Compared with the amount of fees you pay to a site such as Etsy over the course of a year, the cost of hosting for your own website can be very reasonable.
It is now easier than ever to set up your own ecommerce site for very little money. Here are some resources to get you started:
Buying a Domain:
It is important to choose the right domain name for your website. For instance, choose a name that is short and easy to remember, but also reflects your brand. Try not to use hyphens and numbers, as this may make it harder for people to remember your URL when they go to type it into the address bar.
1) Get a domain name:
New Zealand based: 1stdomains
Some companies offer free hosting with your domain name. If you already have a hosted ecommerce store, a cheaper option might be to just buy a domain and point it at your current site.
2) Get up and running quickly with these free services:
Weebly: free but limited ecommerce options
Bigcartel – free ‘Gold’ plan to list 5 products
Storenvy.com– Completely free at the moment although there are plans to launch a paid plan.
Need something a little more robust?
Indiemade – Basic Plan is $4.95 /mo
Shopify (Basic $29 /mo)
Smallfish (NZ based – $39 a month)
Some companies also offer free hosting when you buy a domain. If you want your own hosted ecommerce site, you or your web designer first need to check with the hosting company: do they support the specific software you want to use?
If you decide you need more control over your shop at a later stage, then you should consider hiring a web designer or developer to install an open-source ecommerce platform. This makes it easier to update or extend the functionality of your site at a later point when you have the funds to put back into your business. Open-source content Management Systems such as Joomla!, Drupal and WordPress all have ecommerce plugins available.
Now that you have your website all set up, and your products loaded along with beautiful photos and well-written product listings, how do you attract visitors to your site?
Don’t wait for customers to come to you. Reach out to them on whichever platform they are most comfortable. There are many tools available to help you schedule updates and manage your news feeds on various Social Media services.
Marketing your work via social media and email campaigns can seem like an easy option, but can be just as much work as more traditional methods. Social media is not a ‘quick fix’, but the advantage is you can successfully market your own business to a wide audience on a low budget.
Speaking of which, why not get some fliers, postcards, and business cards printed. Sign up for local craft markets, or ask about teaching classes and giving talks at your local craft supply store.
We will look at options for successfully marketing your new website in part 3 in this series!
Did you miss Part 1? Read it here!