If you have been selling on Ebay, Amazon, or Etsy for a while you realize one thing is common on those sites. It’s their house, and their rules! It’s a world of endless test marketing and changes. Not to mention your products or even your store could be banned on a whim. Well, to be honest it’s just not a good idea to put all your eggs into one basket. So maybe it’s time to build your own website.
When I started looking for other avenues, at first it was mind numbing, the choices available. It seems that every social media site out there today has their own selling platform. Then there are store builders such as Shopify, Volusion, or Bonanza just to name a few. Still, with all these choices someone else is ultimately in control of your store.
So for me the choice was to build my own website, where I was in control. I had started my Etsy store “Estates in Time” back in 2014. Starting out as a modest shop with a few vintage products. Growing my shop to over 200 products in the past few years.
Back when I started my shop I decided to acquire the domain name for my shop. At the time I didn’t have plans to build a website, mostly I just wanted to lock in the name, maybe start a blog for advertising at some point, but really I didn’t have any plans at that point. In the end this brings me to the first step in building this website.
Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting for a Website.
In my case I had owned the domain name for a few years as you may have too. So I will only touch on choosing a domain name briefly.
Today there are about 665 domain name extensions out there everything from .com to .wtf. While it may seem trendy to choose your domain name.jewelry for your website store .com is still by far your best choice. Today 47% of all websites on the internet use the .com extension, that’s 10 times more than the closest runner-up.
Also when choosing your domain name you will want something short and easy to remember which can be associated with your store.
As I said before I had owned “estatesintime.com” for some years, if you’re in the same position that’s great, your ready to start thinking about hosting. If you don’t have a domain name hosting is still what you need to look for since most providers offer a free domain name with their hosting packages.
Before I began my search for hosting packages I had already decided to use WordPress to build my site. WordPress has long been considered the number 1 CMS powering close to 28% of all internet websites. Including names such as Forbes, The New Yorker, and The Rolling Stones websites.
This along with the integration of Woo-commerce built into WordPress I knew I needed to find a hosting site setup specifically to meet their needs.
Deciding on Siteground Hosting
Several hosting companies advertise WordPress hosting with great prices, one even claiming to be the Official WordPress.org #1 Choice. Yet it was a less known provider that caught my eye, Siteground.
Building a Commerce site I would need SSL security to protect customer information. A certificate which cost roughly $50 per year with most companies. With Siteground this security was provided as part of the package. Not as part of an introductory offer, but rather a lifetime certificate sold with the package.
opting for the mid-range package I receive 20GB of Web space suitable for 25000 visitors per month and a list of essential WordPress features, with guaranteed 99.9% uptime and 24/7 WordPress Support.
Choosing a Theme for a Website
Once you have your domain name and hosting out-of-the-way,
the next step is deciding how your website is going to look. There are roughly 10,000 themes available for WordPress at any one time, many
free to use. WordPress is an open source software where programmers constantly add and discontinue themes they build.
While saving money is always a good idea, especially as a startup, free isn’t always the best choice. Know who you’re dealing with, it’s not unheard of for unscrupulous companies to offer free themes with malware or other questionable links.
Some key points to look for when choosing a theme are:
- First choose a reputable Theme Distributor.
(A quick Google search can point you in the right direction.)
- If you are building a web store look for a theme with integrated Woo-commerce.
- Next Look for themes that are responsive.
(This means the theme readily adapts between different screen sizes, such as a Full Screen Computer, an IPad, and a Smartphone)
- Then dig into the themes history.
(Has it been updated, when was the last update, and does it have support)
- And finally do like the way the theme looks to you.
Choosing the Flatsome Theme
For this site I decided to use a premium, paid for theme. After looking around I found a theme I really liked the looks of.
The license was a one time fee of $59 with six months of free support. Best of all, the theme was offered through “Themeforest”.
With a quick google search of the ratings for Themeforest, I found that they are the largest theme marketplace on the web. This put me at ease that I was dealing with a reputable Theme Distributor.
The theme I was interested in “Flatsome” came with Woo-Commerce integrated, and was advertised as the #1 best-selling Woo-Commerce Theme. The more I dug into this theme the better I liked it.
As it turns out, Flatsome was first created in September of 2013, and received its latest update July of 2017. That’s four years of continuous upgrades and service. Listed as a responsive theme Flatsome came compatible with all major browsers. Clearly this was the theme I wanted to use.
In conclusion, this covers the main decisions made when building this site. There is still more that I will talk about later, but choosing your name, hosting, site platform, and theme are the first key steps you will need to cover.