Blog Post

How to create an E-commerce Website for FREE…

Why WordPress?

Before we get stuck into the meat of this report, I just want us to quickly look at why we are using the WordPress platform to build our first site. Below I have I have highlighted the reasons why WordPress is so awesome:

It’s the best and most widely used platform on the internet with over 172 million sites currently built on it and growing daily

  • It’s open source, which means that we can use it absolutely free!
  • It’s super easy to learn – no previous experience or coding knowledge required
  • The search Engines absolutely love it, making it much easier to get your site indexed in Google
  • It’s very easy to customize with a massive selection of themes (both free & paid)
  • There is loads of functionality through plugins (both free & paid)
  • And free support through WP community forums

So as you can see before we have even got started that WordPress is definitely the right way to go!

 

Registering A Domain Name

Internet marketing is a real business, so it always surprises me when not only do people want instant riches & not to have to do any work but they also expect to start their business without spending a dime.

There are a lot of different tools and software programs that will make your day to day work online a lot easier & faster. Some are quite inexpensive and some a lot more expensive but most are not necessary for the initial stages of setting up your business.

Often new entrepreneurs don’t have huge amounts of spare cash available to spend and that’s absolutely fine, so in this report, I am going to show you both free and paid ways for you to get set up in the quickest time possible. Starting with where you can go to register a domain name.

You will need to purchase a domain name for yourself before you begin. A domain name is a name that you will call your website, so for example if your name is John Smith your domain name may be johnsmith.com

If you have an unusual name then the domain may well be available, but if your name is more widely used then you may have to improvise.

When I tried to buy the domain wholesalemakeup.co.nz someone had already purchased it so I had to think of something else. I could have tried adding the word “List” so it is Whoelsalemakeuplist.co.nz

As an aside I would suggest that you try to register a .co.nz /  or / .co.au  etc. domain for the country that you are operating your business it will give your customers more confidence to shop with you, rather than a .net, .com, or .org  as they are more widely accepted globally.

The place that you buy your domain name from is called a registrar & one I use and would recommend is Onlydomains.com

They have an online chat service and also got local number for you to talk on the phone, that will walk you through the process of purchasing your domain name & be sure to keep a note of the username and password that you choose when you set up your free account with Namecheap as you will need these later.

 

Getting Web Hosting

The second thing that you will need to set up your site is a hosting account.

Quite simply hosting will allow your web pages to appear online. Hosting packages come in all different shapes and sizes for different people’s needs.

The web hosting service that I can personally recommend that have very reasonable costs, great customer service and will allow you to host unlimited domain names on one account is again Onlydomains

Remember to use the domain name that you have just bought in the previous step to set up your hosting account. When the account is set up the hosting company will send you an email with your login details and other important information.

Important: You cannot change the password that has been assigned to your account.

Make sure to keep a copy of this information by printing it out, putting it on a memory stick or both. The hosting company does not keep a record of these details, so if you lose your copy you will be locked out of your hosting account.

Once you purchase your hosting package your website should go live in 24 to 48hrs or worse case 72 hrs, they have offices in every major city of the world so you can always contact them via phone if you get stuck somewhere in the process.

 

Installing WordPress

The next thing we need to do is log into our hosting account.

Again in the email that Onlydomain sent you (that have kept in a safe place), you will find the link that you need to go to and enter your login details.

Once inside you will see a control panel that looks like the screenshot below. Don’t panic if you think it looks complicated we won’t be touching most of the icons in there for now

 

Click on Hosting> Setup One Click Apps > WordPress

 

 

You will then be presented with the following screen

 

You will first need to select the domain name that you want to install WordPress onto (you only have one domain at the moment so just leave it as it is)

You will then need to choose a username & password to log into your WordPress site with. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you remember it, but try not to make it so easy that someone else could guess it.

Finally, you will need to pick an admin name and email address for your site. The admin name will be the name that appears to visitors when they read your posts and the email address will be how they can contact you.

