Working from home and being your own boss away from the stressful office and the hellish boss!
That’s probably something that most of you guys have ever wished at least once in life! I hear you! Because it’s my own story and why I started working from home with my own internet based business and E-Commerce store.
Whether you want to be your own boss or just look to earn extra on the side while your day job is still held, there’re plenty of ways to start your own home based business – Among many online business types that you might consider, e-commerce business and online store selling products commercially is one most profitable online business model that you can do from home.
It’s especially got easier than ever before to launch your own online store and run it from home, thanks to a few of easy online store builders having developed in the recent years to reach out to people like you who’re seeking to start out a home-based e-commerce business.
Being your own boss and start working from the comfort of your home can be set in a matter of minutes with those e-commerce platforms, literally, anyone without experience can try it out and roll in after a while although there may be some learning curves at the beginning.
So I’m here today to back you for your great kickoff, we’re going to learn about how to start an online store from home, plus on a budget!
Stay tuned and hold tight! We’re taking it away right below!
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How to Start an Online Business Just from Home:
The following guide will walk you through the must-do process before the grand launch of your online shop. Make sure for all the steps so that you get a strong foundation and everything right in place for your smooth start!
1. Find a Niche (Or Shortlist into few candidates first):
How to start an Online store from home
To start an online store, finding a niche is the very first step you should start from.
I assume most of you would easily get overwhelmed at this part. I hear you! Because I was exactly the one of the crowd getting far lost in finding a good niche at my beginning!
It’s actually a tough part though, you can actually make it a little easier in this step if you keep in mind this ultimate rules.
Your decision to the niche should contain either one of these, or excellently all the conditions matched.
● Something you’re passionate about or know the best of – Think of it. Expertise is the one that makes you stand out among the mediocre! Not sell products only, sell your expertise as well! Your customers will highly value it!
● Profitable or highly market-demanded products that sell great – It can be either trendy products or ever-green ones that always sell well. Think wisely and choose what leads you for a long run!
● Competition at a moderate level-Too low in competition means the market demand is equally too low so you’d hardly sell a single one, Too highly competitive market(products) means your shop would easily get buried into millions of the alike.
Actually which are the best niches in e-commerce business is really widely talked over the internet. Carry out some careful research, you will find one before too long, that you love to deal with!
2. Market Research:
Not optional, but an essential process you have to walk through. This stage may contain a lot of similar or overlapped parts to the process of “the #1 Find a Niche” and it’s able to be combined or reordered accordingly.
As many know, the basic purpose of market research is to figure out what products are sold, demanded, popular, trendy or who buy your products. It’s a process in which you’re previewing the overall market potential of your specified niche items before the launch so that you can reduce the risk of failure and pinpoint the best item you’re going to roll in with.
Wait, it may sound just too broad and difficult to come into play. No worries, I know you will be surprised when you see it’s actually very easy to do like few clicks away!
You will comprehensively figure out what items are selling good, what keywords are most searched for online shopping, regional demands/popularity and the entire data about consumer needs and market demands,
By those following free tools:
● Google Keyword Planner – Great indication for consumer needs by informing search volume of all the keywords searched by users on Google.
● Google Trends – Insight for ongoing trends regionally, internationally analyzed by search terms used by users on Google.
● Think With Google – One stop platform for marketing insights, consumer trends, and industry researches.
● Facebook Advertising – World biggest advertising platform along with Google Adwords and Adsense. It has the richest consumer data categorized by demography, geography, interests, education, shopping behavior and more of highly detailed and practical market data.
● Facebook Groups – Browsing through Facebook groups on targeted products can be a great reference. The more people on a particular niche means the more popular the niche is.
● Statista – Statistical database provided by market research, opinion study institutions. The platform consists of over 1.5 million statistics on over 80,000 different topics.
● Link Research Tools – Handy keyword research chrome browser extension that informs the volume of searched keywords on various search engines and its competitive rates.
