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Chris Campbell

Websites And Sales

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GoDaddy does not come recommended by anyone I've ever found for the website builder portion of their offerings, but they are one of the lowest priced domain name providers.

Wix and Weebly are ideal platforms if you need a basic website so people can contact you and get an idea of what you're about.  Weebly is good if you want to have a very simple shop and blog, but I believe Wix has more database space, at least for the unpaid hosting versions. Wix does not come recommended for e-commerce. Weebly you can change the templates easily on if you want to spiff the place up a bit, but you have to start all over again if you're with wix. Weebly does not have a backup option for your website as a whole, but wix does. I have my copy and my images saved on my computer if I have to rebuild for whatever reason. Heads up to potential Weebly users: if you think that you might want to move away from Weebly as a host in the future (eg you want to offer courses directly through your website, you get into higher volumes of Internet sales, or your name is Eric Landon and you live in Copenhagen and therefore have a LOT of traffic to your website), Weebly does make it difficult to move away from them. Not impossible, but difficult. And again, if your needs are simple, that last point is moot.

I do plan on upgrading my hosting plan later this year because I want to try growing some online sales. Currently, I have a gallery on my website where images link to specific listings on my Etsy site.

 

Shopify and Squarespace are also excellent platforms to build your website on, and they generally project a more professional image, and offer a lot more options and potential functions. I have a photographer friend and a graphic designer friend that both swear by  Squarespace. It's somewhat less complicated (and somewhat less flexible) to use than Wordpress, but more so than both Wix and Weebly. Shopify, Squarespace and Wordpress are all better for e-commerce above a certain dollar amount than Wix or Weebly, so that's a good thing to keep in mind for those who are selling a lot online and are looking to get away from Etsy. Shopify is designed specifically for online sales, with good features for those who wish to build a blog to compliment their brand. The rent on that one means that you need to be making a certain dollar amount every month before it becomes cost effective, however. 

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I used to use Wordpress to blog. It was very easy, an important feature for a Luddite like me.

The drawback was that, as I was using it for free, they would put their own ads on.

I guess it is only fair from their point of view. If it had been a professional undertaking for me, I certainly would have paid to avoid their ads.

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Callie---curious as to why (and the source of the assessment) you say WIX is not good for e-commerce. The purchasing and payment functions work like a dream for me. I use Square and PayPal and I get good records from the transactions, and customers seem to like the communication they get as well.  Now, I will say I am not seeing much traffic and not many sales--but I have no idea if that is inherent in the platform or (more likely) is due to my utter lack and delay in attending to the whole SEO and fusion marketing thing--I have let all-things-clay languish for too long (personal/medical) now,  so I have been assuming it is my own doing.  If it is something about WIX though, I'd surely like to know about that, of course! I'm getting it together to get back in gear and feedback on that issue would be useful-thx in advance.

30 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

Wix does not come recommended for e-commerce. 

 

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@LeeU

I think it's one of those things that, if you were selling loads of drop ship customizable t-shirts it's not a good choice, but because our needs as potters tend to be more basic, we can make it work just fine. 

I have spent an ungodly amount of time trying to figure out how SEO works. Not necessarily applying it, in the name of full disclosure, but trying to figure it out. The biggest thing seems to be to get people to somehow visit your website a lot, rather than spending too much time on search terms. While it's a good idea to optimize your wording, spending more time on marketing and getting people to link back to your site is time better spent.

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I have been using Go Daddy for 7  or more years. I have 22 pages on my site. I can update and edit easily. I appreciate their web support too.  I tried one Chris Campbell recommended but it wasn't for me.  I average 3-5000 hits per month. I use it mostly for educational purposes.

 

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@Marcia Selsor 

Thats awesome! 

When I say that a site or a service doesn’t come recommended, it just means that there are other tools out there that are preferred over it by a large number of people. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t workable, or that it isn’t the tool for you and your circumstances. 

I want to just say to everyone that while this is a VERY rough overview and maybe a starting place, if you’re building your website you need to research your own tools and platforms based on your particular needs. Google is a better resource than I am on the specifics. 

