Thursday, 5 March 2015

Self Employed | Setting Up Your Online Shop

Hopefully, after reading our post on what to think about before you sell online, you're well on your way to creating your brand identity, products and setting your pricing structure. So now, what's next? You've got everything you need to dive right in, but wait, don't rush in to it! We have a few guidelines to help you do it right first time round!

Setting Up Your Shop

Choosing the website to sell your products on can take some serious thinking, so here's a list so you can get thinking about which is right for you.

Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | Setting Up Your Online Shop
Own Domain

To set up a shop on a new domain with your own branded website is a big leap. Now, we won't say don't do it - we'd never say that - but there are a few things to consider, which will help you figure out if it's a smart move for you.
  • Do you have a well known blog or Instagram account? We're talking thousands of followers or views per day.
  • Are you willing to put a lot of time into marketing - daily posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest?
  • Do you know basic SEO to get your site seen organically?
Yes to all? OK, you seem confident enough, we'll leave you to it. But seriously, think about this honestly and if you don't have the time to put the work in choose one of the shops below!

Big Cartel

Bigcartel is a really versatile shop front that allows you to choose different layouts and fully customise the fonts and colour schemes, so you can really personalise it. Perfect for if you want to add a 'shop' section to your personal website but don't have e-commerce. The downside is that it's fairly difficult to browse through Bigcartel. People are unlikely to stumble across you, but if you are able to direct people to your shop through either your website, or social media accounts, it is a really good and affordable option.
  • Having a shop – Free to £19.70 
  • Listing an item – Free (up to 5 items)
  • Selling an item – Free 
  • Direct payment to bank account (via Stripe) – 2.9% + 20p 
  • Payment to Paypal - 3.4% + 20p


Etsy is one of the most well known websites to buy and sell handmade and vintage items. It has a real community which will support you as you begin your new, exciting adventure. Bicyclette: Self Employed | Setting Up Your Online Shop - Oh Botherp/OhBotherDesign

 There will likely be a Etsy community wherever you live that meet up - if not, look for surrounding cities because these are a great way to meet other sellers to swap hints and tips! You're all in it together, remember, as much as you may be competing you can always help each other out.
  • Free to join.
  • 13p to list a single item.
  • You pay Etsy 3.5% commission on each item that sells.
  • Direct payment to bank account - 4% + 20p 
  • Payment to Paypal - 3.4% + 20p
  • Anyone can create treasuries, which are essentially collections of specific items that fall into the same theme. This can lift views and lead to new sales!

Folksy is similar to Etsy, the major difference is it's just UK sellers. This makes pricing your postage relatively easy, as opposed to having seperate prices for different areas of the world! The community isn't as strong as Etsy, and you'll find the website isn't as advanced - but it's definitely worth having it as an extra on the side of Etsy! Just make sure you keep up with orders on both.
  • Free to join.
  • 18p to list a single item.
  • You pay Folksy 17.2% commission on each item that sells.
  • Direct payment to bank account – not available 
  • Payment to Paypal - 3.4% + 20p 

You may think 'huh, ebay? isn't that just for secondhand items?' but you'll be surprised. A lot of sellers make a living from Ebay, including people who sell supplies and vintage items. Millions of people use ebay everyday, and it can bring a different customer, someone who had not previously considered buying handmade. Although, they are often looking for a bargain, so stick your guns when it comes to your prices!
  • Free to join.
  • Having a shop – £17.38 to £217.38, although you can list items without having a shop front.
  • Listing an item – Varies from free to 26p, depending on your shop level, the type of item and the quantity.
  • Selling an item – 7% to 9.6%, depending on the item category. 
  • Direct payment to bank account – not available. 
  • Payment to Paypal - 3.4% + 20p

Not On The High Street

Not on the High Street is one of the biggest online handmade markets there is, and it keeps getting bigger! Although it may seem like a big investment, most sellers will make there money back within a few months, depending on how popular their products are. They are a Worldwide company and seem to be expanding and expanding! The rules are a lot more strict than other shops, so setting up items to sell can take a bit longer if something is misspelled or photographed poorly.

Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | Setting Up Your Online Shop - Felt Mountain Studios 
Once you're accepted to sell on Not On The High Street you need to work at being one of the better sellers as sellers may get lost if they are not featured regularly. The technical support, although thorough and tough at times, are always on hand and friendly, and really care about their sellers.
  • £238.80 joining fee.
  • Listing an item is free.
  • They select which shops can sell with them, you can't just automatically set up shop.
  • You pay 30% commission for every item that sells.
  • They have TV adverts that are seen by millions.
  • They provide brochures to buyers with a variety of sellers.
  • They send sellers regular emails with new trends and hints & tips to get organised.
  • Direct payment to bank account – Free
Listing Your Products

Listing your products can be the longest process and one that you have to keep updating to optimise your sales. 
  • Start off with no less than 12 products, and add/replace at least 2 more every month. 
  • If you find that profits are dropping, use your time wisely and create new products with the hope that one of them is your next big seller. 
  • Think strategically and realistically. Look at what is selling and create similar items - don't stick to your guns if your favourite items aren't selling - this is just you being stubborn, not 'realising your dreams'.
Optimising Your Product Listings

There are a number of things you should keep in mind:
  • Titles and tags are incredibly important - think of everything you would search for to find the item you're listing and include every word in your tags.
  • Pictures are what make you stand out from the crowd, especially on websites like Etsy where a lot of items may pop up from a search. Read our post Professional Photographs of Your Own Products to get the most out of your product photography.
  • Your description is your chance to shine. Make sure they're informative and answer any questions the buyer might have. Be honest and include size and materials. Remind them why they are buying from you and not from a high street shop. Tell them a story and let them enjoy making the purchase.

We hope this helps with setting up your shop! If you have any questions just comment below or over on social. We're always happy to have a chat! Otherwise, keep an eye out on our whole Self Employed series, to help you on your way!

Steph B, Steph H & Nicola

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