Today marks the beginning of Small Business Month, a national celebration of entrepreneurs and small business owners across America. While these businesses may be small in size, their potential is anything but: giants like Facebook, Apple, and Google initially started as one- or two-person shops. Even DreamHost was started in a dorm room!
While many people aspire to run their own businesses, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur — especially in the digital age. It takes a specific type of personality to handle the nuts and bolts that make up an online business. To help you decide if you’ve got what it takes to start your own web-based biz, we’ve compiled this list of vital entrepreneur characteristics.
Can you handle the hustle?
1. They’re Highly Motivated
Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss. Not having a supervisor may sound like a huge perk, but when nobody is around to tell you what to do, it’s easy to sink into stagnation. And that’s not going to work — especially on the web. Successful business owners are people who are good at self-motivating. They know that no boss will tell them to hurry up and finish that project — they’ve just got to make it happen all by themselves.
Kevin Plank, the CEO of Under Armour, says that while it’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not building a business, a real entrepreneur will simply go for it anyway: “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time.”
His tough-love approach is typical of the entrepreneurial mindset. “I started an apparel-manufacturing business in the tech-boom years,” he says. “I mean, come on. Get out of your garage and go take a chance and start your business.”
Plank initially began Under Armour out of his grandmother’s basement. Today, his company employs 11,000 people and earns $4 billion in yearly revenue — a small business no more! — but it would never have gotten off the ground if he hadn’t taken his role as his own boss seriously and amped up his self-motivation.
Related: 17 Ways to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home
2. They Embrace Technology
Good entrepreneurs know that the tools of the trade are always changing, so they never get too comfortable. They know they can best serve their customers by keeping up to date withthe latest solutions technology offers.
Today successful entrepreneurs know that every business, no matter the size, needs to have an online presence. Potential customers spend more than 10 hours a day looking at screens, so a website is the best way to get eyes on your service or product. And having a website doesn’t mean having just any website; ideally, you’ll have one that loads quickly, looks equally great on desktop and mobile, and stays online with little downtime.
DreamHost knows what small business owners need — after all, more than 90 percent of our customers are in business for themselves. For entrepreneurs who’d rather be focusing on customers than worrying about websites, our DreamPress service removes the guesswork, keeping customers’ WordPress sites automatically configured so they can focus on growing their business.
3. They’re Focused on the Customer
You can’t run a successful website or business if nobody is interested in buying your product or service. That’s why good entrepreneurs know that customer retention should be the crux of their operation.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, initially set up his company in his garage. He says there’s never been a moment, from those one-man days until now, when he took his customers for granted. “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better,” he said.
Perhaps that’s why Amazon has such a massive customer base today. Rather than treating buyers like a necessary evil that keeps him in business, Bezos saw them as invitees that must continuously be courted and made to feel appreciated.
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4. They Fail and Try Again
Top entrepreneurs know that getting it wrong sometimes is simply part of the game. They’re not held back by their setbacks, but see the entrepreneurial process as a learning experience.
Drew Houston, the CEO and co-founder of Dropbox, has declared, “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” In fact, sometimes your previous failures pave the way for your future successes. Before striking gold with Dropbox, Houston worked on a number of other startups, most of which you haven’t heard of because they never went anywhere. But those early attempts taught Houston how to run a successful company later on.
5. They Differentiate Their Products
The best entrepreneurs take a timeless or popular idea and find a way to make it fresh. For example, did you know there are over 117 companies that make mobile phones? But when consumers need a new phone, it’s rare they will look at every mobile device each of these 117 companies makes.
Instead, most consumers will pick from the top three companies that have differentiated their products most effectively: Samsung, Apple, and Huawei. The success of these three mobile device companies is evidenced by each holding the top three highest portions of the industry’s market share, respectively.
Differentiation is something Sara Blakely, the founder of the popular shapewear company Spanx, knows a lot about.
While Spanx performs the same function as a corset or a girdle — items of clothing people have worn for centuries — Blakely put a new, sexy spin on the product. With Spanx, Blakely made shapewear comfortable, easy to put on, and impossible to detect under even the slimmest of clothing. To top it off, she differentiated her product by branding it with a fun and memorable name.
Blakely’s ability to take an old-fashioned item of clothing and successfully differentiate it from all other shapewear helped propel her from a failing salesperson to a billionaire in just a manner of years. Blakely encourages would-be entrepreneurs to ask themselves the following questions as they start their businesses: “Why are you different? What’s important about you? Why does the customer need you?”
