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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tips on Selling in a New Venue (Artfire)

Happy Saturday everyone =)  As you probably have seen I have been trying to promote Artfire and recruit new sellers.  I have been so ecstatic with everything on Artfire and want to share that joy with everyone else, but there are quite a few recurring questions/comments that I wanted to address to prepare everyone who takes the plunge & joins Artfire.  So here we go (please note..some of the things I say may sound harsh & I want you to know they are not directed at any one person, these are things I have learned the hard way & want to pass on).
∙Artfire IS in Beta( Definition of Beta ) so expect glitches and try not to get discouraged when you encounter them.  To show their appreciation to the first 5,000 members that join Artfire as a verified seller while its in Beta they are offering $7/month for life (that's no relisting fees, no final value fees, just $7.00 a month--period).  After that it goes up to $20.00 a month so I suggest "getting in on the ground floor".  On Etsy many of us are paying anywhere from $20-$100 a month in fees and personally I think we're being treated like crap there.
∙You can't just list 2 items and wait for them to sell before deciding to use a new venue(I know this may work for some but overall its not going to work).  If you really want to succeed you have to put your all into every endeavour you take on.  Think of it this way, the more items you list, the more diverse the keywords are that lead buyers to your shop.
∙If you DO start off on Artfire with the basic account don't just list 1 item and be done with it.  Make sure you upload an avatar, banner, write a bio, welcome note, and policies.  I don't know about you but I'm not buying from anyone that can't take the time to put in a little info about their craft/studio.
∙Take advantage of everything the site has to offer.  Artfire automatically submits your products to google base, all you have to do is list them in your studio(that is just 1 example of the many tools Artfire has and there are many more on the way)!
∙Be active in the fora(Chatterbox).  Not only can you learn from the questions other members are asking, but you can get your name out there as well.
∙You are going to have to be patient and willing to put your time and energy into it!  I know we all want sales right away, and need them, but its just not going to happen without some effort put into it.  You have to promote yourself and get your name out there.  True sites do advertise for you/the marketplace but you have to do the majority of that promoting yourself.
∙Don't be intimidated by international shipping!  If the item is under 4lbs you can ship it USPS First Class International.  Next time you go to the PO pick up a stack of the green customs forms so you can fill them out at home & have them ready to take with you to the PO (you can print First Class International postage online through certain sites and put the packages in a blue drop box, however I recommend checking with your Post Master before doing so, our PM requires we hand the package over to a Postal Worker directly).  I bought a generic kitchen scale for $10 to get estimates for all of my products' weights.  Then use the USPS International shipping calculator to get estimates.  There are limits on what you can ship where so you will need to educate yourself on the info, see HERE.  It requires quite a bit of research on your behalf, but if you are able to ship your items and don't mind having to drive the packages to the PO I say go for it!  Think of how many buyers that will open up your shop to!  I recommend making a note in your policies stating that you are not responsible for any customs fees that may be required once the item is delivered and that you will not lie about the value of your products on the customs form.  You can also use your google analytics (you can set that up in Artfire under My Artfire::My Studio Stats) to see what different countries people are looking at your studio from.
∙Don't renew, create!  Renewing is a silly thing that was created on Etsy, you are much better using that time, and money if you're on Etsy, creating new products and then listing those.  Or if you are not ready to create more items, use that time to promote outside the marketplace you are selling on.  When you are browsing categories on Artfire it shows the items in a random order.  Search is based on relevance, not when the item was listed.  
∙Join social networks!  Not only is it a great way to meet new people, it can be a great way to promote if you do it correctly(The #1 no-no is to sign up and only promote your items, you will lose followers very quickly if that's all you do).  My 2 favorites are twitter and plurk, but there are many more out there.
∙"Bring optimism, anything else is counter productive."  (Wonderful advice from NCTeddyBearLady)
Well there are many, many more tips & tricks.  I will try to post more as I think of them and feel free to comment with your tips as well.  I may not be the most successful online handmade vendor, but I have done pretty decent in my opinion.  I haven't made a fortune on Artfire but I have sold enough to pay my $7/month and made a little profit on top of that.  Sorry if this turned into more of a rant than list of tips =)
AND if you decide to join Artfire as a verified member I would LOOOVE for you to use me (3zArt) as a referral Register on   Best of luck to everyone!!


marciamenendez said...

Great tips ALL 3zArt! Thanks!

starrynightimpressions said...

Hi 3zArtLand,
I saw your link on adnagams twitter and really liked your blog post.
Great tips! I'm an etsyer too, and still learning how to make it all work :)

Anne said...

these are very good tips. I think that one of the biggest mistakes anyone can do is to give up after only a couple of weeks without having promoted themselves ... Even if someone were to develop your own website... they'd have to work to promote it... people aren't just going to find a website without having been driven there... promote, promote, promote! And our bear friend is right... keep a positive attitude! ~Anne

ShinyAdornments said...

Very good tips...

John, the Artfire prez, allowed me to interview him for my blog if you want more info straight from the horses mouth.
Artfire profile on Simply Shiny

I'm loving Artfire so far.
My Simply Shiny Blog

LeelaBijou said...

Great article and great tips. Thanks for sharing them! :)

Antebelle said...

Well said! Great tips! *Waste no time, create always* is a great mantra!!

Kathy said...

Great tips. I am thinking about a shop there.

Hippie Dippy Designs said...

Awesome tips! We have a studio there but need to get it set up. Thanks so much!

Glenda said...

Such great words of wisdom! True it is a bit of a learning experience and ALOT of work but I think that the journey will be an exciting one!