Business Start Up

How to Build Your Website Into a Business

It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first day delving into the online business world or you’ve been at it for a while now, there is a spirit of online entrepreneurship that you need to become familiar with if you really want to compete on the Internet. It can be summed up in the following words: follow the true and tried practices of traditional retailers. With an open source CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, and many of its free or paid plugins, you can get your site up-to-par with other commercial sites. Many of the suggestions here are targeted towards WordPress installs, but they can give you an idea for what to look for if you have chosen to manage your website’s content in another way.

A business with a physical location would have its address listed in a directory book. Your website’s online address basically has the equivalent through a search engine. But just as a hard-copy business directory will offer options to appear in a more prominent way, so do search engines. Instead of opting for boldfaced letters in a phone book, or even a larger section with a photograph, you can give prominence to your site through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You do this by using your business’s most important keywords and through linking with others. All in One SEO Pack and Yoast SEO both have more than a million active installs and are easy to implement on your WordPress site. Then, having other websites link up to yours will give you the equivalent to name brand stores who receive recommendations by satisfied customers and business guests.

Although your website’s homepage is a digital façade, you have to imagine it as a brick and mortar storefront. It needs to look nice and inviting and—just like a supermarket—it needs to have a shopping cart available for each customer. Depending on your website’s set-up, you may be able to install plugins that work with your particular version of WordPress. You could install free systems like the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart or the Ecwid Shopping Cart (which is free, but upgradeable to enhance your SEO or even take your products onto eBay!). You could also try the WordPress Simple Paypal Shopping Cart, which makes it even easier to sell digital downloads.

In the same way that big box stores have attendants who can answer questions and recommend products, your website should have several or all of the following: (1) a well-written and effective FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section; (2) a contact form; (3) a chat operator; and (4) a related product recommendation tool. For the first option, you can try WP responsive FAQ with category plugin or you may want to try HTML5 Responsive FAQ. For the second option, a very popular WordPress plugin with over one million active installs is Contact Form 7, which has integrated Akismet spam filtering (a must for online transactions!). For the third option, WP Live Chat Support (with over 10,000 installs) and Zopim Live Chat (with over 50,000 installs!) are both good choices. For the last option, Predictive Marketing for WooCommerce offers more than you need. Not only will it have recommend products, it will even allow you to create coupons and follow-up emails. Analytics and conversion tracking will also let you get a better handle on your business outlook.

Promotional items that bring much needed excitement to your visitors will attract the exact type of attention that you are looking for. You can help your products stand out by providing an unboxing video with nice graphics and music effects that you can render on your site with WooCommerce HTML5 Video. You’ll find that the WooCommerce – excelling eCommerce plugin, with its 1+ million active installs, will make things easier for you and that it works very well with supplemental plugins (like the HTML5 video product plugin just mentioned!).

While a walk-in business might have balloons and candy (or a flyerman who is dressed up as a company mascot!) included with handouts, your online business can offer free infographics and other digital downloads. People have been quite successful by creating short and simple eBooks that require an email address to download. This allows online entrepreneurs to grow their contacts or potential leads, while also serving as a residual ad or reminder that their website exists and has items that these eBook visitors are interested in. If you want to take it one step further, you can offer one free eBook and then monetize your site by selling your other related eBooks with Easy Digital Downloads. It is a free plugin and it includes its own cart system.

Don’t forget to have strategic shipping in mind when you set everything up! It is a must since the online norm is that of discount or free shipping. Traditional retail stores already have to use computer forms to process their shipping requests – your website will just already have it integrated right into the store. A good strategy would be to make only ground shipping free.

Have fun implementing all the above. If one option doesn’t work well, choose its alternative and see where it takes you. Adjust all the plugins to fit your needs and you’ll be sure to see good results. If you put your mind to it, your website will not only look good with its commercial offering but it will also work well in retaining customers and processing payments. Good luck!

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