And we're back! We're on!
I'm embarrassed to even announce that the last blog entry dated back in August. But! If you have been following me for a while—which I deeply appreciate btdubs—you'll notice a completely different aesthetic. I'm still in the process of branding Kaiffeinated Illustrations, but I finally committed to Squarespace. After days of reading about different platforms (Wordpress, Shopify, Squarespace and Etsy) to host my creative journey and future shop, I thought Squarespace was the best way to go. Here's why:
1. EASE OF USE
I've always used Wordpress to code my websites from scratch. Though I enjoy the process, I simply don't have the time to set-up a new plugin or figure out why a piece of code isn't working. Setting up shop on Etsy was pretty easy—mostly text edits—since they have a universal template. I honestly haven't tried Shopify, but I've been playing around with Squarespace during the 14-day trial and their user interface quite the wonderful dream!
The drag-and-drop functionality allows me to quickly customize each page layout as well as insert a pull quote anywhere and everywhere in less than 30 seconds. #nomess #lessstress #pullquotesin30secondsorless
2. SECURITY & MAINTENANCE
Since I'll be operating an online shop, the most important thing I’m looking for is the security and maintenance. Again, I don't have any experience with Shopify, and I didn't have any issues with Etsy the few months I was active there, but they are vigilant when it comes to monitoring security risks.
With Wordpress, however, my blog needed constant bug fixes, and the plugins would stop working. Payment integration is also temperamental. You can call tech-support with Shopify, Etsy, and Squarespace, but you’re pretty much on your own with Wordpress. I want my friends and family to feel safe purchasing from Kaiffeinated.com and Squarespace was the best option since they also offer SSL Certificates with their packages. $12 a month to put my mind at ease? Yes, please.
To be honest, the main reason I considered selling on Etsy is because of the strong community. Payment integration wouldn’t be a problem pero like… I want to design my own storefront. Again, even though Wordpress is fully customizable, my shop would undergo maintenance more often if I were to continue with their service. So it's down to Shopify and Squarespace. Shopify has a very robust e-commerce system in place—with the bells, whistles, M&Ms, and Skittles—but do I need a four-level menu bar or a decked out accounting software? No. Sometimes having fewer features is far more effective. That’s why I chose Squarespace. Their simple e-Commerce system is more in line with what I’ll be offering at my store.
The first thing we want to do when we started our blog is to make it look pretty, right? Etsy doesn’t offer a blogging feature and it isn't very customizable either. As far as design goes, the most you can do is upload your own banner. For some, this may be the right fit, pero I’m all about shifting things around from time to time.
Squarespace is responsive, and though the character styles have already been defined, you can go into the “Custom CSS” panel to modify existing classes or add your own. I could go into Wordpress to make my own theme, but why put myself through all the work if it’s already been done? As creatives, don’t we put ourselves through so much work just so we can say we did on our own? Or is it just me? It’s a good thing to delegate tasks. It’s okay to ask for help. That way we can focus on more important things—like creating content and Taco Tuesdays.
5. PERFECT HYBRID
Squarespace is a completely different platform than I’m used to. There is no “backend” like there is in Wordpress. Everything you need, from billing to customizing your theme to writing a new blog post to adding a new product in your shop is conveniently located in your sidebar.
Writing blog posts is so much easier and has become a more enjoyable process. Configuring the shop won’t be a hassle either. So it’s the perfect platform for kaiffeinated.com. Squarespace includes a customizable blog for my creative struggles and a simple e-commerce system for my shop.
Each of the platforms—Shopify, Etsy, Wordpress and Squarespace—have features they do better than the others, so it’s really up to you and what you plan to do. Some questions you may wanna think about: Will blogging be the focal point of your website? Will you be opening up a store? Do you want to do both? Or have both but prioritize one over the other? To summarize:
Offers fully customizable themes and plugins (may cost $)
Must purchase a domain, theme and SSL Certificate separately
Security is an issue as it is constantly under attack from hackers
Time consuming with theme customization, plugin integration, security and maintenance
Awful e-commerce reputation
Robust e-Commerce system with third party app integration for POS, invoicing, etc.
Ability to upload products in bulk
Blogging functionality and customizability is lacking
Fairly quick to post new items, tag, ship etc.
Already a well-known and respected platform for e-Commerce
Strong artist and crafter community
Theme is universal and doesn’t allow HTML
Not a blogging platform
Squarespace: Blogging and e-Commerce
$12 monthly for the basic plan, which includes: hosting, SSL Certificate, domain (if you purchase the annual plan), themes, widgets, time saved from coding
Fewer selection of plugins and themes compared to Wordpress, but is closely monitored
Simple e-Commerce integration with an upgrade
Responsive themes and easily customizable layouts
I hope this helps you figure out which platform to start with—meaning you can change your mind later on if you find that it's not the right fit. Shopify and Squarespace offer two week trials or you can create accounts on Etsy and Wordpress for free. Delve right into what you think is best for your business. *No shit, Sherlock* What I'm trying to say is, stop delaying. What does your gut say? Pick that. Now let's get onto the fun part—making content!
Let me know your opinions. How are your experiences with Wordpress, Shopify, Etsy or Squarespace? Which do you recommend? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments below.