Okay- it's been a long and wonderful journey trying to figure all this out. I've had to learn a whole new set of vocabulary terms and tons of technical stuff. And I've loved it. Once I narrowed my choices down to 2-3 companies, it was very tough becuase so little separated them.
This is what I've gained from the experience and I will be happy to share in more detail with others- just get hold of me.
GoDaddy is still THE place to host, register domain names, and get email accounts. They also provide a ton of E commerce items. But the reason they rock is you can talk to someone every time you call and they are all amazing. The GoDaddy crew are so helpful and the wait time- even at high traffic call times- was never more than 4 minutes. It's like they really want to help you. ANd they do help. There is no passing the client to another techy. They deal with the problem and fix it.
And now the choice I made for my site: Shari Photography, www.shariphotography.com - after weeks of debate, comparisons, emails and phone calls with the developers- Portfoliositez. I really like this company. The offered a series of great looking templates, at a good price, with cool features. But the main reason- Customer Service baby! They don't do phone calls, but they ROCK the emails. I have sent a dozen email questions, and they have all been answered within an hour or less. These are not form emails, but acuall answers to my questions. Like Godaddy, they act like they really want to help.
How hard was the loading of the template to Godaddy? Eazzzzy. I emailed the domain name and password to Portfoliositez and 24 hours later I was live. They did everything.
The Other choice was Creativemotiondesign. I was really torn between these 2. CMD had cool templates, a rockin customer service which included email and phone calls. But in the end, the $50 difference and the extreme customer service of Portfoliositez swayed me.
For my shoping chart I am using Instaproofs. There are many choices out there- but I am using these guys becuase they have no upload limit, no monthly fee, and a standard %15 fee. I am also in total control of the image output which is very important to me.
Now the fun begins. Customizing my template to match my needs. That includes creating a logo, uploading images, and writing text. I am looking forward to it.