So the fantastic news is that our website is now live wwwcheekyelephant.co.uk. In its honour I will dedicate this blog to a short synopsis of the steps I took to create it:
- Have ready all of the material you want to publish (i.e. logos, pictures and text). Some great advice I received from a friend who manages digital content for a living is to keep a good record of your content. Once you start blogging, publishing on your own website(s) and selling through others you end up publishing a lot of words / pictures etc. if you keep a simple excel spreadsheet and just keep a record of all of your photos and text (i.e. product descriptions etc) it is far easier be able to go to that and re-use content etc so you are keeping everything nice and consistent. It also means that when you make a change to some wording (i.e.. your product now comes with 2 spare parts not 3) you know exactly where all of that content has been published so you can update it easily. In the business it is called ‘content management’ – it might feel like a pain now but it pays dividends down the line (I am reliably assured!)
- If you are an amateur I can’t recommend square space highly enough. There are other alternatives (hibu, shopify) but for me square space was simple, easy to use and really professional looking in its templates. It may not be the cheapest but the difference isn’t’t huge (a couple of £s a month) and for me it was well worth it. I have a discount code to get you 10% off as well – http://www.squarespace.com/coupons/ (I promise I am not on commission – I just like to recommend really great products that actually do what they say on the tin)
- Square space will also do a free domain registration for you (i.e.. register your .co.uk / .com address). This looks all above board and they say that you own it even after you finish with them. Personally (as a result of speaking to a web designer who warned me to be very wary and to always make sure you have clear ownership of your domain as otherwise people can hold you to ransom further down the line if you want to move the hosting (i.e. where your website sits on a server somewhere) for your site) I decided to pay the £9 and buy my domain name through an independent company. Again there are a number of options. I used www.fasthosts.com who were recommended to me as they are very flexible about how you use your domain. Their website is very simple, you go on, enter the name you would like to use and they tell you if it is available. You then pay then a fee to buy it for a couple of years (I was told to always buy for a min of 2 years but longer if you can afford it). If possible I was advised it is best to buy the .com and the .co.uk address, but most important (according to my friendly designer) is to get the .co.uk address if you are operating from the UK (or your country equivalent i.e. .co.eu etc) as this helps with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation – something I will blog about when I can finally get to grips with understanding it properly myself!)
- Once your site is designed you simply go on to fast hosts and point your webs address to look at squarespace and you are up and running (this bit was relatively techy and even following the instructions it was pretty tricky to do and took me an hour or so)
So from beginning to end (and remembering I am a non techy first timer) I think the whole site was designed and live in less than 5 days (though granted in my case this was spread over a few weeks). Square space have all of the e-commerce system built in so by following their instructions you set up an account to take payments (this costs a couple of %) and you are literally good to go.
All I need now is some stock. Production is under way so I am hoping for the end of Feb, but I have to admit it is a pretty frustrating wait now as I am just raring to go and start selling!