It’s time to break free from your 9-5 job where you put in the hard work, long hours and just make money for your company with little to no benefits for you. If you work harder, you get nothing, but your boss is jumping down your neck about letting the business down if you have an off day.
2022 is the year to look for new opportunities to be your own boss, make more money, and have a happier, more successful life. The easiest business to start with limited investment requirements is an eCommerce business, which can begin as a side hustle but quickly become your primary source of income.
Follow along as I go through the steps to create an eCommerce business. I’ll discuss finding a product supplier who will store and ship products, so you don’t need to worry about it.
eCommerce is simply electronic commerce, where people buy and sell products and services electronically. The best example is Amazon, the largest eCommerce business outside of China, which started small and now makes over 600 Billion every year.
For this guide, we’re going to be focusing on selling products over the Internet using a third-party supplier of products who will store and ship everything for you, which allows you to focus on building the business rather than handling the actual products.
Picking the right kind of eCommerce business to start will be critical to your future success. In general, you want to choose a niche to focus your advertising in that area. If you try to go too broad in the products you sell, then it becomes difficult to advertise effectively, and your website can appear a little spammy.
Once you get your first eCommerce business up and running, you can consider building multiple websites that each have a different product niche.
Most people will tell you to pick a niche or type of business that you’re passionate about, which is great advice, but you need to consider which types of products sell the best so that you have the best chance of making money and growing your business.
Typically the best product categories are:
- Food Related Products
- Health Products
- Fitness Products
- Beauty Products
- Fashion Clothing and Accessories
- Travel Products
- Home Decor Products
- Baby Products
- Pet Products
There are certainly other product areas that can make money, especially if you have a passion or a lot of knowledge around them which can help in your advertising, but you should stay clear of niches that have limited selling potential.
Consider what types of products people want to buy and if there could be a large customer base vs. niche products with limited customer bases that will keep your business small.
Starting an eCommerce business is simple, with a vast range of prebuilt systems available to you; there is almost no technical skill required to get set up and run your business, and the initial investment is extremely low.
Using this guide, you can sign up for the required systems and get up and running quickly. You’ll want to start with the following systems and remember most of it is turn-key, so you don’t have to build it, just set each system up:
- eCommerce Store
- Product Supplier
Once you’ve set up the systems, you’ll need to start attracting customers to your store using a variety of advertising options:
- Content creation for SEO or google search result ranking
- Social media advertising which can be free
- Paid advertising
The steps below are a general overview of what you need to do and the decisions you need to make when building your eCommerce business.
This guide isn’t going to take you through the exact steps of configuring each component, but each of the suggested platforms have massive amounts of installation and configuration guides on the Internet, and in most cases, you can even figure it out yourself because they’re all extremely simple once you sign up.
Once you’ve decided on your niche, then you need to find a product supplier that offers trending products for your potential customer base. So make sure whoever you pick has enough good quality products that fit your needs.
Using a product supplier allows you to keep costs low and remove any handling of the actual products. They will find, buy, and store all products, and then you display those products on your website for customers to buy.
Once a customer buys a product from you, your eCommerce store will provide the details and payment to the product supplier, who will package and ship the product to the customer. So not only are they handling the packing and shipping, but you don’t pay for products until a customer pays you first, meaning there is no inventory cost to you.
There are many product suppliers depending on what you want to sell and with varying costs. For a successful eCommerce business, it’s critical to pick the best product supplier possible; some of the key things your supplier should provide are:
- Trending products that get updated, meaning that your supplier checks on what products are selling well in the overall marketplace and provide good quality options for you to pick from. They should also be updating their product list on an ongoing basis so you can supply new products to your customers.
- Fast shipping because customers will be turned off if they have to wait 14-30 days for their product to arrive, which is the standard if your supplier is in China.
- Low product price; otherwise, your profits will be low as there is only so much you can charge, and revenue comes from the cost after paying the supplier.
- Reasonable shipping costs as you either need to charge the customer or eat the cost yourself. Most costumes are used to free shipping through stores like Amazon.
So one of the better, more well-known, and trusted product suppliers is Sellvia, who provides many benefits when you use them, so if they offer the types of products you’re interested in, it would be a good option. However, look around and find the best supplier for your needs and even your location.
Sellvia can offer the following benefits which immensely help your eCommerce business:
- US-based warehouse with 1-3 day shipping throughout the US.
- Trending products that they keep updated through their own research.
- Reasonable prices on all of their products. Compare their prices to other suppliers.
- Free shipping which is a huge bonus as many suppliers don’t offer this.
- Product import pages with fantastic English descriptions of all products, which is often not the case if using a Chinese supplier.
- Quality control on all products, ensuring customers get good quality and functional products.
- Integrations with the major eCommerce store platforms.
If you’re US-based, then they’re probably the best option due to the speed of delivery plus free delivery. You won’t get repeat customers if your products take too long to arrive.
