All posts by EarthSkater.com

Providing merchants the best online store support everyday.
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Online Store Software Customization

January 16th, 2017 by

Online stores are supposed to be quick and easy to setup, right?  You just sign up and type in a few products, upload a few pics, and voila… er, not so fast.

Today, online store’s are offered like a commodity, just pick the one with the cool web design and a list of checkmark features that seems to match your needs, at least the needs you think you know you have.  It’s all up to you, good luck!  Setting up an online store can be done on the cheap but I don’t think most merchants would describe it as easy, quick, or sufficient to needs of their success.

Online Store Customization = Custom For You

Customization is a key to success, your website has to stand out through branding (your domain name, visual design, and marketing) and a variety of other factors including online store functionality and customer service in order to be distinct in the marketplace!

Customizing your online store or website could involve:

  • having the website design created exactly the way you want it
  • create custom content or using high quality stock photos & video
  • creating a custom interface for the customer ordering process
  • programming to automate and process orders more efficiently
  • connecting in with 3rd party API’s
  • recurring billing subscriptions with membership account
  • storing customer billing information
  • digital download products

What Does This Mean For Me?

There are many ways to customize your online store and so the biggest question is… Does your online store software provider provide the service to help you customize?  Better yet, do they go the extra mile and offer the flexibility to meet your specific demands?

If the answer to any of the questions above is NO, then please call Earth Skater today where we will be happy to help you review and find a solution to your business needs.

Earth Skater specializes in eCommerce with complimentary website setup and transfer.  We’ve helped hundreds of merchants make an easy transition into the world of websites and selling online with our online store platform.

 

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eCommerce Website Nuts And Bolts

November 14th, 2016 by

What are the nuts and bolts of an eCommerce website? What are the foundation pieces you need to begin selling online? The answer to this question depends on at least two major factors including and perhaps most importantly:

  1. Your businesses budget
  2. Your interest and ability to compete head on with market leaders

The Absolute Basic Nuts & Bolts

In order to sell your products or services online, you must have the following 4 nuts and bolts as part of your eCommerce business:

  1. A domain name
  2. A merchant account (also called a payment gateway) such as PayPal
  3. An online store eCommerce website
  4. Website analytics (such as Google Analytics, Google WebMaster tools)

Minimum to Sell Online

  1. A brandable domain name
  2. A merchant account (also called a payment gateway) such as PayPal or Authorize.net
  3. SSL Security Certificate may be used to increase trust signs to customers
  4. An online store eCommerce website
  5. Marketing newsletter system
  6. Website Blog

Requirements to Compete with Market Leaders

  1. The most brandable domain name you can find or afford
  2. A merchant account (also called a payment gateway) that is integrated securely and directly into your own website such as Authorize.net or FirstData
  3. An online store eCommerce provider that offers real service to update and maintain your website, affordably, and when you need it
  4. SSL Security with clickable trust badge (provides extra level of trust to your customers)
  5. Marketing newsletter system (regular postings to your newsletter list)
  6. Website Blog (regular postings to your website blog)

 

Earth Skater specializes in eCommerce with complimentary website setup and transfer.  We’ve helped hundreds of merchants make an easy transition into the world of websites and selling online with our online store platform.

5 Tips If You’re Serious About Starting an Online Store

September 2nd, 2016 by

achieve-success

If you are serious about starting an online store, then these 5 tips will help you, think of them as a checklist you should be able to pass easily and know the reason why you will succeed.  If you can’t pass this checklist easily, then you have to rethink your business plan and if you are truly ready to start an online store yet.

  1. Do you absolutely know the product(s) you are going to sell?  You have to know the product and related products you are going to sell in your niche market, know your competitors, know the CEO’s of those companies, and decide now if you plan to become a market leader or not, and what it may take to get there.  This is where you must think as big as you can, regionally, nationally, globally!
  2. Is it your own product or not?  If it’s your own product or you have a good  vendor that is great.  If you are an affiliate or drop shipping that is not as good typically.
  3. No mall websites!   If you are a beginner entrepreneur and want to start a mall type of website like Walmart or Amazon or eBay, with tons of categories and products, we advise you to stop now; this concept is difficult even with a huge budget behind it.
  4. Can you afford to do it yourself?  Yes, the question is can you afford to, because doing it yourself while it may seem free, actually may cost you the precious time you need to get started right away by going forward with a weak website with poor design and content.   Can you afford to have a designer do it at the cost of a few thousand dollars?  If so, then do it as that what it takes to be a market leader.  Otherwise, choose Earth Skater as the budget solution where we handle the online store setup for you at no charge as part of our complimentary setup service.
  5. Can you afford to market it or can you learn to market it?  If you can afford to market it and advertise with a budget that makes sense for your business, then you must start experimenting with your propaganda/message immediately, don’t make any long term commitments, and find the best team to work with.  Either way, or if budget is a concern, you must to learn to market and advertise your business because you are the business owner, you know your business the best.  Social media and blogging are the avenues you must follow in today’s market.

