Open shop, sell product, make money? That’s pretty much it yeah? I thought so until I started looking into it a little bit more. Opening an on-line shop is an exciting prospect but also one with a lot of questions. The first and probably most important one is what are you going to sell? Figured that out? Good, now lets see, is it a physical product? Does it need shipping? How are you going to do that? Can you keep up with demand? Do you need to find a reliable print shop? Do you need an inventory? Is your product unique? Will it sell? Have you found a suitable niche? ARGH!! Questions, questions and more questions. Let’s slow down a touch.
What to sell? I can’t really help here because if I knew I would be selling it myself. It’s a good idea to try and create a unique product, this doesn’t necessarily mean hand carving someone’s face out of cheese and sending it off. You can sell hand drawn t-shirts maybe? Fridge magnets, buttons, mugs, postcards, jars of air from the Hungarian countryside, soil from the Welsh valleys, bookmarks, pens, tripods, lampshades. Pretty much anything you can think of (legal) can be sold, it’s just not guaranteed to sell. Can you offer an area of expertise? Are you a teacher that can write study guides? A cobbler that can hand stitch shoes with leathers from around the world? Can you offer unique insights into a digital nomad’s world? Sell a shoe from Peru? Model trains from Spain? Something along these lines would be a great way into a niche marker that could help maximise income. If you would prefer to sell other people’s products then try to put a unique spin on it, if you are using product feeds try to rewrite them or take your own pictures of the goods if possible.
Shipping can be a major cost factor so be aware of what you are selling and where from, remember to include this in your pricing. If it will be useful to you as the on-line shop owner consider drop shipping.
If you are considering selling printed goods look at websites like Printful – this is a great site which offers quality products at affordable prices, and they’ll even ship it to your customer, branded with your brand – perfect for a location independent business! Printful offer a huge variety of clothing and some homeware and wall art as well.
If you have decided on a product you wish to sell its always a great idea to research your market. Have a look at websites/shops offering products similar to yours and see what yours can do that the competitions can’t. Research price and costing to ensure that you can make a healthy profit whilst staying competitive in your particular area. Be realistic here, with the best will in the world it is going to be harder to make money if you are competing against long-standing giants of the e-commerce world then if you are competing for a market share with 2 other people. Draft up a brief business plan, outline your start-up costs, potential shipping costs, taxes, website/domain costs. This will be useful in weighing up the initial costs relative to potential income and can give you a strong basis for a budget not to exceed.
If you are still confident and committed you are nearly ready to make the plunge, this is the fun part. Building a website! Firstly, register a domain name, find a domain registrar online and get creative. Try and keep it short, catchy and unique. People are far more likely to remember and use www.coca-cola.com than www.browncarbonatedsugarpopdrink.com. Once you have registered a name it is time to choose a web host, personal preference here as there are many to choose from and I wouldn’t like to recommend just 1. Do consider space and customization options on the various hosts though, shop around to find the right one for you. One thing to mention here is that you should look for a reliable host with fast loading times, that is essential for customers to have a pleasant shopping experience. Should you be a capable web designer you can go wild here, otherwise you may wish to hire a web designer from a site such as Upwork. It can be a good idea to go for a simple, clean design, easy to navigate to avoid frustration on the customers part. Emphasize your product and make it easy for customers to check out and pay. For this you will obviously need a way for customers to pay you so spend some time researching the various methods involving banks (expensive) or simply opt for PayPal! With all this set up, you are basically ready to go.
Advertising can make or break the online shop. You will need to spend as much time as possible blatantly promoting yourself as much as you can, social media, friends social media, write a blog, mailing lists, instagram, other new social media I am ignorant of this week. Whatever you can to make your shop known around the world! Cheekily put up a few items on ebay/amazon market place and link to your shop through there. Include a comments and feedback section to show off your customers, hopefully great experiences. Be aware of SEO trends to maximise traffic, if you are inclined look at hiring a specialist SEO company to assist you, be careful though. Always be thorough when researching these people, you don’t want to throw money away.
Should this all seem like a bit too much hard work there are options available to you like the service shopify offer where you can create everything in one fell swoop. It is an easy to use, popular option, I personally find it a bit generic but I can see that it’s a good idea for some.
Hopefully sell products, become disgustingly rich and remember me? I am no expert but hopefully this will have given you some ideas, please note that I am nearly 100% sure that you can sell bottled air from the Hungarian countryside and soil from the Welsh valleys but you might want to double-check.
None! None at all, an idea is all you need. It can be useful if you have a grasp of web design but is not essential at all. You may also need some start-up money, I forgot about that.
Depends a little on what you want to sell, obviously you will need a computer/laptop and internet connection as a bare minimum. Other than that you may need things as varied as a paint brush or a cobblers hammer. It is all dependant on your website. A list of useful software sites can be found below.
Where to find work on-line?
Not really where to find work but where to start your work, here are some options.
How much to charge?
This is again, all relative to your product and market, do your research, do your costing. Good luck! Don’t try to sell a bookmark for £100 unless it is a really, really great bookmark..
How well does is suit the Digital Nomad lifestyle?
Running an on-line shop can be a stressful yet rewarding career, with an initial rush and push of hard work it is possible to have the shop practically running itself within a few months with you just having to upload new products. The lack of hardware required means you can travel that world easily looking for new ideas or products to sell, which in turn can increase the uniqueness of your shop. All in all I would say that this work is ideally suited to the digital nomad lifestyle and one that could potentially allow you to nomad around in considerable style!