It is my first time writing a post on here but I'd like to share how I've started running an e-commerce website the cheapest way possible (only pay for hosting).
This is for people starting out, students or if you just want to test things and see what sticks. You can sell goods, have a newsletter and contact form all for free, all you need is to know how to set up a website by either coding it yourself or using a free website builder. 1. Gumroad
I think a lot of people know about Gumroad, but when I started out I didn't. And it took a while for me to find it. I was looking at all the major e-commerce solutions, Shopify, Squarespace, Webflow. But I needed to be able to code this myself as I had a specific technical need, and spending over $20 a month on something that was more of a hobby at the time didn't really feel justified.
Gumroad takes care of the selling and distribution of your goods as well as letting users re-download the products, receipts etc.. Personally I only want to sell digital products, and this saves me from having a complicated back-end to take care of distribution, orders, past sales, account management, GDPR. In short, a ton of headaches!
When users want to buy something from my website, a pop-up appears, they enter their card or Paypal details and receive the goods in their inbox. Dead simple.
I wanted to start a newsletter around my niche, so I've stuck with Mailchimp's free tier which allows you to have up to 2,000 contacts subscribed. If you pass that it's only $10 a month for 50 000, which is reasonable IMO and if you're getting those numbers I'm sure you'll be able to afford it.
I had to play around with the embedded form a bit so that the user was redirected correctly on signup but otherwise it works great.
3. Sengrid / AWS SES
Last thing I needed to have was a contact form, but my website is running without a backend. To have a free contact form I created an Amazon Lambda, paired with Amazon SES (Simple Email Service) to send the mail, and you can send thousands of mails before having to pay.
One thing I didn't like about this was that Amazon had my card details, and If someone created a bot to spam my contact form overnight, I could be racking up a massive bill without noticing.
Instead of this, I found out my static hosting provides an easy way to set up Node Apps. I created a simple Express backend that sends the mail using Sendgrid’s free tier, without having my card details.
So using Gumroad, Mailchimp and Sendgrid I've set myself up a nice little e-commerce website, currently only paying for hosting, and Gumroad takes a percentage of the sales.
If you're interested in seeing the results you can check out: SVGenius
by Samuel Osborne the founder of SVGenius