea to your readers.

    To lump Artfire in with Etsy shows you didn’t even do cursory research. They just aren’t the same. Yes, Artfire is still young. Yes, they need to make a profit, and I believe they are set up to do so. But to state that means the seller will be out in the cold is quite an assumption. Why does raising of fees automatically put everyone out of business? That’s just scare tactic rhetoric.

    As for your the statement about Artfire “abruptly” “cancel[ing]” basic accounts, that’s hyperbole at best. A little research on your part would have clarified your error there.

    You’re saying in order to “control your own destiny” for online sales you need to have your own website. That you’re “not taking charge” unless you do? That’s pretty simplistic and condescending. Most established crafters have a combo of website and marketplace venue for the very reason of getting themselves out there to be seen and sell. Just because stand alone website worked for you doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for everyone.

    1. Hello Skeptic
      I’ll just get to the point. Artfire is like Etsy because you aren’t hosting your own goods. The shopping experience is dictated by the platform, not you. Let’s say that you want to change the way your on site search engine behaves. Can you do that on Artfire? Having your own site offers infinite flexibility that you can gradually improve as your business grows. If most established crafters have a combo of website and marketplace venues, why not consolidate the two and have a single website that serves as the website and the market?

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling anyone to ditch Etsy, Artfire or Ebay. Artfire and Etsy should serve as complimentary avenues for your business. But your main focus should be on the property that you own which is your own domain and your own web property.

  12. Good info to know – my husband is venturing into selling photographic prints and we were going to look into Etsy as an option. Or not. :)

  13. Steve, Unlike Etsy, the Co Founders of Artfire both have MBAs. They sold millions of dollars of products on Ebay.

    You probably also don’t know that Unlike Etsy Artfire runs a very lean staff. I don’t know the exact number of Artfire employees but it is somewhere between 13 and 18.

    Since Artfire has been in existance they have always treated their sellers well. I don’t see any reason for this to change. That is why I respectfully disagree with you that having your own website is better than selling on Artfire.

    Artfire isn’t greedy, they are very aware of their competition. If Artfire was greedy I would definately agree with you that having your own website would be a better option for sellers in the long term, but Artfire is not greedy.

    I pay $10 per month for one of my websites web hosting. That includes a shopping cart. That web hosting company now charges $20 per month but I am locked in to the $10 per month rate as long as I remain with that web hosting company.

    I was smart enough to lock in a rate of $5.95 for as long as I remain a seller on Artfire for one of my Artfire pro studios last October. I pay $9.95 for my other Pro studio, which is not going up in price on August 16th. That $5.95 rate is better than my $10 web hosting fee.

    I expect Artfire to always be fair to their sellers. Artfire always listens to what their sellers are saying. If Artfire can’t give the sellers what they are asking for then Artifire will tell the sellers why they can’t give them what they requested.

    Another thing about Artfire that I wanted to mention is that unlike Etsy Artfire has NO debt. Etsy has venture capitalists which will some day want their money back.

    Artfire is making changes to their seller pages and also to the entire look of Artfire. These changes should be completed sometime within the next week to two months. Check out Artfire in a couple more months and I think you will see why many sellers love selling on Artfire.

    1. Hey Jim
      Again, I’m not questioning your decisions or the management at Artfire. It’s just that strange things happen to businesses once they get larger and are more concerned with making money. Artfire is in a good place right now and I hope it continues.

      It’s a bit premature right now to come to any conclusions so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens over time.

  14. Steve an interesting reply, there’s alot you don’t know about artfire.

    SEO is geared for google getting your products to show up on search, yes while promoting yourself you are promoting artfire

    Firstly I don’t pay $9.95 the majority of people pay $5.95 currently and any one with that price is never going to pay any more. so that’s cheaper than the hosting you are paying for.

    I never mentioned that my domain redirect would help my SEO but it builds brand consistency, if in 5 years something happened to my artfire site that customer that bought something from me 6 years ago can still go to the same place.

    open source is alright if you can’t afford a developer, but you can’t be sure the different snippets of code are going to be compatible, which in turn creates bugs. I’ve done it i’ve seen how ‘free’ code can seriously mess things up and if you don’t know anything about php or asp you can’t fix it. If you seriously want to have your own website the only way to go is through bespoke code direct from the developer.

