Monday, May 23, 2011

ArtFire: Is It The Next Big Thing?

A View Of The ArtFire Front Page
Certainly by now you have heard of ArtFire. It is an online market place for handmade items, vintage items and more. It is very much like Etsy, and yet it is very different. The biggest difference is the fact that there are no ongoing fees. You pay a flat fee around $10 a month and then sell as much as you like. They also offer a free version, but there are some limitations.

You may think that paying $10 a month is a lot. But look at it this way, when was the last time you had a bill on Etsy for $10? With listing fees, fees when you renew and fees when you sell, the $10 mark is quickly met and surpassed by the 10th of the month, at least it is for me. My bill on Etsy this month is already up to over $40!

ArtFire is still considered by many to be in its infancy. There are far fewer users there than on Etsy, but that is something that they are in the process of correcting. They are off and running and making leaps and bounds trying to make it the next big thing. I believe that they have some great potential.
Click Above To Start Your Pro Account Now!
This may be a shameless plug but I want to show you one of the great benefits for becoming a Pro Member. Their referral program is second to none. For every friend you refer to become a pro member you get a free month. Currently there are no limits, so refer 12 friends and get a year 100% free. PLUS the person you refer gets their third month free! Here is my shameless plug: Click this link and become a pro member through me.

There are some really great things that ArtFire is doing over Etsy. The item listing is done on one page. I love that. I have the pictures right there and I can see them while typing my description. It sure makes for a more accurate description. It also has a section for inspirational stories behind your item. You can also associate the item with an age group, holiday, or gender.

On the studio page you have some nifty tabbed sections right on your page, including a blog tab where you can do a blog right in ArtFire. Listing an item puts it into the search. You don't have to renew your item to be top of the search either. They have several different search criteria to make sure no one has to spend more money to be seen. A lot of good things happening over there.

It may be too soon to see if ArtFire will become as huge as Etsy but one thing is for sure, there is no reason to not have a shop on both sites. I have only made a few sales but because of their relationship with Google people were able to find me very quickly after my listing was made. So, I am endorsing ArtFire. Just do me the favor of going through me so that I can get a free month.

I'd like to hear your experiences with ArtFire. Please leave a comment and tell me how you are doing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Etsy: Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Etsy is a great way to sell handmade items

A couple of days ago I saw a post on a forum that I am on about someone getting ready to throw in the towel after not having much luck on Etsy. I provided a little personal experience and a little advice. The response to my advice was so good that I thought I would make it into a blog post so that I might help others out. So here it is, only slightly edited.

When starting a new brick and mortar business, the rule of thumb is to have three years worth of rent/utilities/expenses saved up before you start. The reason being is that you will not make a profit the first three years. Even the IRS does not expect any kind of positive return for the first three years.

Online businesses need about a year worth of funding because you rarely make a profit in the first year. Now some businesses make money right off and others just never make any money. Usually if you are not making any money after a year of being on the Internet it is time for a complete restructure and re-evaluation of what you are doing.

Making back almost half of your $200 investment in less than 6 months would put you well ahead of the curve. I personally have invested a couple thousand dollars into my shop with lets say not even close to half in return in the three months or so I have had my Etsy shop open.

A lot of the hard work you do promoting your stuff online is actually a long term investment. Google can take up to a year to properly index your content. That is a year from the start. Being on blogs is a good thing, of course blogs with lower follower count will be more likely to interview/list you. That is another investment into the future. 20 followers now and maybe 200 followers in 3 or 4 months. New followers tend to check out older content when they follow.

One thing to look at is the possibility that your items are priced too low. Lowball pricing might translate to someone that your product isn't good or that it is cheap rather than inexpensive. Raising all your prices 10% to 25% could greatly increase your sales. I know it sounds crazy but even people seeking a bargain do not want to buy something so inexpensive they think it is imported and resold.

Shops with only a few items look sparse and like it is more of a hobby. To really look like you are in business, you need a lot of items. Shops with 100+ items do much better than shops with 12 or 15 items.

How many teams are you a part of? I am a part of a lot of teams, and just about every one of them has a "Newly Listed" thread. Every time I add a new item I make the rounds and spread the word. I also post almost every item to my twitter feed, both of them.

Have you added people to your circle? I added about 10 people a day to my circle until I reached the Etsy circle limit. About 3/4 of the people I added added me back. Anyone who puts you in their circle sees an item newly listed or a treasury created by you. It is kind of cool too. The more people who circle you makes you look important and the more people that see you are in a lot of circles add you because there must be something up!

I hope some of this helps you out. I started on Etsy in March. I lost my job in April. I am aiming to make online sales my main income one day. I am doing a lot of legwork and I am always happy to share. A lot of this information may not make sense if you do not have an Etsy shop or an ArtFire shop. Some of the advice may actually translate well to Brick and Mortar shops, some might not.

I would really like to hear what you think about it. Feel free to make a comment, make a suggestion or add to this in any way.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Punk Rock Father's Day

Click above to be taken to the treasury.
Yesterday I decided to make a treasury of things a Punk Rock Dad would like for Father's Day. I was shocked by how very few items there were for guys on Etsy. To me it seems like one of the greatest missed markets of all times.

Sure, guys are quite rare on Etsy. I have found this out quite recently. But, one would think with all the women on Etsy that there would be quite a few boyfriends/husbands/brothers/fathers closely associated with all the women. One would also think that these men/boys/etc would have birthdays/anniversaries/Father's Day/etc associated with them.

Maybe what Etsy needs is more items for guys. Maybe that is what is lacking for Etsy to hit the "Big Time" or at least finally break into the mainstream. Now I am far from being a marketing genius, but it could be that just having women selling women's stuff to other women is hurting overall potential.

Anyhow, I digress. The entire point of this blog post was to show you all the nifty Punk Rock Father's Day picks I actually did find after about 1 1/2 hours of searching. I would love to know what you think of my treasury, so, please leave a note. Or if you'd rather leave a note about my Etsy marketing thoughts, I would like to know what you think of that as well.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Art Show Tomorrow, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Tangled Metal Showing Art at First Thursday Fayetteville, Arkansas

Tomorrow I will be showing my art and jewelry at a local art show in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Each first Thursday of the month from April until December they block off the streets on the square in Fayetteville.  Local and regional artists set up from 4:00pm until 8:00pm and show their wares.

I was there last month and I was accepted to come back again this month. It was a lot of fun even if I did not make much money last month. Hopefully this month will be better for me. Everything from fine art to, well, chainmail, can be found on the square.

Last year they only closed one of the streets off, but because of such a great turnout, this year they have closed off one of the adjacent streets. Maybe in the next couple of years the entire square will be blocked off and full of artists. The Fayetteville, Arkansas square plays host to the Farmer's Market every Saturday morning as well.

Next weekend I will be showing my art as part of Eureka Springs May Festival of the Arts. 13 lucky artists were chosen this year and I was one of them. Look for the my blog on the show early next week.If you find yourself in North West Arkansas tomorrow, stop by my booth and say hello. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to let me know.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Like" my Facebook Page for 10% off in May!

"Like" my Facebook Page for 10% off in May!

During the month of May, you can receive 10% off your purchase simply by "Liking" my Facebook page for Tangled Metal. Pretty simple deal. By "Liking" the page you will also be kept up to date on all kinds of specials and promotions and deals.

Be sure to tell all your friends about the the 10% off sale in May. The details are on the Facebook page. If you have any questions please feel free to let me know.