Lots of people dream of owning a small business and working for themselves. Usually they get discouraged by the high cost of starting a business. However, in today's economy, you don't need a lot of money to start an e-commerce business. In fact, all you need is $30.00
To run a professional, successful e-commerce business on the Internet, you need 9 things:
1) A top level domain
2) Web Hosting (with no 3rd party ads)
3) FTP access to your web host
5) E-commerce hosting (shopping cart)
6) Ability to accept major credit cards
7) A product or service to sell
8) Web Content
9) Traffic to your web site
All of these usually cost money. However, if you've got the time and energy, you can do it all for only $30.00 per year. This article will explain everything you need to setup your e-commerce business for the price of a dinner for two at an inexpensive restaurant. So skip your next meal and put this plan into action. It will be good for your health and your financial health.
Let's get started. First, you will need to register a top-level domain. This can be tricky. However, if you throw in enough dashes in your domain, you should be able to find a name relatively simply. For instance, if you'd like to have a domain called fleacontrol.com, you'll find the domain is already taken. However, if you try flea-control.com, you may find the name is available. Now here is a real surprise, all else being equal, flea-control.com is a better name to use than fleacontrol.com. That's because your two words in your URL will be searchable and will be included in the list of key words for your web site. Think about it, no one searches for fleacontrol on Google. However, they may search for "flea control" So how do you find a name. You go to a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Network Solutions and do a search and you will see if your name is available.
Once you have found a name, you then need to register that name and find a company to host your content. Now is the time to get out that $11.99. The cheapest way I have found to register a domain and get web hosting, FTP access and get e-mail is through GoDaddy They charge only $11.99yr for all of that. It is the best deal I've found on the net. They also have world class support for their sites and can even do web development for you. If someone can find a better deal than that, please let me know.
OK, we are half way done. Now you need an e-commerce hosting solution. Unless you are prepared to write your own shopping cart software, you will need some way to capture all the sales on your web site, add up the totals for each product purchased, compute sales tax and shipping, obtain payment information, and finally get that information back to you so you can do something about it. Here's the good news, you can do all of that for free. All you have to do is sign up for a free shopping cart at Mal's e-commerce. Mal's offers a very simple and powerful e-commerce solution for free. That's right, it's free. They do have a premium option which lets you link to your merchant account, but for your brand new site, you probably won't need the premium features for at least 6 months to a year.
Now you need the ability to accept major credit cards. I struggled with this option for quite a while. There are several options available, but I think the simplest option is to open up a PayPal account. No other service I have found offers the ideal combination of low transaction rates, acceptance of all major credit cards and no start up fees. The one downside to using PayPal is that they require your customers to have a user name and password. While this is free for the user, it puts some of them off. OK, it's not a perfect solution but the ideal solution costs at least $199.00 in signup fees then about $10.00 to $35.00 per month in additional fees. That is simply not acceptable for a brand new business trying to make something happen on a tight budget. So start with PayPal and if you get successful, then switch to a merchant account.
The last three items require more time than money. You need a product or service to sell. Again, you can get this for free. There are all sorts of businesses on the Internet that want you to sell their products. If you do a search for the word affiliate in Google, you will find thousands of companies wanting you to send traffic their way. In exchange, they will give you money. However, you may also have some physical goods you'd like to sell. Find something that interests you then find a manufacturer or distributor who will sell you the products at wholesale prices. This is not hard to do. You simply need to do some research and make some phone calls. You can pretty much become a retailer in any business.
Now you need to write your content. Your content should be written in HTML. If you don't already know how to write HTML, a good place to start would be to do a Google search on "learn HTML"
The last thing you will need is traffic. You are in luck on this one as well. These days, one of the best ways to generate traffic is to be highly listed on a search engine. The king of all search engines is Google.com. They get about 2/3 of all the search traffic out there. Therefore, if you are trying to build a business on a shoestring, you should optimize your site for inclusion in Google and submit it for free. However, you need to be very, very careful before you submit to Google the first time. I highly recommend that you research exactly how to optimize your site before submitting for the first time. The reason you want to be careful is that it takes about two months for Google to list you in their site. If you get a poor ranking in Google, they will take longer to visit your site the next time to update their database. This can cause you to have few to no visitors for months.
OK, that's it. There is no reason in today's economy why you can't be successful without spending a lot of money. Of course, this all requires time and effort on your part. If you prefer to let someone else do all the work, find a web developer / web designer in your area. They can do all of this for you. If you have any questions, just drop me a line. Good Luck.