Taking a moment to reflect back on the month of May in Etsy, has left us feeling "caught between the Scylla and Charybdis" as so eloquently stated by Sting in the song Wrapped Around your Finger. Whether the cause of slumming sales is the fallout of the tumultuous IPO debute, a general foreboding of adverse economic conditions ahead, a backlash against the Etsy marketplace, erosion of the user-base or simply a lack of creative marketing on our part remains to be proven in the months ahead.
Instead of listing some of our new pieces or blindly following the SEO Sheep in the Etsy forums this afternoon, I took some time to revisit an old friend, Wordpress, to consider yet another new direction for our shop. The Wordpress of 2015 is definitely not my conservative Father's blogging site consisting of ongoing posts and ramblings regarding the Barack Obama Economy.
I started with a base Wordpress download and followed with the WooCommerce plugin. Gone are the days of covering the desk with MySQL reference manuals and an afternoon of trying to master PHP syntax. The WooCommerce plugin took all of about 5 minutes to install, tweak, and have seamless integration with Wordpress. Testing a few free WooThemes, the free StoreFront theme meet my expectations for painless basic layout and I quickly moved on to configuring menus along with a static front page. Coming from venue based websites such as Etsy, Artfire, and HandmadeArtist, I was a little frustrated but more overwhelmed the limitless choices. I'm not wholly convinced that people really like choices, much like everyone shouts about freedom and democracy but are inconvenienced by actually have to get out and vote or participate in town hall meetings. In this case, choice carries with it a new sense of creative freedom that just can't be found in rigid venue based sites and I was more surprised and inspired than inconvenienced.
The next task was removing that annoying blogger feed. After all who would actually use Wordpress for blogging? The task was simplified using the editor function on the dashboard tool bar and all of the config and php files were lay out in an organized fashion for easy editing.
I was able to find the sidebar control file and simply comment out the php code using */ to remove that last pesky vestigial appendage of the former blog site. Setting up the WooCommerce plugin was actually easier than Shopify which might hold the gold standard for the quickest and easiest configuration of an online shop.
Simplify Commerce satisfied the credit card gateway requirements mostly because the plugin was available free of charge and offered all the functionality of Stripe or other well known Gateway. Before going live with the basic concept and layout, categories with graphic representations were added to my menus with just a few simple clicks.
Looking ahead to adding the products, WooCommerce provides extremely thorough templates with attribute control, item variations, shipping, meta tags, and full control over the fine details for providing top notch SEO.
Where we intend to go with out new site, remains to be seen, however using Wordpress and Woo, our new basic site was launched with very little frustration and near endless possibilities for refinement and customization. June is usually quite busy with Father's Day orders, so we don't expect to have much time for dabbling our to further our foray into the world of self-hosted sites, but hopefully we will be ready for launch by mid-summer. Of course many thanks to the Woo Team for creating such a stellar plugin.
Our basic site can be found at: https://www.themetalopia.com and should be fully active in about 48 hours once we have C-Name updated and the SSL Socket installed.