The above tools are very handy and easy to use. Once you get a bit familiar with features of the each, you would find them simple to use, but fairly powerful.
The key points you should know when it comes to E-commerce market research, the demands of your future consumers and the market competitions are the two things that ultimately determine whether how hard or smoothly your business would be driven.
3. Product Sourcing:
You’ve already reached the halfway! Keep it up it’s almost there!
Well, if you’re done deciding on your niche you’re dedicating to an initial market research on the products you will sell, then the next step you should proceed is setting up your product sourcing strategies.
I bet this part is kind of overwhelming to every new beginner with no specific ideas what to do. I was the same like probably the most of you guys stuck in this part! But one thing I’d like to say is technically how to source products itself is easy. It’d even become easier to you once you get the hang of it after a single or twice times of walking through this process although “how to source GOOD products with GOOD prices” is the real matter rather than how or where to source.
There’re several ways of product sourcing methods that you should make up your mind on before starting your online store,
● Online wholesale marketplaces like Alibaba or GlobalSources.com
● Online wholesale directories
● Social media wholesale marketplaces, communities or online forums
● Warehouses, factory outlets, clearance sale sites in your local area
● Flea markets, dent stores and anywhere you can get cheap stuff with potentially high value (to leave margins)
● Drop Shipping (Recommended for beginners)
The most general and traditional method of sourcing products is dealing with wholesalers, usually purchasing a large stock for the benefit of wholesale prices and get a large scale of inventory in storage. If it sells good, indeed, it’s a sure way about how to make an awesome profit. But otherwise, it’s risky when it doesn’t sell stably, very likely to find the stock getting dusty and just occupying the space in a part of your house or storage.
To avoid that unpleasant situation, it’s necessarily encouraged to not go for a large deal at first before you’re sure it’s steady-seller. (Some tend to buy a big quantity from the beginning even without being sure of the products after they are tempted for a better price condition proposed to them.)
Reselling always contains some inch of risks. That’s a fact that everyone involved in the business has to accept. But over the recent years, there’s been a new type of product sourcing method, generally known as “Drop Shipping”, recently gaining lots of popularity among e-commerce sellers, Drop Shipping method maybe came out and being widely used in the online merchandise world after ages of people’s attempt to figure out to minimize the risks of unsold products.
In Drop Shipping product sourcing model, it dramatically reduces the burden of inventory, almost the minimal to none of the stock needed in place and on your hand. Instead, it’s more like you as a re-seller pay and buys goods only when it’s ordered or demanded by your customers.
The drop shippers, then, ship the ordered products directly from their side to the end customers of yours without transferring it through you.
Although it has its own pros and cons, it’s probably the most beginner friendly product sourcing model that doesn’t require a high capital for buying an inventory in the first place, plus a convenient way for re-sellers since product packaging and shipping are just done by their drop shippers. (Drop Shippers: suppliers who support drop shipping.)
As other popular types of product sourcing, flea markets and clearance sale are also loved ways by lots of re-sellers who enjoy their treasure hunting since there’re lots of undiscovered hidden gems with amazingly higher values than what’s in the price tags for the time.
4. Create your domain:
How to Start eCommerce business from Home
As the next step, it’s the time to prepare for launching your online store technically. What’s the first thing you should do to open a website? Yes right, it’s to create the domain.
Don’t take this process lightly! Making domain as for launching your online business is crucially important. It’s because the domain name is the name of your business and the business sign that represents what you do to your customers.
Thus naming it should take some time carefully and also smartly for your best domain name. And the below are what you have to consider when creating your domain.
● Easy to remember – Most of the successful businesses have very simple and catchy domain/brand names like Facebook.com or Apple.com.
● Business Indication – It’s good to indicate what you do/what you sell/ what you specialize in from its domain name.
● SEO Benefit – If your domain name contains the keywords you’re dealing with in your business, then your site would rank higher on the specific keyword.
