If you are thinking about launching a creative business now is a good time to start! My best advice to you if you are on the fence is “just do it!” Get started and figure it out as you go. The internet is huge and even if you make a little mistake here and there no one but you is going to know. That being said, there are some amazing resources at the bottom of this post that I recommend you tap into to learn as much as you can.
There are many ways that you can start an e-commerce site. You can set up a WordPress blog and integrate a shop into it with plug-ins like Shopify and Woo Commerce or you can create a stand alone shop using a site such as BigCartel. You can even have a web developer build a website for you. These options cost money though. Unless you are a web developer or you already have a large customer base my personal advice to you is start cheap and work your way up.
I have recently researched a lot about starting a WordPress blog and may still go that route in the future but I have been on Blogger and Etsy for over five years and they are still working out great for me while costing me very little (Blogger is free!) There are some big quilt blogs who have Blogger blogs (Fat Quarter Shop for example) so I feel comfortable staying put here along with them for now. Having a blog is a great business promotion tool and fun way to interact with your tribe so I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already.
Etsy has a wealth of resources for it’s sellers. If you are just getting started with them you can take a look at their handy Quick-Start Guide which has lots of great tips for online shops. In fact, they have a whole seller handbook which is an amazing resource for shop owners. There are online e-courses out there to help you optimize your shop but you can find all that information for free in the seller handbook if you’re willing to look and dig a little bit.
So if you’re not sure if your business model is going to fly I recommend starting out on a free blog platform and using a pre-built e-commerce site like Etsy. If things work out for you you can always upgrade to paid and custom sites later. These options worked, and are still working, for me.
There are business advice sites out there (tonnes of them!) who will advise that if you’re serious about starting an online business or making money from your blog that you start out with a paid WordPress site from the very beginning. It is true that it can be a hassle to transfer all your content from your free site to your paid site and you would need to redirect all your traffic from sites such as Pinterest to your new site. If you think that is something you wouldn’t want to sort out down the road, and you can afford to pay, then definitely go ahead and start out with a paid site. Many people have advised me that if I ever want to switch platforms that I should always go to one that I own (paid site) rather than another free platform so keep that in mind.
You will need to make yourself visible on social media so you can be found. Starting a blog and an online shop is not where it ends because how will people know where to find you? I am on many social media platforms (check the mason jars in my sidebar to find me!) but I recommend starting with one or two that you enjoy or that you think will be effective. I have found Pinterest to be amazing for driving traffic and Instagram is awesome for being seen and building relationships with your tribe. See this post for some quick advice about Pinterest.
What I am saying here is that it never hurts to try and then try again if it doesn’t work the first time. Find people who will support and encourage you and go for it! (Hint: these people will probably be found online… there are very few people that I know in person who support me or even understand what I do.) Don’t let fear hold you back from giving it a try.
Here are some online places that I recommend for finding information, support and resources:
Check my Business Tips Pinterest Board for pins on business advice.
Business Support Websites:
http://craftindustryalliance.org/ (I just renewed my membership today!)
(These are closed groups you will need to request to join)
If you have any questions I will try to answer them if I can. If I cannot reply by email to your comment I will answer here in the comments so check back if you don’t hear from me. Good luck!