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How to Start an Online Shop Cheaply

The barriers to entry to becoming a retailer are coming down. It's easier than ever to break into the retail sector by opening an online store. Almost all parts of setting up your store can be cheaply and easily outsourced or performed yourself. As long as you have a proper business plan, a corner of the market you can make your own, and a willingness to put in the hard work necessary to get up and running, you can create a path to success in the retail world.

Finding a Cheap and Effective Platform

Come up with a domain name for your business

It's best to get a domain name that has the ".com" suffix, as that is the most common. This is one area where you want to blend in.

Get your domain name as close to the business' name as possible, and if you can't get something that's very close, come up with a new business name. It's very important for your web address to be memorable and easily associated with your business.

Once you've come up with a name you're happy with, register it with a registrar such as godaddy.com, wix.com, or one of the dozens of others. You'll want to price this out, but it shouldn't cost much at all. Registering the name alone can be purchased for as little as $8.

Decide whether you want to use a paid software platform to build your online store

There are dozens of professional software platforms that are available to help you build an online store from top to bottom. Consider investing in one so that you have a site that looks and functions professionally.

Paid platforms are often expensive, but costs are wide ranging and come with a variety of options, so it's important to shop around. No matter which software you choose to use, there are more upfront costs if you go the software route than if you tried to build the store from scratch by yourself.

However, it's probably cheaper and easier in the long run. Unless your store is very simple, or you are a very savvy coder, you're going to have to expand functionality at some point, which will involve buying software or hiring a third-party.

Create your logo

Find a vector logo that you like and buy any other vectors that you think will be useful in the design of your website. You can find these at any stock image site, like shutterstock.com. Vector-based images are images such as those made in Adobe Illustrator that are non-pixelated, allowing them to be shrunk or enlarged to any size without compromising aesthetic quality.

If you want custom graphics, you'll need to hire a graphic designer. You can do this locally or online. There are hundreds of graphics design firms online that design small images like logos for very low prices. Just do a google search and pick one you like.

Find a font that matches your logo for your business' name and website's text. If you designed a logo yourself, you can use the font from the graphic design program. If you hired a graphic designer, either ask them for some suggestions or just look around for something complimentary.

Design your website

If you don't go with a software program, you'll need to design a website. Do a web search for "free css templates" and browse the various sites until you find a free template you like.

CSS templates are beneficial because they reduce compatibility issues. They are seen the same way across mobile and desktop platforms.

Find a web designer

If you decide to build a website from scratch, you'll need a web designer, which you can find in any number of ways. There are probably hundreds that you can find locally, but if you don't want to leave your desk, check out some options at www.freelancer.com. You may also have a friend or family member who can do this work for free. The website designer will integrate your logo into the template and adapt the template for an online shopping cart.

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