    But as you said what happens when the venue raises the price? goes under?
    what if your developer does the same, the site running costs may seem reasonable when you commit to it but they will go up, with a developer they can charge whatever they want because you have their code and they are not going to let it go for you to take it anywhere else for a more reasonable support and hosting fee.

    You said that it’s not worth setting up and relying on a venue, I’m only saying that nothing is certain and I have gone with the best decision for my business, bespoke code and the best control I have ever had from a site.

    1. @Scarlet
      Your rate was only available for the first 5000 users so consider yourself lucky…Therefore, there probably is no reason for you to transition away, but I’m not talking about you. I’m referring to general users. The 5.95 lifetime plan is done and over with…

      Yes, it’s true about open source. If you choose the wrong platform, you can be in for a world of hurt. However, the ones I recommend are fantastic and have all of the features built in. Sure there could be some bugs but that is a tradeoff that you have with owning your own site. When you host your own cart, you can add any feature you want through plugins. If you pay for a plugin, you in turn get support for the plugin… You don’t need a developer and the control is worth having. There are thousands of people who write plugins for various shopping cart platforms for free.

      A quick example is with the blog platform wordpress. Why don’t any serious bloggers use hosted blogging platforms like blogger? It’s because they own their domain and WordPress is easy to use and extend with plugins.

      No one is questioning your decision. You have a lifetime rate of $5.95 a month and you should stick with it.

    2. Hi Scarlet

      Forgot to address your SEO point. Most people improve the SEO for their site by pointing backlinks directly to products and product categories…So unless you these links point to your domain, all of your backlinking efforts will be for Artfire. It’s fine to have your domain for branding purposes but it won’t help your SEO for your own domain. Are you spending time building backlinks for your artfire store? You are in essence banking on Artfire for your search engine livelihood. Again, your situation is probably different since you have locked in the flat rate.

      One last point about open source. WordPress is probably the most popular open source platform with over 25 million users and most people who use it don’t know a lick of PHP or html… While there aren’t as many users using open shopping carts, the experience can be similar depending on which cart you choose. You don’t need a developer

  15. One last note…Just wanted to thank everyone here for contributing to the discussion. I’m loving it!

  16. Steve,

    Your comments about the ArtFire Rapid Cart show that you do not know a thing about it.

    It is not a redirect, it is a very cool remote-checkout piece of technology that they have designed themselves.

    The Rapid Cart offers instant check-out on the spot without redirecting to the AF studio. So, the buyer does not get sent back to ArtFire (unless they wish to see more and in that case they can).

    You can see my 3 different Rapid Carts on my website here (just note – they are currently making some changes to the Rapid Cart to go with the upcoming new look of ArtFire and so this may or may not load for you right now as they will be pulling this code to replace with a brand new code):

    http://www.ngoriginals.com/page5.php

    The same thing with the ArtFire Facebook Kiosk. It’s an on-the-spot purchase (with highly secure encryption) transforming your Facebook into its own store where your buyers do not have to leave FB to shop.

    ArtFire is a HYBRID webhost solution, not a simple selling venue like Etsy or Ebay.

    Most people fail to understand this because they are the only company like this on the net at this point.

    Keep an eye on ArtFire over the coming two weeks. You will see a lot of amazing things.

    Cheers,
    Nathalie

    1. Hi Nathalie.
      When you click on the “buy” buttton, a pop up window appears that is clearly hosted by Artfire. Sure you haven’t left your original site but the new popup window is clearly Artfire. Rapid cart is just a piece object code that you can embed in your site.

      Admittedly, it’s cool and is a great hybrid solution for people who want to have a cart on their site….but bottom line, it’s not your domain,it’s not your site and it’s a popup window! Everything is hosted on Artfire.com

      1. @nathalie,
        Incidently, I believe the piece of rapid cart code you have embedded on your site is using flash which means it won’t work on iphones or ipads.

      2. @Nathalie
        One more thing, as long we are having a technical discussion, the fact that Rapid cart utilizes a popup window means that users that have javascript popups blocked using Adblock or other browser plugins will not be able to shop properly.

  17. So far the discussion has been about price and implementation. Let’s talk about features now. Can Artfire do the following?

