OK, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and begin selling your crafts on the Internet from your own website.
The next big decision to make is whether to build your craft site on a free or paid webhost. There are pros and cons to each.
While many of the considerations are technical, perhaps the largest, perception, is something most crafters don’t consider when building their first online presences for their crafty business.
Using one of the most popular free hosts on the Internet, WordPress.com as an example, the following table outlines many of the technical and business issues you need to consider when deciding where you should host your crafting website.
|Feature||Free Host||Paid Host|
|Paid, Sponsored Posts or Affiliate Links||prohibited||your choice|
|Support||E-mail, forums||E-mail, forums, phone support|
|# of email Accounts with your company name||0||Up to 1000, depending on host|
|Reciprocal Links||Many site owners will not trade links with sites on free hosts.||Sites are evaluated on their merits.|
|Copyright||Some free hosts have dubious policies on who owns the content once it is posted on their servers.||Every word you write belongs to you.|
With Paid Hosting, You Get More
Yes, I’m a bit biased.
Setting up a website isn’t like selling your crafts to your friends and family. I know there are many crafters that sell their crafts from free websites or even their blogs.
Personally, I would have to know a person fairly well before I would buy crafts from a free website or blog. All the moreso if it is a high dollar item. Too many free sites litter the web like long discarded toys. These abandoned sites make it more difficult to gain a customer’s trust and portray a professional image.
Paid webhosting has never been cheaper than it is today and many companies are throwing in the cost of the domain name and even some free advertising on Yahoo! or Google.
Reseller Accounts, Not Always a Bargain
A word of caution. Many larger webhosts allow what are called reseller accounts. This means that someone who has purchased a reseller account can then open their own webhosting business. They essentially become a middleman.
Some of the resellers offer better pricing than the parent company; but the support can be significantly less reliable and many of their customers have been left with nothing when the reseller quits.
There are many resellers who provide great service and support and have been around for years, but my suggestion would be to not risk your livelihood in order to pinch a dollar or two a month from your webhosting fees.
Consider it an Investment
Just like puchasing the supplies you use to make your handcrafted items, website fees should be seen as an investment in your business. Skimp on webhosting, and just like when you use inferior supplies, it shows.
Unfortunately in business, perception is often everything. Using a free webhost for your business website gives the potential customer the impression that you may not be a professional and may not be serious about selling your crafts.