How to Start eCommerce Site, Store, or Business Online
Post date: Dec 28, 2014 10:49:16 PM
Here I am with some more unconventional, free advice on how to get started in eCommerce. Maybe you typed in the search bar, "how to start an eCommerce site or store or business online." Well, I have some advice you probably aren't going to like. Especially, if you've recently started a store or you have your heart set on starting an eCommerce site in the new year- because you are finally ready to get in on this rolling in the dough game. It's so easy, anyone can do it right?
Wrong. Anyone can start a store. Anyone can pay "pros" a TON of money to set it up properly or amateurs too much money to do it wrong. What do I know about how to start an eCommerce business? Nothing or Everything, It depends on your perspective. I know enough to know that I don't want to set it up for you. Been there, done that. No thanks.
Have I ever owned my own eCommerce business? Not exactly.
I did sell on eBay for years. I started long before I ever had a blog. I quit shortly after I started my blog, because eBay buyers can be very cruel. They don't see you as a person. They OFTEN lie about the merchandise the received or didn't. I quit after a woman won an auction for tons of Longaberger items and sent in a complaint that one of them had mold on it. What? Maybe. I cleaned it before mailing it. It might not have completely dried before I stuck it in the box to ship it- unlikely, but I won't rule it out. But... there were tons of other more valuable items. She didn't mention that in her complaint. She was awarded a FULL refund and kept ALL of the items- including the "moldy' one. I lost a couple hundred bucks that day. That ended my eBay career. I don't have the skin for it.
What I do know is what NOT to do. What not to think. When to keep going and when to give up.
The truth of the matter is, if you decide to find some products (Alibaba?) or sell some of your own products with an eCommerce store without any other ADVANCED social media marketing and without money in the bank, you probably won't last 6 months. If you have an established brick and mortar business the startup is somewhat easier.
Forget what you've heard. Don't jump on the train. People are selling THEIR services. They want you to dive right in, fail, and seek their services. Even with their help, you'll probably still fail or run out of money and give up before you ever turn a profit. I've helped many an eCommerce biz. Some "established," some not so much, and several who had recently purchased the business. Sucker. Oh, that's not very nice... Nope, but it doesn't make it any less true.
They come to me when they realize it isn't working out. They need marketing to make some sales, but they've spent all of their money on setup, products, or professionals. They've got it all backward.
Think about what you would do. Would you buy a product from a rinky dink eCommerce site when you could buy something similar from Amazon, Target, or Walmart? Probably not. If you would, you probably shouldn't! It isn't safe. It is so easy to set up a fake website.
Do you really want to give a stranger your credit card number or even worse, your bank account information? I sure don't. With that in mind, you've already lost a lion share of the market. You might attract a few people who are willing to take a risk for a really good deal or some really gullible people who buy without thinking. I guess that's where I come in. I'll help target and find those people in social media land and then bait them to your store. I can do that. I can't make them buy it though. That is your job. If you already have an established real world business this is less of an obstacle, because you already have loyal customers.
Well bummer, I just crushed your dreams. Nope. I'm still here to help, to consult, to advise. While I'm advising you, you'll get lots of messages from others who promise to help you down your original path. They make it seem so easy. They have your vision. They believe in you- unlike me. I'm too negative. Nope, I'm a realist. I want to see you succeed. I know the path to failure... I've seen it so many times.
I'll do what you want, if you insist. It is your money after all, but every step of the way, I will make suggestions that will help you in the long run. The thing is, most people aren't in it for the long haul. They want or NEED results yesterday. They are getting deeper and deeper in the financial hole. They NEED to win the lottery. This idea they have- is going to make them millions... if only they could get the word out. Of course! I get it. I believe in you, but I hope you'll step back from the dreamy parts and be open to suggestions.
eCommerce and Online Store Marketing TIps
Here's a tip. If your product or idea is awesome, it will sell itself. Word of mouth will get around. When you go into share about it in social media, people will see it and remember it. They will want to know where they can get one. If it isn't spectacular, but something a lot of people could use or need... you need to start out differently. If you build it, they won't necessarily come. If they come, you should build it.
