A few years ago I met a business owner in Tahlequah, Oklahoma that was running a million dollar imported Indian clothing company out of a storefront the size of a closet. Truth be told, it was about the size of a living room in an average-size ranch home. The clothing was gorgeous - natural cottons and silks in brilliant colors, but how the man could sell enough to profit a million bucks a year was a mystery. After a brief conversation the store owner gladly admitted he loved his little retail space, but most of his business came from his online customers.
One of the main reasons I became involved in the Internet industry was to help small business owners grow their businesses by expanding their reach. Technology makes it a level playing field for "mom & pop" outfits that want to compete with the big box stores. Contracting a web design company can be pricey. I'm happy to tell you that for less than a hundred dollars a year, "do-it-yourselfers" can own an entry level e-commerce website. This means you can sell your products to customers outside your local market.
How to Build Your Online Storefront Cheap
- Start by purchasing a domain name. This is the name that shows up in the address bar at the top of your browser. It's the "dot com" address for your website. You can get a domain name for a little under $12.00 from a domain host such as GoDaddy. Companies like Network Solutions offer the same service but they are a little pricey.
- Find a hosting company that specializes in hosting WordPress websites. Web hosts such as GoDaddy, HostGator or BlueHost offer packages for around $60.00 to $80.00 a year. You can pay annually or monthly for the service. Have their tech support people set up a WordPress environment for you.
- Search the Internet for free WordPress themes. A theme is the "skin" or design of your site. There are thousands available. All you need to do is choose one you like and upload it to your website. Now you can add your content and pictures.
- Set up a PayPal account - it's free. In the customer tools area you can create buttons for specific items you are selling on your website. When your online customer clicks on the button, they are taken to a form that accepts payment. Then they can pay using their own PayPal account or with a credit/debit card.
Presto! You have an e-commerce site for $92.00 or less. Albeit simple, anyone in the world can make a purchase from your online store. If you are a total newbie to building a website like this, do a search on YouTube for tutorials. There are hundreds of instructional videos available that will take you through the process step-by-step. This is the quickest, easiest way to start selling your business products online.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a small business story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
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