If you have some awesome stuff to sell online but haven’t stashed any cash to set up an online store, don’t get disappointed.
This guide will show you how to start selling your products, art, or ideas online without breaking the bank. Let’s get started.
Tips to get your online shop going on a shoestring budget
If you don’t have the money to hire professionals, you’ll have to do most of the heavy lifting yourself. Here are the first steps you should take.
1. Think about your product
There are thousands of online stores out there, and they all compete for a place under the sun. In order to find returning customers, you have to offer them something unique and useful using reliable marketplace payment solutions.
The top 5 best-selling products online are:
1. Print books and e-books
2. Vinyl LPs and CDs
3. Belt buckles
4. False eyelash accessories
5. Household cleaning supplies
The list clearly reflects the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home attitude of online shoppers.
However, the list of the hottest online items to sell changes every year, so make sure to update your product list regularly. As a rule, the best-selling items are lightweight, eye-catching, compact, and practical.
This category includes various online courses, life coaching, writing labs, etc. If you are good at any of these, choose your niche and target a specific type of potential client.
2. Choose a domain name
This is the hardest thing to do because your domain name must do all of these three things simultaneously:
• Represent your brand
• Be unique
• Be available
The best strategy is to buy a .com domain and use keywords when searching for an available name. To save time, you can use a domain name generator. A good domain name should be memorable, brandable, and short.
3. Choose a platform for your store
Before you can build an e-commerce website, you should find where to host it. The most straightforward solution is to get a hosting plan from the platform where you are going to set up your online store. The top 3 options are:
You can set up an online store on WordPress in no time with their dedicated plugin called WooCommerce.
It’s an open-source platform, so you’ll spend no money on the site’s setup and design. The cheapest plans for WP sites start at $2.59/mo for shared hosting from DreamHost. BlueHost’s Basic Plan starts at $2.95/mo.
Shopify’s Lite Plan costs just $9 per month and provides an out-of-the-box solution for budding online merchants.
Within the 14-day free trial, you’ll have unlimited access to the platform’s state-of-the-art website builder, premium themes, and social media integration widgets.
You can use the free-forever plan of the E-commerce Widget to sell a limited selection of products online.
Ecwid’s Instant Site is a free website that does not require a third-party hosting provider. You can upload your product pics and descriptions and start selling without any initial investment.
4. Learn the basics of website maintenance
The cheapest hosting plans are unmanaged, meaning that you’ll have to take care of your sales funnel’s maintenance. It would help if you educated yourself in the following niches:
• Website security
• SEO optimization
• Storefront maintenance
Web store security
You should regularly back up your webshop and download security patches. If you use a SAAS platform, make sure you are using the latest version of the software.
You must regularly upload SEO-optimized content onto your e-commerce site, or it’ll stop appearing on Google.
The text must always contain active links to your products so that readers can see and buy the item in question. Remove any broken links to prevent your customers from seeing 404 error messages.
Regular product updating is an essential part of storefront maintenance. As soon as you have a new product for sale, showcase it online.
Removing out-of-stock products is equally important. It would help if you put alerts on items that are about to become out of stock and regularly update their prices.
Let’s Do Some Math
Having discussed the steps you should take to set up an online store, let’s estimate your minimum initial costs.
• Website hosting: $2.50-$11/mo
• Domain name renewal: $1.25 to $2.50/mo
• Premium plugins: $10-$15 a year
• Total: Approx. $70 a year
Items you get for free
Most e-commerce platforms will take care of the following issues for you:
• Security updates
• SSL certificates
• Website backup and migration