Saturday, September 6, 2008

Oh - Give me a home on the worldwide web…

***This is another of a number of postings I plan to write about getting my online shop up and running. I plan to mix them in among my other mundane musings from time to time. It has been a learning experience all the way. But isn’t that what life should be?


Okay! I’d made up my mind to sell online. Everybody says it’s easy. I was ready and raring to go. I sat down at my computer, fired up Google and set about going into business.
I had to determine just where to build my internet home. Most signs pointed to eBay. I had never even looked at the site before.

Even those who don’t own a computer know about eBay, the world’s best known online shopping site. I know a lot of folks who buy and sell there regularly but I’d never gotten into it at all. My niece has been conducting business there for several years and had done fairly well. My biggest concern was the payment system. She insisted Paypal was the way to go and easy to set up. She doesn’t accept any other payment methods herself but some folks take personal checks and/or money orders. Her most basic advice was to study eBay a bit to be sure there was a market for my products and the price range was there.

Well, I sat down late one evening to just take a gander at what eBay had to sell in my product area - custom designed hand-painted infant/children’s clothing. WOW!!! Talk about a lot to look at ! I spent about 3 hours just skimming the listings there. I was stunned at the prices people were both asking and bidding for the merchandise - especially for those that were second-hand items, even if they were one-of-a-kind custom designs. (It did take me a few minutes to recognize what OOAK stood for.) I was so surprised and shocked that I went back again and again for hours each evening for at least a week. (I can see how some people become addicted.)

I carefully researched how to sell there, how to sign up with Paypal, shipping details, etc. I slept on it - for a whole weekend. I wasn’t really comfortable on the site. It was just so huge and I was afraid my things would get lost in the crowd. I felt like a guppy trying to swim UP Niagra Falls! I wasn’t sure I wanted to go the auction route and I didn’t particularly think their shop set-ups were what I was really looking for. I had also come across many former ebayers that had left the site due to constantly increasing expenses involved in listing there. I’m sure it’s the right place to be if you are involved in reselling merchandise or marketing commercially made items but I’m not sure it was the place for my custom designed, lovingly produced items.

I began looking at other marketing sites. There are literally hundreds of shopping sites and who knows how many that are specific to hand-crafted merchandise. Again, I set about checking out each one I came across. First, I’d just drop in and look the site over and check out the merchandise available there. Then, I looked into seller details and costs for each and, ultimately, set-up details for each. I spent weeks doing this. I finally narrowed the choices to a few craft-oriented marketing sites or simply starting my own personal website. I was a baby-step closer to getting online.

We went on vacation and I was forced to shelve my efforts for a few weeks. I did use that time to bounce the idea off my hubby and a close friend or two. All thought it was a good idea, unfortunately, none of them knew anymore about actually doing it than I did. (I’ve got to start hanging out with a more tech oriented crowd.) My husband was having trouble with the concept that it was taking me this long to get there and suggested I just “Jump in and do it, already.”

While I loved the idea of my own personal website - my business, I realized that there was no promotional or tech help there. I would be dependent only on my own promotion and key words. There might be safety in numbers (of crafters involved.) My own website would also involve designing my site from scratch and setting up a shopping cart system. I wasn’t sure I was ready for all that.

The various merchandising sites had different approaches to those issues. Some still required you do your site and simply link it to theirs. Others did your site for you (at a cost). Some had central check-out systems. All were priced accordingly. I was trying to start this business on a shoestring and I wanted to buy that shoestring at my local discount store. In the end, I made my decision based on cost. I joined and created

Please stop by and see my “shop.”

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