Part 2: Computer Essentials
HTML. DHTML. Bulk Upload. Database Integration. DSL, Email Campaign, Search Engine Positioning, URL Redirection, Gateway Pages, Hosting Company.
Most people are familiar enough with their computers to use them effectively. Play some games, write a few letters, surf the ĎNet, send and receive email, maybe do the household accounting. Then there are the famous (infamous?) stories about those who will use their CD tray as a coffee cup holder, not knowing any better.
It really does not matter what your experience level is. If youíre an average computer user, you may suddenly get lost in all the buzzwords and jargon that gets thrown at you when you consider opening an Internet store.
THIS IS WHY most people will give up trying to run their Internet business themselves, and will turn the whole thing over to one of the scam artists we talked about in Part 1.
DONíT DO IT! Donít give up. Itís not that hard. There are two basic LEGITIMATE ways you can build an Internet store of your own, and they're not that hard. Weíll get into that in detail later, but right now, letís talk about your computer, and what you should have in order to be able to work with your new store.
If youíve had your computer for a few years, chances are you are using the Windows 95 Operating System. If your computer is relatively new, or youíve upgraded recently, you could be using Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, or Windows 2000.
It really doesnít matter which one you use. Windows is an Operating System; kind of a background, basic structure that allows you to use other programs. All Windows really does is provide a "platform" from which you "launch" other computer programs that you actually use. For example, you might want to write a letter and print it out. Youíll probably use Microsoft Word for this; or perhaps WordPerfect. Windows itself simply launches this program for you, and allows it to co-exist with other programs you might have active at the same time.
With this in mind, there are two basic ways to start your business on the Internet.
1.) Method One: Use a LEGITIMATE Internet Mall Store.
(DO NOT confuse this with the scam artists!) There are only a couple of really good Internet Malls out there, and weíll talk about the best one later. With an Internet Mall Store:
2.) Method Two: Use a LEGITIMATE Internet ECommerce Hosting Provider:
- You have less control over the look and operation of your site, BUT:
- It has built-in Traffic (potential customers)
Build the site with a REAL ECommerce hosting provider, and drive your own traffic (customers) to it with their help. We'll talk about that in more detail as well. With this option, you:
That's the trade-off between the two options.
- Have far more control over your site's look and structure
- Will probably spend a little more in order to have that control
A "Mall" store offers less choices for making your store look and feel unique, but offers built-in traffic. An ECommerce Hosting Provider store offers you more complete control of the store, but you have to spend more energy, and often money, bringing in customers.
Again, we'll go into more detail, and recommend some actual companies, later.
If you want to use an Internet Mall Store
, youíll need the following on your computer (the first three items probably came with
- An Internet connection to your computer. You obviously already have this, or you would not be reading this page. :o)
- An Internet Browser. Again, something you already have, but you should have Internet Explorer version 6 or higher. This is available as a free download at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.htm.
- A way to send and receive email, which Iím sure you already have if youíre on the Internet.
- Image Software. Youíll want to play around with the product images youíre going to put on your site, and you probably will want to get creative and make yourself a logo or two for your store. This is fun and easy, with the right tool. I recommend Paint Shop Pro. You can download a free trial version of this program from http://www.jasc.com.
Thatís it. Thatís all you really need on your computer to build and run your Internet Mall Store.
If you want to use an ECommerce Hosting Solution,
there are a couple of additional
things youíll need on your computer:
- An FTP Program. FTP Stands for File Transfer Protocol. Youíll use this occasionally to send files (images of your products, etc.) from your computer to the computer where your Internet Store will be located. I use FTP Explorer, and you can download a free trial version of it here: http://www.ftpx.com/.
- Site-building software. I recommend Microsoft FrontPage 2002. This is a program you use to actually create Internet pages for your store. FrontPage allows you to simply create your pages by clicking buttons. Itís very user friendly. What itís actually doing behind the scenes is turning your point-and-click page designs into HTML. HTML is Hyper Text Markup Language. Itís the code that your Internet Browser actually reads from the Internet, to display, for example, the page youíre looking at right now.
No matter which way you go, you'll find that when you work with a legitimate
company, there will be plenty of free tech support to help you along the way. It's NOT all that hard, and YOU will be in the driver's seat, instead of wondering what happened to your hard-earned money. :o)
Letís move on to Part 3: Understanding the Internet