● Domain Extension – Just as my personal view, “.com” is the safest to go with while hundreds of different domain extensions run in service. It turned out that domain extension does not affect SEO & search ranking results or other technical parts though, “.com” is the most general extension type that people are familiar with.
● If using a way too unique (weirdly) extension, like “.it”, “.nebi” or “.xyz” then it could be really hard for your site visitors to remember till their next visit to your site. Then? Losing your potential buyers!
From most of hosting services that you will choose one to use, you’re going to easily register from free domain to $2 -$5 cheap domain. It lasts for the whole year once you register, so it doesn’t cost you as heck at least for owning a domain.
5. Set up a store:
Being prepared with all the previous process, one significant step left is choosing what e-commerce platform you will build your online store on.
Obviously, it hadn’t been any easier than these days to build your own online store with some several great beginner friendly e-commerce site builders that recently came out, the best example of those are “Shopify” or “Big Commerce” etc.
Such easy drag & drop style e-commerce site builders are platforms, entirely dedicated to supporting e-commerce stores by providing re-seller web hosting, site building tools without needing coding or headache programming jobs and also, shopping cart function, credit card & electronic payment processing system integration and other all necessary features needed to build and run an online shop in e-commerce business, which is most recommendable way to go for beginners and non tech-savvy people.
In fact, Shopify has got a strong base of support for drop shipping businesses, where drop shipping business owners can import a limitless number of products from Aliexpress into their shop and start selling them without holding an inventory by just installing one single app (plug-in) called “Oberlo”. And this is an outstanding part that Shopify is famous for.
Besides Shopify or other e-commerce platforms, you can also open an online store based on a self-hosted website or even web blog simply by adding a shopping cart system such as WooCommerce or Ecwid etc to be integrated and start selling what you have on the site.
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6. Store settings:
Almost done, it’s just around the corner to open your online store! Then all things left to do is store settings.
It’s not much left, and what you should step on for the rest jobs are:
● Website Design – To customize the look of your site. If using an e-commerce store platform like Shopify, it can be easily done with the drag & drop site builder with free templates and all necessary resources for a professional looking online store.
● About Page & Contact Info – Company or shop owner/site information is CRUCIALLY important. It’s about gaining credibility from shoppers. Nobody wants to buy anything from the unknown or suspect. Try as clear, honest, transparent as the best on it.
● Terms of Service & Shipping Policy – Terms of Service, especially Shipping and Return Policy are to have to be clearly set in order to avoid future conflict with customers.
● Credit Card & Paypal (or/and other online payment solutions) Integration – To get ready to be paid! The wider payment options it accepts, the higher conversion will be made. It’s anyway no harm at all in availing as many payment options in use as it can.
● Uploading Products to Showcase – To boast your awesome products to shoppers and start off your online sales! It’s an exciting process for every newbie shop owner! But keep a little bit cool and take special care on uploading your items. Write catchy BUT clear descriptions, use attractive BUT clear and detailed product images! So you won’t dissatisfy customers with misleading information.
The below are the basic things you have to prepare before starting an online store. For the rest, you can have it on constant improvement over time.
So it’s done finally and you can give it a go with your online store now! Kick off!
7. Branding, Marketing, Advertising:
How To Start An Online Store Just From Home
Everything is set now. And what’s the next? Yeah finally! It’s to start out selling! But look! Would you think once you open your shop, shoppers, and buyers just see that and come to buy your stuff with you just sitting there?
I’m sorry, sadly it’s not so likely.. Especially when it comes to starting a NEW shop. It needs time and your hard work in the beginning. You have to get up and put yourself out there letting people know about the presence of your new online store and what you sell!
To make the first sale, it could be tough. Patience needed and it could belong to wait to see your stuff gets sold for the first time. It’s just how it goes for the most of newbie sellers. Indeed, the beginning is always hard for everyone. YET, once you get your first sale, it’d become easier for the next time to make another sale. And more sales and on and on.
Just remember, no many customers promptly make a purchase decision just on their first visit. They also need time to get used to and familiar with the shop, reliability grows while they see your shop and appealing products of yours again and again.
