Friday, April 24, 2015

Back up your data

A couple of weeks ago my laptop died. It refused to power up. No warning -- suddenly there was a message about the battery being low, even though the power cord was plugged in at the time. Then the machine switched itself off and refused to come back on.

There was nothing wrong with the power cord  -- I have another laptop that belongs to my day job, and it uses the same one -- but there it was -- dead.

This was the laptop that I used for my writing. I used a tool called Scrivener. I love it, but using it means that whatever I'm writing pretty much exists only on my laptop.

However, I'm paranoid about data loss, so I regularly compile (produced a .doc or .rtf version of my novel) and save it somewhere. I had a  onedrive disk mapped onto my laptop, and thus it's accessible from anywhere. I did this regularly, about once a day.

I had two novels I was working  on in scrivener, and thus I have current .doc versions of both of them. When I replace my laptop, I can import them back into scrivener, which will be something of a pain, but doable. In the mean time, I can turn on track changes and continue to work on them.

So what should you take away from this? Back up your data. Use Onedrive, or Dropbox, or something else, but make sure you have copies of your work. You never know when you're going to need it. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Selling Online - Ecommerce Shopping Cart Basics

If you’re selling anything online, you’re considered part of the ecommerce business arena, and you absolutely need an electronic shopping cart. But, how does it work and what type of cart do you need?

An electronic shopping cart is simply a software program or code from a shopping cart provider that you can use on your website. This program or code allows visitors to select products and make purchases directly from you.

If you’re selling anything online, you’re considered part of the ecommerce business arena, and you absolutely need an electronic shopping cart.

Webopedia explains that there are two basic forms of shopping carts. “Shopping carts can be sold as independent pieces of software so companies can integrate them into their own unique online solution, or they can be offered as a feature from a service that will create and host a company's e-commerce site.”

So, you can either use a standalone piece of software on your own Web server or you can use code from an e-commerce shopping cart provider/service. Either way, you’ll be able to sell from your website.

Along with its convenience, allowing you to sell digital and tangible products from your website, research shows that using an ecommerce shopping cart increases sales.

In 2009, PayPal conducted an internal study of 79,000 small merchants. It was discovered that adding a shopping cart increased their PayPal volume an average of 19% over a two-year period.

That’s a pretty nice sales increase.

It’s important though to realize that the shopping carts themselves don’t process payments. It’s the service you use that allows the payment process to go through.

The Simplest and One of the Cheapest Ways to Sell from Your Own Website

I’ve used PayPal for quite a while now and can attest that it’s easy and effective.

With the PayPal ecommerce shopping cart process, you create the shopping cart yourself. The instructions are simple to follow and you have a choice of using a single item Buy Button or a Drop-down Menu for multiple products or services. And, as with all services, there is a fee. PayPal charges 2.9% and .30 cents per transaction. That’s not bad for all you can do with this service.

 The PayPal system also has everything you need to customize your cart:

•    Tax
•    Shipping
•    Discount and coupon codes
•    Payment options
•    Tracking
•    Invoicing
•    Testing before you go live
•    And, more

In fact, PayPal is so popular a number of ecommerce shopping cart services have partnered with PayPal for their payment process. And, you can accept payments with your mobile device through another of PayPal’s services.

If you’re a WordPress user and want a plugin that uses PayPal, you can checkout:

Other Options

If you like the PayPal system, but would rather not have your customers sent to its site during the purchasing process, you have options.

PayPal has partnered with several shopping cart services, such as Cashie Commerce and 3D Cart. Using another service has its benefits, one of which is keeping the buyer on your site through the purchasing process, but there’s a drawback to it, an additional cost.

These services charge a monthly fee, along with a percentage of each transaction. This is on top of the PayPal fees. So, be careful when looking into this process. Be sure you’re making enough sales to warrant the additional costs involved.

Keeping it Simple

No matter which ecommerce shopping cart system you use, simple is the way to go online. You want the essential features in a shopping cart without making it too complicated to use. The process needs to be easy to use with clear instructions.

If you haven’t yet taken the ‘sell on your own website’ move, get started now. Simply do an online search for carts or you can check out PayPal.

Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Karen Cioffi is a writer and online platform instructor. Her latest e-class is Get Website Traffic with Inbound Marketing. It's 4-weeks and is through WOW! Women on Writing. Click the link for details.