Tag Archives: online shopping cart

A Cart of Your Own

By Gail Z. Martin

Now that you’ve decided on how to accept payments, it’s time to shop for shopping cart programs.

Online carts vary tremendously in cost, ease of use, and flexibility. Ideally, you want a program that has capacity for you to grow without being prohibitively expensive for your transaction volume.

OneShoppingCart.com is a program popular for its user-friendly attributes. There are many other programs to choose from; just be sure to investigate cost and capabilities before investing.

At a minimum, an online shopping program should enable you to do the following:

  • Accept some form of online payment (ideally, several types of credit cards plus PayPal or a similar online money transfer program)
  • Offer a variety of products
  • Set prices and edit descriptions for your products
  • Deliver your downloadable products as part of the purchase process
  • Notify you via email when a purchase has been made
  • Track applicable sales tax

In addition to the basic functions, you’ll find it helpful if your cart can also:

  • Handle multiple payments (enabling you to offer payment plans)
  • Accept “affiliates”–resellers who promote your products in exchange for a percentage of sales
  • Create autoresponders to continue the conversation with buyers by offering follow up messages via email
  • Provide you with options for how your “buy” link is presented and how your digital products are delivered
  • Create coupon/discount codes

Many template programs, such as Citymax, come with their own shopping cart functionality. While convenient, these programs often have limited capabilities. If you outgrow the template program and want to change your Web hosting, you’ll also have to rebuild your shopping cart. These built-in programs often do not offer enhanced capabilities such as the ability to accept affiliates or process payment plans. Think ahead to determine what range of functions will best serve your business over the next few years.

(Excerpted from the brand new book 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Blogging to Grab Headlines and Get Clients by Gail Z. Martin)

“Like” my 30 Day Results Guide page on Facebook and enter for a chance to win a grand prize worth $497! 30 Day Results Guide – https://on.fb.me/sDMf1R

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The Magic of Setting Intentions

By Gail Z. Martin

My co-blogger Sheryl Eldene really woke me up when we were talking about setting intentions and she suggested setting them daily or even hourly, not just big life goals.

Wow.  That’s so simple, and so powerful—but it never occurred to me until Sheryl mentioned it.

Now, I do it all the time, and I find it makes a tremendous difference in how my days go.  I wake up and set an intention for the day, and it changes everything.  Maybe I have a challenging schedule.  Instead of thinking, “Wow, today’s going to be grueling”, I now set an intention, “Even though it’s busy, I intend to have a clam, productive day.”  It helps reduce the stress level, and makes my perception of the day much more positive.

Hourly intentions help, too.  If I have a meeting with someone who can be challenging, I don’t waste time dreading it.  Instead, I set an intention: “I intend to keep this meeting calm and stay on track, diffusing tension and achieving a win-win.”  It’s amazing how it changes everything!

I usually also try to set intentions for the week.  That’s a little harder, because so many variables can arise, but with an intention stated, it’s easier to stay on track.  An intention is not a to-do list, so it’s not just a list of what you “intend” to accomplish!  Rather, I set a weekly intention of making sure I get the most important tasks done well, refuse to stress about what doesn’t get done, and remain calm and positive to those around me.  I’m certainly not perfect and setting an intention doesn’t mean I’m never stressed or grouchy, but it’s amazing how many fewer rough patches there are when you program your mind with a positive intention.

There’s nothing wrong with setting long-term intentions, but it’s harder for us to stay out track with things that extend far into the future.  Why not break your yearly intentions down into intentions by day, week, month and see what happens?  After all, if we live out our intentions on a daily basis, the days add up!

Give it a try and see how it makes a change in your outlook!

“Like” my 30 Day Results Guide page on Facebook and enter for a chance to win a grand prize worth $497! 30 Day Results Guide – https://on.fb.me/sDMf1R

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Six Ways to Make Your Book A Reality This Year

By Gail Z. Martin

So you want to write a book?  Congratulations.  Now it’s up to you to bridge the gap between “wanting” and “doing.”

The hardest part of writing a book is making the commitment to set aside the time to do what needs to be done.  That’s not just the writing; it’s also making sure that it’s proof read and as well-edited as possible.  If you decide to go the traditional publishing route, you’ll need to research and pitch your proposal to agents, and once you sign on with an agent, he/she will then pitch your proposal to publishers.  It can be a lengthy process.

