Our shop is "Jet of the Day" today ... but instead of a self promoting article I thought I would write something that may be of interest to a lot of our members instead. So here it is ... a short article to get you thinking about creating an off - Etsy site. Be sure to visit the pages I've linked to; you'll find a lot of great information about web hosting and web design on them!
All businesses have to grow. If your business doesn't grow, your competitors will ... and you'll lose "market share". This is a simple fact ... and this is why a second or even third shop is a good thing.
Starting a website may seem like a hard thing to do but it is actually easier than ever. Most web hosting companies have website creation software built in these days, and you don't need to know a bit of HTML to use their software. Just type in a title, a description of your business, some product photos and a PayPal shopping cart or Buy Now buttons and you're all set - not much harder to use than an Etsy listing form. You can have a pretty nice site in a couple of hours by using the tools that come with your hosting plan. There are many hosting companies that offer these services; a quick Google search will offer many and most offer a full range of services from web builders to marketing tools and tips.
The benefit you receive from starting a website to sell your jewelry can be a huge boost to your business. Many people don't want to become a "member" of a large site just to shop. Ebay, Etsy and other large shopping sites all require people to register before they can shop, and this means their information is on file at each of these venues. Even if it is just their name and an email address, they can easily end up with a box full of junk mail by joining some sites. By offering a spam free shopping experience you can get customers who don't want a daily email from a site like Amazon.
We love our handmade jewelry shop on Etsy! Our Etsy shop is exactly what we needed to sell our handcrafted items to people who are shopping for exclusively handmade jewelry. But we also sell items we don't make; and this is why our silver jewelry website is an important part of our business. We also use our website to promote our Etsy shop; at the bottom of every page we display an Etsy Mini. This has brought us many of our Etsy sales.
I'm going to use our web host as an example. We've had our site hosted by this company for well over 9 years now and they provide the best service you'll find - at a very fair price. The site never goes down and if I have any questions or concerns they are extremely helpful. I like dealing with a smaller, private company. Huge web hosting companies can be impersonal and they tend to forget the little guy.
Our host is a just service provider. They respect our rights to our domain name; some larger companies offer free registration but take ownership of your domain name, so you can't take it with you to another host if you're not happy. If you leave, they can sell it. Make sure that your domain name (your web address) is yours and that you have complete control over it. Your name should be on the registration.
Make sure the webhost has a physical address, a contact email address and a phone number displayed on their website. This is important; you want to deal with a real hosting company, not an affiliate who gets paid to deliver customers to hosting companies. Dealing with a middleman is dangerous.
Once you choose a host you'll need to create a site. If you're comfortable with software, you can use any HTML writer - Dreamweaver, ExpressionWeb, FrontPage (an older program) and SiteSpinner Pro are a few that work very well. But many hosts offer their own; our host provides a very easy to use web builder that does an excellent job of creating a basic but attractive and very functional site.
At our site we use a paid shopping cart - its called CoolCart. It allows us to use a merchant account with the Authorize.net gateway, PayPal and Google Checkout. But there are other solutions that are much more cost effective. A free Mals Cart or Zen Cart will work very well; and if you just want to use PayPal, their free cart or Buy Now buttons are an easy to use solution.
Once your site is built and you have a payment solution in place ... you'll need to market or promote it. That's an article in itself. I'll be writing a follow-up article to this one soon that will give you some ideas on how to get your site seen by people who want to buy your jewelry!
Article copyright 2011. Written by JET member Robert Edwards. This article may be reproduced and distributed provided it is published in full and all links remain intact.