Find A Webhost And Domain Name – Create A Profitable Online Store Part 1

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This article is step 1 of a 5 part series on how to create a profitable online store. I wanted to start this section off by addressing a few philosophical issues.

One question I get asked all the time is, why should I host my own website and shopping cart when there are so many services available that will allow me to use their own proprietary shopping system for free?

Why wouldn’t I just want to open an Ebay or Yahoo store? Why not just have an Amazon store?

I always answer this question with another question, would you ever place your future and destiny in the hands of someone else who doesn’t share your same interests?

Not only do services like Ebay charge an arm and a leg to sell items (you forfeit up to 15% of your profits with Ebay), but they can screw you over whenever they feel like it.

In fact, Ebay has raised their fees without warning on a number of occasions which has driven smaller stores out of business. Don’t fall for the allure of using someone else’s setup.

You want to own your store. You never want to be tied down or forced to use a specific service provider. With this concept in mind, let’s move on to the guts of this article.

Register Your Domain

One of the most important aspects of your online store is your domain name. Make sure you choose a domain name that is short, catchy and memorable with no dashes in the name.

I use NameCheap.com to register all of my domains. Especially if you plan on having multiple sites like I do, it’s far easier to manage all of your domains in one place. Plus NameCheap’s prices are dirt cheap.

While you are there, you should also pick up an SSL certificate which is required to encrypt and secure transactions over the internet. NameCheap.com offers SSL certs for a very low price. For more information on SSL and how to install the certificate please refer to my video tutorial on How To Accept Credit Cards And Secure Your Online Store With SSL Without Any Technical Experience

Choosing A Webhost

When you first launch your online store, you aren’t really going to need a powerful webhost. Initially, you aren’t going to be attracting enough customers to bring a shared hosting account down.

(Although there is an exception to this rule depending on the shopping cart software you choose. More on this in a future article). As a result when you are first starting out, your main focus should be on reliability, support and saving some cash.

For example, when I first started out, I looked for the following attributes in my potential webhost providers

  • Are they cheap?
  • Are they reliable? Do they have a decent uptime?
  • Do they have good technical support?
  • Do they load one machine down with too many users?
  • Do they offer the features that I need to run my online store.

My Recommendations

I probably researched over 20 different shared webhost providers and narrowed the field down to 2, Hostgator and Bluehost.

I ran my online store on Bluehost for 2 straight years paying only $6.95 a month until I outgrew my shared hosting account this past year. Currently, I run this blog on StormOnDemand.com which is a virtual private server.

If you are trying to choose between the two, Bluehost offers a very cheap plan for $3.95 a month that pretty much covers anything you’ll ever need in a shared host.

There is only one type of plan and you can host as many domains as you would like with unlimited SQL databases and bandwidth.

Hostgator offers you several different plans depending on your needs. If you are on a budget, you can sign up for the baby plan which only costs $4.95 a month, but you can only host a single domain. In my experience, both webhosts are fantastic. You can’t go wrong with either.

Dedicated Hosting

It might seem like a long ways off, but eventually you will want to transition your store to dedicated hosting. For dedicated hosting, I highly recommend Storm On Demand which is what my wife and I currently use for our online store and blog.

The other reason I’m bringing up dedicated hosting early on is because certain shopping carts require more horsepower to run. For example, the Magento shopping cart (I’ll be covering shopping carts in a future article) pretty much requires dedicated hosting right from the start in order to run a usable storefront.

In any case, selecting a domain and webhost provider isn’t a big deal. You can sign up for very little money and start your store for practically nothing.

Next Up – Part2 – Finding Goods To Sell….

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

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33 thoughts on “Find A Webhost And Domain Name – Create A Profitable Online Store Part 1”

    1. @Jonathan
      Thanks so much for the comment. I updated the article to make it more clear that this is a 5 part series.

  1. While I can’t comment on the specific hosting companies I do like the fact that your recommendations are based on personal experience. There are so many hosting companies and “great deals” that it’s good to have personal recommendations to hopefully limit the poor experiences.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the credit card companies’ contracts that you agree to for processing orders on your own site require strict security measures set forth by the industry. For instance, I’m on shared hosting and use PayPal because many shared hosting environments do not comply. That is often a reason to go dedicated where you have full control over your server if you choose to start processing credit cards on your site (without them having to go to a separate gateway).

    I’m sorry that this post is wondering a bit off topic as I’m sure you will cover later but it should be considered when looking for a host. Additional information about PCI security standards can be found at: https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/

    1. Hi Mark,

      I’m probably going to mention PCI a little bit but in general it is beyond the scope of this guide. Many shared hosting environments do not apply but both Bluehost and Hostgator do. In most cases, all you have to do is contact support for your webhost to make sure things are setup properly. Then as long as you

      1. Do not store credit cards in a database
      2. Use SSL
      3. Never store CCV numbers
      4. Keep up to date on anti-virus software and firewalls

      You should be ok. There are many 3rd party scanning tools that ensure that you are PCI compliant. Many of these services offer badges such as Hacker Safe which scan your store daily for compliance.

  2. Unfortunately, sometimes those harmless-looking, perfectly-named domains may have a checkered past. Before picking up a domain name that may be banned or blocked due to previously delivering malware, trojans, or porn, you need to do a background check.

    There is a free Domain Background Check cheat sheet at http://siteriver.com/domaintest.php – just enter the domain name you are researching and over a dozen links are created to domain check, anti-malware, and other tools. You can quickly check if your domain name is ready for business or is still on parole.

    1. @Phil
      That is a very valid point and thanks for your comment. Doing some background checking on your desired domain is an absolute must. Thanks for bringing this up.

  3. Although shared hosting is a less expensive way for businesses to create a Web presence, it is usually not sufficient for Web sites with high traffic. These sites need a dedicated Web server, either provided by a Web hosting service or maintained in-house. With shared hosting, numerous web sites are sharing a single server.

  4. Though I started my web store long before this post was written, this is really good advice and something I wish I would have read before I started. Great information!

    1. Hey Carla,

      One of these days, I would love to learn how you run your online store. Everyone has different ways of handling things and I’m very curious how you manage. Let me know if you ever decide to write such a post.

  5. @Steve – Great I will let you know! 😀

  6. This is a great how-to article. There are so many online business owners out there who do not look before they leap into an e-commerce endeavor. This is a great place to start. Great job!

  7. ana says:

    Great website and I am totally looking forward to delving deeper into your knowledge base here. Although I absolutely love technology I am not a developer or graphic designer of any type. You mentioned that with Hostgator you are only allowed to register one domain. If I, for example, only plan on having one online store why would I want access to host more that one?
    I am in the first stages of establishing my business. I am still researching the proper keywords to create the name of the business therefore the website name. I would like to sell dog clothes and accessories (harnesses, leashes, collars). I also plan on establishing this business here while I am in California and taking it with me to the United Kingdom where I hope to live and work from home. Therefore, it is very important to me that I succeed so that I may qualify for an entrepreneurial visa to live and work in the UK.
    Any suggestions?
    Thank you again for this great website 😉

  8. Hi Steve,
    Thank you so much for sharing such great information with us about how to create a profitable online store , truly appreciated. I followed everything as you write in your blog..Great Job.!

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