Article: Selling With Your Own Web Site

by Stephen Bucaro



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Selling With Your Own Web Site

By Stephen Bucaro

Many people have their own product, a book, a CD, a craft,
or other product that they would like to sell with their
own Web site, but they can't find simple instructions on
how to get started. In this article, I'm going to explain
how to sell your product with your own Web site. It boils
down to four steps.

1. Find a Web server

You need to put your Web site on a computer that is running
a Web server program and is connected to the Internet.
There are three choices:

a. Your own server. This requires you to be, or to hire, a
system administrator responsible for system maintenance,
software updates, backups, and security. This also requires
a highspeed communications link to the Internet. This is
practical only for large organizations.

b. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Along with a
broadband or dialup connection to the Internet, many ISPs
also provide you with a small amount of personal Web space.
There are several problems with using this Web space, even
for a small business Web site. The storage space and
monthly transfer allowance is too small, and if you decide
to change ISP, you lose your email address and you need to
move your Web site.

c. A Web host provider. There are many companies that sell
Web site space on their servers. These companies offer
three grades of service:

Free hosting. The hosting service makes money from banner
ads that they display on your Web site. Sometimes the
storage space is too small and the monthly transfer
allowance is usually limited.
Shared hosting. Your Web site shares a server with many
other Web sites. Some hosting providers put too many Web
sites on each server, or someone else's Web site
monopolizes the servers processor or bandwidth. This slows
down your Web site.
Dedicated hosting. The hosting provider sets up a
separate server for your Web site alone. Whereas shared
hosting can be acquired for as little as 5 per month,
dedicated hosting cost hundreds of dollars per month.

Recommendation:

Most small businesses can't afford a dedicated server. You
can use your ISP's webspace or a free host for learning
purposes, but usually only shared or dedicated hosting lets
you use your own domain name. You will want to register and
promote your own domain name, not put a lot of effort into
promoting a domain name provided by a free host.

There are many Web host directories that let users rate web
host providers. Visit several of these directories and
choose a web host provider with a good rating. The most
important specification to look for in a Web host provider
is "up time". They should have a 99.9 up time guarantee.

2.Design and Build your Web site

A Web site is nothing more than a collection of webpages.
Webpages are very similar to documents that you would
create in a word processor. A word processor, like Microsoft
Word for example, uses invisible "tags" to layout the page.
Whereas Word uses "Rich Text File (RTF) tags, a webpage
uses Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags. But the concept
is the same.

You never actually see or deal with the tags in a word
processor document. Many people use a web page design
application that lets them avoid dealing with html tags on
a webpage. But most serious webpage design requires you to
deal with html code directly. There are three reasons why
you would need to deal with the html code directly.

1. Your web page design application refuses to format the
webpage exactly the way you want it.
2. There is an error on your webpage.
3. Most word processor documents are static. A webpage
usually contains powerful little programs called "scripts"
that work with the html tags on the page.

Recommendation: Before venturing into creating your own
Web site, spend a few weeks experimenting with html tags
to create webpages by hand. You don't need a Web server to
test your webpages. You can load them directly into your
Web browser. In your learning, focus on linking pages
together that reside in different folders. This is where
most beginners have a problem.

The first step in building your Web site is to create or
choose a template. As I mentioned earlier, a Web site is
nothing more than a collection of webpages. But all
webpages for a Web site should have the same basic layout,
color scheme, and navigation elements.

There are thousands of free and pay templates available on
the Web. Actually, every Web site is a template that you
can explore by selecting View Source in your Web
browser's menu. The most import thing about selecting a
template is that you are comfortable with it. If the
template uses complex code, the chances of getting an
error occurring are high, and you may not be able to fix it.

Recommendation: Select a template you like, but don't use
it directly. From the html coding that you learned by
following my previous recommendation, hand code a similar
template. Now you will have a template you understand and
are comfortable modifying and fixing if it becomes
necessary.

Generally, you will create webpages on your local computer
and upload them to your Web site, usually using FTP (File
Transfer Protocol). Most web designers keep a local copy
of their entire Web site on their local computer. Here
they can test a webpage before uploading it to the live
Web site. If your design uses active servers pages (ASP),
you may want to install a Web server on your local computer
for testing purposes.

