Free Vs Pay Monthly Ecommerce Shopping Cart Solutions

As a provider of several different ecommerce shopping cart websites to clients all over the world, there is one particular question that I get asked time and time again: "Should I use a free ecommerce shopping cart or a hosted solution?". My reply is always the same: "It will depend on your specific requirements".

I have always said that no one ecommerce solution can cater to every single customers individual requirements. We will all have different needs, and we will be trying to achieve different end results.

I wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of these two different types of ecommerce options.

What are the differences?

Usually with a free ecommerce shopping cart you will need to do everything yourself. From choosing your domain name, to selecting hosting, installing your ecommerce software, designing it etc.

With a hosted ecommerce solution provider many of the required steps are already taken care of for you. You still need to decide upon & register your domain name, but hosting is taken care of by the ecommerce company that you choose.

Hopefully taking a look at the pros and cons of each will help you to decide which best suits what you are looking for.


Free Ecommerce Shopping Cart

With a free platform you will first need to decide on platform you would like to use. Zen Cart and OS commerce are popular but are getting old and becoming less supported. Magento, Presta shop and X cart are the choice of the professionals, but have a steeper learning curve.


  • It's free! - You can't get any cheaper than getting something for free ay?
  • No tie-ins - There are no commitments with free ecommerce solutions. If one particular platform is not working for you, you can usually just start again on another ecommerce platform.
  • You have full control - The great thing about hosting and running your own ecommerce store is that you will have full control over all aspects of your store and so cn be a bit more flexible. Some people may find a hosted solution quite restrictive.


  • Little to no direct support - You are usually on your own support wise when it comes to free ecommerce solutions. So if something goes wrong, you'll need to either consult forums for the answer yourself, or outsource and hire a developer to fix things for you.
  • It's harder to install a new theme - Depending on the ecommerce solution you choose, installing a new theme can be a complicated process. You will usually need to access your websites core files and upload your new theme using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software such as file zilla.
  • Updates - You will usually be on your own when it comes to ensuring your shopping cart software is up to date. Some updates for the software you are using could include important security patches or bug fixes.
  • Security - How secure your website is from hackers will rest with you and you alone.

Hosted Ecommerce Shopping Cart

There are several companies out there not that provide a hosted solution for a reasonable monthly fee. Each company also has their own pros and cons as well as differing feature-wise. You will need to invest time into deciding which best fits your needs. Big commerce, Volusion and Actinic are popular choices.


  • Free themes - Several free themes are available for hosted ecommerce solutions that are usually just one click away to install.
  • Better support - The majority of hosted ecommerce solutions will have a helpful in-house support team that you can turn to if you are having any problems with your store.
  • Updates - The ecommerce company that you choose will usually ensure all customers are running the latest versions of their software.
  • Security - No ecommerce company would want their platform - or a customers website to be hacked. The majority will do all they can to reduce the chances of this happening.
  • Easy installation - Most hosted solutions are very simple to set up. It's usually just a case of entering your details.


  • Not as flexible - Those who prefer to spead their wings and experiment with their store may find a hosted solution quite restrictive.
  • You're tied in to a monthly fee - Whether your website becomes instantly profitable or not, you will be tied in to paying a monthly fee that will range anything from $10 - $20PM.
  • No core file access - For security reasons hosted solutions will not give you access to your websites raw code. They instead make all aspects of your store editable by using the likes of a WYSIWYG editor ( what you see is what you get ).

So as you can see, the choice when it comes to ecommerce is not an easy one. I personally prefer the flexibility that the free ecommerce platforms can provide; but I can also see why hosted ecommerce solutions are becoming more and more popular.

Barry is an online Entrepreneur and the co-founder of a specialist Ecommerce shopping cart solutions company based in London

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In search for the cheapest contact lens store

I am very near-sighted and have worn contacts since the time I was about 10 years old. My first contact lenses were soft contacts that needed to be washed and disinfected with head every night. Nowadays I wear daily disposables from Alcon, and they are so much easier to deal with. couponAs you probably know, contact lens wearers spend more money over a lifetime than people who wear glasses. Although contact lens prices have come down over the years, I am still always on the lookout for the cheapest price. For now, the winner seems to be, at least for the brand of lenses I wear. On top of their low prices, there is usually some coupons on the Internet (like the ones available at that I can take advantage, which gives me additional savings.

Ordering from is usually a cinch, as they do all the verification with the doctor’s office on your behalf. I like the fact that repeat orders are very easy to make and only involved a few clicks. Despite the ease of ordering, you should still make sure you keep a copy of your prescription at all times, as sending a copy via e-mail can frequently facilitate the ordering process. If you order before you run out of your contact lenses, however, you usually will not have to worry about this as there are rarely any delays or problems with your order if you use this store.

For online coupons and other great discounts, go to Visual

Why eHarmony may be your ticket to dating success

Online dating has been around for quite some time now, but people have varying degrees of success when they search for love online. One of the most common mistakes people make is joining a site that isn’t the best fit for them. Before looking for a potential match online, it is crucial than you first match yourself with the dating site that is most likely to work out for you.