You Can Do It!
Just as with any other job, becoming self-employed requires its own set of entrepreneurial skills. Owning your own business calls for grit, determination, flexibility, and the willingness to make a business plan and brew the coffee. Starting a company is never easy, but if you see a bit of yourself in this list, you might just be ready to take the plunge.
Do You Have What It Takes?
You’re gonna need a website for that shiny new business. Let our DreamPress experts help you create a WordPress website today.
Starting a new podcast presents a whole host of challenges. Not only do you have to battle any potential nerves that come with recording your voice for thousands of people to hear — but you’ll also have to set up a way to publish and share your new content.
Fortunately, you can easily launch your new podcast with WordPress, the world’s most popular Content Management System. Several plugins can help you display your new show right on your website. That way, you can start expanding your brand to a new audience and even tap into an additional source of income.
In this article, we’ll discuss what podcasts are and how you could benefit from starting one. Then we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start a podcast with WordPress. Let’s jump in!
An Introduction to Podcasts
Podcasts are audio files that you can download or listen to on the internet. In some ways, they’re similar to radio shows, since they rely on the podcaster’s ability to engage the audience with sound, usually through speaking.
Podcasts are often presented in a series of episodes, and there are several different styles and types. Some focus on telling true or imagined stories, while others offer commentary on specific subjects. It’s also common to bring guests onto a podcast, for interviews or panels.
The Benefits of Starting Your Own Podcast
Whether you’re looking to expand your existing brand or launch a podcast as a first-time content creator, there are many benefits to starting one. For some people, a podcast is a chance to dig deeper into subjects that interest them and can become a fulfilling hobby.
Others find ways to turn their podcasts into a business through monetization. You can work with brands through advertising deals or even sell memberships and content. If you offer products or services, you could also use your podcast to promote sales.
As far as branding goes, a podcast is an effective method for engaging with consumers. With a podcast, it’s easy to sit down and speak casually to your target audience, so you can really show off your brand’s personality and encourage trust and loyalty from your listeners.
Of course, you’ll also have the chance to reach new audience members. While content such as blog posts or videos work for some people, others find audio preferable. People with long commutes, for example, may not have time to read a blog. However, they can listen to a podcast while they drive to and from work.
How to Start a Podcast With WordPress (In 9 Steps)
With WordPress, you can create a website that will both promote your podcast and enable your audience to find new episodes. Plus, WordPress integrates with the media hosting service Blubrry, which makes maintaining your podcast easy. In the following nine steps, we’ll show you how to get started!
Step 1: Create a Plan for Your Podcast’s Content
Without careful planning, you could end up in a sticky situation with your podcast. You don’t want to publish your first couple of episodes, only to realize that you’re out of ideas for content. Likewise, if you want to successfully monetize your podcast, having a strategy is key.
To begin with, it’s necessary to find a specific topic or niche your podcast will fit into. This can make it easier to grow your audience and keep them engaged by providing content they’ll find relevant and interesting. The bigger your audience is, the easier it will be to get advertising deals.
For example, the podcast Welcome to Night Vale shares eccentric fictional stories from an imagined town called Night Vale in the form of realistic radio broadcasts. This entertaining show attracts listeners who are interested in comedy and storytelling.
It’s also helpful for listeners if you have a regular posting schedule, so they know when to expect new content from you. By posting consistently, you’ll have a better chance of maintaining and growing your pool of listeners.
What’s more, it’s essential to take time to gather your resources. While it’s tempting to jump right into your first episode and worry about the rest later, that could cause problems later on. You don’t want to be in the middle of recording and realize you don’t have the sources or material you need for the episode.
Finally, it’s especially vital to plan ahead when you’re working with others. For example, before you can do an interview, you’ll need to ask the interviewee’s permission and coordinate schedules. You may want to outline your first five episodes before going any further and make note of what you’ll need to have prepared before each recording.
Step 2: Set Up Your Podcast Website
While you could technically set up a podcast without a website, it’s not recommended. A site makes it easier to promote your podcast, share information about it, and build a community of listeners. You can also direct your audience to other relevant locations for your brand, such as your blog or specific product pages.
