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Starting an Online Business All-In-One for Dummies, 5th Edition


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 About This Book 1 Foolish Assumptions 3 Icons Used in This Book 3 Beyond the Book 4 Where to Go from Here 4 Book 1: Start-Up Essentials 5 Chapter 1: Starting from Scratch 7 What Are You Waiting For? Start Your Business Now! 8 Choosing Just the Right Business 10 Getting Started 14 Chapter 2: Turning Ideas into a Viable Internet Business 17 Thinking Like an Online Entrepreneur 17 Putting Your Business Idea Under the Microscope 19 Identifying Your Market and Target Customer 26 Competing to Win: Analyzing Your Competition 28 Chapter 3: Getting Real: Creating a Usable Business Plan 31 Understanding the Value of a Plan 31 Recognizing That the Parts of the Plan Make a Whole 33 Getting Help to Write the Plan 35 Using a Business Plan Today, Tomorrow, and Always 38 Chapter 4: Funding Your Online Business 41 Bootstrapping the Low-Cost, No-Cost Site 42 Finding the Perfect Investor 46 Checking Out Alternative Financing 51 Taking a Shortcut: Purchasing an Existing Site 54 Chapter 5: Creating Policies to Protect Your Website and Customers 59 Taking Care of Customers 59 Putting Policies in Place 61 Delivering On Your Promises 66 Chapter 6: Setting Up Shop: What You Need for Online Efficiency 67 A Floor Plan for Success 68 Must-Have Equipment 70 Tools for Your Desktop 76 Your Essential Software Toolkit 80 Connectivity: Today's Internet Options and More 81 Book 2: Legal and Accounting 83 Chapter 1: Minding the Law 85 Keeping Your Business Legal 85 Zoning for Business (at Home) 91 Obtaining Business Licenses 93 Chapter 2: Choosing the Right Foundation: From Partnerships to Corporations 95 Strategizing for the Best Organization 96 Operating Alone as a Sole Proprietor 96 Sharing the Load with a Partnership 98 Limited Liability Company 99 Making It Official with Incorporation 100 Changing Your Organization as It Grows 102 Chapter 3: The Trademark-and-Copyright Two-Step 103 Understanding Why Trademarks and Copyrights Matter 103 Making Your (Trade)Mark 104 Protecting Your Investment with Copyrights 105 Establishing Registration Yourself 107 Retaining Professional Assistance 109 Chapter 4: Accounting for Taxes (and Then Some) 111 The Tax Man Cometh - Again and Again 112 By the Numbers: Accounting Basics 116 Choosing Software to Make Your Tasks Easy 122 Hiring a Professional 124 Following the Rules of Recordkeeping 130 Book 3: Website Functionality and Aesthetics 135 Chapter 1: What's in a (Domain) Name? 137 Choosing Your Online Identity 138 Registering the Perfect Name 141 Finding Out What to Do When Somebody Gets There First 144 All the Good Ones Are (Not) Taken 145 Chapter 2: Designing for User Experience 151 Understanding the Customer Experience 151 Maximizing Performance for Profitability 156 Guiding Website Traffic Flow 158 Looking Your Best 160 Choosing Substance Over Style 166 Chapter 3: Building a Site without Spending a Fortune 169 Mapping Your Route to a Successful Site 170 You Can Do It! Making a Build-It-Yourself Site 175 Creating Your Site with the Pros 184 Chapter 4: Finding the Host with the Most 193 Differentiating between an ISP and a Host 193 Determining What Makes the Difference for High-Performance Hosting 194 Sorting Out Your Website Host Options 197 Putting the Long-Term Contract in the Past 198 Serving Yourself: Don't Overlook Other Server Options 199 Chapter 5: Developing Content That Satisfies Visitors and Search Engines 201 Words Are Words - Right? Wrong! 202 Getting Ready to Write for the Web 205 Moved to Purchase: Turning Words into Action 212 Chapter 6: Going Beyond Beta and Launching Your Site 215 Some Things to Know Before You Start Uploading 215 Taking the Compatibility Test: Testing Screen Resolutions, Browsers, and Platforms 217 Taking a Trial Run 220 Three, Two, One - Take Off! 222 Book 4: Online and Operating 223 Chapter 1: Determining Your Revenue Model 225 Selling Tangible Products 225 Selling Your Professional Services 231 Selling Information 235 Placing Ads for Profit 237 Establishing an Affiliate Advertising Program 245 Putting It All Together: Multiple Revenue Streams 247 Chapter 2: Making Money with Affiliate Programs 249 Looking at How Affiliate Programs Work 250 Signing Up for an Affiliate Network 254 Avoiding Scams and Questionable Content 257 Chapter 3: Turning Information into Profit: From E-Books to Webinars 261 Creating Your Own Information Product 262 Providing E-Books 266 Creating