When you have done all of that you can click on install WordPress and you will be presented with a finish installation button. Once clicked WordPress has been installed on your domain and you can log in to your WordPress site by going to your domain name / wp-admin. So in our example of xyz.co.nz that would be

xyz.co.nz/wp-admin

From here you can log into your WordPress dashboard with the username and password that you just chose whilst installing your site.

 

Choosing & Installing A Theme

Once inside the WordPress dashboard, we can begin to customize the look of our site to suit our own taste.

By default when you install WordPress, a theme for your website has already been selected for you, but you can go ahead and change this in order to make your site feel more unique to you. A WordPress theme is quite simply a skin for your website and will dictate how it looks.

Some themes are free and some you will have to pay for. You can search the WordPress Themes Directory for a great selection of free to use themes, and I will also include a link in the resources section at the end of this report to some free themes that you can download and install if you wish.

Take time to search through and choose one that you like. You can install many themes on your site to see what they look like, but you can only have one theme active at a time.

You can save the themes on the desktop of your computer so they are easy to locate. Each theme will need to be uploaded still inside the zipped folder in which it came.

You can also buy WordPress themes, which is sometimes a better option if you have a specific look or purpose that you are trying to achieve. The two sites I highly recommend if you want to buy themes are WooThemes and ThemeForest.

 

Dashboard Settings

Next, we are going to run through the basic WordPress dashboard settings that you will need to configure before you begin, starting with permalinks.

Permalinks are basically “permanent links” that link to a specific post or page on your site. So if you had a page on your site that called “About Me” then you would expect to see it with our example domain name at xyz.co.nz/aboutme

However, for some strange reason by default WordPress chooses to have the permalinks set so the show up as xyz.co.nz/?p=123 which is kind of random and no one is going to be able to remember a web address that looks like that. So we are going to go and change them.

In your dashboard in the left-hand panel you will need to click on the settings tab, and then in the menu that opens up click on permalinks.

You will see that the default is selected and you will need to change the settings to Post Name and then click Save Changes as in the diagram below.

Next, we can move on to the comments settings.

Once you start posting regularly to your blog (I would suggest a minimum of twice per week but every day is fine if you want) and you begin to get some visitors, you will find that you will start seeing some people commenting on your blog posts.

Don’t worry this is a good thing and we can change the settings so that no comments will appear until you have moderated them.

In the dashboard menu, you will need to open the settings tab and the open discussion.

In the screenshot below I have pointed arrows to all the boxes that you will need to check. When done click on save changes at the bottom of the page.

 

Lastly, we can look at how to edit our profile.

In the top right-hand corner of your screen, you will see a tab that says “Howdy” and then the admin name that you chose when you installed WordPress.

Hover over that and then click on “edit my profile” and you will arrive at the Profile page.

Here you can add your name, email address, website URL and even change your password if you wish.

There are of course many more settings in the dashboard, but for now, these are the ones that I consider to be the most important.

 

Use WordPress + WooCommerce for online store (FREE)

In a sentence, WooCommerce is the best way to turn your WordPress website into a fully functional e-commerce store. Here are the specifics:

  • Technically speaking, WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin. It needs to be installed and activated just like any other plugins in order to function.
  • It’s free and open source – just like WordPress. You don’t need any licenses, things don’t expire and no one comes asking for money at any point.
  • It’s the most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress out there.
  • It’s (arguably) the most feature-rich plugin of that kind too.
  • You can set it up and configure it by yourself.
  • The setup is fast. Usually, it’s just a matter of an afternoon.
  • It works with any design/theme you currently have on your WordPress site – you don’t need to ditch your current website design!

I could continue with the list above, but instead, let me just say that WooCommerce simply gives you all you could ever need for building a high-quality e-commerce store with WordPress.

 

Now, you can sell Cosmetics & Fragrance with WordPress + WooCommerce?

In other words – you can make money with your website.

I would even risk saying that WooCommerce allows you to sell anything that can have a price tag assigned to it. On top of that, anyone can use it (if you’ve already managed to get a WordPress site launched, you will also be able to handle WooCommerce).

Note: The goal of this part of the guide is to show you the simplest method of building a functional e-commerce store on WordPress so that you can get your store online as soon as possible. That is why I’m going to focus on just the essential things and skip the more advanced aspects.