To set up a new website, you’ll need a domain name and a hosting provider. You can quickly register your domain name with us at DreamHost. Just check the name you want in our Domains Search Tool to ensure that it’s not taken, then purchase and register it.
As for web hosting, a managed option such as our DreamPress plan is ideal for self-hosted WordPress sites. With a managed WordPress plan, your hosting provider will take care of maintenance tasks such as backups and updates for you, so you can focus on creating your podcast and communicating with your audience.
A managed WordPress hosting plan should also make it easy to install WordPress. At DreamHost, WordPress comes pre-installed on our DreamPress plans — right out of the box. If you opt for a different plan, you can easily add WordPress through our one-click installer. Just log in to your DreamHost account, navigate to WordPress in the sidebar, and select One-Click Installs.
On the resulting page, select the WordPress icon from the list, and the installation options will open in a pop-up window. Click Install it for me now!, and you’ll soon have your WordPress site up and running.
Then, all that’s left to do is customize your site with a theme, plugins, and any other features or content you want to add. Once your site is ready to go, you can start getting it prepared for your podcast.
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Step 3: Host Your Podcast With a Media Hosting Service
While your website is critical to the success of your podcast, it won’t do a very good job of hosting your audio files. This means you’ll want to look into a podcast hosting service that can store your files for you. As we mentioned before, Blubrry is an excellent option.
Its plans start at $12 per month for 100MB of storage. You’ll receive an additional 100MB every month (for example, you’ll get a total of 200MB during your second month with Blubrry, 300MB during your third month, and so on). This is enough storage for a weekly podcast of about 20 minutes per episode.
Additionally, you’ll be able to add a media player to your website so your audience can listen to episodes directly from your site. The player is ‘white-labeled’, so you don’t have to worry about third-party branding on your site, and you can customize the player to blend with your site’s design.
Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog: A Comprehensive Guide
Step 4: Acquire Your Podcasting Equipment
With everything ready to store your podcast’s files, it’s time to actually create your content. First, you’ll need the right tools to do this. Creating a podcast involves both recording and editing audio, so you’ll want equipment that can handle both of these tasks.
Using the right equipment ensures high-quality audio for your show, which in turn impacts how listeners perceive your podcast. If there’s too much background noise or it’s hard to understand what you’re saying, you’ll have a difficult time maintaining a following.
To get the ball rolling, you’ll want a microphone that can capture your audio. If you’re brand-new to podcasting and want something easy to use, the SamsonQ2U is worth considering. You could also look into the Rode Podcaster, a mic designed specifically for podcasting.
You’ll also need editing software. Podcast episodes can be fairly long, and you’re not expected to record each one in a single take. Having the ability to edit your audio will prove helpful since you can cut out any unexpected sounds (such as sneezes or coughs), take breaks, or fix mistakes.
Garageband is free for Mac users and gets the job done with basic editing features. It’s a great tool for beginners because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require a financial investment.
If you don’t use a Mac, or you want something with more advanced features, you can try Audacity. The downside is that it has a fairly steep learning curve and can be tricky to use when you’re first starting out.
If you’re willing to pay for your editing software, Adobe Audition is another option used by many podcasters.
It’s capable of producing professional-quality audio. However, at almost $21 per month, you might want to consider using a free platform until your podcast starts making money.
Step 5: Prep, Record, and Edit Your First Podcast
You’re probably itching to record your first episode by now. Before you do so, however, you’ll want to consider putting in some prep work. Creating an outline or even a full script for your podcast episodes can help you save time, by ensuring that you have enough content for the entire episode.
If you’re going to be doing an interview or a panel on your podcast, preparing questions for your guests keeps you focused and is courteous to the people you’re working with. You don’t want to waste others’ time because you don’t know what to talk about at your own interview, after all.
Once your preparations are complete, you can finally sit down to record. To ensure good sound quality, record in a small room and maintain a consistent distance from your microphone. It’s also a good idea to wear headphones, such as the ATH-M50x by Audio Technica, to prevent audio feedback.
During the editing phase, you can also add interest to your podcast with background or intro music. For example, you can upload music clips to your editing software and combine them with your recording. Just make sure to avoid copyright infringement by using royalty-free clips.
Step 6: Publish Your Podcast With WordPress
The Blubrry PowerPress plugin makes publishing your podcast on your website simple. By installing and activating PowerPress, you’ll also be able to upload your podcast to Blubrry’s hosting platform via your WordPress site.
