So it's been a few weeks at my new host, Shopify, and I'm all moved in. Got my throw pillows scattered everywhere, cozy blankets a plenty. My LOTR blu ray set is over there, see?
I've been asked a few times why I moved, and I've given short and simple answers, so I thought a blog post was in order.
HELLOhappy started on wordpress
Okay so hellohappy.net actually started on tumblr lol. My domain pointed there. But all throughout my teens I had a website using wordpress! [side note-I'm looking at my old blog on the wayback machine and I'm wondering if you can die from cringing and I can absolutely never give anyone the link] I absolutely loved designing and coding html and php, it was a major hobby of mine. My mom paid for my web hosting every year (and bought me photoshop 7 because she was a saint)! I had a blog and posted free html website layouts, and even started getting into custom wordpress themes for other people. Eventually I got sick of it though and just kinda stopped. It started to feel tedious. And over 10 years later it still does!
When tumblr became a thing, I found it really easy to code my own page, so I had that for a while. But I wanted more, and I wanted the option to open a store, so I decided to go back to my old friend wordpress and pay for hosting.
Well. Ugh. After a year I remembered why coding was no longer a hobby of mine. Having a wordpress site means you have to update it regularly with security updates. It means if you want to open a shop, you have to use woocommerce, and do a hell of a lot of coding to get it to look how you want. A lot. A whole lot. Or hire someone, which was not and still isn't in my budget. And I found woocommerce really annoying, personally. But hey, pay someone to create databases for you and make an easy UI to upload products to and you won't have to use woocommerce lol. Good luck with that.
Who is wordpress good for?
Someone who enjoys the process of truly creating and updating a website. Or who has money to pay someone to do it for them. You can completely build an entire world from the ground up with wordpress, but that's also it's weakness: you HAVE to. Don't get me wrong, there are wordpress themes you can use (some for free), but I found they were all lacking and needed major editing.
So then I moved to Squarespace
I really like squarespace. Really like it. Super easy to use, really intuitive. Great themes that people with no coding experience can edit the look of with a few clicks. Easy enough to edit code for people who know how. Man I can't tell you how much I really do like squarespace. But it absolutely SUCKS as a store. You can't have different shipping profiles. Some calculated, some free, some a flat rate? Nope. All or nothing. You also can't select multiple products at once. So if there's some kind of problem, you have to go into each individual product and mark them as unavailable. That's fine if you have 10 or less products. Annoying, but fine. But any more than that and you just wanna pull your hair out. Also, the product editing is slow loading, so if you need to make several quick edits to descriptions or something...yeah, grab a glass of wine and try stay relaxed lol.
I didn't really realize the weaknesses it had in that department until it was too late, hah.
Oh, one other thing that sucked is that you can't do amazon native shopping ads within a blog post, they won't display. You can only do single product ads. That's a problem on squarespace's side and I didn't appreciate it.
Who is Squarespace good for?
Bloggers! Writers! Photographers! People selling an e-course! Anyone who's website is focused on content will love squarespace. So easy. So pretty?? The website block builder thing is really cool and I miss it. Tons of attractive free themes and lots of affordable paid ones.
Now I'm settled in at Shopify
I'm pretty happy here. The blog features aren't as robust, but the product and inventory management is worlds beyond squarespace. I definitely could never go back. The built-in analytics and marketing stuff is pretty cool too, and there are great functions you can get when connected to mailchimp. It's also super easy to connect your shop to facebook and instagram.
I was able to customize a free theme (called Supply) to my liking, and any time I couldn't figure out how to display something a certain way, I just typed it into google and found the answer, because shopify is used by sooo so so many companies, and people are generous with their knowledge.
Pretty sure I've found my permanent home here.
My goal for 2021 is to sit down with a CPA and figure taxes out and start selling my PDF patterns at hellohappy.net!
Who is Shopify good for?
Shopify is for someone who wants to open a store, but doesn't want to commit time/money to wordpress. If you're not sure if you want to open a store, but you know you want to blog, I'd still go with shopify over squarespace, because it leaves the option open for you. Squarespace blog posts don't just transfer over, you have to copy and paste (and re-upload the images) yourself. YOURSELF. So think real hard about the whole store thing before you choose.
Wait, what about Square?
If you only want a shop, and not a blog or anything else, consider Square! A bunch of local shops here opened one up when the covid lock down hit. The shops are 100% free and rely only on transaction fees, so it's a good way to test the waters! And you might find you don't need anything else.
Of course, cost is a factor.
A domain is between $10 and $20 per year.
With wordpress you'll need a web host, and you're looking on average between $3-$10 a month, which you'll usually pay as one lump sum annually (or more years at once for a larger discount). It's pretty freaking cheap. If you register your domain with a web host, they give you email, too. No extra cost. Usually unlimited addresses IE email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; any emails you want. Though most separate domain registrars will offer that as well.
The cheap price doesn't make up for the sheer amount of time you'll have to put into it, IMO. And if you won't want to put in the time, you'll have to pay someone else to put it in, and then you're not actually saving money.
The squarespace cheapest business plan is about $30 a month. The personal plan without a shop is like $16 though, so it's a good way to go if you're sure you're not interested in a shop.
If you register your domain through squarespace, to get email you have to pay for google g suite. I think it was like $20 for the year? But looking at the price chart it might have been $70? So obviously a disadvantage. But that's something you can get at any time, so if it's not in your budget NOW, just keep using free email until you can afford it.
Shopify is also about $30 a month for the cheapest plan (I paid for a year upfront and that brought the cost down slightly to about $27 per month). There is a facebook-only shop plan for $9, not a bad way to go if you're not interested in an actual website. But if that's the case, you might want to open a square store instead. I'm not sure what the comparisons are, so you'll have to research that one yourself. Email works the same way it does with squarespace.
Square is free, they take a small percentage of your sale. It's pretty comparable to etsy I think. Maybe slightly lower. Maybe higher? You'll have to get those fingers moving and do your own research!
Hopefully this helps point you in the right direction
Now you know why I switched over, and I hope you have a better idea of where to open up your website!