Informational Videos for Profit 270 Putting Together a Webinar 271 Chapter 4: Paying with the Right Payment Options 275 Accepting Credit Card Payments 276 Offering Alternative Payment Options 282 Managing the Payment Process to Protect Your Income 284 Chapter 5: Putting the (Shopping) Cart before the Horse 285 Not All Carts Are Created Equal 286 Shopping Around for the Best Hosted Solution 292 Finding Stand-Alone Shopping Cart Software 297 Designing a Custom Cart 298 Chapter 6: Taking Inventory 301 Finding Out What's Popular 302 Putting Together All Your Research 304 Pricing Your Products 305 Building Your Inventory 306 Chapter 7: Fulfilling Expectations and Orders 309 Figuring Out the Logistics of Shipping 310 Developing an In-House Fulfillment Model 311 Deciding to Outsource Fulfillment 312 Shaping Up and Shipping Out 319 Maintaining the Back End 327 Book 5: Managing Security Risks 331 Chapter 1: Understanding Security and Your Risks 333 Legal Responsibility: The Merchant and the Customer 334 Defining Your Privacy Policy 338 Keeping Your Website Secure 339 Displaying Seals of Approval 340 Chapter 2: Developing a Plan: Security and Business Continuity 343 Making a Plan 344 Creating a Budget for Your Plan 354 Finding Security Resources 355 Chapter 3: Spotting and Thwarting Hackers and Net-Thieves 357 Fending Off Denial-of-Service Attacks 358 Deterring Hackers 360 Avoiding Viruses and Other Malware 362 Keeping Your Domain Name Safe 364 Staying Away from E-Mail Scams 367 Mobile Security Risks 370 Understanding How a Wireless LAN Works 371 Establishing Barriers 373 Chapter 4: Locking Down Your Site and Your Business 377 Protecting against Personal Data Loss and Credit Card Fraud 377 Backing Up Your Data 382 Adding Firewalls 384 Book 6: Online Marketing Basics 387 Chapter 1: Jump-Starting Traffic and Driving Sales 389 Defining Key Elements for Digital Marketing Success 390 Getting to Know Your Buyers - Really Well 392 Calculating Your Site's Conversion Rate 394 Figuring Out When You Get the Most Traffic 397 Getting Customers to Notice Your Website 399 Getting Customers to Buy 400 Chapter 2: Your Own Public Relations for the Web 403 Writing Reviews 404 Becoming a Community Leader 409 Writing Articles 412 Chapter 3: Web Marketing at Work 417 Developing a Marketing Strategy 418 Gaining a Following with Social Media 421 Reeling in Customers with Newsletters 426 Automating Routine Tasks 431 Searching for Traffic with Search Engine Advertising 432 Marketing Your Company Offline 440 Chapter 4: Converting Browsers to Buyers 443 Giving Customers a Reason to Stay on Your Site 444 Anticipating Customer Needs 447 Organizing a Buyer-Friendly Site 450 Keeping Your Shopping Cart Simple 454 Avoiding Assumptions about Your Customers 456 Encouraging Viewers to Buy 459 Chapter 5: Analyzing and Monitoring Your Customers 463 Tracking Trends 464 Measuring Website Traffic 465 Analyzing Your Traffic Analysis Software 473 Collecting the Correct Information 476 Getting to Know Your Customer 479 Using Your Data to Understand Your Business 482 Chapter 6: Mastering Search Engines, Optimization, and Rankings 487 Navigating the Ins and Outs of Major Search Engines 488 Getting Your Website Noticed by Search Engines 490 Placing Keywords in Key Spots on Your Website 492 Arranging Your Pages Strategically 498 Submitting Your Site to Search Engines 499 Watching Your Rankings 502 Moving Up in the Rankings 504 Book 7: Retail to E-Tail 509 Chapter 1: Expanding Online to Keep and Grow Customers 511 Making the Decision to Move Your Store Online 512 Finding the Right Time 515 Bridging Your Offline Store with Your Online Store 518 Making a Flawless Transition 520 Building an Inventory 524 Chapter 2: Managing the Differences between In-Store and Online Commerce 529 Comparing Online and Offline Customers 530 What Your Online Customers Expect from You 532 Establishing Patterns 539 Chapter 3: Window Dressing for the Online Display 541 Creating the Right Look for Your Online Store 542 Creating the Perfect Shopping Experience 543 Beyond Window Shopping: Designs That Lure Traffic 546 Chapter 4: Making In-Store Customers Loyal Online Shoppers 549 Benefiting Customers (and Your Business) with In-Store and Online Synergy 550 Enticing Customers to Your Online Offering 551 Providing a Positive Shopping Experience 555 Making Your Customer the Star 557 Chapter 5: Revving Up with Mobile Marketing, Social Media, and More 559 Distinguishing between Different Types of Mobile Commerce 561 Localizing with Ads 566 Social Media Ads 569 Alternative Ways