(This post may include affiliate links. Here's my disclosure statement for more info.)
Start your handmade business online (with or without Etsy)
Many people ask if it is possible to sell on Etsy and on your own website. Not only is this allowed, but I’d also encourage any craft business to plan to do this if they aren’t already. You could even skip Etsy and get to starting a craft business on your own. To have a website, you must have both a domain URL and hosting purchased. Here are my top recommendations for hosting providers for selling handmade items online.
My Go-To Choice: GreenGeeks Web Hosting
I have been a fan of Green Geeks for years now. Their hosting packages are always competitively priced, if not offering the best value. Not only do you get a free domain URL with their hosting plans, but you also get a free SSL certificate that is very easy to have installed. I’ll write about it soon, but know an SSL certificate is a must-have now.
Think of it- you can get a domain name, SSL security, and dependable hosting for $2.95 a month. Their deals are by far the cheapest and most value-packed option on this list. And yes, you’ll be able to use WordPress and Woocommerce with their hosting packages.
If you have trouble with installing their SSL certificate, be rest assured that their tech support is not only responsive but helpful. They’re reliable and will help you set that up.
Let me tell you- I have stories when it comes to bad hosting providers. My years dealing with customer’s different host providers has given me a special appreciation for the simplicity and seemingly direct line I have to actual people when problems arise.
I have literally spent hours, no, days, dealing with terrible hosting providers that keep you on hold and then take their sweet time “looking into” your website’s latest problem. I’ve even gotten bad advice from these tech support types that ultimately cost the client more money when the solution was simple if they had cared to see that.
I have yet ever to fear this treatment from Green Geeks. Their support has always been top-notch.
One of Green Geeks hosting’s best perks is that they are a few eco-friendly web host providers. They are the green hosting leaders as they return three times the power they consume in renewable energy.
That is amazing.
Based in California, it’s nice to support a company that cares and provides excellent service. My multiple websites hosted with them are speedy, secure, and a lot more eco-friendly than others.
My one criticism is that while their security is fantastic, it can be too sensitive. I’ve had to contact support to whitelist my IP address and specific actions on more than one occasion. Thankfully, their support is fast, so it rarely has been a problem.
All in all, if you are wondering how to start a handmade business online, on the budget, then GreenGeeks is an excellent choice. It will give you a great place to sell your items online that’s fast and secure. You can even boast to your customers that your online storefront is ecofriendly.
Shopify, The Best Choice for the Not-So-Tech-Savvy Sellers
I’ve seen web developers and e-commerce people butt heads over Shopify. Shopify seems to be more divisive than it needs to be. I have never been one to say “this is the best and only choice you should consider.”
Yes, my fandom belongs to Green Geeks, but for many people, Shopify is a no-brainer.
Big brands and small craft businesses love it. There’s a reason for that! When you use Shopify, you are getting a pretty nifty box of features and functionality ready to go. There’s no complicated maintenance and dealing with the likes of Woocommerce. You don’t need to worry about an SSL certificate that always comes installed for you.
Shopify is a product MADE for selling. You have endless themes choices to pick from and the tools at the ready to help market your handmade business.
All this out-of-the-box readiness comes at a price. With Shopify, you’re looking at paying $30 a month. You are paying for all the convenience here. That is why you must weigh the pros and cons of selling on the two different platforms.
If you’re not tech-savvy or do not have the time to build a website and are either willing to invest in your website or have the profits to cover the expense, Shopify is a good choice.
If you are only starting a craft business and can figure out how to install WordPress, I’d recommend sticking to the more affordable Greengeeks web hosting.
I already have a website but not an SSL certificate.
Before you purchase an SSL certificate, do a little price shopping first! I’ve seen an SSL certificate run for hundreds of dollars to 20 dollars. Both options are too much. If you can stand to figure out how to install it yourself (it is easier than you think), I recommend buying it the wholesale price on ssls.com.
For the most basic SSL certificate (hint, probably all you need), you can purchase it for about $4 a year. Depending on other site’s wildly different pricing, that can save a lot of money.
An important thing you must learn when you want to sell handmade items online is how to build trust with customers. When your own website does not have the secure checkout and protection that comes with an SSL certificate, customers implicitly get suspicious.
And with your own website, you have to gain Google’s trust as much as possible if you hope to gain its traffic. You can no longer rely on Etsy’s marketplace traffic. So you have to lay the groundwork for Google to trust you and start boosting you in search. An SSL certificate is a bare minimum. It’s easy to set up, and if it didn’t come with your hosting provider, buy it from ssls.com.
I’m not even an affiliate with them; I just want small businesses to save money.
Selling Handmade Items Without Etsy with the Best: WPEngine
Nerds like me love WPEngine. Agencies with web teams often use WPEngine as a way to manage the many websites under their care. There are many reasons why this is and why those same reasons make it a great choice when starting a handmade business website.
WPEngine includes an SSL certificate but goes steps beyond with its caching and CDN technology.
They even deal with keeping your site up to date and provide standout support.
With the management all taken care of, you can have your Woocommerce WordPress website without the hassle. If you’ve ever broken your website before, you understand the stress of clicking “update” in the WordPress backend.
If that has happened to you, then you know how important it is always to have a backup of your website. That’s why I love WPEngine’s automated backups.
If you can learn how WPEngine works, you’ll work on a development copy of your website when you want to make changes without it being public yet. Then with a click of a button, you can push those changes live. You’ll only let visitors see what you want them to see.
Another fantastic bonus that comes with WPEngine is the premium WordPress themes it offers. Premium themes are expensive, and if you chose the wrong one, you’re out that money. Rarely do premium template themes offer any refunds. WPEngine’s collection is an excellent library of themes to have access to.
WPEngine is like having the best of both worlds of Shopify and conventional web hosting. You have the convenience of Shopify, along with the perks of a premium WordPress experience.
So if you love WordPress, can afford it the higher Shopify prices, WPEngine is a choice to make for stress-free website hosting for creating a website to sell handmade items.