Once you’ve activated the podcast plugin, simply configure its settings by filling in the required fields. You can also link the plugin to your Blubrry Media Hosting Account, which will streamline the rest of the process.
To publish your first podcast episode, navigate to Posts in the WordPress dashboard and select Add New. Enter your episode’s title and any notes on the episode into the editor and then scroll down to the section labeled Podcast Episode.
Here, you can drag and drop to upload your podcast to your site. Simply click on the folder icon next to the Media URL field, and select the podcast file from your computer. Once the file has finished uploading, scroll back up and click on Publish to add the episode to your site.
You’ll still need to add the file to your Blubrry hosting account, which you can easily do within WordPress by navigating to PowerPress > Migrate Media. Click Select Media to Migrate,and choose the correct audio file from the list. Then click on the Request Migration button.
Depending on the size of your file, it could take some time for your episode to migrate. Therefore, you’ll want to check back in on the migration page every so often. Once “Step 2” is shown as complete, click on Update Your Episodes to finish the process.
Related: The WordPress Blogger Checklist: 10 Things to Do Before Hitting Publish
Step 7: Submit Your Episodes to Podcast Directories
While featuring your podcast on your WordPress website is important, it’s also beneficial to tap into the pre-existing audiences on a podcast player, such as iTunes or Stitcher. These directories are where many listeners look for new popular podcasts and can help you expand your audience and gain more subscribers.
To submit a podcast to iTunes, you’ll need an Apple ID. Log in or create one, then navigate to the Podcasts section and click on the Submit a Podcast link.
You’ll be asked to supply an RSS feed, which you can find via PowerPress. In the plugin’s settings, navigate to the Destinations tab, and select the Submit to iTunes link. You’ll be directed to a page on Blubrry’s site, which will display your RSS feed’s URL. Copy and paste that into iTunes.
After that, you can review your podcast information and then click on Submit. It can take up to ten days for your podcast to be approved, although most are up in the Apple Podcasts directory within three days.
If you want to submit your podcast to Stitcher, you’ll need to sign up to be a partner. Once you’ve submitted your contact information, Stitcher will contact you and help you create a partner account, which you can use to submit episodes.
Apart from those platforms, you might also want to submit your podcast to SoundCloud, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. The more platforms you use, the wider reach you’ll have. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that this will also require more maintenance since you’ll have to update each platform with new episodes and other updates.
Step 8: Promote Your Podcast to Gain Followers
Now that your podcast is up and running, you’re ready to start promoting it to gain subscribers and grow your audience. While you’ll hopefully gain some followers organically through podcast directories, it’s difficult for a show to take off without a marketing strategy.
Posting about your podcast on social media can make it easier to spark some interest. You might also try running a giveaway or special promotions for listeners, to encourage them to tune in regularly. Having guests on your show is especially helpful, as it lets you tap into pre-existing audiences.
Finally, consider providing your podcast content in other formats.
Some podcasters film videos while recording their podcasts, and post those videos on their websites, YouTube, or other social media platforms. Transcripts can easily be turned into a blog post, which makes your podcast’s content more accessible.
Step 9: Monetize Your Podcast
Once your podcast is off the ground and has started to gain traction, you can start thinking about monetizing it. There are several options when it comes to generating revenue from your podcast, and you can implement any or all of them to turn your show into a business.
Ads are a very popular way of monetizing podcasts. You can reach out to sponsors and negotiate deals on your own or you can become part of an advertising network such as Blubrry’s.
If your audience seems to be invested in your podcast, you can consider creating bonus content and charging for access to it. If people really enjoy your show, they may be willing to pay for more of it. You can also charge membership fees through platforms such as Patreon.
Additionally, if your podcast is part of a larger brand, it can give you space to promote other content, products, and services. Just remember that the podcast itself shouldn’t become an ad, and should provide valuable entertainment and/or information (rather than solely promoting your business).
Ready to Go On Air?
Starting a new podcast can be both exciting and stressful. Fortunately, using WordPress to publish your podcast can help smooth out the process of launching your new show. With the help of a few plugins and the right equipment, you’ll be ready to take your brand to new heights.
Do you have any questions about starting a new podcast with WordPress? Connect with us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts!
There are a lot of ways to make money online, but one of the best is to start an online store. But if you don’t have a lot of experience creating websites or selling products and services, where do you even start?