    1. Flexible coupons and promotions. Can you do percent discount, fixed discounts, buy 1 get one free., buy 2 get one more item in a specific category free etc?

    2. Can you have tiered pricing for quantity discounts?

    3. Can you have bundled discounts? ie. buy item A B and C and get 10% off?

    4. Can you have private sales for special customers?

    5. Is there an email newsletter management system?

    6. Can you use custom variables with Google Analytics in order to track everything that you want? (ie. Full Analytics integration using custom vars via javascript)

    7. Can you automatically export sales data to quickbooks?

    8. Can you track abandoned shopping carts and automatically send emails to try and recover lost sales?

    9. Can you zoom in on your product pictures?

    10. Can you have separate logins for people who work for you with varying levels of access for when you have a staff?

    11. Can you offer different shipping options? Can you get creative with your shipping methods? Ie. Free shipping if you purchase Item X

    These are just a few things that come to mind…

  18. The complication is credibility.

    I owned an ebay store once. I tried to set up my own but got almost no sales because ebay was regarded as more credibly, reliable and so on.

    So to set up your own shop/website you need a way to attract a good stream of customers at first – after which the credibility is probably earned and you won’t need to worry about it.

  19. I have a WordPress blog. With the plugins they have you can do pretty much anything you want on a website. You don’t need to know any code or anything like that. You do need to pay for hosting with someone else though, so you need to shop around for prices (the differences for the same thing can be extraordinary).

  20. Steve, I checked Nathalie’s cart(I haven’t used it yet but that will change) and while there is a pop up window and the url points to ArtFire, there’s nothing else that indicates it’s not part of her website. If I were a shopper “off the street” who didn’t know what ArtFire is, I wouldn’t know I wasn’t using her web cart.

    I totally agree with Evan, credibility is everything. Having the weight of a venue behind me is a big bonus and probably a deciding factor in buyer confidence.

    The real beauty is having two different outlets for your product and marketing to two different demographics. I have a stand alone website that I use as a gallery site for galleries and boutiques, and my ArtFire studio. Galleries and boutiques have a “snob factor” that makes them look down their noses at items on any venue(Ruby Lane may get a bit of respect from this crowd) while the average shopper trusts a venue better. Since my jewelry trends to higher price tags, I find this to be a good solution for someone like me.

  21. Steve asked:

    “So far the discussion has been about price and implementation. Let’s talk about features now. Can Artfire do the following?

    1. Flexible coupons and promotions. Can you do percent discount, fixed discounts, buy 1 get one free., buy 2 get one more item in a specific category free etc?”

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Yes, ArtFire has a super flexible Coupon & Gift Certificates system.

    Steve asks: 2. Can you have tiered pricing for quantity discounts?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Yes, you can set discount codes to kick in only after a certain threshold has been reached (in terms of dollar amount, not in terms of quantity, but basically, it would cover both since the higher the quantity, the higher the total for the invoice and then code would kick in).

    Steve asks: 3. Can you have bundled discounts? ie. buy item A B and C and get 10% off?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): You can specify discounts to apply to specific studio sections (not your whole studio/shop), so if you want to set up a sale for certain types of items, you can simply set up a sale section and set up a discount that applies to that section only, for example.

    The system is quite versatile, so you can set up many different scenarios. It’s quite impressive.

    Steve asks: 4. Can you have private sales for special customers?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Of course you can. You can select to have your discount codes visible to the public or not, so you can simply keep a discount code as invisible, and only your special customers know about it and can use it when they shop with you – without anyone else knowing about it.

    Steve asks: 5. Is there an email newsletter management system?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): There is not one at this point. Not sure if this is something they will ever do. But even on my own website, I do not have that. I use Mailchimp which is free and quite versatile. No need to reinvent the wheel. I would rather see the ArtFire staff work on things that I cannot find so easily anywhere else.

    Steve asks: 6. Can you use custom variables with Google Analytics in order to track everything that you want? (ie. Full Analytics integration using custom vars via javascript)

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): I am not knowledgeable enough to answer this specifically. ArtFire does have GA access, and we also get internal ArtFire stats and incoming URLs, where you can see keywords used by shoppers to find you and where they came in from, etc.

    Steve asks: 7. Can you automatically export sales data to quickbooks?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): ArtFire has a Sales Data Exporter which produces a CSV file. You can select a number of things to export, which in turn could be imported into Quickbooks or other accounting software.

