As Independence Day approaches in the U.S., I thought it might be a good time to start a series of posts I've been thinking about for a while - information about resources for independent artisans. I hope to be able to offer some suggestions about website design, hosting, ecommerce, etc, business planning, grants/loans, and perhaps even some craft-related resources for those just starting out.
Today's suggestion, for artists looking for simple web sites with some ecommerce options, is Zhibit.org. Pronounced like the last part of the word "exhibit," Zhibit provides an easy interface for artists to sell their work. The advantages?
- Low cost (the most expensive plan tops out at $139/year, and there's a simple plan for $3/month)
- Good features for the money. The "Gold" plan, at $9/month or $89/year, offers 500 product listings with photos, a guestbook (which will generate a mailing list for you), site stats through Google Analytics or SiteMeter, integration with PayPal, help with SEO, and full domain aliasing (which means you can point your own domain name directly to your Zhibit shop).
Is it perfect? No, but it offers quite a bit for the price, and it's a great solution for someone who wants to be able to set up a site quickly and with little or no HTML knowledge.
I've just opened my jewelry supply shop through Zhibit, and I'm quite pleased. There are other services at a similar price point (BigCartel, or even eCrater for free), and some others that are more expensive and sophisticated (Shopify, NetworkSolutions), and I'll talk about those. But for a simple way to sell your artwork online, Zhibit gets my vote.