Building Your Own Online Store For Free
Ok so you've got your side hustle raring to go, with a dedicated number from TextNow. All you need now is to build an online store to actually sell stuff. Minor problem is you don't know how to host a site, or code a site, or how to accept payment, or --- well, anything about making an online store. And you're on a budget, so something that's both inexpensive and easy would be best, right? Well how does free grab you?
You're in luck! There are a few sites and services that'll do all the annoying bits of building an online store for you for free, even if you don't know your Java from a baklava. Let's take a gander at four of the most popular free online store solutions that'll help you get your side business off the ground.
Etsy, which I'm going to guess you've probably heard of, is a hugely popular site for both buyers and sellers of handmade and vintage goods. And it's free to start an account there and start selling. So how does Etsy make money? Couple of ways --- they take a small cut of each item sold, and charge a small fee for each item listed. The other catch is that Etsy only allows the sale of crafted or vintage items. The trade off is that an Etsy store can have much larger reach and give you access to a much larger audience than a stand-alone site can. And their support is pretty extensive --- take a look at their Seller's Handbook for a huge amount of tips, on everything from how to photograph your items to how to optimize your store to get your goods in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
Big Cartel separates itself from Etsy by pitching itself to "artists and makers", and by eschewing the fees Etsy charges, instead going with pretty straightforward plans based on how many products you're selling. So if you're only selling five or less pieces of your artistic visions, it's completely free, and then ramps up to different plans for 50, 250, and 500. The big advantage with Big Cartel is it's super easy to use. Perhaps assuming that the artistic types don't want to mess around with coding and whatnot, they've made everything as intuitive as possible.
Square, which started life as a point-of-sale solution has since branched off into a multitude of ecommerce tools and products, under the SquareUp name. They offer a lot of products, but if you're just looking to dip a toe into selling stuff online, Square's plans start at the very affordable price of free. Like Etsy, they take a cut of sales on the free tier, and then add extras on the paid tier levels. The big advantage with Square is they have solid integration with social media (like Instagram), and should your side hustle really take off, they have automatic inventory, and point-of-sale systems.
Not to be confused with Mozilla, the folks that make the Firefox browser, Mozello is a website hosting service that has branched out into the online store game. The advantage with Mozello is if you decide to go past the free tier into one of their monthly plans, they'll set up your store with its very own website, just like the big boys. The other advantage is Mozello has a HUGE amount of customization options, to really make your store stand out from the ocean of Etsy and ebay sellers.