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Most people are familiar enough with their computers to use them effectively. Play some games, write a few letters, surf the 'Net, send and receive email, maybe do the household accounting. Then there are the famous (infamous?) stories about those who will use their CD tray as a coffee cup holder, not knowing any better.
It really does not matter what your experience level is. If you're an average computer user, you may suddenly get lost in all the buzzwords and jargon that gets thrown at you when you consider opening an Internet store.
THIS IS WHY most people will give up trying to run their Internet business themselves, and will turn the whole thing over to one of the scam artists we talked about in Chapter One.
DON'T DO IT! Don't give up. It's not that hard. There are two basic LEGITIMATE ways you can build an Internet store of your own, and they're not that hard. We'll get into that in detail later, but right now, let's talk about your computer, and what you should have in order to be able to work with your new store.
If you've had your computer for a few years, chances are you are using the Windows XP Operating System. If your computer is relatively new, or you've upgraded recently, you could be using, Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
It really doesn't matter which one you use. Windows is an Operating System; kind of a background, basic structure that allows you to use other programs. All Windows really does is provide a "platform" from which you "launch" other computer programs that you actually use. For example, you might want to write a letter and print it out. You'll probably use Microsoft Word for this. Windows itself simply launches this program for you, and allows it to co-exist with other programs you might have active at the same time.
With this in mind, there are two basic ways to start your business on the Internet.
1.) Method One: Use a LEGITIMATE Internet Store solution. (DO NOT confuse this with the scam artists!) There are only a few of really good Internet Store solutions out there. With an Internet Store solution:
· You have less control over the look and operation of your site, BUT:
· You have help from the solution provider to build and operate your store
2.) Method Two: Use a LEGITIMATE Internet ECommerce Hosting Provider: Build the site with a LEGITIMATE ECommerce hosting provider, and drive your own traffic (customers) to it. We'll talk about that in more detail as well. With this option, you:
· Have more control over your site's look and structure
· Will probably spend a little more in order to have that control
· Will end up having to learn more about HTML programming
That's the trade-off between the two options. An Internet Store solution often gives you fewer choices for making your store look and feel unique, but offers a great deal of help with the process. An ECommerce Hosting Provider store offers you more complete control of the store, but you have to spend more energy, and often money, creating the store and driving traffic (customers) to it.
If you want to use an Internet Store solution, you'll need the following on your computer (the first three items probably came with your computer):
1. An Internet connection to your computer. You obviously already have this, or you would not be reading this page. :o)
2. An Internet Browser. Again, something you already have, but you should have Internet Explorer version 8 or higher. This is available as a free download at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie.
3. A way to send and receive email, which I'm sure you already have if you're on the Internet.
4. Image Software. You'll want to play around with the product images you're going to put on your site, and you probably will want to get creative and make yourself a logo or two for your store. This is fun and easy, with the right tool. I recommend Paint.net. You can download a free copy of this program HERE. (Click the download link on the right of the page)
That's it. That's all you really need on your computer to build and work with your Internet Store solution.
If you want to use an ECommerce Hosting Solution, there are a couple of additional things you'll need on your computer:
1. An FTP Program. FTP Stands for File Transfer Protocol. You'll use this occasionally to send files (images of your products, etc.) from your computer to the computer where your Internet Store will be located. I use FileZilla, and you can download a free trial version of it HERE.
2. Site-building software. I recommend Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2010 Express. This is a program you use to actually create Internet pages for your store. It allows you to simply create your pages by clicking buttons. It's very user friendly. What it's actually doing behind the scenes is turning your point-and-click page designs into HTML. HTML is Hyper Text Markup Language. It's the code that your Internet Browser actually reads from the Internet, to display, for example, the page you're looking at right now. You can download a free copy of this program HERE.
No matter which way you go, you'll find that when you work with a legitimate company, there will be plenty of tech support to help you along the way. It's NOT all that hard, and YOU will be in the driver's seat, instead of wondering what happened to your hard-earned money. :o)