Follow us on Facebook to stay in touch: https://www.facebook.com/earthskater/

Earth Skater specializes in setting up online stores for small business owners with our amazing and complimentary website setup and transfer.  We’ve helped hundreds of merchants make an easy transition to a flexible and full featured website and online store platform.

How to Start an Online Business

August 6th, 2016 by

How-to-Start-an-Online-Business-Header

One of the most frequently asked questions by small business owners is how to start an online store business… we’ll give you the long and short break downs to help you get your business started online as easily as possible without any added stress.

Short…ish Answer

The short answer is, get the right online store for your products.  If you sell digital downloads, research online stores that offer downloadable products.  Compare the features and compare the package prices to find the best solutions.   Demo the solutions, speak with the company, read their reviews, and do your due diligence.  Be prepared to fail at least once in choosing the wrong online store platform, abandoning it, and chalking it up to a learning experience. Almost every merchant we speak with goes through this process  and sometimes many times before finding the right online store partner.

Find an online store eCommerce provider that can either setup your website for you or support you effectively enough to set it up yourself.  If you are a busy CEO with plenty on your plate as it is, the choice is clear.   If you are a designer and web developer with little to no learning curve involved then the choice is clear.  In either case, service and support are key features your online store provider should offer.

Longer Answer

  1. Obviously you must have a product or service to sell, what are people asking for, what problems are they trying to solve.  The more people who have a problem that you could solve, the better.
  2. Write copy that supports your value proposition (key to getting the price you deserve for the value you provide).
  3. Design and build an easy-to-use eCommerce website.  See short-ish answer for details.
  4. Use social media, blogging, and advertising to drive traffic to your site.
  5. Establish an expert reputation for yourself (start with LinkedIn posting and blogging on latest news/tweets/topics as CEO of your company blog).
  6. Build a mailing list (use newsletter providers like iContact, Mailchimp, etc) and follow up with your subscribers regularly with offers.
    1. EXPERT TIP:  Send an immediate email within 24 hours to each new subscriber with a lesser product offering at a lesser price (research automated conversion funnels to learn more)
  7. Increase your income through multi-channel sales, meaning sell on multiple marketplaces and target specific industry verticals to scale revenue) and upselling, meaning selling add-ons, upgrades, and affiliate offerings that are complementary to the customer.

Earth Skater specializes in setting up online stores for small business owners with our amazing and complimentary website setup and transfer.  We’ve helped hundreds of merchants make an easy transition to a flexible and full featured website and online store platform.

The above 7 steps were built upon content found on the excellent business site Entrepreneur.com: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/175242

 

 

How to Setup an Online Clothing Store

July 15th, 2016 by

7696fcce.slide-1-boutique-woman

The most frequent question we receive from new online merchants is… how do I setup my online store?  The answer to that question is typically the same whether you are selling clothing, electronics, supplements, or any other retail product.  It is important to note a few exceptions to the typical online store setup.  More complex online store setups include sites that sell recurring subscriptions, digital downloadable products, or some other custom calculation that involves the customers input.

OK, so you are ready to start your online clothing store.  Here are our top 6 things to consider when it comes to setting up an online clothes store.

  1. Brandable Domain Name
  2. Online Store Platform
  3. Product Photos
  4. Social Media
  5. Blogging
  6. Newsletter

Brandable Domain Name

A short and memorable domain name is ideal.  Premium domain names, domain names that are for sale at a premium price,  may be the best way to get the exact brand name you desire.  Sites like Oro.Domains specialize in the sale of premium domain names.  The more basic and identifiable your domain name is, the more likely it will be ranked higher in the search results.  For a clothing store, choosing a name that represents the brand or one that represents the specific niche in the clothing market may work well.  Your business plan should help guide you in this process.  Earth Skater offers a complimentary domain name branding service during our setup process to help choose the perfect name for your business.

