Opening a store online is easier than many think and can be done on a shoestring budget. The typical problem that most have is trying to find information where someone is not trying to rip them off or having to try to find all the information. In this article I will take you step by step, give you the website links where to go to get your domain name, cheap to free website hosting, and how to accept credit cards. I will also give some tips on how to get your newly registered domain name submitted to the search engines plus tips on how to be sure your web page can be indexed by those search engines.
1. So the first thing you need to do is determine what your store is going to sell, if you already know that’s great. The one thing you always hear about is to provide goods or services that fill a need. It could be as simple as homemade cookie gift baskets, or how about a gift ball, like at www.shipaball.com. The possibilities are endless.
2. Ok, the first thing you need to do is get your domain name registered. I would try to keep the name related to your store, so lets say you are going to sell cookie gift baskets, you could try for www.homemadegoodiebaskets.com or www.giftbaskethomemade.com now you have to realize that there are many extensions beyond .com these days. So if the .com version is taken you can opt for a different extension. The good thing is that many times the other extensions are much cheaper in cost. The place to register your domain name that I recommend is www.godaddy.com or if you go with Host Gator below, you can have the domain registered with your hosting, this is easier to do, no transferring, as Host Gator will set that up if you register with them.
3. The next thing you need to do is find a place to host your website. Now there are many options out there, a free site that I use is www.webng.com they do not have a website builder, so you will either need to know how to program HTML or have a program for constructing your website. You can also find free templates where you just plug in your info. The site I really recommend for features, and service is Host Gator www.hostgator.com.to, the starter package gives you site builder pro, website templates, 52 free scripts that auto install, too much info to list all for just $4.95 a month as mentioned above you can also opt to have your domain registered with them, their domain names start at $15 dollars. Host Gator will make it much easier for those new to the field, and I figure if you are reading this, you are most likely looking for easy and low cost options.
4. Now in order to sell you have to have a shopping cart, and a way to accept credit cards. You could opt to go with many of the online credit card terminal companies, many taking a good % of your sales, or charging huge rates, plus having to fill out lots of paperwork, or you can opt for Pay-Pal. The best thing about this is that you can get the Pay-Pal visa debit card, so you never have to transfer your sales money if you do not want too. Pay-pal will give you the plug in html code to put on your website for customers to purchase your items, then customers can use their credit card to purchase your items/goods. They do take a small percentage, but it is well worth it when you see how easy it is to plug in the shopping cart info. Your customers do not need to have Pay-Pal to buy from you. If you do sign up for Pay-Pal and you like my article, if you can use my referral link that would be greatly appreciated, otherwise just go to paypal.com my referral link is www.paypal.com
5. Ok, so you have your domain registered, your website is set up and your ready to sell! Well almost, you first need to be sure your meta tags are set up on all of your html pages. You can view any web page meta tags by going to view source in Internet Explorer. The most important and widely used are TITLE, KEYWORDS, and DESCRIPTION, be sure each page has a title like so “Betty’s Home Baked Goodie Gift Baskets”, then keywords, your keywords are what folks might search for on search engines to find your web page, example “home baked goodies, gift baskets, cookies, muffins, goodie baskets”, next a short description of what your web page is about, “Betty’s Home Baked Goodie Gift Baskets provides gift baskets filled with home baked goodies, like cookies, muffins, breads, and pastries, gift baskets for any occasions!”.
6. You are now ready to submit your info to the search engines so they will crawl your site to index your info. This is how customers will find you. A great free service to get you started is www.addme.com, you will be able to enter all your info one time, it will then submit your info to a bunch of search engines. I would say that each week you should take additional time to find other search engines to submit too, and look for areas where you can get your name out there. No spamming, or blasting unwanted email to people. Both are seen as very negative. You can do other things such as myspace.com or facebook.com set up shop on those sites where others can find you, you can also do pay per click on yahoo.com ads, or google ads. If you can utilize ebay.com where you will get great exposure. Get on the street, for the idea above you could offer a some free samples to local offices, bring in some goodies with your info for the office and their customers. Have pens with your website info, or fridge magnets.
This should certainly get you well on your way. I welcome questions, feedback and certainly if you set up shop online I would love to hear about your store and the web address. Good luck, and most of all, have fun and enjoy.
www.godaddy.com – domain name register
www.webng.com – free web hosting
www.hostgator.com – low cost web hosting and domain registration
www.paypal.com – paypal account set up
www.addme.com – submit to search engines.