Monday, November 7, 2011

Goodbye ArtFire

After reexamining my goals and evaluating the numbers, I’ve decided to let my Wilderness Crafter ArtFire studio go. I’ve enjoyed selling there but spending more time and money to maintain the studio just doesn’t make sense. While the site is easy to use and very seller-friendly, my sales volume does not justify the monthly fee - and I really never wanted to have a handcraft “business” anyway.

I don’t remember how I found out about ArtFire but it was shortly after I started selling on Etsy. My primary goal at both venues was to destash my excess (mostly vintage) craft books and supplies "so my daughter never has to" with the secondary idea of maybe unloading some of the excess handcrafted items I’ve made over the years. Although I usually dig into my stash to make Christmas and birthday gifts, there is a limit to the amount of handcrafted stuff that even I can off on family and friends.

When I joined ArtFire, the basic account was free. I didn’t have access to a lot of the cool seller features but the basic studio more than met my needs. Then about 13 months ago, I signed up for a special pro-seller rate when they started to transition their business model toward paid seller accounts only. I figured I’d give it to the end of 2011 and then make a decision on whether to continue. Well, it’s not quite the end of the year, but the correct decision is obvious.

So How Will I Destash Now?

So how will I continue “destashing my stuff now so my daughter never has to” if I close my ArtFire studio? Well, I still have my Etsy shop although it’s set to vacation mode indefinitely. I had such trouble signing up there (I’m sure it was me, not them) that I don’t want to delete my account just yet. As Etsy’s business model includes listing and transaction fees but no monthly fee, it won’t cost me anything to take my time on this decision.

As mentioned in a previous post on hobby clutter, I also belong to a few Yahoo Groups on which I can list sewing/quilting/craft supplies and materials. Posting to these groups has proven to be a much more expedient way to find new homes for my excess stuff. It’s a little tricky to keep track of all the posting rules, however. For instance, one group prohibits the sale of items “related to business.” Although I never intended to be in “business” selling crafting supplies or handcrafted items, apparently I will NEVER be able to post any item to this particular group that was ever listed on ArtFire. In addition, any material that was used in any handcrafted item ever offered for sale in any venue is prohibited - even if the handcrafted item was simply made to use up my stash and not originally made to be sold.

So What Have I Learned?

I think the biggest lesson from nearly two years with ArtFire is that it is easy to get distracted from my real goal. If my goal were to sell handcrafted items and crafting supplies, it would have been time well spent. Since my goal is to simply reduce 40+ years of accumulation to a manageable level, there are better ways to go about it. Add in the fact that there are usually a couple of months each year that shipping is nearly impossible because I’m not willing to snowshoe a book or pattern 5+ miles so I can get to the car to drive 20 miles to drop it in the mail. So part of the year, I need to pull back and focus my attention elsewhere (like on drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire).

The second lesson I learned is that the simplest solution is often the best (and I think this holds true in most areas of life). Posting items on sites like ArtFire and Etsy is very time consuming, as you have to take, edit and upload multiple photos, and write detailed, creative descriptions. When you have mostly singular items for less than $10 each, it’s a lot of work for little return. Posting to the Yahoo Groups is easy, however. Potential buyers usually know exactly what you’re selling and don’t require sales copy or photos from every angle.

So Goodbye ArtFire! It’s been fun but I’m moving on. And if anyone has suggestions for groups or sites on which to list sewing/quilting/craft stuff, please leave a comment and let me know.

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