Choosing the Best Web Platform for Your Business

Once upon a time, you had to know how to code something called HTML (hypertext markup language) to create your own website. HTML has been the underlying coded format of website development since around 1980, and using it involves learning an entirely unique machine language that allows website servers to “talk” to web browsers like Chrome and Edge. 

Not long after the internet caught on and people realized it was more than a passing fad, enterprising software developers began releasing programs to help non-coders design websites. If memory serves, the most popular early examples were programs called HoTMetaL and Dreamweaver. These were called What You See is What You Get editors, or WYSIWYGs (pronounced “wizzy-wig” by those really in the know).  

Essentially, these were the first programs that allowed a user to design a site visually, adding and editing components exactly as they would appear in the final result. This is pretty common now, but back in the 90s it revolutionized the internet the way “Wazuuuuuup” revolutionized catchphrases. (Although with less fanfare and parody, I suppose.) 

Nowadays, the internet is extremely democratized and nearly anyone of any skill level can have a fully customized online presence. Not even counting social media platforms, the ultimate in ease-of-use and accessibility, there are dozens of options available for putting together your own personal or business website with very little outside help.

 

All of those options begs the question: “Which website builder or online platform is best for my business?”

 

There’s no easy answer to that question. It’s really situational. What kind of business are you running? Do you need an online store? How are you planning to generate leads?

Start By Planning Your Website Around Your Needs

 

Later in this article, we’re going to explore the most popular online platforms in detail…but wait! Before you spend one second looking through that list, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • What do I want to accomplish with my site?
  • What do I need my website to do? Are there special features I need?
  • How much money do I have to invest?
  • How much can I do myself?

Let’s take a look at these individually…

What do I want to accomplish?

 

Before you figure out what your website should look like, you need to know what you want it to do. (A website without a purpose isn’t much of an investment!)

Different purposes mean different styles, different content, and even different platforms. Do you need your website for:

  • Lead generation (collecting user information so you can market/sell to them)
  • E-commerce (selling your products online)
  • Affiliate marketing or consignment (selling other companies’ products online)
  • Appointment booking or scheduling (important if your business involves classes, such as a yoga studio)

Some platforms are better than others in these different respects.

What do I need my website to do? Are there special features I need?

Once you know the purpose of your website, you will have a better idea of what features to look for when it comes time to choose a platform.

Does your site need to show class schedules, meeting availability, and allow booking? If so, do you need to take payments online?

Do you need a shopping cart, online store, and payment processing?

Do you want to be able to showcase videos? 

Will you be making frequent changes or updates that necessitate an easy-to-use back end?

Will you be writing a blog? Is SEO (ranking high on search results) important to your growth strategy?

 

It’s important to think about what you ultimately need. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “I want customers to schedule appointments through the website someday, but I don’t need that now” — you could end up investing in a website platform that doesn’t offer that functionality. 

 

And who wants to start this all over just because one feature was missing? (Hint: no one!)

How much do I have to spend?

You’re not at the point yet where you need to pull out your wallet, but your website is an investment in your business and should be treated accordingly.

Consumers don’t respond well to websites that look bad or don’t work properly! Having a broken or out-of-date website will quickly diminish your trustworthiness and legitimacy in the eyes of consumers. 

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a whole lot to make your investment worthwhile. A professional, functional website can be had very inexpensively. 

You also have the option of hiring a web design service to handle it all for you. While this can be a wise option for those who have the money to invest, be careful as you shop around. Some web designers may quote you $600 for a small website, while others quote $6000 for the same project — and their pricing is not always an indicator of quality! 

How much can I do myself?

 

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you may have more time to invest than money. In this case, DIY is probably the most attractive option.

If you opt to build your site yourself, you will need to spend some time learning how to use your platform of choice. On top of that, there’s the actual time involved in creating the content and designing the look and feel of the site itself.  

As you look through the following options, be sure to consider the learning curve involved, as well as how much time you’ll have to work on the site yourself. 

Traits of a great web designer, if you’re going to hire…

  • Can dumb down technical stuff into simple analogies
  • Can respond to emails promptly
  • Is funny AF
  • Can write short emails
  • Sets clear expectations
  • Has some personality to make the building fun
  • Tells you what can and can’t get done without the fluff
  • Can reach out to support channels to get answers to questions neither of you knows without you becoming aware. (Badass)

To read more: Lessons from Launching a Brand New Website After 8 Years

On to the Platforms...

