I have had several artists recently ask me about selling their work on their own websites. The problem is an ecommerce website is some of the additional costs that they require:

  • Secure certificate: The little padlock that shows the website is ‘secure’. Prices start at around $10/year  and go higher for more  thoroughly verified/vetted ones. (Thanks to @MattBaya for better wording which has been corrected here.)
  • Ecommerce software: You need some sort of software to handle items (photos, descriptions, etc.), track inventory, calculate shipping, etc. Something like BigCartel can handle this pretty well for a monthly fee (starting at $10/month) or you can pay a web designer a one time fee to set it up. (The going rate seems to be $500 and up.) Note: I’m talking open source (re: free) software and paying only for the web designers’ time to customize it.
  • Merchant services if you want to accept credit cards. Many use Paypal  to get around these fees but the downside is, of course, people being less likely to buy if you only have Paypal.
  • A domain name ($10ish/year), web hosting ($5/month or more), and a website to put the ecommerce software on. This will depend on what you decide in terms of shopping software. Some, like OS Commerce, can run a whole basic website while other software pairs with a content management system like Joomla or WordPress.

You can see why most people who begin by wanting a shopping cart decide to hold off on it in the end! A lot of decisions and seemingly getting nickeled and dimed with fees.

So what are my crafty but frugal friends to do? I have sent a few to Etsy.com.

Don't want to pay to develop your own shopping cart for your artistic products? Etsy is a good alternative.

Don't want to pay to develop your own shopping cart for your artistic products? Etsy is a good alternative.

How does it work?

1) Set up a profile and pick a store name. Connect your account with a credit card.

2) Load products (20 cents/product) to list.

3) Publicize and ship out any orders you get.

And that’s it. Well, except for creating the products, answering potential buyers’ questions, and publicizing your store of course.

I have a few friends who have Etsy stores. Lynn Cyr sells some high end paintings,  Jessica Harris makes feather handbands and paintings that people see online then buy from her locally, and my friends Chris and Renee started on Etsy with Barkwheats before they opened their own web store and began retailing. (Anyone else out there with Etsy shops I’ve forgotten to mention?)

And I’ve decided to finally set up a Too Cute Tuesday store, you know, when I have time to populate it with crafts. :^)

In other words, Etsy is an affordable, relatively easy way to test the waters of ecommerce with your art. Bonus is the ability to track item views and having the possibility of being listed on the front page of Etsy.com with a featured product, resulting in exposure to millions of people looking to buy handmade online.

So to those of you making things that don’t know how to get them online, try Etsy and let me know how it goes!

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