UPDATE WRITTEN AUGUST 10 2013
I left Artfire almost 2 years ago now. The attitudes and feeling on the site changed so much I just did not want to be a part of the site anymore. I have a presence on Etsy again and while not perfect I know what to expect.
I started selling at craft fairs nearly 30 years ago. I remember the first one I sold at. I wasn't there but it was exciting anyway. My neighbor's mother was part of a church bazaar in another state and the two of us made some things to send to her. After that I started looking for shows around where I was living. Let's just say the holiday season was a very busy one for me for many years in San Diego and the in the Salt Lake City area. Actually because most of what I was doing was thread crochet Christmas ornaments I really got busy about May or June to have enough things made for the shows.
With the coming of the internet I was so excited. Ecommerce was a way out of all the lugging of displays around, packing and unpacking products and weekends away from home. I knew it would happen and I started watching. The first internet craft malls seemed too complicated and expensive and then I stumbled on a blog mention of a place called Etsy in 2005 which was right after startup. I was over the moon excited. As a concept it is still a great place but not, I have come to realize, necessarily for a more traditional crafter like me. This post isn't about that debate though. I have closed my shop on Etsy with no hard feelings because I was looking for a better fit for me at a cost structure I could sustain as a long term dedicated hobbyist.
I did go with the "don't put your eggs all in one basket" approach for awhile. Actually a couple years worth of wasting time doing a little here and a little there. I have had accounts on Shop Handmade, Ecrater, Blujay, Mintd, Lovli and Silkfair as well as the big orange E never quite finding a good fit and realizing something very important about my own way of doing things. Being in so many places even if not all at once was too distracting and everything was only half done and poorly at that. My baskets only had a couple eggs in each and what I really needed was a full, well done basket somewhere.
Along came ArtFire and I liked what I saw. I read about the background of John Jacobs, the founder, and discovered a background of understanding for crafters and the struggles to sell their goods. I hope that I have found a place to fill a basket of my goods and find folks who would like to have them.
Finally, the term handmade as a trend is on the decline. But arts and crafts, artisans, the creative entrepreneur are so much bigger than a trend. We intentionally created artfire not to be a flash in the pan trend based business. Craft shows, art fairs, and the sale of handmade goods is a strong and long-time market. My posting of the google trend is to demonstrate that the handmade trend (the resurgence of handmade as a fashion trend based concept) may not be the buoy that some think in the marketplace. There is a deeper, more longstanding, more traditional market here that is not focused on the fashion trend only. I think that makes for a more stable and long-term marketplace.
I found the above quote in the ArtFire Forums today. The discussion this is part of is generating a lot of interest as the community sorts its way through how they feel about the evolving site. For me if the focus stays on the last two sentences I am staying here and hoping that what happens for me is good. I try to make traditional, useful things that help make life cozy. As I said before I have been doing it for nearly 30 years and I don't know how and don't want to stop.
If you are a crafter, artisan or artist and this sounds like a place for you I would be honored if you would use my referral link if you sign up for an account.