Free Services That Are Essential For Building Your Website

man-free-signFree Services New eCommerce Websites Need

There tools available online that are free of charge and are essential for building a successful online store.  Every website owner will need to use them in order to build a reputable site that will eventually start bringing in free traffic or aka organic traffic.  The two search engines used by most people are Google and Bing.  Those search engines and many other website directories offer free services that cost you nothing, but your time and attention, so that your store can slowly start building audience.

How do I let people know that my store exists?

One needs to ask himself or herself one important question, how do I let people know that my store exists? A logical conclusion will be to let search engines and all kinds of directories know that you have opened up your store front for business and are happy to see visitors and eventually customers.  In this post, I will list few services that you will want to sign up for and submit your website to, so that search engine robots can scan your site and index your pages into the database of their respective organizations.  Google and Bing both offer a service called Webmaster Tools.  I will discuss their importance shortly.  There is also Google Analytics, which will track visitors to your website and track conversions, let you know where they are coming from, etc.  There are also directories, such as Dmoz, which doesn’t really send much traffic, but it gives Google a positive impression about your website if you are listed on it.  Social media presence is another necessity this days which can not be ignored and are also free.  Now let’s talk about each of the free services in detail separately.

Webmaster Tools

This tool allows website owners to submit the sitemap of their website and let search engines know that the site exists.  Once submitted, robots from Google and Bing will scan your site and index those pages into the search results.  It is number 1 step, I would suggest, for any site owner to do, since it allows to show up in search made by people and potential customers.  Obviously, there are millions of websites that are submitted to the database of Google and Bing daily, so your store showing up in the 1st page of any of them is minuscule.  But, and it is a big But, without the first step you can not start the second.  When you submit the sitemap to Webmaster Tools, you will have to verify that you are the owner of the site, which will require posting a code provided by Google and Bing into your websites html code, which is quite easy.

Google Analytics

Analytics is one of the most used tools that is free by website owners and those who manage their SEO for them.  It allows you to monitor your website and shows you very detail and an in-depth analysis of your store.  You can track where your customers are coming from, where they are going, what are they searching for, how did they find your store, and how many visitors turned into customers.  This tool is a dream come true for anyone who manages a site and wants to know every possible detail about it’s visitors.  When marketing your site by paid advertisement, it will be a great tool to monitor your campaigns success.

Directories

There are thousands of them, but one of the most important ones is Dmoz, or at least that’s what I was told.  DMoz is a website directory that looks very old and doesn’t seem to bring much traffic, but gives a positive impression about your website to Google and Bing.  I was able to get one of the websites I worked on to get listed on Dmoz and it was one of the steps for success.  With the SEO strategy we had and the luck of getting listed on Dmoz eventually gave that website a page rank of 3.  The traffic from DMoz was almost zero, but my guess is that Google thought highly of the website once it was listed by the directory.  There are cheap services online that offer you to submit your site to directories and I recommend using them, but be very careful, because if Google senses you are using some funny methods to build links to your website, it may suspend your account and remove you from it’s database.

On-page Optimization

One more thing I would like to discuss is the importance of on page optimization, which means your website’s pages are optimized for the best search engine optimization.  By using meta tags and meta description you will increase your chances of your site being indexed by Google and show up in the search results.  By implementing good SEO strategy and working on on page optimization, you are combining your force and with time (it takes patience), you will see results.

Social Media Presence

Social media presence is a must in todays connected world and it is a great place to be for businesses, since the word of mouth is the best advertisement.  If you have a large group of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and many others, it will be easy for you to get your first audience and maybe even customers, who knows.  Creating business page in any of those social media websites are free and cost you noting.  While it is free to have presence, you may want to try running some ads through FB and Twitter to see if you can find some audience outside your group of friends and family.