Fear not. Fortunately, a few simple tools make it surprisingly easy to get your feet wet in the world of e-commerce. By using WordPress as your website’s platform and leveraging the WooCommerce plugin to actually build your store, you can be up and running in an hour — or about the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show. The process will still require some upfront work, but it is totally manageable (even if you’re a newbie!).
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to get your online shop off the ground. We’ll discuss the advantages of using both WordPress and WooCommerce and walk you through setting up your store and creating products. Finally, we’ll offer some tips for designing and promoting your site effectively.
An Introduction to E-Commerce
If you’ve never heard of e-commerce before, it’s a blanket term that refers to buying and selling goods or services online. So if you’ve ever purchased something on the internet, you’ve engaged in e-commerce.
We probably don’t have to tell you how vast and complex the world of e-commerce has become. You can buy nearly anything online, from toothbrushes to houses, and most items are offered by multiple sellers. What’s more, you can purchase digital products, services, and all sorts of other non-physical products as well. This means that if you’re interested in becoming a seller yourself, you’re going to have a lot of competition. Don’t be intimidated — it is possible to start your own online store and do quite well. However, you’ll have to put some work in first. The first step is choosing the best tools to build your store.
Why You Should Consider WordPress for Your E-Commerce Store
While there are other options, such as selling your products through an existing marketplace like Amazon, most people get their e-commerce start by creating their own store. Of course, an online store is just another kind of website. So your first decision will be picking a platform to build your website.
If you aren’t sold on a particular platform already, we highly recommend WordPress. This free, open-source Content Management System (CMS) is a standout choice for websites of all types. It’s beginner-friendly but so flexible and customizable that you can build almost any site with it.
WordPress got its start as a blogging platform, but it’s now used for business websites, portfolios, news sites, and much more. It’s also an incredibly popular choice with business owners for e-commerce sites for a number of reasons:
The WordPress community has developed thousands of themes and plugins you can use to customize your site, including many tools for e-commerce. This means you can tweak the appearance of your store until it’s just right and add nearly any feature to it, whether you’re running a massive enterprise or a small business.
As a platform, WordPress is very secure. New updates and patches are regularly released to combat the latest threats. Plus, there are a lot of ways you can boost site security. This is a big deal for e-commerce sites since they typically deal with sensitive financial data.
There’s a vast community out there to support you. Getting involved in e-commerce can be tricky. No matter what question or problem you have, however, there will be plenty of people who can help you out.
You really can’t go wrong with WordPress for building your online store — no matter how big you want it to be or what you plan to sell. The only caveat is that, out of the box, the platform doesn’t provide dedicated e-commerce features. However, that issue can be quickly resolved by installing the right WordPress plugin.
An Introduction to WooCommerce
There are multiple plugins that can add e-commerce capabilities to your WordPress site. None of them can truly compete with WooCommerce. This free WordPress plugin is the most popular solution for online stores within the platform — and for good reason. Like WordPress itself, WooCommerce is both easy to get started with and endlessly flexible. Installing the WooCommerce plugin will immediately add all sorts of useful e-commerce functionality to your site, such as product pages, a checkout option, and a payment system. It offers a number of useful settings and options, so you can tweak your store to meet your exact needs.
WooCommerce works well for selling physical items, digital products, or both. Whether you’re starting up a small store to sell a few downloads or hoping to move hundreds of products a day, WooCommerce has you covered.
Enables you to create dedicated, customizable pages for each product or service.
Adds a checkout feature to your site so visitors can make purchases directly.
Includes various options for payment methods and shipping.
WooCommerce is a free plugin and is, in many cases, suitable on its own. If you want to expand its capabilities, however, there’s an extension store offering all kinds of additional features.
What to Do Before Building Your Online Store
In a moment, we’ll walk you through how to set up an online store using WordPress and WooCommerce. However, there are two things you’ll want to do first. In order for your store to be available online, you’ll need both a domain name and a WordPress hosting plan. Your domain name is the part of your site’s URL that comes after the www — for example, dreamhost.com. Purchasing a domain is simple. You’ll have to pay an upfront cost, then a renewal fee each year, but these are usually quite affordable.
You can think of your domain like an address. It’s one of the key ways people will find you, so it’s important to make your choice carefully. Try to pick something simple and clear but also memorable enough to stand out. Take the time now to find something you’re happy with, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of changing your domain later.
