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[Tutorial] How to build your own PROFESSIONAL e-commerce site for UNDER $100

Discussion in 'Making Money' started by Hinkys, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. Hinkys

    Hinkys Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Table of contents:

    1. Budget Overview
    2. Domain Name
    3. Hosting
    4. Ecommerce Content Managment System
    5. Choosing A Theme
    6. What To Sell?
    7. Final Words
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    1.) - Budget Overview
    --------------------------------------------

    Many people think that building your own web store is a very complex and expensive project. They put this project in the hands of professionall web designers. While this way has many benefits, it happens to be a quite expensive project.

    I've seen people charge more than $7500 for custom e-commerce sites, what the hell?

    Well, as with anything, there's a better, more available way to go about this. Not only is this way easy to reproduce even for people who have just started doing internet marketing, but it's also much cheaper. The whole setup shouldn't cost you more than $100 and hence the title.

    The bill will look something like this:

    • You need a domain name for your site: $10 on Namecheap
    • You need stable & secure hosting: $15 / month on Hostgator
    • You need to decide on the content managment system, depending on what you're trying to do, this can be either Wordpress or Magento: FREE
    • You need a quality theme for those: $35 - $80 on Themeforest
      • (I know what you well-read people are thinking, you know how to get themes for "free" but I'll give you something to think about down this post)
    • ​You need a good logo for your site: $5 on Fiverr
    • Also, you will obviously need something to sell. Even if you don't have any products of your own, you are still covered. But more on that later.
    --------------------------------------------
    2.) - Domain Name
    --------------------------------------------
    It doesn't really matter where you get your domain from, however, I would highly recommend Namecheap. The reason is that I never had a single problem with them, they don't have any hidden fees and their site is easy to use.

    You can go with any name that you like, preferably something that is brandeable. Think of names like eBay and Amazon. Also, if you have no intention of being a locally based shop, make sure to get a .com. If you in fact are locally based then you would most likely want to get your country code top-level domain. (.us / .in / .de / .au ...)
    --------------------------------------------
    3.) - Hosting
    --------------------------------------------

    While you could get your hosting right there at Namecheap, I'd recommend Hostgator with their "Business" package.

    With this "Business" package, your site will get it's own IP address and private SSL certificate.

    This SSL certificate (short for secure socket layer) will add a 128-bit encryption to all traffic between the server and a visitor on your site. This is especially important when you have a web store which requires users to input their credit card / payment details at some point. You don't want those kind of things to go through un-encrypted connection since someone could easily hack and steal those sensitive information which is really bad for both your business and the customers.

    Normally you don't get those on regular shared (cheap) hosting and would need to buy a virtual private server to host your site (to get your own dedicated IP which is required for all SSL certificates) + the actual SSL certificate. That alone could cost you 3-4 times more on a monthly basis. However, hostgator has it all nicely bundled up in a single package. While the cheaper "Baby" Hostgator plan does also have an SSL included, it's only a shared SSL.

    Read what Hostgator says about this:
    SSL aside, "Business" Hostgator package supports unlimited domains and emails, cPanel with a simple installer for both Wordpress and Magento and $100 adwords coupon if you're from US. (Mind you, it's the one where you gotta spend $25 first to use it.)

    This hosting costs only $15 / month but you can these coupons to bring the cost down a bit:

    JohnGrginov1- To pay only $5 for the first month - (if you decide to pay month after month)
    JohnGrginov2 - To get a 25% discount on your entire bill - (if you want to pay for 3 / 6 / 12 months of hosting immediately)

    Just note that I get affiliate commission for everyone who uses those.
    --------------------------------------------
    4.) - Ecommerce Content Managment System
    --------------------------------------------

    So now it's time to choose a CMS to power our web shop and we have 2 obvious choices: Magento & Wordpress
    Even tho there are many other platforms available, these 2 have the largest community and thus it's easier to get support and find tutorials.

    While Magento is a specialized e-commerce script, Wordpress is a more general content management system. It's mainly used for blogs but can very easily be designed to work as a fully featured e-commerce site due to it's many 3rd party plugins and different themes.

    The choice between the two is pretty simple:

    Magento is the best option if you are selling your own products or working with a dropshipping supplier. It's more optimized for e-commerce than Wordpress and it can handle large amounts of different products easily.

    On the other hand, Wordpress would be better option if you plan on selling products from Amazon as their affiliate (which I'll be discussing later) and / or if you plan to run a blog in addition to the web shop. While Magento does have a blog extension it's no match for Wordpress in this area which after all is what Wordpress is all about. However, WP can get quite slow once you start adding large amounts of products.


