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.
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
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.
1. Your web page design application refuses to format the
webpage exactly the way you want it.
2. There is an error on your webpage.
3. Most word processor documents are static. A webpage
usually contains powerful little programs called “scripts”
that work with the html tags on the page.
Recommendation: Before venturing into creating your own
Web site, spend a few weeks experimenting with html tags
to create webpages by hand. You don’t need a Web server to
test your webpages. You can load them directly into your
Web browser. In your learning, focus on linking pages
together that reside in different folders. This is where
most beginners have a problem.
The first step in building your Web site is to create or
choose a template. As I mentioned earlier, a Web site is
nothing more than a collection of webpages. But all
webpages for a Web site should have the same basic layout,
color scheme, and navigation elements.
There are thousands of free and pay templates available on
the Web. Actually, every Web site is a template that you
can explore by selecting View | Source in your Web
browser’s menu. The most import thing about selecting a
template is that you are comfortable with it. If the
template uses complex code, the chances of getting an
error occurring are high, and you may not be able to fix it.
Recommendation: Select a template you like, but don’t use
it directly. From the html coding that you learned by
following my previous recommendation, hand code a similar
template. Now you will have a template you understand and
are comfortable modifying and fixing if it becomes
Generally, you will create webpages on your local computer
and upload them to your Web site, usually using FTP (File
Transfer Protocol). Most web designers keep a local copy
of their entire Web site on their local computer. Here
they can test a webpage before uploading it to the live
Web site. If your design uses active servers pages (ASP),
you may want to install a Web server on your local computer
for testing purposes.
3.Set up E-commerce
E-commerce involves setting up shopping cart software and
a means of accepting credit card payments. There are three
possible ways to set up e-commerce:
a. Set up shopping cart software and a secure order form
on your Web site. Then process the orders using your
regular off-line bank processing service. This is good for
people whose Web site is an extension of their off-line
business. But setting this up from scratch for a Web only
business may be too costly.
b. There are many companies on the Web that will set you
up with a merchant account. This service may or may not
include a shopping cart. In either case, before the user
enters their credit card information, they are transferred
to the secure server of the merchant account. Setup costs
for a merchant account can run into hundreds of dollars.
In addition, there are transaction fees and monthly fees.
c. Many small businesses use online payment services. Most
online payment services can provide you with a shopping
cart, but in many cases, all you need is to place some html
code provided by the online payment service on your Web
When your customer clicks on a “Buy” button on your Web
site, they are transferred to the web site of the online
payment service where they enter their credit card
information. You receive an email notification when a
transaction is completed.
Online payment services don’t charge for setup or monthly
fees, but the transaction fees are similar to a merchant
account. Fees run about $0.35 and 2.5% per transaction.
After a delay to prevent charge backs losses, you can
login to the online payment services Web site and transfer
the payment into your bank account.
The oldest and largest online payment service is
which processes over 600,000 transactions per day.
4.Promote Your Web site
Unless someone makes a lucky handwerkerseite.digital guess as to the URL (Uniform
Resource Locater) or address of your Web site, you will
receive no visitors. Simply placing your Web site on the
Internet does not result in traffic. You need to promote
your Web site. There are many ways to promote your Web site,
some free and some pay, some very effective, some a total
waste of time. Below are the main methods of generating
a. Advertising. You can purchase advertising on Web sites
that do have traffic. You can also purchase advertising in
newsletters or e-zines. Don’t assume that the Web site
with the most traffic or the newsletter with the most
subscribers is the best value. The secret to successful
advertising is testing. Test different advertisements in