WordPress

Let’s start off with the go-to website platform of the century: WordPress. WordPress is technically a CMS, or Content Management System, but it has evolved so much over the years that there’s almost nothing you can’t do with it when it comes to websites. This is why the vast majority of professional websites created by design agencies are actually built-in WordPress these days. (Fun fact: over a third of websites online today are built in WordPress.)

If nothing else, you’ve heard of WP in terms of its blogging potential, and in fact, that’s where it all got started. (Hence why it’s a Content, aka blog post, Management System). WordPress makes it super easy to add new articles, posts, images, and updates to your website after it’s built, which is why I consider it one of the easiest options in terms of DIY maintenance. In other words, you can hand most people a finished WP site, show them how to make updates, and they’ll be able to handle it from that point forward with few problems. 

Building a site in WP can be daunting for a newcomer, however. All of the features and add-ons (called plugins) for the platform can become overwhelming — there are literally tens of thousands of them. Thankfully, the process is much easier than it was a few years ago due to the advent of page-building plugins like Beaver Builder and Elementor. Much like the Dreamweaver of old, these plugins allow you to create and edit your WordPress site with a simple WYSIWYG interface. 

Pros:

  • More plugins than you could ever want. If you want to do something in WordPress, there’s probably already a plugin to make it happen.
  • Can handle memberships, appointment setting, galleries, online classes, eCommerce, recurring payments…name it. 
  • Page builders like Elementor and Beaver Builder help take the edge off the learning curve and make site building relatively easy once you’ve learned them.
  • There is a lifetime’s worth of WP how-to videos and articles online. Learning is easy if you have the time for it.
  • Has the fewest limitations among page builders. The only way to have more functionality and customization on a website is to have it coded from scratch. 
  • WordPress is great for SEO. It’s built to be Google-friendly and there are a lot of WordPress SEO plugins available to help you out.

Cons:

  • Not all plugins or themes are free and the costs can add up over time. 
  • Learning WP isn’t an overnight thing. Prepare to spend many hours familiarizing yourself with the software (and probably troubleshooting things from time to time).  
  • WordPress can do eCommerce, but it’s not the easiest way of setting up an online store. The process can be complicated and usually requires one or more paid plugins to work correctly.
  • Because WordPress is used so much worldwide, hackers are always looking for exploits and weaknesses. You will need to keep your site and all of your plugins updated to minimize security risks.

Price:

WordPress CMS is free. Most website hosts have an option for WordPress hosting which will usually include a complete installation of WordPress from the beginning — all you need to do is login and start creating. 

WordPress hosting can vary in price from $15 a site up to $75 a site or more depending on the host and any added features you might want to stack in. 

Remember that most WordPress themes must be purchased separately, as do premium plugins. (I recommend signing up for Envato Elements. This subscription is less than $50 a month and unlocks a ton of premium WP themes and plugins.)

Who should use this platform:

  • Anyone who wants the most flexibility and tons of features.
  • Anyone who wants complete creative control.
  • Anyone whose needs center around blogging or publishing content.
  • Anyone with HTML/CSS/PHP or web design experience, who would find all the other builders underwhelming.
  • Anyone willing to spend time learning how to use it.

Shopify

I could speak the praises of WordPress all day, but I still have to concede in one important area: it’s not purpose-built to be an eCommerce platform. Sure, you could install WooCommerce to WP to add eCommerce functionality, but that opens up a whole pile of time-consuming work and troubleshooting where even I don’t like to tread (and I’ve built eCommerce sites in WordPress). 

Surely there must be easy website builders that are designed for eCommerce right out of the box? Yup! And Shopify is one of them. To be more accurate, Shopify is the current leader among easy-to-use online store builders. 

Yes, Shopify has won its share of awards in the realm of “best eCommerce builder” and it’s usually my first recommendation for anyone who wants to start selling online. Shopify has earned its stripes honestly by powering over 600,000 online stores.

The popularity of Shopify is easy to understand. All you need to do is set up your account, choose a store theme, and add your products. Since the platform is 100% built around eCommerce, it’s unlikely that any alternative platform is going to surpass its ease of use any time soon. 

