So you want to start a web business
well let me tell you something.......
Continued from Part
Website set-up and design
big and expensive decision we had to make was on a web site.
All three of us have purchased merchandise over the
Internet. So we were familiar with sites that offered
merchandise for sale.
As we surfed the net, we wrote down things we liked about
different sites we used and the URLs so the web designer
could look at them as an example. Our next step was to
roughly draw on paper what we thought our site should look
like. My next step was to look at canned web site
creation programs to see if I could do this myself.
Truthfully, it would have cost us about $500.00 for the
software and I am sure I would have been in over my head.
Kim had a friend that was a programmer and he said he would
help us and create the web site. He came over and got
all our information and said we would have it in a month.
Well a month came and went and no web site.
We were getting a little upset because we wanted to hit the
Christmas season. Finally, after two months we decided
to get a professional.
I went on-line and searched on web site designers.
A free service came up that required me to put in my desired
information about our web site and it would recommend a web
designer for us. We also looked in our telephone book
for local web site designers and contacted several of them.
Based on our requirements, they all submitted a proposal to
create our web site. We talked to each of them on the
telephone and decided to go with the firm that the on-line
search site recommended. Let me tell you, it was the
best decision we made. They recommended a small firm
based in Chicago called www.evolvedsites.com.
The owner is Siobhan Tobin and she is absolutely wonderful
to work with. They are very professional, responsive,
and will take the time to explain things to novice people
like us about how the web site works. I would highly
recommend that company to anyone looking to build a web
Account and accepting payments.
Another decision that must be made is if you are going to
take credit cards on your web site. A starting point
would be to ask your bank who they would recommend.
Our web site designer has a company they work with or you
can look on-line and find a number of companies. We
looked on-line and asked our bank. Be aware that some
banks do not support some of these credit card clearing
house software programs. The company we use is
Retriever and the credit card processor (clearing house) is
Authorize.Net. A couple of things you will learn as
you investigate these companies are the fees that are
levied. With ours there was a one time application
fee, fixed monthly charges of about $40.00, and a per
transaction charge. I approached dealing with these
companies like I do buying a car. I laid all my facts
out for each of the companies I was looking at and haggled
with the price, but remember you don't have that much
leverage so be reasonable with what you are asking for as a
reduction. Also, American Express has a higher fee
then VISA/MC and with Discover Card you deal directly with
Visitor only for $0.01. Try our pay per click search engine.
The cheapest on the market.
last decision to get your web site on the Internet is
hosting. You can either host the site yourself with a
server, some software, a DSL line, and some technical know
how for the set up and maintenance. The other option
is to have someone host your site for you, which means you
rent space on someone's server and they promise to have your
site up on the Internet. They do the maintenance on
the server, but probably not on the web site. You can
find hundreds of companies by searching on the Internet that
offers this service. Originally, we signed up with
AT&T, but when our friend didn't come through with the
web site we dropped that service. That mistake cost us
about $200.00. We looked at other companies on the
Internet, as well as, our web designer's service. We
decided to go with our web designer, www.evolvedsites.com,
services because their rates are competitive and their
service is excellent.
Once all of the above was completed, we went live with our
web site. I would love to tell you that as soon as we
flipped the switch on our web site we were inundated with
orders, but that would be a little bit of a stretch.
We were just one of many web sites floating around in cyber
Marketing and Promotion
Marketing is the name of the game, but if you're like us you
have big plans and a little bankroll. My suggestion is
to take it slow in the beginning.
One of the first things you should do is submit your site to
search engines. This service was included in our web
site design. You should also resubmit your site every
twelve weeks or so to make sure it is not dropped from the
You can either do this yourself or you can pay a company on
the Internet to do it for you. Doing it yourself is
time consuming but I'm told search engine programs are more
receptive to this then the mass submissions from companies.
We have done both. After that is done, it will take a
couple of weeks for those submissions to take hold.
Another option is to issue a press release. Search
on-line using "press release" and many companies
will come up. We used Majon International. I
looked at samples of press releases out there and wrote my
own, then submitted it to them and signed up for one of
their release packages. Our results varied. We
saw some increase in traffic on our web site.
We received numerous e-mails and calls from Internet
Shopping Malls, and Newspapers to advertise. We
received a call from a home shopping network company, which
was very interesting, but would have cost us $14,000.00 for
a four minute test commercial. But best of all we
received a call from The Northwest Herald newspaper that did
an article on our business. It was half a page in size
and when it came out on 4/18/02, we saw a tremendous
increase in traffic on our web site.
Pay for Traffic
Another thing we have tried was to use a company called
I-web-marketing, which guarantees traffic to your site.
You select the number of hits to your site for a prescribed
dollar amount and submit your information with them.
Our experience with this is that we are seeing an increase
in site traffic, but not the corresponding increase in
sales. Our next avenue is to put advertisements in
selected print publications.
Some of the marketing avenues we haven't tried are
reciprocal advertising, which means you put a link to
another web site on your web site and they put your link on
their web site. We have not tried banners or pop up
windows because they are pay per click advertisements and
could get really expensive. Not to mention the pop up
windows are incredibly irritating.
It has been a fun, sometimes strenuous learning experience
launching our web site business. I hope some of our
experiences can benefit you as you plan your own web site.
has only been up for a short time, we are encouraged by the
response and will continue with this journey. Remember
to take things slow, have a plan, and surround yourself with
positive, capable people.
12 Pack Gym, Inc.
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