For years, you’ve been selling your incredibly delicious baked goods to a group of devoted family, friends and co-workers. Now, you’ve decided to take the plunge and create a website that will allow you to ship your scrumptious scones, marvelous muffins, and tantalizing teacakes to a hopefully appreciative worldwide audience.
In order to have a successful online business, budding entrepreneurs need an effective and terrific-looking website. As any online business owner knows quite well, fantastic websites don’t just happen — they require a fair amount of advanced preparation and homework. While it may seem a bit overwhelming at times, the following nuggets of advice can help take the idea of a website and turn it into reality.
Determine if your home computer can handle a business website
The first order of business when launching a new website is to make sure your computer can handle it. WebHostingBlueBook.com notes that in many cases, home computers need some serious tweaks before a business website can even be built. For example, check with your ISP provider to see if you can run the site from your PC. In some cases, you may have to upgrade your Internet account and plan in order for the site to work. Since a slow-to-load site will send shoppers running to the next online merchant quicker than you can say “cupcake,” be sure you can afford to pay for an upgraded connection. Paying a low monthly fee (as low as under $2 a month) to a web host can alleviate slow connection pain points you may encounter by hosting at home.
Select your domain name
Next, choose your domain name AKA the proud title your website will carry. This typically means getting an account with a domain name company that will give you permission to use that name, as The Site Wizard points out. Take your time in choosing a domain name, and make sure when it’s written out, it will look and read well, and isn’t too long or cumbersome. If your name is Ida, and your specialty is cupcakes, then IdasCupcakes.com may be the perfect domain name for you and your website.
Learn what your customers want — from your site
Beyond your mouthwatering baked goods, it’s good to do some research and find out what a typical online cookie buyer wants from a website. For example, does this type of customer want complete ingredient lists to be posted, so they can make sure allergies are not an issue? Do they desire gorgeous photos of the baked goods? Are they looking for a brief history of the company and your commitment to using only the best ingredients possible? Probably all of the above! Ask around, see what people like, and spend time researching other online bakeries to see what you feel looks and works the best.
Figure out how you will get paid
Since you will be selling your goods over the Internet, you will need a way to receive and process your customers’ credit card information. Read up on how to accept credit cards, set up shopping carts, and add order forms to your site. Make sure you have all of these tasks in place before you even begin to design your site. Once you are ready to open, you will easily be able to make sales to your customers.
Al teaches economics and business at his local high school. He blogs about business, finance, teaching and the economy in his spare