From Here To Eternity: Getting Your Retail Store Online

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Selling With Your Own Web Site

By Stephen Bucaro

Many people have their own product, a book, a CD, a craft,
or other product that they would like to sell with their
own Web site, but they can’t find simple instructions on
how to get started. In this article, I’m going to explain
how to sell your product with your own Web site. It boils
down to four steps.

1. Find a Web server

You need to put your Web site on a computer that is running
a Web server program and is connected to the Internet.
There are three choices:

a. Your own server. This requires you to be, or to hire, a
system administrator responsible for system maintenance,
software updates, backups, and security. This also requires
a high-speed communications link to the Internet. This is
practical only for large organizations.

b. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Along with a
broadband or dial-up connection to the Internet, many ISPs
also provide you with a small amount of personal Web space.
There are several problems with using this Web space, even
for a small business Web site. The storage space and
monthly transfer allowance is too small, and if you decide
to change ISP, you lose your email address and you need to
move your Web site.

c. A Web host provider. There are many companies that sell
Web site space on their servers. These companies offer
three grades of service:

– Free hosting. The hosting service makes money from banner
ads that they display on your Web site. Sometimes the
storage space is too small and the monthly transfer
allowance is usually limited.
– Shared hosting. Your Web site shares a server with many
other Web sites. Some hosting providers put too many Web
sites on each server, or someone else’s Web site
monopolizes the servers processor or bandwidth. This slows
down your Web site.
– Dedicated hosting. The hosting provider sets up a
separate server for your Web site alone. Whereas shared
hosting can be acquired for as little as $5 per month,
dedicated hosting cost hundreds of dollars per month.

Recommendation:

Most small businesses can’t afford a dedicated server. You
can use your ISP’s webspace or a free host for learning
purposes, but usually only shared or dedicated hosting lets
you use your own domain name. You will want to register and
promote your own domain name, not put a lot of effort into
promoting a domain name provided by a free host.

There are many Web host directories that let users rate web
host providers. Visit several of these directories and
choose a web host provider with a good rating. The most
important specification to look for in a Web host provider
is “up time”. They should have a 99.9% up time guarantee.

2.Design and Build your Web site

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A Web site is nothing more than a collection of webpages.
Webpages are very similar to documents that you would
create in a word processor. A word processor, like Microsoft
Word for example, uses invisible “tags” to layout the page.
Whereas Word uses “Rich Text File (RTF) tags, a webpage
uses Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags. But the concept
is the same.

You never actually see or deal with the tags in a word
processor document. Many people use a web page design
application that lets them avoid dealing with html tags on
a webpage. But most serious webpage design requires you to
deal with html code directly. There are three reasons why
you would need to deal with the html code directly.