5 Mistakes to avoid when running an online store

What’s up, beautiful bookworms, long time no post! As you know, I’ve been extremely busy running an online store, specifically my bookish jewelry and bookmarks shop, Chiqui Creates. You can read my bookish shop adventures in my other post, Running A Bookish Jewelry Shop.

My shop’s only been around for about three months, but in that time I’ve picked up useful information on how to set up an online shop and, most importantly, common mistakes to avoid! Since the shop is on vacation for the holidays (because am on vacation, let’s be honest here), I’ve taken the time to list down the five mistakes people should avoid when running an online store!

1. Not researching fees and charges associated with your chosen shop platform

There are dozens of platforms and websites out there where you can set up a store. For websites, there’s Society 6 and Redbubble for if you just want to upload artworks and let someone else do all the rest, and there’s Etsy for DIY products and supplies. Then there’s paid store fronts such as Shopify for practically everything else. These are just a few of the many, many places you can sell your stuff; there’s no shortage at all!

But did you know that a lot of these shops have fees? For instance, Etsy charges you whenever you want to list a product, and then also takes a portion when you use Paypal, plus other cuts that you have to read through the website thoroughly first before even discovering it. Shopify also charges you, but at least it’s a monthly fee with no hidden charges!

Aside from my jewelry shop, I also have a store over at Society 6 and Redbubble. And though I’m pleased to say that they’re super legit and that they don’t charge fees for you to upload your artworks, their profit margins are low and you’d only be making a significant amount of money if you have a huge following and, of course, lots of artworks for sale.

So knowing about these costs and profit margins will help you decide how much you price your items, or which store is more worthwhile to invest your time (and sometimes money) in.

2. Social media accounts with no followers

Sure, word of mouth is great and social media is an immense help when running an online store, but just because you could create tens and thousands of social media accounts for your brand, doesn’t mean you should.

Let’s put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you think of the shop when you see that its twitter account has 0 followers? And then check their other social media accounts and see the same 0 followers and 0 likes for all of them? Sketchy, right?

It’s better to focus on one social media presence first, and then expand your reach when you have enough of a following on there. For example, I’m currently focusing on growing my shop Instagram account, Chiqui Creates. Once I have enough followers (I do have a set target, but honestly that’s up to you), I can promote my other accounts. In fact, I’m already trying to promote my Chiqui Creates Facebook Page through Instagram! I also cross-post my Instagram posts to Facebook so it doesn’t look like a barren wasteland. In the future, I hope to post Facebook-specific posts too!

3. Not engaging with your followers

Somewhat related to the second point is the lack of engagement with your followers. If all you do on your account is promote, promote, and promote, it’s going to get pretty old really fast. People like to know that they’re valued, and one way to show that is to engage with them!

What I like to do for my Instagram account is to feature product photos by those who bought from me, and also respond and/or like the comments in my posts. I also held a giveaway and am planning on several more in the upcoming months. Lastly, I engaged people to promote my products themselves by hosting a rep search on Instagram!

4. A terrible store front

So you’ve got the best product ever, and you’re sure, really really sure, that people are going to love it. But then you set up your website, and there’s blinking text, ads everywhere, blinding colors and the buy button is hidden somewhere no one can find.

People nowadays are impatient. If they don’t see what they want on your site, they’ll leave. So it’s best to make sure that your website highlights the most important thing of all: your products, and how to buy them.

There are many tutorials on the internet on how to make an attractive website. Shopify has a lot of free and paid layouts to help you achieve that awesome, non-cluttered look. I myself am using a free template called Brooklyn and it is so amazing, it almost feels like a paid theme!

Thankfully, shops like Redbubble, Society 6, and Etsy already have a standard store front, so you don’t have to worry about that. Still, it helps to upload a header and a profile image to make your store front more attractive! Sadly my Society 6 doesn’t have a header yet, but I’ll definitely be adding one soon!

5. Selling yourself short

Sadly, a lot of newcomers do this, and in a way I understand because you want to sell and be noticed. But in the process of trying to beat the costs of the competition, you end up cutting into your own profit margins and selling your hard work for mere pennies.

It’s tempting to just sell your lovingly crafted products for the lowest price just to get it to sell, but if you don’t reward yourself for your efforts, you’re going to get burned out and discouraged.

But how do I price my items, you say? There are different ways, some more complicated than the rest, but what I personally do is this:

(Cost of materials + Labour)*2 = Selling price

So for instance, if your cost of materials is $2, and you want to pay yourself $10/hour, then you would compute it like this:

($2 + $10)*2 = $24

Your selling price will be $24 per item.

I find that when I use this method, there’s enough for me to pay for my Shopify costs per month, as well as other miscellaneous expenses such as paid Shopify apps, transportation, and packing materials. Of course, I came to this conclusion after studying my own expenses versus profit margins; you can choose to modify how you compute your own prices. For instance, if your packing materials are expensive, perhaps it’s better to add the packing costs after computing for your selling price, or even to shipping costs instead. It’s up to you, but again, don’t sell yourself short!

Remember these don’t’s when running an online store…

And you’ll have an amazing and rewarding time. I’ve been having such a blast thinking of new designs, meeting new people, and getting feedback to help me become a better designer and shop owner. Of course, the extra money isn’t bad, either! With a lot of dedication, inspiration, and hard work, I believe my jewelry shop will only continue to grow.

Do you plan to run your own online shop? Are you already running an online store? What’s your experience been like so far? Let me know in the comments below!


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