    Also, you will need an e-commerce plugin such as WooCommerce for Wordpress. It's a free plugin that will give your Wordpress site e-commerce functionality, ability to add different products and integrate payment systems. There are other options but I've had experience with this one and it seems to handle everything quite well. You will also find loads of themes that are optimized to work smoothly with WooCommerce.

    Note however that some themes might not work properly with this kind of plugins, your best bet is to try a find a theme that explicitly states it's compatible with WooCommerce. This is another reason why I recommend this plugin as there are loads of themes that are compatible with it.
    --------------------------------------------
    5.) - Choosing A Theme
    --------------------------------------------

    Speaking of themes, both Magento and Wordpress have a sizeable selection of free themes you can use.
    However, I strongly recommend that you go with a paid theme. These tend to have more features, a more unique, modern look and support that will handle any problem you have in a short time period. With free themes, you don't get any kind of support and sometimes there are stupid restrictions built in to the theme so you would buy the paid version. You can browser those here...

    1) Magento themes:


    2) Wordpress WooCommerce themes:


    ...since it's the only place that has so much good themes in one place. And while you could argue that this is the most expensive part of this method, it also happens to be one of the most important parts. A theme is what gives your site a professional modern look, makes your site look thrustworthy and makes visitors comfortable enough to buy something there.

    Sure you could have the most loyal customer base that LOVES your products and would buy from you even if you built the ugliest website ever.
    But the thing is...they would buy MUCH MUCH MORE if your site looked awesome.

    Also, while you could just go and search this forum or another site for a cracked theme, I would recommend against it. People who actually pack those themes often times insert code in files that you don't want on your site.

    If you don't believe me, just google "why you shouldn't download free wordpress themes"
    --------------------------------------------
    6.) - What To Sell?
    --------------------------------------------

    So what can you do when you don't have your own products...

    1) Buy wholesale products

    There are many ways to get your hands on cheap products if you buy them in bulk. The easiest way to go about this is to google the name of whatever product you want to sell and add "wholesale".

    2) Sell products through a dropshipping suppliers.

    Selling something through a dropshipper has many benefits. You don't have to pay for an item untill someone actually makes a purchase on your site. You don't have to worry about shipping, all you have to do is send your supplier the details of the purchase and he will take care of shipping so you never actually see the item being purchased.

    If you don't know any dropshipping suppliers, a simple google search is a good start. Just make sure that you do some research on your suppliers by at least looking at his reviews. Also,you can start with a fresh short list of suppliers I recently compiled which you can download on my blog johngrginov.com.

    If you can't find any reviews or you see people complaining about things like quality or delivery time,
    FIND ANOTHER SUPPLIER

    3) Become an Amazon Affiliate

    Being an Amazon Affiliate is one of the easiest way to start your online store. Basically, you pull a bunch of different products to your site from Amazon and make it look like any other ecommerce site. Then, when a visitor clicks on the product, he actually clicked your own unique URL that redirects him to a page on Amazon for that particular product. If he decides to buy the product (or anything else on Amazon for that matter), you will get up to 10% of the purchase.

    What's even better, this doesn't require any kind of e-commerce plugin because all you're doing is serving product info. That info and pictures then lead to Amazon which takes care of the actual payment. This means that your site will be more lightweight and load faster.

    Note that you will need to put a disclaimer on your site stating that you're displaying products from Amazon and that you are being compensated for any purchase a visitor makes. It's best to put that in your footer in a smaller font.

    If you don't do this, you could very well be banned by Amazon so don't skip this part unless you know what you are doing.

    While you can build this kind of online store with Magento, it's much easier to do it with Wordpress. The reason behind this is you have to do it all by hand. Trying to populate your site with 100s of different products from Amazon by hand is really slow and painful.
    Wordpress takes care of this with it's many 3rd party plugins that are availabe.

    For instance, there is a plugin that lets you search amazon products by ID or keyword and then just add them with a few clicks as fully featured products with price, multiple images and full description straight from amazon. It costs $99 but it's a must if you don't wish to kill yourself pulling every product to your site one by one, especially if you never used Amazon's affiliate program before. I'm not going to talk too much about this as you can follow this link and find out more about it.

