Many individuals want to sell vitamins online but find the whole process intimidating. “I don’t know how to program, so how can I possibly set up a site?” they ask. Well, it’s a lot simpler than many people think. In fact, if you have a Facebook or Myspace account, then setting up a web page will be second nature. And if you don’t, no worries, there’s tons of free support software out there to show you how step-by-step.
The first thing you need to do when you are creating a website is register a “domain name.”A domain name is that thingy that you type in to go to a website (e.g. www.google.com ). You can register a domain name at many different sites, but some of the most popular are “GoDaddy” (www.godaddy.com), “Yahoo Business” http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/domains), “Domain.com” (www.domain.com), and “directNIC” (www.directNIC.com). Prices for domain registration are pretty cheap, and usually range between $3-$20. Of course, if you don’t mind your website domain including the name of the site you purchased it from, you can often get free domains (i.e. www.directNIC.discountvitamins.com).
When you are choosing a domain name, think carefully. You want the name to be easy to remember and reflect the type of business you are running. Avoid the classic mistake of many newbies to e-commerce and stay away from naming your site some long name that is difficult for customers to remember (i.e. www.thebestdealsonvitaminsthataregreat.com) and opt for something that’s simple and reflects your business (i.e. www.discountvitamins.com).
Once you’ve settled on a domain name and steered clear of naming it after your pet or favorite Guns ‘N Roses song, it’s time to actually create your site. “What?” you ask, “Didn’t I just register my domain, and isn’t that my site?” Nope. All that you’ve done at this point is reserve the location of your site. It’s kind of like purchasing an address in a city—no one else can now “build” on that particular site, but then again, neither can you until you actually buy the property to build on. In this case, “property” takes the form of an Internet “hosting” agent in which you can construct your site. Most websites that sell domain names also host sites (all of the ones previously listed do), so this process is pretty painless. Web hosts usually charge a monthly or yearly fee and you can often get deals for purchasing longer periods of time. If you don’t mind your web host placing ads on your site, you can also get free hosting from a wide variety of providers.
After you have your domain and your host site set up, it’s time to actually build your site. This is where most people panic. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to learn how to build a website!” they say, turning off their computer and leaving the room for a nice non-electronic book. Don’t freak out like this! There are millions of people out there just like you, and web developers have created “templates” for you to use. A template is like a pre-fab website, ready to go once you enter the info to personalize the site. Working on many templates is pretty similar to uploading information to sites like Facebook or MySpace.
There are also companies that offer a one stop shop website hosting, design, and shopping cart solution (i.e. Volusion.) For a monthly charge ranging from $19.95 to $150 and a minimal fee per transaction these companies will do 99% of the work needed to start and maintain a successful vitamin supplement website. This option is best for companies looking to offer many products and need an integrated system for managing customers, advertising, affiliates, and even coupons.
All of the sites listed above have free web building tools included with their hosting services. Some other quick and easy website templates can also be found on Website Tonight (www.godaddy.com/hosting/website-builder.aspx), and FreeWebsiteTemplates (www.freewebsitetemplates.com).
So now that you’ve got a domain, a web host, and created a website, you can kick back and watch all that money roll in, right? Wrong. You need to register your website with search engines. Registering with a search engine is like putting your name in the phone book—unless it’s there only your friends and family will be able to find you. In the past, there used to be many, many different search engines, so registering a website was a real pain. Nowadays there are really only two kids on the block to worry about: Google and Yahoo. To register on Google visit www.google.com/addurl and search.yahoo.com/info/submit.html for Yahoo. Best of all, both of these services offer search engine registration absolutely free.
If you are ready to submit your website now, please take advantage of this Free Submission Tool:
Congratulations! You’ve become a part of the worldwide network of vitamin supplement e-commerce!
Now are we finally done? Yes and no. People on the web expect new and different content every time they visit a website, so in addition to continually offering the best new products, think about adding a fun or interesting article here and there. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, but on the net an interesting picture may be worth a thousand views (and every view is a potential customer). Check out other websites that you like and get a feel for the layout of text and pictures. It will take time, but before you know it you’ll be driving customers to your website, and you may just learn enough to talk-tech with that precocious computer-wiz nephew of yours!