Alright, it’s no big secret, I mean all these services are readily available to anyone online. But sometimes people just don’t want to take the time to do the research to find the best option. That’s why people still use ecommerce solutions like a Yahoo! Store, and overpay through the nose for the service. But hey, to each his own.
Anyway, here is the best way I’ve found to sell t-shirts online, or any product for that matter. This is coming from my 8 years experience with my own t-shirt company, started back before cafepress became popular.
First of all, web hosting. Web hosting does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. If you’re paying more than $10/month, you’re paying too much, unless you’ve got some dedicated server or something fancy like that. I’m talking about your basic hosting plan on a shared server.
Personally I use GoDaddy.com for hosting, but that’s because I didn’t know any better when I first started doing websites. If I knew then what I know now, I’d definitely be using HostGator.com. Why? Ease of use. Plus, I have heard from other website owners that GoDaddy is the only webhost out there that will actually TAKE your domain from you if they suspect anything fishy with your account, like for example if you do a big advertising campaign and one day you get a lot more hits to your site than usual, they might freeze your account.
As far as ease of use, I much prefer HostGator because they use the popular “CPanel” administration for your hosting and domain. Everything you need is in one place, and you don’t have to go to their site to login to your hosting control panel. With GoDaddy, you have to login to their site and navigate several pages just to get to the one you want.
On top of all that, HostGator has a great hosting plan that will allow you to host an unlimited number of websites, unlimited storage space, and unlimited monthly bandwidth (no limit on the amount of people that can view your site). GoDaddy has limits on space and badwidth.
The cheapest plan you can get on HostGator will run you less than $5/month.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but you do not have to register your domain name with the same provider from which you get your web hosting. Granted, it is easier to get them from the same provider, but it is not necessary. Actually, some webmasters will tell you that it is wise to get them from separate companies. That way if one company’s data center goes down, the other is still up and running and you haven’t lost EVERYTHING, just one or the other.
Here’s a little trick, though, if you do decide to use GoDaddy for anything, don’t go straight to their website to register a domain name. Instead, do a google search for something like “cheap domains”, then click the sponsored ad from GoDaddy.com that says $6.99 domain names. If you do it this way, you’ll save $3/year on your domain name registration. How about that! Just keep in mind what I mentioned earlier – GoDaddy is the only company I’ve heard of that will actually TAKE your domain name from you if they suspect any illegal activity. They’ll shut you down so fast you won’t know what happened until you’ve lost tons of business.
If I were starting out, I would go to NameCheap.com to register my domain names. You’ll pay $9.99/year instead of $6.99, but they include free WhoIs privacy, which GoDaddy does not include for free. WhoIs privacy will keep private your personal information in the public WhoIs database listing for your domain name. If you don’t want people to know your name, address, phone, and email address just by looking up who owns your domain name, then you’ll want this privacy feature.
Unless you want a totally custom website, web design is FREE nowadays. Have you heard of WordPress? Most people think it’s just for blogs, but you can actually make very nice looking websites with it. Almost all of my websites are now built in WordPress, including this one. I prefer this setup because,
You want to know the best part? WordPress can be installed on your webhosting plan with the click of a button. In the past you had to do a lot of legwork to install it on your domain. Nowadays, though, in the CPanel of your web hosting plan with HostGator.com, there’s a little feature called “Fantastico” that will install it for you with the click of a button.
They have a ton of free “themes” to change the look of your site. Pick one that doesn’t look like a “blog” if you don’t want it to look like a blog. Then you’ll have to tweak a couple settings to set it up as a website rather than a blog. It’s super easy though, and there is a ton of documentation and help files online.
Anyway, you can get really fancy with WordPress if you want, but you can also keep it really simple. Either way, this is not a guide on how to design a website, so we’ll leave it at that. (Maybe I’ll write a more extensive guide about all this someday…)
Let me just set one thing straight: PayPal is NOT the only only payment processor out there. In fact, I would not even say it is the best, but you may disagree. I got tired of the Paypal routine as soon as a viable alternative came around: Google Checkout. Google has a really fine payment processing service, and their fees are relatively comparable to Paypal. What I prefer about Google Checkout, though, is that they do not hold your money in some “online bank account” like Paypal does, but rather they simply process the payment and the deposit it directly to your bank checking account as soon as the next business day. With this arrangement, I have better control of my money. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about Paypal freezing peoples’ accounts, seizing funds, etc, as soon as their fraud detection triggers are tripped, even if you’re not committing any fraud or doing anything wrong!
Google Checkout is FREE to signup. And I don’t know if they’re doing this anymore, but at one point they would give you something like $10 in free payment processing transactions for every $1 you spent on Google Adwords. Or was it the other way around? Either way, it’s a great deal for you.
If you want a free shopping cart, Google Checkout and Paypal both have decent built-in shopping cart functionality with their service. Actually, the built-in shopping cart with Google Checkout is pretty darn slick compared to Paypal’s. As another free option, I would highly recommend FatFreeCart.com. This is the free version of the pro shopping cart I use on my sites. It is a great shopping cart because there are no pop-up windows for customers to deal with, the shopping cart pages simply popup right inside a cool little fadebox overlay right inside your own site. Of course, because it is free, there are some drawbacks. For instance, you can only have flat, pre-determined shipping charges calculated, there is no discount code functionality, and you can’t keep inventory records, or anything else like that. That’s why I use the Pro version of the fatfreecart, which is a service provided by E-Junkie.com.
E-Junkie.com is the BEST shopping cart service I’ve found. Don’t let the name throw you, it’s not for junkies or losers like my first impression told me from their domain name. This is a totally legit service and I use it for ALL of my ecommerce sites. I have three or four different accounts with E-Junkie for several reasons…
There is no question about it. If you can afford an EXTRA $5/month for this service, I would HIGHLY recommend it. They have a free 7-day trial. Signup here: E-Junkie.com.
While email marketing is not necessarily required to sell t-shirts online, I will tell you it is an important part of any internet business. When they say, “the power is in the list,” they’re talking about your list of subscribers, and they’re not kidding! Having a list of people that know you and trust you that you can send emails to is how you really make money online. And the only way to do that is with a professional email marketing service.
I’ve used a couple of them out there, researched a lot more of them, and the overwhelming opinion of internet marketers out there is that Aweber is the BEST. I use it for all my websites, which is one of the reasons I like it so much – you pay a flat fee per month determined by how many subscribers you have, not how many different lists, or how many emails you send per month. That way, you can have an unlimited number of “lists” to which you can send emails, and you won’t pay anymore per month as long as you’re within the limits of the number of total subscribers you have across all your lists combined.
On top of that, the features are great. You can schedule an unlimited number of followup emails that will be AUTOMATICALLY sent to your subscribers. You write the emails once, and your people get them at just the right time. Someone signs up for your email list, they’ll get the first followup email immediately, then you can tell the system how many days to wait before sending the next followup, and the next followup, and so on. I would not be in business without Aweber if I were you.
Alright, if you signed up for all the services I mentioned above, you’d be paying more than $5/month for your website. But if you just wanted the bare minimum, you could definitely do it for about $5/month.
That’s $4.82/month plus payment processing transaction fees. Even if you add on all the other options, you’re looking at $28.82/month, while a Yahoo! Store will run you $39.95/month plus transaction fees, and that’s just for the online store which doesn’t include the email marketing and domain name.
I hope I’ve helped you see how easy and inexpensive it is to run an online business. Anymore it’s the only kind of business I want to run because it’s the only kind of business that makes sense to me – minimal risk, huge potential profits.Powered By WordPress Tabs Slides