Hope this helps someone... Setting up an online business

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Ive been meaning to do this for so long.
Lots of people have asked me how I got started in business and who does the website etc, that I thought maybe a page explaining how it works for me might help. The internet is probably the most exciting thing to have ever happened to crafty people. But leaping into the waters of online businesses can still seem scary! Im probably not saying anything new but it might inspire someone to give it a go!


A few notes about the Fairysteps website…


This page has been written to hopefully help other small businesses just getting started on the world wide web! I hope that by sharing some of the tips that I have learnt over the years which helped make Fairysteps what it is today I can pass on a little luck and add to the all important cycle of ‘What goes around comes around…’



Who hosts the Fairysteps website?

Fairysteps is hosted with a fantastic company called Pappashop. After scouring the web for companies that offered a simple ecommerce set up with a website that I could easily update or design, and a shopping cart all installed for me, this company was the only one I could find that ticked all the boxes. You pay a flat monthly fee of about £8 for a shop! Its nothing is it!! And there are no set up fees either. No, Im not working on commission!



Where did you buy your domain?

I use Heartinternet for domains. Again, Ive been with them for years and they have never let me down. A .co.uk domain costs about £2.50 a year! You can buy as many as you like and you can forward emails using that domain name from the heart internet user panel. You can also do web forwarding here for free. I have the domain www.fairy-steps-shoes.co.uk forwarded to this address for instance. Its easy to do.



How do you change your website without buying expensive templates?

I cant stress enough the need to be brave here! Study your template layout in your admin panel and just play around! If you always keep a backup of the original you cant go wrong.



Arent web sites very expensive to run?

NO! It only costs you your monthly hosting and your yearly domain renewals. Plus when you make a sale on your own website there is no commision to pay. The biggest factor in running an online shop is the time!



I recommend selling through other crafting sites initially to really get your name established as well as having a website of your own. Sites like Etsy and Folksy, Misi etc are good but you will have to pay commission on sales. It takes time to get established on the web and it won’t happen overnight! Expect a long first year or two!



Will a blog help?

YES, YES, Yes! Blogs are really important in my opinion. Show your customers who you are. Show them your passions and your drive and your commitment to your craft. It gives integrity to who and what you and your business is about.



There are lots of blogging platforms out there. Some are free, some need a small monthly fee. Ive read lots and lots of forums on what are the best ones…



Ive tried a few, Blogger, Typepad and Wordpress. Ive stuck with Blogger.com run by Google. Its very easy to use, its free, connecting up with other bloggers is a sinch and there are lots of add ons which can make your blog super pretty!



Try the following wonderfully creative and generous people who offer blog backgrounds for free.



http://itkupilli-cutencool.blogspot.com/



http://www.shabbyblogs.com/



What is the single most important peice of advice for selling online?

Get a good camera. I use an Olympus c-25. It cost me £60 from Argos. I love it!! I take all of my own pictures and I edit them very carefully. I never use flash and I always take photos in natural daylight. Im very picky about backdrops as well. Good pictures dont often just happen, they take planning. Selling online means that customers can only see what you are showing them, so it must be the best you can possibly achieve. Try to choose a setting that reflects your products style / feel.



I edit my pictures with the wonderful Photoscape editor. Its completely free but you can send a Paypal donation. I recommend sending a little thank you to the generous person who developed this software. Its the best Ive found. You simply download it and you are off! Perfect pictures everytime.



Go to www.photoscape.org



Hope this helps spur some of you on! Ren x

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