Building Your Own Website

Even if you have a successful business on Etsy, Ebay or Amazon (or another marketplace platform), you still need to build your own website!

If you follow my blog and/or articles, you have probably heard this before!!

Malcolm and I set up our wholesale and retail websites back in 2004 — before the Building Your Own Websiteexplosion of Etsy style marketplaces.  I admit, I watched and wondered …. and saw may people become successful using this type platform.  But, on the other hand, I also heard the horror stories from folks who lost their site and could do nothing about it!  (Check out my article:  Etsy Shop or Your Own Website).

Over the years, more and more experts are suggesting selling on both platforms, rather than the either-or mindset.

Cassie and Carrie from Hand Made Success also agree with this strategy:

Yes, creating your own website IS worth it

Here are a few reasons why…

I love Etsy and my business wouldn’t be where it is today without Etsy, but Etsy does have it’s downfalls. Etsy is an unstable marketplace that you do not have complete control over. Etsy features can happen one week causing an unmanageable influx of orders, get pulled 2 weeks later causing a dry spell when you just hired extra help, they change their SEO and format constantly, and their traffic can change with no warning or explanation. Zenned Out has been subject to each of these uncontrollables, with mixed results.

Need some more reasons?

  • A website is a more powerful extension of your brand
  • Customers and retail buyers (especially) will take you more seriously
  • You can have a blog
  • You can capture customer emails with proper opt-ins
  • You have COMPLETE control over everything. No one can change your website or suddenly change your traffic without your permission.
  • Oh, also, those pesky Etsy fees, you won’t have to pay those anymore! Side note, building a website might cost you some $ eventually, but in the long run you’ll be saving, why not start now?

Setting up your own website is not too difficult — even if you have limited knowledge with technology.

Building Your Own Website with 3DCartPersonally, we tried a few ecommerce platforms and hated most of them!!  That was until we found 3DCart!

NOTE:  If you are interested in my review of 3DCart, you can check it out here: Amazing E-Commerce Shopping Cart Software.

The important take-away here is to make sure you have your own personal website, even if your products are on Etsy (or other similar platforms)

More article on the subject:

 

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Etsy Shop or Your Own Website?

Personally, I don’t have an Etsy Shop, nor a shop on Artfire or most of the other group shop (although, I am actively involved with Meylah – but that is a different story …).  I have always had my own websites, and honestly, had not heard much about these other platforms at the time I set up my own websites! 

I love Meylah!  But I would NEVER replace my own site with Meylah or any other selling platform.  Why, you ask?  Here are a few reasons:

  • You don’t own a shop on these platforms – the company does!
  • You don’t have much control over outside platforms – the company does!
  • You can get lost on outside platforms amongst all the other ‘stores’!
  • You cannot use your own URL on outside platforms!

Despite all the reasons above, I found a better reason why you need your own website in ADDITION to an Etsy, Artfire or even a Meylah site.  Tim Adams from Handmadeology recently posted an article I would like to share:

 Etsy Shop Suspended! What You Need to Know

In the last two years, my Energy Shop on Etsy has evolved from a hobby into a second income for my family. It’s been a great success, and because it’s an important part of my livelihood I have always been careful to honor Etsy’s terms of use. However, last week and without warning, my shop was suspended by Etsy’s administration. …

…I replied to the suspension email as calmly as I could, begging for them to tell me what had happened. I still had no idea what I had done wrong! I frantically started searching for a phone number that I could call; I wanted to square things away as fast as possible. I found a corporate listing for Etsy’s Brooklyn office through an internet search, but it went straight to voicemail stating that they don’t respond to phone calls….

…The point of this story is not to bash Etsy as a selling platform. This was a wake-up call for me, and I wanted to turn it into a friendly warning for you. I thought I owned my small business, but by having my only presence on Etsy, it turns out that I didn’t. Etsy owns the shops they host, and they reserve the right to manage them however they choose.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY

An interesting, but sad story of how quickly your situation can change with an outside platform for selling your products.

