For the past four weeks we’ve talked all about ecommerce. We’ve learned what it is, what it involves, what it takes to plan an ecommerce website, some of our options for ecommerce and how to track our efforts.Now it’s time to build an online store.
Hey there and welcome back!
So all this month we’ve talked about ecommerce and how to create an online store. We’ve learned more about what ecommerce is, how to properly plan for an online store, our options for building our online store and how to set it up for tracking its success.
Now it’s time to take what we’ve learned and do something with it. It’s time to actually build our online store. And it’s time to build it on a relatively modest budget.
So today, we’re going to build an online store for that fictional garden store that we talked about earlier this month. We’ll go through the process of selecting a service and web host, creating the store, adding in our content and products and getting looking just right.
Before we get started, to see more videos on ecommerce, WordPress, digital marketing and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.
Now let’s get started.
Our plan for this website
Okay, so here’s our plan.
We’ve got our garden store, and we need to build an online store for it. But the budget isn’t very big for the website. It’s under $1,000. So what can we do to get them online with a nice looking website but also not spend a ton of money?
Well first off, we’re going to start off by using a self-hosted WordPress website installation. WordPress is free to use, and there are a lot of great plugins that are also mostly free to use that we can use to really make our website work.
Of course, we’re also going to need a web host, a plugin to turn our website into an online store and a theme to display the website. And again, we’re trying to spend less than $1,000.
Let’s see what we can do.
Choosing a website host on a budget
So the first thing that we need to figure out is our web hosting. And this is an area where I’m honestly willing to splurge a little bit just to make sure we get it right.
Because arguably the most important part of our website is going to be the web hosting. If we pick the right one, it’s going to be very smooth sailing for us. But if we pick the wrong one, it’s going to become a headache.
With WordPress, you could use Bluehost or GoDaddy and be fine for the most part. But honestly I haven’t had great experiences with them. But we also can choose from WP Engine, Liquid Web, Pantheon and SiteGround.
I personally prefer WP Engine. I’ve had only one problem with it over the five-plus years I’ve been with them, and the issue was something that was out of their control. And they offer those daily automated backups and we can also use StudioPress’ library of themes for our website. And we’re probably going to want to use one of those themes anyway.
So we’ll sign up for WP Engine with $29 a month hosting.
Selecting our ecommerce plugin
Okay, so now we have our web hosting and our WordPress website going it’s time to pick an ecommerce plugin that’s going to turn our website into an online store.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to go back to the video a few weeks ago where I went over the different options that you have for ecommerce plugins.
Since we’re going to be selling physical products, I want to go with WooCommerce. It’s free, which is a plus, does everything we want and need it to do. And there are a lot of addons that we might get for free that can help us extend the functionality.
So let’s go with WooCommerce.
Choosing a theme
There are a lot of great themes for us to choose from, both free and paid. That’s one of the main advantages of going with WordPress. You have a lot of great options for a relatively cheap price.
I personally am pretty partial to StudioPress’ line of themes. Haven’t you been able to tell. I think they’re all really great, and they make it easy to make a great-looking website. You can’t really go wrong with any of their themes.
Again, I talked about your best options with StudioPress’ themes in an earlier video that you might want to go ahead and check out. But for this website, I want to go with the Essence Pro theme. I think it’s going to give us the best opportunity to show off the store the best we can.
Adding in additional plugins
Next, we’re going to need a few other plugins to add in functionality we need for the website.
First, I want to add a bit more functionality to our online store. So we’ll get the Stripe add on for our new payment gateway. And we’ll get the shipping labels add on. Both of them are free.
Next, we need a forms plugin so that people can contact us if they have any questions. I prefer to use Gravity Forms. It is a premium plugin that starts at $59 a year, but it does a whole lot of really good things and the interface is very easy to use.
After that, we’ll want to connect our store to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. And to do that we’ll use the Google Site Kit plugin to easily connect to those two things without having to touch any code.
And finally we need help with our SEO, and we’ll use Yoast SEO for that. And by the way, all of this has cost us $59 a year.
Add in our products and content
Once we’ve got that in place, it’s time to start adding in our content. We’ll need to create key pages like the about page, contact page and any other page that’s going to need text, photos or videos.
Plus, we’ll have to add in all of our products, including all of the variations, prices, descriptions, photos and so on.
This will all take a lot of time, but the good news is that it’s free, unless you’re paying someone to write the copy for you.
Setting up the theme settings
Finally, we’ll need to adjust our theme’s settings a little bit to make it more in line with our branding.
We can usually control this just through settings with the theme instead of having to worry about any lines of code. For correctly-built themes, we can access this through Appearance and Customize. Other themes might have a menu item in that left-hand menu of the WordPress dashboard.
So for using the Essence Pro theme, I’ll just go in there and change the accent color to the darker blue I use a lot on my personal website.
Then we’ll set up the menus to look good and we should be good to go. Any well built theme should be this easy to customize.
How does it all look?
So now that we’ve completed our website, how are we looking on pricing?
Well, right out of the gate, we spent $25 a month for WP Engine web hosting. And we also have the $59 per year for Gravity Forms. Plus, our theme is included in the web hosting. So the starting cost right now: $84. And our yearly total will be $359.
So we’ve managed to create a great looking website for only $359 this year.
That is pretty incredible.
So, what questions do you have about building an online store on a budget? Is there anything you might do differently? Or is there anything that you’re confused about? Be sure to leave your questions and answers down in the comments section below.
On Wednesday we’ll be discussing WooCommerce themes you might want to use for your online store. And on Friday we’ll be discussing how to properly have videos on your website.
To see those videos and more videos on ecommerce, WordPress, digital marketing and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and to ring the bell for notifications.
Until next time, I wish you and your business the best of luck!