So, you’ve decided that you want to start a business. Maybe you have a hobby that you love, and you want to monetize it. Or you’re tired of creating amazing products for other people and working 9-5. Perhaps you just need more income, and being your own boss sounds like an ideal way to get there.
Whatever the reason, you’re going to need a web presence. In today’s age, that’s pretty much a no-brainer. But where do you start?
Lucky for you, I’ve rounded up some of the best ways to get started selling online. This is in no way a complete list of e-commerce options and it just barely scratches the surface of what’s out there.
There’s a reason that Amazon is the world’s largest marketplace. Chances are that just about everyone you know shops in the site, at least in some form. There are lots of options for selling on Amazon, from sourcing your items and having them private labeled, to creating your own version of a product, to your own invention. One of the great things about Amazon is that all sellers look alike, so you can’t tell if someone is new to the site, or been there forever, without some deep digging. This gives newbies a fighting chance. Pair that with Amazon Prime, and you’ve got a leg up in the marketplace. Amazon even has a handmade site that’s meant to rival one of the biggest in the world.
If your items are handmade, vintage, or can be classified as craft supplies, you might consider Etsy. It’s the largest marketplace for handmade goods in the world, and you can buy directly from the maker. Etsy charges a listing fee, and a small percentage when your item sells. They handle a lot of marketing, the payment gateway, and can mediate in case of an issue. Even celebrities like Mila Kunis say they shop on the site. If you do choose to go this route, you may want to purchase your own domain to mask your Etsy store. That way, should you choose to build out your own site later, you don’ have to worry about re-educating your market.
If you want to build your own site, there’s lots of ways to go about it. One of the easiest, from the backend standpoint, is Shopify. It’s simple to get set up, and is truly a one stop shop from layouts to domains and with a little playing around, it makes a lot of sense. The forums are full of helpful advice, there’s so many tutorials, and they have a help desk that’s pretty good. Much like Amazon, you can sell pretty much anything from your own invention to your own handmade items to something you have sourced. Shopify is also great for creating drop shipping sites. They even have a credit card processor that you can sign up for, so you’re not stuck taking only PayPal.
Building Your Own Site
While this is what was done in the olden days, it’s no longer necessary. If you want to build a site from basically scratch, there are ways to do it like WooCommerce or other shopping cart infrastructures. Sometimes, if you have the coding skills, or know someone that does, this is your best bet. Although it’s time consuming, and can be expensive to have done, you can get all the features exactly the way you want them.
If you’ve created your own product, or make a handcrafted good, wholesale may be an option for you. Wholesale can be tricky, as you need to make sure there’s enough profit in your item to sustain your business, and enough that the company that you’re selling to can also make money. If you choose to go this way, there are several sites out there, like Faire, that help get your items seen by the right buyers. Some have a setup fee, or a monthly fee, while others take a percentage of your orders. Some of these sites do all three. You can also use a plug-in on Shopify, or build the option into your shopping cart on your own site to discount wholesale costs.
No matter what platform you use, there’s lots of ways to get your side gig, or new business, off the ground. And the reality is, that you’ll probably want to use several of these avenues. Your own site + Amazon or Etsy is a great 1-2 punch.