Online Store Platform

Setting up your online clothing store can be difficult and time consuming to say the least, not to mention costly.   Clothing store merchants do better with an online store platform that can help them set up the website.  Questions to consider when choosing your online store platform for your clothing store are:

  1. Will I be able to design the site to match my brands image
  2. Will I have help in uploading the products, content, and photos
  3. Does the online store support all of the product options needed to sell my product line effectively and efficiently

Product Photos

Product photos are extremely important and just as important as having an awesome looking web design.  So your product photos must be top notch in order for your brand clothing store to shine online.  Taking time to optimize, resize, crop, and re-create product photos so that they are as near perfect as possible can be an easy way to differentiate your clothing store from your competitors. Photos should be consistent in terms of size, lighting, background, to give the most professional appearance.  Photo watermarks can be added and most online stores allow for a watermark to be added when inserting products into the online store.

Social Media

Setting up your social media accounts is vital to building your online clothing store brand.  It is not that difficult or time consuming, just go over to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media sites and create an account with your business name and information.  After you create your accounts you will add the links and plugins to your website to connect your website with the social platforms.  Finally, the vital part is to stay active on your social media accounts.  This means regular posting to each account.  Vary the content posted to each social media platform accordingly based on the audiences you are reaching respectively.  Clothing stores can post about things customers are thinking about and looking for.  Use keywords in your posts that customers are searching for and focus on the customer always.

Blogging

Setting up your Blog is the other vital part of marketing your online clothes store.  Blogging and social media go hand in hand.  The blogs you write will also be posted to your social media accounts to create life cycle of marketing content.  Blogging is vital to building your online clothing store brand because of the content that you create as the business owner.  As a clothing store owner you will post about topics of interest to your customers and include the keywords they are searching for.  Also, your customers will see that your website is alive with content through the regular posting being done.

Newsletter

A very important piece of the puzzle in marketing an online clothing store is setting up a newsletter.   Adding a JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER feature to your website allows you to build a list of targeted people to market to.  You can offer an incentive to join your newsletter like a 5 or 10% discount on their next clothing purchase.   The bigger your list grows the more valuable it becomes as a go to source for increasing sales.   Your newsletter is a vital way to keep in contact with your followers and increase sales.

Earth Skater specializes in eCommerce with complimentary website setup and transfer.  We’ve helped hundreds of merchants make an easy transition into the world of websites and selling online with our online store platform.

Top 5 Website Transfer Tips

July 11th, 2016 by

website transfer

As small business owners grow their business online, at some point they eventually may need to transfer their website.  Changing anything can be difficult and that’s especially true when it comes to transferring your website.  Whatever type of website you have, online store, or custom web web development, transferring to a new website solution can be difficult.

Here are the top 5 challenges to consider when it comes to transferring your website.

  1. Website content and products transfer
  2. Maintaining SEO rankings
  3. Domain Name  Settings
  4. Email settings
  5. SSL Security

Transferring Content

Transferring your website content can be a big ordeal, a huge headache and come with big costs to get it done correctly by hand. First off, the complexity of transferring your website content is in the question… how much content is there to transfer?  At the easier end of the spectrum is transferring a simple website or blog and at the harder end is transferring an ecommerce or online store website with a lot of products and pages.

Some important questions to consider about your new website solution and how to transfer your content:

  1. Will your new website solution help you transfer the content or do it all for you
  2. Can you export your content from your old solution and import it into the new solution
  3. Will your new website offer FTP access so you can possibly transfer content more easily
  4. Do you want to set all your content up from scratch yourself by copying and pasting and fixing the issues on your own

Maintaining SEO Rankings

Not many web site solutions speak about this, but you can maintain your old website rankings when transferring to a new website solution.  This can be a big deal because your high ranked search engine pages may come up with a 404 not found or just point point back to your home page after your transfer your website.

