Thursday, November 13, 2008

Handmade Twitter Wars

If you haven't found Twitter yet and you are a handmade artist you're missing out. Twitter is now the battle ground for your handmade dollar. Companies like Etsy and Artfire have representatives at the Twitter wheel from nine to five schmoozing the same handmade audience all day long. 

Etsy Twit weighs in with over 4,500 followers. If you frequent the Etsy forums you'll find all of your favorite sellers buried in Etsy's followers list. They update their audience through out the day about articles and Etsy happenings. If you look further you can also find lots of Etsy staff on Twitter reinforcing their formidable presence. The addition of Etsy's collaborative effort,, brings handmade heavy hitters like into the arena as well. Craftster itself has a seat saved on Twitter but no activity yet. It is all very reminesent of the early days of the internet, when no one knew why they needed a web address but got one anyway. You just knew a turf war is brewing.

The real story here however, is the underdog Artfire weighs in with over 1,000 followers, a number they have achieved in a little over three weeks. Compare that to Etsy's 4,500 followers, from ten months of Twittering and it's clear, ArtFire is gaining serious Twitting ground over Etsy. To understand what's at stake you need to know that Etsy has not had a stitch of real competition since it's launch on June 18th 2005. The site has been successful despite itself, primarily because of it's customers, who used grassroots advertising to push the site along into the mainstream. While Etsy customers brought in the buyers, Etsy loosely maintained the site, always one step behind the needs of it's sellers. Artfire has positioned itself to take over a good portion of Etsy's market, by appealing to sellers who are tired of waiting for basic and not so basic site features. In addition, Artfire is offering a low monthly rate and no additional fees to list and relist to your hearts content. There are so many promising avenues for Artfire to go down, that it is hard to imagine what this handmade battleground will look like come January.

If you use Twitter and you own a small handmade business, these are two companies you'll want to be watching over the next couple of months. You may want to consider taking Artfire up on their Stimulus Package too. They're offering the first 5,000 new members a lifetime membership for seven bucks a month. Dang! 

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