I'm new to Etsy and so haven't been around to witness the changes it has gone through in its five years of existence. But as someone who hangs out in the forums at least a little each day, I've picked up on some resentment from long-time sellers (not that I'm particularly intuitive - it's kind of hard to miss!). Mostly it seems that people love to complain about the lack of diversity on the Front Page, but with the changes made to sellers' profile pages recently (where the sellers' favorites and treasuries are prominently featured front and center) and the changes to the way search results are shown, those issues haves quickly risen to the top of a lot of folks complaint lists.
Perhaps not surprisingly, questions surrounding Artfire, a competitor of Etsy, have arisen. People want to know how it compares to Etsy in terms of views, sales, etc. While I'm not fed up with Etsy (being so new and all), I was interested in Artfire as a potential second place to sell. So, I decided to check it out. And, perhaps not surprisingly, I found some things that I liked and some things that I didn't like. The home page is professional and looks good. The search features seems to be better than Etsy's - at least more relevant. Every time I try to look for items on Etsy, I get really bogged down in the search process. Maybe it's just me, but I don't find it to be intuitive and I often give up before finding just what I'm looking for.
My big problem with Artfire is this - once you get beyond the home page, the pages seem to get more cramped and harder to look at. I hate the black boxes around the pictures and I hate the ads on the right side of the page. And the white space on either side of the page is nice, but when you are cramming in that much stuff on one page, why not narrow those margins a little to make the usable part of the page that much bigger and, therefore, less cramped looking?
That being said, the one major advantage to Artfire appears to be its ability to upload EVERYTHING into Google Shopping. I REALLY don't understand why only a small portion of Etsy sellers get the benefit of being on Google Shopping. I've read postings by people in the forums that say they've been on Etsy for over a year and still have yet to be syndicated (and therefore on Google Shopping). That just doesn't make any sense to me. Post just about anywhere on the web and you will get into Google Shopping; anywhere, that is, except for Etsy, a site that boasts over 7 million items for sale!
Another difference between the two (of course) is their fee structures. Artfire has a monthly fee and that's it. You can list as much as you want and sell as much as you can without having to pay any extra above the monthly fee. Etsy on the other hand charges a listing fee and takes a percentage of each sale. In addition, a lot of Etsians will tell you that you MUST renew in order to stay on top of searches. Each renewal is a new listing fee. I read a post recently where one successful Etsian said she renews 20 items three times a day everyday! That's $12 a day in renewal fees! It's obviously worth it to her, but something just seems wrong to me about that. Sure, a listing lasts for 4 months on Etsy, but if you are forced to renew just to be seen, there's no bargain in the low listing fee.
At the end of the day, I can see advantages to both sites. I'm definitely staying on Etsy, but I may join Artfire at some point and do both in hopes of covering more ground and obtaining a wider audience. I just wish Artfire would de-clutter its pages. After all, if I'm turned off by them, other people probably are too.
If you have any thoughts about Etsy v. Artfire, I'd love to hear them!