Guest Post: DIY Ecommerce for Under $32 by Jill Bourque, Founder & CEO of Rushtix
It’s never been more simple to set-up an ecommerce site. If you’re new to this, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you need to outsource. You’ll be better off in the long-run if you learn how WordPress works (it’s easy) and build your own ecommerce site. I swear it’s not hard. The problem with having someone create your site is that you will always be reliant on them for every little thing and they will charge you constantly. What’s great about WordPress is that it’s easy and there are folks all over the globe who can assist for cheap. You can learn the basics on Lynda or other places.
Try for a .com, but .co are cool too. I like Godaddy for domain management (not hosting though). Shorter URL is better, but don’t overthink it too much. If your business takes off you can buy your perfect domain later, like I did, and switch it out.
2) Set-up a good hosting account – $29/mo
Head towpengine‘s and take advantage of their $29 account. Installing a new WordPress site is very simple and wpengine will back things up daily for you, so if you mess up you can easily restore it. wpengine has great customer support, so you can call if you get stuck. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives, but this is one area that you don’t want to skimp. I’ve had other hosts lose all my data and be like “Oh well.” Seriously, get good hosting.
3) Install WordPress
If you use a decent host, it’s usually one-click installation.
4) Find a nice theme – Free
If you want to start out simple, which I recommend, then use one the standard WordPress themes like 2012 or a free Wootheme. If you want your site to look great from the off then go to Themeforest and find a nice looking theme. You’ll want to find something that is for built for Woocommerce and is mobile responsive. There are loads of options around $45 and they will install it for an extra $50. Make sure the theme has good support by looking at the reviews and emailing the developers to see how responsive they are. Just remember the fancier the theme, the more options you’ll need to configure which is time-consuming. So, it’s better to keep things simple in the beginning. You can always switch themes later. Design is important, but it’s crucial to get your site going first and add more elaborate design later after you prove out your business model. Most successful companies started with ugly sites.
5) Add content – Free
Add all the info about your business and build some nice landing pages which answer all the questions folks may have about your offering. Don’t be cryptic, let visitors know what you’re about. Keep the pages clean and concise with just one call to action per page. Read Don’t Make Me Think (Amazon – $26 or Library – Free) to understand website usability. Start a blog and keep adding content related to your offering over time. NEVER stop updating your content. Learn about content marketing and collect emails on your site.
Make Life Easier. Manage your Woocommerce, eBay & Amazon stock in one place.
6) Add WooCommerce – Free
Once you get the hang of WordPress, you’ll want to add Woocommerce as your ecommerce system. This is what I use as well (as about 30% of all sites in the world). Here’s a blog post Woocommerce wrote about my business. Their new version is very user-friendly. You’ll need to also add a payment gateway. Paypal is the easiest to get started with and there are lots of good free plugins. Then you add your products and configure your Woocommerce options. There are a lot of configuration options and this will be the most complicated part of the process. I would also recommend adding an SSL certificate to your site. It’s $49 on wpengine with one-click purchase and install.
7) Back-up, back-up, back-up – Expensive, if you don’t do it
Things happen, make sure you are backed up – ’nuff said.
8) Add more good plugins
I use a lot of plugins, probably too many but I like tinkering with them. Here are my essentials: Contact Form 7, Jetpack, Vaultpress ($15/mo) for back-ups in addition to wp engine’s back-up process (I know this seems redundant, but I can’t overstate this). Woothemes has tons of other great plugins for Woocommerce, but they can get pricey. The upside is they have a 30-day return policy, so you can try them out. Overall, only use the well-supported and highly rated plugins with lots of installs. A bad plugin can ruin your site and your life, so make sure your back-up before adding a new one (see #7).
A great place to find good cheap help is fiverr.com – there are lots of folks that will do small fixes for cheap. Another resource you might try is wooguru which does unlimited small Woocommerce fixes and help for $79/mo. For more specialized coding you can hire a good offshore developer on Upwork.com for around $15/hour.
I know at first this seems like a lot of work, but believe me it’s not that hard and it’s better for you to be in control of your site right off the bat. If you are testing out a new business idea, start simple and see if you can get some customers first. This is important. It’s a methodology called Lean Startup. The idea is to create something basic and useful and then iterate on it based on feedback and keep making it better over time.