Selling Products Online From Home- What's The Best Site To Use?
(this post contains affiliate links)
If you missed the first part of this series on selling cake decorations online, click here to read part 1.
Once you get the legalities out of the way and you know that you can set up an online business from home, you'll need to decide where to sell your products.
You can either set up a standalone website, use a template to create your own website, or you can use an existing site like Etsy or eBay. Each choice has its own pros and cons.
Creating your own website will give you the most freedom in terms of design and what you can list. Wordpress is one site builder that a lot of people use, but there's a fairly large learning curve if you're setting up an ecommerce site.
Standalone Website Option
If you're interested in building your own site, I'd recommend joining Renae Christine's Architect program when it opens up for enrollment. It's an investment, but totally worth it. I work with Renae through our Etsy Workshop, and I'm a member of Handmade Titan University, which I joined when I started selling online full time. Sign up for her mailing list at https://cupcaketrainings.com/ and get the notifications about when her programs are opening.
Pros-- You have total control over your site's appearance and design. Often very low-cost depending on the site you're using and the plug-ins you decide to use.
Cons-- You're responsible for the site if something goes wrong, you have to drive your own traffic, and you'll need to gain a working knowledge of Google SEO.
E-commerce Template Option
If you want your own website but you don't want to deal with the building-of-it part, you can always use a template. This will let you enter the information about your products into a pre-designed site that lets you use their integrated payment processors. I use the GoDaddy online store template, and there are others that are available like Shopify, or Pattern from Etsy.
By using a template, you can have your own website up fairly quickly without having to know much about the technical side of it.
Pros-- Quickly have your own e-commerce site up and running without having to do much (if any) coding.
Cons-- Limited design capability a lot of the time, you'll usually have to pay a little more for the template's site hosting. You'll still need to drive your own traffic even though you're using a template, and you'll still need to learn how Google SEO works.
Online Sale Platforms
Using a site like Etsy, eBay, or Amazon, you can list your products using their platform and start selling immediately. These sites have different site policies and procedures that you'll have to follow, but they're a fast way to list some products in a shop or just individually.
Pros-- Simple setup, built-in customer traffic due to the size of the platforms.
Cons-- More expensive than a standalone site due to higher fees. You still have to understand how each platform works to get seen by their customers, and you have to compete with the other sellers on the platform. Very limited design options since each platform has its own branded look that you have to fit into. Each platform has its own pricing and shipping conventions that you'll need to figure out, as well as their own SEO systems.
So if you're just starting out, what should you do?
I would recommend starting on a pre-designed third party site like Etsy because it's the simplest way to get started. The built-in traffic is a bonus, but you'll still need to learn how to use the platform and investigate the fees and terms of service.
While you have your business getting started, you should be building your own website, whether on your own or with a template. I think that it's really important to have your own address on the internet where you're the boss, so setting up a separate website is key. You should set up your own mailing list and use the third-party platform to invite people to sign up, then send them to your website through your email newsletters.
Homework: Look at the three different options for the location of your shop, and decide where you want to start out. Find the terms of service for that platform and go through them to make sure that what you want to sell on it is allowed, and what the fees are for using it.
Psssstt...Want to open a new Etsy shop? Use this link to get 40 free listings: 40 free listings for new shops
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com