Time to have another topic for ya'll to read, share some opinions, and offer what I have read too. Websites, should I have one, do I need one, so much work, is it necessary, and boy those things cost too. Yes, you are right, they can be costly. Depends what you all want to do with it, what your goals are, and how much you would like to spend with it too.
No matter how many storefronts a person has it is good to have a website. The website can serve as your home base, links your web presences to one another, and serves as your "hub" that will direct visitors to your stores, your blogs, and serves as kind of an online business card.
Before jumping into this I recommend searching around a bit. Do searches about them, see what others say, and suggest. Calculate how much you would like to spend for the website. Cost of hosting, your domains, the shopping carts, and do you intend to advertise to get your website out there too? A lot of things to consider.
What is the best Host, and what should you consider? You need to consider it needs to be affordable for you. I know Hostgator starts about $3.96 a month, and I see that one mentioned often by others using. The host needs to perform well for you, and your visitors. You need to be able to draw traffic. Does it give you the option of setting up a shopping cart, or is it included maybe? Make sure you have support staff that is available 24/7, and that it has the tools to let you edit the site yourself too. And, this one I like myself, it should provide for a blog if you would like to have one too. Another thing is can you do the domain with them, or do you need to go some where else for that?
Having a website is great for business cards. You use your main domain name on the card with the URL, and it will lead people to the website. From there they can view, and click to where they prefer to shop at. Your traffic can come from your host, and also your business cards too.
Now, there are some websites that are free to use too. Depends how much work you want to work with it yourself, what you are knowledable with, and where you feel comfortable at.
I have one. Actually on my 3rd, 4th, or whatever I had signed up with. There are different free ones out there. Some I have liked, and some I do not like as well. Google has one you can set up as many pages as you want, it's free, and takes a little work. But, I am not all computer literate so sometimes anything will take a little work for me. Check google for sites.google.com/?? Or, just go to google, and search it there. There is Microsoft Office Live, FreeWebstore.org, Webstarts.com, Wix.com, and Weebly.com. I know you can get one at Vendio, don't let the ebay thing bother you as it can be done without ebay, and I think that one was free?
There is also Pro Stores that can be used, and I do believe that starts at about $30 a month. I have heard others mention it, and they like it. I have been noticing some websites being done with vistaprint.com, and do not know the cost for them. Yahoo has business sites/stores that can be used, and not sure of their cost. Just a lot all there, and no way I could mention them all. Search google for many of them, read forums with sites and social medias to learn of some, and just roam the internet to find them too.
As I mentioned I have my website free, and that is with Weebly.com. Through bannerfans.com which is also free, I have made my banners, avatars, and such that are used with the site. I have set a tab that is a blog on my website...free, and I could add it in if I wanted to. I have directed 1 of my domains to this website. I got my domains through GoDaddy.com. I have never had an issue with them, pay a small yearly fee for the domains, and that cost is sooo small compared to paying fully for a website, and all the extras with it.
I do not have a shopping cart on the site, although I could, or I could use the buy it now buttons as weebly does have that. Instead I use my rapid cart from Artfire, My widget from Ecrater, and for Addoway and the other stores I also have my RSS Feed going to the pages for them.
I have chosen to use my website, and my blogs as my landing pages showing my links to the stores I sell with, links to all the blogs, link to my website, and so on. Maybe at some point I will add the shopping cart, and sell either with my blog or website. But, for now, for me, I am comfortable using them as landing pages, and making an internet presence that way. Please, visit my LilacsNDreams Website, and have a look around. It is not perfect, I am sure there is much more to do with it, and different ways to do things, but I am comfortable with it, and it works for me. Great support at weebly, and they have been getting used by quite a few too.
I hope this has helped you with the issues of a website. I know I have not covered everything for you, but hope I was able to give you some things to think about, consider, and research with. Thanks again for visiting with LilacsNDreams, and visit with me here anytime. Always welcome with the visits, comments, sharing, and so on.