Things to look as you vet hosts for ecommerce include drag-and-drop store builders, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) software for safeguarding financial transactions, and email marketing plug-ins, so that you don't have to work with an outside vendor to promote your business. There's nothing wrong per se with using an unconnected marketing service, but anything that adds convenience means more time to spend on the rest of your business. For more in-depth advice on getting started selling online, you should consider our story on the 6 Factors Companies Need to Consider When Choosing a Web Host.
Connect a custom domain: On a free plan your website address will look something like this: https://mysite.strikingly.com or https://joebloggs.wixsite.com/mysite. These web addresses can be long, confusing, and difficult to find if you’re a visitor searching for your site online. A custom domain allows you to choose a more personalized address, such as www.mysite.com which is a lot better for promoting a brand and getting found by potential visitors to your website! Even if you buy a new domain for your site or already own one that you want to transfer, you will need to be on a paid plan to actually connect and use it as the address for your website. Usually you can buy and connect your custom domain on the cheapest upgrade available, such as Weebly’s ‘Connect’ plan, so it’s an affordable option.

If you're on a Mac however, there's another option: RapidWeaver. This WYSIWYG webpage editor has full code access and FTP support for uploading pages. There are plenty of built-in templates to get started, all for the one-time price of $99.99. On Windows there are numerous choices. Xara Web Designer 365, for example, starts at $49.99 and promises you don't need to know HTML or Javascript to create sites based on the company's templates.

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Trouble is, and I’ve tried to navigate quite a few, but within minutes, as a complete Luddite – I get completely bogged down. I even managed to make a mess of the WordPress option. All I need is the most basic site with detail and a pic of my book. I don’t need a pay page and am happy just to direct people to Amazon etc. should they wish to purchase. Even writing this I feel sure you have covered everything I am asking here. But could you offer some suggestions on the best way forward? I should add here (and I know there would be options for me should money not be a problem) that unfortunately throwing a lot of money at this is (unfortunately) not an option.

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On more than one occasions that we contacted their support (via email), we received an answer no earlier and no later than exactly 48h later. Also, it’s important to note that their social media channels have the latest updates in the middle of 2017. Considering these two factors it does awfully lot look like they have simply ditched the project and are barely serving their (yet) existing customers.
There are plenty of template designs in Zoho’s website creator. The downside is that only a small fraction of them are responsive. Also, they probably looked excellent five years ago but now have a bit of a dated feel. The editor itself is super easy to use and covers all basic features you can imagine. Using Zoho Creator you can even add dynamic content blocks to your site. Also, you have full access to the HTML and CSS of your website. All in all, a very decent product, especially if you work with other Zoho products.
This is a great review post on website builders. I have tried some of them myself but most of them were hard on the budget and too clunky for me to actually use. Weebly and Squarespace did have what I was looking for but decided to abandon them for lack of time. The customer service on most of these is pretty bad (except the top3). I was actually going to do a review on most of these website builders myself but you’ve done a good job here.
For years Adobe Dreamweaver has been synonymous with web page creation. It's gone from being a creator of HTML pages in a WYSIWYG interface to being able to handle programming pages in Cold Fusion, JavaScript, PHP, and other formats. Its liquid layout lets you see how pages look at different browser and screen sizes—even on smartphones and tablets. It's about as code-heavy as you want it to be.

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Blogs are swell, but sometimes you need a simple place to park your persona on the internet for branding purposes. In this case, you can just get a nameplate site, or as we prefer to think of them, a personal webpage (rather than a multipage site). Instead of linking internally to your store or other pages of note as you would with a more traditional web page, a personal site usually has links that go elsewhere—to your social networks, wish lists, playlists, or whatever else is linkable.
You can sell products and services on your website if you have the Online Store plan. You’ll have an online store that will allow you to add products and services, set up different types of payment methods, and even specific types of shipping. Your store will be integrated into your website as a page. You can add featured products for your visitors to scroll through, make quick purchases using PayPal and Apple Pay and promote your store/products through coupons. You can also use the same type of email marketing that is included in the Business Plus plan to send email communications to your subscribers and customers about sales in your store, coupon offers and events. Establishing a strong online commerce can boost your current sales, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store.
These services can host your content on their servers free of charge, but in exchange for that zero cost, your online destination will have a less-than-elegant domain, such as jeffreylwilson.tumblr.com. That might be fine for a personal blog, but it will look too low-rent for a business that wants people to trust it enough to pay for whatever it's selling.
To get your website up and running with Gator Website Builder, simply select one of our pre-built templates and drag and drop the elements you want to live on your website. If you want to have an eCommerce site or online store, Gator features built-in shopping cart functionality; simply add the shopping cart and products, and your site is ready to go!