Always remember, Knowledge is Gold and having the resources and building the right team is your key to success

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We Review Most Popular Shopping Cart Softwares

Most Popular Shopping Cart Softwares

addtocartFor those who don’t know what shopping cart software is, I will briefly explain what it is and then we will get into the reviewing few of the most popular softwares out there.  Shopping cart software is a software that allows merchants to accept payments online by connecting to their merchant account. Shopping cart softwares that we will discuss here come with prebuilt website that includes everything a business needs: homepage, product page, contact us page, etc.  Besides having all the necessary components for a web store, they also come with hosting accounts, which means you will only pay for using the software and the company will host that software on their own servers.  That’s a shopping cart software in short. Now, lets get into the details of some of the most popular shopping cart softwares out there.

Which Shopping Cart Software is best for me?’

Shopping cart softwares are all different and are meant for different businesses.  It’s like asking which car is best for me, the answer would be depends on what your plan is for the car.  If you have a large family, an SUV or Mini-van would be the best choice.  It also depends on your budget.  So there is no one best answer to the question.  Nonetheless, we will review softwares that are most used by small starting websites as well as a platform that is used by big businesses as well as small.  Let’s start

Magento

it is an open source software, which means it is free to use by anyone and it is one of the most popular softwares for e-commerce out there.  Magento is used by small business as well as by large businesses.  But open source software comes with it’s own problems.  There is no customer support to call to if you have problems with the software.  You will need to read forums and blogs to find a fix to the problem and if you can not install apps correctly, you will need to get some help.  But, there is also great flexibility and freedom in using Magento if you are good at coding.  No other platform gives you as much as freedom as Magento, but everytime I used Magento, I had to get a developer to fix my issues and install my apps.  Also, Magento doesn’t come with hosting, but there are good hosting companies out there that have special plans for Magento stores.  Bluehost is one of the hosting solutions for Magento.  If your budget is large enough to afford hiring developers and you want lots of freedom to do whatever you want with your website, then go with Magento.  In case you do not want to do much customization to your store or add specific functionalities, then the following 2 softwares will better fit your needs.

Bigcommerce

It is a shopping cart software that comes ready out of the box.  It is not an open source software and you have to pay to use it, but the plans start at $30/month, so very affordable.   Even though it is not open source, it allows for customization of almost every page.  The limitation are that if the functionality is not built-in or if there is no app for the functionality you are looking for, then you can’t add it.  Other than that, I love everything about it.  With Bigcommerce you do not have to worry about glitches, because it comes installed with hosting and very good free themes.  For those who are starting out, the themes (designs) they offer for free are pretty good.  But as you grow, you will need to find a designer/developer from upward.com and get your store designed professionally.  If you have any problems with your site, there is always customer service agent standing by to help you, unlike Magento.  The final software we will discuss is the competitor of Bigcommerce and it is called Shopify.

Shopify

Shopify is exactly the same as Bigcommerce, but there are differences: monthly plans are different for example.  Depending on what level of software you are looking for, you might want to go with Shopify.  Since Bigcommerce stopped offering middle range plans, Shopify may be a fit for some of you.  I personally did not like Shopify for a simple reason of not being able to install my own SSL Certificate.  Big commerce allows third party SSL certificates for even the cheapest plan and it is a big deal for me.  Other than that, Shopify and Bigcommerce are exactly the same.  They both have app stores and have good quality apps that enhance the functionality of the website, good quality themes, and hosting is always working.  I will include a small chart where I compare all three of them side by side.

Comparison of Magento vs. Bigcommerce vs. Shopify
Comparison of Magento vs. Bigcommerce vs. Shopify

Other Shopping Cart Softwares

There are many other softwares, such as Volusion, Godaddy Shopping Cart, etc, but they are not as popular as those 3.  I have discussed the big players in the market, but if you do not agree with me, let me know and I will compare them side by side, and I have used and tried most shopping cart softwares.

There are some features that all of the softwares support, such as payment gateways.  Almost every platform can connect to your paypal account, so that customer will be able to checkout using their Paypal account and send money to your Paypal account.  Every platform supports Authorize.net payment gateway, Square, Stripe, and many other merchant accounts that are mostly used. My comparison shows you the most important features that differentiate them from one another.

