set up your online store on a budget

Set Up Your Online Shop on a Budget | the Professional Hobbyist

set up your online store on a budget

Have you thought about taking your hobby to a higher level and get your shop online somehow but not sure how to do it on a budget?

You have some really cool stuff you made and your friends want to support you and purchase some of your awesome products. You've been doing it all on FB or Insta by messages, copy/paste information over and over, and realize it's really time consuming and maybe you made a few mistakes too?

Or perhaps you want to be included in a local online project but you need a website to qualify? However the idea of starting a shop on Shopify or building your own site is daunting, and you don't know if you want to spend $30+ month to run it?

Have no fear, there are ways you can do this inexpensively and still look professional!


Your first step should be to claim your shop's domain (.com). You can do this at any site that offers it. I use, it costs me some $$ every 2 years to renew, but I own 

Once you do this, you will be able to redirect your URL to whatever site you use to host your shop. This is done at the hosting company and is pretty easy to set up. After you do this, you can use your domain name on your business cards, correspondence, emails, wherever you want to send customers to your shop. For years I redirected to my etsy shop, so people searching for me didn't have to type to find me, so much easier, so much more professional looking! And shorter too on business cards!


There are many platforms that offer some free space to the new entrepreneur. I started out on Etsy which was easy to set up and helped me learn how to take good photos, how to write titles and descriptions, how to price my items, how to communicate with customers and how to wrap and ship my orders. 

Etsy charges a 5% transaction fee plus $.20/new listing or listing renewal. You also pay a 3.9~5% fee to the company that captures your money: credit card or paypal. So I just calculate a 10% transaction fee for every sale on Etsy to keep it simple.

I don't know if people in Japan can apply to Etsy, it seems some things are changing and Etsy is not accepting applications from Japan right now...but this is a rumor I can't confirm.

Some other platforms you can consider are:

WIX | this is a little more intensive for setting up, it will take you time to get the layout and feel of your site right. But once you do it, you'll have a pretty good looking site and depending on what plan you choose, for free or for minimal cost. 

ECWID | last time I checked you can have up to 10 products listed for free. And I think you can only receive payments by paypal, though you may have options for external payments like Japan Post or bank transfer. 

CREEMA | This is like a Japanese version of Etsy, if you are comfortable working in Japanese or know someone who can help you, it will give you a platform for selling at minimal cost and like Etsy, they have a built in search engine to help drive traffic to your site. Creema's fees are 10-12% per transaction, they hold your money and pay it out when you request it or every 4 months maybe? You will pay a transfer fee to receive payouts.

I'm sure there are other platforms too, if you know of any, shoot me a message so I can add them here! 



You'll need a way to get paid. If you plan to do international business, paypal is the best solution at this point. You may need to get verified as a business before you can set up Paypal Checkout on your site, but in the meantime you should be able to set it up so customers will receive an invoice from you after they purchase. It means you will have to go to your Paypal account and issue them an invoice using the email they ordered with. It'll be a time hassle, but is a quick stop solution until you can get your PP account verified. 

You may also have options for manual payments, like COD, bank transfer, in person payment. You most likely won't be able to set up credit card payments on free plans, last time I checked Ecwid didn't allow this, and I'm not sure about Wix. Creema and Etsy sort out how payments are received from the customer, so you just need a way to get paid from them.

And those are the very very basics to get you started on an affordable solution to setting up your very own shop! Some other tips you may find useful can be found in this article I wrote about moving from Etsy to Shopify or just establishing another shop. 


And if you are a small business in Japan, apply to our Small Businesses in Japan Directory to start getting yourself out there!


Feel free to reach out any time if you have a question or need some advice, I'll try to help if I am able! 



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