But, thankfully, Lisa,the author, goes on to offer some suggestions if you find yourself in this situation.  Better, suggestions to do BEFORE you find yourself with a closed account:

  1. Buy a Domain Name.  (Domain names as fairly cheap.  We use Go Daddy, but there are many places where you can buy your own domain name.)
  2. Keep a copy of your testimonials. If you only sell on Etsy and your site is removed, how much credibility would you lose? … You have worked hard to build your credibility, so keep a hard copy of your testimonials on file.
  3. Keep a folder of item pictures. I restock (renew) previous listings often, and each time I do, I appreciate that I don’t have to take pictures and build descriptions. … I’ve spent hundreds of hours on my listings and photography, when suddenly, they vanished….
  4. Have an emergency exit strategy. Have a back-up plan, just in case. Because I want my business to expand, I had the feeling I might outgrow Etsy. I’m always willing to have a look at e-commerce sites to see what they have to offer, and I love to check out other sellers’ independently-owned websites.

For a simple site, you can build your website on a WordPress platform and purchase an inexpensive shopping cart such as Get DPD to sell your products.  Or for an excellent ecommerce website platform, check out 3DCartSeeing how easy it is to build your own website, I, honestly, don’t understand sellers who only feature their products on Etsy or other platforms.

If you want to take control of your products and your website and don’t know where to start, I will be happy to consult with you on the subject.  You can contact me at GiftRepSandy@gmail.com.  Add the following subject to your email:  Help me build my own website.  I’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.

More articles on Etsy:

Sell Wholesale on Etsy

Etsy Wholesale Update

Etsy Wholesale Update #2

Business Tips from Etsy Empire

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Have You Checked Out ‘Handmade at Amazon’?

Amazon has joined the handmade movement by introducing their new Handmade at Amazon store.

According to their website:

Showcase Your One-of-a-Kind Products

Handmade at Amazon is a new store on Amazon.com for invited artisans to sell their unique, handcrafted goods to our hundreds of millions of customers worldwide. While we finish setting up shop, we invite artisans like you to browse some of our new features and apply to be a part of our launch.

We know that each handcrafted item is special so we built a new experience specifically to highlight your handmade products. When you set up shop, you’ll create an Artisan Profile page to tell customers your story with beautiful imagery and plenty of room to describe your craft. You’ll also set up pages for each of your products, featuring stunning images and new customization features so customers can explore everything you have to offer.

Have You Checked Out 'Handmade at Amazon'?

Unlike the new policies at Etsy, Handmade at Amazon defines handmade products as the following:

What does handmade mean?

All products available in your Handmade at Amazon store must be made entirely by hand, hand-altered, or hand assembled (not from a kit). Products must be handmade by you (the artisan), by one of your employees (if your company has 20 or fewer employees), or a member of your collective with less than 100 people. Mass-produced products or products handmade by a different artisan are not eligible to sell in Handmade.

The new site requires a simple application process.  Once signed up and approved, you have some wonderful options for adding your own handmade store front on Amazon.

Their simple 12% referral fee includes payment processing, marketing, discounted shipping, fraud protection and their current $39.99 monthly subscription fee is waived through August 1, 2016!

Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for handmade artisans and professional crafters.

I would love to hear from folks who have or plan to try this new storefront for their business.  Please, let us know how it works for you!

Deciding on an Ecommerce Website

I love 3DCart as my go-to ecommerce website platform!  We have used several different types of website platforms over the years, and this is the one we like the best.

If you were following me last year, you probably read my Update on my 3DCart Website.  We have been so pleased with it, I will be transferring my Tastes of Idaho website to 3DCart later this year.

But, of course, there are many different options you can use for your ecommerce website, Deciding on an Ecommerce Websitedepending on what you need and which features are most important for you.

Before we go on, I am not talking about Etsy, Artfire, EBay and any such marketplaces.  I am talking about building your own stand alone website.

My friend, Andreea Ayers, wrote a post recently listing 25 different ecommerce options.  Here are some of the information she shared:

Three Major Groups of Ecommerce Platforms Solutions

When you start researching shopping cart software, you will find that there are many options to choose from. For physical products, they typically fall into three groups.

1. Hosted Shopping Cart Software

Hosted shopping cart software allows you to create an online store without having to install shopping cart software on your own website. In many cases, you will just customize a URL like yourbusiness.theirsoftware.com. Most will also allow you to use your own domain name like yourbusiness.com and have it point to their service.

