Thursday, July 8, 2010

Building Your Website...

I was just on the Etsy forums a few minutes ago--
wait, WHAT!? Yes! I'm re-opening my Etsy shop!! but more on that on another day.... when the shop actually has stuff in it :) It takes time to create those listings you know!
and came across a post asking which is better? Having your own website (and store) or having an Etsy shop? There were many different viewpoints/pros/cons of each. It seems like most people who prefer *just* having Etsy do so for the simplicity and ease of maintenance.

however, am a huge geek and control freak and actually enjoy designing and coding and maintaining my own website. Yeah, HTML for funsies. That is probably the dorkiest thing I've ever written; what's sad is that I had to preface that with 'probably.'

The topic of website hosting also came up and I was surprised at the rates I was seeing. The company I use- MeccaHosting- seems so much cheaper (the service package I am using anyway). Since I'm so extremely happy with my hosting company, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to them and I'd highly HIGHLY recommend them if anyonehas been thinking about starting your own website! Here is their page explaining their services and rates:
I currently pay $10 to renew my domain name every year and $30 A YEAR to keep my website up and running. Most rates I've been seeing are $10-$12 a month.

When I set up my website a few years ago, I knew nothing about HTML and was adamant about having my site hosted by a company that could provide me with plenty of cheat sheets templates. After hours of extensive research I signed up with some big name company (probably Yahoo but I really don't remember) to find out... at the time... none of their templates were compatible with Macs :(

So after immediately closing the account and getting my moneys back, I decided to go with the cheapest option I could. Lo and behold I found Mecca! I took it upon myself to find online tutorials to teach me the basics of HTML and it was well worth the whole hour it took to find a few simple things. So even if you think you could never learn HTML and it seems hella scary to you, it may actually be worth looking into. You have so much more control over everything. (any other control freaks out there!!? Really???) There are a zillion tutorials online and at first all you really need to learn is how to align stuff and make tables and links and enjoy playing with numbers a little... and that's sort of it.
Here's one of my favorite sites with lots-o-tutorials :)

Then there was this. A blog. I should remember why I picked blogger, but I don't. I thought about doing my own in HTML but seriously why go through all that trouble when this service is free??? There were templates! Templates that I could change and customize if I chose to do so, which of course I did! Because I could. Because I am anal about the tiniest miniscule shit. And because of my controlfreakishness.

So if you've set up a website, and choose to set up a blog, chances are if you're going to sell your art (or bags of hair or contaminated Shrek glasses or whatever it is you sell) online, there's still the question of how. Use your own site? Or go with an online store such as Etsy or Artfire or Ebay or a multitude of others.

I can only compare with Etsy since they are the only one I've ever used...

I moved to selling on my own site for a couple of reasons aside from my pure geekdom.

For one thing you don't need to set up a specific account to shop from my online gallery. I use PayPal buttons and you don't even need a PayPal account, just a credit card like with all other online shopping. With both Etsy and Paypal there are fees (and don't forget to add in the fees of hosting your website, which there are none with Etsy et. al.), and they seem pretty comparable, so I personally would probably not make a decision based on this alone:
PayPal buttons: Put as many items on your site as you want. For free. Forever. PayPal charges you 30 cents per transaction plus 2.9% on the amount of the sale. You pay nothing until you make a sale.

Etsy: 20 cents each time you place an item into your store, then if/when you make a sale, Etsy takes 3.5% commission. Item listings expire 4 months after you enter them, and you can re-list them again for 20 cents.
I chose to re-open my Etsy store for a few of my hand-made one-of-a-kind (OOAK you acronym nerds) items. Etsy seems like a more appropriate venue and admittedly, it is a little easier to create a listing on Etsy for these kinds of items rather than a brand-new page from my website for each of them, since they'll all be so different that it would be hard to copy and paste the code from one page to the next.

And, of course, there is a lot of competition on Etsy. This can either work for you or against you. A customer can easily enter your store and begin searching around all over the place and end up just as easily buying an item from someone else. Likewise someone hopping around the site from another Etsy shop can bring customers into your shop.

So if you're thinking about creating a website and/or online shop, hope some of this helps, and feel free to comment here or email me with any questions!


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