Starting your first online shopping website could be a bit tedious and nerve wrecking. I know, I’ve been in your shoes before. But fear not! Based on my experience over the years, I have created a basic startup guide for entrepreneurs like yourself! So, without further ado, here’s my 5 steps of starting an online business. Let’s get started.
1. First, you’ll need a business plan
This is the first thing that you should already have. You will need to sit down and write it down. I know how simple and basic that sounds but believe me, having it written down makes your life a lot easier and you will save a lot of time, effort and most importantly, money. Just take your time. Take a notepad and go to the park or to a coffee shop. You may need to discipline yourself from any distractions. Think about what you would want to do and write it down.
2. A brand name
Don’t overwhelm yourself about this one. Branding yourself could take some time. I know. For me took me well over 10 years but that doesn’t mean you should take as long as I did. Before Zillaprints, I was using my other name called ‘Artxenoc’. Sure, it is unique and cool but there was one problem, it’s hard to pronounce and even a lot harder to spell it out. I’ve had a lot of my friends misspelling my name to look for me online and well, it just didn’t work for them and for me. Learn from my mistake.
Think of something creative and meaningful. Something that can be stuck on the back of someone’s mind. Could be a nickname or something clever. Remember, you could always change it later if the name comes to you in a later time.
Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t abbreviate name that sounds very wrong ‘ex K. I. Draper‘s Closet‘
- Never infringe a name that’s already taken. That’s a big no-no.
- It’s completely okay to use your name that follows up with what you do ‘ex Matthew’s Bakery‘.
- Your brand name should be relative based on your business model. Sometimes, that isn’t always the case. I’ve seen creative names that has nothing to do with what their business model is.
- Don’t ever make your name super long. It shouldn’t exceed no more than 15 characters.
3. Domain name
Every single website that you have ever visited has a domain name. What’s a domain name? It is essentially an address to the property. For instance, zillaprints.com is the domain name for Zillaprints online. Again, don’t overwhelm yourself if your brand name’s domain is already taken. You could come up with something clever and rememberable. Also, don’t ever make your URL super long. That will discourage anyone visiting your site.
What I recommend for you is to register your domain name through domains.google.com. This is the best way to keep it in one spot, if you ever decide to migrate from a different hosting company (more on this in the next step).
Know the difference
- .COM is a very popular web extension and unfortunately, it’s the one that gets a lot harder to find a name for. Typically it’s $12/year.
- .CO is a premium of $30 and it is meant to replace the .COM.
- .ORG is short for organization and it’s typically meant for non-profit.
- .NET was popular during the early 2000’s but unfortunately, it’s not as popular as .COM web extension. If you would have to resort, try .CO instead.
- .GOV is for government. Yeah I don’t see anyone using this one for business.
- .BIZ is short for business. Usually, this one is used for creating money seminars of some sorts.
Think of this like you are searching for a real estate to buy a home. This is where you will place your property online but not all hosting’s are created equal. For instance, GoDaddy.com is a very familiar hosting company but with fees to use ‘premium’ services such as generating email accounts and analytics. Depending on your business structure, there are many hosting companies that offer a lot of services that fits your needs. (note: I do not have any affiliation of these sites).
If you are planning to sell shirts online or physical products, it is best to start with bigcartel.com. It is completely free to use and I highly recommend it to learn from it. However, you are limited to 5 products to sell but honestly, that’s a good start. You could go premium to add more products if your business starts growing.
Shopify.com is similar to bigcartel but offer a bit more with plugins and it is not free to use. Well, sort of. You could start with a free trial and then pay the monthly subscription to keep it running. I have heard great successful stories using shopify like my friend Ruben who runs ataracosmetics.com. I’ve used it and it didn’t fit to my needs. It may work for you but not for me.
WordPress is a much more complicated hosting services. It is meant for advanced users like myself and this you would need to dedicate a lot of time to make it work. It is worth mentioning it for anyone who would like to take a stab at it and use premium plugins. Here are my recommendations of hosting providers to run WordPress on:
Honestly though, it is best to start with BigCartel. I cannot stress this enough that it is by far the easiest, most quickest way to publish your website in such little to no effort.
5. Display your products
Based on your business structure in step one, here you will finally get to showcase your products online! If you use our services, we’ll gladly design a basic mock-up t-shirt to get things started. Of course, if you have your own products such as artwork or handmade stuff, you can just simply upload your images to whichever online service you decided to go for on step four.
Again, for starters, I highly recommend of using BigCartel’s website. This will definitely gain you some experience and knowledge of how this industry works. No money involved and no stressing out about designing a website. They got templates for you to work with.
There are many useful tips and tutorials on how to start your own online business by searching them on the web. This article is based on my experience and wanted to share with you how it really is. I sure hope this was in some way a help for you. If you have any questions, please send me an email at [email protected] and I’ll gladly help you out.