eCommerce for Websites & Blogs

For those thinking they might like to try and earn a little extra income on the Internet, selling something may be the answer. This something might be a real ‘hands on product’ that is shipped to the buyer or it might be a digital product to be downloaded. Either way, an online presence will be needed.

Before you make a decision as to how to sell, here are a few things to consider:

  • Know the type of product(s) you plan on selling. Is the product to be shipped, downloaded or both?
  • How do you prefer to offer the product? Do you want to use one of the existing ‘community selling’ websites or build your own stand-alone site?
  • Consider cost of operation and advertising.  Where will the traffic come from?  Organic?  Ad words?   In other words, how will you be found? Most of the existing ‘community selling’ websites are well known and get substantial traffic. If you decide to create your own new website (or blog) to sell your product, getting enough traffic to make the effort viable may be an issue.
  • Become familiar with the nuances of the different ‘community selling’ websites before making any commitment. This might relate to payment methods, certain restrictions on products, etc.
eCommerce ‘Community’ Selling

Some of the more well known websites that offer sellers accounts are:

Amazon – variety of products, real and digital

Ebay Store –  same brand name – but you offer items through a store

Ruby Lane – primarily antique and collector oriented

Cafe Press – create your own designs and offer them for sale on items like coffee cups, tee shirts, canvas bags, etc.

Etsy – handmade products, vintage items and supplies

Each one of these sites has fees and costs associated with selling. Before making any commitment, take time to become familiar with the general layout of the site, review the prices vendors are asking for items similar to yours. Can you be competitive? Do they offer free shipping? Can you afford to offer free shipping?

Once you’ve made your decision, read ALL the Terms of Use before setting up an account. This way you’ll have no surprises about fees, rental rates, contract obligations, etc. This will ensure that you’ve selected a program that fits your budget and product line.

Selling on a  Website

For those with an existing website, you may find it beneficial to sell directly to your visitors.  This cuts down on fee and rental costs.

Two online eStores that offer Free downloads for your website are:

Open Cart – an open source (free) program and can be downloaded and installed directly from the Internet

Zen-Cart – another open source (free) program available online. (This program can easily be installed directly into the website from the Host Gator cPanel  for those who have a Host Gator account.)

Both of these programs are good and offer a lot of flexibility, however, if you plan on using either one, you should be a little familiar with HTML. Both of these programs require setting up  front page, categories, products, taxes, shipping, terms, images, etc. For more information on options, please visit the site links above.

Selling on  a Blog

If you want to use an existing blog to sell a product – real or digital – there are a number of plug-ins you can download and use. Some are free, others must be purchased.

To find ecommerce plug-ins:

  1. Go to the Dashboard of your blog
  2. Go to Plug-ins and from the menu select:  Add New
  3. On this page perform a search using ecommerce

Read through the search results paying attention to the different options and to the plug-in’s rating. You’ll likely to find that the free plug-ins are very basic without offering many options. So keep that in mind if you want to offer discounts and/or  coupons to your buyers . . .  you may find you’ll need to purchase the plug-in you need.  You’ll notice in the image below, you can get details as well as ‘install’ from the search results page.

After you’ve found the plug-in you want, install it into your Word Press blog. Once you’ve done this,  it will appear in the Word Press Dashboard. This makes it easy to configure. Just like the ecommerce carts, you’ll need to set it up with categories, products, etc. However, it is pretty much like setting up a blog – menu driven and fairly easy. You’ll may still need to know some HTML, especially if you want to put in your own personal brand  thank you page – but that is pretty basic and shouldn’t be a problem.

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