Are you ready to take that step and open up your first online shop!? We are here to help. First, we want to encourage you to replace any feelings of fear with anticipation. This first step can be a turning point in your life. We don't mean to sound melodramatic; when Sam and I first opened up our Etsy shop in 2011 we had no idea that our online shop would become our full time job, with six employees, just six years later.
Make your first product(s). It's better to start out with the same item and several variations of that item as opposed to having several different items without variations.
Make the same scarf in five different colors. This will create a cohesiveness in your shop. Slowly you can add another item (hats), in the same five colors as scarves. This is more beneficial than having a scarf in green, a hat in blue, a mug cozy in red, etc.
One print in varying sizes is easier to market than multiple prints (unless the varying prints are part of a cohesive collection (all prints of plants)).
One shea butter in five different scents is better than vanilla shea butter, vanilla body spray, vanilla perfume.
Approaching your shop launch in this fashion will not only keep you organized and make you an expert at one thing, but it will also help tremendously when it comes to marketing and listing products. When you're selling online, marketing is most important (aside from customer service and the quality of your product).
Photograph your products. Yes, you can definitely use your phone to take product photos.
You'll want a few props, a white background, and natural light (light coming in through a window but not directly onto the product). We will save the details of product photography for another post, but in the meantime search Pinterest or the Etsy Blog for photography tips.
The three photos you will need for each product:
- close up (to show details and texture)
- framed shot (shows the entire product without any props)
- styled shot (to show the product in use or on display).
Photos below by DebrosseNYC
Other types of shots could be used to show the product in production, options offered (all of the colors offered, in the same photo), and how your product will be packaged.
Now you need a shop name! You may already have one in mind or perhaps you have no idea. Coming up with a shop name can be tough, so you may want to ask those closest to you to help you brainstorm.
Once you have your name first check if the domain for your shop name is taken (Example "SHOPNAME.COM"). If it is, we would highly recommend coming up with another name. If your business takes off, and you want to assume that it will, because why wouldn't you! You want a name that is your own, not one you'll have to share with other businesses in the future. People will have a difficult time finding your shop.
Shop Name Checklist:
- Check that the domain is still available (explained above)
- Check that the Instagram handle is available (@SHOPNAME)
- Check that the Pinterest handle is available (pinterest.com/shopname)
- Google search your shop name to see what comes up in search. If not much then that's great!
- Make sure your shop name is easy to spell and easy to remember and doesn't sound too similar to another company (especially something well known).
- Your shop name doesn't have to hint at what you make if it's easy to remember, over time people will associate your name with what you make/do. (The word "Apple" has nothing to do with tech/computers, but we all know what the company sells.)
- And if you're wanting to open your online shop on Etsy you'll want to check that the shop name is available.
Decide where you want to sell (Esty, Shopify, Your Own Website, Squarespace)
Start with one platform and become an expert with that platform. Once you grow you can always expand to another platform.
Decide if you want to take orders (Made to Order) or only sell what you have already made. Then you're ready to list your items for sale!
The two most crucial parts of your listing will be the price of your product and the shipping cost. Check out what others are selling similar products for, do some research on shipping charges and consider how you will ship your product. You will surely have to make adjustments as those sales start coming in, but have some idea of what's already working in the market you're in.
Titles, tags, and descriptions are important, but you can refine these as you have time. At first if you have a basic title, a few tags, and a short/brief description that's okay. Customers will ask you what questions they have and you will learn what else should be included in your description. Size and color are obvious descriptors that customers will be curious about.
You will want an individual listing for each product. Later you can consolidate listings to include variations. The more listings you have, the more traffic you can drive to your shop.
Market Your Items
- Pin your products to Pinterest
- Share on Facebook
- Share on Instagram
- Share on Twitter
- Email your Friends and Family about your new shop
- Start a newsletter and send out a weekly email with product updates
Marketing doesn't have to take up a lot of time, especially at first. Try to do one thing each day that either directly or indirectly draws people to your shop.
Make more products, repeat steps FIVE and SIX!
We wanted to give you all the basics, and there obviously is much more involved if you're wanting to make your creative business your full time business. Start here and stay tuned for more in-depth guidance. And check out Pinterest for more advice from other people that have had experience with an online shop!
If you're wanting one-on-one help, have specific questions, want a shop critique...please send us a note. We love to help others get started! (Fill out the form below).
Cheers to you!