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  • Think hard before you take the bait. A brief and brutally honest review based over a 5+ year span of time with them as a WebHost. 

    I began to convert over to ASF back in mid-late 2015 from (2) unrelated websites I was using in unison. Keep in mind, In late 2015 the "buy-in" pricing was not nearly as high as it was in 2020. They charged $50.00 monthly + a whopping 10% commission per sale.   At the time, unknown to me my website version (with asf) was in a beta stage - which they also never were forthright in telling me. I discovered the beta site issue when dealing with a handful of serious early on technical issues, and speaking directly with a member of their development team. (who no longer is with them)

    During the website build, I hired a reputable professional SEO team (in addition to a very talented and local IT & marketing professional) to work on the back end of my new ASF website. The SEO team was quick to point out a long list of issues that made the ASF website "less than desirable" for the Google search algorithms. Hidden H1 headers, no access to robots.txt., XML sitemap, URL list, and many many other important search engine ranking factors. The SEO manager requested me to contact ASF, and ask to allow proper access, which ASF promptly shut down and said they can't. Here are some of their replies to direct inquires for repairs: On Nov 1 2015, Sean wrote back and CC'd my SEO team "Regarding the location of the robots.txt, which unfortunately is not something that we provide access to for our customers". Further, on November 10th he wrote back after going back and forth for days on this issue "We will be unable to assist with any form of coding issues or code analytics. Unfortunately, there will be very little you can do on this website to fix any of the options on that report."  I should have gone with my gut feeling and bailed out ASAP. I had no idea this was a way to make people dependant on paying for social media marketing in the near future.  Luckily for me, my IT guy I was working with was able to redirect a lot of that SEO juice I was building with the other (2) sites and point it towards my new domain. It took a significant amount of time, more than twice as normal, to build up my site SEO score through content, keywords, and other factors. 

    Backing up to the startup, I wasn't able to go live with their site until late January of 2016.  There were quite a few situations, in addition to the SEO discoveries over the first 6 or so months that really left me with a bad taste. I should point out, before buying into this "concept", I had already established my brand and business both commercially (publications, licensing, media, and royalties) as well as fine art sales. At the time, ASF was an upstart and around for just a few years.  At this time, they hadn't yet begun to pump up their "marketing techniques" aggressively to the newbie artists they would soon target. This would be a change in philosophy that I regret THEY made, having isolated professionals that were coming aboard, and their business-specific needs. Essentially, what they've done is reverse market themselves as another version of FineArt America, albeit a very very costly venture for pushing "print on demand" auto-fulfillment. The world doesn't need multiple FineArt America sites.

    Fast forward to 2021, as of this writing I'm one of more than a few that I factually know are either in the process of -- or just recently parted ways with -- and have moved to a new web host.  The list of tickets with tech support (I've saved every single email) for issues range from "my website is missing - really it is!" -- additional serious issues such as trying to complete a "self-made order" for a custom-sized piece made to order -- live and "in-person" at an art show or gallery with a client to have the website software not cooperate as advertised and embarrass me. It's staggering, I just pulled up both emails I've used since the onset and I stopped at @100 emails with dozens more uncounted issues.

    Turnover: I've grown tired of starting over with new CS reps as well, it's a consistent revolving door. The turnover rate is high. For a period of about 2.5 years, (2017-19) I did experience some nice pro-active customer service help, specifically with (2) people. They worked hard to make a few notable software issues right, over that span. Anyhow, early one Friday morning, while in Brooklyn NY for a wedding, I pulled up my website to realize that all of my print sizes, pricing, and of course checkout had been disabled after a late-night sitewide "update" by the ASF development team. After several tense hours, I was finally patched in with CS for a phone call.

    My site was experiencing a "technical issue" that they would "need some significant time" to fix. The site would be down just over 4 days, fortunately, both CS reps were advocates on my behalf. The tough news for me is one of them emailed to say she was leaving, revealing she couldn't be associated any longer.

    Anyhow, the question reads: did the ASF site work to improve my sales? NO. Absolutely ZERO percent. I've accumulated many years of marketing under my belt and have taken a hard look at their ideas. Their marketing is gimmicky, heavily leaning towards quirky techniques like kissing up to and graveling influencers on various social media, and marking your prices down with aggressive "sales" of 25-30%. They also push members towards doing "print-giveaways" using Facebook ads to gain newsletter signups. If you are marketing Fine Art, do you think this will attract the targeted audience that can afford it?? 

    here's what you get from them:

    - a basic cookie-cutter website (lack of genuine customization) that does a sub-par job at resolving image quality. Seriously, it's a butt-ugly website platform

    - Clunky weighted software technology that is extremely complicated and poorly explained. You virtually need a handbook to do simple work. Tech issues are a constant. The software "design" is actually a good concept but is practically designed for larger companies that employ a full-service IT team. ASF themselves don't have a firm grasp on the technology as proven by the steady list of technical issue tickets. 