Pros:

  • The easiest way to set up an online store.
  • No technical knowledge or web design skills are needed.
  • Completely self-contained. No need for third-party themes or plugins.
  • You don’t need to worry about hosting or security.
  • 14-day free trial.
  • Good customer support.

Cons:

  • Designing the site is not as easy as it is in something like Wix, or even WordPress with a page builder plugin. 
  • Very limited creative control.
  • There are additional transaction fees (0.5% – 2% per transaction) unless you use Shopify’s payment system.

Price:

There are three main paid plans for Shopify. (Additionally, you have Shopify Lite for setting up Facebook stores and Shopify Plus for enterprise-level stores.)

The three plans range from $29 to $299 a month, depending on the number of eCommerce features you’d like to unlock. 

Who should use this platform:

Can you guess? Anyone who wants to set up an online store as quickly and easily as possible!

Wix

The word “Wix” has become almost synonymous with “easy to make website”. Wix is not only the pioneer in this space but the perennial leader in almost all comparisons. Long story short, Wix has almost always been declared the winner in website builder comparisons. 

 This success is largely due to ease of use that makes it simple enough for users of any level to put together a great website. Built-in email marketing solutions (and other marketing tools), as well as a comprehensive app store, round out Wix’s list of features.

 Probably the only place that Wix doesn’t accel is in eCommerce. While Wix gives you more design freedom than Shopify, the latter is simply a faster way to get an online store running. 

Pros:

  • Over 500 templates to start with.
  • Easy drag-and-drop editor.
  • Huge app store which allows you to expand the functionality of your site.
  • Built-in marketing tools for email, social media, and SEO.
  • Excellent customer support.

Cons:

  • Can’t switch a site’s template once the site is live.
  • Not all of the 500+ templates are well designed.
  • Pretty weak in terms of blogging.
  • Not as easy to set up for online selling as Shopify.
  • A website created on Wix must always stay on Wix; it can’t be exported.

Price:

Wix offers four paid plans ranging from $13 to $39 per month, and three eCommerce plans ranging from $23 to $49 per month. There’s a nice 14-day money-back guarantee on all paid plans, and there’s also a free option that you can use to try out the interface. 

 Who should use this platform:

Not to sound dismissive, but it’s true that Wix is best for beginners who have no experience in web design. It’s a great way to get started with a website with a minimal learning curve and good support from the company.

Weebly

Admittedly, Weebly’s name doesn’t seem to come up quite as often as Wix or WordPress. Although it’s a less well-known option, I figured we should cover it briefly in this article. 

We’ll make it simple by comparing Weebly to its closest counterpart, Wix. 

Weebly uses a drag-and-drop building interface, but it’s not as freeform as Wix so you’re tethered into a more structured design (which could be a good thing for people who don’t know much about design!) All in all, Wix wins out in terms of usability. 

Weebly is slightly less expensive than Wix when you go through a point-by-point comparison of features that you unlock at different pricing tiers. 

Weebly does win some points in design flexibility, but this is largely only applicable to people who want to get under the hood and work directly on the site’s code. Weebly allows access to your site’s HTML if you want it, Wix does not. 

There is one thing I really like about Weebly, even if it’s only on principle. Unlike Wix, Weebly doesn’t hold your website, hostage, by keeping it on their platform. Weebly has an export function that allows you to completely take ownership of your site in the form of a ZIP file.

All in all, it’s really a close call. 

Pros:

  • Lower prices than Wix.
  • Free website option so you can try out the platform.
  • More eCommerce and blogging tools than Wix.
  • Ability to access your site’s HTML to make customizations. 
  • Very large app center with over 300 apps to expand functionality.

Cons:

  • Drag-and-drop builder is not as easy to use as Wix. 
  • Templates are generally more basic than competitors’.
  • Templates are more restrictive in terms of how creative you can get with changes.

Price:

Weebly’s pricing plans range from $8 to $38 per month.

Who should use this platform:

Anyone who could use Wix but prefers the features or user interface of Weebly. This platform is really not a superstar in any one area, but it has enough solid features to be a contender in the arena of “general website builder”. 

