Building a Yahoo! Store or Outsourcing It - dummies

Building a Yahoo! Store or Outsourcing It

By Rob Snell

You can build your store yourself, or you can hire someone to build it for you. You can even build it yourself and then just hire someone to clean it up. Sometimes, though, it’s just better to break out the checkbook or the credit card and bite the bullet. It all depends on how much free time you have, how valuable your time is, and whether you want to spend your time learning store design and development if you’re only developing one store.

Doing it yourself

Building an online business requires ability in several completely different arenas: graphic design, programming, database development, Web design, copywriting, photography, and online marketing. You don’t have to be an expert in all of them, but it helps to have a wide range of ability.

Make a list of your available skills as well as which skills you can learn.When you have a choice between learning a skill that will directly translate into making more money or learning a skill that will let you do cool stuff on the Web, make a careful choice. Decide how much time you really want to devote to learning and doing things that really don’t help you sell more products. Do you want to be a retailer, or do you want to be a Web developer? The highest and best use of your time probably isn’t learning the ins and outs of RTML, but taking care of customers, finding new products, and promoting your business.

Even if you do decide to hire someone to build your Yahoo! Store, think about building a test store on your own just for the experience you’ll gain. Because you’ll probably maintain your own store and create and edit products in the Store Editor, you’ll need to become familiar with using the Editor. When you get in there and poke around, you’ll see that the Store Editor isn’t so scary after all, even in Advanced mode.

Outsourcing it

Anything you can do on or to a Yahoo! Store can be delegated or outsourced. You can hire folks to design your store from the ground up, create a custom logo, develop a corporate identity with unique colors and fonts, build your store product database, take product photos, write sales copy, perform search engine optimization on your site, custom-build RTML templates that do almost anything you want them to do, and even manage your orders and perform customer service. It all depends on your budget.

After you’ve decided that you need help, you have lots of choices to make. The first decision is the size of your budget, which determines who you can hire. You can find prices for “building a Yahoo! Store” that range anywhere from $300 to $20,000 and up. You can get a bargain using offshore designers (working anywhere from eastern Europe to India), college kids, or even professional designers moonlighting out of their basement. If you want a more “professional” experience, expect to pay up to $20,000 for a complete branding, marketing, and design package from top-drawer advertising agencies.

You get what you pay for. Most of the facelifts and site redesigns from the good design companies run between $2,000 to $3,000. When you get a facelift, sometimes the results are more than just superficial. Some designers improve the shopping experience, which can dramatically increase sales from your existing traffic by increasing your conversion rate. Also, many facelifts improve the way your site looks to search-engine spiders, too!

After you know what store building you can do and what you can’t do or would rather not do, you’re ready to look for some help with the heavy lifting. First, you have to decide what type of vendor you want to work with because there’s a big difference between working with a freelancer or independent consultant and working with a large design company or ad agency:

  • Advertising agencies and the bigger design firms have more resources, such as programmers, graphic designers, and Internet marketing consultants, all on staff. With a large design company, you never know exactly who’s going to be working on your project. The designer you liked so much in the portfolio may no longer even work there. Depending on how much you pay, your project may be assigned to a junior-level designer or an intern. Unless you’re a major project for the design firm, you probably won’t be working with one of the principals of the company, but more likely an account rep, also known as a project manager.
    Ask the right questions (such as who did the graphics on this site or the SEO on that site), and you’ll get better access to the talent. Be a smart shopper for design services.
  • You can find great smaller consultancies and freelancers if you can be flexible. When you hire an individual, you have a pretty good idea of the level of work that you’ll get based on his portfolio. Remember that smaller firms and one-man-bands don’t have the resources or organizational structure of a larger corporate firm, so you may have a more slightly relaxed working environment. Freelancers tend to come and go as they please, and working hours aren’t usually 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Many independent consultants try to be all things to all people. No one can be great at everything. Make sure that whomever you hire specializes in exactly what you need.