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Finding a Host for Your Website and Storefront

Part of the Starting an Online Business For Dummies Cheat Sheet

While your online business is in the planning stages, finding a host for your website, your blog, and any storefronts you set up to sell your products is an essential requirement. You can set up shop with a variety of hosting services, from an auction site to an online mall to your own Internet Service Provider.

Here are some suggestions based on the type of merchandise you want to sell:

I Want To . . . What to Do
Sell mugs, bags, and other merchandise printed with my original designs and artwork. Create a store on CafePress, which lets anyone put their original designs on products and sell them through the CafePress website.
Sell vintage clothing. Sign up with a specialty marketplace such as Babylon Mall, which enables vintage clothing sellers to set up their own storefronts.
Find a site that offers predesigned templates that make my store look like a well-established and professional operation that has been around for years. Lots of hosts offer website templates. If you are willing to make the investment and purchase a template, check out PrestaShop, which offers a large variety of predesigned store templates you can customize to fit your own needs.
Set up a website that is also a store and have access to full-featured storefront software. Find a hosting service that offers ShopSite or Miva Merchant, software packages that let you run a store as part of your website.
Be a part of an online shopping mall where lots of other stores are hosted. Sign up with AOL Shopping or Access Market Square.
Sell individual products such as books and CDs that are already sold through Amazon.com Add your items to the Amazon.com marketplace.
Sell a wide variety of collectible and one-of-a-kind items as well as popular consumer goods. Start selling on eBay or set up an eBay Store.
Keep it simple and, rather than shopping around for a web hosting service, pay a single bill for Internet access and a website. Use your Internet Service Provider (ISP) as your website host.
Find a host that specializes in e-commerce and provides you with a way to list items for sale, have customers make selections, and have those customers pay you with a credit card. Sign up with a shopping cart service that will host your online store.
Put everything you can into a website that has all the bells and whistles — video, blogs, e-commerce, and more. Sign up with a company that does website hosting full-time. These are businesses whose primary function is hosting e-commerce Web sites and providing their clients with associated software, such as Web page building tools, shopping carts, catalog builders, and the like.
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