    Steve asks: 8. Can you track abandoned shopping carts and automatically send emails to try and recover lost sales?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): ArtFire has a unique system where shoppers do not have to create an account to buy anything (it’s a very popular option with buyers and they are the only “selling venue” that does not require a user account in order to make a purchase), so this is a little more tricky, and I am not technically able to answer that question.

    ArtFire is launching a brand new shopping cart within the next week or so along with the new site design, etc, and that new cart takes care of non-paying buyers (aka NPBs). I would suggest that you ask that question to ArtFire yourself for this type of more technical aspect. They have info posted on their blog here:

    http://theartfireblog.com/2011/07/29/meet-the-new-artfire-shopping-cart/

    Steve says: 9. Can you zoom in on your product pictures?

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): We have 10 images per listing, that is more than enough to show close-up views while keeping the page loading time as fast as possible. Zooming in on pictures means loading larger images which in turn take longer to load on a page, and you know very well that Google is all about speed, speed, speed.

    There is nothing we cannot show on 10 images using close up angles, compared to klunky time-consuming loading of large images with zoom capability.

    Steve asks: 10. Can you have separate logins for people who work for you with varying levels of access for when you have a staff?

    ANSWER: Most sellers that I have met online (and I’ve met many) are sole-proprietors and wear all the hats. Sometimes a family member helps or they have one person as “staff”. I don’t see this as a deal breaker whether this kind of access is needed or not.

    That could be something that they can add at some point. I have never seen this request come up in the various online forums I’ve been a party of. You can make the suggestion :)

    Steve asks: 11. Can you offer different shipping options? Can you get creative with your shipping methods? Ie. Free shipping if you purchase Item X

    ANSWER (from Nathalie): Yes you can! (isn’t that just peachy! LOL)…. you can create a Free shipping code and set up the minimum amount the order must have in order for the code to kick in, etc. It’s a lovely system, truly.

    These are just a few things that come to mind…

    I hope I have managed to answer you to your satisfaction.

    Cheers,
    Nathalie

  22. Oh, and to clarify (since I cannot edit my reply above).

    For your last question (11), you can create a free shipping code that applies to one type of item (one category, like all necklaces, or all rings, or all bracelets), or specifically selected items (you pick them and they go on a special list and the free shipping or discount code applies only to those items that have been selected by the seller).

    There is so much you can do with the ArtFire coupon code and gift certificate system, it would BLOW your mind.

    You can limit the use for a period of time (expiry date), you can limit the use to one coupon per person, you can limit the use by a total number of uses (like 200 times and then the coupon is no longer valid, for example)….

    and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I could never have that much flexibility on my own website – I certainly do not have the coding genius in my brain to set that up…. but the guys at ArtFire are just incredible. I’ve never seen anyone like them before.

    1. @Nathalie
      Well answered! All of the features mentioned above come standard with many open source carts. In any case, one thing I’ve learned today is that you Artfire folk are very passionate about your platform. Do you per chance work there?

  23. Steve, I subscribe to your newsletter. I don’t believe that anyone that posted a comment here on your site works for Artfire. We are all Artfire Mavens and they came here because of my post about this topic in the Maven forum area.

    1. Hey Jim
      Just wanted to thank you so much for doing this as it has been a fun discussion. Hope I didn’t offend anyone. Artfire seems like a great service and good luck to you all!

  24. Gen says:

    Interesting article. I have shops on both Etsy and Artfire. I have the Artfire $5.95 rate locked in for life and I am NOT a charter artisan. That rate was open to everyone who chose to sign up during that promotion. You have quite a few misconceptions about Artfire.

    I can honestly say that Artfire is an amazing venue, far and above the features offered at Etsy at a much lower price. If you sell high volume/high dollar items, Artfire’s fee structure is unbeatable. They offer much more customization than the look of Etsy.

    The administration is mature, helpful and available and they don’t play favorites unlike Etsy. The difference between Artfire and Etsy employees is night and day. At Etsy, you are subject to the whims of the admin. There is no customer service at all. They treat their sellers like children who have to be “muted” and have been known to shut down shops for no good reasons. I did not post my Etsy or Artfire site because I fear retaliation from Etsy, that speaks volumes.