Then once they buy one finally and feel good about it, then eventually chances grow that the one visits your shop again and buy other things too next time. And it’s how regular customers are made which gives you incredibly priceless value in a long-term view: “Lifelong Customer Value” that’s the key to the success in your e-commerce business.
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Then How do you promote (advertise) your online store?
It should go branding rather than just seeking to get sales right away. Just focus on spreading awareness of your brand and store. Don’t rush, just take time and go slowly, but surely.
It’s really lots of ways of promoting your online store and your products, such as:
● Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are great social platforms where you can brand, promote, advertise your products.
Social media channels are insanely great for building your niche-focused group of fans with loyalty for your brand/shop, it will get you consistent traffic to your shop.
Using Facebook Fan page and FB group is the most general way of growing fan base though, if your products are something like women-friendly or visually appealing, then trying Pinterest which is the most women-friendly social platform, would give you a stunning result too since Pinterest has the highest conversion rates (into purchases) as well as numerous volume of traffic as all marketing PROs admit and love the social platform so bad!
By the way, all the social sites have their sponsored paid advertising platforms that you can also try according to your budget.
● Youtube Video Marketing
Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world just after Google. And it’s just so natural that you can expect a lot of traffic from Youtube and great promotion effects for your brand and online shop as well!
How online shop owners promote through Youtube is usually make review videos of their products. And reviewing something in a video has long been a proven way for substantial promotional effects! Plus leading to high conversion into sales!
If you don’t like firming yourself, then it can be an excellent way as well, by approaching already established Youtubers in the similar niche for asking their help! All you do is? Just sending them a product for creating a review video for you!
In case you feel it’s a waste sending them a freebie? Hell no! Considering what would return to you as the result, you would earn 100 times better benefit than the price of a single product given away to them since they have tons and tons of subscribers who love watching their contents. And this might result in great profit for you because of the high chances that their subscribers can turn to buyers for your shop after watching the Youtube influencers videos!
Related article – How to earn money starting a YouTube channel.
● E-Bay, Amazon, Google Shopping Integration
It’s a very smart way to leverage your sales performance way wider! The more sales funnels mean the more sales you will win!
Not only being satisfied with selling from your online store but always try hard to expand beyond it! Like listing your products on E-bay, Amazon or Wish.com etc.
E-bay and Amazon are actually no need to further explain, they are already giantly grown retailers where millions of active shoppers hang every month. It’s VERY VERY SO MUCH crazily recommended that you implement to sell on Ebay/Amazon along with your online shop.
If you use Shopify, you will get so much helped by the platform for integrating major retail marketplaces including E-Bay and Amazon, simply by using an online marketplaces integration app from Shopify App store.
● Keywords Ads
Google Adwords and Bing Ads are the best examples of this. These keyword advertising platforms help rank on the first pages on Google or Yahoo & Bing, such major search engines and they follow on a pay per click basis.
That means whenever a visitor visits your site through the keyword ads on the search engines, you as an advertiser are supposed to pay.
The prices per click are flexible and changeable due to its bidding based charge system on its ads, meaning more competition on certain keywords, the prices of them are to increase. So it needs to always check out its competitive rates and prices on the keyword you want to be advertised.
● Online Forums
Using online forums is a way, well-known for how to get traffic to a website. And this plays an important role in any e-commerce businesses as well.
Find your niche-related forums where there’re a number of potential buyers hanging. Engage and interact yourself with related forum members, sometimes help them with what they are searching, they are stuck in, they are in need of. They will recognize the value of you and want to touch with you closer.
Not only try advertising your products to them but rather, try to help them so they will appreciate you and need you more on what they are passionate about. (within or relating to your niche area)
When you meet their satisfaction, appreciation, excitement, affection on you, they will not hesitate to visit your site or online store through the hyperlinks you put on your forum signature.
This is for sure one of the most loved ways by many site owners for getting a lot of traffic online.
