Starting an eCommerce business is now easier than ever before. Thanks to some great free online tools, you can have an online store up and running in just a matter of hours. If you’re interested in starting an online store, but you don’t really know where to begin, here’s what you need to know:
Set Up Hosting and Choose a Domain Name
First, you’ll need to think of a domain name and find a suitable hosting plan. Domain names are the titles of your website – the thing that gets typed into the address bar. Finding a good domain name can take some time, as you’ll want to find something that’s catchy but isn’t already taken. However, don’t speed through this step as a good domain name is essential for promoting your brand later on.
After you have a few domain name ideas in mind, the next thing you need to do is choose a hosting provider. There are plenty of hosting providers out there, so take some time to do some research. GoDaddy is perhaps the most popular, but there are other options such as BlueHost, Hostgator, 1and1, and many others. Look into their pricing models and read online reviews to find one that suits your needs. Once you’ve chosen one, you can start plugging in your domain name ideas to see if it’s available.
If you find a domain that you like, and it’s available, go ahead and buy it, then sign up for a basic hosting plan.
Now that you have a website name, and a place to host the files, it’s time to build the website. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is through WordPress. Most hosting providers will give you the option to install WordPress during setup, and will walk you through the entire process. Once it’s installed, you’ll receive instructions on how to log in and start customizing your site.
Before you start changing around your WordPress site too much, you should first install the WooCommerce plugin. WooCommerce is what will allow you to turn your simple WordPress site into an eCommerce powerhouse. Best of all, WooCommerce is free to use when you’re first starting off, and you can decide later if you want to upgrade to a paid version.
To install WooCommerce, head over to the Plugin option on your WordPress sidebar and click Add New. From there search for WooCommerce, then click the install button on the appropriate plugin. This will take a minute or two. Once it’s done, you’ll see a new section in your sidebar called Products – this is where you’ll control the eCommerce aspect of your site.
Add Your First Product
Now that WooCommerce is installed, it’s time to add your first product. Click on that Product tab, and WooCommerce will walk you through all the steps. Setting up your online store with WooCommerce is a breeze, but if you get stuck, there are plenty of online guides that can help you out.
Complete Your Site
Once you’ve added your first product, you now have a few options on how to proceed. You can either continue adding products until you have all your options listed (or reach your WooCommerce free-version limit), or you can complete your WordPress site. Whichever path you choose, here’s what you’ll eventually need to do to complete your site.
To start, you’ll want to choose a good WordPress Theme. Since you’re using WooCommerce, you can’t just use any Theme you come across. You’ll want to choose one that is specifically compatible with WooCommerce, so that you can make the most of the Plugin. If you try to use a Theme that doesn’t support WooCommerce, your site either won’t look right or may not even show your products at all.
After you’ve chosen a Theme, take some time to tweak the appearance. You may need to change up the color scheme, add in some of your own images, remove or add things from a sidebar, and much more. Installing a Theme gives you a basic template for your site and does most of the work for you, but there are still some things you’ll want to do to get a custom eCommerce website that’s just the way you want it.
At this point your site should look pretty great. You’ve got a decent Theme, it’s customized the way you like it, and you have some products listed. Now it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll get people to visit this site. Sharing it with your family and friends will only get you so far after all.
A great way to get people to visit your site is by producing great content. After creating some pages on your website – such as a Homepage, an About page, and a Contact page – you’ll want to think about other ways you can add in content. For example, let’s say your online store sells custom paintings. On your site you could have different blog posts about learning how to paint. These blog posts would then attract more visitors, who would then see the paintings you have for sale.
Finally, you should explore adding some other plugins to your website. Plugins add extra features to your website and can transform a basic WordPress installation into a comprehensive website. For instance, with plugins you can incorporate social media, optimize your website for search engines, give your website extra security, or even learn more about your visitors. Here is a list of the best WordPress plugins for eCommerce sites to get you started – explore the list and consider adding some of these plugins to your own site.
Creating a complete website takes some time, so don’t rush through it. You need to have a website that not only looks great, but provides enough value to anyone who visits it. This means having helpful pages about the site with well-written copy, along with some extra pages like blog posts or how-to guides. It also means adding in extra features which will allow more functionality to your visitors.
You may also want to look into additional tools that can help you run your new eCommerce business, such as practice management software or a CRM. This may sound like a lot, but if you make a list and take your time, you should find that you’re able to check through each of these things in short order.
Get Started on Your WordPress Store Today
Unlike buying an online business, starting an eCommerce store from scratch takes some time, but it’s well worth the effort. Before you know it you can have a brand new website up and running, with sales streaming in on your products. WordPress, and plugins like WooCommerce, make it easy for just about anyone to run their own eCommerce store, provided they are willing to put in the time and effort. So get started today and build that online store you’ve been dreaming about.