    WordPress Amazon Plugin for the Amazon Affiliate:

    What's best about this method is that you can quite easily build multiple cheap e-commerce sites for different products / niches. This opens up a whole new set of possibilities but that's material for a different tutorial later down the road.
    ​--------------------------------------------
    7.) - Final Words
    --------------------------------------------

    And that's about it. :D None of this is hard to do even if you're a complete newbie. Everything you need is on the internet, you don't have to pay for any silly products, pay for some hyped-up membership site or join a "secret" mailing list. Only 3 things that you need is this forum, google and youtube.
    Or let me put it this way:

    50% OF KNOWLEDGE YOU NEED CAN BE FOUND ON THE INTERNET *** ABSOLUTELY 100% FREE ***,
    THE OTHER 50% CAN ONLY COME FROM PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE.


    Nothing can replace practical experience! I know you would like that spending hours and hours reading about different methods and generally reading stuff on this forum turns you in to an expert, but it just doesn't work that way. Practice, practice, practice!
    I mean, no money will come to you if you don't work for it.
    And what better way to work for it then to start using knowledge from this tutorial in your own project right now.

    I hope you found this tutorial useful and that it will help you in starting a wonderful new venture. If you have any questions, feel free to post them as a replay, don't send me PMs, I'd rather answer them here so it might other people who have the same question as you do.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
  2. jcdino789

    jcdino789 Junior Member

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    Thanks for the detailed tutorial.I was looking to set up a site for a few products which I have bought in bulk. You saved a lot of time and $$ for me. Cheers!
     
  3. itsmytime

    itsmytime Regular Member

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    It's a great read. Thanks, I will look into this. Thanks and rep given
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
  4. kuzmanin

    kuzmanin Regular Member

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    Thanks - good info
    Maybe you should add open cart to open source platforms
    It is good software too
     
  5. Junkfood00

    Junkfood00 Elite Member

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    I lost faith in this post and the op the second I saw the affiliate connections. Seriously? I thought bhw was about sharing information out of goodwill, not in hope to scrape a few affiliate sales...
     
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  6. 22karthikreddy

    22karthikreddy Regular Member

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    great tutorial.. its helps a lot.
     
  7. Hinkys

    Hinkys Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Thank you for the kind words, and @kuzmanin, I know I left out open cart and many others but I decided to exclude any other platforms since I have 0% experience with those and in my opinion, Wordpress and Magento can handle anything you might need them for.

    Well I thought about placing those links for some time but in the end I just decided to place them cause why the hell not? I'm sending them traffic anyway, might as well give people a way to support me by including my own aff link there.
    And I'm mentioning those sites / products cause I truly believe they are the best option since I use them on a regular basis. Most of them have shitty affiliate programs and would hardly be the best choice if I was just looking for a way to earn extra money.

    What's more, as you can clearly see there's an exactly the same looking non-affiliate link under it. Most people would just make the affiliate link as big as possible in some attention-catching color. This is not the case here as I have no intention off ramming affiliate products down people's throats.

    If you think this tutorial has helped you /motivated you enough to start your web shop. you can CHOOSE to support me by using my affiliate link. If you don't want to support me, you think that this tutorial isn't detailed enough or whatever, I'm not holding anything against against you at all, I thank you for taking the time to read this post and kindly ask you to give me feedback so I can improve and create better tutorials down the road.

    Btw thank you for the feedback since this is what I need the most. :D
     
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  8. W9go

    W9go Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    how you get traffic there is the question ?
     
  9. simply

    simply Junior Member

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    Personally I don't see any problem with affi links when there is a choice between non affi links (According forum rules). And why so hate about Affi links (As long as they send us to the right direction) when "Amazon", "Ebay", "Adsense" all those we are using as "Affiliate" (or kind of). And the most important part is , if I follow a affi links it will not cost me any extra but will give a little revenue to the link provider. So where is the problem :)

    To the op, I think there are really some great free WP themes that also can be used as online store ( with a tight budget people can use those for the beginning).
    Just as a example (Here is a tutorial) : http://winkpress.com/amazon/build-amazon-store-with-wordpress-for-free/
    Beside free magazine-type themes can be easily used as a store.

    Anyway, thanks to the op for a good read and some very important basic info.
     
  10. Black&Red

    Black&Red Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Adwords, SEO etc. I doubt he has to get into detail about getting traffic.
    Altough some major pointers for newbies would be good.
     
  11. Hinkys

    Hinkys Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Well this is a whole new topic and would deserve a writeup on it's own but here's a short version.

