Building an Online Store
I'm glad you found this article because you are about to learn something that most web hosts won't tell you about building online stores.
It will keep you from making a common mistakes countless people make when creating their first store.
Now before I continue, let me just say that I didn't write this article to discourage you from building an online store.
I wrote it to educate so you won't fall into the same trap so many other beginners find themselves in when first starting out.
Watch My Video First
Before you read on, watch my video about buildiing an online store. It addresses many of the common mistakes people make.
Stores are Simple to Setup
To begin, creating the store is not the challenge it used to be. These days the "development part" is pretty easy. There are thousands of web hosts now that offer a free, built-in shopping cart when you pay them to host your site.
Heck, you can even use Paypal.com for free! All you do is sign up and paste some HTML code into your website and Voila....you've got an instant online shopping cart.
Paypal handles the credit card transactions while depositing the profits into your bank account. (They take a small percentage of every order, of course).
If you need something a bit more sophisticated, you can go with Shopify. This is one of the more popular premium shopping cart systems used today.
And if you use WordPress to build your site, there are plugins (many of them are free) you can use to setup your shopping cart.
So hopefully you can see that actually building the store is not the tricky part anymore.
How People Shop Online
Most people shop online by going directly to their favorite retailer websites. They don't type in generic products unless they are looking for a very specific type of product that can't be found at popular retail stores.
Now that you know this, can't you see how difficult it would be for your store to compete with many of the popular brand name stores? So what should you do?
The answer is to build a niche store.
What is a Niche Store?
Before you even build your store you need to determine your niche. So instead of trying to build a shopping site that sells everything under the sun, start out small and capitalize on a niche you are familiar with.
Let's say you crochet quilts as a hobby. It would be much easier to drive traffic to a store that sells a specific type of quilt than to try to open a store that sells everything like Amazon.com. That way you can capitalize on people searching for very specific keywords about quilts.
Why Niche Sites Work
1) They have much less competition. Compare the results in Google when you type in "online shopping" versus "handcrafted quilts".
Sure, "online shopping" is a much more popular searched term, but you'd have a hard time getting traffic because you're competing with so many other webmasters who want their sites to be #1.
2) One of the keys with getting traffic to Google is content, content and more content. If you build your site on a hobby you can write pages and pages of content on this subject to help funnel in more traffic.
The more pages you have on your site, the greater chance the search engines will find your site, thus bringing you more visitors.
More traffic will hopefully mean more sales for you in the long-run.
Build Your Main Website First
Many people don't ever get this, but the key to making your store popular and successful is to build your main site and have that act as a gateway to your online store. I can't stress how important that is.
In other words, work on getting traffic to your main site via the search engines and then link your store to this main website.
The reason is, it's much easier for the search engines to find your themed, content-rich website than it is to find a single stand-alone store.
In fact, most search engines won't even add your store to their index by itself, but they will list your main website that links to your store. So that's why you need to focus on that main site first.
So if you want to sell your knitting needles online, you would first create a content-rich site on sewing. Offer tons of tips and guidelines on this subject to help draw in search engine traffic.
Then from those search-engine-friendly pages you would link to your online store. This is much more effective than just trying to promote a stand-alone store.
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