In 2023, I finally got the activation energy to learn and setup Shopify and launch my own shop. After Gumroad cost me thousands of dollars in fees with my OBS Course (while not providing a great "course" experience) and not being happy with the direction of other platforms - I sat out to make my own shop.
Shopify is complicated. But it's also really easy.
It's complicated because it's this deep system of different plugins, modules, themes, etc. rather than being an all-encompassing solution itself. In a way that makes it very similar to WordPress, but I had to immediately buy plugins to replicate "default" features I wanted from other platforms I was switching from. (Such as the ability to list free products with a "suggested" price or "pay what you want", having digital download products at all, or the course system.) Even now I'm still navigating the space to figure out which modules I need to get what I want out of my shop.
It's really easy in that it's a "no code" kind of setup, where everything is modular and GUI friendly, all designed to be as user-centric as possible - with plugin developers being quick to support me fixing issues and such. In this way, I've had a far better experience than similar scenarios in WordPress.
It's a lot of work, and costs more money than most people want to initially pay to just host their shop. I have to pay for Shopify's plan, I have to pay for a plan for the "Name Your Price" functionality, for the Course system, and for MailChimp for a newsletter if I want that. But these are static costs - costs that don't change or scale unpredictably - versus the growing fees and much higher costs of fees from sales on platforms, with the scale of stuff I sell here it's always worth it.
There's even an amazing feature that lets me showcase my product listings below my videos on YouTube! However, this keeps breaking as Google Merchant keeps disabling my account for "Misrepresentation" without giving any sort of clue as to what triggers this. I cannot, for the live of me, solve this. F.
2024 starts with a new facelift for the shop. I wasn't using the last theme properly, so I spent a good couple days straight evaluating themes and such. That's another "complicated yet easy" part of Shopify: You can pay for really elaborate and on-brand themes, but if you have specific ideas, there might not be a pre-made one yet. There were a few retro-oriented themes, but not quite what I was looking for. So I went for brutalism instead. Perhaps eventually I can afford to pay someone to make a more glitch/analog theme, but for now I dig this.
I still have a bit of work ahead of me for swapping out images and filling in text spots as I find them, but I'm stoked. This feels more like home and looks GREAT on mobile, too!
My big concern about Shopify comes down to ownership and control. I'm a huge advocate of self-hosting your work and content as much as possible, syndicating to third-party platforms. This has a ton of advantages when it comes to creative control, surviving trends and waves of internet changes, and so on (read more about the POSSE strategy on IndieWeb).
In some ways, moving to a Shopify shop gives me these advantages: I have full control of the content, aesthetics, etc. of my shop and how I interact with my users. It also allows me to still "syndicate" my listings to Etsy or something else if I want added discovery while still pointing people to my own home for it, first. This is all exactly what I want.
But when it comes to ownership, Shopify is arguably as much of a third-party black box as Etsy, Gumroad, etc. The service, tools, plugins, etc. are all hosted and ran through Shopify. I can use my own domain and choose the extra-party services I interact with it, but I cannot self-host my Shopify site. Given the complexity and support requirements, etc. you don't really want to with this kind of thing - BUT it leaves the same glaring problem of me not being in control. If Shopify goes under, cuts services, gets bought by Elon Musk, changes rates, etc. I'm still beholden to their whim. That makes me nervous.
But for now, I'm going to just try to focus on the good and get the most out of it. If I could only figure out this damn Misrepresentation issue.
In 2024, I'm hoping to have more offerings to sell here. The OBS Course and usual listings will remain, but I want to sustain my career more on the things I make, rather than ads run on my content.
That means more:
- Art listings:
- Sticker packs
- Pins and buttons
- Desk mats etc.
- Stream Setups?
- Thumbnail creation?
- What do you want to learn?
- Utility crafts
- (Such as my PS2 memory card holder from Etsy)
- Lightroom & Resolve Presets
I don't want to overwhelm everyone with options, but I want to support myself as an artist and a creative, not just a guy who makes videos and runs ads. I think that delivers better results for you all, too.