Introducing Cella Sum

Cella Sum

We’re so pleased to announce Cella Sum as the newest member of Big Cartel. She’s jumping into our engineering team as a Front End Developer and we know she’s going to make some magic happen.

Having built her first website when she was just 14 years old, Cella’s interest in computers only grew from that point forward. She graduated from college with a degree in Computer Science and was most recently a developer for Urban Outfitters before joining the Big Cartel crew.

She and her pup, Kuma, call Philadelphia home and she is extremely active in her local community, volunteering with Girl Develop It, Coded by Kids, and Girls Rock Philly. In her free time, she practices and plays shows with her punk band, Chondria, and is currently working her very first zine focusing on sharing stories of Asian women, trans, and genderqueers in punk.

Help us give Cella a warm welcome to Big Cartel!

Shop Indie: camping gift guide

Into the Wild

One of Big Cartel’s own designers, Nate Hanson, hunted through some of his favorite shops to put together our latest gift guide. The weather is warming up in his neck of the woods, so Nate chose the perfect items for a weekend camping trip. For those of us not able to escape to the wilderness any time soon, there are plenty of items that even the most committed city-dweller will love.

Grab your hiking boots and head over to our latest #ShopIndie gift guide »

New theme: Good Vibes

Good Vibes theme

With the launch of our newest theme, Good Vibes, our friends over at Ghostly Ferns have officially done it again. This new theme is overflowing with style and includes some of the most popular features like large product images, a homepage slideshow, and easy social media integration.

A few of our favorite features:

  • On your click, the product images on each page open up large and clear in a lightbox gallery so customers can get a closer look before they buy.
  • The responsive layout makes sure your shop looks good anywhere. Text and images expertly resize to fit on any mobile device.
  • An image slideshow on your shop homepage sets the tone and gives you a spot to show off and promote products.
  • The handy Company Tagline field gives you a perfect spot to include a welcome message, a discount code, or any other note for your fans.
  • A sliding cart lets you add items, review the cart, and tuck it back away, all without leaving the page you’re on.
  • All you need is your username to quickly add social media icons to the footer of your site for Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Take a look around the Good Vibes test store to see how it works and read more about some highlighted features. Ready to try it out in your own shop? Find Good Vibes in the growing list of themes in your admin.

New Skillshare class: Build an online shop

Skillshare

We’ve partnered with our friends at Skillshare on a series of free classes specifically for artists, makers, and creatives working hard to sell their goods online. In the first class, Kate Miss takes her experience customizing shops for numerous artists and breaks it into simple, useful tips for designing, launching, and promoting your own custom shop.

Kate is an independent designer who works with artists all around the world to create successful online stores. She also runs two beautiful online stores: Kate Miss Jewelry and Kate Miss Prints. In this 40-minute class, Kate walks you through the basics of the admin, finding the right design, and creating a custom store designed to match your brand. Perfect for store owners just starting out, this first class is also full of tips for experienced stores ready to restock and refresh their online shop.

Oh yeah, and check this out: Skillshare has countless classes that are useful to the Big Cartel crowd, so dig through their offerings and find something you’ve always wanted to learn. If you’d like to sign up for a premium membership, use discount code BIGCARTEL to get two months of unlimited access to all classes for just 99 cents. Read more details about how a Skillshare membership works when you sign up.

Neat in action

We recently announced our newest theme, Neat. Artists and shop owners all over are taking advantage of this photography friendly theme, which groups products in collections that are easy to shop. We hunted down a few examples of stores using Neat well. Let them give you ideas on how to customize Neat for your own shop.

“Framing photos” on Semblance

Check out how Semblance selected their slideshow images: the products are grouped to one side to frame the welcome text, but without making it difficult to read. When planning your photoshoots, think about how images will be used in your store and plan accordingly.

  • Background color: #FFFFFF
  • Welcome text color: #FFFFFF
  • Text color: #999393
  • Link color: #CCCCCC
  • Link hover color: #4D4D4D
  • Header font: Raleway
  • Text font: Raleway

“Colorful culture” on Welcome Skateboards

Welcome’s homepage slideshow doesn’t just include styled product photos, but includes photos of their skateboards being used in the real world. They’re not just selling boards, they’re sharing skate culture. Pro-tip: If you want your logo to seamlessly fit in with the slideshow like Welcome, save a version with a transparent background, like a .png file.

  • Background color: #FFFFFF
  • Welcome text color: #FFFFFF
  • Text color: #000000
  • Link color: #000000
  • Link hover color: #F25749
  • Header font: Times New Roman
  • Text font: Helvetica

“To the point” on Bayardstown

Sometimes you just want to skip the bells and whistles and get to shopping. Bayardstown Social Club added custom code to skip the homepage so that customers go straight to the products page. They also added their own subtle background image, making their shop unique but still easy on the eyes. To make similar changes, you’ll need a paid plan to access your store’s code.

  • Background color: custom image
  • Welcome text color: #757575
  • Text color: #1B1B1B
  • Link color: #919191
  • Link hover color: #757575
  • Header font: Open Sans
  • Text font: Open Sans

Neat is all about showing off your products through large photographs in the homepage slideshow and on each product page. To fully take advantage of this theme, check out some of our tips in the Product Photography field guide. Ready to take Neat for a spin? It’s waiting for you in the Customize Design section of your admin.

New Shop Indie: spring gift guide

Ring in Spring

Big Cartel enlisted the help of friend and talented designer Erik Marinovich to curate our latest gift guide. Featuring products from some of our favorite independent artists, designers, and craftspeople, this collection of goods should do just the trick in preparing you for the exciting unpredictability of spring.

