So I had a bit of excitement earlier in the week, and while I don’t want to post the story online where it can be found, I do want to reassure everyone that it worked out, nobody has been injured or sued or jailed, and you would all be so proud of how professionally I conducted myself. This post is not about what happened, but about some things that may change for HaldeCraft as a result – changes I was planning on making anyway but may start to happen sooner (or should I say, with faster motivation since I have been thinking about this since before Christmas). Again, everything is fine, really – if I’m stressed out about this at all it’s because I’m also trying to dye and wind all this Star Wars inspired yarn at the same time I’m keeping my regular work schedule, and now add in a bunch of research that is time-consuming, and if I weren’t such a bonehead I’d make ceramics and soap take a back door for a month while I focus on yarn and web-site design.
One thing that was said to me this week was essentially “do this thing or I’ll report you to Etsy and have you shut down.” And while I feel that for the most part, that threat was posturing and chest-beating, Etsy doesn’t exactly have a great record of taking the side of the seller when someone is accused of, well, anything, really. Or nothing. They’re very shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later, and that worries me from the standpoint of that being my primary online outlet. I have quite a number of outstanding custom orders right now, from Star Wars yarn to yarn mugs, and if I was suspended how would I be able to access that information? Contact those customers? And from where would I get new online sales? Even if I were able to get things worked out, which many people have, what do I do in the meantime? Where do I send potential customers?
About a year ago I bought the domain for haldecraft.com. It’s not going anywhere right now; I didn’t get it hosted, I merely bought the name. And I think it’s time I did something with it. I’m not talking about leaving Etsy entirely; I get featured in way too many treasuries to want to completely up and leave that kind of free advertising. When I first started out, almost two years ago, I was looking at spending either about $50 a month on Etsy shop fees and playing by their rules, or spending about $50 a month on my own domain and shop, plus money spent on advertising. I thought that Etsy was the way to go, and I still feel that Etsy does have things to offer me — but for the last four months in a row, my fees have been in the $100 range. That’s awesome, it means I’m selling a lot – but it also means that I feel comfortable enough with my online presence to start to branch out.
So how do I branch out? I can self-host (like with this blog) or I can go with a company that does it all for me.
If I self-host, I have to do the installation myself. We all remember what fun Craig had helping me reset up this blog a few months ago, and while my hosting company is both inexpensive and WordPress friendly… I just don’t know that I want to go there again. I mean, I CAN fix things… but I don’t HAVE to fix things. Does that make sense? I am not the type of person who thinks I HAVE to be the one to install things. Especially when there are so many other companies just waiting and hoping I will pick them to host my online shop.
I’m going to get Volusion and Big Commerce out of the way first — they seemed pretty interchangeable and were the second most expensive at $40/month for 500 products. They offer pretty much everything I need, so if nothing else works out I might consider going with Big Commerce; at least in their showcase of shops who use their product I see other crafters. But they don’t have a blogging platform, so rather than have everything integrated I would be continuing to blog here but sell there — not too different from what I’m doing now.
Shopify offers pretty much everything I want; but it’s $60/month for 1000 SKUs, and that’s just a little more than I wanted to spend. They have one level down, which is half the price… but only 100 SKUs. I already have 250 items on Etsy and plan on more. My eyes are already glazing over (as I’m sure are yours) but if Shopify allowed product variations, I might consider going with them for the lowest plan. Not to mention that I’m a huge Accordion Guy fan (I hesitate to say “have a far away/unrequited crush on”, after all, my husband reads this blog), and have been ruminating about Shopify ever since he became their Tech Evangelist. Is it wrong to want to go with a company because a really cool person whom you’ve never met but have been reading the blog of for years works there…?
When I went to sleep last night I was sure that Indiemade was what I was going to go with, even though they only offer two templates and neither one of them makes me squeal in delight. Nothing that Mariana and I couldn’t sexy up, though. But this morning I was reading through their handbook and they don’t have weight-based shipping; they have shipping-cost-per-item, which is one of my top ten beefs with Etsy. That’s a deal-breaker for me; I’m not going to pull away from something that frustrates me… in order to have the same frustration.
Craft Launch, it turns out, is basically a shell covering your Etsy site. When people buy from your Craft Launch page they are redirected to the Etsy checkout system – and the items in your Craft Launch shop are the items in your Etsy shop. Yes; it’s prettier than the Etsy shop, and offers more customization as far as blogging and a calender of events. But my point is to start to pull away from Etsy.
And that leaves Big Cartel, who I admit at first I didn’t look at because the name sounds like a mafia front. It’s $30/month for 300 products, of which may contain product variations. They seem, though, to not also have blogging, and I can’t find anything about shipping. I don’t want to sign up for it and then find out it’s not weight-based shipping.
OH FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER MY EYES ARE BLEEDING. Is anyone even still reading this? I know I wouldn’t be. Unless I were also researching online shops that were good for independent artists and makers.
Gah. Writing all this out helped me come to a decision NOT AT ALL. I was hoping it would; that writing it all out would help it make sense in my head. Instead I’ve overwhelmed myself for the fourth day in a row, and my eyes are crossed, and I’m getting cranky. HOORAY. No wonder, before Christmas when I was thinking of branching out so that when all the Christmas sales came in I could send all those people a card and a discount coupon to use on my new site… no wonder I backed away from it and chewed on my hair for a while. I may do the same thing now. Ugh.
I think I need a new blog tag — “posts nobody will read because they are over 1000 words long.”