    - Initial cost is a tremendous investment, compared to FAA that will cost an up & coming artist just $25.00 annually to test the waters. $600.00 annual + 10% commissions for sales, not including some people investing over 4K just to get onboard. (I am NO advocate for FineArt America trust me! I'm just comparing if you plan to use it as a POD)

    - ASF leans heavily towards auto-fulfillment using (2) low-quality commercial (fast print) labs similar to POD websites like FAA. Again, this is to maximize PROFIT for them, not the artist! Commercial printers do not offer quality, period. Auto-fulfillment is for amateurs and hobbyists, not professionals. ASF has it set up to use THEM as the middle-man to resolve QC issues that arise often 

    - They self-promote themselves all over your website. Many backlinks are hidden in various icons to connect with targeted hopeful one-day successful artists.

    - Building essential SEO is virtually impossible. My IT professional can explain far better than I all of the bounces and redirects due to their mirrored site. 

     

     

        

  • I just signed up with them. I've been in sales and marketing for most of my career except for a stint in education at the end. But I was still selling the boss on buying equipment and such for the school, so I guess I never really left sales.

    The thing is when I retired I thought I'd like to help artists with their websites. I ended up working with an art supply company for about 4+ years and then decided I wanted to do my own thing. During that 4+ years, though, I studied everything I could get my hands on about online sales and marketing from some of the top people. I spent a ton of money taking courses and had the perfect "lab" in the company I was associated with. Everything I learned turned out to work. Don't get me wrong, we didn't become millionaires or anything. I learned that marketing is a long-term discipline but it ain't rocket science.

    Sorry for the "windy" intro, but the point is when I heard ASF's pitch I knew THEY knew what they were talking about. PLUS, it's apparent there is a LOT of money behind them. The owner is a serial entrepreneur which means, on the upside, he knows what he's talking about. On the downside, it's possible he's just trying to build a business he'll sell and be gone. If that happens, I'm not so sure anyone who buys them would have the same commitment to artists he has.

    I can tell you this...it is VERY tech-heavy. I've attended a number of workshops and some of the questions people ask show their struggles with getting everything to work. But...they do have the DFY option...they will build your website, and do the marketing for you, etc.

    For me, it was a no-brainer! Now I know exactly what I have to do and, more importantly, how to do it. Yes, it's expensive to sign up and have them take a cut of sales. But...the cut is SIGNIFICANTLY less than you'll pay a gallery who probably won't push your work anyhow. The big thing is you get technical support (both technology and marketing) as long as you're hooked up with them. To me, that's worth it.

    I also like the fact you can sell prints. They are hooked up with a lab that looks like they know what they are doing. The products you can sell make Fine Art America look like pikers. (I've seen some of FAA's products and they ain't that impressive.)

    Here's the thing...and why I'm here tonight typing this. ASF is VERY BIG on art fairs! Even more so than websites because AFs are an opportunity to meet your public upfront and personal. The KEY is to use the AF to build a mailing list. (You are building a mailing list, right? (I didn't think so -- just kidding -- most artists don't -- at least the ones I've seen at art fairs.) They show you how to do it. I can see art fairs are something I need to get more involved in. Being a geek by nature, I figured I could do it on a computer, but that's not as effective as art fairs. And besides, you can hire someone to do all that techy stuff once the dough comes rolling in.

    Long and short...I am excited to be working with them.

    Hope that helps!

  • I know some photographers that are using the service and they like it. My problem with them is the car shark sales men you talk to when your trying to get direct info. I get a different price amount each time I call. Everything is all cart or closer 2000 for set up then the monthly fee. They get a cut on everything including originals. 

    The upside is the marketing prompts they send you. Im still trying to figure out a better way to go. I think I found it with Go Daddy with a link to FAA for print sales. They seem more upfront even there design service.

    My 2 cents.

  • I don't have any experience with this company, but they send me multiple emails a day.  I was curious about them, and thought this was a good review.  https://theabundantartist.com/artstorefronts-com-review-done-print-...

    It seems they are a Print on Demand service, and they will set up your website and interfaces.  They charge a set up fee of $ 500 (at the time of the review) then charge $29-59/mth.  

    The reviewer said the service is best suited for a more established artist with some business and tech experience.  There is a lot of technical things you will need to set up on your own, and I think you will need to have some kind of established clientele already.

    Hope this helps!

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