Squarespace

Squarespace is sort of like the better-looking brother of Wix. (Sorry, Wix.) Both platforms share a lot of similarities, but Squarespace wins hands down in terms of design, visual impact, and sheer attractiveness of the sites you can create.

Both get the job done in terms of getting a great website up and running quickly…and neither is specifically focused on eCommerce or blogging. This means that Squarespace and Wix really are two peas in a pod and your choice between the two may just come down to style preferences. 

Pros:

  • Better looking template designs and more flexibility versus Wix.
  • Great for creative professionals (awesome portfolio site builder).
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Can be used to set up an online store.
  • Better than Wix for blogging.
  • Optional (paid) email marketing packages, or can integrate with MailChimp. 

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the built-in app features of Wix (for things like live chat and memberships).
  • Not great for eCommerce when compared to Shopify.
  • You have to pay to use Squarespace’s email marketing feature.

Price:

Squarespace offers three plans which feature eCommerce: $18/month, $26/month, or $40/month, all billed annually. With the $18 option, you will pay 3% transaction fees on anything you sell through the store. Many important eCommerce functions, such as cart abandonment recovery, only unlock at the $40 level. 

Who should use this platform:

Squarespace is best suited for creative professionals who want to make a portfolio website. It’s also a decent choice for anyone who wants a bit more creative control than you get with Wix but without going as far as choosing WordPress. When it comes to eCommerce, I would still recommend Shopify over this choice. 

Email Provider (Mailchimp)

These days, everyone is getting into the turnkey website game. Even your business/marketing email provider might be trying to sell you on using their website builder. 

But does this option offer anything better than what’s available through dedicated website builders or a CMS like WordPress? Taking a look at Mailchimp’s website offering can give us some insight.

I’ll give you a heads up: the prognosis is not good. Mailchimp’s website offering isn’t so much a website builder as it is a hosted form that’s integrated into their email marketing platform. Although they advertise it as an all-encompassing solution to managing your online presence, it doesn’t even come close to the features of even the most simple website builder.

Worst yet, you have to pay for the privilege of using it if you want even the most fundamental features, like hosting on your own domain name.

Since most website builders integrate easily with Mailchimp, you’re better off starting with something like Wix. 

Pros:

  • Integrates with Mailchimp.
  • Integrates with Square for relatively easy ecommerce setup. 

Cons:

  • No templates. Very basic design.
  • Not much more than an email collection form, really.
  • No blog, so not much hope for SEO.

Price:

Plans start at $9.99 and go up to $299, but I’m not entirely sure what they could do to justify that high of a price. 

Who should use this platform:

I can’t really think of a reason why I would recommend Mailchimp’s website builder. (I suppose if I only had ten minutes to get an eCommerce store running that was already built out in Square, it might be worth a shot.)

Google Sites

The uber-powerful and diverse G Suite of business applications even has a website builder called Google Sites. (You can find it nestled among the icons for Drive, Docs, Sheets, and the like.) 

Don’t get too excited, even Google doesn’t tout Sites as a complete solution for building professional websites. Consider it more of a collaborative tool for sharing information.

In my own experience, educators use Google Sites quite a bit to post class information, and school clubs use them as a free way to get an online presence. I’ve never heard of a Google Site being used in a professional capacity. That being said, we won’t go into too much detail here. 

Pros:

  • Clean, simple, and integrates with all things Google. 
  • It isn’t a bad way to put information online. 

Cons:

  • Not useful for building fully fleshed-out websites.
  • Very limited in design freedom.
  • Only a few templates and none of them strike me as great templates for a customer-facing business website.

Price:

Free.

Who should use this platform:

Teachers and college students seem to get a lot of use out of it, as do organizations who use Sites to share information internally. 

Facebook Shops – Ecommerce Manager

Facebook Shops is a mobile-first eCommerce option that’s designed around — you guessed it — Twitter.

Kidding! It’s totally built for Facebook and Instagram. 

This platform allows users to create an online store easily and promote their products through social media. The concept actually boasts some cool benefits.  You can feature select merchandise, create product collections, customize fonts and colors to fit your brand. Users can connect with customers through WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct to offer support to get feedback. 

Pros:

  • Integrates with other eCommerce platforms (like Shopify) to help with selling and inventory management.
  • Easy to get started.
  • Awesome way to connect directly to your social media audience.

