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Hi! I’m Lucy.
Chardonnay and vintage finds lover, founder of the handmade jewelry brand bel monili *and* your new guide to making your handmade business WORK online.
We’re halfway through our “Christmas in July” series! How is it going so far? Today we’ll discuss starting (or improving) your online store.
Last week we went over making plans for the holidays. Week 1 was all about reviewing your past performance. Be sure to read those articles to get ready to ROCK this year’s holiday season.
Let’s dive in!
Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
There are many options for sellers looking to set up an online store. Each has pros and cons, and it can be challenging to decide.
I am a big fan of Shopify, the e-commerce platform I recommend to my students. I use it for my store (https://www.belmonil.com), and I believe it offers the most value for anyone serious about building an online business.
Shopify is a powerful and user-friendly platform that provides everything you need to create a professional online presence.
It offers numerous customizable themes, secure payment gateways, and seamless integrations.
They always offer a free trial, so I highly encourage you to try Shopify out for yourself.
And if you feel it’s too much to do on your own, check out my course, Shopify for Artisan Businesses. This course gives you a step-by-step process for building your online store. Spend less time trying to figure things out and more time selling your products.
The visual appeal of your online store plays a significant role in attracting and retaining customers.
Shopify offers a wide array of themes that can be customized to match your brand’s unique personality.
Opt for a design that reflects the essence of your handmade products and ensures a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for your customers.
Your pictures should be clear, and you should have a variety of shots. Remember you need to be your customers’ “eyes,” so show your products up close, in use, and at all different angles.
Write descriptions that give information such as size and materials used and show customers how the item can solve their problem.
Yes, your handmade products solve problems! A woman has a problem expressing herself, so she looks for jewelry that does that for her. A grandmother has trouble finding the perfect gift for her new grandbaby. A husband has the problem of finding a gift his wife would actually love.
If you can describe how your products solve your customers’ problems, they will be more likely to realize they need to buy them.
Is it easy for your customers to check out once they’re ready?
Creating a seamless checkout process is vital to ensure a positive shopping experience for your customers.
Do you offer multiple payment options like PayPal, Apply Pay, and credit cards?
Can your customers create an account to easily log in and check out in the future?
After they make a purchase, does your website send an invoice and shipping updates? Your customers will want to know when their items shipped, so ensure they receive a tracking number.
Think about ways you can make your online store feel festive for the holidays.
Could you create some banners that include images of twinkle lights or snowy scenes?
Can you take some product photos that use holiday themes?
Think about these changes now, so you can easily implement them when the holiday shopping season has begun.
Infusing some festive imagery into your website shows your customers that you are ready for the holidays (and that your website is currently active and up to date).
You may also want to create a page related to holiday shipping. Give “order by” dates for customers to determine if their handmade goods will arrive in time. Remember to give yourself enough time to make and ship items.
The USPS publishes its deadlines in October, but you can use last year’s dates as a guide to get started. (Click here for the USPS holiday shipping deadlines from 2022.)
Having this information upfront and available will help customers with their holiday shopping and also increases your “trust factor.”
If you’re on the fence about starting your online store, now is the perfect time to get it going! Use the summer months to create your shop and fill it with your unique creations.
If you already have a shop, use this time to organize it, take new photos, and plan on festive changes you can make for the holidays.
Self-Care and Hiring Help (goes live on 7/31/23)
If you’re going to use Shopify as your e-commerce platform, consider using my course, Shopify for Artisan Businesses. Your store will be set up quicker and faster than if you try doing it alone!
After running bel monili (my handmade jewelry business) for 10 years, I launched Bloom in 2019 to create a community where handmade business owners could learn, grow, and support each other in this wild venture of small business ownership. Welcome to Bloom!