How to start an Online Boutique: Domain Names and Design
Its very important to come up with a good website name. Something that you can not only relate to, but that’s easy to remember, easy to type, and something that cant be mixed up with another moms site or product. In addition to that, naming your website is in direct relation with how your site comes up in search engines.
Lets say that you own a hair bow site and you call it myblingthings.com and someone else owns a site that is “hairbowsincorporated.com” . If someone types in hairbows, the other persons site is more likely to come up because hairbowsincorporated.com actually has the keyword in it. Assuming your site is optimized and has been submitted to search engines, you will be in the listings, but not as high up. Where your site comes up in search engines has a direct relation to how many sales you will get. Basically bringing in the customers actually gives you the chance.
When I first went on my name journey, I consulted a group of friends who spent just over an hour coming up with cute names and vetoing names for me. It was important to me to use the word ballerina in my name, not only for my love of ballet, but because my design is replicated after a ballerina dress. But for awhile, i nearly became ThePoshSpot. Good thing I didn’t, there are about a million people who use the word Posh in their domain name. I may never have been found!
I also had a hard time finding something that on one else had and not to mention a few domain names I used to use, I had let expire, and someone else picked up…so, there ya go. Then someone said Bambina! We were trying to think of words that invoked little girl or children, without directly saying that. And thus, www.BambinaBallerina.com was born. Woo, hoo! I had a name. Whew! It wasn’t a name that had a keyword in it, but in all fairness, that was something I learned after the fact. I did go out and buy www.Ballerinahairbowholders.com as well, so I could redirect it to my site and have a keyword in it. If you have ever seen companies advertise getting you to the top of the search engine, this is one of the tricks. They reassign you domain names and forward someone to your site from that name. Google doesn’t really like you to do this, so be careful, it can harm your page rank if you overdo it.
One thing that I can say is that my name is easy to remember, is never confused with another mom site or product, and is catchy. I guess you cant win them all on the keyword thing. I did optimize however, Ill teach you how to do that in a later post.
When you go buy a domain name, there are so many places to buy it at. Really, just take the cheapest one. There is nothing special about where you buy your domain names at. Sometimes your hoster will INCLUDE your domain name and register it for you for a reasonable fee or as included in your hosting package, but make sure they don’t OWN your name if you decide to cancel or change hosters. Since I never wanted to mess with that, I just keep all my domain names in one spot and under my own care.
I DONT RECOMMEND BUYING THROUGH GODADDY!! It can be a real big hassle to move and set up and they are not overly helpful.
I get mine from www.DynoNames.com and its pretty easy once your logged in. You can forward your domains (to another page), set up your nameservers when your hosting kicks in, park them so they are not being used, or host them right there. They also offer a bunch of other services that I don’t particular need, but its there if I ever change my mind. The one thing I can say about DynoNames is that your log in is a customer number, not a name. DO NOT LOSE THIS. It will basically mean hell for you, especially if somehow you move or change email addresses without updating your information.
What I do is keep a separate email address to file important paperwork like this. I have an extra email account that I forward all my files to and put them in saved folders. I don’t email out of that account at all, its only for saving. All my hosting information, wholesale inquires, business contacts, and passwords. That way if I ever need something, I just pop on, cut and paste, and voila! Back in business.
A real quick update on hosters. I have been in and out of three boutique hosters. I was on a boutique hoster that was run by some girl in her house that was listed as a “reseller”. While there are many honorable resellers, this one wasn’t. What a reseller does is take your payment and host a resell account and sell part of her space to you. She didn’t pay HER bill, which means every website on the account went down. Including mine.
Unlucky for her, I am a whiz at computers, tracked her down by her domain name, found out she lived in my CITY, and drove to her house. That was the shock of her life. Once I had my site files back up, I moved them to a new hoster and have been there for almost 2 years. This hoster (PappaShop) had been good but recently I was hacked twice and when I talked to them about it, they insisted I was not hacked when clearly I was. Just because they could not find it, doesn’t mean it hadn’t been hacked. I had “Viagra” keywords and descriptions in google for my site, which is a known hack that redirects google bots to produce keywords for another site. It took me about 8 hours to fix it, on my end, and they were NO help. It was talking to a child.
