I’ve mentioned more than a few times that I’ve taken the leap this year and decided to open up an Etsy shop. I’m so, so close to finally opening it and I’ve learned quite a few things on this journey and I thought it would be a good chance to share them with anyone else who wants to do the same.
And it’s not just Etsy either. If you plan to open any sort of online shop – maybe you’re selling something you make like me, or you’re selling books through your own website – these tips should hopefully give you some food for thought before you jump into what will be an arduous process. Prepare to do work. And lots of it.
1. Keep Lists of EVERYTHING
I can’t stress this enough. It is so easy to lose track of what you buy, where you buy it and how much it costs. Keep running lists of things you still need to pick up or items or materials you are running low on. I’m opening a small hobby jewellery shop on Etsy but it’s still completely overwhelming how much I’ve had to buy and everything I need to keep track of. And it’s not just what you buy either, though you should definitely be keeping track of that. You’ll also want to keep lists of what you use in your packaging, or what materials you need to make a certain product. Once you’ve made a bunch of products you will probably start forgetting those little details. Keeping lists will save you so much trouble later on.
2. Test Your Shipping
Maybe you can get a scale to learn the weight of your products and packaging, or try sending something to a friend who lives in another province, state or country. Get an idea of the process, and how much it’s going to cost. See if you can find a shipping calculator for your country. It can vary wildly, even within your own country. Get familiar with it. You don’t want to sacrifice profit to pay for shipping ’cause it can get really expensive. Here is a calculator for Canada Post rates as well as USPS. It can be really overwhelming and intimidating, but it’s crucial that you figure out what your shipping costs will be.
3. Do Your Research
And I mean for literally everything. See what your competitors are selling, what their costs are, the quality of their images, their descriptions and keywords, which social media websites they use. Research the best price for packaging your product for shipment. Source good materials and compare prices. The best way to learn how to do it right, is to look at what other successful entrepreneurs have done before you, and to learn from it.
4. Start Small and Work Your Way Up
If like me, this is your first adventure into online business, you want to start small. Don’t go crazy with your opening product line, no matter how tempting it is. It was so hard for me to reel back, but even as I do the final preparations, it has been so much work even for the small number of products I am starting out with. On top of making said product, you have all the work that goes into setting it up and eventually marketing it. Pictures, descriptions, keywords, etc. Every product is going to need its own attention. It’s overwhelming. And it’s probably a good idea to start with a smaller lineup and get it right the first time than to have a huge inventory and struggle to make it work. Once you know what you’re doing you can always grow.
5. Set a Budget.
Even if you think you know what you’ll be spending your money on, find a number you are comfortable with anyway. You’d be amazed at the sorts of things that pop up that you need to pay for. It’s not a big deal if you use a free service like Etsy or Square, but if you want to set up a more professional online storefront using something like BigCartel or IndieMade you’ll have to pay monthly or annually. If you want to take returns and you don’t want to hand out your home address, you’ll need to pay for a PO box. Everything that goes into the packaging – business cards, envelopes, any decorative or branding elements – they all have to be purchased on top of everything else. It can very quickly add up.
I’ll be sure to do more of these as I venture deeper into the territory of online business. I’m still a couple of weeks from opening at this point (life just won’t stop getting in the way, y’know?), but it has been an enlightening process none the less. Hopefully you’ll find some of these tips helpful for your own journey.
Got Any Tips to Share?
Have you got an online store of your own? Do you have any tips you’d like to pass on? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to link your store. I’d love to check it out!