Your brand, your space.
No matter how you ultimately decide to sell, there should be one thing you’re always aiming for. The final goal of anyone selling anything is to run your business your way. This comes down to making sure that your brand comes first and that you have as much control over your selling space as possible.
What do I mean by your brand? It’s your company, your artistic career, your selling identity. Sally’s Shoelace Store is as much a brand as Daphne Love, the pen name of Ernest Cromwinkle when he writes erotica. One person is using their name (or a pen name) and the other is using the name of a company but in both cases it boils down to the identity behind what you’re selling.
Your brand can manifest itself in many ways. The design of your logo, the tone of your social media posts, the copy on your products and in your emails, it all adds up to the overall impression your customers get of your business. I like to think of it as your selling personality. Not your actual personality, though chances are elements of that will come through, especially if you sell under your real name, but the personality your selling identity would have if it were a living thing.
Brand is a huge conversation and could easily be the topic for a whole other book but here’s all I want you to take away from this: A seller with a personality is a seller that is memorable and likable and that leads to loyal customers, repeat business and more sales. You want a customer to leave your transaction with the memory of your name fixed in their mind so that they’ll come back to buy from you again or tell a friend. That is how any business grows, whether you sell crafts or cat beds, words or wrenches.
In the same way, the more control you have over your selling space, the better it is for your business. Ever been screwed over when your platform changed a policy or increased fees? Ever lose out on money because your selling site had an outage? Ever get frustrated because your marketplace limits what you can sell and how you can sell it? We’ve all been there. The goal is to find a selling solution where you hold the power over how you sell instead of being subject to a larger company’s ups and downs.
Of course, that goal is cross purposes with the goal of most selling platforms. Every selling tool only allows so much freedom for you to express your brand because they want the focus to be on their brand instead. This can range from a marketplace that only allows you to showcase your logo in a tiny avatar size to a webstore that allows for a customizable template to give your store a unique look but still leaves their logo on your checkout pages. As you might expect, the more freedom you get, the more it costs but the cost is not always money, it’s often extra work.
In truth, I’m not sure that 100% e-commerce independence is even possible as you’ll always still be dependent on some service such as your web host, your payment processor, or your email provider. But while some dependencies are unavoidable, you should at least work toward the end game of making your selling as independent and as true to your brand as possible. As we explore our options, start to consider which elements of selling you’re willing to surrender control of and which are non-negotiable.