This week was picking a site builder and a hosting company. It seems like there are endless options out there, all with fine print and partial information. For a site builder, there are three different types of builders to pick from. First, the drag and drop option. A lot of these builders are very generic and don’t have a lot of options, but they are easy to use. The learning curve is very low. Builders include Weebly.com, Wix.com, Webstarts.com. The second kind is a content management system. This is the in between level that is good for those with some experience, but not tons. They include WordPress.org, Squarespace, Joomla, and Drupal. These builders have a higher learning curve and can take some time to get used to using. However, they are more flexible and allow you to do more customization and have a unique site. The last category of builder is the WYSIWYG/html editors. They include Trellion, KompoZer, and Dreamweaver. To use these you have to know how to code. Picking the right builder really depends on level of experience, time available, power and flexibility needed, and uniqueness wanted.
Hosting services are just as many and varied. Several of them seem to have the same offerings, but their pricing is very different. It is important to know up front how long you want to have your site for and what special requirements you have. Making sure things like Adwords credits and e-commerce options are available can kick you up a level from the lowest, thus costing more money. You also have to make sure you look for the fine print that may say certain options aren’t available unless you pick a specific plan. Additionally, it is important to look at reviews to determine a company’s track record and if they are a good option. Finally, it is helpful to look for discounts. They are all over the web and often you can get them just by using a specific link. This can knock a nice chunk off the price, so it is always wise to look around a little.
Affiliate vs dropship. This can be a tough choice. They both make it so you don’t have to deal with inventory, greatly reducing your costs and time involvement. However, they have some pretty big differences. The way to make the decision is to look at your end goal. Do you want experience, lots of profit, fast profit, no customer interaction, etc. The answers to these questions can help you decide which is the right choice. With the affiliate model, there is no customer interaction. You provide content, your viewers click on supplied links which direct them to someone else’s site, and you make a commission if they make a purchase. There is no headache with communications and returns. You don’t have to worry about bounced funds. It’s pretty nice for getting money without too much effort, other than providing great content on a regular basis that draws return and new visitors. The problem is it takes time to build a reader base and make any money. Lots of people read, but not a lot click, and even fewer buy. Depending on your site, you could end up making a lot of money, but not for a while. Then there is the dropship method. You still have to have a site that draws customers, but they are buying directly from you now instead of from someone else. This means you have customer interaction and will need to work through errors and other problems, as well as keep up your reputation as a company. You also have to have relationships with your drop shipper and manufacturers. This means you will get lots of experience in the business world. Things you have to be careful of are fake drop shippers that leave you and your customers high and dry, and additional handling fees that may be tacked on. It is easier to make a profit faster, and a higher amount of profit.
Other options to consider other than affiliate and drop shipping models are if you want to use a domestic supplier or an international supplier if you are setting up a merchant model business. Once again, there are advantages and disadvantages to both and the right decision all depends on your goals and constraints. There is a very large international market of suppliers that have low prices. The things to consider are price, shipping and processing time, minimum order amounts, variety, and shipping amounts. These factors along with the goals of your business and what you find personally important will all play into the decision. I’ve found it really helps to knock around ideas with others because often they will think of things that you don’t think of that could be major factors.
I’ve learned a lot this week about business models, products, demand, and competition. The first thing you have to do when creating a business before making any decisions is to specify your goals. Once you have set up your goals, you can more easily make the other decisions. The business model is the first thing to decide, which will be based on what your goals are as some models will allow you to reach your goals better than others. Then you can decide on a product that will fit into the chosen business model. The Google Keywords Planner is very helpful when choosing a product because you can see the demand and competition for specific searches. There are a lot of factors to consider when making the product decision. It can be hard to know if you should go with a product that has low demand low competition or high demand high competition if those are your only options. With one there is the concern you won’t get a lot of business because there isn’t much demand and with the other there is the concern you won’t get a lot of business because there is too much competition. Looking at the profit for each product could help make the decision. It may be better to make less profit on lots of sells than it would be to make more profit on fewer sales. However, if making a large profit is not one of your goals, it may not matter so much which product you choose. It all goes back to what you want to accomplish with your business.