It’s Shameless Commerce Tuesday and today I’m announcing the opening of my branch online shop at http://www.craftisart.com/pasqueflower.
On a sleepless night near the end of tax season (was it a full moon, I wonder?), I decided to expand my online presence by opening a shop on CraftIsArt.com – an alternative online marketplace for handmade items, fine art, vintage and supplies.
At first glance it appears to be a smaller, cheap imitation of Etsy that could use a little window dressing.
Then what, you may ask, attracted me to CraftIsArt?
Simply put, I weighed the pros and cons, and decided to give it a try.
A premium CraftIsArt membership is $7.99 per month (or $79.99 per year), but there are --
- No listing fees
- No sales fees
- No renewal fees
- Unlimited 90-day listings
- Instant payments
Low risk. Since my Etsy fees run WAY over $7.99 per month, I figured I had nothing (but $7.99 per month) to lose.
And it is another way to be found by search engines. SEO!
Less likely to be lost in the crowd. Etsy's new rule changes, allowing an influx of manufactured items "designed" by an artist or craftsperson to glut the formerly handmade/vintage marketplace, coupled with an amazing rate of annual growth in the number of sellers and products on Etsy, make it harder to stand out in a growing crowd.
I was also able to import my Etsy shop listings as a CVS batch upload. (This sounds great in theory, but it took over four hours to complete all the uploading, editing and tweaking – and even then I lost Category designations I had manually entered and re-entered.)
Lower traffic. The site does not generate nearly as much traffic as Etsy.
It will be more difficult tracking inventory in the two shops.
I’ve noticed some serious search glitches. (For example I clicked on “Fiber Art” and landed on paper scrapbook printables – not my definition of fiber art!)
CraftIsArt accepts PayPal, but it only accepts credit card payments through ProPay ($39.95 annual fee) or Authorize.net. I’m still in the process of setting up the ProPay account – definitely not a seamless process.
I have limited ability to rearrange my shop – and “featured” items are just a random scrolling of listed items.
I still haven’t successfully uploaded a new banner, even though I special ordered a cheap one that was supposed to be the required minimum 728 px. I ended up going to a totally different vendor - Plan B. I hope to get a new banner installed within a day or two. Setting up an Etsy shop was easier.
Shipping options are not seller-friendly, and they subtly push sellers toward Free Shipping. (There's a separate Free Shipping box to check - or not - when listing each item.) I ignored that nudge. Been there. Done that. Will only do it again for special seasonal promos.
Despite the Cons, I decided there was little financial risk, and a potential for increased online exposure for my products.
On Etsy, my store is a little urban boutique among other boutiques. On CraftIsArt, my shop will be a little small town virtual craft fair booth among other virtual craft fair booths. Etsy and CraftIsArt are different venues with (presumably) different shoppers.
It’s too early to tell whether I’ll get any substantial sales on CraftIsArt. The jury may be out for a few more months.
If I don’t get at least 50 sales by the holidays, I may opt to use the CraftIsArt shop as a Bargain Basement --I'd remove slow-moving or aging items from my Etsy shop and list them on CraftIsArt. That would help keep my Etsy shop fresh, and limit the potential problems of having the same inventory listed on both sites.
Have you tried other online marketplaces? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences.