I have found a great niche and bought a domain. The name of my domain is keyword based, in fact the name is exactly the product that I intend to sell. My problem is that I know less about computers than 90% of the population. I plan to pay a professional to build my sight, but what happens after that? The software, the fulfillment, the marketing, cataloging my inventory, customer database? It all seems so overwhelming, and I can't afford to hire any help right now. Any suggestions?
Without knowing much about your niche it is hard to gauge your specific requirements, however I would recommend hiring a consultant before going to any web development firm. Getting a consultant is like retaining a lawyer, someone experienced in the field who is only there to ensure you get exactly what you need and willing to call the development team to the carpet when things are not being done to standard.
It's so hard to give someone everything they need to know in one post. The fact that someone else is building your site might be good at first, but you're losing a valuable opportunity to learn. And that great idea and domain name you have? It may not be as great as you think. (That doesn't mean it WILL happen, just that it could happen.)
For starters, I recommend a free ebook called make your content presell, (http://mycps.sitesell.com), which can help you learn how to generate traffic and convert that traffic to sales. Just start reading, then start doing. Along the way, you'll start putting the pieces together.
I can appreciate your circumstance. I myself kind of stumbled on e-commerce because of an idea born of a personal service I couldn't find. While I wasn't computer illiterate, SEO and e-Commerce were brand new to me. So, here's what I can offer from my experience so far:
If you have someone build your site for you, be sure they use a CMS that is user friendly and that you are going to be able to update and maintain (WordPress is a good option.) Otherwise, a steady stream of your initial profit will be going to these things, as well as a a good amount of time wasted and frustration.
Lower your expectation. This is not to say to stop dreaming big. Let your initial foray though be as small an undertaking as possible. You can always enlarge it. For learning purposes, if you set out to create a giant, advanced site with a plethora of expensive items for sale while having little to no knowledge or experience, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Focus on a few items to a very specific customer at first. You could think of it like a small scale model of your overall business plan. This will help you get a feel for the market as well as how to handle many of the issues you asked about, without getting completely overwhelmed and disappointed.
As has been mentioned; research and read. This can be more difficult than it sounds as these topics are broad. There is a wealth of misinformation and people only looking to sell you their (worthy or unworthy) product or service. Finding and recognizing the gems that can be found is a skill you will hone. After some initial research, try to pin down very exact questions to find answers. For example, a search on SEO is going to give you more information than you want by far, while searching for something like "optimal keyword ratio in sales copy" will have better results.
Finally, if you cannot afford to outsource, investors is an option, as another poster mentioned. If you are set on doing it yourself; be patient. Remember, to run an e-commerce business involves myriad of expertise and, in doing so yourself, you're trying to become an expert in several professions (SEO, copy/sales writing, website design, etc. etc.). There is a lot to learn, so be realistic about progress. In the end, it is likely trial and error that will teach you the most. As such, it is very important to track everything so you can see what works and what doesn't.
I realize that this may sound like a cautionary post, and I don't mean to dissuade you at all. Great things have been born of nothing more than an idea and the courage to act on it. There is much reward to be found in realizing such a goal, and not just monetarily.
I hope you'll find some of this helpful. Best of luck!
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Seems to me you don't really have a business model or one that you have communicated very well here.
Is it a physical product?
are you selling the product or are you planning an affiliate site?
I assume physical because you are talking about inventory etc, most e-commerce platforms will manage all of these things for you if you take the time to understand them and how they work, even the free ones!
Make sure your sales process is clearly defined before you build a site whether you do it yourself or outsource to someone like myself, it will make the whole process much simpler.
Basically what I'm saying is plan! It's not about computers - its about sales and marketing, it just happens to be online. For the tech aspects or capabilities then make friends with an online marketing consultant or ask your individual questions here or somewhere similar, there are one or two people in here that know what they are talking about amid dross.
Buying a consultant is like retaining a legal professional, someone experienced within the field who's only generally there to make sure you get exactly what you require and happy to call the development team to the carpet whenever things aren't being carried out to typical.
In our web site we have free cources "How to pay less money for a web site design". You might find good ideas there. I wrote this info for people, who are planning to get a web site (e-commerce), and need more information about it.
I wish you good luck with your e-store.