This update to shopindie.com marks a change in how we’re doing gift guides. Most importantly, we’ll be adding new collections more frequently. Each guide will center around a theme, with products curated by Big Cartel and friends. We’re excited to feature some of the over 600,000 independent business owners who use Big Cartel in such a simple and shareable way. Check shopindie.com often to see our latest selections, and join us in supporting the makers of unique, lovingly crafted items.

Get the goods for spring with our latest #ShopIndie gift guide »

New Field Guide: Customer Support

Customer Support

When you opened up shop, you likely had a handful of great products, and plans to expand into new materials, colors, or designs. You’ve worked hard to talk about your work, engage new customers, and remind existing fans why they love going to your site. In short, you’ve mastered a lot of what it takes to run a successful store.

The reality of owning a business, however, is that there’s a lot more that goes into the day-to-day of your online store. In our new field guide, we give time-saving tips for staying on top of your email, and suggestions for turning customer questions into an opportunity for excellent customer service.

Read the Customer Support field guide »

Better order notification emails

Order notifications

One of the best emails you can get is one about a new order in your shop. Someone bought something! Someone out in the world liked your work so much that they paid their hard-earned money for it. Maybe that’s a regular occurrence for you, maybe it’s not, but every time it happens - it’s awesome. And now, the email we send you about new orders is a lot more awesome too.

Our team worked hard to make our new order notification emails both useful and beautiful. You now have everything you need to fulfill the order right from the email, including what was ordered, who ordered it, and where to send it. That’s a big time-saver. Of course, if you need to dig deeper into the specifics, just click the eye icon (eyecon?) to view the order in your store’s admin area.

When issues arise

Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with an online business and electronic payments, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes the payment just hasn’t cleared yet, sometimes the billing details are a little off, and sometimes someone is trying to do something suspicious. In any case, you need to be aware of the issue so you can wait to send out your products until it’s resolved, and our new email has your back.

Order notifications

Now you’ll be warned about any potential issues with your order, with a link to learn more about what may have happened and what you can do about it.

Ready to roll

These new emails started trickling out over the last few weeks, and at this point they’re available for all shops. You may have one in your inbox already! If not, you can make sure you have them enabled in the Store > Settings > Notifications section of your admin, under Email me when I receive a new order. Hopefully you’ll be staring at one the next time your computer dings and your phone buzzes.

Tips & Tricks: Subdomains

Subdomains

What’s in a subdomain? A custom domain is a great way to brand your shop and let your customers know they’ve arrived at your little place on the internet.

But what if you do more than sell goods online? Say you’re a freelance illustrator or full-time photographer, and you just sell prints on the side. In that case, a subdomain might be perfect for you.

Take a look at Shed Labs, a design and illustration studio based in South Carolina. Wellington, Robbie, and Beau started screen-printing posters (sometimes working in a real shed), but soon morphed into a full-service design studio. Fans wanted their very own Shed Labs’ goodies, so they eventually opened up a Big Cartel store. Because they still have a design business to run, shedlabs.com is their home base. Using a subdomain, shop.shedlabs.com takes you right to their store, while still keeping their own brand in the spotlight.

Setting up a custom subdomain is a pretty painless process, but it’s a little different depending on who you’re using as your domain provider. We know that remembering where all the settings and switches are can be more than you want to deal with, so we’ve put together instructions for the most popular domain providers right here.

Don’t be afraid to be clever with your domain, either. Jessica Hische has a playful subdomain that you won’t forget: buystufffrom.jessicahische.com

Whatever you do, just remember that domains, like a great logo or product photography, are all about making your work stand out. Memorable names are better than a long string of characters. Typically, shorter is better. Take advantage of subdomains to extend your brand across the internet.

Downtime: we were attacked

Attack!

As most of you know, we had a really tough weekend. We were attacked, in the most real sense of the word. Someone conspired against Big Cartel and intentionally attacked our servers. No sensitive information was ever at risk, but shops were offline, sales were blocked, and there were some very frustrated store owners. For that, we want to deeply apologize.

We’re incredibly sorry for the outage this weekend. We know your business is important to you, and the time you lost was precious. Your passion for your business keeps us going, and we hate that this may have put a damper on that.

So what happened exactly?

We were hit by what’s called a DDoS attack. Essentially, it’s an incredibly malicious program that slams our servers with fake traffic to prevent any real traffic from getting through. Each time we fight back to prevent the attack, they come back with a different variation that attacks in a new way. Again, these attacks aren’t designed to access sensitive data, only to make the site inaccessible. It’s quite a common headache for websites like ours, in fact our pals at GitHub are currently fighting a massive DDoS attack you may have read about.

We have to deal with these types of attacks all the time, and we have a number of systems in place that fight off the attack so that most of the time no one ever notices. Unfortunately, this time our defenses weren’t strong enough, and the attack was successful. We threw everything we had at this one, with our team working around the clock, and it ultimately took us chartering a private flight carrying in even more security hardware to finally bring it down. It was rough, as you can imagine.

What if this happens again?

Attacks like this will happen again, but our goal is to eliminate their impact. In fact, just yesterday the attacker tried again and our system was able to fight it off without a blip. Why people want to attack Big Cartel or one of our stores is anyone’s guess, but we’re investing heavily in additional security resources to be ready for it. In the coming weeks we’ll be adding even more capacity and redundancy to our system, so that we’re always bringing as much firepower to these fights as possible.

And of course, if there ever is an issue with Big Cartel that may affect your shop, we’ll continue to be transparent and detailed with you by posting frequent updates via status.bigcartel.com, Twitter, and email.

Is everything good now?

Yep. Everything is stable, strong, and shops are selling like mad again. We’re looking back through all of the communication we received from so many of you during the attack, and we can’t thank you enough for the kind words and encouragement. Here’s to the small battles we face growing our company while you grow yours. We believe in you, and this weekend you showed how much you believe in us. Thanks.