Selling Online - Your Own Site or a Store Site?
Whether you’re a craftsperson who creates artworks or craft items and gifts, or a reseller of products or downloadable materials, selling online requires decisions as to your online store platform. There are three ways in which you can go to market online, and they all are right in some situations.
Your Own Store Site
The most independent, and perhaps the least expensive to operate, is your own online store site.
This means hosting and site software that gives you complete control of the site and how you market your products or services. Using WordPress, you can install themes and plugins designed exclusively for eCommerce. You pay for the hosting, and WordPress is free.
The store plugins/themes vary from free to expensive, with the most popular, WooCommerce, available as a free group of plugins. However, you’ll pay for other supporting plugins that provide upgraded functionality and marketing capabilities.
You can operate your own autonomous store for as little as the cost of hosting, usually less than $100/year for startup sites. One-click installation of WordPress is available with many of the most popular hosting providers.
Listing Items on a Store Platform
Store sites like Etsy.com and Shopify.com are extremely popular, as they are ready-made platforms that allow you to list your items for sale quickly. You simply log in and fill in the product fields and upload images. This is the fastest path to a fully operational and bug-free store site.
You also gain some marketing advantages, as these sites are Search Engine Optimized (SEO). Entering your items with keywords and phrases, your exposure is leveraged by the huge online presence of the store site. You also enjoy an advantage due to the millions of site visitors that make the store site their destination for arts and crafts shopping. Instead of their search for keywords related to your product on Google, it becomes much more focused because they search on the store site, ruling out every other store and site on the Web.
There is a cost for these benefits and services. You’ll pay either listing or selling fees, often both. You do gain the benefit of credit card processing by the store site, but you’ll pay a higher fee in most cases than taking cards on your own site.
The Combined Approach
Many very successful online sellers use both approaches. They build their own store, and they sell on the store sites as well. This can be very helpful in giving your own site time to build its online presence and begin to get search engine exposure, which can take many months. You can be earning revenue on the store sites while your site grows its presence. In some cases, you’re working with two different customer demographics. The ones who shop on the major store sites may never have found your own site, and those who like to use Google to find whatever is out there and may not go to the store sites.
In summary, consider your abilities, available time, and the relative costs of these different approaches. If you have a product that people want, you will be able to sell it online. Study your choices and jump right into your product images and descriptions, as they will be the only way you’ll sell when the customer can’t hold the item.