How to create your own business website or e-commerce store on a budget

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Have you thought about starting up your own online business? Do you have a unique idea that will appeal to others? If so, what’s holding you back? One of the most common answers is the amount of money required to create a website from the ground up. But it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune to create an online presence if you build it yourself. Here’s how…

Many would-be entrepreneurs believe that launching their business online is well out of their budget. But you might be surprised to learn that a stunning online presence can be developed in virtually no time at all if you know what approach to take. Here’s a handful of money-saving tips to get you started and we’ll explore why some of the most successful freelancers have chosen to partner with reputable providers of B2B ecommerce solutions.

ALLOCATING LIMITED FUNDS

Assuming you’re on a tight budget, how can you properly use these funds in order to maximise their impact upon your venture? Of course, you will first have to deal with absolute necessities such as purchasing a domain name and choosing a web hosting service.

You can expect to get a domain name for no more than Β£10 per year – and many domain providers will give you your first year for just 99p to get you started. Before you choose a domain, make sure that the same name is available across all the social media platforms you wish to use. Social accounts and email aliases are free to set up, so you could have your online presence sorted for less than a fiver!

Once you’ve bought your domain and set up your social accounts, it’s time to take a look at finer points such as website design, widgets, templates, and menu links to those social media pages. While you could very well choose premium services to set these up, let’s not forget that there are plenty of free providers to be found across the Internet, such as WordPress.

WordPress is handy for businesses that are promoting services or just need an online presence to go alongside their ‘physical’ business. I have never paid for website design services but over the years I’ve changed up the design by customising free WordPress themes and, more recently, I’ve made use of the premium themes that were already included in my web hosting package. You can buy themes individually if you like a particular design, which can be a lot cheaper than employing a designer.

When you’re starting up your website, it’s good idea to keep track of these set-up expenses in order to figure out how much you will need to make to recuperate the initial investment. You don’t have to pay it all back to yourself at once – break it down into monthly ‘repayments’ so that you know what your monthly running costs are.

You may already be paying for your hosting plan on a monthly basis, so the only initial outlay will be the domain and theme set-up costs – which you can spread across the year. This will help give you a realistic and conservative time frame without feeling too overwhelmed by the costs.

E-COMMERCE WEBSITES

If you want to use your website as a retail outlet, rather than a promotional or service-based site, you’ll need a more advanced template to be able to add products and take payments. Teaming up with a powerful provider of e-commerce solutions could you help to “fill in the gaps”. Not only will you be presented with a host of advanced tools, but the user-friendly nature of these services is ideally suited for those with little to no previous experience.

I ran an e-commerce website many years ago, and it was really fun to set up but only with the help of a specialist retail hosting provider. There are plenty of hosts out there to choose from so here are a handful of questions you should ask yourself to make an informed decision about which e-commerce provider to work with:

  • How long has the provider been in existence?
  • What have others had to say about their services?
  • Is the e-commerce host suited for small businesses or larger organisations?
  • What types of customer support solutions are available if you run into a problem?
  • How do they process sales and how do you receive the payments?
  • What kind of testing can you do in advance to check the system?
  • How can you add SEO content (via a blog perhaps?) to your e-commerce site?

Starting a successful online business doesn’t automatically mean spending out hundreds of pounds to create your website. At the very least, you can have a go at building it for yourself, and if you run into any hurdles, that’s when you can get in touch with the domain/hosting support team or employ a designer to solve any problems. Best of luck and do let me know your tips for running an online business in the comments below πŸ™‚



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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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