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How to Start an Online Store

Published by Salvador Briggman. Find him on Twitter.

Are you ready?

It’s finally time to start your own online store.

Before you know it, you’re going to be able to work from anywhere, take control of your life, and spring out of bed, eager for the day to start.

Okay, maybe I’m stretching the truth. As much as I love my job, I’m not a morning person. I need that hit of caffeine before I begin to transform from a grumpy monster into a reasonable human being.

But, the facts remain. When you open an online store, you can be your own boss. You have the final say when it comes to your business.

There is a tremendous sense of power that comes with owning your own business. There is also a remarkable feeling of freedom.

Just imagine waking up in the morning, spending time with your kids, and then closing the door to your home office as you prep for the work day.

No tuning into the radio for traffic news. No early morning commute.

There’s nothing better than knowing that if you really wanted to, you’d only have to work 2-3 hours per day and still be able to earn a full-time income from home.

That’s the magic of online business. Let’s get started.

I’m going to share with you the steps that you need to take if you want to start a profitable online store.

1. Create an Online Shop

The first set in building an ecommerce business is setting up an online shop so that visitors can find out about your products and prices.

You need a professional looking storefront if you expect website visitors to turn into lifelong customers.

Not only is an online shop part of your company branding, but it also handles all of the payment processing that goes into running an ecommerce business.

You won’t have to physically ring up a cash register every single time someone makes a purchase. Instead the website handles all of that for you… automatically.

This allows you to focus your time on more important tasks.

If you’re not very tech savvy and you just want to start selling online, you can create an online shop using Shopify.

Shopify is super simple, very intuitive, and has a lot of complex functionality that will help out as you scale your business. Of course, there are others.

You can start a trial of Shopify, no credit card required, for 14 days.

2. Pick Something to Sell!

If you don’t have something that you can sell, then you don’t have a business.

This product could be something that YOU yourself designed. You put in all the hard work to set up the supply chain, handle manufacturing, and perfect the prototype.

However, you could also function as a retailer and sell other people’s products on your Shopify store. You would be in charge of marketing and selling these wholesale products to consumers.

When you’re just getting started with your store, you want to sell a product that doesn’t have too many variations. Otherwise, you’ll complicate the fulfillment process.

You’ll also want to go with a product that has a healthy profit margin. I learned this the hard way in the past.

Every business must satisfy the demands of TWO groups of people: the customers and the owner.

If you have a low-cost product, a lot of customers might be happy, but the owner will be miserable. They might end up cutting corners in order to try to make more profit.

If you have a high-cost product, there might not be enough demand to make a business, though the owner would be very happy with any sales that are made.

You want to find a happy medium where there is enough of a profit margin to re-invest in marketing, human resources, and take a little cash off the table.

Lastly, I would recommend only selling a product that solves a problem you care deeply about. Otherwise, it’s going to be hard to get enough motivation to do the customer research necessary to have a good product-market fit.

3. Get Traffic To Your Website

You can create an online store and decide on a good product to sell, but unless you get traffic to your website, it’s all meaningless.

There are two things that are the lifeblood of any online business: traffic and sales.

Those are the only two things that matter in the long run.

Luckily, there are many ways that you can get traffic to your website. Some include:

  • Content Marketing
  • Search Engines
  • Google Adwords
  • Facebook Ads
  • Advertising on Blogs
  • Podcast sponsorship
  • YouTube and Instagram Influencers
  • PR and Press Releases

You can divide ALL of the ways that you can get traffic into two major groups: organic traffic and paid traffic.

Organic traffic is when visitors naturally stumble onto your website. That could come from social media, search engines, typing in your URL, and more.

Paid traffic is when you pay for a visitor to find your website. When using this type of traffic, you’re going to want to pay attention to the overall customer CPA (cost per acquisition) to decide whether or not it’s a profitable way to spend your advertising dollars.

If there’s ONE thing that you take away from this section, it should be that the quality of traffic you send to your website matters.

Sounds like B.S?

If you don’t follow my advice right now, you’re gonna waste a ton of money chasing ineffective marketing strategies.

These people that come to your website are actual human beings. They eat three meals a day, watch television, have families, and feel the exact same emotions you do. Some are smart, some are wealthy, some are interested in particular sports or hobbies.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a high-priced baby carriage that an exercising-loving parent would jog with while they’re watching their toddler.

If you spent $500 sending 1,000 teenagers to your website, hoping they’d buy your new product, you’d be wasting your marketing dollars.

The quality of the traffic you send to your website matters. You must target the group of people that would be interested in the product.

4. Re-Invest Your Profits and Grow!

The last part of starting a profitable online store is to re-invest your profits and scale your business.

Almost every new business grows as a result of a consistent infusion of capital. This law applies to both startups and traditional businesses.

The only difference is that for the majority of ecommerce entrepreneurs, that infusion of capital comes from continually re-investing their profits.

This capital allows you to get more traffic to your website, convert more visitors into buyers, and boost your revenue.

The best tools and technology will also allow you to grow quickly.

If you don’t re-invest your profits, the business will stay small, take a really long time to grow, or quite simply die out.

So… how would you re-invest your profits?

Simple.

  1. Grow your company’s skill set
  2. Do more of what’s working
  3. Create new products

Your company is limited by the skill set of the founder and the teammates. The fastest way that you can begin to make big strides is to invest in training YOU and your team.

You should absorb as much information as possible on the topics of marketing, online sales, ecommerce, copywriting, and more.

This information will enable you to act smarter and more effectively going forward. It lays the foundation for the future. As an alternative, you could bring on new teammates with the skill sets you need.

Next, you should double down on what’s working. Invest more into advertising, PR, or whichever avenue your customers are finding you. You should also experiment with new avenues.

Finally, every successful business usually has multiple products that they can sell to new and existing customers. The fastest way to grow your sales is to begin to create new products that solve similar, though different, pain points. They should be complementary.

Have You Done it Yet??

You gotta get started on this ASAP. Don’t put it off until tomorrow.

Take a second to sign up for Shopify. It takes literally two seconds, and you’ll thank me later. They are the gold standard of online store building.

Once you do, you’ve made the first step towards building out your successful ecommerce business. I’ve outlined several of the others in this article.

If you haven’t already, take a sec to subscribe down below for more content that I have coming out. I also recommend taking a look at my YouTube video on ecommerce.

Thanks and good luck!

This post contains affiliate links.

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