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I've been using Weebly since 2010. Back then the idea of drag-and-drop, cloud-based website builders was very new. Weebly has met my needs, and at this point my blog is so lengthy that switching platforms would be a big hassle. 

If I was starting out right now, I would consider Weebly and Wix to be equivalent. Squarespace is more upscale. Unlike Weebly and WIx, Squarespace does not have a free tier, though their cheapest plan is reasonably priced. Squarespace does a much better job with design templates, so their sites have a modern and designerly look. From a designer standpoint, Weebly templates range from bad to mildly annoying. I am using the one I found least annoying. 

Having said that, I am currently building a second website on Weebly, and found one of their new templates to be less annoying (but still not crazy about it). I may try to switch my existing website to this new template. Switching templates on Weebly is possible, but sometimes results in a jumbled mess. It may or may not work. 

I don't do any e-commerce from my Weebly site. I sell online very infrequently, and only use the Weebly site as a portal to my BigCartel site. BigCartel is perfect for an infrequent e-commercer. Their lowest tier is free, and it can be upgraded for more capacity on a month-at-a-time basis. BigCartel's shopping cart and money handling capabilities are terrific.

I am also now offering instructional videos, but again I am not using the Weebly site for commerce. It's just a portal to my Vimeo site. I don't think Weebly could handle what Vimeo does.

Way down the road in the future, I am considering launching a new business after I've retired from full-time pottery. This one will be better suited for both wholesale and e-commerce. For that I will probably choose Squarespace (or its equivalent), because in that situation I'll need stronger e-commerce functions, and the modern and designerly look will have a real value. 

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11 hours ago, Mark C. said:

I use the free Weebly site. It has their name on every page -if that bothers you you can pay not to have it.

When I used Weebly there was a work around to hide the Weebly name at the bottom of every page, without having to pay to go to the pro level. Can't try it out to see if it still works but how you do it is here.

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(Mea said retire from pottery)-I know its coming its just when do I choose to do it.It would be hard to close the shop door forever.

As to the ad on my web site, it does not bother me as I'm only pointing customers to my shows and outlets and it saves talking color on the phone with them on existing customer orders. I spend next to zero time on that site as 99% of sales come from other sources for me at this point.Like the 6 soup mugs shipped yesterday to Georgia I was able for her to see the color samples and move ahead with one word on color .

Edited by Mark C.

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4 hours ago, Mark C. said:

Mea said retire from pottery)-I know its coming its just when do I choose to do it.It would be hard to close the shop door forever

Maybe it’s because I’ve already switched careers once. Walking away again doesn’t seem unthinkable. I will regard the pottery studio as my best and most challenging accomplishment. At the same time, it’s an all-consuming life. I have other other interests I’d like to explore. And frankly I’d like to lead a less labor-intensive life at some point. 

Edited by GEP

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59 minutes ago, GEP said:

  I’d like to lead a less labor-intensive life at some point. 

^

That's why I expanded into a full scale jewelry business.  Wholesale, retail and internet.  And do business consulting on the side.  Won't deny wishing that deal to buy my pottery business 3 years ago didn't fall through.    Pottery does make a pretty good income ... just have to consider the amount of work. 

I know internet business is there for pottery.  The most searched term on my jewelry website is "pottery".  Just the packing deters me plus the fact that I'm a 100% sell through now ... with NO intention of expanding.    No reason to make more to sell online.  I get to my $2K self imposed weekly quota and quit.  Finished it yesterday and that's it for the week.    And that's for 11 months of the year max.  Reaching about $90K a year and I'm done. Operation has scaled back to 4 employees and 2 of them are part time.  Not replacing people.

Edited by DirtRoads

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Retiring from something you do very well is very, very tough for many of us.  The hardest thing, I think, is when the work still feels good- like you were meant to do it- and the results are uplifting but there is no energy left for anything else when you are done.

For me the career hasn't been pottery, but it has been hard work with full time "on" time, a following, and accolades.

But there are vital things I don't find time for when I am consumed by my work.

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Just now, GEP said:

Maybe it’s because I’ve already switched careers once. Walking away again doesn’t seem unthinkable. I will regard the pottery studio as my best and most challenging accomplishment. At the same time, it’s an all-consuming life. I have other other interests I’d like to explore. And frankly I’d like to lead a less labor-intensive life at some point. 

