Starting A Store Checklist:
- Download the checklist here
- The Checklist To Starting An Online Store, Part 1
- The Checklist To Starting An Online Store, Part 2
Must-Read Articles On The Internet:
- 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly
- 1,000 Day Rule: What Living The Dream Really Looks Like by Tropical MBA
- Startup Killer: Cost Of Customer Acquisition by David Skok
- The Candid Truth About Entrepreneurial Addiction by Dan Sullivan, Joe Polish
- EV Millionaire’s Math by Billy Murphy
- How To Gather 100,000 Emails In A Week
- Worldview And Stories by Seth Godin
- Tribes And The Reality Of Worldview by Seth Godin
- Storytelling In 2014 by Gary Vaynerchuk
- Psychology Of Pricing: A Gigantic List Of Strategies
- What Makes An Entrepreneur? Four Letters: JFDI by Mark Suster
- Top Five Regrets Of The Dying by Bronnie Ware
- How Not To Die by Paul Graham
- The Hardest Lessons For Startups To Learn by Paul Graham
- The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson
- Fuck Yes Or Fuck No by Mark Manson
- How Do I Get Rid Of The Fear by Seth Godin
- To Overcome An Irrational Fear by Seth Godin
- Keep Your Identity Small by Paul Graham
- Ultimate Guide To E-Commerce Conversion Rates by ConversionXL
- On Glamour by Virginia Postel
- Terry is using BigCommerce, and Travis is using Volusion. We’ll probably use Shopify in a future project but that’s still TBD. You can’t go wrong with either BigCommerce or Shopify. Shopify tends to be more fashion-forward and have sharper design themes along with a super sharp developer community. BigCommerce has more functionality baked into the cart where you’d need to add 3rd-party apps for Shopify.
- Spaces: If you need a quick landing page to test new ideas and collect payment, check out Spaces. It’s a lightweight and easy way to take an idea from concept to sales within minutes. They handle all the hosting, checkout, and bandwidth so you can just focus on your products. Compared to setting up a shopping cart, this is one of the quickest ways to have a landing page and start making sales. It works for digital, physical, and even monthly subscription products. The first USD $50 you earn each month is always free of charge. If you earn more, then $9 per month + 3% transaction fee.
Fulfillment & Shipping
- Whiplash offers modern fulfillment services that can ship your product on demand. Whether it’s Stitch Labs, Shopify, Magento, or Bigcommerce they integrate seamlessly with your order flow and logistics. They don’t charge a receiving fee or sorting your goods for warehousing. Pricing is super straightfoward with a minimum of $25/month. Check them out at Whiplash.
- Shipping Easy is the company that Travis uses to send his orders from his warehouse and facility. He’s been using them for over a year now and are super happy with their service and product. Shipping Easy is an online shipping software that saves you money through discounted shipping rates and makes it easy to print labels, process orders, and automate tracking for your online store.
- Packlane is an online shop specializing in beautifully printed custom packaging with minimum orders as low as 10. You can choose a box style, upload a design quickly, preview it in 3D, and receive a quote instantly. Your designs are saved so you can revise them or restock at any time with fast turnarounds on shipping – perfect for a business that needs to be agile.
Choosing A Domain Name:
- It doesn’t need to be too complicated, but many new entrepreneurs get stuck on this stage very often. Here’s a simple and concise guide from WebsiteSetup.org on how to get started with naming your domain. The most important things are to think long-term, make it brandable, keep it concise, and easy to spell or pronounce. If you’re looking to use WordPress as the subdomain blog for your e-commerce store, they also have a good guide on getting that setup with your hosting provider.
- MailChimp: Email marketing software that I use for my store ballerleather.com. Very clean interface and generally integrates with more software platforms out there. For BMOS I use Aweber, but Mailchimp is the better alternative for e-commerce because of its API in my view. It just has more integrations built in with CRM, accounting, shipping, and other solutions out there where apps can talk to each other.
- Klaviyo: Cart abandonment email software that integrates with your shopping cart allowing you to cross-check orders, track sales from email campaigns, send auto-responders, and much more. It’s not the cheapest solution out there but it is probably the most feature-rich before upgrading to something like Ontraport or Infusionsoft.
- 99Designs – The world’s largest marketplace of designers that can help you make a logo, website, business card, or anything else you can imagine. This crowdsourced design platform works off a contest system where you enter your specs and designers from all over the world submit their work and compete for your job. You choose who you’d like to move forward with. If nothing works for you, they offer a 100% money-back guarantee.
- Our friends over at Website Setup have a great article on how to design a logo for your online store in six easy steps. A logo is more than just an image and it’s important to get both the big picture and details right. Without getting too technical on design, color psychology, typography, and other details it’s a good primer on getting started. Keep in mind this is also an iterative process as your business matures over time. Companies rebrand all the time throughout their lifecycle, so don’t feel stuck if you can’t decide on one to go forward with.
DIY Product Photography & Video
- Camera: Canon T3i is a great start. Personally I use the Canon T2i but it is missing a mini-LCD screen that is helpful for selfie video tutorials. Without that screen, you don’t be able to see how you look while it’s recording. A used or refurbished one on Amazon with kit lens will run you about $350-$500 USD. The kit lens is a decent start, but starts to fail indoors if your lighting conditions are poor. For outdoor daytime shots, it’s generally good enough unless you want the depth-of-field effect (blurred background) in which you’ll need to buy a more expensive lens.
- Video: For video, the 80/20 is in your lens and its f-stop (aperture). You’ll need a basic understanding of how ISO, shutter speed, and aperture work. In general, you want a lens that gives you an aperture of f-1.8 or lower. This means more light can be let in through the lens into the camera sensor. If you’ve taken a picture with your smartphone inside at night, it’s usually very grainy and because of poor lens and lighting, with the ISO jacked up to compromise. Most kit lenses go down to only f-3.5, and you face a hardware limitation on the quality. From there, you can purchase fairly cheap prime lenses, namely the “nifty-fifty” (50mm f-1.8 ) which are basically lenses with no zoom that gets you the low f-stop quality. The hassle is that you’ll have to move the camera around to get the shot you want.
- Photo Retouching/Editing: Use this guy on oDesk to do more advanced work like color correction, grading, and even photoshopping your products onto stock photos or more complicated creative work. $4 per image.
- White Backgrounds: Use this guy on Fiverr, he does white or transparent backgrounds for you at $1 per image.
- If you need some product shots Terry can also help out on a freelance basis. Please email him at [email protected]
- Check out this post on Medium that has a whole database of photos to choose from.
Online Business & E-Commerce Encyclopedia
- If it’s your first foray into your own online business, there are a ton of terms in the e-commerce and product space to learn on your own. Whether that’s in retail, merchandising, incorporation, or manufacturing – it can be daunting when you’re starting out. Luckily the folks at Shopify have put together a great business encyclopedia that goes through everything you’ll need on this journey.