Cons:

  • Not a website, just a channel that you can sell-through.
  • Can be time-consuming if you upload products manually rather than through another eCommerce platform.

Price:

Free to set up, with a 5% fee for every transaction above $8 and a fixed fee of $0.40 for orders below $8.

Who should use this platform:

If you’ve already been doing social media marketing, this is a great way to connect directly to those customers and followers. This is actually a great option for many retailers, and you don’t have to make it your only online presence. 

Clickfunnels/Convertri/Groove Funnels

I’ve grouped a few different “funnel builder” tools into this single category because we’re not so much discussing the individual benefits of each, but the pros and cons of funnel sites overall. 

If you don’t know much about sales funnels or lead generation funnels, I’ll need to fill you in before these programs make sense. Essentially these funnels are meant to be complete “buyer’s journeys” mapped out and built to drive traffic all the way from first noticing you exist to making a purchase. 

To put it another way, a sales funnel builder will usually incorporate (and automate) every step the consumer will take when shopping for, evaluating, and buying your product or service.

Of course, you can build sales funnels in any website builder, but tools like Clickfunnels and Convertri give you an advantage by handing you templates of sales funnels that are already proven effective. No guesswork, just easy plug-and-play marketing. 

The trade-off is that no funnel builder offers as robust and feature-rich eCommerce experience as Shopify.

Pros:

  • Complete sales funnels are easy to deploy, making marketing much easier.
  • Templates allow you to use proven marketing to accomplish your goals.
  • Funnel builders typically incorporate a full range of marketing tools, such as social media schedulers and emailing automation, saving you from having to purchase these tools separately. 

Cons:

  • For online retailers, you’re going to get a much better “store” out of something like Shopify.
  • Most eCommerce-specific builders have better options for managing inventory, managing customers, and shipping products.
  • Funnel builders usually lack certain important website features like blogs or third-party app integration. 

Price:

  • Basic Clickfunnels gives you a 14-day free trial. It’s $97 a month after the trial is over.
  • Convertri is $99 a month (or $75 a month if you pay annually). 
  • Groove Funnels is offering a free membership at the time of this writing.

Who should use this platform:

Funnel builders are a great choice if you’re just starting out selling online. You’ll get all the services you need to run your online business – including hosting, emailing, and a basic CRM. 

 Lightspeed

Lightspeed is another eCommerce platform that is often compared to Wix or Shopify. It currently powers considerably fewer websites than either of its two competitors — with the exception of The Netherlands, the country where Lightspeed was developed.

While this platform offers the expected eCommerce essentials — inventory management, payment portals, and themes for building your site — nothing about it really stands out as a strong reason to choose it over Shopify for eCommerce. 

It’s important to note that Lightspeed is really a POS software that can also be used for online selling. The only place where it looks like it can outshine our listed alternatives is in brick-and-mortar retail stores. 

Pros:

  • Points-based loyalty program is built-in.
  • Customers can manage returns through the online app.
  • Integrates with shipping platforms, social media, and email automation tools. 

Cons:

  • Not as easy to use and accessible as many other options.
  • Much smaller user base than Shopify, which typically means less aftermarket support and fewer integrations.

Price:

Lightspeed offers a 14-day free trial and the most popular subscriptions start at $119 per month.

Who should use this platform:

Based on their usage statistics, retailers in The Netherlands are the main audience for now. If you run one or more brick-and-mortar stores and want to make sure your eCommerce syncs with them perfectly, you may want to consider reaching out to Lightspeed to get a demo.

Teachable/ Member Vault/Udemy

This category is a class (no pun intended) all its own because these platforms are designed for selling online courses. If you want to monetize your Instructables, recipes, coaching, or offer certifications, these are the Learning Management Systems (LMS) that you’re probably looking for. 

It’s worth noting that WordPress can allow you to sell courses by installing third-party LMS plugins, but platforms like Udemy are far, far easier to set up and get going.

Pros:

  • These platforms are purpose-built for selling courses. They’re going to be the easiest way to make passive income this way.
  • Create quizzes, classes, video lectures, tests, and certifications.
  • Most include marketing tools and automation to help promote your courses.
  • No need to find and pay for your own hosting.

