This post was originally published in UPPERCASE magazine, issue #59.
Have you considered creating an online shop for your art, craft, or design work? Now is a great time to figure it out. Ecommerce software has never been more powerful or simple to use. Here are some things to plan for when starting out.
Pricing For Profit
You want to make sure that your product pricing will be profitable after paying for your expenses. It’s tempting to skimp on labor costs when your team is just you. However, this is usually unsustainable. Consider the cost of labor for producing products, as well as the administrative work. At the start, you may be photographing products, adding them to the site, and fulfilling orders. If you pay yourself, you’ll be able to hire and grow if you’d like, because the cost will be built into your pricing.
A sustainable pricing strategy will cover materials, packaging, software, and labor. Most retail businesses price so that they can make a profit when selling at wholesale prices. Usually, wholesale accounts will pay you 50% of the purchase price of the product. Even if you never sell to wholesale buyers, this is a good way to be sure your product is priced appropriately.
Your brand is what sets you apart and helps you attract and keep customers. Figure out who your ideal customer is. You want to understand what interests them about your products, so you can market to them in a relatable way.
Know what differentiates your business from even your closest competitor. You’ll tell this story in different ways when you start marketing your business.
Your business will need a name, of course. It should appeal to your ideal customers, and be memorable and unique. When you’ve decided on a name, you can work with an attorney to trademark it.
Your brand identity will be used throughout your marketing. This could include a logo, colors, and typefaces that go with your brand. You may want illustrations, icons, and patterns to use online and on packaging.
Beautiful photography (and sometimes video) is key when selling online. It can make or break a website. I recommend investing in professional photography. If it’s not in budget, you can invest in the equipment and training you need to take great photos yourself.
The wording on your site and in your marketing is also important to tell your story and sell your products. Keep your ideal customer in mind and explain the benefits of the product well. Pay special attention to your product descriptions, home page, and include a page about your business.
Setting Up Shop
There are different ways you can test the waters when selling online. You could sign up for Etsy or another online marketplace. You could sell directly through a social media platform. If you have an existing website for your art or craft, you may be able to add a shop to it.
If you’re planning to make online sales a priority, it’s expected that you’ll have a site at your own domain. I recommend Shopify, for its flexibility, effective feature set, and strategic checkout process. This is the software we use for every site we build. It’s a good fit for new businesses and established businesses alike, which gives you room to grow.
If you’re new to this technology, keep it simple. Shopify has ready-to-go design themes in their theme store, and tutorials explaining how to get started.
Marketing Your Shop
Once you have a site, you’ll want to choose a few ways to sell and promote your shop. This could include search engine optimization, press mentions, social media, and paid ads.
If you already have a mailing list for your art or craft, it’s a great place to build excitement for your new shop. If you don’t, it’s important to build a mailing list from day one and keep in touch regularly.
Making connections online is going to be important. Find groups of peers and colleagues and contribute to the discussion. I find that in the creative community, most people are happy to help.
Get started selling online
A website is never done, and it can always be improved. Here are some more resources:
- Download my guide to getting more traffic and more sales.
- Check out our Wholesale Pricing Tips and Formulas.
- On the fence about which platform to use? Check out our Shopify vs Etsy Fee Calculator.
- Learn how to Optimize Your Website Content To Resonate With Your Dream Customer.
- Try out some of these Advanced Email Marketing Techniques.
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