    1) - You should start by establishing a social media presence, mainly on pinterest. Post as much stuff related to your niche as you can find on a regular daily basis and interact with people. But I mean REALLY interact, start conversations, leave relevant comments, etc. All of this requires only time so anyone can do it. If you're too busy hire a local student to post stuff to your profile and do all of this. Make sure that this person is geniunly interested in your niche and you're all good. Also don't waste money on social media bots unless you did this for some time by hand and you want to expand.

    2) - Find popular forums in your niche and start interacting. Contribute to the forum & replay with useful information. Keep doing this along side the social media part every day and people will come guaranteed.

    You might argue that it's different when using amazon affiliate sites as you're less in the business of establishing your web store and more in the business of driving an affiliate site. However, you treat that site the same way you would treat a real local business by honestly interacting with potential customers through social media and forums.

    As this whole tutorial is meant for new people, I skipped SEO, PPC and media buying as you're better off not worrying about those just yet and you can start creating income without them. (And cause I hate people saying things like "...and then just rank your site." like it's something basic. People are losing their businesses every day because of people saying things like that. If you want to get in to SEO, you need to practice first by trying to rank not-so-important sites.)



    Yup, it's your choice which link you want to use but I kinda understand the point someone else made about affiliate links.
    However, I strongly believe that affiliate links are 100% legit as long as you actually use those products and speak 100% honestly about them.

    I'm yet to find a free theme that looks good enough for a proffesional looking ecommerce site. One that you could sell offline.
    They do work with Amazon affiliate sites since all you're doing is redirecting people to amazon meaning your site doesn't have to look as trustworthy as it normally should. However, a better looking theme will certainly improve your CTR so in the end it comes down to your initial budget.

    For anything other than amazon affiliate sites, I still wouldn't recommend free themes. If you're looking to build a real business you must have the means / will to put in AT LEAST $100. If you can't do that then you're probably not ready to start a business.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
  12. Untouchable

    Untouchable Supreme Member

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    Nice Tutorial. +Rep from me.
    Even though the aff links are frowned upon.
     
  13. cricket1

    cricket1 Senior Member

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    Great tutorial! Very well written and it provides all the information that's needed to start such a business.

    I have never really thought about starting an e-commerce site myself, however, this post got me interested. I might as well build an Amazon site.

    By the way, are there any cheaper alternatives to WP Zon-Builder you could recommend me?
     
  14. blogbd1

    blogbd1 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    In your excel file you missed the most popular wholesale sites like alibaba, dhgate, madeinchina, focalprice etc.

    Alltogether, nice compilation of information.

    Thanks
     
  15. spybubblegum

    spybubblegum Newbie

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    I bookmarked your site.. so cool! Thank you for this post.
     
  16. Technosmart

    Technosmart Regular Member

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    I actually want to try this sellin wordpress themes as affiliate,but don't know how to start..thanks for giving more info..
    it would be great if you'll give more info about the traffic to a new thread.
     
  17. Hinkys

    Hinkys Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Thank you very much. ;)

    Thanks for the kind words, that was the my whole intention. :D

    As for the alternatives, the only other program I know off that does this is EasyAzon (tho I don't have any experience with it), you can google it and search around for some reviews. ;)

    Thank you for pointing that out, I will add those to the file. :D

    I'm very glad that it was of help to you. :D

    No problem. :D As for the traffic, I'll probably do a post on that later down the road (not just for e-commerce sites but for any site in general) tho my to-do list is already quite extensive. ;)
     
  18. deliriou5

    deliriou5 Newbie

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    Great content!

    In the past I've tied to start an ecommerce site (and did once), what I found to be the hardest part was finding a good product to sell. I didn't go the Amazon route, but wanted to actually sell the product myself. Do you have any advice on that?

    I don't want to pick a very popular type of product due to the competition, but it can't be too small either or else you won't sell many.
     
  19. Hinkys

    Hinkys Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Thanks. :D

    As for the products itself, you would need to go down wholesale / dropshipping route. And I'm guessing more down the dropshipping route. Try and find something to sell that interests you in real life. I mean, why would you sell perfumes when you could sell electronic gadgets. xD

    You can start by using my list of suppliers I mentioned in the original post and go through those sites if you need some inspiration. Once you know what you want to sell, find a few different suppliers of those products so you don't just rely on 1 supplier.

    Also, try to establish a conversation with the supplier directly, get to know him, ask him about the business. And not just to see if he is legit, networking goes a long way in this business.
     
  20. greenleader

    greenleader Registered Member

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    6th point should have been first. Otherwise good eye-opener for those who feel developing ecommerce site is too difficult