Did you see part 1 of the Online Business tips, found here.
It may help you if you need a few tips for taking good pictures for your shop.
Disclaimer: Okay, when talking about online businesses, I have to say again that I am not really an expert. I don’t have any business training and some of you may laugh at my suggestions. It has surprised me every step of the way when something has worked……so please don’t think this has all been well thought out and/or is the only way. Or even a good way. And if a piece of my advice is ridiculous, just laugh right along with me. Because I laugh about some of the things I have done too. No biggee.
I just had to throw that little disclaimer in there…..you know, just so you know I don’t pretend to be an expert. But I just remember back when I started, I just needed a starting point. Something to think about. And advice from someone who started simple, and from scratch. So if that’s you…….this may be helpful for you.
Anyway, another really common question I get is where to open an online shop.
Most people are starting small and don’t want to hire a designer to create a whole online shop for them……..I didn’t either.
So here are 3 locations I’ve used to open an online shop:
I know there are plenty other places to open up shops…..but these are the ones I have used. And I’ll tell you when and why.
(And remember, these are just from my own experience and may not include every detail. They are just things that stood out to me while using each location.)
I started a tiny little hairbow shop on just a regular ‘ol blogger blog 5 years ago. (Remember? I explained a little about that first shop here.) I had little experience with a blog at all but figured out that I could insert paypal buttons for customers to buy the things they saw. I added new products to the blog under different posts and numbered all of the products. I added little paypal buttons to the blog’s sidebar and people purchased bows right from the blog. I would receive notifications in my email that someone placed an order and then I would make the orders and ship them out. It was pretty simple but was hard for people to navigate all of the products. But it was a great starting point.
Overall: A great starting point for me. I needed to learn small first and I was glad it didn’t cost me a penny to try it out!
I closed down that little hairbow site on Blogger when I was pregnant with our little guy. It was too much for me and sending out orders got to be too hectic. But after he was about 6 months old, I was in a better routine and my hands ached to make and sell things again. So when I started Make It and Love It and was sharing some of the things I was making for free, I also opened up a little Etsy shop to sell some of the things I made.
Overall: A really great starting point. I never would have been able to move on to Big Cartel if I didn’t start here and gain some customers. I was being found in the internal Etsy searches and that really helped with my growth. Also, I give a lot of credit to the etsy community…..because even though I never commented in the forums, I would read topics that pertained to me and then used what I needed.
3. Big Cartel
After a while, I was feeling really confined with Etsy. None of my items were very pricey but I was selling a good amount. The fees that I was paying every month was over $100. So the $0.20 re-listing fee was really adding up……and then the 3.5% fee wasn’t helping either. That’s when I talked with a friend (hey Shey!) and she told me some of the great things about Big Cartel. So I made the switch.
Overall: The switch over to Big Cartel was worth it. It just fit better with what I wanted. And it has saved me some cash!! However, my Etsy shop was open for a good period of time so I know people had “bookmarked” or “favorite-ed” the shop…….so I decided to keep it open. Transitioning over to a new shop takes time. So I changed all links over to Big Cartel and pointed people that way but those who already knew my Etsy shop can still find it. And I still come up in Etsy searches so until that shop goes dead, I’ll keep it open for the stragglers.
For first time shops, I always recommend starting with a community based shop, like Etsy, to start your growth. But if you already have a name for yourself, and some customers, starting right out with Big Cartel makes more sense. Etsy really helps you to grow and send customers your way, so it’s a great place to start. However, if you are noticing a large bill from Etsy each month, it may be time for a little transition. But whoever you go with, ask yourself a few questions:
And just for fun……..here’s a little glimpse of my headers, starting 5 years ago.
It took me some time, but I finally found this little gem, from my hairbow shop (talked about here). It makes me laugh now, but I loved that header from the moment I traded someone some hairbows for a shop header. I had no clue about photoshop or digital scrapbook paper. The gal who made this was so sweet to me and after she sent it over, I was so impressed. But this is where it all began (even though it was a completely different shop, and not Make It and Love It).
I loved that old header. My taste has definitely changed since then……but it’s where everything began!
And just so you know, my header changes with my mood and the season.
ometimes I like clean and very uncluttered and other times I like a lot of detail.
The Make It and Love It Etsy Headers…..starting in 2008.
These last two have only been used in my Big Cartel Shop…….starting in 2010.
(This green header is currently being edited, as is my blog. Come to find out….green is a finicky color. Tell me, is the green color on my blog “slap you in the face green”, “slightly highlighter green nauseating” or is it “strong yet springy green”?? One computer to the other, green tends to change. Makes me crazy!)
Anyway, hope that helps.
And best of luck opening your shop!