When I started out my online virtual assistant site a few years ago, the domain name was pretty simple. I chose my business name.com. That seemed like the logical choice since I knew the name would be available as well as it would state what kind of services I provided all in one, which is the key objective.
When I started out my new online store 5 months ago, I was a little more unsure of what to name my domain.
I knew I wanted to sell children’s products at discount prices, so I chose http://bargainbin4kids.com. As time went by though, and my resources for products began to get wider, I realized I needed more of a niche, so I decided on cartoon merchandise. Changing the name of my website was easy enough, but now I was in a dilemma. I had been using the domain name I registered, and all my visitors/customers where aware of that name. If I changed it now, I would have to start my marketing all over. What to do? As of today, I have still kept my domain name.
Choosing a domain name that describes your website mission is important. Choose wisely. Make sure you are positive of what your mission is before you choose. Otherwise you may waste valuable time and money investing in the wrong thing. These are the lessons we learn along the way.
Now for web hosting. There are many sites out there that offer web hosting at prices that range from free to $100 a month depending on what you want to do.
Free sites are alright to start your business if you do not have that many products to sell and would just like to get the feel for setting up and maintaining a website.
I chose to use http://vstore.ca for mine. I liked it because it has a great shopping cart that is easy to use. It offers a free web hosting service to start with the option to upgrade to premium at anytime for $20 a month.
I used the free store for my online gift shop with miscellaneous products that only ship to American customers.
The free option is not good for certain things though. Sometimes you are not able to view the site when surfing. Bad for business! It hasn’t happened very often, but enough to notice and be a concern.
You can not make any extra money by posting affiliate links you want to promote, or Google adsense. Any advertising income is earned by Vstore only.
You can’t upgrade or specialize your web template to make it more uniquely yours, only the 10 standard templates are available.And you can’t sell downloadable products like ebooks, which is available in the premium paid subscription.
Then there is another site I tried that is free called http://1freecart.com. That seems to be a good site. They use different layout templates. You have more options on how you would like your products viewed. There is a new option now that they have merged with http://sharesale.com which is one of the affiliate sites I use. So now you can upload and post your affiliate programs on there. You still can’t benefit from Google adsense, but it is nice to know they allow the affiliate links. I need to review more on that aspect as I have just found out they added that feature.
The last free webs hosting service I would recommend for beginners, is called http://freewebs.com. They have templates that are more graphical in nature. I checked into this website option to set up a website for my daughter who sells her original impressionist artwork. The templates were a good match for her. This site is cool because it has a community you can meet people in. You can create your own blog, you can create a photo album page,and numerous other pages that the other sites don’t offer. It does have the option to post products but it is done with a different system. The other sites have integrated shopping carts. This one you add the pic and the product info and then a link to add a paypal button, which then allows a connection to go to your Paypal account to pay for the merchandise.It also has an option to upgrade to premium, which is the best thing to do when you would like to add more pages, or products, or more of the many widgets the site adds on a regular basis.
As for paid web hosting sites, other than the upgrade for vstore, I would recommend http://netfirms.comThey are pretty affordable. I used them a few years ago for my business services website. They do have an ecommerce package as well for more money than their regular hosting package, but I have never actually tried it out personally. The thing I enjoyed the most was the amount of Stats you could keep track of for your website. You also could get multiple domain names, and 100 email adressess all included.
Check around and see what you decide. The free web hosting options are good to start with though. When you feel comfortable then you can upgrade.The free sites still have an option for you to buy your own domain name and point it towards the site for a more professional look. They still provide Stats for you to keep track of visitors. And most of them offer discount deals for marketing your site as well. 1freecart has some good offers.
Take care. Next week we will discuss more about Sharesale and other affiliate membership sites.