how to start an online shopSo, you’ve decided to start an online shop.
You’ve decided to GO FOR IT!

This is the year you finally get your business online and selling.
This your chance to share your beautiful products with more wonderful customers through the magic of the internet.
This is the year you GET IT DONE!

You sit down to create that beautiful shop you have in your mind’s eye and…. nada. The screen looks stubbornly empty. You start scanning google for ideas, tips and walkthroughs to understand what buttons do what. You’ve absolutely NO idea what you are doing and just feel like you are randomly clicking things to find out what they do. AND that drop-dead gorgeous theme template you have chosen needs your pictures, your pages, your products, YOU!

This is where the doubts can creep in.

HOW the hell do you get started?
Maybe you aren’t cut out for this?
HOW does everyone else make this look SO easy?
I SAID I wasn’t techie!!!

But before you consign your online shop plans to that lonely dusty shelf for another year, try going in with a PLAN!

You wouldn’t start a trip of a lifetime without packing the necessities (unless you are one of those who can travel with only a toothbrush and a pair of pants – but even that is preparing a tiny bit). You would know where you are going, how you are going to get there, how long you are staying, what the weather will be like and what clothes/toiletries/ best-loved foods /kitchen sink you’ll need for the trip. Go prepared and you’ll have a great trip.

Plan your new online shop as you would plan that trip. Be prepared and you might just enjoy the journey and love the destination!!

Here are 5 Online Shop Planning Essentials you NEED to pack before starting

1. A map

Otherwise you’ll get lost!!

Grab a pen and paper and jot down what pages your shop needs. You’ll at least need a home page, a blog page, a contact page, a main shop page, an about page and terms and conditions (sorry, that boring page is essential!)

Sort your list of pages into menus. How will your visitors navigate your website. I tend to sketch out 3 menus – the main menu, a top menu (going across the top of the screen) and a footer menu (going across the bottom of the page).

2. Organised packing

Sort your products into categories.

Just as you wouldn’t leave all your products in a heap on the floor of your real-life shop or stall, you shouldn’t lump them all together on your website. Make it easy for your visitors to find what they are looking for.

It’s really easy to add new categories later as you work out what people are looking for. You might want to add categories for gift ideas for special occasions for example. So don’t worry about getting all your categories setup before you start, just get started planning it into some order!

3. Take your pictures

So much of your website is going to be visual that starting off with a good pile of images of your products, your shop and you (!) will really help you to build a fantastic looking online shop quickly.

Take some good quality pics of your products, from all angles and with closeups to show texture and colour. Yes, you can use your phone is you’ve got a good one, but make sure that the end result looks good and not a ‘that’ll do’! People need to get a good impression of your product as if they are standing in your shop.

Take some good quality pics of your shop, stall or workshop, inside and out. People love to know that they are buying from a real person and, if you are making your own products, they love to see behind the scenes.

Squish all photos down to a good data size. I use www.tinypng.com to make sure all my images aren’t enormous and slowing down my websites.

4. Decide on your branding

So you aren’t all mismatched and umming and ahhing about which shade of green looks best on each page.

Pick no more than 5 matching colours and 2 fonts for your branding. Write the hex code (looks like this – #ef54r7) for each colour down before you start. Choose one dominant colour to be your ‘action’ colour for buttons and links.

If you haven’t yet thought about branding or need a refresh, have a look at my easy BrandUP! Branding mini-course to help you create consistency across all your marketing, including your website. (It’s a fun one too!)

5. Write your words

Having your words already written makes building MUCH easier as you can visualise what needs to be said on each page and how it will be best laid out.

Try to collect all these together before starting the build:

  • Product titles and descriptions (even if you are starting with only a few in each category to begin with)
  • Your home page title and straplines – to welcome people to your website and tell them what you are all about
  • Your about page – so much easier to write before thinking about laying it out online
  • A couple of blogs – it’s hard to build a blog page before you have any blog posts on there!

6. Plan the journey

Sketch out (again, good old paper and pen works well) what you will put on your home page.

Some ideas of what you could include:

  • Your main product categories with a good description
  • Links to your most popular products
  • Links to sale products
  • Links to new products
  • A special offer
  • A sign-up box

Decide where you want visitors to go next after the home page and make it REALLY obvious how to get there!!


Making sure you have everything you need BEFORE you jump into creating your lovely new shop will make your website building experience SO much easier and quicker. You don’t have to have ALL your products ready to go on there but enough to make building your shop enjoyable and looking good from the outset. This will stop the blank screen of doom scenario and before you know it, your online shop will look as good (actually better, because it is yours) that those website templates.

And if you need a guide through the techie gubbins of building your online shop, grab a copy of my Build an Online Shop mini-course, on offer at only £27 until April 20th 2020!

Have fun building!