One Day in July I decided. I decided I needed to sell online. It had to happen. I kept telling myself I could do it, all I had to do was start. I needed this, period, end of discussion. One January day, months and months after I made that decision, I finally got up the nerve to actually do it. I went to the Etsy site (my choice of online markets) and signed up for a shop. That’s it. It didn’t cost me a thing. It took only a few minutes. I was so relieved and pleased with myself. Then it took me 10 days more to get up the nerve to start to put the shop together. I spent those 10 days frantically reading all of their requirements and advice and guiltily ignoring my shop. A month later and more study and work I finally got it together to actually put some products up for sale. It’s embarrassing to admit that I was such a ninny about opening an online shop. It was really quite easy and I didn’t even have to pledge my first born child to do it.
I’ve learned a lot and built confidence since then about opening a shop. These are some of my thoughts on how to get started.
Setting up your store:
- Give your shop a name that is easy to remember, means something to you and relates to your product. It can be changed later. I think about changing my shop’s name but too many people know it so it doesn’t make sense to lose the recognition.
- Take advantage of the wisdom the online company passes along. Remember, the more money you make, the more money they make. They want you to succeed. Read the site’s advice and requirements and follow it.
- I can think of 3 places in Etsy to talk about yourself and your product. Fill them all in. Let your personality and enthusiasm come through. Tell your story. People want to know who they are buying from and feel a connection to you just like they would buying from you in person.
- Always add pictures when you can especially of your work area. Let people know about you. You don’t have to be in the pictures.
- It is your shop. If you had physical store you would know every inch of it. Do that with your online shop as well. Don’t be afraid to dig around the site. Explore all the different places. When setting up your shop, fill out as much information as you can.
- Make your shop look like it is there to stay. Every successful shop I’ve seen looks well thought out.
- Think through all of the policies choices they give you and fill them in even if you’re not sure. Anything can be changed later. I looked through the site’s advise and through other peoples shop to decide on my policies.
- Decide where you are willing to send mail to.
- Decide how often you will go to the post office.
- Decide how you are going to take money. The site gives you options. I started with Pay Pal only.
- Decide on your policy for returns.
- Decide if you are willing to do custom orders.
- I guess an important but awkward question is how serious are you about making a success of your online shop. Be really honest with yourself here. It is okay to want this venture to be just a fun thing you do for now. It is also okay if you would like to have this replace your day job someday or anywhere in between. It is important to know this so you can keep perspective.
- Your bookkeeping methods will depend on what you decided above. The bookkeeping can be very informal or even use the Online site’s records for your own. The formality of your bookkeeping will depend on how professional you intend to have your business become. I mention this here because the bookkeeping needs to start with your online shop.
- A tricky part for me was to set some realistic goals. I didn’t try to set the great big goals that were unrealistic, I had a tendency to not set goals at all. I knew I wanted my shop to keep doing better each year and I was in it for the long haul. Have some sort on business plan in mind.
If you have been thinking about opening an online shop, do your research and recognize it isn’t a life or death deal. Good luck, I hope it all works for you. I wish there was a magic that could instantly make you successful. There’s not! I takes you spending time and some hard work.