● Local Classified Ad Sites
Everyone knows “Craigslist” or “Gumtree” and more, such major local classified advertisements are a great way to sell stuff.
Like mentioned previously on E-bay, Amazon integration section, there’s no harm at all in trying to expand your sales funnels. Just get as many channels to sell as manageable!
If you haven’t used Craigslist or Gumtree earlier, I know you’d be really surprised when you find out how easy you can sell stuff from those major classified ad places with millions of monthly traffic and high conversion!!
You know what? Google loves web blogs more than anything else. You know why? It’s because blogs are websites that more tend to update keyword-rich and fresh contents regularly.
Google loves to rank them higher than other types of websites and this is why famous websites and companies and brands have a blog section on their websites in order to strengthen their online presence and get more traffic!
It goes the same when you have your own blog linking to or integrated with your e-commerce store. You will really see a dramatic improvement in your online traffic, also the excellent enhancement of the overall conversion and business revenue since traffic coming through blogs has really crazily high conversion rates!!
If I were you, I, just right away, go make my own blog and promote my featured products there!
( in a more animatedly lively and vivid tone of product presentation! ) As a result, I would be able to double or triple the online traffic and sales.
● Guest Blogging
Already have got a blog, working hard on promoting the products on your online store but are suffering low traffic to your blog site because your blog is just a brand new with a weak following base?
Then no worries, it doesn’t mean the end of your life and the business, but there’s still a room for improving the situation, favorably.
What’s that? “Guest Blogging”.
Guest blogging is a popular method for getting little extra traffic to the breathtakingly giant volume of traffic to your blog or online store, try to publish your great contents on others’ blogs that are already established and have a large following.
In this way, it’s like you borrow their place, traffic, and large audience through your published contents on their blogs and some of them transfer to your destination pages (your blog or shop) by clicking on hyperlinks put on in the contents you write.
It can be really an excellent way to getting a lot of traffic to your online store by writing articles, guides, reviews, tutorials related to what you sell and publishing them on established blogs with a large level of an audience.
To distinguish if a site is worth guest-blogging, you can use “Alexa Traffic Rank” that ranks all the websites in the globe based on daily traffic. So find high-ranking blogs that accept guest blogging. But take this into account: the blogs and their audiences you write for must be somewhere highly related to what you sell! (niche)
● Influencer Marketing
It’s no doubt that online influencers have unbelievable viral power in the digital world and their capabilities for driving your brand awareness to the public is priceless for a long-term view of your e-commerce business success.
Then what defines “Online Influencers”, for beginners? What the heck is that?
Generally, online influencers are considered to be ones with a large volume of a following and an audience group based on social media or blogs or any types of web-based communities, they have an incredible ability to spreading words to a numerous number of people quickly.
Celebrities, for instance, there’re many TV or Movie stars who are actively promoting themselves through social media these days. And just imagine how powerful every single word they speak on their social channels and how many followers and fans react to it, engage in it.
Online influencers and digital marketers have the same role to this. When they mention your brand or products you sell, how many sales could potentially be made?
It’s one of the hottest marketing methods recently that many advertisers focus on in their online advertising and promoting.
Here are 15 free influencer marketing tools that help you find influencers working for your business. Look it up!
● E-mail Marketing
Nobody underestimates the power of e-mail marketing. It’s powerful too when it comes to running an online store and an e-commerce business.
Not to be just a word, e-mail marketing is said that it helps you get 25% more sales on average, according to researches. Even back in 2014, e-mail marketing did really a great job, responsible for a quarter of all online Black Friday sales across all industries in the U.S.
What’s more, one more reason why this marketing method is so loved by e-commerce store owners is perhaps, it significantly decreases “Cart Abandonment” by following shoppers up with cart abandonment notifications if any does.
While pretty many of decent e-mail marketing tools are around, I assume “Mailchimp” is the most loved one, especially for beginner shop owners for its excellent features, plus getting the most out of its freemium pricing model!
