This has been another interesting week. We had to research various site builders and possible hosts for our website. When I did the research on site builders, I was quite impressed with Webstarts. I was not able to generate much interest on the discussion board for Webstarts, but then later in the week, there were some considering Webstarts on the choosing a host discussion board. On the page that I looked at, Webstarts cost $7.16/month (but I now believe that is probably if you commit to a year even though I didn’t see it actually say that), they provide a $250 Adwords credit, social integration, a domain name, Google search engine submission, optimized website for mobile devices, 10G cloud storage, membership feature, custom HTML Access, unlimited contact/payment forms, unlimited custom slideshows, and premium phone and email support. But I believe that I found some false information. There is so much competition with these site builders that they update, but comparison charts on the web are still there. So you find conflicting information. One chart I found said that Weebly had no HTML access, but another student found something that said it did. On the discussion board, most people were recommending Weebly, but then when we researched hosts, somebody said that there were reviews where people were not happy with their customer support. Students that were familiar with HTML and CSS were concerned about choosing a builder that allowed HTML editing. A couple of students were really gung ho about Word Press and said that it is very popular in the industry. My husband is recommending WordPress as well and is offering to help me with it. I want to learn WordPress, I’m just not sure there is time to do it right now. So I’m still in a quandry about Weebly, Webstarts, iPage, or WordPress. The consensus seemed to be to stay away from GoDaddy. WordPress seems to be one of the least expensive ways to go.
As far as hosts go, the majority of the class members in our group were recommending BlueHost. Some students already had experience with using them for previous class projects and were happy with them. Some were then second guessing their site builder choice because some site builders are also the host and won’t let you take the site to another host. My husband has his own web server and has offered to host my site as he has my other sites from previous classes. I am concerned whether he will actually have the time to spend with me to get me up to speed with WordPress though so I don’t know whether to take him up on his offer, or go to Webstarts or iPage. I guess I better decide soon.
This week we had some interesting activities. We did some research for Aviator sunglasses and whether it was better to go through a wholesaler (LA Wholesale), or individual manufacturers on Alibaba. We had to rate them according to what criteria we valued. The criteria I chose were Cost (40%), Minimum Order (30%), Customer Service (15%) and Selection (15%). With this criteria, I determined that my recommendation was to go with LA Wholesale because of their low minimum orders. We could get a reasonable variety that way without investing in as much inventory. I also thought it would be better to get a variety with one company than have to deal with 12+ different manufacturers to get a variety. I was also concerned with dealing with companies overseas and the time it would take to receive products etc. The suggested profit for each pair of sunglasses with LA Wholesale would be approximately $8.25/pair. I felt that was reasonable to start with, but many in the class recommended to go with Alibaba because they wanted to make more profit. I feel that after the business gets going and some profit is made that we can then possibly start adding other vendors when we have a place to stock inventory etc.
Our next project was to analyze whether or not we wanted to sell guitars using an affiliate model or by using the drop shipping method. Some people in the class did not really understand the drop shipping method. Some of the same people who were advocating for the manufacturers on Alibaba were advocating for the affiliate model to avoid potential customer service issues with the drop shipping method, which didn’t make any sense to me. I found what I think is a good drop shipper, Wholesale Music Warehouse. There website was atrocious, but I was impressed with their reviews and such and felt pretty good about them. The affiliate that I compared it to was Musiciansfriend.com. The criteria I used was profit potential (40%), quality of product (30%), and ease of doing business (30%). I think most of the class underestimated the stress of having to continually come up with content to blog about to keep traffic coming to their site. Many of the class members recommended the affiliate model, but the profit potential would definitely be less and take longer to generate. I felt like once the website was created for selling the guitars, there was a much better profit potential. I really liked the idea that I would not have to invest in and store inventory or worry about shipping product, but still be able to have a business where I was selling product, controlling markup and creating my own specials. With the affiliate model, I would have to worry about continually coming up with new content on my blog and that would be very stressful for me. My recommendation was for the drop shipping method. I did’t feel like there would be a lot of customer service problems especially if I had a good drop shipping company. I found it interesting that classmates would rather deal with manufacturers from China for sunglasses to earn more profit, but not a wholesaler in America for guitars to earn more profit. I think that the wholesaler is the one that has to deal with the manufacturers from China for you.
So I had until Thursday when tuition had to be paid, or I would incur penalties, to decide if I should stay in this class or drop it. I have have already dropped it once and then put it off because I didn’t know what I could sell. I still really don’t know, but the exercises this week have helped me feel like I could do something, anyway, I just need to stay with it and get this done. My husband and daughter even offered their services to sell.
This time I did some brainstorming with my husband and daughter. That really helped. They helped me think of ideas to write down. We had to also determine the business model that we would use. I’m not very clear on them at all. I need to do more studying about them. Then of course, I had to figure out and look up keywords in Google Adwords. It was interesting to see where the competition was and where it was not. The exercise recommended the low competition ideas. When we did the exercise with snowboarding and chess, I found that there is a lot of competition in the snowboarding arena, but not so much in chess. We didn’t all agree, but most of the class felt that finding a niche in the chess category would be more successful than trying to break into the snowboarding market. It was mentioned that it would really cost a lot to get any of our ads to show up in the snowboarding market. I’m still not sure how all that really works but we have to pay per click for someone to click on our link and it costs more per click when there is heavy competition. I’m concerned that paying per click is going to cost more than the profit we might make on our items, especially with low cost items. This Adwords type of marketing might be best suited for higher priced items. I am anxious to learn the concepts though. I made it through this week and look forward to the next.