The first thing you must do is determine exactly what it is that you want. Is it true love? Is it marriage? Or a casual relationship?

You need to take a good, hard look at yourself and be honest about what it is that you are after. Once you have done some reflection, the next step is to find the site that best matches your needs.

If you are looking for the love of your life and marriage, your best bet, as far as I’m concerned, is eHarmony. This site makes no bones about the fact that it caters to individuals who are serious about love. One of its claims to fame is that the site has been responsible for more marriages than anyone else, both online or otherwise. If you think about is, that is quite an accomplishment. Therefore, if it is marriage that you’re after, eHarmony should definitely be your first choice among dating sites. You can read more about eHarmony and other dating sites by going to online dating websites.

That said, eHarmony does require a bit more work than other dating sites. When you first join, you are required to complete a lengthy personality test. This can take anywhere from a half hour to a full hour, depending on how thoughtfully you answer each question.

The good news is that it’s free to join the site and take the test. To sign up for free, use this special free trial link. You’ll even get a free personality profile. This will give you a rough idea of how well the eHarmony test and its results have managed to analyze your personality.

The one other thing you need to know is that eHarmony takes a bit more time than other sites to find you matches. The focus is clearly on quality of matches and not the quantity. This means you might have to wait longer until you find the ideal match. But when it happens, it could very well be for life.

Try doing your taxes with Turbotax

freebiesTax season is just around the corner, and if you aren’t doing to already, you should be using Turbotax to do your taxes. Let’s review why.

Doing tax returns on your own is a great way to save some money. But if you download the forms from the IRS and try to complete them yourself, rest assured you will be quite overwhelmed. Although the IRS does provide instructions, you will need to be rather sophisticated with finance in order to make sense of all of it. If you have a degree in finance or accounting, you may want to take a crack at in, but in most other cases, doing your own taxes on your own is not recommended, unless you have simple, straightforward returns.

Suffice it to say, the majority of us need some sort of assistance to complete our returns.

The traditional way people do their taxes is by utilizing a tax preparation service. Although there are some cheap options for doing this, I believe it’s much better to use Turbotax. Compared to a tax preparation service, Turbotax is hundreds of dollars cheaper. In fact, for the simplest returns, Turbotax is 100% free. Even if you don’t qualify for the Turbotax free edition, you can still begin all tax returns for free on Turbotax. When you file, however, you may be required to pay a fee. Prior to doing that, however, you'll be able to view exactly how much your refund will be.


Keep in mind, Turbotax can handle state returns as well. So it really is a great way to bypass having to use a traditional tax preparation service. Therefore, I highly recommend you to get the free edition of Turbotax and test out the software for yourself.

Doing your returns for free may sound too good to be true, but the fact is that many things can be done for free. The website, gives you access to free trials and other freebies you can use to try out products and services for free.

Buying ink from Inkfarm to save money on office expenses

printer inkDespite trying to go paperless, there is still a certain amount of printing that I must absolutely do. This is especially true around tax season, when there are plenty of forms to complete (see my previous turbotax article for an easy solution). And I always seem to run out of ink faster than I planned. A potential solution is to stock up on ink so I wouldn’t have to order cartridges so often, but the thing that stands in the way is that ink cartridges can be so damn expensive.

So what is a real solution? For the time being, I have three things that I do to minimize ink costs. First, I have begun to purchase remanufactured cartridges. These are ink cartridges that have been professionally refilled by a company. It’s important here to pick a company or store that knows what it’s doing. One time, I bought a remanufactured cartridge on Ebay and it did not work well at all. I therefore recommend buying such cartridges from reputable online stores such as Inkfarm.

The second thing I do is always purchase my ink online. For whatever reason, this seems to get me better prices. Maybe it’s because online stores have less overhead and they can pass on the savings to customers. In any case, I use Inkfarm a lot as I have found their prices to be the most competitive.

A final thing I do is take advantage of coupons, such as this Inkfarm coupon code I used the other day to score some nice savings. Online coupons are easy to use and all you need to do to activate them is copy a cope into the appropriate box during check out. Here is the same ink cartridge coupon I used.


Smoking vs. Using E-cigarettes


I like to smoke, but I also do a lot of work indoors at my computer, and don’t like to stink up my apartment. This makes smoking somewhat inconvenient, since I always need to go outside to smoke. Moreover, when I get lazy and decide to smoke indoors, I have to use an ashtray, which unfortunately gets knocked over a lot by my pets.

I also smoke while playing video games, and when I’m in a tight situation in a game I’m playing, I might forget to take a puff for 10 minutes and lose most of the cigarette that way. For these reasons and more, I decided to try out e-cigarettes, not so much as a replacement for cigarettes, but an alternative to use while indoors.

To my surprise, I found myself liking e-cigarettes much more than regular cigarettes and eventually stopped using analog cigarettes altogether. Among the benefits I enjoy are lower cost, better health (although some would debate this), and a cleaner, better-smelling home.

