So, after writing about why you should get started immediately, I got some messages asking me how to start. People said they were ready, they just didn’t know where to start. It’s a lot. I know. I really, really want us to all be great, so I compiled a list of a few things you need to do to get started (I also tried to put them in order as much as possible).
I used Arthur characters, because, well…who doesn’t love Arthur? Also, I’m a teacher so I’m used to adding photos to explain and make things pretty for the kids lol. Anyway, I want to get straight to the point, so here it is:
Research your very specific target audience. Let’s say you are selling baby toys, you need to read mommy blogs, check reviews of baby toys on Amazon to see what mothers love most about specific items, talk to friends who have babies and pay attention to wording in order to attract your target audience. Your target audience may be something like: “first-time, stay home moms, with babies age 6-24 months, who are looking to give their babies a head start with reading”. Your target audience is not “moms” and it’s definitely not “everyone”. Narrow down your exact ideal customer and market to them. Research pricing, research people doing the same thing as you, research everything. READ. YouTube can also really teach you a lot. Make sure you’re always learning.
2. Build Anticipation
If there’s one thing I wish I had known before actually launching my Etsy shop, it’s would’ve been: get people curious and excited about your product or service before actually releasing it. (TikTok has made this especially easy. People love seeing behind the scenes business footage and watching quick little videos of how things are made.) Almost 4 years ago, clueless AF, I opened an Etsy shop and just started uploading pictures and adding product descriptions. Then I opened an Instagram page and just started uploading pictures. No one knew me or my brand, but I was posting tho smh. I should’ve started my social media accounts FIRST, collaborated with some influencers/bloggers/vloggers, gained at least a small following of people dying to have my product and then released it (after much anticipation).
3. Collect Email Addresses
This anticipation would’ve allowed me to build an email list full of people who where ecstatic and ready for my products. Invest in an email marketing service like ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, etc. and create a landing page for people to sign up with their email. An email list is essential for anyone starting any kind of business or offering any service. Email allows you free direct access to your target audience (well, not completely free, but better than paying for ads), it also encourages repeat buying. You can also setup emails to wish your customers happy birthday, send targeted emails depending on where they live (let’s say you decide to have a pop-up shop in Brooklyn, or you’re a traveling photographer, you could send emails specifically to people in those places), alert people of new releases, send tips and tricks, etc. Start collecting emails before you launch. Thank me later :-)
4. Quality Images
Okay guys, this should go without saying but please, great photography is a MUST. You have 2 choices here: 1) invest in a photographer 2) invest in a good camera, YouTube tutorials and decent photo editing software (photoshop, Lightroom, etc). Y’all. Please. Please ensure you have clean, crisp, thoughtful images for your site, store and social media profiles. You won’t be able to reach your full potential with low quality photos. Some people are really good at iPhone photography and that’s awesome! But if you aren’t one of those people? Invest. Either in a photographer or in learning photography.
Buy your domain(s) as soon as possible. Check and make sure “yourbusinessname.com” is available before you start. If it isn’t, think of a new business name. Make sure your website has awesome images and has clear “call to action” buttons like “Shop Now”, “Subscribe” or “Hire Me” visible on every single page. Some people have great websites, photography and copywriting but no clear way to contact them or buy. Don’t let this be you.
Decide where you want to sell and/or share your content. If you’re blogging or selling services such as photography, you can use Squarespace or Wix, but please pay the $15 so that it says “yourbusinessname.com” and not “.wix.com”.
If you’re selling items, like candles, clothes, art, etc, you’ll need to decide between Etsy and Shopify. You could use one. You could use both. Etsy is great because it is already a popular platform where people go to search for unique items, so Etsy brings traffic (visitors/potential buyers) to your shop. Shopify does not. With Shopify, you are responsible for bringing your own traffic through ads, posts, etc. Disclaimer: I’m very biased. I use and LOVE Etsy lol, so I won’t say anything else about the platforms. Just do your own research and decide what’s best for you.
I want you guys to note, though, I didn’t mention a logo, color palette, mood board, etc. These are all things that can come later and shouldn’t stop you from starting. Too much unnecessary planning and “perfecting” leads to procrastination. Don’t do that. Start. Start with the things I’ve listed and perfect the rest AFTER you’ve started.
These are things I wish someone had told me. I sincerely hope this saves you some time and at least gets you started out on the right foot. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.