How to Open an Online Store Step by Step (With No Money) 

 April 7, 2021

By  Jeanette Giselle

There are so many reasons why you may want to open an online store. An online business is the PERFECT place to start on your path to being an entrepreneur!

Shopping is dominating the internet. But without some resources, the world of e-commerce can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. It can actually be super easy to build an online store from scratch.

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! In this post we are going to go over how to get started step by step.

In an effort to be transparent, this blog uses affiliates links. As an affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases. So heads up, there my be some in this post!

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.

#1 E-commerce Platform (Shopify)

Depending on your overall budget, you might want to consider where you want to host your store.

My #1 recommendation is a Shopify Online Store.

What is Shopify?

Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce platform that allows to build your site and process payments.

The most common plan is Basic Shopify which is $29/ month. However they do have a cheaper plan called Shopify Lite for $9.

Shopify is an all-in-one ready to go software for ecommerce. If you want to check it out before you pay, I have a free 14 Day trial for anyone who wishes to give Shopify a try.

✅ Start your FREE 14-Day Trial of Shopify today!

So you may be thinking that Shopify charges too much. Well, they charge a premium price 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 built for online stores and they offer so many apps/customizations to help scale.

WordPress Online Store

Another option you have is to set up a store using WordPress. WordPress is an open Content Management System; all you need is to pay hosting which you usually pay up front annually.

To read more about WordPress you can read this post.

You could pay roughly $60 for the whole year but like I said you would have to put in a lot of manual work.

For example:

  • Uploading a Theme
  • Integrating with WooCommerce
  • Manually Adding Products
  • Manually Adding Pages +lots more

Cost Breakdown


#2 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 always 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. 

Who is your brand?

This will draw nearer to what your logo will look like, business color scheme, etc.

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!

You might also like: Branding Basics to Starting an Online Store

#3 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.

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. 

You can also opt to try Canva Pro which you can use to create your actual product designs. They have cool pre-made graphics, several fonts and allows you to download your graphics with a transparent background.

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.

#4 Inventory

So now we make it to the interesting part. This is where you learn how to start an online store without inventory.

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.

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.

Additional Resources:

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Jeanette Giselle

Jeanette is a mom of three kids and full time entrepreneur. She is a certified Professional House Cleaner by the AHCA. It is her passion to help overwhelmed mothers simplify their home duties so that they can spend their time doing the things they love. 

Jeanette Giselle

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  1. This is such an amazing post! I’ve thought about opening an Etsy shop in the past but did not know how to do go about it. It seems doable now! So many great tips and ideas!

  2. I love how you broke down the steps to start your own online business.You make it sound so easy and doable! I also love the part about drop shipping and not having to have the stock on hand. Make me want to open my own online store!

    1. Hi MJ! Yes, it is totally doable for ANYONE. Ecommerce is no longer exclusive haha Let me know if there is any questions you have about it ✨

    1. Hi Lisa! They definitely are AMAZING resources for online businesses. And yes! Drop shipping is so amazing for those starting out on a tight budget 🙌🏼

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