When I first started my apparel line, the most important goal besides the design and quality of my brand was to have a website that reflected what my brand was about, was SEO compatible with clean images, and current with today’s E-commerce competition. Guess what? I didn’t even know what that previous sentence meant until I learned how to build my site on a budget (under $500!) all by myself.
The following rules are invaluable lessons I learned while building my own website on a budget.
Research what type of website is appropriate and “on-trend” with other sites that are in your wheelhouse of the product(s) you would like to sell online. I found that online research was a great source of knowledge. Since it’s the relatively new medium of commerce, I looked to other existing sites and resources for help.
NastyGal, Refinery 29, GILT.com were brands and sites that were in line with my brand and references for what I was trying to accomplish with my site. Research brands you want to compete with and what sells so that you can implement it on your own site. Evaluating these sites taught me that simple lines for the site design was best and pictures with white backgrounds on mannequins sold the most. I also found other great sites to build on a budget:
- Go daddy
These are all great user friendly domain host and website builders to build your site on a budget and each has a different niche depending on what kind of product you are selling.
2) Find the perfect host
Much like a dinner party, the host or hostess that throws the party is key in making a memorable party or one you can’t wait to leave!
When I first started my line I made the mistake of handing over my brand to a website developer that was more versed in mass marketed/imported products (my line is a high-end, boutique apparel,and made in the USA) and who was not willing to educate me on simple website terms and functions. This kept me uneducated and in the dark on how to run my site in an effective way. Not only was I being grossly overcharged per month, I wasn’t learning how to grow my brand in the direction to drive more sales. After this experience I decided to take matters into my own hands. This is the best “almost free” gift I could ever give myself. After being initially disappointed from my first debacle of a website, I decided to explore other options.
3) Setting up your website
I dove into educating myself on build-it-yourself websites. I found that my perfect “(party) host” was Shopify.com. Shopify is a fantastic user friendly website host that only costs me $29.99 a month to run and their customer service is available 24/7. They also go above and beyond to walk you through the necessary steps to set up your site. I set up my domain and email service with Godaddy.com for $140 for the year. They are very user friendly and with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) tools that allow your site to become a top searched site and drive business faster to your site and immediately generate sales.
4) Images are everything
One of the most important pieces to the building your own website are images. I found a company called Upgraded Images that specializes in product photography. Each picture was only $22 and the more you buy the lower the price! You literally box up your products, they take the pictures and send them back. My total price for all my images were $322! They are beyond adept and very budget friendly. Next, I learned how to take product shots with my iPhone and do simple edits and photoshop on Intapic Frames, this app is 99 cents and it changed my life! I then bought a mannequin (brand new for 60 dollars on Craigslist) to take pictures of new products that I am working on to post on social media, content for my website blog and for photos of custom one of a kind products that I sell online.
Taking the time to build my website at times required patience and the willingness to learn but it is by far the best skill I learned to push my brand forward. In the process I saved tons of money! I also now have the knowledge and control to add, edit or delete content at a moment’s notice. I am no computer programmer and have a lot of appreciation for these resources that allow designers, small business owners, and entrepreneurs to build a website that is feasible in price, innovative, and can compete online with bigger brands! I built my website from ground zero and I can confidently say that you can too, and on a budget!
Use These Extra Tips to Build Your Ecommerce Site:
- 3 Strategies to Create a Successful Online Store
- 6 Strategies to Improve Your Ecommerce Sales Today
- Ecommerce Guide for Small Businesses
- 6 Ecommerce Tracking Reports You Need
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