WordPress has been with the Internet Community for years and has established itself as a highly popular and widely used blogging platform. The good news is, that any WordPress blogging site can be turned into a money making machine by installing an E-commerce plugin. The most popular E-commerce plugin is the WP E-commerce plugin, developed and maintained by getshopped.org. This plugin is easy to install and most of all, it is easy to setup.
You will need the newest version of WordPress installed on your server and your server should have the following available:
- cULR, GD and Image Magick must be enabled
- pHp 5 is definitely a pre-requisite with memory set to 256m.
If you do not know how to check this, you can ask your host to check for these requirements.
Installing the WP-Ecommerce plugin
Download the newest version of WP-Ecommerce from getshopped.org and ftp the unzipped folder to your wp-content–>plugins folder.
Login to your WordPress Dashboard and activate the plugin in the Plugins–>Installed Plugins tab.
Setting up the WP-Ecommerce plugin
The settings panel for the WP-Ecommerce plugin can be found in the Settings–>Store tab.
On the first page of the Settings for the WP-Ecommerce store, you should make your country the Base Country or Region.
The newest version of WP-Ecommerce gives you the options to ad target markets. For example, if you are from South Africa and you only want to target the South African market, you can select South Africa in the radio button box. This setting is great for businesses that wish to only sell products in their own countries.
The Presentation tab contains the setting of ho your storefront is going to be presented to your customers.
On the right hand side of this tab page, you will find the ‘Advanced Theme Settings’. This is very important. You must copy these files to your WordPress Theme Folder. This prevents overriding when you upgrade the WP-Ecommerce plugin, especially when you’ve made some changes in the files. After you’ve moved the files, create a backup of your WordPress theme by clicking on the relevant button.
WP-Ecommerce supports Chronopay, Google Checkout, PayPal Express Checkout 2.0, PayPal Payments Standard 2.0, PayPal Pro 2.0 and the Test Gateway that you can use as an EFT payment gateway. If you are from South Africa, you can Add PayFast and Monsterpay as payment gateways as well.
In the Shipping tab, you will be able to set the shipping variables for your store.
Setting up your Products
Before adding products to your WP-Ecommerce store, you have to create the categories for your products. Make sure that you create the categories in the Products–>Categories tab.
The most important part of setting up your products is the ‘variable’ tab. This is where you can add different options for a product such as size or color. The variables have to be setup before you add the product.
After you’ve done the above, you can add your products.
Marketing your WP-Ecommerce store
The internet is an endless source of information which grows by the second, and getting the word out about your products requires careful thought, originality and visibility.
Marketing with SEO
Content creation and Search Engine Optimization go hand in hand and is very important for your site to become visible to people that are searching for your product.
The WP-Ecommerce plugin has one drawback and that is the fact that all the product headings are set as heading 2’s. You need to open your WP-Ecommerce template files and change the <h2> and </h2> to <h1> and </h1>. If you do not do this, all your SEO work will be to no avail.
Six basic steps to get you started with SEO for your Small Business WordPress Site.
- Set your permalinks to /%category%/postname%/
- Place your targeted keyword in the Title of your product.
- Place the targeted keyword in the first sentence of your first paragraph.
- Place the targeted keyword at least once in every paragraph of your product.
- Place the targeted keyword in the last sentence of your last paragraph.
- Place the targeted keyword in the ‘Product Tags’ area and if at all possible, make it part of anchored text.
Marketing with Newsletters
Sending out newsletters about your products is a great way of marketing your Small Business WordPress site, therefore it is important that you add a lead generation tool such as a newsletter Opt In form on your site.
You can either set up a newsletter manually each week, or you can create an RSS driven marketing campaign.
Marketing via Social Media Platforms – Facebook and Twitter
Small business owners tend to make use of too many Social Media Marketing Platforms and usually give up in the first three weeks because it takes up too much of their time.
Stay with the most important ones such as Facebook, Twitter and if you have Videos of your products, you should have a YouTube account.
Do not create a user account with your business’s name. Create one in your name and then create a page for your business.
You can publish a RSS feed to your page by using RSS for pages from involver.com and spend about 10 mins a day on Facebook to interact with your page ‘fans’.
You can setup your WordPress site to publish automatically to Facebook and Twitter, cutting the time you spend on Social Media Marketing in half.
Create a username with your business name if it is still available. You only need to tweet once or twice a day.
Off course you need followers. The best way to start is to create an account at twiend.com and get followers from there.
Social Media Marketing seldom converts to sales. Therefore you should see this exercise as building a community of fans and followers. Your followers and fans will forward your information to their friends, family and colleagues if they find it worthwhile.
Remember that an Online WP-Ecommerce WordPress site will not guarantee automatic sales, you need to work on it continuously as you would for any brick and mortar business. You need to get the word out, do effective marketing, explore different avenues to generate leads and the most important of all, you have to be involved.
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Overall, having a Small Business WordPress Ecommerce Site is exciting and definitely affordable if you use WordPress and WP-Ecommerce which are both free to use. With a little bit of knowledge, you will be able to have an Online store, driven by WordPress and WP-Ecommerce up and running in a short span of time.