Install WooCommerce Plugin (FREE)

Like with all WordPress plugins, the fun starts by navigating to your WordPress Dashboard / Plugins / Add New. Once there, type “woocommerce” in the search field. You’ll see WooCommerce as the first search result:

 

Just click the “Install Now” button next to the plugin.

After a couple of seconds, the text on the button will change to “Activate.” Go ahead and click it.

 

At this stage, you’ll see WooCommerce’s on-screen launch/setup wizard. This thing makes the process uber-easy and takes you by the hand through everything. To start, click “Let’s Go!

 

Create the essential store pages

Online stores are a particular kind of website, and they need some particular pages to function properly. The first step in the WooCommerce wizard is about creating these pages for you:

  • “Shop” – this is where your products are going to be displayed.
  • “Cart” – this is the shopping cart where your customers can adjust their order before proceeding to checkout.
  • “Checkout” – this is where the customers choose the shipping/delivery method and pay for whatever they’ve bought.
  • “My Account” – a kind of a profile page for registered customers (they will be able to view their past orders there and manage other details).

All you need to do at this stage of the WooCommerce wizard is click the “Continue” button. WooCommerce will set up those pages for you.

Set up locale

The locale is a truly crucial part of your store setup. Those few parameters define your business origin, currency, and preferred units:

 

Once you’re done, click “Continue”.

Understand Sales Tax

Tax is by far the least exciting part of running an e-commerce store, but it’s also something we can’t disregard, sadly.

You’re going to be pleased to see that WooCommerce helps you with this part too.

First, you can select if you’re going to be shipping physical goods or not. If you check the box, WooCommerce will pre-set the remaining shipping-related details in the settings.

Next, tax! WooCommerce has a very neat tax module, the best thing about it is that it helps you figure out the tax rates based on your store location (you’ve set it in the previous step).

If you’re going to charge sales tax (in most cases you are), just check the main tax box. As soon as you do this, a new set of boxes will appear and inform you of what’s going to happen next.

 

Note: Even though WooCommerce will pre-fill the tax settings for you, you still need to double-check with your local authorities what the actual current taxation rules are, especially if you’re not in the US. To learn more about WooCommerce’s way of handling sales taxes, read this. You can change everything later, so don’t worry if you’re not sure about the rules right now.

Click “Continue.”

 

Pick a Payment Method (PayPal is recommended)

Being able to accept online payments is at the core of any e-commerce store, WooCommerce really offers a lot in terms of the available solutions.

Here’s what you can choose from:

 

Two of the most popular payment options are at the very top – PayPal and Stripe – it’s highly recommended that you integrate your site with both. Just click on their corresponding checkboxes.

You can also select other payment methods that seem to make sense. There’s going to be even more options available later on in your WooCommerce settings panel.

Note: In order to make online payments work, you need to sign up with either PayPal or Stripe separately. The settings in WooCommerce are only for integrating your existing PayPal and Stripe accounts with your new e-commerce website.

Again, click “Continue” when done.

The next step is just a confirmation screen that everything went well. At this stage, your basic site setup is done – you’ve just built a blank e-commerce store with WooCommerce!

The next step is adding products:

 Add your first product

To be able to call your store operational, you need some products in the database (or services, or downloads, or whatever it is that you want to sell).

To start working with the products, go to your dashboard, then Products / Add Product:

What you’re going to see is a classic WordPress content editing screen:

  1. Product name.
  2. The main product description. This large field allows you to enter as much info about the product as you wish. Since this is WordPress, you can put not only simple text there but also images, columns, headings, even videos, and other media. Basically, whatever you see fit!
  3. The central product data section. This one is where you set the type of product that you’re adding, and whether it’s a physical, a downloadable or a virtual product (services are considered virtual products too). As part of this central section, you also get tabs for various parameters of the product:
    1. General. This is where you get to set the pricing and taxes.
    2. Inventory. WooCommerce allows you to manage stock levels.
    3. Shipping. Set the weight, dimensions, and the cost of shipping.
    4. Linked Products. Great for setting upsells, cross-sales, etc. (Think, “Customers who bought this also bought that.”)
    5. Attributes. Set custom product attributes. E.g., if you’re selling shirts, you can set alternative colors here.
    6. Advanced. Additional settings. Not essential.
  4. Short Description. This is the text that gets displayed on the product page under the name. Works best as a short summary of what the product is.
  5. Product Categories. Group similar products together. E.g., “hats.” Works just like the standard WordPress categories.
  6. Product Tags. An additional way to help you organize your database of products. Works just like the standard WordPress tags.
  7. Product Image. The main product image.
  8. Product Gallery. Additional product images to showcase its awesomeness.