    That is a good reason to open your own website and not be concerned about what a venue will do. But to lump Artfire and Etsy together is ridiculous. I sell on both, I have successful sales on both, they are nothing alike. And by the way, I do make my living from my art. I don’t have my own website and my income sustains my family of three. It can be done.

    Gen

  25. LOL…. thanks Steve.

    No, I do not work for ArtFire, but I would be delighted if I could one day. They rock :)

    Yes, we are passionate… as much as the ArtFire team is. They do care and they do love what they do. They are serious business people and they are creating this hybrid space where no one has ever gone before.

    You know, when people start selling what they make online, the vast majority does not realize what it takes to do this. Things change quickly online (even truer these days compared to just 5 years ago).

    By the time we create our goods, and wear all the hats (as all micro-entrepreneurs do), there is no way we can keep up on all that is going on when it comes to selling online.

    Having your own website is definitely a great idea, and even if it is used as a hub (at first) to redirect buyers to a person’s various online shops, etc.

    But for setting up and selling online quickly without needing any knowledge what-so-ever, ArtFire is by far the most educational and well thought out hybrid webhost.

    Also, ArtFire has a Design category where sellers who design their own product but they have it manufactured by a factory, can list and sell on ArtFire (Etsy does not allow for that, so as sellers “grow” into a bigger business they need to move – not so on ArtFire).

    Cheers,
    Nathalie (ArtFire Mentor for new sellers & Maven)

  26. My pleasure Steve. Hopefully I have brought you some new newsletter subscribers.

    I have enjoyed reading all the comments.

    I can’t speak for the other Mavens but I don’t believe that you have offended any of them. We are all strong supporters of Artfire.

  27. Nathalie said:

    “No, I do not work for ArtFire, but I would be delighted if I could one day. They rock ”

    Ditto.

  28. There are a few more reasons why “Etsy Stores Are At A Disadvantage Compared To Online Stores That Own Their Domain” –

    A sampling:

    10 months ago Etsy had a privacy breach with it’s Treasury feature. Shop owners had their real names published without their permission.

    4 1/2 months ago they did it again by making all users (buyers and sellers) names visible along with their purchase history. Apparently, they learned nothing from the fiasco 6 months earlier.

    9 1/2 months ago they published a post by Temple St. Clair, a jewelry designer selling mass produced items, on their blog (The Storque – often referred to as “The Dork) “Declaring Coral to Precious to Wear” at the same time they were accepting fees from shop owners selling coral. They still are. Priceless.

    In all three events, they cancelled, banned and booted shop owners that were outraged enough to speak up about it. Members have become afraid to voice their opinion on the forums as shops are often closed at the whim of admin, presumably between their taking turns videoing each other dancing and playing with plushy toys.

    Speaking of plushy toys. You cannot call Etsy. They have a plushy phone booth photo on their blog. Customer service must be handled through the proper channels. Email. Wait. Email again. Complain in the forum. Get told in said forum that you cannot discuss email with Etsy admin, even if you have never received any. Email again. Wait.

    So Steve, I absolutely agree with the title of your post. Etsy stores are at a disadvantage. ;->

    As for the rest of the title, the closest you will come to having your own domain is having a studio on ArtFire.

    *You can customize the look of your studio
    *Brand your business, not the venue
    *Offer coupons and shipping discounts
    * Link to any other place you sell
    *Install a Facebook kiosk and shopping cart on your own domain
    *Interact with staff
    *Experience community moderated forums where staff does not mute or ban
    *Learn from the Help Guides
    *Have your own Blog
    *Have your items pushed to The Find and Google Shopping
    *No HTML coding experience is required to set up a studio
    *Sell for a flat monthly rate with no final value fees

    …and finally, call customer service if you have a problem. Comparing Etsy and Ebay make more sense than comparing ArtFire and Etsy.

    Now I’m off to check out the rest of your cool site….and I’m a fan of your linens.

    1. @Roxi
      Yes, I had heard about these fiascos being alluded to on the forums but not in so much detail. Perhaps people are deathly afraid of getting banned so there is very little mention about this. And if their customer service continues to be this bad, I’m sure Etsy will eventually go down if things don’t change.

