Starting an online shop is such an exciting hobby or career path. But it is always important to start with a plan of what you’re going to sell, how much it is going to cost to get it up and running, where you’re going to sell and obviously the important parts ie. registering a business or hiring an accountant. I hope a few of my tips will start your thinking process if you are wanting to start up an online shop.
Where are you going to sell your products?
There are so many websites to choose from to sell products on, it can be daunting but there are plenty of informational websites that will help you choose. For example with Etsy you do not have to drive your own traffic as there are constantly people searching for products on the site, meaning you can focus on producing new products or growing your social media accounts. However the Etsy charges are quite high along with the PayPal fees, so although you don’t have to drive your own traffic there are extra fees to consider. I only had Etsy for a couple of months before I decided the fees were too high.
Big Cartel is the platform I first used when I set up my online shop. The fees are quite minimal as you can pay per month or get your first 5 products for free which means you don’t have to pay. However with Big Cartel you have to drive your own traffic as people can only search on search engines for your shop. So if you are willing to spend time growing your social media accounts, driving your own traffic or using paid advertisements then Big Cartel is for you.
I am currently using Shopify which is quite expensive per month but it allows you so much more customisation which is essential for growing an online shop. You can pick between a few checkout merchants ie Paypal or Stripe which is useful.
How much are you going to charge?
You have to consider so many things before pricing up your products. This includes all of the fees you pay per month, fees from checkout ie. PayPal, then you need your mark-up, postage and packaging and time spent designing. It is not as easy to just think ‘I will charge £4.00 for this’. Charging £4 for a product could mean £1.26 postage, 50p packaging, 35p PayPal fees, £1.50 materials to produce product which would then leave you with 39p, oh but then 20% tax on profit so 31p profit. Is this worth your time? Write a list of every cost before you consider charging for it. Make sure you’re making a good enough profit otherwise it’s time wasting and you’ll never grow your shop.
How are you going to promote your online shop?
As we move into the digital era, social media and networking sites are so important when promoting your online shop. It can be daunting when choosing which social networking sites to start with, it does all depend on your products. Instagram is great if your products are visually pleasing, you can upload photos of your products, show your followers how you make your products but also use Instagram Stories or the Live feature to show your followers even more or behind the scenes.
Twitter is essential when you want to connect with your followers, interact and engage. It’s also easy to share photos and use the poll option to get feedback and ideas from your followers.
Facebook is good to target a different audience completely, it also allows you to upload photos, promote your products and connect with your followers. There are so many networking sites outside these 3 that will help your business depending on what you want to sell.
Register your business!
The earlier you register your business the less complicated it will get. If you register your business from day 1 you can begin to record your accounts (this gets messy if you do not record from day 1). There are a few options; sole trader, limited company or a partnership. Sole trader means submitting a tax return at the end of the financial year for all of your incomings and outgoings. I am set up as a limited company as this keeps my personal earnings separate to the shop earnings, as my shop profit goes back into the shop to buy new products. Keeping separate finances does mean I require an accountant as I submit a more complicated tax return for my online shop and also a personal tax return along with everybody else. A partnership is more for 2 or more people to set up a business together.
Opening up an online shop is such a scary but exciting thing, considering branding, finance and where you are going to store stock are other big things to think about too. But mainly finding the motivation and courage to start is most important.
There are so many things to consider when thinking of starting an online shop but I hope I have given a little insight.
*This post is in collaboration with FSB.