Starting an Online Store. A Step by Step Guide
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If you are looking to make money online, there is hardly any better method than developing an online store. Sure, it might take some time but if you follow through and do everything the right way, you will create a sustainable source of income that can make you money for many years.
What Do You need?
Since everything is pretty much automated these days, you do not need that much in order to get a online store up and running. Register a domain, purchase a host or pick a platform that can help you with that. There are a few options, for instance, if you are going to focus on digital services or products, Sellfy is a great choice for ideas for your downloads. The same can be said about Shopify which is a great option overall. Ultimately, you get to decide on this so research a bit and figure out which option you feel is the best.
While using platforms that are specific for e-commerce saves you a lot of trouble, it can limit your customization options, so it is probably better to stick with something like WordPress if you are an experienced coder and believe that you can create something much better from scratch yourself. Or perhaps it could be a great learning experience if you want to master WordPress. Once again, you get to decide whether this would be the correct option.
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Getting your website up and running is probably the easiest part of the whole venture. But what comes before and after that is a bit of a challenge.
You are going to be doing a lot of market research to make sure that your efforts do not go to waste. First and foremost, you want a product that will actually sell. Even if you have an idea that you believe would work, all will be for naught if people are not bothering spending their money on you.
So how does one determine whether a product or service is going to bring profit? Well, there are a couple of key metrics that can help you with that.
No matter how narrow your niche, there will always be someone who is already working on it. The only exception would be introducing a brand-new product yourself. Otherwise, you will have someone competing with you.
Start with looking at who your potential rivals are. And keep in mind that this sort of behavior should not be done just prior to launch but maintained throughout the project. It is always recommended to keep up with your competitors, seeing what they are doing and applying some of their practices to your own business.
After you are done looking at how competitive your potential idea is, you have two options. The first one is thinking of something else, and the second one is sticking to your idea.
Now while the competition does help, it is not the same as looking through current and upcoming trends. Your product or service should be evergreen, meaning that it has demand throughout the year. For instance, if you are leaning towards selling sports equipment, ice-skates will not sell that well in certain seasons. Meanwhile, sticking to gym equipment, or something like supplements will be better since people work out all the time.
There is an argument to be made about picking something that is a short fad, creating a website, and selling it until it disappears from people’s radar. But this sort of thing is quite difficult, especially if you are not experienced. Not to mention that predicting when something like that is going to appear is quite difficult.
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Do not forget that more and more individuals are doing their shopping online. Using smartphones and tablets are that much more comfortable. If you miss out on this step, you will lose quite a few customers.
Dropshipping or a Regular Online Store?
When you make up your mind and are certain about the product you are going to sell, think what business model you believe would be better – dropshipping or sticking to a regular online store.
It seems that dropshipping has the upper hand these days. Mostly because it eliminates various problems like dealing with inventory, not relying on staff, and, ultimately, being more automated.
When such issues disappear, running the entire thing becomes much easier and you can put your focus on different, more important matters.
Recent growth in print on demand business is also a good indicator that dropshipping is in a pretty great place. Not to mention that new manufacturers are popping up almost every day.
That is not to say that running a regular online store is a bad idea. This business model is still alive and well, and you can still make a pretty penny if you dedicate your time to it. But if there is an easier way, why wouldn’t you want to take that?
When your website is running and you have added some products in, it is time to start making money, right? Well, when you reach this step, you should not expect that people will come to your website out of thin air. No, if you want a steady and sustainable business, you will need to work on marketing more than anything else.
Social media is playing an incredibly important part. The biggest platforms like Facebook and Instagram have hundreds of millions of active users. It is totally understandable why businesses are putting themselves out there and trying to get as much presence as they can.
Now you might be jumping to the conclusion of getting a channel on as many different social media platforms as you can. While it may work in theory, practice suggests quite different results. First of all, it takes a lot of time managing everything at the same time. Not to mention creating multiple original content pieces every day or so because you do not want to post the same thing on different channels.
Moreover, coming up with enough content for an e-commerce store can be a real pain. That is why so many companies hire social media content creators and designers. If you ever end up in a similar situation, look at this list of the best websites to find such professionals.
Sticking to the best platforms is the way to go. Facebook and Instagram are a no-brainer since they are the most popular ones. And it is worth checking out Pinterest if you are relying on visual aids.
Growing a channel can be challenging so be sure to run some contests and ad campaigns for more reach. The number of followers will increase with time and naturally if your business offers quality.
Relying entirely on social media for traffic is never a good strategy. People who visit your online store when redirected from Facebook or Instagram are not necessarily interested in making a purchase.
Search engine optimization is where the best of the best come. Nothing comes close to organic traffic from Google.
When you are adding products, make sure that every little bit of it is optimized. Meta descriptions, titles, image names, and so on. It is popular to have a blog on the website as well since it gives you a perfect opportunity to create quality content and increase the overall quality of your SEO. Try to score as many backlinks from authority websites, offer guest post opportunities for writers, and keep track of your SEO campaign active and make adjustments when necessary.
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You must have seen these individuals on the internet. Mostly on social media. They are called influencers for a good reason. Having a large number of followers gives them a chance to make money by simply promoting other products.
The value of hiring an influencer is undeniable and more and more businesses are looking to strike a partnership deal with them rather than sticking to more conventional marketing techniques.
And it is no longer Instagram and Facebook. Influencers can be found on virtually any corner of the internet, including YouTube, Twitch TV, and even websites like Quora and Reddit.
Putting all of your eggs in this basket might be a bit risky, but it is certainly worthwhile trying to work with an influencer or two, even if it is just for the sake of variety. And you can find plenty of micro-influencers that do not have millions of followers but will bring you exposure and increase brand awareness regardless.
It’s a Process
When you are developing an online store, keep in mind that it is a relatively slow process that takes time until everything comes into play.
Patience is necessary and if you are going to prepare a business plan and set yourself some goals, make sure that they are realistic. Hardly anyone meets their expectations on the first try, and it is quite easy to lose motivation when things do not go the way you thought they would.
Take this as a learning experience and try to do your best with every little detail. The more time you spend on it, the better you will become and those who work hard are bound to make a sustainable source of income.
So to sum it all up, this guide should do wonders for everyone who is eager to get started an online store but has little to no experience. If you follow every step closely and devote some time to the project every day, you will be receiving your first profit in no time.