Wednesday, June 18, 2014


This is a very expensive mistake I have seen many people make! I did not have thousands to pay someone to create a website for me so I taught myself what was needed to do it myself. Back when I started, there were not very many options for free websites and built in templates. I taught myself HTML, CSS, MySQL, and learned how to use Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Now, you can build a website for free without any knowledge how it all works, but I think it's still important to know the basics so that you can tweak your template how you want (more on that later).

When I first started, I used Zen Cart which is totally free and has free templates. This is where html and CSS came in handy because I did not like the look and feel of the free templates. There are also premium templates that you can pay for and install. 

If you only have 1 or 2 products, you may consider using Wordpress. You can create a free website easily and there are quite a few free templates to get you started. Don't worry how "simple" your site will look at first! A nice clean design will attract your customers :) One feature I do like about Wordpress is the built in SEO right out of the box. 

Domains: You can find domains super cheaper (as low as $2.99 I have found) but be warned, you pay for what you get! Many of these companies that offer those super low prices make it very difficult for you to direct your domain to where you want to host it (if you chose to host at another company). I use Dreamhost both for domain registration and hosting. It's only $8.95 a month to host as many domains as you want! I have used other companies to register a domain but did not like their hosting plans and would have to wait several weeks for them to transfer my domain so I only now use Dreamhost for my registrations and hosting. It's $11.95 a year for a domain but I find it is well worth it! Even if you don't use them for hosting, it's very simple to transfer to another host without any hassles :) 

I have become a pretty loyal customer of Dreamhost mainly because their customer service is awesome! You wouldn't believe how many times I screwed up a line of code and contacted them for help :D 

If you are ready to register your domain, I have a promo code for a Free Registration of a domain! Just enter this promo code: FREEREG14

Shopping Cart: I mentioned Zen Cart earlier which is totally free to create a website and have a shopping cart which is what you will need to sell products. I used it for a few years before I felt I needed more features and support. Like most entrepreneurs, I wear many hats and keeping up with the demands of a website that you have to keep tweaking and updating to make it work for your needs was becoming difficult. 

I researched many shopping cart, tried many free trials and ultimately ended up choosing 3dCart which has many built in templates and features that I needed. It was also the most cost efficient. I needed a cart that had the ability to easily track inventory, customers, order and the ability to have wholesale customers which is a big bulk of my business! Since switching to 3dCart, many more cool features have been added that I love. 

Payment Processing:  At first, I only accepted Paypal because it was FREE, duh!! With the basic free Paypal account you can accept paypal payments and credit cards. I eventually signed up for Paypal Payments Pro which includes their virtual terminal to process credit cards manually. I only needed the virtual terminal for wholesale transactions that were made over the phone, by email, fax or by sales reps. The cost for the Pro is $30, but they do have a cheaper plan if you just want to accept credit cards directly on your site. 

I eventually changed my credit processing over to Chase Paymentech because their fees are lower and there was not a set up fee (which most major processors charge). I even switched my business account over to Chase Bank so my payments get directly deposited into that account very quickly.

There is so much that goes into creating a website so I will be following up with additional posts :)

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