Today we are winding down our discussion of starting your own website for your Silhouette Cameo business. We previously talked about basic web lingo, WYSIWYG builders, and hosted ecommerce platforms. The last solution to starting your own Silhouette Cameo business website is using a self hosted platform. This means that you create a website, install a store/shopping cart, and pay a monthly hosting plan. The solution costs more money upfront, and is more time intensive, but in the long run, it gives you the most flexibility and the cheapest price. Mainly, it eliminates paying transaction fees to a third party provider.
There are several self hosted ecommerce platforms including Agora Cart, Magento, OpenCart, OS Commerce, X Cart, and ZenCart. Some of these solutions will require advanced programming experience – while others are easier to work in. The pricing on these solutions also vary greatly. In some cases, the ecommerce platform is free, while others make you pay for advanced features. I don’t feel that many of these are beginner friendly, so we are going to end the discussion on the above solutions here. I mentioned them in case you come across them online while doing some research.
My preferred method of building a self hosted website and online store is through WordPress. WordPress is considered a CMS – or content management system – where you build a website using various themes, plugins, and widgets. Within WordPress, there are several plugins that allow you to add a store. My favorite is WooCommerce, because it is easiest for a beginner to navigate, is well documented, and it’s free! I know that this is a lot of information, so, where do you start?
Steps to start a WordPress self hosted website and store:
- Get a domain name. I’ve covered this in a previous post. I recommend (at the very least) that all small businesses at least register their domain name and get an email set up that is not gmail.com, yahoo.com, or anything similar.
- Get a hosting plan. I use and recommend Hostgator.com. The Hatchling Plan at Hostgator is sufficient for most businesses and is as low as $3.96 per month.
- Install WordPress. Most hosting companies provide step-by-step tutorials on how to install WordPress. If you choose to use Hostgator.com, you can find the tutorial here.
- (Optional, but highly recommended.) Install the Genesis Framework for WordPress. This framework makes your WordPress site easier to customize, more tightly secured, simple to update, and search engine friendly.
- Purchase a theme for WordPress and install it. If you’ve installed the Genesis Framework, you’ll be able to choose a theme here. Your theme should include instructions on how to install it, and here is a link to a beginner’s guide to the Genesis Framework.
- Install the WooCommerce plugin to set up your ecommerce platform on your website.
- Enter your products, payment settings, and shipping information within WooCommerce.
That’s it! This list is great, but a full tutorial of how to get your website started – including lots of photos would be even better, right?! Click this link to view it.
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