E-Commerce

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A DVD Full of Dreams

He has his own web site, he’s a musician, and he wants to sell the MP3 songs he’s recorded. It seems straightforward. He wants to set up a store on his web site and sell his own music.

His first stop is the Control Panel. What is that?

Call it something else, or call it the Control Panel, many web sites have one and it’s where web site owners go to quickly change graphics, text, programming, and the technical switches that make modern web sites function. Here they find new apps for still untested uses of their web site, many for free. Often software applications found elsewhere on the web can be installed here as well.

ShopSite, from www.shopsite.com, is a common e-commerce application found in many Control Panels. Once installed, ShopSite is used to sell everything from t-shirts to candles. Our musician friend keeps reading and keeps clicking.

A problem with the free e-commerce software, ShopSite, emerges. Seems you can sell many things with the free ShopSite software but you can’t sell digital files for immediate download. At least not as of this writing. What now? You guessed it: ShopSite Pro makes a surprise appearance and it cost bucks.

For a penniless musician that’s disappointment one.

But in all things computers, just as in life, persistence is key. E-commerce is complex so our musician friend studies on.

He has a PayPal account. Already having an account where money can move back and forth across the web is required. For small transactions by the way PayPal tacks on $0.30 cents plus about 2.9% of the item’s cost. A dollar a pop and already PayPal wants $0.33 cents!

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Audio files, as musicans know, take up vast amounts of real estate on computers. From several megabytes to a hundred megabytes or more. The BangBang.mp3 file of his weighs in at 3Mb. He has hundreds and plans on offering a thousand for sale. Oh oh!

Many web hosts don’t like thousands of MP3 files stored on their servers any more than they like storing ten years of archives from one’s last three hard drives. Doesn’t matter what their web site says, they simply don’t like to do it for $5.95, or whatever, a month. So that’s a problem. It’s going to cost money to store those MP3 files while the customer selects one to purchase and download.

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Chicago musician Lance Loiselle, our artist of the day, is well advised to call his web site hosting company and find out what it really costs. A broke musician, a DVD full of his own compositions, and a dream. Poof! A thousand a year to lease both ShopSite Pro plus server space for his MP3’s? Get an estimate. Get real.

So having called the web site host, discussed the idea, and thanked them, it’s time to move on. When you’ve got money, as they say, you can make money. For the rest of us it’s scratch-and-win.

Scaling Back: A Suggestion

PayLoadz at www.payloadz.com offers a startup package where the price is right. Even an HTML snippet to copy and paste into the musician’s own web site, again via the Control Panel, so visitors can order the downloadable music file and life is good. However now he’s selling a few music files instead of hundreds and hundreds. Still it gets him past the ShopSite Pro issue. And it’s similar to eBay without the ticking clock.

From hundreds of MP3 files to one file is a step back. In this scenario BangBang.mp3 will be uploaded to PayLoadz, the switches will be set to enable e-commerce, and the snip of HTML will be copied to his website so readers have a link to click.

He considers the suggestion. Better to get any single product out there, for sale, then to wait and wait til he discovers a cheap way to offer a thousand downloadable files for sale. The PayLoadz people have a plan anyway for the guy who’s ready to move up to the big leagues. One thing at a time. Next he will upload a few music files to PayLoadz, make a link on his own web site, and get his brother to make the first purchase, one big dollar, to test it out. The next day $0.67 cents will be added to his PayPal account courtesy of PayLoadz.

There’s got to be an easier way to make a living.

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