With the advances being made in technology, it is not only possible, but also incredibly easy to start an online retail business in about a day–and for less money than a nice dinner out for two would cost you. Shopify keeps making strides to improve ease and efficiency for online retailers, meaning there has never been a better time, in the history of EVER, to start your own online store. In this article I will outline, in order, the steps you can take to have your own store up and running TODAY, for less than $100.
Step 1. Open a Shopify Store
You can open your Shopify store and start making money before you ever even pay for the store itself. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial for new stores and you can close or pause your store at any time. You also get a 10% discount for annual plans or a 20% discount on biennial plans (a lot of people don't know this).
You'll want to come up with a name for your store–but the good news is that you can change the URL of the front-end (what the customer sees) of your store anytime by simply registering a new domain. Shopify makes the entire setup process easy with no need for programming knowledge of any kind. Choose a free theme for your store that you feel encompasses the vibe you're going for. Add all pertinent and required info and you're ready to start selling!
COST: FREE for the first 14 days, then $29/month for the Basic plan
Step 2. Open a Printify Account
Once you have your Shopify store set up, you'll want to install the FREE Printify app. Printify is an amazing company that prints original designs on all sorts of products like tees, leggings, hats, totes, phone cases, coffee mugs, beach towels, and even jewelry. It works with Shopify by syncing seamlessly with your store to automatically print, pack, and ship your customer's orders directly to them with your branding and promotional materials. You literally never need to touch a printing press or a single roll of packing tape. It's all done for you.
Step 3. Make or Buy Some Designs
You will need to provide your own original designs that will be printed on the items you sell. You can make them yourself or purchase some for commercial use. You can find free and/or cheap commercial-use designs on Etsy. If you want to make your own, I recommend using a site like Canva to create graphics because of how incredibly easy it is to use. If you're a seasoned designer or feel like really digging into learning graphic design on your own, you can use Adobe Photoshop for the super affordable price of $10/month after the 7-day free trial.
COST: FREE for a 7-day free trial of Photoshop, then $10/month.
~$25 for 5 commercial use graphics from Etsy
Step 4. Create Social Media Pages For Your Store
You want to set up social media pages for your store because that is how people buy things in today's world. This is especially important since you'll be using Influencer Marketing to drive your first sales. Facebook has short, simple tutorials on how to get business pages set up in a matter of minutes. Invite your friends to like your page if it's something they would be interested in. Share some of your products on your page as well as other relevant content to spark interest and create an organic (unpaid) following.
Step 5. Order Sample Products To Send To Influencers
Influencer Marketing is the best way to bring in sales with a low advertising budget. You can order sample products of your own designs from Printify for cheap (~$8 for a tee) and send them to micro-influencers to promote to their followers. Reach out to as many micro-influencers as you need to by sending them a DM on instagram or using their preferred point of contact. Many of them will even share your products just for receiving the product for free. Once you have three separate influencers committed you're sure to get some sales rolling in.
COST: $8 per product, $~$12 for shipping Total: $28
TOTAL COST: $82
It really is that easy AND cheap. If you're determined, I'd be willing to bet that you could have all five steps accomplished in a day. Isn't it amazing what technology has done for innovation and business? When it's this easy, you'd almost be crazy not to at least try it. Who knows, maybe this side hustle could turn into your full-time “job” someday!