Note: Do not make your emails look spammy or junky. So I mean don’t spam way too much unless you want to see your subscribers mark you as spam and stay off of you!
It might depend, but I personally guess e-mailing once or twice biweekly would be the moderate rates in terms of marketing efficiency. Find your best interval!
● Q&A Sites
The best example is “Quora” that everyone might know very well of.
Quora is a good traffic source to your site as well as being a resourceful Q & A community. Q&A… Yes right, look over here! Let’s try to focus on its main nature: “Question And Answer”.
You know what determines whether it’s spam or thankful help(useful info) for people when you’re doing advertising? It’s simple, people perceive it as spam when they find it irrelevant, unsolicited, out of the blue and more like an “unwanted”, “unpleasant” ads or promotions.
Then what about the opposite case? If it’s highly relevant or demanded information that some people are longing to know about if it’s a good troubleshooter that saves someone out of trouble?
Then what would you guess happens? Hell ya, the people who get help from you would be feeling so grateful for you letting them know it and more likely to want to engage themselves into your content/info/advertisement in a form of Quora Answer that contains hyperlinks to your homepage or specific product pages!
That way, you will see it gets consistent traffic to your online store and well converting. (from a shopper to a purchaser) Quora has got really huge traffic like millions and millions of people in the world, visiting, I know it will be one good source of traffic to your website when everything is done correctly.
Just one thing to keep in mind: Do not make it look like ads or promotions for your products. Rather, just focus on to see what the questioners would like to know about. Carefully think and sense what they are in trouble about. Then you will know what you have to answer.
“Approach them in Humanity way rather than as being an advertiser. Try to help for their problems in the way as if you treated your loved ones“
That way, the conversations will get way more natural, genuine and meaningful which usually leads for A WHOLE LOT MORE engagements than when it just looks like ads or spam that people hate to see.
Of course don’t forget inserting your links, just subtly. Do you know what I mean? 🙂
● Affiliate Marketing/Referral Marketing
I’m pretty sure this method is one of the most powerful weapons to boost your sales and brand awareness. Because having affiliates that work hard to let more people know about your store has the same effect as you’ve got a bunch of salesmen just working for you.
They simply work hard because they earn the commission out of affiliate sales. On the other hand, it’s also great for shop owners who run their affiliate program that they earn sales thanks to the hard work of their affiliates.
No harm in paying commission to them because it occurs only when they make a sale for you. So it’s kind of “Performance based Compensation” for which you as a shop owner don’t lose anything. (In the e-commerce industry, shop owners usually pay their affiliates commission around 10% – 20% of the sale prices.)
What’s more, running an affiliate program helps your site gain lots of backlinks from your affiliates while they publish promotional materials online with hyperlinks to your shop, so it can also significantly help your website positioned high on Google or Yahoo or any major search engines in the world!
Above all, this marketing method is a must to implement if you haven’t started yet! Highly recommended!
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How To Start An Online Store Just From Home
I still remember how people reacted when I told them I started out my e-commerce business.
They were kind of like “Wow! you must’ve spent lots of money! Your website looks awesome and you already got tons of products in your store! Did you purchase all that inventory?! How did you make it all that excellent?!“
Haha, I laughed on the inside and said ” No all I spent to set all up ready for the store is $5 domain, $30 monthly subscription for e-commerce store management platform including re-seller hosting server and nothing more! All the inventory showcased is not actually what I own now! I don’t prepurchase them. I just keep my storage empty and order items from my suppliers only when it’s purchased by my customers so I can be risk-free without spending money for stock upfront! Plus its no much initial capital needed!“
Yeah, that’s it. That’s what I always stress to people who ask me, to start an online store these days is never as challenging or costly as people simply guess in general. It’s rather, something that anyone can do try out without a significant amount of investment, flexible work from home and make the profit on their side, or even as a full time dedicated business that makes a living for them.
It’s not a big deal. Never!
Meet Myung Hawn Hong, the e-commerce expert!