to Boost Localized Spending 574 Chapter 6: Troubleshooting the Transition to Online Retail 577 Handling Returns in the Store from Online Sales 577 Merging Existing Back-End Systems with Online Requirements 579 Deciding How to Handle Integration 584 Extending Payment Options to Virtual Customers 585 Book 8: E-Commerce Fundamentals 589 Chapter 1: Starting Up with E-Commerce Functionality 591 Knowing What You Want: Features 592 Realizing What You Can Have: Cost 597 Shopping for E-Commerce Solutions 599 Chapter 2: Mastering the Amazon 601 Joining the Marketplace 601 Achieving Professional Seller Status 609 Taking Advantage of Other Selling Opportunities with Amazon aStore 610 Chapter 3: Web-ify Your Store with Shopify 613 Why Open a Shopify Store? 614 Setting Up Shop 615 Managing Your Shopify Store 618 Selecting a Plan 624 Breaking Down the Fees 625 Growing with Your New Business Partner 626 Chapter 4: Making eBay THE Way 629 Understanding How eBay Works 630 Getting Started on eBay 630 Setting Up an Item for Sale 634 Opening an eBay Store 641 Book 9: E-Business for the Nonprofit 647 Chapter 1: Raining Donations: Fundamentals for Online Giving 649 Determining How Your Organization Can Benefit 650 Convincing Your Board of Directors 652 Chapter 2: Adding Online Moneymakers to an Existing Site 659 Determining Which Features Your Site Can Support 660 Adding an Auction to Your Site 666 Soliciting Donations on Your Site 669 Chapter 3: Growing an Active Donor Base: Your Virtual Community 677 Building an Online Donor Base from Scratch 678 Putting Together a Plan to Reach Donors 682 Converting the Faithful 683 Reaching Out to People Surfing for Charities 686 Chapter 4: Identifying Online Marketing Strategies That Fit the Cause 689 Asking for Donations 689 Making Donating Easy 697 Chapter 5: Legal Considerations for Nonprofit Organizations 699 Designating Responsibility 700 Creating Online Policies 701 Registering Your Charity 703 Gaining Seals of Approval 704 Book 10: E-Commerce Trends and Market Opportunities 707 Chapter 1: Discovering Niche Markets 709 Deciding to Sell a Niche Product 709 Finding Your Niche 713 Chapter 2: Building Business via Social Commerce 717 Setting the Virtual Stage for Success 717 Using Online Socializing to Build Social Commerce 720 Creating Your Own Video Channel 726 Gathering, Networking, and Promoting: Online Communities 732 Chapter 3: Evaluating the SaaS Model: Selling Software and Apps 737 Deciding to Deliver Online Services 738 Putting the Software in the SaaS 739 Understanding the SaaS Model for Making Money 740 Creating Apps for the Mobile Customer 743 Chapter 4: Generating Opportunities through the Generations: Millennials, Boomers, and Beyond 747 Understanding the Baby Boomer Market 748 Figuring Out What Millennials Want and Delivering It 754 Getting Online with the Digital Kids: Generation Z 756 Book 11: E-Commerce Advanced 763 Chapter 1: Mapping the Digital Buyer's Journey 765 Deconstructing the Path of an Online Buyer 766 Monitoring the Flipped and Fluid Digital Sales Funnel 768 Putting It All Together: The Buyer, the Conversion, the Channel 770 Chapter 2: Getting Personal with Content Marketing 775 Delivering the Goods with the Right Content Approach 776 Developing Buyer Personas 777 Creating Content for Storytelling and Consumption 780 Launching the Personalization Effort Online 786 Chapter 3: Listening to the Voice of the Customer 793 Using VOC to Determine the Customer Experience 794 Listening and Taking Action: Time to Redesign 798 Increasing Appeal 800 Making Your Website Functional 805 Chapter 4: Overhauling an Aging Online Business 809 Paying Attention to the Signs 810 Qualifying for a Makeover from Lagging Sales 813 Reengaging Customers to Spend with You, Again 819 Knowing Where to Start 821 Chapter 5: Expanding Products to Increase Stagnant Sales 823 Figuring Out When to Expand Your Product Line 824 Replacement or Expansion: The Art of Culling Your Inventory 829 Finding New Products 831 Chapter 6: Transitioning a Small Site into Big Business 833 Seeking Out the Next Level of Your Business 833 Dealing with Accidental Success 843 Purposefully Making the Next Move 845 Index 847

About the Author

Shannon Belew currently leads the digital marketing strategy for Digium, a global, open source communications company, and is a frequent guest speaker and freelance writer. Joel Elad is the head of Real Method Consulting, where he provides consulting and advice for e-commerce companies and entrepreneurs.

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