If your domain is your site’s address, your hosting is where it ‘lives.’ Your web host provider will store your site’s files on its servers, so anyone with an internet connection can access it. There are many web host options, a lot of which are quite cheap. However, it’s best not to rush this decision either. After all, your web host will affect your site’s performance, security, optimization, and much more.
If you want to run a successful store, these elements are crucial. In addition, you’ll want to look for a host with a solid reputation, excellent support options, and — ideally — WordPress-specific features. It’s also best to select one with solid domain services since it’s easier to manage your hosting and domain in one place.
Related: Why You Should Consider Keeping Domain Registration and Web Hosting Under One Roof
Since you’ll be setting up a WooCommerce store, you should definitely check out our WooCommerce hosting. This plan is optimized for WordPress and comes with WooCommerce pre-installed (along with some other helpful tools). You’ll get lots of storage and resource scaling options so you can grow your store, and plenty of support for those times when you need help. Plus, it’s very affordable.
Your Store Deserves WooCommerce Hosting
Sell anything, anywhere, anytime on the world’s biggest eCommerce platform with optimized hosting, starting at $16.95/mo.
Before we move on, let’s talk a little bit about security. As we’ve mentioned, keeping your online store safe from hackers and malware is essential. One smart way to do this is through the use of HTTPS, which is a more secure version of the HTTP you see at the beginning of many URLs. If you want your site to run on HTTPS, you’ll need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. We mention this now because, while you can get an SSL certificate through an external source, it’s easiest to obtain it as part of your hosting. For example, our WooCommerce hosting plan includes a free, preinstalled Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate. This way, your store will be even more secure right from the very start. SSL certificates are important for most sites these days, but they’re a must-have for e-commerce stores.
How to Start an Online Store in 1 Hour
Once you have a hosting plan picked out and a domain in place, you’re ready to start building your online store! Let’s walk through the process, step by step. No developers required.
1. Install WordPress (5 Minutes)
The first thing you’ll need to do to get your new website up and running is install WordPress. How you do this will vary, depending on your choice of host. In some cases, you may be able to skip this step altogether. For example, if you opt for our WooCommerce hosting (or our regular DreamPress plan), WordPress will be pre-installed so you don’t have to worry about it. If you have a different host or type of plan, you’ll need to log into your hosting account, find the installation button or link, and follow the resulting prompts. If you’re lucky, your host will simplify the process even if WordPress doesn’t come pre-installed. For example, on some of our more basic hosting plans, we offer a one-click install option. You simply need to visit your Dreamhost panel and navigate to WordPress > One-Click Installs.
Select WordPress on the next screen, and you’ll be presented with a few fields to fill out. You can select the domain to use under Install to.
You can usually leave the other fields alone since they contain more advanced options. Check the Deluxe Install button if you want your site to come with some handy themes and plugins pre-installed, then select Install it for me now! After that, you’ll be sent an email at the address associated with your DreamHost account. It will contain your username and a link to your new site. Finally, in some cases, you may need to install WordPress manually. This is a little more involved, requiring a few additional tools, but can still be completed in less than five minutes. If you find yourself in that situation, we recommend following WordPress’ own handy installation tutorial.
2. Install and Configure WooCommerce (10 Minutes)
Next up, we have another step you may be able to skip entirely. After all, our WooCommerce hosting comes with the plugin pre-installed and pre-configured. This way, you’re ready to start building your online store from the moment you first visit your new site. Still, let’s walk through the process of manually installing WooCommerce and setting it up, in case you have a different plan. You’ll first need to visit your WordPress site, navigate to the Plugins tab, and select the Add New button at the top of the screen.
Type “WooCommerce” into the search field and the plugin should come up right away. Click on Install Now, and wait a few moments. A new button should appear, called Activate, which you’ll need to click.
That’s all you need to do to add the plugin to your site. It’s now ready to use and will automatically set up the essential pages you’ll need for your store (such as a shopping cart and checkout page). However, we recommend walking through the short setup wizard to configure a few key options.
This wizard should appear right after you install the plugin. On the first page, you’ll enter a few key details about your store. This includes where it’s located, what currency it will use, and what types of products you’re planning to sell.
Keep in mind that you can go back and change any of these settings later. Next, you’ll select the payment options that will be available to your customers.
