This is an excerpt from an email conversation I had with my brother-in-law about web design and ecommerce:
I made these very original drawings and study guides for my various med school classes. I’ve posted them throughout the semester at the medical school web site and have got rave reviews! Especially now that it’s finals time, many of my peers are relying on said study guides as a first source. Anyway, I got to thinking, what if I could consolidate all of my “products” into a website geared towards medical professionals or anyone studying the material. As I go through medical school I can continue producing and refining the drawings and info for each class. I could have a blog section where I give med school survival tips and document the process as I progress through med school. Some of my peers say they feel like they should give me money or buy me a drink for giving out these study guides. So, in the future, this website could have a donations section for some charity. Anyway, can you help me develop something along these lines? Of course, I will pay you for your time and efforts if you decide to help. Can you give me a rough estimate on how much something like this will cost to create and maintain?
Thanks for thinking of me. I didn’t know that besides being so smart, you were also a great artist and entrepreneur too! Essentially I see you as needing a blog format with an eventual shopping cart. These don’t have to be the same sites. For example, the shopping cart could be a sub-domain of the main website, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
Beginning with the end in mind, I see you creating and sharing content in a blog-like format that you eventually ‘roll up’ into a book that you sell. If you are only selling one book at a time or just want a donation button, you don’t need a full shopping cart, you just need a Paypal button to ‘click and buy/donate’.
An example of someone doing something similar is The Oatmeal. That’s the shopping cart side, but you get the idea. Pioneer Woman’s blog does something similar in that she rolls her blog posts up into a new cook book every once in a while.
For the blog, I’d recommend WordPress. If you want to self-host, the easiest way is to buy a Bluehost, HostGator, or 1and1 site for~$75 for a year of hosting and one domain. From there you would install “Simplescripts” for WordPress, then find an appropriate theme, and start blogging. You might also check out WordPress.com for a fully managed solution.
I think all of this is within your grasp, it just may be a matter of either not having the time to set it up or not wanting to learn about how to set it up to get going. You might first consider whether or not you have the time to write to it, backlink to it, and other modes of promotion. If you don’t think you will actually post to it, I wouldn’t start. One way to test yourself to see if you will post is to start a Facebook page or even just email yourself on a regular basis to see if you have the conviction to do this before you get started.
If you’re ready to get started and need help on the next step, let me know and I’ll help guide you. If you want me to do it all, we can talk about price, but I do have limited availability right now. Typically I charge clients [SEE Prices] for something like this, but I would help you for much less. Again, try to see how far you can get on your own based on what I’ve told you so far and let me know.
NOTE: If you’re interested in more about self-publishing, check out Books are the New Business Cards or read more about WordPress, web design, and e-commerce.