The first time you visit this panel, WooCommerce will display some handy tooltips to explain what’s the purpose of each field:

 Choose a theme for your online store (FREE)

There’s a very good reason why I first covered how to add products to your store, before discussing the visual appearance of the entire thing.

Quite frankly, without any products in the database, you wouldn’t be able to see the individual pages of the store in any representative form. You wouldn’t be able to make sure that everything looks right.

Now that you have most of your products added, we can make sure that things are in order from a purely visual standpoint.

WooCommerce vs your current theme

By default, WooCommerce works with any WordPress theme. This is great news especially if you’ve already picked your design and you want to stick with it.

Alternatively, you can go with special WooCommerce-optimized themes. Those themes come with pre-set styles that make all WooCommerce elements look great.

Here’s my recommendation:

 

The official WooCommerce theme – and the one that’s the most likely to work properly – is called Storefront. The default version is free, and it should be enough to get you going.

Alternatively, you can visit the e-commerce section at ThemeForest – the biggest directory of premium WordPress themes on the web.

Regardless if you’ve decided to stick with your current theme or have gone for something new and WooCommerce-optimized, what you need to do next is make sure that the individual pages of the store look good. Let’s do that now:

The rules of e-commerce store design

Let’s discuss a handful of important aspects before we get into the nitty-gritty.

Mainly – what makes an e-commerce store design good (read: profitable)? Here are the most crucial parameters:

  • The design needs to be clear and not confusing in any way. A visitor who’s confused won’t buy anything.
  • The center content block needs to grab the visitor’s attention right after they come to the site. That center block is where the products will be displayed.
  • Adjustable sidebars. You need to be able to select how many sidebars you need and also disable the sidebar altogether for some pages (more on that later).
  • Responsive and mobile-optimized. Research indicates [2] that around 80% of people on the internet own a smartphone. According to another research [3], 61% of your mobile visitors will leave immediately and go to your competitors if they have a frustrating mobile browsing experience. In other words – making sure that your website is optimized for mobile is crucial.
  • Good navigation structure. You want clear menus that are easy to grasp – so that your visitors can find the page they’re looking for.

Having the above in mind, here’s what you can do with the individual pages of the store:

Your shop page

This is where the main listing of your products is found. If you’ve gone through the WooCommerce setup wizard, this page can be found at YOURDOMAIN.com/shop

This is a standard WordPress page – you can edit it via WordPress dashboard / Pages.

The things that are worth doing:

  • Add some copy that will encourage your visitors to shop with you.
  • Decide if you want to have the sidebar on the page. This is done through your theme’s own page templates. For instance, Storefront allows me to go full-width, which I will do:

The main trait of the Shop page is that right below the standard content, it features a custom part where it displays your product listings. This is what it looks like on the Storefront theme:

As you can see, nice product images are the key, it’s the first thing that you should get right! In other words – you should probably work on your product images more than on anything else.

WooCommerce also enables you to display your products in alternative ways on this page. When you go to the WordPress dashboard / WooCommerce / Settings / Products and then the Display section:

 

… you can choose whether you want to display individual products or product categories on the Shop page. Select whatever makes the most sense for you, then save settings.

Individual product pages

In order to see those, click on any product listing from the Shop page.

If you’re using a quality theme, you shouldn’t experience any difficulties on this particular page. Basically, the only thing you can do is adjust the amount of text that you’re using for individual product descriptions, to make sure that everything fits visually and that there are no blank spots that could confuse the buyer.

