I don’t know about you, but when I want to purchase something off of a website, I am not going to write a check and mail it. I am also not going to get on the phone so I can give a card number. To be honest, I have no interest in even pulling out my phone and sending Venmo. What I will do instead is find another site that lets me pay online.
This convenience has become part of our everyday lives. There is very little we cannot buy online. We can even purchase groceries this way now. It is not a secret why this has become so popular. It’s about convenience. My browser even saves my card information to make it that much faster.
It is common to start your own eCommerce website. Even as a side-gig, it can be fairly lucrative. Monetizing on hobbies or hoping to save some holiday money is easier to do online than looking for odd jobs. However, before jumping in, it is important to know what you are getting into. From creating a website to getting it set up to accept payments, there are a few steps to take before your eCommerce site goes live.
If you are interested in learning more about how to start an eCommerce site, use the table of contents below to jump to the section with the information you need.
Table of Contents
What is the Best Way to Start an eCommerce Website?
There is no single best way to start an eCommerce business. Everybody works differently. In a broad sense, though, you will want to make sure to start on the right foot. To do that, you are going to want some guidance first. This can come in the form of quick YouTube videos or informative articles. You might even just ask a knowledgable friend to show you the ropes.
No matter how you learn, make sure you have a comfortable understanding before jumping in. The quickest way to bail on your goal is to get in over your head. There is no race here, so take your time. Even if you are the kind to experiment on WordPress to learn, do not try and get your sample work ready to launch until you understand what you’re doing.
Once you have that under wraps, you can start bringing together the assets you need to start your site.
What do I Need to Start an eCommerce Website?
You cannot wish your website into existence. In order to see the finished product, you will have to do the work of creating a business, crafting a website, and getting it ready for eCommerce. There is the option of paying someone to make the site for you. This is a valid choice. The price tag is a little high, but it comes with a guarantee of expertise. If you want to make sure that your site is clean, professional, and easy to use, then it is worth considering.
There are a few things you need to get the ball rolling. Below, we have outlined the core items. Depending on your needs, there will likely be a few other things you will want to plan for. In that case, just be mindful of your needs.
How do you plan to make money with your eCommerce site? Start with the business idea first. Then, build the site around that. Below, we highlight a couple of ideas. Keep in mind, there are plenty of creative ways to make money online.
First, are you hoping to sell products? If so, you will want to make your website as a kind of gallery to feature your different products. Whether you create art, make gift baskets, arrange flowers, or even assemble burlap sacks of exotic onions, make a list of every variety you want to feature and take pictures of them all.
Are you more interested in providing a service? In that case, it is likely you will not many pages for your website. Instead, focus on writing out the details of the service you provide and what makes you different than everyone else. Highlight this with some images of you on the job or the before and aftermath shots of your service.
A third option is to build a following online and make money through advertisements, memberships, and donations. This involves a longer play where the eCommerce feature will not come in until later. In this case, look into how you want to market your website. Marketing is important for any website but in this case, it is everything. Become a member of groups similar in topic to your brand of content. Get involved, and get your name out there.
Then, you will need a website. There are plenty of different content management systems (CMS) on the market. It is worth taking a look at a few of these so you can weigh your options. For the purposes of this article, I will go with WordPress. It is the gold standard for blogs, is likely the most versatile CMS out there, and is free.
Look to similar websites for inspiration. Do not steal ideas from them, but use them to gain an understanding of how successful eCommerce sites are built. Take those ideas and make them your own. Be methodical about building each page and each section. Be careful and take your time. This is a great time to look at WordPress themes that can help give you a solid start you can build from. Starting from scratch is difficult.
Again, you have the choice to hire a website designer to create a website for you. They can work with you to make your ideas translate appropriately to your site. Not only that, but they can let you know what works versus things that are better left out of the site. If you have some capital set aside to help jumpstart your eCommerce business, then consider looking into local web designers.
There is a collection of WordPress plugins you will need. Plugins are additional features and widgets that help enhance your site. First, to collect money through your site, you will need an eCommerce plugin. WooCommerce is one of the standards right now, and it gives you a lot of freedom over how you want to conduct business. The plugin is built to give you the choice of how you want to collect payments. Other options might stick you to one option only, like Square. WooCommerce does not tie your hands like that. It is also fairly easy to use and set up. It walks you through the whole process.
Other than that, all websites can use a little SEO help. An SEO plugin like Yoast will help you keep your site up to Google’s standards. You want your website to do well. Great SEO goes a long way to accomplish that. Yoast will help your site check more boxes for Google so their crawlers will consider putting you higher in the search results.
Your website will need a domain. A domain is the name of your site. For http://www.wordpress.com/ the domain is “wordpress.com.” Unfortunately, WordPress cannot reserve a domain for you. For that, you need to use a site like whois.com. This site will tell you if a domain is available. If it is, you can then purchase it. After that, you need to go into your WordPress settings and tell it your domain. The last step is securing a host.
Hosting for eCommerce Start-Ups
When you have your site, you will need to find a host for it. A host is where your website is stored so visitors can access your webpages. The server that holds your site is connected online, and anyone connected to the internet gets to see it. Without a host, nobody can find your website.
For your WordPress site, there is no better host than WP Super Host. We have worked hard for our reputation as a fast, reliable, and attentive website host. We can help you bring your eCommerce website to life. We even offer free SSL certificates so you will not have to pay for one yourself. We will monitor your plugins as well as when WordPress updates. In case any major issues or accidents happen, we backup our sites daily and have them available for 30 days. Take a moment to consider our available hosting packages now.
It is pretty straight forward to see how to start an eCommerce site. It may look overwhelming all at once, but each step is simple. If you need any help, keep in mind that you can browse some tutorial videos or ask a friend for help. If all else fails, try playing around with WordPress to get a better feel for how things work. Before you know it, you will be running your own eCommerce website.