Editor’s Note: We’re super excited to share this post from Rebecca of OodleBaDoodle and SFEtsy about how Weebly is helping her grow her online business. Weebly (one of our Craftcation 2017 sponsors) led a workshop at Craftcation about how to build your ecommerce site and they’re offering all of you 25% off Weebly! This is an incredible deal that we’re so excited to share with you! Just click HERE to start exploring how Weebly can help you take your online shop to the next level AND get 25% off! -Nicole S.
Now on to Rebecca:
About three years ago I began a journey to create a space online for the work I was doing with OodleBaDoodle and eventually, to create my own ecommerce shop outside of Etsy.
When you attend creative conferences like the Craftcation Conference or meet up with successful makers, a common piece of advice that comes up is to “get your own website”. I agree with this advice, that anyone with a product needs to have an online presence. But for me, that didn’t necessarily mean I needed an online ecommerce site. I wanted a “homebase” for myself and my upcoming projects with the ability to add on the ecommerce portion later (once I was ready). With dozens of website builder options on the market, I was intimidated and overwhelmed with the decision.
As I started researching, I asked myself “What do you want for your brand website?” For many of us “non-techies” this can be an extremely daunting process. I am not a computer programmer, but I do consider myself somewhat familiar with technology. I’m also lucky to live with someone who builds websites for a living. Lucky or annoyed? Have you ever heard the adage “the cobbler has no shoes”? Well, that was definitely the case for me. I had a website (many actually, over the years using various platforms) but nothing that I really felt was a reflection of what I had in my head for my business.
My goals were simple:
- I wanted my website to look great and feel professional
- I wanted to have the option to sell & market my work using the latest technology
- I wanted the process to be easy enough for me to do myself
When I first built my website for OodleBaDoodle, I began with a Shopify site. On the surface, it seemed like the best option for me. They have great themes, good customer service and seemed to have everything I needed. Shopify is the king when it comes to ecommerce and for that reason, it was an easy decision for me to go with the platform. Until I did my first show where I wanted to check people out using their mobile check out system. Like many of you, I spend (or did spend) many weekends at craft shows and festivals showing off what I had made to my audience of customers who shopped at these events.
In the summer of 2014, I participated in a different kind of show. It was a wedding expo where I’d be taking custom orders. As I dug into the capabilities for having a custom order business with Shopify, I figured out pretty quickly, it wasn’t going to work for me. I was paying $30 per month but to add custom orders, I needed to purchase an add-on software app and speak to a developer who would charge by the hour to help me set everything up. Since that wasn’t feeling quite right for me, I just used Etsy at that show, easily creating custom orders on their mobile app and checking out using the Etsy check-out or sending a direct link.
After that experience, I began my search for an easier way to build my online presence. First, I wanted my online presence to reflect the way my customers saw me at in-person events such as craft fairs. I spent a lot of time getting my booth display to look professional, yet fun. Was it possible for me to do the same thing online without getting a website programmer involved?
Because the look and feel of my site was important to me, I set out on a journey to explore all the different theme options for the various ecommerce platforms. Many makers I knew were using SquareSpace, WordPress themes or Shopify. All had interesting designs but nothing that was 100% unique and felt like my brand. I wasn’t building “just another online shop”. My vision was to allow people to step into the world of Oodlebadoodle online but also have the website design fade into the background and show off the uniqueness of each one of my pillow designs.
Sure, I was adding my own images and branding assets for my website on the Shopify platform but I found myself constantly feeling like I wanted things to look different, constantly wanting to change the design. I’m sure I was driving my computer programer husband bonkers every time I was logged into my site wanting to move a photo or have the page look a certain way. He finally said “You should take a look at Weebly, that way you can move things around yourself.”
Two of our friends and former co-workers had recently begun working at Weebly and they mentioned to me that I could build my entire website using their iPad app, which one of them had developed. If nothing else, I figured I knew someone who was technical enough to answer my questions if I came across a problem. So I opened my mind to giving Weebly a try.
The mobile builder was a very intriguing idea since leaving the corporate world, I hardly logged into my computer. I shopped on my iPad, read on my iPad and watched TV on my iPad, so of course I wanted to build my website on my iPad! They have since added iPhone & Android apps for building your website too!
Before I made the switch, I attended a workshop called “website in a night” at Weebly HQ here in San Francisco. I was kind of skeptical about the possibilities of building a website on my own with all the features I needed in one evening. However, as I watched the head of education drag and drop things onto the builder platform and then hit the publish button, I realized that I COULD have creative control of my own website.
Weebly was the easy choice for sure. It hit my goals of simplicity and allowed me to get the look and feel that I wanted quickly. For now, I am not ready to have an online shop outside of Etsy, but I wanted to have that option and when I decide to build out my ecommerce, I wanted to have all the latest tools for optimizing SEO and customer interaction. Weebly will allow me to optimize my site for great customer service.
A website should be a reflection of yourself and your brand – especially when you’re the maker or the artist. Having that creative control is very important to me. But even more important to me, was the freedom to make changes myself.
I wanted my website to be a living document – something that can be updated by me at a moment’s notice but also has all the bells and whistles that comes with all ecommerce websites.
Selling my work is important – the experience I had selling my work in person gave me a lot of insight into what makes someone buy an OodleBaDoodle pillow. I want to translate that experience into my online presence and it’s tricky because I’m constantly tweaking my approach, so I found myself wanting to constantly tweak my site too.
I’ve been living with my Weebly site for little over three years now. I recently did a complete refresh of the look and feel. Using the Weebly builder, I created a “demo site” noodling to my heart’s content and updating it little by little until I was ready to “make it live.”
It was so easy to work on my new site quietly behind the scenes without worrying that I would accidentally change something on my live site. I was able to try out different themes and upload photos and change the look and feel and once I was happy with my new design. I was ready to flip the switch.
The past year has been challenging for many reasons. If you listened to my interview with Nicole and Delilah on their podcast, you many be familiar with my journey. I spent a large portion of the year designing and building out a new line of products based on my watercolor paintings but still incorporating the Oodlebadoodle huggable-ness through pillows. That was step one, then life threw me a curve ball – just six weeks before the 2016 Holiday Season began, I fell and broke my ankle which required surgery to repair.
I was on complete bed rest for almost a month, which put me so far behind in my schedule. I am still experiencing the lessons I learned through that injury but one of the big ones is how important it really is to the survival of our micro-businesses when we are not able to do craft shows is to have a strong ecommerce plan.
Once I recovered from my injuries and the holiday season, I felt compelled to really put forth the effort to lay the groundwork for my own ecommerce platform, which I will be building on my Weebly site this year.
If you have time to look around on my refreshed OodleBaDoodle website, you will see that I have some unique pages. The look and feel is very neutral and that is by my own design. I want the design to really fade into the background as I add more products to my shop. The work I create is colorful and playful and I wanted it to have a canvas to shine.
I created all the graphics myself, including the logo. During my bedrest, I watched so many online lessons for learning Adobe Illustrator – it was great to put those lessons to good use for my website project! Also included is my updated About section, featuring the “Not so Corporate Headshots” I had taken by Sarah Deragon at Craftcation this year. She really captured the fun and magic of OodleBaDoodle.
The other special page is the “OodleBaDoodle In Action” page. This page actually used to be my main homepage. It pulls in my Instagram photos. I really like how fluid that page is but I do feel like it was taking away from the shopping part which is why I moved away from it being the homepage.
I created that page myself, using custom HTML code from SnapWidget and I’m proud to say I didn’t have to ask my husband for any assistance! He did help me publish my new website though. I hope you will continue to stop by from time to time and check out what’s new!