What does that mean? Here's my advice. Here are things that I can help you with, that will give you much better results than jumping in headfirst and sinking all of your cash into an online store.
The first thing I suggest to people who have a fledgling online store is to add a blog. Almost all of them doubt me. They don't see what a blog about something besides "buy my spectacular products" can help. They don't see how a recipe post or a post about diy tips is relevant to their vision. They don't want to waste time writing it, and they don't want to waste money paying someone else to do it. They do want to explain to me why that isn't what their business is about and why a blog isn't necessary...
If only they had started the blog posts first.
You should know by now that consumers don't want to be sold or pushed into buying something. The hard sell is dead. You need a soft sell. You know, like with edutainment and educational t.v. and games. We sneak learning into fun things kids like. The result, they learn without pressure or stress. This works with grown-ups too.
So, to start an eCommerce store or online business, you should start with a soft sell. Start a blog. Use a platform that will allow you to set up a store and/or a shopping cart, but start the BLOG first. Build your platform. What do you stand for? What is your mission? How will your products help people? Focus on these concepts in your blog posts. If you can't write or don't have time to write, hire a blogger to write the posts for you. Do the same with Pinterest. Start pinning things people who will buy your products will like. Then, you can bait and switch.
Blog Posts for Online Store and eCommerce Sites
We write posts on your blog for $35 each. They are written and optimized for SEO. However, for proper SEO, we need to load them into the site or train you on meta descriptions, tags, alt text, and the first 180 or so words in the paragraph.
Gosh Darn it! You don't need 600 words in your text. This may have been something in the past, but it is no longer relevant. Shorter posts do better with humans. You want them to read all of it without getting bored, right? This post is too long! I should have divided it into two or even three posts. I might do that later. Why? Because, every pageview adds up. The more pageviews I get, the more pennies I get.
If the post is properly optimized 250-400 words is just fine! 200 words or less can work too... People are looking for a quick read. I don't want to write 600 words posts! Neither do you. We'd get burn out fast. Truth.
While I am ranting... PageRank is also dead., at least for now. Just ask Google. You'll have to care about pagerank to care about this statement. Pagerank is different than "get me to the top, number 1 spot on Google search." That's not dead. Just not realistic for everyone. Am I there? Yes, for some things for my website, Kids Creative Chaos.
Social Media for eCommerce Site and Online Business
Set up a Facebook page, a Pinterest profile, Instagram, and a Twitter account.
You've heard LinkedIn is good? Google Plus is fun? What about that Vine thing? Should you be on YouTube? Chill out. Focus on the most popular platforms while you build your brand. We'll add the others if they work for your brand... eventually.
Build real, organic followers. If you want to place an ad on the social media platform to get more followers, do that. The growth will be slow, but they will be people who chose to like you. 100 people who want to follow you is better than 5,000 who earn a penny for every page they follow. Right? Right. The only reason you would want to pay for 5,000 followers is to make your page look good or because a publisher won't sign you on a book deal until you have 5,000 or so followers on all of your social media sites. Eventually, those fake followers fall off or the social media platform bans their accounts. It isn't worth it. I promise. It might make you feel good, but when they disappear you'll wonder what you did wrong. Yes, yes, I can help with both things or I can consult with you, so you can do it yourself. Consulting fees are $25 per hr.
How to Sell your Product Online
You have something to sell online? You are determined to sell it online? Start out on Amazon.com with your page and descriptions optimized for SEO. Write a blog post about your product and link back to Amazon. Become an Amazon affiliate and link to books or other similar products and earn a percentage on everything you sell. Yes, I can help with this too.
Once your blog is getting good traffic (about 2k pageviews per month minimum) opt for banner ads on your site. There are a lot of ad networks out there for every size website. It only takes one good clicker to bring in some revenue. What? You think 2000 pageviews per month is good? It is good enough to get the ball rolling. I promise. Remember, we are building it so more will come.
