More than a quarter of the web runs on WordPress. There’s good reason for this – WordPress is easy to use and free. Plus, there’s a ton of free information for novice users to get up and running online in a matter of minutes.
If you’re wondering how to start an online store, you need to read this guide. It will walk you through how to create a powerful e-commerce site with the world’s most popular web platform.
I promise, it’s a lot easier than you might think! And there’s never been a better time to take the plunge into an e-commerce industry that is projected to keep growing for years to come.
If you want to start an online store, here’s a simple step-by-step guide
- Sign up for web hosting (we recommend Bluehost).
- Pick a catchy domain name for your shop.
- Make sure WooCommerce was installed during the hosting setup.
- Log in and publish your first product.
1. Use Personal Passion To Fuel Niche Selection
Almost every successful entrepreneur I’ve crossed paths with attests to the fact that passion is the secret ingredient to the high-roller lifestyle they enjoy. And building an online store takes a lot of passion – with years of effort required (in many cases) before you’ll make enough to pay yourself a meaningful salary.
To find a product that overlaps with your personal passion:
- Analyze your past shopping habits. Why do you purchase the items that you do, and which ones excited you the most?
- Sample a few different product categories. Is there something in your local department store that lights you up?
- How do you want to impact people’s lives? Which products can you sell to help impact others in this way?
- What do you find yourself doing in your free time? How can you monetize these hobbies with your online store?
The more specific your niche, the more you’ll be able to let your passion shine through online and offline.
2. Catchy Domain Name
Your domain name is how your customers find your website. If they hear about you somewhere, will it be easy for them to remember your name? Will it be easy for Google to use your domain to identify what your site sell?
Here’s how I recommend picking a domain name:
- Do keyword research. Domains that include these will be helpful for ranking on Google.
- Keep your domain short to minimize mistypes by customers.
- Secure all domain extensions (
.net, etc.) to keep copycats at bay.
- Avoid words with multiple spellings. For example, “site” and “sight” sound the same over the phone.
- Avoid hyphenated domain names. Your customers will forget the hyphen.
- Consider alternate meanings or interpretations. Think about goofy, or immature interpretations of your domain name. You don’t want to be the butt of a joke.
- Make it easy to say. If a toddler can’t say it, it’s no good.
To help you with generating an original – and even more important – an available domain name, try using a domain generator tool like DomainWheel. The combinatory algorithms will present interesting new options to choose from, while the domain availability checkup will suggest available extensions.
Here are some more tips by Rand Fishkin of Moz:
3. Nail Down Your Business Plan
When learning how to start an online store with WordPress, you need to create a comprehensive business plan for your company that lays out exactly how you envision:
- selecting products to sell,
- acquiring inventory,
- creating your website,
- marketing your website,
- growing your market share,
- remaining compliant with legal requirements,
- handling taxes and other operating costs.
Even if you don’t need an outside investor to fund your dream, a plan will help you stay on track and focus your efforts. You’ll also find that as you write your business plan, other problems and ideas that hadn’t occurred to you will help focus your efforts in a more productive way.
4. Set up WooCommerce
WordPress creates a powerful foundation for your site. WooCommerce transforms your WordPress site into an e-commerce powerhouse – and the base package is free. Even without paid plugins, you can implement the best elements of e-commerce design on all of your most important pages.
Setting up WooCommerce and listing your first product for sale isn’t complicated:
- Select a host for your site that offers a package designed for WordPress (the foundation of WooCommerce). Pay attention to their security and performance metrics – if you can’t find them, it’s time to look at a different host. And don’t forget about customer service – if something goes wrong, you need fast, competent help.
- Download and install the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress. Answer the questions in the setup wizard to get your site up and running in less than 5 minutes.
- Select, install and customize a WordPress theme that’s fully compatible with WooCommerce.
- Use the Product Tab in your WordPress Admin center to add your first product. It will guide you through the process, step-by-step.
5. Selecting a WooCommerce Friendly Theme for WordPress
Your theme decides the entire layout and feel of your site. Finding a great theme that invites browsers to become buyers is worth taking a little extra time.
ShopIsle is a powerful WordPress theme because it is clean and clearly features products in a way that scores engagements. A grid of large pictures, with core information below, encourages customers to quickly browse and click on what interests them.
