Define your product or service.
Starting an online business gives you the benefit of having access to millions of customers, but you also have a lot more competition. No matter what you’re trying to sell, you can bet that hundreds more online retailers have a similar idea. What differentiates your product from other similar products? To help your product stand apart from the rest, you’ll need to find a niche.
- Let’s say you make jewellery—but so do a few million other people. What makes yours different? If one-of-a-kind jewellery (or another product) is your gig, make sure it’s truly original.
- Offer expertise in an area. Even if the product itself isn’t very unique, your expertise might be a strong selling point. If you’re selling a line of skincare products, for example, it helps if you have a degree in a field related to skin health.
- Check into the competition. Figure out what isn’t already being offered, and find a way to fill the hole with your product.
2 Create a stylish and functional website. Elegant or funky, classical or hipster, your online store should reflect what you’re selling. No matter what your style is, it’s important to give off a professional air. Since you won’t be able to earn people’s trust in person, your website will have to do the selling for you. Your site should be engaging, and most importantly, easy for customers to use when they’re ready to make a purchase.
- Make sure your site design matches your product. For example, if you make traditionally styled diamond jewelry, having a website that looks like shredded cardboard with edgy fonts and images taped to the cardboard would tend to drive away your potential customers.
- You don’t have to design the website yourself—there are professional designers who are more than up to the task, plus ecommerce websites will offer dozens of appropriate templates for you. If you know in advance what you want, you’ll make selecting a designer or a template that much easier.
- When designing your site you need to remember to focus on what is important. Your ultimate goal is to make your site simple and easy to use.
- Your customers should have to make no more than 2 clicks in order to land on the page where they can make a purchase.
- The top of every page should have a link to your shopping cart if its an ecommerce store
- Buttons should be large and clear to read and input boxes should be large and easy to enter your information
- Less is more. Don’t be wordy when you don’t need to on payment pages
- Make sure your logo at the top of the page always links to the homepage
- If you have dark backgrounds use light text and vice versa.
3 Be social. Whatever your business, whatever your venue, keeping your name in the the air is key to internet success. Have a business account on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If your business is graphically oriented, have accounts on Flickr and Tumblr as well. Whenever there is news of any kind—a new contract, a new page, a new entry, a new photo—cross-post it to all your social media sites. Also make sure those sites link back to your main website, and that your website has links to all of them.
4 Set up a merchant account. Service businesses in the past had to generally rely on cash or check—setting up an entire credit card processing system was a thankless, expensive task at best. Using a service such as PayPal makes it possible to accept virtually any form of credit or debit card for your services, and includes dispute resolution should the need arise (and it will arise).
5 Add Google AdSense advertisements to your blog or website. Google’s AdSense is a revenue-sharing opportunity for small, medium and large web sites that places ads for goods and services that are relevant to the content of your site, targeted to the people who frequent your pages. In turn, you get paid a small amount when the ad is either displayed on your page, or clicked on.