So for any gamers or computer geeks who smoke, I highly encourage you to try out e-cigarettes. I started my new habit by buying a starter kit from the famous e-cig store, White Cloud E-cigs.

Quite frankly, there are tons of e-cig stores to choose from, but I liked this store because of the quality of e-cigs it offered. In the beginning, I favored the tobacco flavored cartomizers, partly because it most closely mimicked the sensation of actual smoking. But eventually, I became curious and started experimenting. Nowadays, I like the dessert and coffee flavors like cappuccino and chocolate. The choices are literally innumerable. Whether you buy e-juice, batteries, or cartomizers, always make sure you use coupons for your order. This can save you a good deal of money.

My recommendation is to buy your e-cig batteries at White Cloud, then buy e-liquids at a store like Vista Vapors that specializes in offering hundreds of e-liquids.

I can surf the net, read online, and play my favorite games like SWTOR now while I enjoy the flavor of e-cigarettes. Having to spend less money and breathing better are just icing on the cake. If this sounds good to you, make sure you give e-cigs a try, and buy only from reputable e-cigarette shops like Vista Vapors and White Cloud. There are a lot of cheap e-cigarette vendors out there selling inferior products, and those stores should be avoided at all costs. I had to learn that the hard way myself.

NOTE: Using e-cigarettes can help your dating life too, since your teeth will get whiter and your breath will smell better. For more, check out our article about dating with eHarmony.

Renting From Gamefly

As you can tell from our previous articles about saving money on tax filing and other similar topics, this website is all about teaching you ways to save money. But a common misunderstanding is that you can only save money by finding deals on products. While it's true that getting a discount on products using coupons or promo codes is one of the best ways to save money as a consumer, there are other means by which you can get great deals as well.

For example, have you ever considered the idea of renting products instead of purchasing them? For the most part, renting items ends up costing you a lot of money. The most common example would be rental cars. While convenient, if you rented cars all the time, the cost would become quite prohibitive. But in other cases, renting products can save you quite a bit. It all boils down to what it is that you rent. For the most part, it's best to rent products you don't use all that often, such as carpet cleaning machines. But surprisingly, there are also certain things you can save money on, even if it's something you use all the time.

Take video games, for instance. A typical game can cost you sixty dollars or more, assuming you purchase new released. On the other hand, if you sign up for a game rental service such as Gamefly, you'll only pay about $15 a month. What's more, you can rent as many sixty-dollar games a month that you want. The only limitation is that you'll have to send back the game you have currently rented before you receive the next one. This creates a turnaround time of 3-4 days between receiving games. The easiest way around this is to get a higher level membership plan, when you can borrow up to 2 games at once. This way, you'll always have at least one game to rent. Go to the Gamefly website to learn more about how the program works. For a limited time, you can also obtain a Gamefly free trial offer from, which lasts 30 days. And for those of you who are worried about the potential selection at Gamefly, you can rest assured knowing that the current library consists of over 8000 games. And the library continues to grow each month. For more on the size of the Gamefly library, check out this video:


Why may be the right dating service for you datingPreviously, I wrote a review of Eharmony, where I emphasized that the service requires a bit more work but may be the right choice for people who are interested in a serious relationship or even marriage. Today, I'd like to discuss a competing website, For those of you who aren't familiar with dating sites, Eharmony and are arguably the two largest and most influential dating sites in the modern world. The majority of people should find that one of these sites will meet their dating needs. It all boils down to what you are looking for.

As mentioned in my previous article, Eharmony is well-suited for individuals who are looking for marriage or a long-term relationship. It is best to think of it as a relationship site, whereas is more of a dating site. That's not to say that Eharmony is better than or vice versa. It's simply a question of which one is a better fit for you at your current juncture in life.

So why is a better choice for individuals who are more interested in dating rather than finding a serious relationship? Simply put, the service is designed in a way that encourages you to mingle and interact with a great number of people. More to the point, it puts you in charge and allows you to browse as many profiles as you like, and contact people at will. This is not the case with Eharmony, where you are allowed only to look at the profiles of individuals you are matched with. The best way to see how the service works is by giving it a try. This can usually done for free using the free trial offer, currently avialable at Normal rates for using the service range from just under $20 to up to $35, depending on the length of your subscription. serviceA common misconception among people who try out dating services for the first time is that it's easy to meet someone online. After all, there are thousands of people on the site, so how hard can it be? But the fact is, online dating can be just as hard as finding a date in the so-called real world. You should therefore have a strategy before getting started.

A good way to go about something like online dating is to do your homework. The strategies that work for you in the real world could very well end up being ineffectual in the online dating landscape. I usually recommend that people who are new to online dating read a number of books and visit dating information websites and read as many articles as they can. By doing this, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by learning the things you'd otherwise only learn by trial and error. Knowledge is your friend, and there's lots of it online waiting to be consumed, so make sure you take advantage of all the information at your fingertips.



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