Category Archives: Virtual IT Assistants

Shopping Cart Solutions for Online Business

Free and Low Cost Online Shopping Cart Services

Q: Who are these services actually solutions for?
A: Brand new online businesses or very small businesses (solo-entrepreneurs) that make fewer but larger transactions.

Free Online Shopping Cart Services

I have worked with those “free” or should I say the services that initially charge no monthly fees like the beloved (<-I'm sort of rolling my eyes as I'm typing that) PayPal or Google Checkout. The catch is that their processing fees are really quite outrageous!

  • Pros
  • Low Initial Investment
  • A Bit Lower Transaction Rates for Larger Transactions
  • They can process credit cards without your having to sign a contract with a cc processor.
  • Doesn’t require an extremely high technical skill set, but a fair amount of HTML and the ability to add a little JavaScript code to your website or blog site is required
  • Cons
  • Outrageously High Per-Transaction Fees

Once your company gets established you should begin looking up your own checkout solutions.

More Costly, Yet Quite Commonly Used Shopping Cart Services

Lots of small and startup businesses use shopping cart services like or eCommerce solutions like the ones available from Yahoo! Small Business for there online order needs.

  • Pros
  • Doesn’t require an extremely high technical skill set, but a fair amount of HTML and the ability to add a little JavaScript code to your website or blog site is required
  • Cons
  • Very Limited Customization
  • Requirements
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service.

Money Saver?
If you already have a self-hosted website, it might be a waste to spend $30+ dollars a month on highly proprietary solutions with such limited customizations like the ones these companies offer.

Free Self-hosted Shopping Cart Solutions

Q: Who are these services actually solutions for?
A: Small to Large Corporate Size Businesses

Two that I have worked with are Zen Cart and OpenCart <- this new one that I have found very robust as well.

  • Pros
  • Nearly Endless Customization Abilities <3 <- Developers love this pro.
  • Possibly Low Initial Investment – if you are developing your own website that is…
  • They can process credit cards without your having to sign a contract with a cc processor.
  • Cons
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service. (Shop around for this, I think even places like Sam’s Club and Costco have very very low cost merchant services for cc processing.)
  • These services require advanced experience with HTML, PHP, and managing MySQL databases. (Pretty much anyone who works professionally developing WordPress can use these right out of the box so to speak.)
  • Requirements
  • Like all opensource systems, you must be ready and able to keep your systems up to date
  • More Self-hosted Security like SSL certificates for transactions made directly on your website.
  • You must additionally purchase your own credit card processing service and possibly purchase additional extensions to connect with your cc processor. This is a one time probably around $25 to $50 fee verses monthly fees for 1shoppingcart

If I have forgotten anything, or mixed up any points here do let me know and I’ll give you a shout out. <3

You Need a Form, You Say?

Last week I was so excited to create my post!  But, something went awry.  You see, I had this brilliant plan (well, in my eyes anyways) to start post short interviews I conducted with various types of business coaches.  We all hear about them and we might even have a few as clients.  But, for the majority of us, what they actually, do escapes us!  Thus, the idea for the interviews.

Here is where my plan got derailed-my interview form!  I mapped out my questions carefully so that they would be generic enough for all sorts of different types of coaches, yet would allow for the differences to still shine through.  I organized the questions in the order that I wanted and then logged in to Google Docs.  I found a stunning, yet professionally done template to work off of and when it was completed, I was very satisfied.  So, I sent the first one off to a business coach I know (who also happens to be a client) and waited for his submission.  And waited.  And waited so more.  Nothing.  Still nothing.  So, I sent a follow-up email asking if there was a problem.  His answer-“I already submitted it.”  Hmm….where could it have gone?  My post was due and I had nothing.  I frantically logged back into Google Docs to see if I was just missing something.  Maybe I didn’t pull up the right form.  Maybe I didn’t send the correct link.  But, everything was as it should be.  What was I going to do?

First, I took a deep breath and just walked away from the situation.  That’s right, I walked away.  And yes, I missed my post deadline.  YIKES!  However, one of the first things I came to realize about working for myself was that it was better to just take a break from the situation and let it sit for a while than to continue to hammer away at something and become even more frantic and frustrated.  So, that’s what I did.  After coming back with a fresh perspective, I came up with a plan.  I started over.  But this time, I did a bit of research and found a few other options for creating forms.

The first option I came across was Wufoo-which is the one I chose for my particular form.  They offer a free account where you can create up to three (3) forms.  There are over eighty (80) themes and templates to choose from and they are very easy to customize.  The site is easy to navigate through and the Help section is great.  They even included screenshots to help explain what you should be seeing in certain situations.  However, that’s where the fun stops.  With the free account you can only create three (3) forms and these forms are allowed just ten (10) fields.  Not much if you have a detailed form that needs to be created.  In addition, if you want to send your form out to a mass of people at once, the free account allows for only 100 entries per month.  Then you have to upgrade.

My second option was JotForm-which I actually just used for a client of mine.  This too, is a free form site.  However, you are not limited to a few number of forms that can be created or on the fields that can be included on each form.  Both are unlimited!  The monthly submissions are the same (100) as with Wufoo, but if do need to upgrade; JotForm’s monthly rate is only $9.95 per month versus Wufoo’s which is $14.95 per month.  Not only that, you are still limited by how many forms you can have on your account (10 with Wufoo and unlimited with JotForm) and how many submissions are allowed per month (500 with Wufoo and 1000 with JotForm).  But for all its great attributes, I found that JotForm was not as customizable as Wufoo was.  There seemed to be a limited amount of templates available for use.  However, their Help section was very easy to understand and came with screen shots as well.

Whatever happened to my initial form in Google Docs you might be wondering?  Well, I had someone (Amber Whitener-a colleague on this blog) who knew her way around that program take a look.  What she found was some sort of rare glitch.  A new one was created and tested, thanks to Amber and now I am on my way again.  I’m just glad that it wasn’t something that I intentionally did or forgot to do.  :)

In the end, I may not have been able to post my first business coach interview today, but I did find a silver lining.  I was able to find other sources for creating various types of forms that I will now be able to utilize not just for myself, but for my clients, as well.

Google PageRank

Google PageRank imageI am sharing this Google pagerank checker because until about 4 or 5 months ago, I didn’t really understand the whole Google pagerank numbering system.

When I was first learning, I thought if you had a page rank of 1 that it meant you were number 1! (HAHA! – I can laugh at this now ; ) However, that isn’t how it works. If you have a pagerank of 1, that’s 1 out of 10! Being 1 out of 10 isn’t as exciting as being number one right?

Use this nifty tool to see what your business or personal website’s Google pagerank is.

Check Page Rank of any web site pages instantly:
This free page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service

That’s my number! -> Check PageRank Kinda sad huh? But it’s only a place to start.

It just means we have some work to do. :)

Wired Magazine Exclusive: How Google’s Algorithm Rules the Web really gives you some good info on how the whole Google Algorithm/Ranking system works.

Delivering this message to my entire network with Ping.FM . . . I can see how this’d be handy sometimes.

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