If you’ve been a freelancer for a while, you probably know that client work isn’t always enough to ensure your financial security. Sometimes you just don’t have many clients, or you might want to take some time off. An answer to this problem is having a passive form of income and this is where setting up an online shop for your artwork or digital goods comes in.
When you’re ready to start selling online you may feel overwhelmed with options. In this article, I’ll provide a list of the basic things you need.
1. Web hosting or e-commerce platform
One of the first things you need to do is choose between hosting your own shop or using an e-commerce platform. There are a lot of great sites or plugins to help you make a great shop. If you are just starting and don’t have a big audience, using a popular site like Etsy or Creative Market might be a good option for you.
If you are hosting the software yourself, you will need to purchase web hosting and email software. I love using Gmail, so I’ve signed up for a Google Apps account.
2. Shop or domain name
You should register your own domain name, preferably a .com or .net name. This way you can add a professional email address, and you can keep your name if you want to change hosting.
You can purchase an SSL certificate from your hosting company to encrypt and protect your customers’ credit card data. Most e-commerce sites offer this, but if you are hosting your own shop, you will have to buy and install it yourself.
4. Payment gateway
There are many options out there. Some software providers only work with certain companies so you will have to check with them first. It’s usually best to offer two options, like credit card and PayPal. Most payment gateways require you to have a business or merchant account.
5. Accounting software and tax rate
Your tax rate is different depending on your state or country, and you will need to check your local laws. There are a lot of accounting apps to help you keep track of your sales and help you with taxes.
6. Shipping settings
If you are selling digital products, you should offer instant download. For physical goods, you will need to decide on how to ship your items and at what price. You can weigh your product and use an automatic calculator to set a shipping rate. It might be a good idea to offer free shipping at a certain order threshold.
7. Branding and website design
No matter what software you use, you will need a logo/header, social media images, business cards, labels, and other types of images. Hiring a designer to do this will give your business a good start. You might also need to hire someone to build your website or purchase a premade e-commerce theme.
Are your items already made or will you make them after somebody places an order? You will need good product photographs, informative product description, as well as content for your home page, about page, and other pages.
You are not done once your shop goes live. The day-to-day job of running an e-shop can be quite tiresome. You have to answer messages, keep track of your stock, update product descriptions, packaging, and shipping. If there are many orders, you might need to hire help.
10. Promote your shop
You will need to get noticed by bloggers and even by Google. If you don’t have a blog, it might be a good time to make one. Tell your readers about your shop, show them how you make your items, and your sales might increase. Not to mention that it’s a good way to get more client work. There are other ways to promote, like buying advertising space on blogs or using AdWords.
It is a lot of work, but once you have everything in place, things will get easier. What other things do you think are necessary? Is there anything you want to know about online shops?