      I also agree with your last statement about Artfire, but services like BigCommerce will handle all of the store backend and front end stuff for you AND allow you to have your own domain and own all of your URLs. However, the service does cost more at 25 a month. Right now Artfire is a great deal but I suspect that that will have to change later.

  29. When I subscribed to this discussion I had no idea what to expect! A few disclaimers before I wade back in. I don’t know Steve (in fact it’s my first visit to the site!) I do not make my living by implementing any type of distribution / website / or sales solution. I do not work for any of the sites listed. While I have used EBay and Etsy, I have not used ArtFire (but I’m going to check it out now!) I AM a hobbyist crafter who has friends that make a living selling handcrafted items. I make my living helping solopreneurs and micro businesses understand finances, grow their profits and laugh.

    I agree Etsy has basically turned into EBay with a thin veneer of handcrafted to fool the unsuspecting. That’s why Regretsy is so popular. However Etsy started out with a very different mission, one that appears to be similar to ArtFire. As Steve rightly points out, as company’s grow and their investors look for high returns, companies can lose sight of their original mission and values. I think most posters here would agree that Etsy is a prime example of that.

    Unfortunately unless you own the majority shares of the company in question it can happen to any company. The current owners may want to move on, their investors start demanding more, the current owners need more capital and give up majority stake… I could go on all night. FYI I used to work in Investment Banking so I am familiar with this.

    The message I took away from the original discussion was twofold. First, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I would add even if that basket is your own site. Diversifying sales channels is as important as diversifying a stock portfolio. Second understand the risks you are taking while leveraging the benefits. As a few people commented a site like ArtFire (or even EBay) can provide the initial trust factor a standalone site can’t Great use that while creating trust on your own site. As long as a venue is truly profitable for you, keep using. But be ready in case you have the carpet pulled out from under you.

    1. @Nicole @Evan
      Evan, you can correct me if I’m wrong but having your own domain lends more credibility to a shop and not the other way around. When I shop at Ebay or Etsy, I never know what to expect. When I shop at a store with a domain, I tend to think that there’s a company of people running the store. Agree about your statement about diversification. Most larger shops have presences on Amazon, and Ebay in addition to their main site. But If I had to choose one egg, I’d choose my own domain.

  30. Hi, I’m another ArtFire seller…. I have 3 studios there in addition to my own website too. Thankfully, I have a web geek son who hosts my site and could help set it up so it didn’t cost me too much. I am learning to keep my site updated myself, but it is tons easier to list my items to sell in my ArtFire studios. I don’t have to worry about the dependability of the site… There has been very little downtime with ArtFire and we always have prior notice when any maintenance is done and things are usually back up quicker than expected. I have dealt with site outages for my main website that have been very frustrating. With my son deployed in Iraq this year, one outage lasted for days because he was not able to access things to do the fix. While my site was down, My ArtFire studios were up and running and my items were also able to be seen from my Facebook ArtFire Kiosk.

    I have learned SO much about writing my descriptions and whatever else I need to do to get products ranking high on search engines from the tutorials available, and forums with seller workshops where I can get personal guidance and critiques if I want them. Most of my sales have come from off site searches and non registered customers. It has been much easier to get sales through my ArtFire studios than from my own website, so I am now using my own site more to keep information about my teaching and lecturing, and have links to my ArtFire studios for my sales. Just another happy ArtFire seller….

    1. @Sue @Patchtique
      Your statements are actually what I expected to hear about when I first write this article. The reason those sites are hard to maintain is because you have to manage your server in addition to your site and that is not for everyone. For people who don’t want to do this, I recommend BigCommerce because you own your own domain and your URLS. On site SEO is only 20% of the equation. The other 80% is building backlinks to your site.

      The biggest problem I see with Artfire and Etsy is that all of your URLs point to Artfire and Etsy which means you can never leave without leaving your SEO behind. With Bigcommerce, you can always issue 301 redirects from all of your pages to your new site and transition to a different platform if necessary.

  31. Steve, interesting discussion. I used to sell on Etsy, Artfire and Zibbet (all temporarily closed due to fire and death). You are right – – to grow and expand, one should jettison the group-stores sites and set up one’s own. But I think many of us are a bit hesitant to take on the responsibility because we fear we might muck it up (despite your assurances to the contrary).

