Selling With Your Own Web Site
Many people have their own product, a book, a CD, a craft, or other product that they
would like to sell with their own Web site, but they can't find simple instructions on
how to get started. In this article, I'm going to explain how to sell your product
with your own Web site. It boils down to four steps.
1. Find a Web server.
You need to put your Web site on a computer that is running a Web server program and is
connected to the Internet. There are three choices:
a. Your own server. This requires you be, or hire, a system administrator responsible
for system maintenance, software updates, backups, and security. This also requires a
high-speed communications link to the Internet. This is practical only for large organizations.
b. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Along with a broadband or dial-up connection
to the Internet, many ISPs also provide you with a small amount of personal Web space.
There are several problems with using this Web space, even for a small business Web site.
The storage space and monthly transfer allowance is too small, and if you decide to
change ISP, you lose your email address and you need to move your Web site.
c. A Web host provider. There are many companies that sell Web site space on their servers.
These companies offer three grades of service:
- Free hosting. The hosting service makes money from banner ads that they display on your
Web site. Sometimes the storage space is too small and the monthly transfer allowance is
- Shared hosting. Your Web site shares a server with many other Web sites. Some hosting
providers put too many Web sites on each server, or someone else's Web site monopolizes the
servers processor or bandwidth. This slows down your Web site.
- Dedicated hosting. The hosting provider sets up a separate server for your Web site
alone. Whereas shared hosting can be acquired for as little as $5 per month, dedicated
hosting cost hundreds of dollars per month.
Most small businesses can't afford a dedicated server. You can use your ISP's webspace or
a free host for learning purposes, but usually only shared or dedicated hosting lets you
use your own domain name. You will want to register and promote your own domain name,
not put a lot of effort into promoting a domain name provided by a free host.
There are many Web host directories that let users rate web host providers. Visit several
of these directories and choose a web host provider with a good rating. The most important
specification to look for in a Web host provider is "up time". They should have a 99.9%
up time guarantee.
2. Design and Build your Web site
A Web site is nothing more than a collection of webpages. Webpages are very similar to
documents that you would create in a word processor. A word processor, like Microsoft Word
for example, uses invisible "tags" to layout the page. Whereas Word uses "Rich Text File
(RTF) tags, a webpage uses Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) tags. But the concept is the same.
You never actually see or deal with the tags in a word processor document. Many people
use a web page design application that lets them avoid dealing with html tags on a webpage.
But most serious webpage design requires you to deal with html code directly. There are
three reasons why you would need to deal with the html code directly.
1. Your web page design application refuses to format the webpage exactly the way you want it.
2. There is an error on your webpage.
3. Most word processor documents are static. A webpage usually contains powerful little
programs called "scripts" that work with the html tags on the page.
Recommendation: Before venturing into creating your own Web site, spend a few weeks
experimenting with html tags to create webpages by hand. You don't need a Web server to
test your webpages. You can load them directly into your Web browser. In your learning,
focus on linking pages together that reside in different folders. This is where most
beginners have a problem.