Many people have heard about the success it’s possible to achieve if you’re building online stores, but the problem isn’t the sense of hope it gives you. You may not have heard about the pitfalls you need to avoid and the steps you absolutely need to take in order to build an online store that will succeed. Here’s what you need to know to make an online store that will survive in the competitive marketplace today.
Develop it with free or cheap hosting solutions.
If you don’t have a lot of money to invest, don’t worry – the cost of web hosting has never been lower. You need to buy a domain name and web hosting if you want a fully independent online store, or you can use free web hosting and a domain if you don’t want your own URL (the URL might be mystore.thehost.com instead of mystore.com, for example). Until you get on your feet, try free or low-cost solutions. Use a web host that includes a shopping cart solution and set it up with PayPal, a free payment processor that takes a relatively small percentage of each transaction. WordPress is a great host for developing your site, as you can add plugins and themes very easily.
Know your biggest challenge.
Developing your online store is probably not going to be the hardest part of starting it up. Instead, the problem will be getting attention to it – eyeballs in front of your website. People often shop by going directly to their favorite retailers such as Amazon and eBay rather than searching, so you’ll need to carve out a niche in your marketplace. The challenge will be finding an audience by getting your site to rank highly on Google, the top search engine.
Find a niche to operate in.
Instead of trying to sell everything, operate in one niche. A site like Amazon can’t do well in a niche because they don’t know much about the products – they just offer everything their partners offer. You can make sense of everything in that niche. You can sort out your store into intuitive categories, target keyword groups, and create content on that specific niche far more easily. Choose a niche that you enjoy, since you will be spending so much time working in it. Handcrafted quilts will be fascinating for some people and awful for others, just as personalized golf balls might be utterly uninteresting to those quilters.
Build a hobby site that links to your store.
Don’t just build an online store and expect people to come buy things. Build a hobby website, whether the online store is embedded in it or the hobby site just links to it. Write pages of content on the subject and learn to find and optimize your site for keywords. You can write articles about quilting, choosing fabric, types of needles, handmade versus machine-sewed quilts, and much more, for example. Relating content will draw in an audience who is already interested in the products you sell.
Creating an online store requires that you understand what search engines are looking for – original, rich content that helps people who read it. If that audience happens to click through to your store and buy the products you offer, so much the better! Everyone wins in this situation, so help search engines find your online store by helping your audience.
Chelsea Miller is a website marketing consultant. Her articles mainly appear on online retailer blogs. Visit the Lenstore.co.uk and learn how their online store serves their customers.