Cons:

  • This is another uber-specialized solution that doesn’t actually serve as a complete website. If you still need a fully-customizable web presence, you’ll need a website as well.
  • Marketing features are limited, so you might want to combine an LMS like Teachable with a great sales funnel tool like Clickfunnels. 

Price:

  • Teachable has a free version that charges a $1 + 10% transaction fee for courses sold; The basic option is $39 a month plus a 5% transaction fee for courses sold.
  • Udemy offers a 14-day free trial, after which it becomes $360 per user per year.
  • Member Vault has a free plan; paid plans start at $19 a month.

Who should use this platform:

Anyone who is looking to sell online classes or certifications.

Podia

Podia is a bit of a one-stop-shop as it has everything you need to sell online courses, digital downloads, and memberships. It is similar to the LMS platforms above, but Podia makes an extra effort to be customizable, flexible, and user-friendly.

You might want to look at this platform as a way to build a “tribe” and connect them all in one place where you keep your learning materials, downloadable content, and branded marketing. 

 Pros:

  • Drip content to members at your own pace.

  • Pre-sell courses to get early adopters on board. 

  • Create different membership tiers and adjust content availability between them.

  • Organize and manage your members and customers.

 Cons:

  • No phone support.

  • No course marketplace like other dedicated LMS platforms.

 Price:

The plan which includes memberships (and all other features) is $79 a month.

Who should use this platform:

Anyone who wants to build a membership site.

Amazon

This online retail giant is so well-known the world over that you’d have to be living under a rock to not know about it. And that is Amazon’s most attractive feature to any newbie online seller. You have a captured market of hundreds of millions globally (no exaggeration on both points!). Listing your merchandise on this platform is simple. And you’ll absolutely love the layout. You won’t need a website since you can showcase each product’s images, features, and benefits in detail. And all in one page. You can build an online store within Amazon’s platform if you have many products. Plus, you have the FBM and FBA options. Not sure what these are?
 
  •  FBM is Fulfillment by Merchant – you are responsible for shipping
  • FBA is Fulfillment by Amazon – avail Amazon’s world-class shipping capabilities.

 Pros:

  • FBA is more than just shipping services. It includes warehousing, packaging, inventory management, and customer service (returns and replacements).
  • There are no outright fees; you just pay a percentage of each sale to Amazon.
  •  All actions (FBA/FBM, advertising, listing management) occur in one Seller Central account.
  • You can sell almost anything, though adult toys and the like are more difficult to search for by buyers. Also, weapons and dangerous substances are forbidden.
  •  Most Google searches churn out Amazon listings on top of results.
  • Advertising on the platform is highly targeted because people are genuine buyers. They rarely window-shop.
  •  Third-party providers of Amazon-related efforts are plenty. You’ll find everything, from product research to PPC and copywriting to image design.

 Cons:

  • The referral fee is 15% on average per item sold, higher than other online marketplaces.
  • Ultra-stiff competition. Finding the right niche can take a long and laborious process unless you hire an agency to do it for you.
  • Amazon’s strict TOS (terms of selling) is legendary in nightmarish proportions. A slight or unintentional mistake can see your account suspended and listings deleted.
  • Inversely, Amazon coddles customers in areas of returns and reimbursements. So, you should constantly be on top of your inventory.
  • Very little access to your customers’ emails

 Price:

Free to sign up as an individual seller. But keep in mind that Amazon requires several legal documents to prove you’re a legal entity.
 
Professional sellers with products in 20 or more categories are eligible for a monthly fee of $39.99. This is in addition to the referral fee per item.
 

Who should use this platform:

There’s no better time than now to get started with Amazon! The e-commerce giant is rewarding those who have creativity and vigor. You don’t need to rent a warehouse to stock your products, spend on packaging, or deal with couriers on Amazon.
 
But, you do need patience in finding the right product to sell and building your business from the ground up.

Etsy

 

Like Amazon, Etsy is also an online marketplace, albeit a specialized kind. Its product categories include handmade items, original creations, craft supplies, and vintage stuff.

While Etsy’s customer base is nowhere near Amazon’s, it still boasts around 81 million active buyers.

Plus, it’s so easy to set up an account that you can list your first product for sale in under an hour!