After 45 years of building houses; I understand . 

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I have 2 website:

https://dirtroadsjewelry.com/

This one is e commerce.  With Shopify.   It's a decent platform.  Only slight knowledge of HTML and a little bid of Liquid needed to do this site.  (may have a done a small of amount of C ... did this almost 3 years ago and now I just update).   I did EVERYTHING myself on this one.   I guess I would recommend Shopify (certainly would not recommend against it.)   I am not displeased with the sales.   But not quite high enough to hire someone to fill orders.   During December, sales are much higher and I could hire someone.  But for one month .... so guess who has to do this.  I'll be finishing up and check website and have to go out at 10pm and fill 3 or 4 orders.     I need to update with a few key products right now.

The other site is just an informational type site.    It has served me quite well over the years.   I think a site of this type compliments any  type of promotion you might do.   Currently I have a 60 foot outdoor bill board on a major highway never Pearl River Resort & Casino and having a feed to website is critical for success.   I do a few ads every year and always see an influx of traffic to the site after an advertisement.    I find an informational site very good for the two shows I do too.

http://dirtroadspottery.com/

This site is basically word processing.   If you can do Word, you can do a site like this.   Hosted by Network Solutions.    I'm okay with Network Solutions.  

Previously, I had a substantial internet business that required 3 full time employees.  It was hosted through Monster Commerce.  I did the first site but then hired someone from Monster to do more professional graphics and set up because we got a lot of sales and traffic, to the point I had my own server there.   I did a lot of key word advertising for this site and eventually it got pretty expensive.   Got a chance to sell this  business and did.  Never regretted selling it.

I learned almost everything I know about websites, HTML, search engines, etc. from reading.  I used to go to Barnes & Noble every Saturday night after the store closed and read about it.   Of course I had a decent computer background.  But this learning is one of the things that has benefited me in all of my businesses.  

The amount of online sales growth is going to have more impact on retail sales in the future.      I think with handmade and unique, there will still be a market.  But for national brands that I used to sell online like Yellow Box Shoes and others like Aromatique and Arthur Court, there is going to be less opportunity for independent retailers.   The manufacturers of these nationally known brands are soaking up the sales themselves.   Example, I used to sell Aspen Mulling Spice in my stores during the 4th quarter.    Lots of spice boxes, even in the mall stores and a couple years during Christmas on a mall kiosk.  After my last store burned, customers would ask me for Aspen.  I finally got some room to add a few products and sales were lack luster.  I asked one of my old customers if she had noticed I had Aspen and she said "oh yeah, after you closed I went online and got like 10 boxes to get the free freight".      You make it, you sell it ... that's what I see in the future of a lot of retail.     There will still be a market for the unique and handmade.  Because it's going from the maker to the consumer, cutting out all middlemen.

Potters don't have to do online, as many, including myself, don't do it.  But I would not totally discard Etsy and other online opportunities.  We've had a few on this board, that have been quite successful.   I always search for success of any type and try to learn.

 

Edited by DirtRoads

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Lots of info here, and certainly more via "search". There are also good tidbits in a topic I started a while ago, if desired. It's here:   

 

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May have mentioned this before but WIX is a great option, especially if your a noob to website structure. (no affiliation here...)

You can use one of their templates or make your own, change typefaces, add images et al. In the end it's hard not to make a professional looking site.

They also handle all the domain and technical stuff.

There is nothing worse for your exposure than a 'homade" website. Better off not having one IMO.

I use mine strictly as a way to document my work, a 'gallery' if you will, but there is the 'Store' option that's useful though I rarely sell a piece thru the website.

Give it a try, You can build a site for free and play around without paying for it or launching it.

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12 hours ago, Rex Johnson said:

it's hard not to make a professional looking site

WIX is what I am using and I absolutely love it. It's flexible, has good help files, and is easy to use. The store looks great and purchasing items is a breeze. The pages translate well on mobiles, and there are so many features and design/color/type choices that as Rex said, it's hard not to make a great site! I think Weebly and Wordpress also seem to do well, based on other's comments and sites I have seen.  

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