This part is all about the planning stages and gathering ideas for how you would like to have your shop. You don't need to plan everything right away, but it does help to have an idea of what you would like to accomplish for your shop as soon as possible. For your convenience, I've even included a handy checklist (made to go with this tutorial) below that you can download for free!
Remember, take only the information that is relevant to accomplishing your shop needs/desires. Leave the rest...
So, what exactly does a website shop need?
- Products/items to sell.
- A way for customers to purchase your products.
- A place to sell your products.
1) Products/things to sell. Ask yourself, what will you be selling... tangible goods such as handmade items (crochet, knit, crafted), digital downloads such as PDF patterns (crochet, knit, other), media, or something else entirely?
2) A way for customers to purchase your products. Knowing what you're planning to sell will help determine your options and which will be best suited for you. The ones we will be focusing on are Paypal and Ravelry since they are the most economical solutions for hosting on your own site.
Pros for Ravelry:
- Free account.
- Payments processed through your Paypal account.
- Secure Download Links.
- Free for monthly sales less than $30.
- Special HTML codes for shop links, plus a "buy now" button.
- Easy coupon code / sale system.
- Purchased patterns are stored in customer's Ravelry library.
- Easily send updates with one-click.
- Keep track of purchases.
- The list goes on...
Cons for Ravelry:
- Limited to Crochet and Knit PDF patterns only.
- 3.5% Fee for monthly sales over $30. Note: This fee is approximately $1 per $30 of sales and is always reset on the first day of the month, when it is also the time to pay the fees from the previous month. This is in addition to your Paypal fees.
Hands down, if you are going to be selling crochet or knit patterns and you want to sell them on your own website, Ravelry is the best and most economical solution out there. For more information, please see Ravelry ShopKeepers.
Pros for Paypal:
- Free account.
- Any kind of Product - tangible goods, digital goods, etc.
- No extra fees apart from the normal ones associated with Paypal.
- Easy to make shop buttons.
Cons for Paypal:
- Download links, while possible, are not secure. At least, I have not learned how to make them secure at this time. I am sure it is possible.
- It may be necessary to email digital goods. Particularly if you will be sending customers an updated version.
- Paypal does not offer a coupon code system or easy way of having a sale. You will need to manually make new buttons with the sale price. I know there is a way to get a coupon code system to use with Paypal, I just haven't learned how to make it possible at this time.
- No automated sorting or grouping of specific items sold. You will need to create a spreadsheet to see those details at a glance.
You will need a verified Paypal account for either option in order to receive payments, so if you do not already have one, you should set it up now. *Setting up a Paypal Account is free too. Paypal charges a small percentage of your sale AND a small fee per transaction. The rates depend on your location.
Well, priced items make these small fees from both Ravelry and Paypal totally worth it!
If you're not sure how to price your items, then you'll want to check out Pricing Crochet Fairly for Maximum Profit by Sedruola over at Yarn Obsession. I have this book and highly recommend it!
3) A place to sell your products. In this case, a website.
- If you don't already have a website, there are many great website builders to choose from and some of them are even free.
- Personally, I like using Weebly. Although I have run into a few hiccups here and there, overall, I have been very happy with it.
- Wordpress is another popular choice by many.
Just find one that suits your needs. If you've already got a website, you're one step ahead!
What sort of pages will your shop need?
- Mission Statement page
- Disclaimer/FAQ's page
- Product pages
- Category pages
- Homefront/Landing page
- Special Offers page
The Mission Statement page let's your customers know what you aspire to do. Check out my mission statement here...
The Disclaimer/FAQ's page helps your customers find quick answers and lets them know your shop policies. See my disclaimer page here...
Product pages are individual pages you create for each of your products to help your customers learn more about individual items. See an example of one of mine here...
Category pages are created to sort your products for easier browsing. Visit one of my store's category pages here to get some ideas for shop categories.
The Homefront page is your shop's landing page - the one you direct your customers to and also helps them get a quick glance of your offerings. See my store landing page here...