Thank you for such a wonderful article. I work for a church and we need to start a new website from scratch due to problems we are experiencing with the currently listed owner of our Weebly site. I like the reviews on WIX.com and think we may go with them. I just had a question about using our current domain on the new site, not sure if you can answer this. Do you know if WIX.com accepts domains already established, like a transfer over or if even needed?
Blogs are swell, but sometimes you need a simple place to park your persona on the internet for branding purposes. In this case, you can just get a nameplate site, or as we prefer to think of them, a personal webpage (rather than a multipage site). Instead of linking internally to your store or other pages of note as you would with a more traditional web page, a personal site usually has links that go elsewhere—to your social networks, wish lists, playlists, or whatever else is linkable.
Even if your site’s primary purpose is not to function as a blog, you may find yourself requiring one at some point (Be sure to read the how to start a blog guide for a complete overview), either to keep your visitors updated or to use as a marketing tool. SEO, for example, is something that requires the creation of content to get your website noticed by search engines. Most website builders have built-in content management systems that allow you to write and edit blog posts in your browser. These systems make it easy to create rich content on the fly.
The templates are high quality, but nobody wants to have a website which looks like another. While that might be hard to avoid with the number of websites on the internet (tens of billions), giving it your best will surely pay off. A quality theme is surely a great start for a website, but the extensive admin panel gives you a lot of creative freedom to express yourself in your website, whether it is a personal blog or an online store.
Just from these features it’s easy to see how it’s worth upgrading to unlock the best for your website. And the good news is, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Most basic plans start from around $5 a month. Moving from a free plan to a basic plan is a really affordable way of growing your site and adding these great features to maximise your online presence.

The major player in the blog game is WordPress, a content management system (CMS) that powers millions of websites, including The New York Times, Quartz, and Variety. WordPress-powered sites are incredibly easy to set up, customize, and update—ideally on a daily basis. You aren't required to learn fancy-schmancy FTP tricks (though you can certainly use them if you like), and there are ridiculous numbers of free and paid WordPress themes and WordPress plug-ins to give your website a pretty face and vastly expanded functionality. Though WordPress dominates the blogging space, it isn't the only blogging CMS of note, however.

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If you prefer a more traditional URL, you'll need to purchase one from the likes of GoDaddy or Namecheap. Domain name pricing can range from extremely cheap to extremely expensive, depending on whether or not domain squatters are looking to flip a valuable piece of online real estate. You'll want to get something short but evocative and catchy, and depending on what you do, you may find that many of your first choices are taken by either other legit domains, or by squatters who've scooped up the names as an investment. For more, please read How to Register a Domain Name.

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Hi Chad, Thanks for the great feedback I'm so glad you found it interesting! Depending on the level, scale and budget of your business, I would recommend using Wix. The Wix Bookings App means you can take bookings 24/7, accept secure payments, offer appointments, classes, workshops etc., sync with your Google Calendar, send out auto-reminder emails to clients, and manage your business right from your phone with the Wix Mobile App. You can use Wix Bookings for free, but you will need to sign up to a Business Premium Plan to accept payments through your site, and unlock other advanced features. The cheapest Business plan is the Business Basic plan at $20 a month. You can read our Wix Pricing Review for a full look at each plan. If you wanted a more ecommerce focused builder, check out Shopify or BigCommerce. Both are specialized ecommerce builders which have powerful tools to grow and support your business. While they are more focused on physical goods, you can download apps and use their in-built features to sell services and digital goods. You can read our in-depth reviews on each by following the links. Hope that helps and best of luck with the business, Lucy
Maybe just like you, at first we didn't have a darn clue about how to build a website, nevermind write half a line of code if our life depended on it! We wanted to build a website to start a side business, and felt overwhelmed, confused & scared about how to actually do it, which builder to use, and making wrong decisions. After years of trials & errors using different website builders, we're here to share our experiences with you. 

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Yahoo's Tumblr is another incredibly popular blog platform that lends itself to shorter, more visual posts. You can, however, find themes that give your Tumblr site a more traditional website's look and feel. Google's Blogger features tight integration with Google Adsense, so making extra pocket change is a snap. Newer blogging services, such as Anchor, Feather, and Medium, stress writing and publishing more than intricate design, but they're incredibly simple to update.
There are plenty of template designs in Zoho’s website creator. The downside is that only a small fraction of them are responsive. Also, they probably looked excellent five years ago but now have a bit of a dated feel. The editor itself is super easy to use and covers all basic features you can imagine. Using Zoho Creator you can even add dynamic content blocks to your site. Also, you have full access to the HTML and CSS of your website. All in all, a very decent product, especially if you work with other Zoho products.
Advanced marketing tools: Marketing is a massive part of promoting your website – whether it’s your own portfolio, brand, or business, you want people to find you! While free plans do often have basic marketing or newsletter tools, if you’re paying then you will have access to much more advanced marketing tools such as email campaigns and better site analysis and statistics. This way you can reach out to your visitors and then track how successful your campaigns have been to help spread the word!
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