Continued from Part 2: Domains
Part 3: The Social Media & Shared Market Alternative
Domain registration already takes some artists out of their comfort zone. If so, let me suggest another approach, which involves orchestrating your entire web presence around shared sites so that you don't need to register a domain or find a web host. This works for many artists, and there's no reason it can't for you.
Basically, you establish a business presence on a shared social media site like Facebook or Instagram, or photo gallery site like Smugmug, and your online store as part of a shared online marketplace like Etsy. You do not get your own domain, nor do you build a website. The advantage of this is clear; lower expenses, less up-front work, and it involves sites you're probably on anyway.
First, you create your presence by creating a "business page" on Facebook. Alternately, you can use photo sites like Smugmug or Flickr to create a customized personal gallery of your work as your homepage. Social media is better for keeping in touch with your customers, but is not a good idea if you don't already use it -- it's very attention-demanding, and social media users tend to be unforgiving of any sluggishness in responding to messages. Next, you sign up for an account with a shared marketplace like Etsy in order to sell your work, and you link the two locations in descriptions and announcements.
The main disadvantage of this approach is that third party sites are owned by other people and often make policy changes that interfere with your business. For example, Facebook constantly pressures you to buy advertising, and may hide your announcements if you do not. You're also very limited in what you can do on such sites; every Facebook page looks like every other, as does every Etsy page.
There will be more on Etsy and their competitors in Part 5. In the meantime, we will continue with Business Card Sites in Part 4 tommorrow.