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I recently had a friend from college email me asking me about how to set up a website and begin to sell items online. She didn’t know how hard it would be to set up, how much it would cost, etc. So…instead of just emailing her back I decided to go ahead and write up a post about this. Much of this information I have learned from personal experience. With that in mind, I am sure there are many different ways of doing things, but I will share what I have learned and hope it helps someone out there who may wish to start a little online business and doesn’t know where to start.
#1 – You need items to sell on your site. The first thing you will need to do is prepare some items that you would like to sell. My experience is in ebooks…downloadable products…but you may have a physical item you want to sell. Before you set up your site, you will want to have some things ready to sell. If you are wanting to create ebooks, I put together a short downloadable booklet on creating ebooks. You can find that here for only $2.50! It explains in detail how to go about creating an ebook.
#2 – You need a site to sell your items on. If you don’t have a lot of computer knowledge to learn how to set up a website or don’t have the financial means to pay someone to do it, I think the fastest and easiest way to get started is by using a free blog. Blogger or WordPress are pretty popular options. Either of these are fairly simple to set up. You simply sign up and follow the instructions to set up your blog.
If you want to get a little more professional and don’t mind paying for a domain name, you can purchase a domain name and have your blog under that domain name. There are lots of places to purchase domain names online that are very reasonable.
#3 – You need to set up your shopping cart. Probably the easiest way to get started is by using Paypal’s free shopping cart. You will need to set up a Business Account at Paypal. This just means that your Paypal account will be linked to a checking account and verified. A Business Account at Paypal allows people who are purchasing from you to use credit cards. Just a Personal Account at Paypal does not allow that. Once you have items that you want to sell, you can go to Paypal and set up your item (putting in the name, price, etc.) and then it will give you the html code for the Paypal “buy now” button. You simply copy that html code and insert it where you want your “buy now” button on your blog.
Click here to go to Paypal where you will find information on the Website Payments Standard – how you can get it set up and how to use it. Paypal charges a small fee for each item you sell as their fee for taking the payment. Their fees are pretty reasonable though and well worth it! The fee is simply taken off of the purchase and you are credited the difference to your Paypal account.
Once it is all set up and you have your “buy now” buttons on your site, people can simply click on the “buy now” buttons and it will direct them to Paypal to make the payment. You will receive an email notifying you of the sale. If you sell a downloadable product, you can email the product to the buyer. If you sell a physical item, you can get the buyer’s address and ship it out to them.
Something else that I should cover here is that if you have downloadable items that you are selling, you may want to consider using a service such as Payloadz or E-Junkie. You can set up your downloadable items at Payloadz or E-Junkie. They both work with Paypal to take payments. You will set up your downloadable items at Payloadz or E-Junkie and will get your “buy now” buttons from there as well. Both charge fees…so you will want to check those out before deciding. This fully automates the purchasing of downloadable products so that you don’t have to personally email out products to buyers. So, look at the cost and decide if this is an option you want to consider. You can always start out by just using the Paypal Website Payments Standard (as I mentioned above), then if business picks up and it starts to be too much work, then you can switch over to Payloadz or E-Junkie.
#4 – Setting up your blog to sell your items. Depending on how many items you want to sell, there are a few different ways you can do this. It will depend on the blog template you use as well…how many columns you have, etc. You can do a post for each of the different items you sell, including a picture, description of the item, and the “buy now” button. You could set up each of your products in the sidebar of your blog. There are really a ton of different ways to set it up. You can see that I have set up graphics in the sidebar of this blog that direct people to my website. But…if you don’t have a separate website, you can easily have the graphic in the sidebar link to a post on your blog with all the details (picture, description, buy now button). As you can see, there are many ways to do it…just play around with it until you get the look you want!
Using a blog also allows people to subscribe to your blog….so that they receive your posts by a feeder or by email. Set up your blog feed through Feedburner and offer your blog feed by email! It is kind of a way to have a newsletter list without all the hassle.
#5 – Get the word out about your product. Once you have everything set up, you are ready to let people know about it! Let your friends know about it…add your blog link to the bottom of your emails to let people know what you are selling…try to find some like-minded business people you can partner with to help you promote your product. Offer a freebie to be used as a giveaway to someone who has a high traffic blog or website. I will offer a bit of advice…don’t be afraid to be very generous with people. As the Bible says, “give and it shall be given to you.” I find in my little business, that the more I give to others, the more the Lord blesses. So don’t be afraid to give and see what happens!
If this inspires some of you to start your own little home business, please let me know! I would love to highlight you on my blog sometime. Just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know! God has given each of us abilities to be used for His glory…what is He calling you to share with others?