The Special Offers page technically falls under the category pages, but it seemed relevant to included it in this list. If you plan to offer sales or promotions for items in your shop, you may find it easier to have a special page just for that purpose. See my special offers page here...
What sort of goodies do you recommend for my shop?
- Custom Search Engines
- Product Titles
- Product Descriptions
- Promotional Product Media
- Pricing Details
- Shopping Cart
- Shop Buttons
- Product Blocks
- Share Links/Buttons
- Social Media Links and Connections
- Footer or Sidebar Links
- Ad Space
Custom Search Engines. Help your customers find what they are looking for by having several search engines throughout your site and shop. Having at least one at the top of each page in your shop is recommended. Though you may like to have one towards the bottom too.
Welcome Message. This is optional, but you may like to have a welcome message on your shop's homefront page to let customers know what they can expect from your shop. It's completely up to you! Recommended for homefront/landing pages.
Shop Categories. You may like to list your shop's categories on your homefront page to direct customers to their favourite section quickly. Additionally, you may like to have these categories listed on your category pages to make it easy for customers to jump back and forth to a new section of your shop. When included on you category pages, I recommend listing them in the sidebar if you have many categories, or as a header/footer if you have few categories. Recommended for homefront/landing pages and category pages.
Product Titles. Help your customers know what your product is. Give them unique titles. Recommended on product pages and and other page where you will list your product.
Product Descriptions. Help your customers know what your product is about. Give them a clear description. Some things you may like to include are sizing, materials, copyright, and of course a catchy tag line helps too! If you have a short description, simple text will do. However, if you have a lot of info about your product, you may consider using tabs instead. Recommended on product pages.
Promotional Product Media. You'll want to have at least one, clear photo of your product to help sell it. Stand-alone-images, slideshows and videos are some ideas of ways you can add promotional media to your site. Recommended on product pages and and other page where you will list your product.
Pricing Details. How much do your products cost? What currency will you use? Make sure you clearly state this info to help avoid confusion for your customers. Recommended on product pages and and other page where you will list your product.
Shopping Cart. Sometimes customers like to purchase more than one item. So, it helps to have a shopping cart where they can see what they've added. Ravelry has a special code that will give you a pop-up cart, and Paypal has a code that opens the cart in a new window. I have yet to discover if either offers an embeddable version. At any rate, both have "View Cart" codes, and like it is recommended for search engines, having at least one cart button at the top of each page in your shop is ideal, along with one towards the bottom as you like.
Shop Buttons. Such as "Add to Cart", "Buy Now", "Download" or "View Cart". Recommended on product pages and and other page where you will list your product.
Product Blocks. These are useful for category pages to list several items like a gallery for easy browsing. Additionally, these are great for your product pages as a "you may also like" or "recommended for you" feature. These can be a product photo with a title, or you may additionally like to add the price and a shop button. Recommended for category pages. Additional feature for product pages.
Reviews. Let your customer's tell you what they think about your product with either a star-rating system, a commenting system, or both! Recommended on product pages.
Share Links/Buttons. While it may not be necessary to have share links/buttons, they sure are a handy way of using word of mouth to get your products out there. Recommended for all shop pages with the exception of the disclaimer and mission pages.
Social Media Links and Connections. Help your customers get in touch with you by sharing your social media and communications links. Recommended for all shop pages.
Footer or Sidebar Links. These are easy, quick links to important pages on your site that your users may be interested in seeing - including your blog, your disclaimer page, and any other link you deem relevant. Recommended for all shop pages.
Ad Space. This is totally up to you, but from what I've read on the Google AdSense help pages, shop pages are a popular choice with many ad renters since products are a high value content. Recommended for all shop pages with the exception of the disclaimer and mission pages.
Any other thing you would like to include in your shop is up to you. Go ahead and plan out what you think will work best for you and take it from there!
TIP: If you need help brainstorming ideas, take a look at my store, and other shops you like.