If you decide to self-publish, you’ll need to format the book properly, determine things like cover art, and decide whether you’re going to do a paper book print-on-demand or just create an e-book (and handle the conversion, either or both ways).  There will be plenty of research and decisions involved.  And once your book is complete, you’ll need to plan for promotion, even if you have a traditional publisher.  Writing the book is only the beginning!

Still want to do it?  Good.  Here are six things you’ll need to do to make your book a reality this year:

  • Set aside time each week to write, and set a weekly goal of how many pages you want to write.  You may not always reach your goal (or you may even exceed it sometimes), but the goal keeps you on track.  You can always do more, but try not to do less.
  • Start researching now.  Start learning about what agents and editors do, what types of ebook formats are out there, how print-on-demand works and who the major players are.
  • Think about how the book fits into your business, and whether you’re willing to change your business model to take full advantage of the book (for example, adding speaking engagements to your calendar, making time to create and send press releases, write articles, be a guest blogger or pitch yourself as a radio guest.
  • Make connections with other authors and ask plenty of questions to see how they got published, what they would do over, and what they’ve learned the hard way.
  • Consider using a “book shepherd”, someone knowledgeable about the publishing industry who can help you finalize your book, determine your publishing options, and even pitch it to agents if that’s the route you want to go.
  • Take a hard look at the time and effort you’re willing to put into this project, as well as the money you can invest.  The price of book publishing has come way down with print-on-demand and ebooks, but it still requires some investment to hire a book shepherd, get an editor (if you self-publish or need help with the fine points of grammar and punctuation), format your book and create a cover (if you self-publish), and promote your book.

Writing a book is a fantastic step toward achieving your dreams, promoting your business and exploring your creativity.  Make this the year that you make your dream come true!

“Like” my Thrifty Author page on Facebook and enter for a chance to win a prize package of author resources: The Thrifty Author – https://on.fb.me/srVa13

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Filed under Gail Z. Martin, Marketing

First, Show Me the Money

By Gail Z. Martin

Before you commit to any shopping cart program, think about what you need from your cart. How will you accept payment?

First, determine whether your volume of transactions justifies having a merchant account. A merchant account enables you to take credit cards directly over the Web. Without a merchant account or an intermediary service, you won’t be able to do business over the Internet, since you can’t accept cash or checks.

You can create a merchant account through your bank or though one of the many services that specialize in credit card sales. Merchant accounts usually enable subscribers to rent/purchase a wireless credit card reader. This makes it possible for you to accept credit cards during in- person events as well as through your online shopping cart. On the down side, traditional merchant accounts are expensive, charging a monthly fee and a per-transaction surcharge that may exceed the sales of a beginning retailer.

Square is an alternative to the traditional merchant account. Square is free to join (www.Squareup.com). As of the writing of this book, the Square credit card reader is also free. Square provides a small card reader that’s the size of a postage stamp with a plug to connect to a smart phone through the headphones jack. The Square app can be downloaded for free from iTunes or from the Square Web site. Instead of a monthly fee, Square charges a low per-transaction fee. It also provides the ability to accept a credit card number without swiping the card through the card reader. Square charges a slightly higher per-transaction fee for cards that are keyed in instead of swiped through. Square provides a very viable alternative for companies that have a relatively low transaction volume or that may not use a card reader every month. It’s easy to use, secure, and at the time of this writing, works anywhere within the continental U.S. (Square says they are working to make Canadian and other international transactions available soon.) To use Square, the merchant have either a smart phone or a tablet PC (like an iPad) and have access to secure WiFi. These wooden spools are versatile items that can be used in various DIY projects, from garden tables to bookshelves. Or, they can be used for their original purpose – storing long lengths of wire or rope. Grab these and let your creativity flow!

If you are new to online commerce, you may want to begin with PayPal. PayPal is an online service that allows you to accept credit card payments without requiring you to have a merchant account. Instead, PayPal creates a buffer between the merchant and the buyer, safeguarding the purchaser’s card information. The buyer creates an account that stores his/her card information. Using the PayPal interface, a buyer can purchase by using the email address linked to the account.

However, buyers can only pay with PayPal if the merchant is also signed up with the service. And, merchants can only get paid if their intended buyer is a PayPal user. It is also possible for a PayPal user to pay directly from a bank account, and payments can be direct deposited into the merchant’s bank account. PayPal is free to buyers but charges a transaction fee for sellers.

(Excerpted from the brand new book 30 Days to Online PR and Marketing Success: The 30 Day Results Guide to Making the Most of Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Blogging to Grab Headlines and Get Clients by Gail Z. Martin)

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