Here’s my example with the Storefront theme (without any additional customization):

Shopping cart

Another crucial page that can be adjusted through Dashboard / Pages.

The one thing I would recommend is to go for the full-width layout. You don’t want to give the buyer too many options on this page, apart from proceeding to checkout.

Checkout

Checkout is perhaps the most important page of them all. It’s where your buyers get to finalize their orders and make the payments.

I don’t actually encourage you to do any tweaks to that page apart from one:

The Checkout page absolutely needs to be full-width. The only acceptable way out of the page for the buyer should be to finalize their order, and not get distracted by the things available in the sidebar.

You can do this via Dashboard / Pages (just repeat the process you went through with the Shop page).

Apart from that, the default look of the Checkout page is great:

At this stage, you are basically done with adjusting your store design, now let’s look into the possibilities to extend the store’s functionality.

 

Extending WooCommerce – How?

One more thing that makes WooCommerce such an impressive e-commerce solution is that there are tens or even hundreds of extensions and plugins available.

Let’s list some of the most useful ones:

WooCommerce extensions

Let’s start with the extensions – the official add-ons that have been approved by the WooCommerce team.

To see what’s available, you can go to this page.

That catalog is truly impressive and vast. I don’t want you to feel intimidated by it. You certainly don’t need all of those extensions. Treat that list as a buffet – pick whatever seems cool.

Some of the more worthy mentions:

  • Payment gateways. These extensions allow you to accept more payment methods on top of the standard PayPal. In general, the more methods of payment you can afford to accept (those gateways are often paid), the better.
  • Shipping extensions. These are going to be handy if you want to automatically integrate your store with the official shipping rates from companies such as UPS or FedEx.
  • Accounting extensions. Integrate your WooCommerce store with the accounting tool of your choice.
  • WooCommerce Bookings. Allow customers to book appointments for services without leaving your site.
  • WooCommerce Subscriptions. Let customers subscribe to your products or services and pay a weekly, monthly or annual fee.
  • EU VAT Number. For those operating within the EU.
  • TaxJar. Put your sales tax on autopilot.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend any money on new extensions, you can browse around in the free category. There’s more than enough stuff there to keep you occupied.

Plugins that supercharge your e-commerce store

Setting the extensions aside, you can also use other WordPress plugins to further supercharge your store. Here’s what you should get:

Creating an Online Store in a Nutshell

As you can see, the degree of difficulty when it comes to creating your own e-commerce store with WordPress isn’t high, but it will still take you a while to get through all of the steps above – probably an afternoon or two.

That’s still incredible considering that just, say, five years ago you would need to hire a developer and pay them north of $5,000 to get something similar created. Now you can do everything yourself!

Anyway, to help you get through all the tasks required, here’s a cut-out-‘n-keep checklist:

Before you begin

Installing WooCommerce

  • Install and activate the main WooCommerce plugin.
  • Go through the WooCommerce setup wizard, paying close attention to:
    • Getting the four required pages created (Shop, Cart, Checkout, My Account).
    • Setting up the store locale.
    • Setting up sales tax and shipping.
    • Picking initial payment methods.

Products

  • Add most (or all) of your products or product categories to the store.

Design

  • Select the right WordPress theme for your e-commerce store. Go either with your existing theme or browse through other possibilities. Review the rules of e-commerce store design when doing so.
  • Adjust your Shop page.
  • Adjust individual product pages.
  • Adjust the Cart page.
  • Adjust the Checkout page.

Extensions

  • Install the payment gateways that you want to use.
  • Consider some of the shipping extensions.
  • Consider an accounting extension.
  • Browse through other extensions and the free category.

Plugins

  • Consider installing all of the plugins that will supercharge your e-commerce store:
    • Yoast SEO
    • Yoast WooCommerce SEO
    • WooCommerce Multilingual
    • Contact Form 7
    • UpdraftPlus
    • Social Share Buttons by GetSocial
    • MonsterInsights
    • iThemes Security
    • W3 Total Cache.

 

Once You Got your Online Store Up and Running now you can start making money selling Cosmetics & Fragrance from the comfort of your home.

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