Hey entrepreneurs, bloggers, freelancers, creatives, and business people! If you’re serious about sales, creating an online store is the way to go. As of mid-October 2018, I acquired full rights to my poetry book, Somewhere On A Highway, which started my passion for product sales, and, subsequently the launch of my store. Not only am I now selling my book (in paperback and pdf form!), but also custom poetry, art, and prints.
Whether you have a physical store that people can shop at and want to offer sales for people in other places (even internationally!), or you’re looking to create a fully virtual business, having an online store is essential. But beyond just setting up the store, when it comes to online sales, you have to find a way to drive traffic to your site and increase actual purchases.
In terms of creating an online store (whether from scratch or through a hosting service), increasing visitors to your page(s), creating engaging posts and product write-ups, and finding quality platforms for running your store, here are some of the most important things I’ve learned (and mistakes I’ve made along the way) to help you through.
1. First, find a hosting platform that does what you need it to do.
The foundation for your online store must start with a quality hosting platform. Whether you have a blog/website already, or are looking to start one, research themes and platforms that support online stores.
A service I started with—and one that’s great for both beginners and professionals alike—is WooCommerce (click here to sign up!). Through this platform I was able to add extensions to my previously-created WordPress sites and easily integrate product and category pages, links, and shortcuts.
One suggestion I have for you in this area is to make sure your site or e-commerce hosting platform is storefront-friendly. The first theme I launched my store on wasn’t the best, so I was lacking some of the visual components that would take my shop from basic to superb. This is important because it changes the way your store physically looks, which can naturally encourage visitors to shop around and stay on your site.
2. Decide on your products and get feedback before launch.
Before you launch your store there are a few things to make sure you do. First, preview the store IDEA with your followers/subscribers to get a sense of what they’d be interested in. They might be able to shed valuable insight on what you should sell, what would appeal to them, etc.
Then do research on your products to determine what you actually want to sell, how much it would be, what the profit potential is, etc. You can even consider sharing a preview of the shop itself (once compiled) with a few of your most loyal subscribers to get genuine, first-look feedback.
3. Create visuals and meta descriptions.
As you begin to put together your shop, make sure that visuals are crisp, clear, and engaging. Make sure that anything you take a picture of has a non-blurry, non-busy background so that the focus is on the product. Consider colors/layout as well.
For meta descriptions, make sure that you’re using keywords, that the description is long enough, and that you’re showcasing your product(s) as best as you possibly can. Making sure all of this is done before launch makes the entire experience better in terms of SEO and user-friendliness.
4. Figure out pricing.
Though you can be flexible with pricing post-launch, with sales, etc. it’s best to launch with set prices in mind. Before you actually share your store with buyers, have a price that you’ve thought through for shipping, tax, packaging, etc.
5. Plan out how you want your store to look (especially the store landing page).
As you create your online store, think about what you want the users to see first—this is the landing page. Do you want this page to have a list of ALL products? Do you want it to show categories? Would colors be visually appealing? A giant scrolling banner be fun? Plan these things out so that your shop launch is worry-free.
6. Verify that all your links work.
This ensures that your user experience is seamless. If someone clicks on a link to another product, you want to make sure that can be easily navigated to, or added to cart if necessary. You don’t want a bunch of errors, broken links, or support requests—this will make people frustrated and uninterested in looking at your shop.
7. Share, share, share!
Once your shop is publish-ready, share the heck out of it! Use social media to your advantage. Also tap into sites like LinkedIn to get your content out there. Don’t be afraid to use co-marketing, collaboration, and even paid promotion to help your online store reach as many potential customers as possible.
8. Don’t overanalyze.
Undoubtedly, there will be many things you forget with your first store and launch. Don’t be too hard on yourself! There are always ways to edit, improve, and even reach out for paid support if you get lost. Remember that your store can be altered and changed depending on what works, or what doesn’t. You can also modify the layout, them—heck, even hosting platform! So don’t give up if you get frustrated. And don’t overanalyze. If you have quality products to sell, they will sell themselves regardless.
9. Take advantage of deals.
Brands and companies offer incentives for you to join with them. For example, WooCommerce, a great hosting platform or extension to add to your pre-existing page, often does initiatives to pull in customers! WooCommerce is easy to navigate, filled with helpful support articles, and gives you the basics (and the frills!) without stress.
Happy shop creating! (And if you have any questions/thoughts, feel free to comment or email me directly. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.)
Featured Image Credit: Brooke Cagle