Make Use of Free Trials

Free trials are available with every shopping cart software, so you can try them for yourself before paying for any of them.  Besides Magento, Bigcommerce and Shopify are designed with the user in mind.  All you gotta do is sign up for a free trial, upload all your products and images, update all the necessary pages, such as contact us page, and go live and starting ringing the register$$.

 

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The Budget Needed For Starting An Online Store Ecommerce Business

dollarAs noted in the previous post, I will show you how and where to allocate your budget for your new business so that you can look back and say I spent that money wisely. I also want you to get a great return on your investment. All the resources I give out here will be from my own experience and I do not receive any compensation from companies I am recommending. I am simply putting it out there so that people who are new to this industry will be able to easily find the best people and services possible. Continue reading

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successful eCommerce with small budget

Can I Start An Online Store With Little Budget?

small-budgeteCommerce Business Small Budget ?

In 2010 when I began my journey of building my ecommerce website in order to sell the products online, I stumbled upon hurdles that made me think it would require thousands of dollars to build one and get it going. Since then, I have built great websites for others and myself with very little budget that has brought income and created jobs. The myth is that you need to have a budget that will afford to hire professionals to run a website. When in fact, the main important factor in having a successful online business is to have an original idea and be a really good negotiator.

Small Budget Doesn’t Mean $0

When I say your budget doesn’t have to be large, I mean it doesn’t have to be over $500. That’s right, $500 will get you a lot and more in order for you to have a website that is stand alone, secure, trustable, and the one that will start bringing in revenue within very short time. If you are the person who already has a product idea or maybe even had some sales through marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and many others, you are the perfect candidate to start your own website and start a new chapter of independence where you control your traffic, sales, and profits.

Why I Don’t Like Marketplaces

There are many places such as eBay and Amazon where you can start selling and those are great places to start. The problem with those platforms is that you have very little control over the entire process of establishing a business. Marketplaces take away a big chunk of your sales, which tremendously decreases the profit margins, one negative feedback from a scam customer will ruin your entire business, and you are at the mercy of eBay and Amazon, because they will suspend your account at any time they want. Now, if you are one of those who already experienced just that or someone who is so far successful, remember sooner or late there will come a time when platforms will get rid of you.

Gain Control Over Your Business

The beauty of building your own website allows you to build a brand. A brand that will be remembered by your customers and a brand that may become a household name sometime in the future. Obviously there are many aspects to the business that makes it successful. For instance, customer service quality and the ability for your customer to have a painless return process is something that will decide whether your website is successful. I will write separate posts regarding the importance of taking care of your customers, but here I would like to concentrate on how to get started and provide you with all the free and cheap resources for you to get started. Everything you will find on this website is free information that is aimed at helping people who are looking to become self employed and maybe even create some jobs.

My Story

One of my ecommerce websites brings in over $1 million in revenue every year and I didn’t spend much money on building it, but it took a lot of time and work on my side. It took me a lot of time, because I had to find all the resources myself in order to make a great website with very little money. My posts will help those who have very little knowledge and experience on how to build an ecommerce website where your customers will be able to visit, shop, and make purchases from you. I will also break down all the necessary knowledge and steps you need to take for product ideas and finding suppliers in china.   Besides having a product idea or having great suppliers in china, you will need to be passionate about starting your online store and believe strongly in your ability to do so. In the next post I will write and break down the costs of building a website that is ready to start accepting orders. I will give you all the resources you need to know and how to set your business up for success.

Stay Real & Be Successful

There are other places where they tell their readers that they don’t need money to start a business, but I like to stay real. My advice will take some of your time and you will spend some money on starting a business. You will spend your money on legitimate items and services and I do not sell those services or items. I will simply recommend you what I know works best and you be the one to decide whether you want to use them or their competitors. If you would like to start, just click here to read my next post where all the breakdowns will be provided. Please note that not everything will cost you money. There are services that are offered for free and are vital for your online business and without them you will not be able to achieve anything in the online world. I will speak about those services here and how to get them.

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