Our final installment of selling online is about selling from your own website.
A personal website is going to take a lot more work than having a shop on places like Etsy or Artfire. For the most part you will be responsible for promoting and advertising your website as well as all the other things such as, photography, customer service and site maintenance.
I think the first thing you should decide is if you have the money, time and enough inventory to maintain a full website.
A basic full website with a reliable hosting service can start at $15 - 20 a month in hosting fees. You most likely will have to purchase backgrounds and graphics for your website.
Also, you want to be sure you can keep the site well stocked and will be able to maintain it and promote it during the lean start-up months. A website that is fully stocked with products and continued new listings will be a place your customers will want to return to, time and time again.
There are several types of websites out there. Your first consideration should be how much, if any, knowledge you have about setting up a website. Some websites are relatively easy to work with and require little or no html skills and others can require some knowledge of html or css.
Here is a list of various types of websites I have compiled..
www.ecrater.com ----You can get a very basic free shop here. No graphics are required. It is pretty easy to add your products. The most important thing to know about this type of website is promotion is imperative if you expect to make any money. Unlimited products allowed.
www.ezshoppes.com ----These are a step up from the free shop. Hosting fee is $39.99 a year. No graphics required but you can use your own. Very easy to set your products up. But here too, it is very important to promote your shop yourself. You are limited to 20 products at a time in your shop. There is also a 60 product plan.
www.diyestores.com ----- I consider these one of the best do it yourself websites. You can have unlimited products and there are some of the best website features incorporated into the websites. You will need your own graphics and your own business domain. Hosting fees are $20 a month or pay by the year and get two months free.
www.inapicklewebdesign.com ----This is another do it yourself website with the added feature of being able to offer instant downloads of digital products. This is especially useful for the pattern or graphic designer. You will need your own graphics and your own business domain. Hosting fees start at $20 a month.
There are MANY other website builders out there, so take your time and do your research to find what you think is best for you. If you find a website that works the way you'd like your future website to work, don't be afraid to email the owner and ask who their host is and how they like it. The worst answer you could get would be no answer at all.
Some things to think about:
Have a good product, the more original the better.
If you sell handmade products, make sure they are well made.
Keep your prices competitive yet profitable.
Be consistent with reliable customer service.
If you sell in several places, be consistent with your branding so that you are instantly recognizable wherever you are selling.
Having your own website can give you lots of freedom on how you offer items. It does take time but is always very rewarding.