    Keep encouraging us to break free and fly solo – – Thank you, Steve, for your time and dedication and efforts to get us all making the most profits we can from our online businesses :)

    Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy
      I’m so sorry to hear about your shop and your misfortune. I hope that everything turns out well and that you will be up and running soon enough.

  32. Very interesting discussions. I do understand that having your own website is the only way to completely control your own online presence.

    However, many, if not most of us are more interested in just making our stuff, not worrying about website building. Also, there is the issue of trying to build any kind of SEO presence online when you are brand new. Etsy and eBay are household names and generate huge amounts of built in traffic for newcomers. Artfire provides education that can be used down the road when and if you decide to become completely independent.

    In the meantime, every seller should purchase their own domain name and then forward it to whatever venue they are using. Then at least, if that venue stops working for you, with one click you can forward the domain to another venue.

    I can’t believe how many people I’ve seen complaining that they are changing venues and don’t know what to do with all the business cards they just had printed with the word “Etsy” on them!

  33. Hi Steve, my experience was the reverse. Weird, but that’s the way it was.

  34. Steve, there’s a very good chance that what you sell influences whether a stand alone website works better than a venue. For me ArtFire has been hundreds of times more successful in terms of profit than my stand alone website. Oddly, Etsy was the exact reverse. I made a LOT of sales but very little actually ended up in my pocket.

  35. I thought your article was great, and wow! the discussion to follow. I’m not afraid to admit it- I sell on Etsy. I do so already knowing the disadvantages (many of which you’ve covered) I think another great point to take into consideration is your own branding and image. Many times when someone makes a purchase off of a site like Etsy/Ebay/Artfire and someone later asks “hey where did you get that?” They’ll most likely respond by saying they made a purchase from Etsy. Bummer if it was from your shop, because you just missed out on great/free word of mouth advertisement. I think that hosting your own site in some sense shows buyers your ‘in it to win it’ and no just piddling around but also agree that hosting satellite shops on AF and Etsy can definitely help increase your exposure.

  36. Hi Steve,

    I just wanted to let you know that all Artfire studios now have a new look and a new shopping cart. If you go to any Artfire studio you will see the new look.

    The new shopping cart eliminates the non paying buyer because the product(s) is/are not removed from the studio until they are paid. I don’t believe that any other selling venue has this.

    Artfire sellers can now accept ProPay, but there is a fee for any seller that wants to offer ProPay as a payment option that will have to be paid by the seller.

  37. I just stumbled on this post, and honestly, haven’t had a chance to wade through all of the comments, but I wanted to add my perspective as a relatively avid consumer on Etsy (I have purchased almost 100 listings in the last 2 years).

    Honestly, I wouldn’t have found any of the shops that I have bought from on Etsy if they were not on Etsy. It is the easiest way to shop for interesting, handcrafted or vintage things… Googling isn’t going to find the things I am looking for and eBay is so ugly and feels more dangerous because it seems to me like the sellers are not as trustworthy (yes, this is just an impression, mainly because the site just looks so 90’s and the listings are usually so much more “slick sales marketing” feeling).

    For some reason Etsy seems more like a community, more focused on presenting the kinds of things I am looking for, easier to communicate with the sellers, seems to have more friendly and approachable sellers, and is easier for me to find them by searching and browsing. But the key is that I *can* find them by going to *a central place* and searching, or browsing the Treasury, or playing with Pounce. How would l find a shop that sells old books turned into cool iPhone chargers, for instance, if I didn’t know I was looking for such a thing without having seen it in someone’s Treasury?

    I am not a shop owner, though I have been considering it, and I’m not aware of all the issues that people seem to be having with Etsy, but as a consumer, I want to say thank you for those shops that have a presence there and have provided me with some awesome stuff… I never would have found you otherwise.

  38. Every business should have a well designed website today in order for them to compete with other online businesses. Driving more people to visit your site will definitely make you earn more money.

  39. Hi Steve,

    I know Etsy but haven’t heard about artfire, good to see that there is finally some competition in the art/craft seller platform space.

    I agree with you that having your own site is definitely the way to go long-term. But I guess most folks commenting above are focused on selling stuff rather than building software/ecommerce sites, so, naturally they want quick and easy solution to get them off the ground.

