Step 1 – Choosing your online store platform
Expanding your business online, and creating an online store, doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. You can create a great looking, and functional, online store with very little effort and begin shipping your products to customers worldwide in no time at all.
When I started building websites back in 2001, it was difficult and time consuming to create even the simplest of websites, let alone an online store. Thankfully things have moved on since then, and open-source software has paved the way for numerous individuals, like you and I, to successfully sell products online.
One piece of open source software in particular has helped more entrepreneurs become successful online than any other – WordPress.
WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System) that forms the backbone of your website and takes care of the hard work for you. With over half of the internet’s websites running on the WordPress platform‚ that many people can’t be wrong!
Combine this with another bit of free open source software called WooCommerce and you can have a powerful CMS and e–commerce website within a few simple steps.
Here are just some of the reasons why you should choose WordPress in conjunction with WooCommerce as your platform of choice:
- WordPress & WooCommerce are 100% FREE.
- There are thousands of different FREE themes/layouts and plugins that you can utilise to improve your online store
- It’s intuitive and easy to use
- You can be setup within a matter of minutes
This very site also runs on WordPress; it’s always my weapon of choice when it comes to launching a new website.
There are of course other alternatives available to WordPress & WooCommerce but for a beginner with a limited budget this is the very best option.
How about the services that offer me a free online store?
There are services out there that offer to create you an online store for free such as Shopify, Bigcommerce and Volusion.
It may sound too good to be true‚ and thats because it is: all three only offer a 14 day free trial. You can spend hours adding your products and perfecting how your online store looks only to be told you’re going to have to pay a pricey monthly subscription to keep it.
In addition to this‚ these services charge you a fee of between 1.5 – 2.5% of the purchase price, plus 30¢ for every single sale you make. This may not sound like a lot but it soon adds up to being a very expensive solution.
See the calculation below as an example:
|+||$29 monthly subscription||=||$106.49 per month|
Figures based on Shopify pricing. Correct as of Jan 2015.
That’s over $100 per month, before you’ve included any other sales!
Plus once your business grows and you outgrow what these services can offer you can’t transfer your store to an independent solution such as WooCommerce. There would be no other choice but to start from scratch, and that wouldn’t be good for your business.
You always want 100% control over your own online store without hidden costs, right? Of course!
By all means give Shopify, Bigcommerce or Volusion a go, after all you get a free 14–day trial – what have you got to lose? That said, I’m certain you can create a better online store with WordPress & WooCommerce.
Convinced? Then read on…
Wait a minute! I’m not super confident with computers. Is WordPress & WooCommerce going to be too complicated!?
My answer: What is the worst that could happen? You lose 30 minutes of your time?
I understand how this could be a daunting prospect if you’ve not made a website before, but imagine how much money you could save, and the sense of achievement you would have, once you’ve managed to launch your own online store. All without spending thousands of dollars on monthly subscription services, or paying someone else to create it for you.
I’m also offering free email support. So if you ever get stuck while following this guide then get in touch via the contact form.