I have been selling my hand knit items on Etsy for a little over a year. I have 29 sales under my belt, which is not too bad considering all the months I took "off" in the winter when I was very sick, when I went on vacation, and then again this summer while we moved. I have been at times both enamored and infuriated with the vast marketplace that is Etsy. I love the opportunity Etsy provides for my items to be seen worldwide. I like the community of crafters that mix and meld on Etsy and I have learned an enormous amount of information from the Etsy Virtual Labs, blog posts, admin posts and posts from other sellers in the forum. I joined several teams, had my work featured on the Front Page and in the Etsy Finds email. Yet, I have opened a shop on the ArtFire venue and am contemplating letting my Etsy shop die a natural death. Why? Because for as much as I love Etsy, I kind of hate it too. The site is rigged, to put it honestly. For the most part, sellers are vying to attract other Etsians to buy their wares. I don't have specific numbers to work with, but my hunch is that the majority of sales on Etsy are to other sellers. Etsy doesn't advertise for buyers because it makes its money off of its sellers. The only way to be seen on Etsy is to renew and relist. Sellers are encouraged to keep hitting that relist button as much as possible to stay on top of the heap. Etsy runs on a recency search module, where the most recently listed items turn up in the searches. If you list and leave, your item will quickly be relegated to the -nth page....and what shopper is going to search more than 5 or 6 pages? So sellers keep popping dimes into the Etsy maw to keep their wares visible. That business model can only prove profitable for those businesses logging hundreds of sales per year. Eventually, I tired of the renewing game and have decided to quit renewing completely.
Artfire recently ran a promotion offering Pro seller status for $5.95 a month. That works out to $0.20 a day, the cost of one Etsy listing. I jumped at the chance to have unlimited listing, immediate Google submission, awesome seller tools and no final value fees. That means for $5.95 a month I can list as much as I want, know that I am being picked up by Google and I won't have to pay any further fees. And best of all, NO RENEWING!!! Artfire has a relevancy based search module, similar to Google's algorithm. It doesn't matter WHEN you listed your item, if it matches a search term it will be shown. And since there are fewer sellers on ArtFire, (for now) items show up in fewer result pages than on Etsy. Now, views are slower on Artfire, as they are cumulative. Listing an item won't get you a ton of views like it does on Etsy, but you will get more views in the long run because your listing doesn't lose recency like it will on Etsy.
For the meantime I will try to run both shops. As tired as I am of the Etsy run around, I just am not sure that great as it is, if Artfire can provide enough traffic to sustain the recent influx of shops. Currently, I am infatuated with Artfire and it remains to be seen whether or not this will be a productive partnership.