What brought me here today:
Growing my small art-based business requires changes. We decided a year ago that I would need to move my website to another platform. I feel as though I’ve ourgrown my current platform. This feels like a natural evoution. Word Press and WooCommerce have allowed me to comfortably dip my toes into selling my artwork online. I’ve learned a lot. And discovered that there are things that I want/need to do that exceed Word Press and WooCommerce’s capabilities.
I remember as a child, my parents would consult Consumer Reports magazine when thinking about a large purchace. Cars and large applances were well-researched before a final decision was made. I don’t know if they still print a magazine. They do have a website though. I take some comfort in that. As a kid, the magazine wasn’t tremendously interesting to me. But knowing that my parents did research before laying out their hard-earned cash made an impression on me.
My own research into website platforms lead me to NerdWallet. They have several different posts comparing and contrasting web platforms. I’ve always found these kinds of visuals to be informative. And a little conforting. I’m a person who begins to get lost in the swirls of computery language. Most of which I do not have the best grasp of. Many times I have to write down questions that I then ask my husband. He has a much, much better grasp of all the website and computer lingo than I do.
Man. There are a lot of website platforms out there! Some of which I’d not heard of before reading about them on NerdWallet. I thought that I would just look at some of the larger e-commerce platforms that I’ve seen some of my fellow artists use, like Big Cartel and Shopify. My intention was to compare them to Squarespace and WooCommerce to see what I have now. And what I want for a future online shop.
I kind of went down a rabbit hole. There’s part of me that just cannot just say “I will get that one.” without doing some research. These sites will cost me some hard-earned money. And I want to get the best individual fit for my specific needs. No one platform is going to be able to do that. I know that now. Especially after going through so many platforms!
Before saying committing to any platform, I needed to know what I wanted and needed. I like having my blog and my online shop on the same platform. My husband and I discussed several different alternatives. None of which I liked. Rather, none of which felt ‘right’ to me. I know that feelings shouldn’t matter in this kind of decision. But I’m going to be spending a lot of time with the new platform. And I want to make sure I’m comfortable with it. That I like it. Well, perhaps like is too strong a word. I should be able to use it with a certain level of comfort and ease, perhaps?
I also require a rather large chunk of storage space for my images. Most of the items that I put into my shop have between two and five images per item. At any given point, I have quite a few (read: “between 5 and 50”) items in my online shop. With more sold items that are taking up storage space as well. The more storage space the better for someone like me then!
A new platform is also needed so that I can have a more professional face online. I’ve felt for a while now that I’m kind of at the ‘kiddie table’ with my current online presence. A better fuctioning webite and online shop will go a long way in making me look and feel more professional.
Big Cartel is a no:
The first platform I decided to pass on is Big Cartel. Which is kind of a shame. It’s advertised as a great place for artist to sell their artwork. But I think I’m not the right kind of fit for Big Cartel as an artist. Many of the artists have things for sale like posters, clothing, pins, jewelry, stickers, etc. They have an item in stock that is easily (allowing for varying definitions of easy) replicated. Print more posters and stickers. Make more pairs of earrings. Etc.
There are a lot of artists I follow selling their work on Big Cartel. But it just doesn’t feel right to me. There’s limit on how many photos I can post with an item. And the limit on the numbers of items I can post. These were deal breakers enough for me. Not being able to have my blog and online shop on the same platform sealed my no.
There’s also the graphic designer in me. I just didn’t like any of the layouts. The idea I would think is that the artwork should be front and center. With the platform interface being low-key visually. If you know me, I’m anything BUT low-key from the visual standpoint.
Shopify is a no:
The prices alone made Shopify a no for me. Well, to be honest that wasn’t the only reason. I don’t move enough product to justify spending the money to have my online shop through Shopify. I did like that they had a ton of different payment methods available. Not to mention a ton of great tools to use. The storage offered is excellent as well. I’m just not selling enough artwork. I’d be in the red after my first month.
Wix, Duda and Weebly:
As of right now, Wix is still in the maybe category. As well as Weebly. Duda I eliminated because there are some extra fees on top of the regular plans that make it too expensive for me right now. Weebly is still in the running because I’ve used their Square reader to sell my work in person. It was extremely easy to set-up and use. I like the online tools that come with it as well. Their cut isn’t egregious either (2.6% plus 10 cents per swipe).
With Wix or Weebly I would still have to link to a separate platform for my blog. Part of the reason I’m not discounting these two platforms is because having a separate online shop and blog may be the best option for me. Shopify doesn’t have a blog and online shop combo, but the prices were enough to eliminate it from the possible choices for me.
Zyro and Strikingly:
Zyro is still in the maybe pile. I need to look a little closer at what the platform has to offer. The prices are in my range. And unlimited storage and 70+ payment methods is something I like. I can also have an imperial crap-tonne of items on my website. They’re running a promotion right now with some excellent price cuts. Sometimes things like that make me skeptical. I’m going to do some more research on the platform anyway.
Strikingly is platform that I’ve never heard of before. They have some text on their font page about building a brand and conquering the world. I’m not sure I’m down for that. I want to sell my artwork. Make some money. And be left alone. ANYWAY. I need to take a closer look at how the individual websites go together. Strikingly makes some promises about it being super-easy to create a website. This always makes me suspicious.
Before I started doing any research on a new platform, Squarespace had already been planted in my head. They advertise everywhere. I was hearing about Squarespace while still living in Finland. The ads popped-up all the time when I was listening to podcasts and music. I suppose that’s good advertising. It got inside of my head without my even knowing it.
Squarespace seems to be the 800 lb. gorilla in this arena. They’re well established and rather beefy. I’m not super-crazy about some of the designs. But I can get over it. I will have a little finessing here and there. The plan I want is within my budget. There’s unlimited storage too.
Squarespace is the only platform that gives me an option to have my online shop and my blog together. That’s checking off one of the things I really, really, really wanted. My husband thinks I’m a little nutty I’m sure. We had a discussion about this need/want of mine. He’s very much a man who wants to streamline processes. I just like having all the processes I control in one place. That could be two processes or twenty.
When I explained to him why I wanted my blog and online shop in the same place, he understood. It’s not how he would do things. But he gets it.
So, now what?
Well…I have some more research to do. And I need to sit down and discuss things with Berin. I’m not saying that I can’t do this myself. I want his opinions and suggestions. Bouncing ideas and plans around is what he and I do well. I’m not trying to play stupid or anything. I’m not requiring my husband to mansplain all the hard computer things to me. I’ve been working on computers for over 30 years. I’m just no expert.
And with that said, I’m going to go make some artwork with my hands.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.
*NerdWallet has a lot of advice and comparisons to offer. They compare and contrast things like insurace, student loans, travel, banking, credit cards, mortgages, etc. Everyone needs to research and find the best products and services for their own unique situation. This site has some good info to help you make good decisions for your own individual needs.