I am a terrible salesperson. I am introverted and do not often like talking to people. I have always preferred to work behind the scenes.
In 2008, an unimportant series of events led me to stumble upon EBay. Of course, I had heard of EBay before and even bought a few things from the site. But, I had never thought about the person on the other end who shipped me my item. I had no idea that person was working from their home and making huge profits. This simple realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I had tried to purchase a few parts from a company in California the week before and was told that I had to be a “dealer” to purchase from them. What was a dealer? Who was a dealer? What advantages did dealers have?
At that moment, it all clicked for me and I registered a business name with my state and signed up to be a dealer. The approval was quick and I began listing parts on EBay. At first, I was horrible at it. I listed five parts. My listings were terrible and generic. And my prices were either too high or too low. I kept researching and improving my listings and within a week, I had made my first sale. I contacted my supplier and they shipped the part to my first customer. It made me feel high! Elated!
I only made $9 in profit, but that didn’t matter to me. Suddenly, the entire world of online selling became clear and I was addicted. I added more and more products and did tons of market research. After about six months, I would wake up every morning and immediately check my phone to see if I had made any money while I was sleeping. And most mornings, I had! It was thrilling. Within a year, I was supporting my family with my EBay store.
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For a terrible salesperson who does not like to interact with lots of people, this was a dream come true. I grew my business from EBay to Amazon and eventually I traded those selling channels for a Shopify store, which I still own and operate today.
I grew my ecommerce store from $0 to $500,000 within two years with no prior experience or knowledge. This is absolutely possible for you!
If you take the leap today and start your ecommerce store with Shopify, you will receive a FREE Ecommerce Brainstorming session with me. We will hash out your ideas, talk about niche, supplier, design, and give you an actionable plan. Read more to learn how to schedule your Ecommerce Brainstorming session.
Here is How to Start an Ecommerce Store Today
1. Pick Your Niche
Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you select a niche:
- Have I tried to purchase something recently that was difficult to find? This is the question that began my ecommerce journey. I was searching for parts that were not available. I researched online and found the manufacturer who told me that I had to be a dealer to purchase the parts. They referred me to a dealer. When I realized how difficult it was to find what I needed, I decided to become a dealer and provide the parts online. Do you have an idea yet? Start an ecommerce store today.
- Do I purchase anything from a specialty store? A friend of mine came to me wanting to start an online store, but she was struggling to find a niche. We started talking about how much she loves to cook and she mentioned that she had to drive quite a distance to purchase her favorite flavored olive oil. Providing custom olive oils online became her winning ecommerce idea. Did this give you an idea? Start an ecommerce store today.
- Do I have an interest that requires me to purchase products? One of my colleagues used to work in a nursing home. She told me about how many of the residents loved a particular pair of socks that was difficult to find. The socks are exceedingly soft, hypoallergenic, and easy to clean. She had searched high and low for the socks and finally had some shipped from overseas. This experience began her $12,000/month ecommerce store where she sourced and sold essentials for nursing homes in her online store. The socks are still her best-selling product. One of my clients owns a salon. She purchases product at wholesale to stock the shelves of her salon and she also ships products to her seasonal customers who can’t find the products in their home states. I helped her start an online store so that her seasonal customers can order online and the store has grown to add an additional $3000/ month to her salon income. Have you decided on your niche? Start an ecommerce store today.
- Am I an expert in a specific area? A dietician friend of mine routinely recommends specific products to her clients. Over wine one night, we had a light bulb moment and decided that she should start an online store accompanied by a blog to promote and sell her favorite products, based on her expertise. Adding the online store has added $8000/month to her income. Are you ready to add to your income? Start an ecommerce store today.
Do you still need help picking a niche? Shoot me an email at Julie@allaboutselfemployment.com and we can work together to find one. I have millions of ideas and am excited to help you.
2. Create Your Brand
This step is important, but not as important as most “experts” make it seem. I have seen ecommerce stores with simple brands and terrible names earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. Obviously, you don’t want your store to have a terrible name, but don’t belabor this step. Here are a few examples of Shopify stores who got it right with simple names and clean design: Gourmet Wedding Gifts is an online shopping experience for brides and grooms planning a wedding. It is a clean and well-organized Shopify store with a simple name and simple logo. The logo and banner can easily be created with zero design experience on Canva. Cheap Cookie Cutters is a cute niche site specializing in…surprise! Cookie Cutters. The brand is simple and pop culture-ish. A logo like theirs can be created for less than $25 on a freelance site like fiverr.com. With Love From Brooklyn is one of my favorite niche Shopify stores. A clean and basic banner logo like this can easily be created in Canva and the name of the store says it all. There is no need to overthink your brand or pay hundreds for an overly stylized logo. Simple and clean is better. Your brand name should clearly communicate what you are selling and be easily remembered. If you decide later that you would like to purchase additional domain names, your Shopify store can be directed to multiple domains. Are you ready to get started? Start an ecommerce store today.