And, it’s fully compatible with WooCommerce, right out of the box. The responsive design is fully compatible with screens of all sizes – letting your customers shop how and where they feel most comfortable.
There’s a free and paid version. You can check this video-guide to start an online store with ShopIsle Pro on our YouTube Channel.
Storefront is the official WooCommerce theme. It’s optimized to work with the platform out the box and provides you with some nice presentation and design choices. Storefront itself is free, but there are also loads of other paid add-ons and customizations.
Perhaps the only downside with this one is that of originality – when using it, you’re making your store look like many other e-commerce stores running the same theme.
Congratulations, at this stage you’ve selected a host, installed WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin. Now it’s time to really unlock the potential of your store with some additional plugins. Here are the ones I always use:
Yoast SEO helps me to understand whether the content on my WordPress site is easy to read – for both humans and search engines.
It tells me this with a simple red, orange or green dot in my “Posts” page.
I can also set specific parameters for how my content shows up in search results – with quick edits to the slug, meta description and content title. This is powerful for keyword purposes. Oh, and for the content within a post, the tool grades my writing and provides specific recommendations at the bottom of the page.
OptinMonster is like a steroid shot in the arm of your email marketing campaign. As visitors browse your site, you can prompt them to sign-up for your newsletter. This gives you their contact information, and an opportunity to build a relationship with them.
If you have the ability to directly communicate with a target customer, on-demand, without having to pay for a PPC or retargeting campaign, you’ve got a serious opportunity to score future sales.
Here’s an in-depth comparison between OptinMonster and some of its most popular alternatives: LeadPages vs SumoMe vs Thrive Leads.
As you build up your customer base, it’s important that you provide them with amazing online customer service.
Freshdesk allows you to create searchable knowledge bases where customers can help themselves. And, if they need to reach you, Freshdesk’s ticketing system helps you keep customer requests organized, and helps your customer feel like their questions are being attended to.
The annual cost for Freshdesk ranges from $79 to $199, depending on your needs.
6. Attract With Content and SEO
“If you build it, they will come.” Field of Dreams was an excellent movie, but if they were talking about e-commerce, they would have changed the catch-phrase to: “If you write a lot, in an SEO-friendly way, they will come.”
You need search engines to send motivated customers, ready to make a buying decision to your online store. The way that you do this is with content – lots of content.
Here’s how you can use SEO friendly content to score new customers:
- Take the keywords from your business plan and put them into a tool like Ahrefs to see which keywords trigger product ads.
- Do additional research to find keywords appropriate for each product, or category on your site.
- Be highly selective when choosing your first keywords, I’d focus on the top ten then go from there.
- Create blog articles that teach about how customers can use your products. Focus on things that are helpful. Taking complex answers and breaking them down into easy-to-understand guides will go a long way.
- Ensure every page on your site has appropriate:
- Page titles,
- Meta descriptions,
- URL slugs,
- Image alt tags,
- Content that’s easy to read.
- Find bloggers that do product reviews and ask them to review or giveaway your stuff.
7. Grow Traffic with Facebook Ads
When you are shopping for a product or service, who do you trust? Chances are, you’ll ask a few of your friends what they own, and whether or not they love their products. Social selling is a way to cash-in on a shopper’s instinct to trust their friends and family.
Advertising your brand’s Facebook Page, or promoting a Facebook ad for a particular page of your website is an excellent way to inject your brand into your customer’s newsfeed.
For example, this Facebook event listing has been promoted by a website attempting to sell tickets to a show. The ad, which appeared at the top of my newsfeed, tells me that one of my friends is already interested in the show, and is probably going to go.
Instantly, this brand and entertainment product has more relevance, and I can trust that it’s probably a cool way to spend an evening.
Create targeted Facebook ads to engage the ideal customers for your products. And, as you post on your blog, you can share links with catchy Facebook posts to help drive traffic. Just make sure your list is targeted.
You can start your own online store using WordPress and WooCommerce, it’s easy!
I hope you enjoyed my post, and feel confident that launching your own e-commerce store isn’t rocket science. It takes a lot of time and trial and error, but if you follow the steps I outlined, you’ll be up and running in no time!
If you have any questions about how to start an online store with WordPress, or want to share your e-commerce journey with the world, I’d love to chat with you in the comments section below!.