 Pros:

  • Product listing templates are available for not-so-creative sellers.
  •  Listing designs are more customizable than on Amazon.
  •  Provides warehousing and shipping.
  •  Marketing tools include coupon code creator, promotional campaign templates, and social media advertising.
  •  Easy to migrate listings to a different marketplace via download to a CSV file.

 Cons:

  • Stiffer competition than Amazon owing to the limited product categories.

  •  You essentially take care of everything—warehousing, packaging, shipping, and customer service.

  •  Not ideal for selling expensive items as Etsy buyers are on the lookout for bargains.

  • Very little or no access to your customers’ emails

 Price:

 

 
Standard Plan is free. A paid plan of $10 per month + sales tax is also available if you need more tools for customizing your listing. Etsy charges a listing fee of $0.20 per item for both plans. You will also incur a commission fee of 5% per sale. If you use the platform’s Direct Checkout service, expect to pay $0.25 per transaction.
 

Who should use this platform:

 

 

Artists, artisans, craft creators, and art collectors.

First-time online sellers who want to get their feet wet in prep for the big leagues.

eBay

eBay is a marketplace where buyers can find any item they need. From used cars to new clothes, eBay has it all! Except for forbidden items like explosives, weapons, lock-picking devices, etc.
 

 Pros:

  • More options in creating product descriptions and designing images.
  • Less competition with only 1.3 million sellers focused on eBay full-time.
  • Your listings, your rules on shipping, returns, and replacements.

 Cons:

  •  A much smaller market means you earn less as an eBay bestseller than you would as an average Amazon seller.
  •  Like Etsy, eBay doesn’t offer storage, packaging, and fulfillment services.
  • While referral fees are lower, listing fees are exorbitant. These are applicable each time you list the same product in a different category. In case you were wondering, this fee is non-refundable, even on unsold items.

 Price:

Although eBay is free to join., charges include a 3% listing fee per item and a 2%-12% referral fee for each item sold.
 

Who should use this platform:

 

eBay is ideal for beginners with little capital to spare. eBay is a good starting point if you’re just testing the waters for a side business. It is also ideal for people passionate about selling used and refurbished products.
 

 

Print On Demand Marketplaces

Many artists make money by printing their work on t-shirts, coffee mugs, phone cases, etc.

Print-on-demand (POD) marketplaces can be a great way to do that.

These websites make it incredibly easy to sell your work online.

The best ones are ArtStoreFronts.com, Merch By Amazon, and Redbubble.

You can also check out Teepublic, Threadless, and Society6.

Other popular marketplaces include Displate, Zazzle, and Fine Art America.

How does it work? Selling prints through these sites is fairly simple (most of the time!)

  • Upload a high-resolution version of your design
  • Choose the number of copies you want printed
  • Select the base price

That’s it!

When someone buys it from you, the site takes a small commission and prints it up! Easy peasy.

 Pros:

  • Once you set up shop with one of these companies, you don’t need to maintain stock. Each design can be reprinted ad infinitum.
  • You can sell the same artwork on many POD sites.
Sell your creations to various countries without extra setup fees.
No matter where your customers are located, they’ll all be able to access your products.
If you prefer, sign up with sites that cover printing, framing, and shipping. Some also offer to handle payments (yes, really!)
 

 Cons:

  • Art sites aren’t currently known for their ease of use or mobile compatibility.
  • Commissions (markups on your set price) range from 20% to 50% on many sites (Threadless charges zero).
  • Images are not always optimized. The viewers don’t see the real thing and maybe discouraged from buying.

 Price:

 

When you’re using print-on-demand marketplaces, pricing is a major concern. You have to decide how much your art or designs are worth before posting them on these sites.
 
That said, they allow you to experiment with price points since there’s no upfront cost or commitment. How low can you go? How high can you go?
 
Consider the pros and cons and your audience’s preferences to determine which model is best for selling your work.
 

Who should use this platform:

 

With POD sites, you can start your own online store to sell art and other creative products. This is ideal for artists who are just starting out in the world of selling their creations without having any inventory or heavy costs associated with setting up a physical location.
 
Yes, there are many options. And it is easy to feel overwhelmed. We recommend shortlisting the correct platform based on your budget and time constraints. You can also consider fees, shipping ease, and add-ons like marketing tools.
 
Most of all, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun!

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