Maintaining your SEO rankings can be achieved a few different ways, here are a few questions to consider:

  1. Will your new website solution provide some way to maintain important website rankings
  2. Can you maintain the old URLS through the transfer to the new website solution without any major changes
  3. Can you implement clever 301 redirecting of the old URLS to new URLS

Domain Name Settings

Updating your domain name settings is easy but there are a few snafus that we’ve seen our merchants run into.  Here are some things to consider when it comes time to transfer your website and update your domain name settings.

  1. Do you have the login information for your account with your domain name registrar
  2. Will your new website solution migrate any important domain name record settings for you
  3. You should know how to update your domain name DNS information if your new website solution will not do that for you

Email Settings

Again, this will depend on how many email accounts you have existing on your website.  If you have a bunch of email accounts that you use with your old website then it will be important to maintain them during the website transfer.  If you only have one or a handful of accounts then it is just less tedious.  There are also a few other considerations when it comes to transferring emails settings such as:

  1. Do you use a 3rd party email service like gmail or other email provider with your website and not the website’s own email account?
  2. If you use a 3rd party email service, then your MX records and other important email records must be maintained during the transfer typically by the new website solution.
  3. If you use your website’s own email accounts then they must be created in the new website email system

SSL Security

For merchants with eCommerce websites and online stores, you must consider whether your website SSL security certificate can be transferred or if you will need a new one.  Here are some things to consider about transferring your website SSL security certificate.

  1. Will your new website solution transfer your existing SSL security certificate for you and do you have access to do it yourself if needed
  2. If you have a higher end SSL security certificate such as Extended Validation (EV SSL) then you will definitely want to transfer it instead of purchasing a new one
  3. Does your new website solution offer low cost name brand SSL security certificate or no cost certificates or your first year SSL security for free or other promotion that may help offset related SSL security costs

Earth Skater specializes in eCommerce with complimentary website setup and transfer.  We’ve helped hundreds of merchants make an easy transition to a flexible and full featured website and online store platform.

Stress Free Online Store Set up

July 1st, 2016 by

7696fcce.slide-1-boutique-woman

Whether you are starting a side business or working for yourself full time, setting up your online store could be a very difficult hurdle to get over.

Here are the top 3 things we think new merchants should consider when choosing their online store builder and the company to work with.

Setup Service

The question to ask yourself are:

  1. What is your experience level in web design and development?
  2. How do you feel about setting up your own online store, is that something you desire to give a try?
  3. Do you want to set up your online store yourself or do you want to have it done for you?

Today most online store builders focus on providing you the tools and education so that you can set up your online store yourself.  But wait, you may be saying, hey, I don’t want to set up my own online store but how can I get it done affordably?  That’s where there is a big gap between online store builders and the expert service many merchants need to properly set up and grow their business online.  That is where Earth Skater comes in to fill the gap, you guide the design and Earth Skater sets it up affordably.

2) Customization / Flexibility

Most online store builders are what you see is what you get when it comes to features.  It’s extremely important to make sure your online store has the features you need.  The number of features is not as important as the key features you need so don’t get distracted.   Think of questions like:

  1. Will your website need customization that is beyond any of the features the store provides?
  2. Does the online store support customization like custom programming?
  3. Will the online store provider add new features to support your business

These are all questions to consider when it comes to customization and flexibility for your website.  This is again where Earth Skater fills the gap with affordable custom programming and complete customization for your online store.

3) On-going Support

Once your website is online, it’s your time to shine, now you can take full advantage of the online store builder to add and update products, write blog posts, update your slideshow and more.  On-going support is vital to the reputation of your business.  When you need help to make a change to your website, these questions are the important ones to consider:

  1. Does your online store provider have staff on call to provide on demand, hands on, support for your business?
  2. Will your online store provider go the extra mile to provide after hours service to support you in a critical time of need?
  3. Does your online store provider care about your business enough to provide suggestions that you may have overlooked that could be hindering your business

Earth Skater is unique when it comes to eCommerce.  Earth Skater is the online store builder with the expert service merchants need to succeed online with less stress and less wasted time and money.

Social Networking: Making The Right Connections

June 16th, 2016 by

astronaut_with_laptop_in_space_hi

As an entrepreneur, networking plays an important role in building your business.  Even if you could do it all on your own, you would still need to network, and the sooner you start building your network, the better.