Ads for Websites and Blogs
Do you have money to toss around? Do a trial AdWords campaign. This will "get you on page one of Google" so to speak. That's what we all really want anyway, right? The idea is that once they come, they will come back and maybe the will also tell their friends to come. Word of Mouth.
NOW, we're talking! How long did this take? A good foundation takes about 3 months to build. It takes awhile for the search engines to come around and find all of your awesome targeted keywords. Yes, yes, even with a site map. Note the keyword here: Foundation.
Do I Need a Site Map?
Do you need a site map? Not really. Your keywords and blog posts (when properly optimized) become your site map. Every time you write a new post be sure to use anchor text to link it to an older post and edit the older posts to include links to newer posts. What do I mean? This is good, keyword rich anchor text: Search Engine Optimization Tips for Beginners. The search bots will follow this link and say, hey! she talks about SEO on this site. That helps me rank for SEO tips. I must be serious about it, I have linked the keywords making them hyper important. Except, these are way down in my text. They'd do better with the bots in the first two paragraphs. Get it?
Great! You have a foundation. You have focus keywords. You have traffic. You've made some pennies. Your product is selling on Amazon. Your traffic is growing. Your Alexa rank is quite impressive. Now, you can consider starting an eCommerce store. If you already have a store, that's okay - just change your plan of attack.
First, consider this. Is your traffic just okay? Are your followers loyal? Do they trust you? Are they engaging with your posts in the blog and social media? Build a loyal following who loves you first. How do you make them love you? Give them something. A discount code for your Amazon product? An eBook? (That's a lot of work or money) A Free Printable that somehow relates to your product and mission? A free sample?
How do I get Blogger Reviews?
Free samples are great if you have an advertising budget. Offer a free sample (don't skimp) to bloggers in your niche. Yep, yep, yep, I can help you find them. I can contact them for you too. Offer them the product and some compensation for writing a review. Many bloggers will write a review that includes a free product for $25-75. Some will do it for free. Don't be tempted. Just pay them for their effort. Now, you have word of mouth. They will share in their social media circles, AND you will get a link in their website! Hooray for you! You're finally getting this. That link will show in Alexa as "sites linking in" - the more you have the better you rank. Go with established bloggers. Find them on UpWork not Craigslist. Fiverr is okay, but $5 isn't much of an incentive to leave the link in long term. I'd stay away from that. The Play Connection Sponsored Social Media Network.
Don't make it your goal to have your store up and running in December, just in time for the holidays. You'll be disappointed. Shoot for the next holiday season. The one a year or more away. Don't do your push in November and December, start in July. Get your brand in their minds with social media. To set up a quality store that is properly optimized for SEO can take some time. Especially, if you hire the wrong people. Can I do that for you... yes. Will I? Probably not. It isn't a good time. It takes a long time and a lot of detailed work. I've done it several times now. Bleck. Maybe if the money is right. BUT, I can advise you on what you need and suggest someone who can do it for you, as well as, who you shouldn't hire.
There are far easier ways to make money. See a theme here? You should consider what I am saying. If you think I am just a naysayer and full of poo.... well, do not hire me. I thank you for that ! :)
Social Media Marketing for eCommerce and Online Businesses
When your site is up and running and you need a little boost, I'm happy to help with that. If you did it backward, let's start at the top and give it at least 3 months. If your store is established and needs a lot of SEO and clean up, I can do that too. In this case, I'd prefer to do it while I am managing your social media - rather than you hiring someone else who tells you what you need to do - then you tell me what I should be doing. It ties my hands when you tell me what you've been doing. That isn't working. Let's try this.
If you want to start an eCommerce site or Online store without any help, follow the steps above and Google the "how tos"... How to set up a product on Amazon, How to start a blog, etc.... Feel free to Email me with simple questions if you get stuck. Good Luck!