We've all heard the saying: If you want something done right, do it yourself. Usually I do, but when I started Bum Luxury, I realized I had no clue what I was doing trying to design a website.
First, I selected a host. I did some Googling and went with Vendio, which was supposedly a very easy to use eCommerce solution. Not easy, and not user friendly. Within 24 hours, Lee, my husband, decided he would choose who I would use and after some Googling, he chose JustHost. I already had my site name through Vendio and we weren't able to change it over to JustHost for 60 days, although I could still use JustHost for my site building. Are you confused yet?
To save money, we went with a 6 month plan. It came out to just under $50. Then I had to actually try to design a site. I selected a template and played around a bit adding photos and information. After adding my products to Google Checkout I used the HTML code to add them to my site. It wasn't very pretty, and when you are like me, you want things to look nice and neat. (People who have been to my house may not agree, but I really am a very organized person on the inside.)
Next, I tried to use PayPal. Both of these were a PITA because I would have to add a product individually (without a color/size option) for it to keep inventory. Plus, with PayPal, they only allowed ten options for a product. Well, with diapers that come in fourteen different colors, this was not working out.
I decided to bring in an expert. Holy moly! Website building is not cheap. I should have gone to school for that instead of teaching! That's where the money is. (Like I went into teaching for the money...)
I spoke with a very nice guy (I have notes from him somewhere around here...really-they are on a file on this computer! :) ) who opened my eyes-his prices started at $2500 and went up from there. He told me that to get a reasonable ecommerce site with the products I was describing (cloth diapers) I would need to pay more like $6000 and up. I about had a heart attack right there. I thanked him for his time, but explained that right now (which was in March/April 2011) I just could not afford that. Not that I can now either...
I tried to make JustHost and my PayPal buttons work for the time being. However, I couldn't offer discount codes either, and that annoyed me more. With the move coming up though, I didn't have any time to research other solutions in depth.
In May, I had an offer from another WAHM (work at home mom) to do free copy writing work for my site. We met online, and she needed more variety of work for her portfolio. We have chatted back and forth a lot through email and I enjoy working with her. I asked her if she knew anyone willing to do pro bono website design and she said I should just ask around the site where we met. So I did.
I contacted a designer and she said she would be willing to do it and we got started. I explained what I was looking for and she said she could do it all. The work would be free, but I needed to pay for the hosting. I explained that I already had hosting and a domain, but she said hers was better and had more options. I paid for a year up front-going through her to get her designer discount since she used the same company again and again.
About a week later, she had a sample done for me with the home page. It was really cute and I was happy she was coming through. Then I didn't hear from her for a couple of weeks, and I was getting worried. I had heard that if you were to file a PayPal dispute, you needed to do it within 45 days. I had close to two weeks before those 45 days were up. I contacted her a few times and asked what was going on since I needed my site to be working and ready for customers. I hadn't been updating my old site since I didn't want to do the work twice. She finally contacted me back and said she had had a terrible cold and she was working on the site again.
I should have known then that things were not going to work out. Who can't return emails when they have a cold? Really? If you own a business, you need to keep up with those types of things.
She did send me more pages and we were looking good to go. We tried to switch my hosting over, but whatever happened, it didn't work. I was the middle man between her and Vendio and I couldn't figure out what was going wrong, so she said for now, we would just switch something else over, (I have no idea at this point what it was) and it would be easiest if I gave her my password and she would just do it. So glad I never did that! I didn't feel comfortable with that so I was waiting for the site to be done and she could walk me through whatever steps needed to be taken.
Well, all of a sudden she said she was going through another company and had a different site for me-not nearly as cute and, honestly, I felt like it was work I could have done.
Meanwhile, I had been talking to other retailers and learning about other eCommerce site cart options. I looked into 3DCart and began my free trial.
3DCart has been so easy to use and I love it. It has a ton of options for my products, and even though it seems to cost more, I got a great deal and it isn't anymore than I've paid in the past for regular hosting. I got 15% off and 3 months free! I love free stuff. Plus, I can offer discount codes and reward points to my customers. Woo hoo!
The down side is, I haven't received a refund for the money I paid to get new hosting, but I think I'm just going to write it off as a loss and move on. :)
Oh, and let's not forget the promo codes for Bum Luxury! Free shipping: FSNEWSITE and 10% off: NEWSITE10 These can be used together for this month, but I may decide to change that in the future, just because now I have the option! Happy shopping!