Building a network of entrepreneurs both in and out of your field starts to tell a story about who you are professionally, what opportunities you are seeking, and what inquiries you may have interest in hearing.  You can connect with everyone from industry thought leaders and influencers to potential partners and clients. First making the connections and then following your connections puts you in the position to reach out proactively so that you are prepared when a perceived opportunity arises.  The best networkers research their connections to understand them better so that they can take the right action, at the right time, with the right contact.

What does it tell you when someone does not accept your connection?  Maybe they did not get to it yet… that’s unlikely.  What is likely, is that they researched you, checked your profile, and not accepted your connection.  This can give you valuable insight as well.

Your hopeful contact chose not to accept your connection which can mean multiple things.  I’ve listed these red flags in the order of likelihood based on my experience in not connecting.

  1. Spammy looking profile (no photo, few if any connections, red flags are going off when googling you)
  2. Your approach may have been at the wrong time or if you sent a message it may have been off target  (were you soliciting first or were you bringing something to the table first
  3. You may be perceived as a direct competitor and potential threat
  4. They may see themselves as a valuable contact and not want to lend you the credibility of the connection

BONUS TIP:  If you didn’t make the connection the first time around, and you believe it is an important connection to make, don’t be afraid to try again, build your value, pick your timing, adjust your message, and try again.

Personally, I accept almost all of the connection requests I receive, but I definitely avoid #1 almost always (sometimes it’s hard to tell so I give the benefit of the doubt)… so with that, please feel free to leave your comments and questions and I look forward to connecting with you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sener Korkusuz is the Founder and CEO of EarthSkater.com, dedicated to helping small business owners succeed online with unbeatable web design, web hosting, and online store service.

HOW TO Engage Your Business Community

September 4th, 2015 by

1. Build a community around your audience

You can not force a community to coalesce, therefore you must let it happen naturally.  The first step is to find fans on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  For example, if you’re finding more people are tweeting about your brand than posting about it on Facebook, focus on developing your community on Twitter.  Your audience will be more willing to join your community when it fits easily into their lives and schedule.

2. Get your audience involved

Community is all about sharing stories, and chances are your followers are already doing just that. Join the conversation and encourage your followers to share their experiences with your brand and give their feedback. Try running contests and ask questions to get more people involved. For every positive review or response you get, don’t forget to say how much you appreciate it with a simple “thank you.” This small gesture goes a long way in promoting a positive brand reputation.

6 Ways to Get More Followers for Your Business

August 3rd, 2015 by

1. Stick To A Theme

Choosing a theme and sticking to it is one way to make your Social Media accounts a success. Brainstorm a few ideas by first thinking about what attracts your current customers and what you’d like to achieve next. For example, if you’re a restaurant hoping to get more patrons in the door, feature behind-the-scenes posts of your chefs in action or give sneak peeks of new menu specials.

2. Keep a Posting Schedule

By pushing out new visual content each day or at least each week, or even each month (but you have to do more), you’ll not only increase your chances of getting noticed, but followers will start to truly “follow” your posts as well.  According to research conducted by Latergramme, the best times to post for the most engagement are 2 AM and 5 PM EST.  While others say it’s 8ish AM and 8ish PM.  You will have to experiment for yourself to see what works best for your audience.

3. Mix It Up

Stick with your business related theme, but come out of your shell because on social media boring does not sell.  Mix up your social feed with varying angles, backgrounds and moods.  If you’re bored by your own gallery of widget portraits, chances are your followers are too.  If you are a pet adoption center, get your animals in action by posting videos of them interacting with visitors or playing outside.

4. Motivate With Messages

Remember, Instagram is all about storytelling. You have to include a description to give your picture background. Tying motivational or inspirational messages to posts is an extremely successful posting method, especially if your theme or brand revolves around personal improvement. Check out Nike account for some great examples.

5. Stick to a Few, Simple Hashtags

Hashtags are a simple way to connect your post to a larger theme or global project. But be careful of spamming followers with too many common hashtags like #tbt or #love. You can easily lose more followers than you gain depending on how you utilize hashtags to boost your post visibility.

6. Follow Others and Like Often

Like the relevant content that similar accounts or brands are posting. Follow those who inspire you. Look at the “suggested users” list to find more accounts to follow.  An easy way to find new followers is to add your Facebook friends’ accounts – these users will almost immediately add you back if you follow them first.

* This blog post is based on content which first appeared in a newsletter by a very prominent social media marketing firm.