By default, you can choose any combination of Stripe, PayPal, and offline payments. If those options aren’t enough, you can always add more through extensions.
Click on Continue, and you’ll be able to configure your standard shipping rates. You can choose from either free shipping or a flat fee (again, more options are available in the extension store).
The next two screens offer a couple of extra tools, which you can safely skip for now. Keep moving through until you reach the Ready! step.
This lets you know you’re done with the setup wizard. There are a few handy links here, such as one to create your first product. We’ll get to that in a moment. First, however, we want to optimize WooCommerce a bit more fully, so select Return to your dashboard instead.
3. Optimize WooCommerce’s Settings (15 Minutes)
The WooCommerce wizard gets your store up and running. However, there are a lot more settings within the plugin to configure. To set up a unique store tailored to your requirements, you may need to spend some additional time tweaking it.
To get started, visit WooCommerce > Settings in your admin panel.
There are a lot of options here. We won’t go through all of them, but we’ll touch on some of the highlights.
For example, under the General tab, you can choose what countries you’re willing to sell and ship to and decide whether to enable taxes. The latter is usually a smart idea since neglecting to collect taxes from your customers can leave you facing a hefty bill at the end of the year. If you’re new to the world of sales tax, the WooCommerce documentation offers a handy guide for understanding it. In the Products tab, you’ll see the same measurement units you set up in the WooCommerce wizard. However, you’ll also find some options related to reviews.
You can let customers leave reviews on products, and even give star ratings. This can encourage new visitors to purchase — as long as the reviews are positive! The rest of the sub-tabs here help you customize how products will be displayed, and determine how inventory will be managed. The Shipping tab enables you to add more shipping zones, if you’d like, to further customize your methods and rates. You can also configure how shipping works under the Shipping options sub-tab.
Moving on, under Payments, you’ll find a variety of settings. You can start by deciding how to accept payments from customers, including through in-person transactions such as bank transfers, checks, and cash. You can also manage default payment gateways such as PayPal.
By selecting a particular sub-tab, you can navigate to a screen containing settings that are unique to each type of payment. There, you can configure each payment type further.
Related: The 10 Most Popular Online Payment Gateways for Your Website, Compared
We’re almost done! The next tab, Accounts, lets you set up how customers’ accounts will work. For example, you can determine where they’ll register on your site and how accounts will be created.
Under Emails, you can customize what types of notifications will be sent to which email addresses. At the bottom of the page, you’ll also have some options for personalizing what emails sent from your store to customers will look like.
The last tab, API, contains some more technical settings for advanced users and can be safely ignored for now. With that, you’ve made your way through the entire WooCommerce settings page! You can always return here and make changes whenever you’d like, as you start building your store and getting a feel for how you’d like it to work.
4. Add Your First Product (30 Minutes)
With your store all set up, it’s finally time to start adding products! Fortunately, WooCommerce makes the process pretty simple. To add your first item, navigate to Products > Add New in your dashboard.
If you’ve ever created a WordPress website before, this screen should look very familiar. In many ways, it’s identical to the Classic Editor (which has recently been replaced by the Block Editor). Of course, there are a number of new options and settings. Start out by scrolling down to the Product data section. Here, you can choose what type of item this product is, whether it’s downloadable, and what its price should be.
Under the next tab, Inventory, you can create an SKU (or unique identifier) for the product and configure a few other behind-the-scenes options. Then under Shipping, you can enter the product’s weight and dimensions and choose its shipping class if applicable. The rest of the choices in this section are pretty optional, although we’d recommend checking out the Linked Products tab. Here, you can determine what kinds of related products will be promoted to visitors, which is a smart way to increase sales. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find the Product short description section.
This is where you can enter a summary of the item, which will appear on your product listings’ pages. Keep it brief and focus on the key selling point. In other words, how does this product solve a crucial problem or make your customers’ lives easier? Scrolling back up, the main editor is where you can enter a full description of your product. Be as thorough as possible here, highlighting its essential features and providing all the information a customer will need to make an informed choice. Most importantly, don’t forget to use the Add Media button to include images of the product, ideally from multiple perspectives. The better potential customers can visualize the item, the more likely they’ll be to open their wallets. To enter a main, featured image for the item, you can use the Product image section in the right-hand column. Just under that, there’s an option to create a Product gallery, which is an excellent idea if your item comes in multiple styles or colors. Also in this column, you can add a category and tags to your product.
