(In comparison, on Etsy, you pay US$0.20 to list an item, and 3% ... (something like that anyway) ... when you make a sale.)
They've been plugging the Pro account option at me hard, for almost a year now. And they've been adding more and more features to the Pro account, and none to the Basic account. Now, I've sold a grand total of 6 items since I opened my shop there 3 (or more?) years ago. I will not be upgrading to a Pro account. The amount of money I would lose is staggering. It's just not worth it.
(In comparison, on Etsy, I have sold approx. 90 items in the last 3 years. I don't want you to think I'm bragging or anything! I'm just comparing the two sites.)
It's a shame, really. I did a comparison of the two sites a while back, and Artfire had some really useful pros over Etsy. (Sorry, I haven't been able to find that post. I'll try again later!) But things have gone downhill since then. There are an increasing number of messages saying, "this feature is available to Pro members only". Last last time I tried to re-list a sold item, (in May of this year), I couldn't for the life of me find out how to do it, whereas previously it just took one click. (Perhaps that's a 'Pro-only' feature now, too. Grrr!)
Yes, Artfire has been going downhill in the last few years - for the seller holding a Basic account, anyway. The site is harder to navigate, and the lack of features means my shopfront looks boring and daggy compared to a pro seller's. The last email I was sent encouraging me to upgrade pointed out that 85% of sales are made by Pro sellers, and only 15% by Basic sellers. Instead of using that statistic to encourage me to upgrade, perhaps they should have been looking at the site management practices which resulted in that statistic? Just sayin'.
When you think about it though, it was really just a matter of time. Artfire corners a much smaller section of the market than Etsy. It's less well-known. Speaking just for myself, I have 20 posts on my blog tagged 'Etsy love' and not a single one tagged 'Artfire ... anything'. I have to admit as well, that I've only bought one thing from Artfire in all that time, and it was from someone whose blog I read (the lovely Sparklebluefaery). Artfire itself didn't have anything to do with me finding out about this seller. They just don't have the word-of-mouth that Etsy has. Whether that's anyone's fault is anyone's guess. There's only one thing left to say:
Bye bye from me, Artfire.
(Ironically, this picture is from Etsy!)
This article from October 2010 also has a comparison of Etsy and Artfire. However, it was written before the news that the free account on Artfire was to be abolished.