When it comes to making money there is more than one way of making it in the traditional sense. In my opinion the traditional standard of selling your soul to a single employer and allowing them to dictate not only how you spend your time in life, but also how much you make in that time is unacceptable. For the past few years I have (while leasing my soul to various employers) had the opportunity of starting several successful e-commerce stores. It not only gave me an opportunity to hone my business skills while working a 9-5, but also realize the massive potential of making a living while selling products.
Beyond making enough money to eat, live, and survive, the goal for most creatives when they leave their 9-5 is to eventually find the time, and opportunities to work on only the things they are passionate about. The first e-commerce store I created, I was able to get a regular monthly income profit of about $300 with very little marketing. Other than asking my friends to like the Facebook page and doing a little tweeting in the form of talking about graphic tees it was all I needed to do to bring in the monthly passive income. If you have a great product then you have already won half the battle and the other half is letting as many people know you exist, and a percentage of that is getting a well run, and secure online store up for people to see (over 50% of my online sales were international orders). Due to my success in e-commerce, and the amount of time I have invested in researching and using it, I consistently get from my peers and those on the forums the question “What should I use to get my store up and running?”
From my experience in e-commerce I have had the pleasure of using 2 different platforms in building my own e-commerce solution. The first is WooCommerce which I am currently using for the products sold on this blog, and the other is Shopify which I have used in the past, and will most likely use in the future as it is my favorite solution in quickly getting a store up and running. I will highlight these two solutions in this post as both are highly recommended and have there benefits as one is a free option that requires some technical skills, and the other requires cash and the ability to click on a link.
As a disclaimer, I am currently affiliated with Shopify and receive consideration is in the form of affiliate commissions. However I only promote Shopify as I have personally used their service (love it!), and know that it will also bring value to you.
WooCommerce: Free + Web hosting, SSL license, and domain costs.
The philosophy goes that “in all that you need in life it will cost you either time or money”. Fortunately for those that my not have the funds to pay for a quick e-commerce solution you have WooCommerce as it will cost you nothing other than a domain registration and hosting account if you do not currently have one. The process is fairly simple in the fact that you have to download the WooCommerce plugin and and install it on your WordPress site. The process in total only takes about an hour from start to finish to get the site up and running and polished, but that is only if you already have WordPress, a template, and hosting account. One of the nice advantages to WooCommerce is that it becomes an extension to the website you already have created and follows the theme that you have already purchased for your WordPress account. Another thing that you will need to purchase when doing e-commerce is purchasing a SSL license for your site to make sure you online transactions are secure. If you are starting from scratch and do not have a website, you should visit the Website Building 101 post on the website, pay a friend, or find someone who knows what they are doing to get you setup. In total, the time it takes to get a website up and running and load the plugins in, it takes about 6-8 hours to get everything polished for someone who has web experience and can climb to a few days worth of work if you have no previous experience as the learning curve though simple is still very steep. If you do not want to spend the effort to set it up, then you should read on to see how to set up Shopify.
Shopify: $29-$129 a month
For those that do not currently have a WordPress site to host their store and want to focus on just e-commerce, then Shopify is your answer. Just to run a test, I was able to get a fully functional store running in 15 minutes from signup to testing out a purchase. The process is very simple as after you sign up and try your 14 day trial, you can either choose the default theme to get your products running on the site, or quickly purchase a theme ranging from free to $180. Disclaimer: There are a lot of great themes to choose from on Shopify, and the first time I went through the themes it took me about a day to select the theme I wanted to use for my online store. After you select a theme you quickly setup your payment information to make sure you can not only process credit cards, but so you can also have the payments apply to your checking account. From there it is all about loading your products into the shopify system and choosing a price as well as shipping options. It really doesn’t get any easier than what Shopify makes it which is why I highly recommend you using the service if you are not the greatest designer, or programmer, and just want to get something up an running. The only Con for Shopify if I had to call it one is that it cost money, but the prices ranges from an extremely affordable $29 a month to $129 a month for the sites that need the extra bells and whistles such as gift card creation and real time carrier shipping pricing. Plus with the cost it also includes some of the greatest customer support you could ever imagine. Whenever a problem arises, you can be rest assured that they will help in any way they can which allows you to focus on the more important business matter.
The truth is that you can’t lose with either option as both services are great when choosing a secure e-commerce solution, you just have to decide if you have the time or money to choose which option is best for you. I use both, I love both and just want to help streamline the decision making process for the creative entrepreneur when it comes to selling our products online.