I should never know more than my hoster, right?
As soon as I got it cleaned up, it got hacked again not 2 days later. Both in the hosting files on their end, so I wont take it anymore and have moved to Shoppe Pro.
So now you have your domain name, now you have your hoster…where do you go?
Armed with your new name, and your hoster…here is the fun part. How the heck do I build one of those cute sites with all the graphics? Chances are, unless your super HTML computer literate, this is one of those things you will need to go straight to someone else for. Your hoster should have a few in your system already or for a very cheap price, but quite honestly, they are all usually pretty plain and boring.
What you have to find is a website builder that incorporates your personal style and what you are trying to portray.
Do you want it to be bright and happy, fun and funky, super feminine and girly, shabby chic, modern…there are so many excellent template designers out there that you will have your pick of the litter.
Templates come in several ways. You can buy a pre-made which is a template that someone has premade for you..it will include all graphics/backgrounds, usually a matching banner, and they will upload it straight to your hoster including all necessary text changes (ie Site Name) added into your site and on your banner. Premades will be the cheapest templates out there, because they resell them over and over again. Meaning that any person can come on and buy the same background for their site. In all honesty, I have only come accross a few sites that have the same background, so if budget is a main concern, don’t be too worried about purchasing a premade. They vary from about $15-$50 in cost.
The second template you can buy is a Limited Premade…its the exact same thing, except it will only be sold a certain number of times. I see max of about 10 on this on many of them. Your chances are lower in running across this background online.
Third, you can purchase a OOAK, which stands for One Of A Kind, which means no one in the world will ever have your exact design. You buy it, its yours, the end. These are gonna run from about $100-$500, depending on how extensive the graphics are, the quality of work, and the fact that they are only sold once plays into the cost. They can also run higher then that if they include java.
Last, you can purchase a Custom Design. Meaning that you get to design your own design, ground up. You work with a designer to make your ideas come to life, and these will be varying in cost on what the designer charges and how much time it includes to build your site.
Along with purchasing a template, most designers offer ad-ons that include matching Ebay and Etsy backgrounds, business cards, all sorts of banner sizes, and blog upgrades. Truly you can have a whole community that belongs to you!
other places I found online
http://girlydesignz.net/ (she is great w/ custom graphics)
If you are starting a store or interface with WordPress, which as great SEO, use Hostgator hosting! There are a ton of stores that are on wordpress now and its super easy to find templates and designs that fit your needs.
One last thing..these designers barely scratch the surface of the amount of template designers that are out there, so just find one that fits your style, email them if you have any questions before you purchase. Most template designers only work with specific hosters, so double check that they work with your hoster and that the template will fit if you purchase it. (another reason to go with known hosters!).
If you visit a site and really like the design, you can usually scroll to the bottom of the page and see who designed it. Generally it has a link, so you can click and go straight to the designers page and maybe find something that also fits your style.
My tips with a template is to find something that is easy on the eyes, flows on the page nicely, and is just “you”. There is nothing worse then advertising your site and taking a step back and saying..wow, I just cheaped out and this is U-G-L-Y. Think of the sites you visit..do you like them clean, bright, soft, modern, and what makes you decide to buy. Do you trust a site that is unorganized or all over the place?
I know that I trust a site that is put together and has some effort behind it.
Altogether, you can get your site off the ground for
Domain Name : $7.95 a year
Hoster: $12.95 a month
So your initial investment is about $70. Keep in mind that you wont have to renew your domain name for a year or your template ever unless you decide to completely change styles.
If you liked this article, please feel free to stumble or digg. I will be back with more how to create an online boutique articles soon!
EXCITING NEW COMPANY!
Update: I just learned about this new Direct Sales Jewelry company launching in July 2013 that looks like a really exciting and fantastic! I have joined because the women that are a part of it have already had a million dollars in sales and I feel very positive about its growth as a woman entrepreneur. If you are looking for a business that you do not have to have a ton of inventory present, please check out the link below for more info. It is in pre-launch so they are only taking 500 new Direct Sales Designers for this first phase. And psst, here is a sneak peek of the site!
If you want to learn more, please go to my other post here for Mialisia Jewelry Direct Sales