There are so many reasons why you may want to become an entrepreneur. An online store is the PERFECT place to start! Shopping is dominating the internet. But without some of the resources, the world of e-commerce can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. It can actually be super easy to start an online store. Honestly, it’s much easier than ever before! And the potential for making money is huge! But you’re stressed, you already have a lot on your plate and the budget is kind of tight. Well let me help!
If you have ever wondered how all those super cute Etsy shops came to be and how people can afford to pay the startup costs for them, well you are reading the right article. And even more amazingly, what if I told you there was a way to do it with paying little to NONE?
There are FOUR key steps you need to take in order to get your shop up and running within less than a day! This post will cover the basics on how you can start your own online store on a low budget.
Step #1 BRANDING
Branding is one of those vague terms that can become confusing and often overlooked. This step is essential and is first for a good reason! You can’t move forward without knowing 3 things:
- What you are selling (not literally, more in a second)
- Who is your brand
- Who are you selling to
It’s very important to really understand what your goals are and the purpose of your business. What are you selling? While it’s necessary to know your product, knowing the company’s identity is crucial. This is what will shape your customer’s vision of who you are. Think about Coca-Cola and Pepsi – each have similar products but they sell different concepts. Keep that in mind.
Similarly to above, who is your brand? This will draw nearer to what your logo will look like, business color scheme, etc. Lastly, Who are you selling to? Knowing who is just as important as what! Without having a targeted demographic, your business will just end up lost in a sea of endless Etsy shops. There’s a difference between selling to teenagers versus a grandparent, right? Think about it.
Resource: Creative Market
A great resource for this step is an awesome website called CreativeMarket.com Here, you can find anything ranging from logo templates, social media graphics and so much more! You can search in the bar anything like “feminine logo” and appear beautiful pre-made options for you to choose from. See Below!
Total Price: $0- $30
Step #2 CREATE
Alright, you chose your store name and started branding your company- you decided you want to sell iPhone cases with unicorns on them (hey! it could be a thing, right?). Anyway, so now it’s the fun part – creating what you actually want to sell. This is where you might spend a little to start if you want to purchase software to create your templates (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc). Don’t worry though, if you were intrigued by this post because I said you’d spend little to none then stay tuned! There are free softwares you can use to make this happen. (You can also opt for a free trial on any Adobe product HERE)
Option 1: Canva
Canva is a free online graphic design tool that allows you to easily make graphics with their drag and drop feature. They have pre-made templates that are GREAT for beginners wanting to get their feet wet with graphic design. BONUS: this is also a great tool to design graphics for your brand. Their templates have the perfect sizing for Instagram, Facebook and other marketing designs plus you can create your logo here!
You can also edit your homepage theme to match your brand colors. They give you up to three slots for easy access for future designs. I currently have this cute aqua color; I like to change it up based on my mood and preference at the time.
Option 2: GIMP
Your other option for free software is GIMP which can be a little overwhelming at first for the newbie but worth it for the long run! GIMP is very similar to most graphic design softwares except it is free to download and actually a lot simpler and easier to use. They also offer tutorials on their website to get your started.
If you have some experience with graphic design then this tool might be good for you. If you don’t have time to learn how to use this software then I definitely recommend Canva.
I would suggest making goals to start with something like Canva then working towards GIMP but ultimately investing in Adobe for advanced graphics.
Total Price: $0
Step #3 DROP SHIPPING / PRINT ON DEMAND
YAY! We made it to step three. If you have not heard of drop shipping, your mind is about to be BLOWN. Drop shipping is what is going to save you all that money on inventory, storage, startup fees and MORE!
Shopify has a pretty amazing guide to drop shipping which if you would like to read more about you can find the link HERE. All that we are focusing on right now from that article is this:
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the merchant never sees or handles the product.”
So if you didn’t understand all those fancy words – I’ma give you a recap. You partner with a company that basically does all the hard work! They fulfill, package and ship your orders AS THEY COME IN. So you will never have to keep inventory or worry about stock or ever even having to make anything (except for graphics of course).
With cool companies like Printful you won’t even have to make display photos for your shop! You have the ability to create “mock ups” and download or send directly to your store thus saving you money on product images. Isn’t that amazing?
It looks something like this:
You will want to get your drop shipping company and your storefront synced around the same time which will lead us to our final step.
Total Price: $0
Step #4 GET INTEGRATED
Okay, so RECAP: you have a store concept (AKA a brand), graphics and you even have some products ready. But, how do you actually get them on a website and start selling to start making money?
The easiest way to do this is by going to your drop shippers website (in this case we are using Printful) and see what e-commerce sites they integrate with. For example, Printful integrates with roughly 12 different online platforms. The most popular is Shopify ($29/month) but if you’re interested in something more cost effective you can opt for Etsy or one of my cost effective favorites TicTail.
However, if you are willing to splurge on this one, I would say go for Shopify. They charge a premium for their services for good reasons. They are leaders in ecommerce because that’s their number one focus! It comes down to if you rather pay for simplicity (ready to go themes, analytics, free apps to grow and scale your business, etc) or rather than pay you do A LOT OF WORK. Shopify is an all-in-one ready to go software for ecommerce. If you want to check it out before yo pay, I have a free 14 Day trial for anyone who wishes to give Shopify a try.
I would definitely review all of your options to see what you prefer. They all offer different things so it’s a good idea to check them all out; maybe you would prefer to start with TicTail instead.
This is what one of TicTail’s template storefronts look like:
Total Price: $0-$29
And that wraps it up! Doing these simple steps can get you up and running for as little as nothing and even if you do decide to invest, you shouldn’t pay more than $60! Isn’t that amazing? I hope you have found these steps informative and simple enough to get you started today.