    Overall, someone mentioned above that I totally agree with, i.e., diversification is key. Having your own site plus utilizing the different platforms (Amazon, Ebay, etsy, artfire) would be a balanced approach that could get your sales sail through…

  40. There are advantages and disadvantages to using an established selling platform. I feel that you will do better financially having your own site if you have the resources and ability to advertise your site and drive a suitable amount of targeted traffic to your site. If any of the above is a problem for you I suggest you stick with the already established selling platform or you will fail miserably. Just my opinion, of coarse.

  41. I’ve been selling on etsy for a bit and have found your article really hit home with me and how I feel right now. I just registered my domain name and am searching for a free website shop template to open my own website with, and minimal monthly fees. I’ve found several like merchant moms, shoppe pro and pappashop and like the ease of what they have to offer. I just located another one that seems as though it will upload all my date from etsy into a free webshop template called makerspot. I’m not savy enough to create my own store template setup and have found that some of the hosts that offer free templates to use for set up are still to time consuming and difficult for a TOTAL novice.

    I’m really wanting to get something up and going on my own, I think the ‘handmade’ market is so inundated with sellers and no buyers and it is so important to get more exposure and the reliability of having your own site.

    DOES ANYONE have any advice for me ???

  42. @Leanna Richmond, my advice would be to not have duplicate content on your own website. If you have the same content on your website as your Etsy shop your website products will probably not show up on Google.

    If you keep your website product listings at least 30% different than your Etsy shop product listings your products will probably show up on Google searches provided that they are optimized for the search engines (SEO).

    I feel that it will be much easier and cheaper to sell on Artfire rather than spending a lot of time and effort trying to optimize your website pages for the search engines, especially if your don’t know anything about SEO.

    If your website is not found within the first two or maybe first three pages of the search engines nobody will ever visit your website unless you spend a lot of time and effort marketing your website.

    If you sign up before August 16th with Artfire you will only pay $9.95 per month. If you sign up on or after August 16th you will have to pay $11.95 per month.

    I believe that you will be given your first month for free when you sign up with Artfire.

    I wish you much success whatever you decide to do selling online.

    1. @Jim
      There is so much more to search engine optimization than just posting different and unique content. If all it took to rank in search was the right title, meta and content tags then everyone would be on the front page. The fact is that there are only 10 spots on the front page and if you use Artfire you are only building SEO juice for Artfire and not your own shop. Again, Artfire is good for people who just want to sell don’t want to deal with having their own site but it comes at the penalty of control. Who knows if Artfire will ever become like Etsy over time

  43. Steve, I accidentally emailed you instead of posting here my comment for Leanna Richmond.

    Yes, I understanding what you are saying about SEO. My 2 websites and my Artfire products all rank within the first 12 positions on Google for most keyword search terms.

    I actually disagree with you about only building SEO juice for Artfire rather than your own shop. For example, someone did a search a couple of days ago on Bing for “mining town by steam engine in CO” without using the quotation marks and my Artfire listing for my Colorado Central RR locomotive #71 photo note card came up #1.

    Last month I searched on Google for “frog fishing photo note card”, without using quotes, and my frog fishing photo note card ranked #1. My pack of 4 photo note cards also came up for that same keyword search term and it ranked #3. In addition to those two items showing up in the same search my leaning towering mast photo note card ranked #2. As a bonus, my CameramanJim blog also came up in the same search results and was ranked #4.

    I just searched for “inexpensive website critique for artisans”, without using the quotation marks and two out of 8 of my Artfire product listings ranked #3 and #4 on Google. My website InexpensiveWebsiteCritiques ranked #1 and my Artfire JimJuris2 studio with all of my product listings ranks #2.

    I was only trying to explain to Leanna that she can not just throw up a website and expect it to rank well in the search engines, especially without a lot of knowledge about SEO.

    I am sure that she will find that out soon enough if and when she puts a website online.

    1. @Jim
      Ah ok. BTW, what I mean by building seo juice for Artfire is that you are building up your SEO for the artfire.com domain and not your own. As a result, if you were to ever leave Artfire, you wouldn’t be able to take your SEO with you.

      The keyword terms that you are ranking for are extremely long tail keywords. Every site will rank #1 or on the front page for some search or another. However, I doubt that these terms get that many searches per day. While targeting long tail search is a good strategy as well, getting ranked for highly searched keyword terms is what usually leads to higher sales

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