Get Started with Business Web Sites
Part 1 of 3 - Ideas
On the 3 Getting Started pages you will find an overall introduction to what
is involved in setting up a profitable business web site. Then you
can go on to read the other guides, which are listed in the menu to the left
of this screen.
for Business Web Sites
Making or taking your business online involves a three sets of
fundamental choices and how you should tackle the enterprise depends
upon your responses to these questions. One set of issues relate to
the nature of your business, another to your budget, and a third
stems from who will actually create and manage your online presence.
1. The nature of your business:
products to sell, that can be either tangible or intangible. Tangible
goods are real objects like bee's wax candles, engine parts, or
furniture. Intangible things are services or products one can't
touch but which still have a value, such as your labor as a software
programmer or wedding planner, or intangible products such as music
files, software, or e-books. You can also make money by charging people
to join your site as a member, where they either meet other people who
share specific interests or receive access to your online material. If
you intend to sell tangible products then you need some means to create
or manufacture the product and also to ship it to your customers.
If you have intangible goods or services then you will require some way
to deliver them online.
If you are selling some goods or services of your own online,
then you can set up your internet presence as either a storefront or
as a kind of virtual billboard advertising. You can create an
online store or office from which you sell directly to your
customers, or you can set up your site just as advertising
that describes your services or products and then directs people to
contact you directly - either by phone e-mail or a visit to your
actual store. The second option is certainly easier and
cheaper, but there is no doubt that selling directly online is
usually the much more profitable way to go.
Another internet business model is to create revenue uniquely
from advertising other people's goods and services. With this model
you become an "affiliate" and earn commissions from sending business
from your site to other sites. This web site uses the affiliate
model to earn generate its income - profitably, too! The key to
success with this model is to create a site with enough independent
content to hold your visitors' attention.
Finally, there's the "drop-shipping" model. You advertise and sell
products from your site, but engage a third party to manufacture and ship the
goods to your customers. When a sale is completed online, the order information
goes directly to your drop-shipper, who completes and ships the order to your
customer. Find out more about drop shipping.
Remember, too, that you can combine business models. You can generate
extra income by advertising compatible products and services at your site, even
if you have your own to sell.
2. Your budget
If you are wanting to dip your toe in the internet waters just as
a trial then you likely have a very limited budget for the
Some will want to make a substantive commitment from the outset
and will be able to afford better options for website hosting and
design, payment processing, and - particularly - advertising.
A few contemplating e-commerce for the first time are fairly
large and established companies that can afford significant
Whatever the size of your business, don't think only of the money spent on
your web site - think what the site can do for you! Remember that your
site not only can make money for you from sales and commissions, but it also
acts as a giant advertisement of your products and services.
3. Who will create and manage your online presence
If you are in business for yourself then you will be limited by
what you are comfortable doing technically yourself, or by what you
can afford to pay others to do for you. If you have never created a
web page, then your options include hosting services with easy
step-by-step website creation utilities or diving into the joys of
learning how to create web pages yourself.
More established companies may be able to draw on employees who
have some personal experience creating web sites, or they will have
a large enough development budget to hire others to do the work for
If you intend to hire someone else to create your web site, bear
in mind that simply setting up the web site is usually only the
beginning of the process. Only for the most simple "billboard" site
can you create the necessary web pages and then sit back and leave
your web site alone. Most web sites require routine management
that incorporates new products or services. Just about all web sites
also demand a constant tinkering for three reasons: you want the
visitors to your web site to explore beyond the first page they land
on, you want to entice them to actually buy, and you also want to
try to improve your standings in the search engine results. All of
of these considerations mean that you need to continue to refine the
appearance and content of your site.
Set Your Site
Apart From The Crowd
There are literally millions of websites out there, and in order to get
people's attention you will have to think of ways to make your site
different from the rest. It can be the particular content - your
commentary or advice on the subject, games, comparison ratings, visitor
discussions forums - or it could be the range of material or the design of
Check out the competition. If you
want to stand out, then you have to know what the rest of the crowd
looks like. Use Internet search engines like
to track down other sites that relate to the subject matter of the
site you want to build. Make a note of their strengths and
weaknesses. Model your site on what works, and avoid what doesn't.
sites are only going to come through doing your homework and knowing
your market, knowing your competition, and knowing how to put
together the best site possible.
What To Consider Spending Money On
While you can do everything for free, there's no doubt
that you can create a more appealing - and profitable - web site by
spending a little money on your site.
While you can get free web site hosting,
it is a wiser option in the long run to pay for web hosting that has
yourownname.com domain name and no ads forced by hosting providers.
There are lots of affordable hosting services that charge under $10 per month.
It is really a good idea to get your own domain name - www.yoursite.com - for your
web site. Not only will this give a more professional air to your business site, but it can also
help you in search engine rankings and in joining affiliate programs. The cost of a domain name is often
included in the costs of hosting a web site. But if you can also register a name first (to make sure it's still
available when you come to set up your site) and then create a web site in the future - the cost for
registering domain is about $9 to $35/year. To help you choose a good domain name,
Domain Name Analyzer.
This a handy little Windows program available for free, that will help
you create a list of potential domain names and check to see if they are available. Before you settle on your domain name,
you should consider some of the legal issues discussed on Getting Started Page 2.
You will also definitely thank yourself for set aside money to submit your site
to the main search engines and improve your ranking in them. Most of the largest
now only accept commercial sites if they pay for their listing; the few that
also allow free submission give higher ranking to sites that have paid for
inclusion. But there are still a few
free search engines worth
Getting listed is only half the battle, as you also have to make
sure that your site is ranked high enough in the search results to draw
attention to itself; your ranking will improve with a little time and effort on
your part to optimize your site. You can also try the
pay-per-click search engines, where you choose a per-click charge and rank as high as you want for particular keywords.
Getting Started - Part 2
How To Make Money From Your Site & Clear Legal Issues
Getting Started - Part 3
Choosing a Hosting Service and Building Your Site
A Great Book For Thinking Seriously About Your New Business Site
To find out more or to buy this book for $16.49 at Amazon.com, click:
Starting an Online Business For Dummies, 4th Edition
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