What You Need to Know to Get Started with Your Own Website
When you’re starting your online business you are full of questions and constantly chasing answers. So a simple overview of what’s involved and where to start can make all the difference.
The place to start is figuring out what you want from the website. By getting a clear idea of what you want to create you’ll have a clear message to communicate to everyone else involved in making it happen – especially with yourself.
For an example for this article I’ll say the website’s purpose is to sell your specific product or service as well as generate a steady online advertising income.
A simple and affordable way to start is with a blog service where you can write and publish articles about your product as well as having a selling area with an online shopping cart.
The online shopping cart lets you list products for sale that customers can click on, add to their shopping cart and then pay for them during the check out process.
Simple shopping cart tools include PayPal and Paymate. With these you need to consider who pays for the service – do you charge your customers for shopping with you or do you pay for the merchant services fees?
Setting up a PayPal or similar account is simple, you just register your business with them and use your email address to receive payments and notifications of payments (orders) received – the fun bit.
Signing up for a online merchant account with a local bank can be an expensive way to start but it can be ideal for some businesses. You need to be clear with the bank about all the setup costs for the account, gateway, SSL certificate and any equipment as well as all the ongoing monthly fees and the merchant fee to be taken out from each transaction.
If you are already a merchant then it may be possible to use your existing setup for processing transactions as Moto transactions. You’ll need to collect the credit card data securely via an SSL certificate to keep them secure.
Your website needs to be easy to use and easy to find – so good usability and findability. Without these two attribute you may as well not bother with putting an online business together. Visitors can only become customers when they can find the website and use the website.
So when you’re deciding on the purpose of the online business and what you want the website to look like make a list of websites you like, that you find easy to use and easy to find. This list will help you determine what you want from your own website.
When it comes to the costs of a website there are a few options and I’d suggest keeping it cheap while you’re learning and building a customer base. It is all too easy to believe the hoop-la of intelligent and clever internet marketing blurbs that get you spending $1000’s on material you can find easily for free or much cheaper prices.
Starting with a free blog or website hosting service will mean your site will have restricted features and include ads by other businesses because the advertising pays for the service.
Whereas a monthly hosting fee of $25 or less should give you an ad free site (where if you do have ads you are getting the income from them) – whether that’s a blog or a website. If it is cheaper than this just make sure you check for any advertising streams they make money from as hosting companies are in the business of making money too.
If you are making the website yourself then there’s the cost of software such as Dreamweaver for developing the html pages and Fireworks for making the images in. I believe in having the ability to update the website myself simply because it gives me more power over the business.
When you’re starting you want to keep your costs down so if you can be involved with the developing of the website, writing the material (copy content) of the site, doing some of the graphics then you can save a bundle on website developer costs.
Paying someone else to make your website is where the bulk of the costs are. With a site plan you can have a website developer make the framework of the site while you make the bulk of the site as well as ongoing updates that are so important.
This may mean you need to do some community college courses in website design, writing content and articles, creating online graphics and online marketing but the skills can save you a lot of money while making you a good income.
You can start your own website as a part time option while working. Once the new online business is generating an income you're happy with it is easier to consider working on it full time.
The key is to keep in mind what you want from the website and progressively build up the skills for and features of the site. Be sensible with your money as there are plenty of other businesses out there willing to charge $1,000's for all manner of things with a whole range of promises.
Having an online business can be a really rewarding business to build up.