Updated: Aug 21, 2021
We review the three ways to build an online store website for store owners. We compare the pros and cons. I give you points for consideration that no one else perhaps would tell. We compare three styles of store building - Shopify, Wix, and WP.
There is no such thing as a "side hustle" life-style on-line store. It sounds really good!! Have an online account (Youtube, Facebook, Instagram), attract a good sized following, sell them merchandise you find on Aliexpress (the China express) and drop shipping, and see side incoming streaming in. Well, this is what a lot of people who wants to make money from YOU want to make you believe. Please hear me explain the on-line store business and the details of building on-line store website.
A side hustle is full-time hustle
This is really not so straightforward. It requires several things to work simultaneously (listed below). And none of the things is trivial.
Gaining social proof. Getting a few hundred or thousands followers is hardworking. It is tiring (and often, expensive). Your social site needs to have good contents and frequent content offerings, and you need to know how to rank high.
Finding good products that you can sell. Good products with low cost and high selling price is hard to find. You see a lot of people selling T-shirts nowadays. However, to get high quality shirts and prints, it takes work and travel.
Building your own on-line store front. The alternative to building your own store is to list your items on Amazon - you need to navigate the Amazon game of fees and ranking. If you want to build your own website, you have three options: (1) Dedicated sites such as Shopify or Squarespace; (2) Use drag-and-drop website builder such as Wix or WordPress (WP) and implement their e-store widgets; (3) if you are really flush with money, you can always pay a lot of money to build a custom website, but the cost is around $10000 and 1 year, give and take.
Once you put up the products, the store, the social network hook, the most likely outcome is that you won't get customers to visit your store or buy your products. Yes, there is no such thing as a "online store side hustle life-style business". Once you have a store, you operate a STORE! you need to hang out the shingle, call out loudly for the crowds, retain loyal customers, and keep growing. A store that stops growing is a dead store - it may forever be a one-man (or one woman) business. You will never be able to make enough profit to hire a second person.
Which option to use for building online store?
Let's discuss the pros and cons of the three options of online store building in more detail.
Option 1: Use dedicated drag and drop site builder like Shopify or Squarespace.
Pros: It is easiest. You only need to pay a monthly fee to the platforms, to the credit card operators, and to widget makers.
Cons: It will look like it is made with a template.
Be ware: You will be surely dinged here and there. The platform needs to make money, and it will make sure that you don't make much. Remember, the more work OTHERS DO for you, the less profit you retain.
Option 2: Use drag-and-drop site builder WP or WIX and widgets
The cost is around $40/month for domain name, website, payment gateways, etc. Some require you to sign one-year or two-year terms.
Pros: You have more control and more templates.
Cons: It is less straightforward, because you will need to BUILD A WEBSITE and learn how to incorporate the widget, incorporate the e-commerce payment button, etc. There are many reports of such buttons NOT WORKING, after much trial. The fundamental reason is this: no one will help you make money. Trust me, no one will.
Be ware: Both Wix and WP charge membership, charge use of premium features, charge credit card transactions. The coding is not often less than stable.
Option 3: Use complete manual code-from-scratch build, or hire hands
I know what you think. Amazon has the code, so how hard can it really be to hire someone who just write codes. Well, it turns out harder than you think. The core reason is human nature, not necessarily technology.
Pros: You have the most control and you can make your store look really really professional (like Amazon-professional). And supposedly, some true experts handle things for you.
Cons: Unfortunately it is the most costly option. Often times, the website builder and the hired hand will be busy, and you will find that they use WP anyways. (Really, I suspect that no one write website from html codes anymore). That means, "templated look". Good designers are not cheaper, and they need to make money.
Certainly, you will always have the risk of losing your trade secret. Remember the website called "Facebook"?
Be ware: If you take this option, be completely sure about your business - the brand, the position, the value proposition, the slogans, the upstream providers. Because it is counter productive to have someone build an expensive custom home if you later wants to change design!
We live in the era of rapid changes of technology and platform. It is certainly opportunity, but it also means the technology is changing rapidly. If you have a good social following, you should use Shopify and other "store platforms". Keep in mind the store platform is not business site or blog site. They don't mix.
If your interest is to use Wix or WP to build a website and incorporate e-commerce and store widgets, I STRONGLY suggest you use WIX. I have another blog that explains why WP is over built and overly complex.
Good luck. Happy selling!!
The author can be contacted at email@example.com.