3. Source Your Products
There are many ways to source products. In my case, I mistakenly called a wholesaler to purchase a product and then called them back a week later to become a dealer. A few years back, I helped a client start a lawn mower and tractor parts online store. It only took a few Google searches to find this huge supplier. My client was signed up within a few days and listing thousands of parts on his Shopify store. Here are the most popular product sources:
- Wholesalers. These are companies, like the lawn mower parts supplier above, that only sell to other businesses. Many times they have tiered pricing structures that lower your pricing as your account grows. Stay away from wholesalers who also have online retail stores. It doesn’t make sense to compete with your wholesaler. You can find these wholesalers with Google searches that look like this: Your niche + wholesaler. You will have to sort through a few pages to locate a few good options. Once you find a wholesaler website you like, scroll to the bottom for information about how to apply as a dealer.
- Overseas Dropshippers. When you set up your Shopify store, there are apps, such as Oberlo that will instantly add products you choose to your store. The images, descriptions, and variants are automatically populated in your store. When you make a sale, the Oberlo app will guide you through placing the order and shipping it directly to your new customer. If you do not want to use Oberlo, there are hundreds of dropshippers, both overseas and US based for virtually any product niche.
- Private Partnerships. Forming private partnerships is a bit more labor intensive, but also keeps competitors at bay.
Here is an example of how that works: If you decide that your online store niche is “Locally Sourced Honey,” you could do a search for lists of honey suppliers. I found this list, provided by the National Honey Board with a five second Google search. Go down the list and call honey suppliers until you find one that is willing to dropship honey for your business. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Do you offer wholesale pricing?
- Are you willing to dropship?
- May I use photos from your website to advertise on my online store?
Find 5-10 honey suppliers from all over the country and you have plenty of product to start your website. (As a side note, I came up with this honey idea in about three minutes for the purpose of this article. Feel free to give it a try. Or, for other ideas like this, email me at Julie@allaboutselfemployment.com.)
- White Labeling. If you would like to create a complete brand with products that have your logo on them, white labeling is the option for you. Companies, such as Hypercel and Tailor Made Products are able to source products and label and package them with your unique branding, making the product original to you and your online store. Enter your niche or product + private label in a Google Search for page after page of possible suppliers.
4. Sign Up for Your Two Week Free Shopify Trial
Now that you have selected a great niche, created a brand, and sourced your products, sign up for a two week free trial with Shopify. Over the next two weeks, you can select a theme, customize your theme with your brand and some content, and add some products. With Shopify, you can integrate with your email marketing platform (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc), integrate with your social media platforms, and manage your store from one simple dashboard. With hundreds of free apps, the Shopify platform is robust, although the price point is surprisingly low. Once your two week trial is complete, hopefully you will have made a sale or two already. But, if not, don’t worry, growing an online store takes time. Shopify offers a great plan for new brands. The Basic Shopify plan offers credit card processing at a competitive rate, unlimited products, shipping discounts, discount codes, hundreds of free apps, and 24/7 support for only $29/month. That is an incredibly low price considering all the features Shopify offers.
The Short and Sweet
If you are looking for a way to work from home and earn a full time income, or even start a side hustle, start your Shopify store today. Are you ready to start your ecommerce store now? If not, make sure you pin or bookmark this article for later. If you are ready and need any ideas or advice, please send me an email at Julie@allaboutselfemployment.com. I am here if you would like to bounce some ideas off me or if you get stuck on any of these steps. The best part of ecommerce is that once you are up and running, your online store can become a passive stream of regular income. Once you create one profitable ecommerce store, you can create several more. You can even create ecommerce stores and sell them. The income opportunities with ecommerce are endless. But, you have to get started. (While I was writing this article, my Shopify store did $423 in sales at a profit margin of approximately 30%.)
As promised, if you start your two week Shopify trial today, I will throw in an Ecommerce Brainstorming session with me. After you create your Shopify store, click here to select your appointment day and time. Can’t wait to chat about ideas for your new online store.