3.Set up Ecommerce

Ecommerce involves setting up shopping cart software and
a means of accepting credit card payments. There are three
possible ways to set up ecommerce:

a. Set up shopping cart software and a secure order form
on your Web site. Then process the orders using your
regular offline bank processing service. This is good for
people whose Web site is an extension of their offline
business. But setting this up from scratch for a Web only
business may be too costly.

b. There are many companies on the Web that will set you
up with a merchant account. This service may or may not
include a shopping cart. In either case, before the user
enters their credit card information, they are transferred
to the secure server of the merchant account. Setup costs
for a merchant account can run into hundreds of dollars.
In addition, there are transaction fees and monthly fees.

c. Many small businesses use online payment services. Most
online payment services can provide you with a shopping
cart, but in many cases, all you need is to place some html
code provided by the online payment service on your Web
site.

When your customer clicks on a "Buy" button on your Web
site, they are transferred to the web site of the online
payment service where they enter their credit card
information. You receive an email notification when a
transaction is completed.

Online payment services don't charge for setup or monthly
fees, but the transaction fees are similar to a merchant
account. Fees run about 0.35 and 2.5 per transaction.
After a delay to prevent charge backs losses, you can
login to the online payment services Web site and transfer
the payment into your bank account.

The oldest and largest online payment service is
PayPal
which processes over 600,000 transactions per day.

4.Promote Your Web site

Unless someone makes a lucky guess as to the URL (Uniform
Resource Locater) or address of your Web site, you will
receive no visitors. Simply placing your Web site on the
Internet does not result in traffic. You need to promote
your Web site. There are many ways to promote your Web site,
some free and some pay, some very effective, some a total
waste of time. Below are the main methods of generating
traffic.

a. Advertising. You can purchase advertising on Web sites
that do have traffic. You can also purchase advertising in
newsletters or ezines. Don't assume that the Web site
with the most traffic or the newsletter with the most
subscribers is the best value. The secret to successful
advertising is testing. Test different advertisements in
different locations.

b. Pay per click. Almost all search engines will let you
purchase search words. When a search engine user enters a
search for a word that you purchased, a link to your Web
site will be returned at the top of the results. Sometimes
you "bid" on a search term. In that case, when a user of
the search engine enters a word that you placed a bid for,
a link to your Web site will be returned in the results
below all Web sits that bid more money.

c. Traffic Exchange. A traffic exchange is a Web site
where you login and click to visit other people's Web sites.
For each Web site that you visit, you receive a credit. You
can exchange your credits for visits to your Web site. If
you don't feel like making the effort to visit other
people's Web sites, you can purchase visits to your Web
site. The quality of traffic from traffic exchanges varies
between very poor to totally useless.

d. Search engines. You can submit your the address of your
Web site to most search engines for free. After you submit
your Web site information, the search engine will scan or
"spider" your Web site with a program called a "robot". The
robot will provide information that allows the search
engine to list your Web site in their database, and rank it
for relevancy. When a user of the search engine enters a
search for a word related to the content on your Web site,
a link to your Web site will be returned in the results at
a position depending upon the relevancy of your webpage.

e. Link popularity. Different search engines use different
methods to rank the relevancy of a webpage. One method uses
the number of links on the Web that point to the webpage.
To take advantage of this, you need to get links to your
Web site posted in as many places on the Web as possible.
One method to accomplish this is to write articles related
to the topic of your Web site and make them available for
people to post on their Web site for free.

f. Web presence. To get traffic to your Web site, people
have to know you are out there and what you have to offer.
Getting involved and contributing useful information in
online forums and message boards is one way to establish
your presence on the Web. People reading your messages may
put information about you on their Web site. Another
advantage of this method is that it keeps you in touch
with what's going on in the areas related to the topic of
your Web site.

Selling your product with your own Web site boils down to
the four steps explained in this article. This article is
in no way comprehensive. Complete details about each one
of these steps would to fill entire books. This article
gives you a general overview and enough information to get
you started.


Resource Box:
Copyright(C) 2004 Bucaro TecHelp. To learn how to maintain
your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web
site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com
To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit
http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp





About the Author


To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit
http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp


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