Creating a website is optional, as your eCommerce store can be used as your primary website. However, a dedicated website gives you more flexibility and revenue opportunities outside of just selling products.
Pick a content management system that has a wide range of addons available, including lots of free design templates, so that you can pick a good website design. One of the best with a huge range of free templates is WordPress, but if you’re more familiar with other systems, use one of those instead.
Some of the key elements when picking your content management system are:
- Ease of use and setup
- Lots of add-ons, so you can add all kinds of features to your site for free.
- Lots of design templates so you can choose a stunning website design for free.
- An integration with your eCommerce store system is critical.
What is an integration with your eCommerce store? You’re going to be picking a platform to store the information and take payments for all of your products, you need a way to share this product information with your website, and that is through an integration or addon.
WordPress has an extensive range of integrations and addons for almost all big eCommerce stores, which is why it’s a great option.
Using WordPress also makes it easier for part of your advertising strategy, which will be content creation that we’ll discuss further down in the advertising section of this guide.
A website separate from your eCommerce store also opens up other revenue streams if you decide to go that route, things such as:
- Providing services in your niche
- Selling courses or other training material, such as videos or eBooks
- Affiliate marketing
Your first step in setting up your eCommerce store will be picking which platform you use. There are many platforms that offer eCommerce solutions that allow you to connect to product suppliers, take payments, and perform all the functions you need from your store.
With your eCommerce store, you’ll need to connect to your supplier so that you can import product pages and send orders back to the supplier to fulfill. So make sure that whatever supplier you pick and whatever eCommerce store you pick have an easy way to integrate.
All of the suggestions in this guide integrate well and are used by a wide range of other businesses, so if you end up using the suggestions, you’ll have no problems.
Once all of the installation and configuration is done, then you can start selecting and importing the products you want to sell to your customers. Once you’ve imported the product pages from your supplier, you’ll be able to set prices and even update the product pages if you want.
You’ll be able to see the cost of each product and then set a higher price depending on how much you want to make from each sale. The lower you keep the price, the easier it will be to sell the product, but don’t make it so low that it’s not worth your time to run the business.
If you want to provide your own product photos or update the descriptions of the products, then you can do that once they’re imported. You may even want to get some of the products yourself and take photos of you using them rather than the stock photos available, which can certainly help with sales.
Your ability to turn your eCommerce store from a side hustle to a full-blown business will depend on how well you advertise your eCommerce store.
You don’t need to be a marketing guru or a social media expert to get customers to visit your store; in most cases, it just takes a little time and effort on your part.
Writing articles and content about things related to your product niche is a great free option to get customers to visit your site. Using your website that may be powered by WordPress, you can write and post content that will be picked up by search engines when people search for specific terms related to your niche.
You’ll want to pick a primary search term for each article you write so that you can focus some of your writing and word decisions on that search term. So your search term could be “the best dog leashes for toy poodles” and then you can craft your article around dog leashes for toy poodles and include that specific wording in your article a few times.
Just be sure not to overuse the term; otherwise, you may be penalized by search engines by trying to game them. If you included the term around four times within a 1000-1500 word article, then that would be reasonable.
There is no specific number of articles you must write, but you’ll get better results by providing constant new articles for search engines to find, so 1 article per day or at least 2-3 per week would be great.
If you’re not a great writer or you don’t want to put the time into writing so many articles every week, then you can outsource your article writing to sites like Fiverr or Upwork, where you can find a variety of writers that may specialize in your niche.
You’ll just want to review their sample work to ensure the quality is good enough for what you want. Depending on who you get and their experience, you can also pay various amounts, so articles could cost you as little as $5.
If you have the budget and don’t want to wait for natural search engine results, you can pay to be listed at the top of the results for specific search terms that you select. Depending on your niche, the costs will vary, with the more competitive search terms being fairly costly.
You can sign up for Google Ads to see the cost of search terms to see if it’s a reasonable option for your current budget.
Building social media profiles for your eCommerce business is a great free way to pull in customers. However, it does take some effort, and you’ll want to pick the right platforms for your abilities and products.
You’ll want to be posting daily and keep all of your social media profiles updated with new content.
If you’re comfortable taking videos or photos, then platforms like Tiktok and Instagram can be great options.
Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are also good options if you prefer not to create as much of your own visual content.
You should research who buys your type of products, such as gender and age, and then match your social media efforts against platforms with higher percentages of your preferred demographics.
Each social media platform will allow you to create ads and display them to interested potential customers. They can help you direct the ads to the right demographic based on your needs. It’s also a good option if you have a little money to spend and don’t want to build out a social media profile, which can take some time to get big.
Most social media influencers will shout your business out or create a post for your business to get their followers alerted to you and come to see what you offer.
Finding an influencer in your niche who has reasonable rates can get you instant customers and new followers to your social media profile.
eCommerce businesses are the easiest business to start with no experience required and minimal upfront cost for you. You can work on the business as a side hustle until it makes enough money to support you, and then you can make it your primary source of income and focus more time and energy on it.