How I Do: Five Tips for Starting an Online Business for People Who Know Nothing

I’m not what you’d call “qualified”. I don’t have a business degree (enthusiastic history degree person here) and I don’t have a thriving online business (yet!). So this post isn’t really for people who’ve done those things and are looking to get to the next level. This is for people who have a talent or product that they’re good at and vague, fuzzy dreams of selling it at somepoint, somewhere.

So without further qualifying ado, here is a numbered list (don’t you like those? I do):

#1-Find a venue

I’m on etsy. From what I could tell during my research phase this is the easiest way to get your stuff out there for minimal cost. I’ve only been a “shop owner” for three months but so far I’ve had no complaints (not the most ringing endorsement but at least I haven’t had a negative experience). It’s not the only venue out there; if your thing is art you can sell on ebay, deviantart, fine art america and several other places. But don’t get paralyzed by ALL THE WEBSITES. Pick one and master it (I’m still in that phase).

#2-Focus

This one is hard for me. I’m first and foremost a calligrapher but I also like drawing and painting, beading, altered book art, the list goes on. But every.single.guide. says to focus. So we decided our thing would be words, because I could incorporate words into practically everything I do (and Himself likes to write). Our website reflects that, my etsy shop reflects that, my social media (mostly) reflects that. If you do go with etsy as your venue you’ll want to make sure your shop look is cohesive and makes sense visually (still working on that one).

#3-Get thee your own website

Point everything back to your own site. Venues can change their rules, disappear, flood your respective market, kick you off, etc. but if you’ve been building a following and directing them back to your own site all will not be lost. WordPress is a good one (obviously we like it) but there are other options (this post looks to be helpful).

#4-Social Media

This post from The Simple Dollar was incredibly helpful to me and has been my guiding principle thus far for my social media attempts. I’m on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter but my focus is primarily Instagram and Pinterest. I post on Instagram (almost) daily, both of my finished work and my works in progress and I’m usually adding to my Pinterest boards daily. Focus (that word again) on the platforms that suit you best and own it. I’ll be working on that goal right with you. Oh, here’s a pretty little montage of some of my recent work I’ve posted to Instagram (which I use as a banner in my etsy shop):

Instagram3

#5-Give it time

I don’t like this one. I, and I’m sure many other people, want instantaneous results. We’re brilliant artists! Craftsmen! The world should acknowledge our awesomeness! But the truth is it takes time. I’ve been actively seeking to sell my work for three months now and I’ve had five sales (and a wedding, but I did that gratis for my brother). Some days I’m incredibly down about that but then I remind myself that while I wait for my art tribe to find me and buy me out I’m learning more about selling online, improving my craft (seriously, I’ve come a long way in three months) and decorating my walls.

I sold this piece but I plan on doing it again because it looked absolutely gorgeous on my wall.

I sold this piece but I plan on doing it again because it looked absolutely gorgeous on my wall.

So there you are. Five tips from someone of questionable authority for those of you who know absolutely nothing about online business. Cheers!

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