This is recommended for a couple of reasons. First, it helps you keep everything organized. Second, it makes it easier for both potential customers and search engine bots to find your products and understand what they are. When you have everything set up the way you’d like, simply click on Publish to make your product live! Then you can repeat the process for each additional item. You can always come back and make changes to your existing product pages if information or images need to be updated.
5. Choose a WooCommerce-Compatible Theme (Optional)
Your store is now set up, and you’re ready to start selling products. However, let’s address one more optional step. One of the nice things about using WordPress to create your online store is that you can use any theme you want to customize its appearance.
However, you may want to try out a theme that’s specifically designed for WooCommerce instead. This way, your theme will be optimized to work alongside the plugin’s unique features and fit its style. In addition, you’ll often get access to useful content types and functionality that will help you tweak your store further. For most people, the best choice here will be the Storefront theme. This is WooCommerce’s official theme and is built from the ground up to integrate with the plugin. It offers flexible design and display options, and you can customize it to match your branding. Storefront is free, although there are extensions you can use to add more options.
Another bonus? If you sign up for DreamHost’s WooCommerce hosting plan, you’ll have Storefront pre-installed. If you don’t like the look of Storefront, however, there are plenty of other themes you can use. ThemeForest, for example, offers a range of premium themes designed for the plugin. No matter where you get your WooCommerce theme, make sure to take your time and choose carefully. A quality theme can do a lot to improve your store’s odds of success.
Related: How to Customize WooCommerce With a Child Theme (In 3 Steps)
Tips for Improving Your WooCommerce Store’s Design
Before we wrap this guide up, we want to address two more crucial elements. First up, let’s talk about your store’s design. With both WooCommerce and a theme like Storefront installed, it should be looking pretty spiffy. As you’re building your store and tweaking its appearance, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Incorporate your branding throughout your store, and use its elements consistently. This includes your logo, tagline, color scheme, typography, and so on. If you haven’t developed any branding yet, now is the time to get started.
Make sure your store is easy to navigate and search. If people can’t find the products they need quickly, they’ll probably move on to a different store. This means including a prominent search bar and organizing your items through hierarchical categories.
Include plenty of images all across your site, not just on your product pages. More importantly, ma ke sure all the images you use are high quality and optimized to show off your items without slowing down your pages.
Try to avoid clutter. Keep the focus on what you’re selling and don’t confuse visitors with too much information. A minimalist design can go a long way for an e-commerce business.
Promoting Your WooCommerce Store
Finally, we’d be remiss not to mention the importance of promoting your online store. Simply hoping people will stumble across it in search engines won’t be enough — you’ll need to get out there and do some marketing. Again, this is a pretty complex topic, and no one approach is right for every store. So let’s run through some of the best ways to promote your e-commerce site and provide some resources you can use to learn more about each one:
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising — This strategy is as simple as it gets. You pay a website like Google to have your store appear in relevant searches. Even better, you only pay when someone actually clicks on one of your ads.
Email marketing — Building an email list is a hugely popular strategy. You can capture the emails of interested parties, and then send them targeted messages and promotions. Plus, you can do this right from your WordPress site, using a plugin such as OptinMonster.
Social media marketing — Everyone is plugged into social media these days, so it’s the perfect place to find potential customers. You’ll just need to choose the right platforms to focus on, then use a few basic strategies to get the word out there about your store.
Promotions and discounts — Putting your products on sale or running a special promotion is a smart way to drum up interest and convince people to give you a try. WooCommerce offers its own features to help you do this, and you can also combine this approach with your email and social media marketing.
Promoting your e-commerce site takes some effort. Just remember that the more channels you use, the better your chances will be for getting lots of eyes on your products or services. The work of promotion is something to focus on before, during, and after the actual launch of your online store.
Selling, Selling, Gone
Getting started with e-commerce has never been easier, thanks to all the dedicated tools and solutions that are now available. However, it takes some work to ensure that you stand out from the crowd. Understanding how to build, perfect, and promote your online store beforehand is crucial to its success.
When choosing the right platforms for your e-commerce store, you can’t go wrong with WordPress and WooCommerce. First, you’ll need to pick a domain and then select a hosting plan.
Do you have any questions about the platform or how to build your WooCommerce shop? Join the DreamHost Community today and ask us anything!