How To Find A Webhost And Domain
I wanted to start this section off by addressing a few philosophical issues. One question I get asked all the time is why should I host my own website and shopping cart when there are so many services available that will allow me to use their own proprietary shopping system for free? Why wouldn't I just want to open an Ebay or Yahoo store? Why not just have an Amazon store?
I always answer this question with another question. Would you ever place your future and destiny in the hands of someone else who doesn't share your same interests? Starting a Shopify online store is a great way to build a brand, and keep all your customer data so you can sell to them over and over.
Not only do services like Ebay charge an arm and a leg to sell items (you forfeit up to 15% of your profits with Ebay), but they can mess with you whenever they feel like it. In fact, Ebay has raised their fees without warning on a number of occasions which has driven smaller stores out of business.
Don't fall for the allure of using someone else's setup. You want to own your store. You never want to be tied down or forced to use a specific service provider. With this concept in mind, let's move on to the guts of this section.
Register Your Domain
One of the most important aspects of your online store is your domain name. If you already know what you want to sell in your online store, make sure you choose a domain name that is short, catchy and memorable with no dashes in the name. I use GoDaddy.com, Bluehost and Hostgator.
Choosing A Webhost
When you first launch your online store, you aren't really going to need a powerful webhost. Initially, you aren't going to be attracting enough customers to bring a shared hosting account down. (Although there is an exception to this rule depending on the shopping cart software you choose. More on this later). As a result when you are first starting out, your main focus should be on reliability, support and saving some cash.
For example, when I first started out, I looked for the following attributes in my potential webhost providers
- Are they cheap?
- Are they reliable? Do they have a decent uptime?
- Do they have good technical support?
- Do they load one machine down with too many users?
- Do they offer the features that I need to run my online store.
But here's the problem.There are literally hundreds of webhosting companies out there and they all look exactly the same.So how do you tell them apart?
The only way to really tell whether a webhost is good or bad is to actually sign up and try to run a business on their platform.I've gone through many webhosts in my lifetime and whenever I encounter a deal that is too good to be true, it usually is.
Lots of times, cheaper webhosts will have poor reliability or slow performance because they shove too many accounts onto a single server.
Other webhosts will skimp on support so when things go wrong, you end up with a down website for an extended period of time.
As an example of this, one of the friends decided to be clever and save 2 dollars a month on webhosting.But one day his site went down and stayed down for almost 7 days as he scrambled to get his store back online. Tech support was not responsive and he ended up losing more money than he saved.
But overall for a beginning shop, I recommend going with Bluehost because of the responsiveness of their tech support.In fact, I ran my online store on Bluehost for 2 straight years paying only $6.95 a month until I outgrew my shared hosting account several years ago.
Bluehost offers a very cheap plan for $6.95 a month that pretty much covers anything you'll ever need in a shared host. You can host as many domains as you would like with unlimited SQL databases and bandwidth.