The biggest pro of this kind of software is that you do not have to worry about the technical side of owning your own online store. You don’t have to install or update the software, manage security certificates, or handle other technical hassles. You just set up your store, enter and update your products and process the orders.

Because the shopping cart software provider is maintaining your online store, you will likely have to pay a monthly fee based on the number of products and sales volume. Monthly fees can be a drawback, especially if you are not making sales to start with, but have to pay just to have your store online.

2. Self-Hosted Shopping Cart Software

Self-hosted shopping cart software allows you to install the shopping cart platform on your own website server. In this case, you will use your own domain name like yourbusiness.com.

The biggest pro of this kind of software is that, in most cases, it is either free or significantly less than hosted software solutions because you will be doing installation and maintenance.

Because the shopping cart software is installed on your website, you will be responsible for configuration, design, security, file storage, and much more. If you’re not a technically savvy person, or don’t have the time to be, you’ll be paying for designers, developers, and webmasters to support your store.

3. WordPress Shopping Cart Plugins

The alternative to hosted and self-hosted software platforms is plugins. Plugins are add-ons that work with alongside other website platforms. The most popular website platform is WordPress, the widely-used content management system.

The biggest pro of this kind of software is that it works with the platform you are already using for your website. Instead of having to learn a new platform, you will install it on the platform you are already familiar with.

Because the shopping cart plugin is an add-on, you will likely have to purchase it and pay an annual subscription for updates. These typically are less than what you would pay for a hosted shopping cart software solution.

Similar to plugins are widgetized options that work independent of your platform. These only require you to use embed code from their website anywhere on your website you choose. It’s a blend of hosted and plugin, typically with fewer customization options, but also with less cost and hassle.

Andreea continues her article with some excellent information of the various types of ecommerce plateforms (including 3DCart!).

Check out her article here!

Making Your Business Special

Selling wholesale is the main focus of this blog, but as you know, I post on items of interest that will help any product based business grow and hopefully, succeed …. or in this case, making your business special!

While researching topics of interest, I ran across this article by Chaitra Vedullapalli, from Meylah.  As you probably know, I am a certified expert for their Resource Center, and have many products and blog post on Meylah. (NOTE:  If you have never checked out Meylah, I suggest you do — they are a wonderful resource for small business owners).

Here are the summary points of Chaitra’s message:

Meylah Logo

Why make your business unique! And should small business care?

Identify with your customers

Think about what makes your business truly special. You need not find that one big formula that makes it so inimitably awesome, instead you can look for and gather all those small things that elevate you to the next level. In a business sense, find the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your business. Remember, it is not your but your customers’ perspective. Understanding your customers and what they are expecting from you is pivotal. So, think like them; ask yourself why you should buy from your own store. Try to answer this question convincingly to yourself. Identify all aspects that the customers might find satisfactory and all those that they might find problematic. Work to make those positives better and to make those negatives disappear. Once you get a grasp of all the small stuff that make you special, pass them on to your customers. This will help them see you differently.

Sell an experience

There are many who sell great products or offer great services. Aim to be better than them. Focus on creating an awesome experience to your customers. Make them feel special and they will keep coming back to you. That is an exceptional aim to have. For customers, buying a product or ordering a service is not a one-time thing. They love businesses that are reliable. When they buy something, they need to be assured that you will stand by them 24/7. Offer them great customer support that leaves them flabbergasted every time. By going that extra mile on customer care, you can have a ginormous array of loyal customers.

Be innovative

Another factor that can help you stand out among the crowd is innovation. Be it a product or a service, the business house that provides the most innovative options always has a special place in the hearts of the customers. The success of Apple in the last decade-and-a-half is the perfect example of this. But you do not need to be a technology giant to offer great innovation. Say you are an online seller, then your innovation need not be in product development, but can be in the user interface that you offer, the business model that you sport or the special feeling every time your customers visit your store. Always be on the lookout to make your offerings unique and be aware that this goes a long way.

The above tips work for wholesale sales as well as selling retail.  Your buyers are ‘selling’ the same experience to their customers … so make your business special!!