"I want to start a store too!" I often hear from friends, colleagues, and internet strangers who email me. "Great!" I say. "It's so easy."
Though I've explained the process to literally thousands of people at this point, only about a handful of people have started a store--and even fewer have stuck with it.
"Now Arianna, why would you want to show people how to compete with your store?" you might ask. Having a store has changed my life in so many ways and has brought me so many opportunities. I want to help you too create passive income and open up some amazing professional doors. Plus, there are more than enough customers to go around on the Internet.
Here's how you can get started with your own store in literally one hour.
1. Use print-on-demand products.
Start with print-on-demand products. I can't stress this enough. Print-on-demand is a new kind of technology where you can print your design on one product. 10 years ago, you had to order massive quantities of a good at wholesale and store it somewhere. Then you had to deal with the packing and shipping. The barrier to enter the e-commerce market is significantly lower now.
For my store, I use a combination of Printful, Pixels, Teelaunch, Gooten, and Voodoo Manufacturing for my print-on-demand products. Use your designs to create everything from mugs to cookie cutters. Other designers use other options including, Printify, Print Aura, Teespring, Zazzle, Shapeways and Spreadshirt.
2. Just make something--anything.
A common barrier to starting a store that I've heard is often "I want to start a store but I'm not creative" or "I don't know what to make." A great starting point is to design something that you personally want. Then even if your product doesn't sell, have a cool item you can use and call your own. And if you still can't think of an idea, here are three free text based ideas you can make right now:
- A mug with a funny saying your best friend always says.
- A t-shirt with your name.
- A sweater shirt that says "I love ________" (Fill in the blank with something you love).
Look through the hundreds of fonts your editing program has to offer and pick one you like. Then turn it into a PNG file. Bam, you have a design file you can now put on thousands of print-on-demand products! Who cares if it's not the best thing you've ever seen.
The most important part of starting a store is literally just starting. Make something easy to start and move on to more complicated designs when you've mastered the art of text based design.
3. Use software to help you.
If you know how to use Microsoft Paint you too can start designing simple text based designs. And if you don't, you can learn a similar photo editing system online. Google "free graphic design program" and you'll find hundreds.
Let me clarify: I am not a designer. The extend of my graphic design ability stops at stick figures. But it's okay. There are ways around this to create more elaborate designs once you've graduated from text based design. Once I mastered creating simple designs on my own, I took around $40 and hired someone on UpWork to create a more complicated design for me. Once that design started selling, I used the profits to create more designs.
4. Don't make things hard on yourself.
Many people who try and start a store make things unintentionally difficult for themselves. They want to have a Shopify or Magenta store setup with 20 pages, a blog, and a million other widgets. Start with Etsy. You can get setup in about one hour. Use the Etsy maketplace to start selling and testing out products at minimal cost, plus you'll have built-in customers there. There is no monthly fee and you can later on download your listings to a CSV file that you can later on use to upgrade to Shopify or even Amazon.
To get into the e-commerce space, perfection isn't necessary. Just create a quick storefront, make one listing and start promoting it to see if you can sell it. While yes, it's important to have good branding, customer reviews and design for a long term store, it's important to just get started. You can always optimize what you're doing later.
5. Don't quit too soon.
Stick with your store for a year. Yes, a year. It took me more than a year to generate a passive income stream where I do minimal work on my store, but it still brings in a nice chunk of change each month. Commit to making one product every two weeks and in one year you'll have a store filled with unique items.
The beauty of an online store is that if it's not working, you can always pivot and try something else. Maybe you were selling dog beds that weren't selling. You'll still have the design and can put it on anything from print-on-demand dog bananas to dog bowels. Don't give up, I promise it will be worth it in the long run.
Okay, now you have no more excuses. Start right now and in an hour you can have your own store too!