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If your dream is to make a living as an online seller, but you aren’t sure how to start selling online, you’re not alone.

Many a great idea and would-be entrepreneur have fizzled when faced with the problem of how to sell online.

How to Start Selling Online in 6 Steps

1. Choose or Create a Killer Product
2. Put Together an Online Marketing Plan
3. How to Start Selling Online with the Right Ecommerce Platform
4. Build Your Ecommerce Website
5. Go Live with Your Marketing Strategy
6. Never Stop Learning

Pinterest graphic for an article about how to start selling online, how to start an online business, and how to sell online, becoming an online seller

For those who are just getting started, figuring out how to start an online business in the world of ecommerce can be a confusing, jumbled mess.

Fortunately, we’re going to help you cut through the noise and become an online seller by providing you with a complete, no-nonsense checklist to opening and running a successful online store.

If you’ve always wanted to know how to start selling online with your own ecommerce store but weren’t sure how to get started, this is the guide for you.

1. Choose or Create a Killer Product

There are stories of people making millions of dollars on nonsensical products thanks to their unique marketing approach (the pet rock is one that comes to mind). But finding success as you learn how to start selling online is going to be a lot easier if you have a great product, or, better yet, multiple great products.  Find one that fits a niche you’re comfortable with. Make sure the product isn’t in an overcrowded market (but is marketable) and has good profit margins.

Most small businesses sell services in one way or another. From online education to technical support to personal coaching, your skill set could be a perfect fit to sell services online. As you figure out how to start an online business, keep in mind that products like video tutorials, one-on-one consultations, or step-by-step plans can be an incredible draw for customers.

Image of a pet rock for an article about how to start selling online and how to start an online business with the right products.

Do you currently run a small business? As you are brainstorming product ideas, think about where your business already excels that you might want to expand. If you are selling original greeting cards locally, look at printing t-shirts or socks with a similar style and messaging. Are you already an online seller who does math tutoring? Consider adding an ebook to upsell your tutoring offer.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to go from how to sell online to building a wildly successful business. There are plenty of online stores selling copycat products that are doing extraordinarily well, and this is actually how most entrepreneurs get started. As you figure out how to start selling online, one great way to find products is to purchase them in bulk from wholesalers. Platforms such as Alibaba.com allow you to find a vast range of products that are incredibly affordable.

Read: Growing Business 101: Structure, Manage, and Succeed

An image of code to illustrate the value of digital products for an article about how to start selling online from Selz, the Ecommerce platform for growing businesses

Another excellent option for an online seller that keeps your operations and shipping costs low is digital products. Digital products include ebooks, games, online courses, and so on.

With digital products, you don’t have to deal with shipping, inventory management, or anything else you will encounter when you’re selling physical products. Best of all, digital downloads are hot sellers right now, with plenty of people willing to pay good money for things that exist only as 1’s and 0’s on a computer. Figure out what your unique expertise is, and you’re on your way to knowing how to start selling online.

You might also like:

Sticky notes on a blackboard show the process of marketing planning for an article about how to start selling online and become an online seller from Selz, the Ecommerce platform for growing businesses

2. Put Together an Online Seller Marketing Plan

Wondering how to sell online? It’s all about marketing. Gone are the days where an online seller could just throw up a website, sit back, and watch the traffic pour in. While it’s possible to build an online store that sees a ton of traffic – and sales – you’ve got to bust your tail to get it there. Fortunately, as you learn how to start an online business there are a lot of marketing strategies you can put to use to drive people to your site, including:

You will want to learn as much as you can about online marketing strategies and put together a custom marketing plan for your product.

It’s important to do create an online marketing plan before you actually build your website and start selling online since the marketing plan you put in place may influence your site’s design. Choose one of those marketing ideas on the list above that sounds interesting to you. Then, start by doing some research and some marketing experiments.

Read: How to Promote a Product in 10 Different Ways

3. How to Start Selling Online with the Right Ecommerce Platform

The right ecommerce platform can make or break your online store. In one of our previous posts, we discussed what you want to look for in an ecommerce platform. In summary, these things include:

Take the time to explore the platforms you are considering, and don’t just choose one at random. Not all platforms are created equal, and you will build your entire business within the structure of your ecommerce platform. Make sure you choose one that will give you everything you need to make your online store a success.

Read: 7 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Online Store Builder for Your Business

A cosy atmosphere for working on a computer accompanies an article about how to start selling online and how to start an online business from Selz. No matter what size your business, Selz has the tools to help you grow.

4. Build Your Ecommerce Website

Now that you’ve learned a little bit about how to sell online, and chosen a great ecommerce platform, it’s time to build your website. While picking a platform with a variety of tools and an easy-to-use interface will make building a good website a lot easier, you’ll still want to put in a lot of time and work to optimize your site.

Read: Building an Ecommerce Website in 7 Effortless Steps

We could write entire books (and many have) on optimal web design, but there are a few basics any online seller should start with. For one, you will want to fill your Ecommerce website with crisp, attractive images and stellar written content.

People want to know they are buying from a professional, and nothing screams unprofessional like shoddy images and poorly written product descriptions. Take the time to find some nice images, write some great content, and upload these things onto your website in a way that is easy on the eyes.

Read: 7 Steps to Creating Picture-Perfect Product Images For your Online Store

Next, you will want to put your products up for sale. If you chose a good ecommerce platform, this step will be simple, and features such as checkout and payment options will already be in place. All you really have to do is list the products in your inventory, upload your images and product descriptions, and select options for pricing and shipping.

As you get used to the learning curve of how to start selling online, remember that small decisions can have a big impact on your online store. Think about SEO, sign-up forms, testimonials, and anything else that might increase your chances of making a sale and you’ll be set.

Read: 21 Things to Do Before and After You Publish Your Product Listing

One more thing to remember as you decide how to start selling online. Omnichannel selling is a fancy way of saying that your customer will interact with you many places, both online and off, so it’s important to create a complete experience. Your business will make more sales if your customers can access your products, and information about your products, from multiple entry points.

For instance, an ecommerce platform that offers embeds lets you include items for sale directly on your blog. A button or widget will give your customers the same easy checkout process that you’ve built on your Ecommerce website. A Facebook store is also a great idea for any online seller. Start with the online space where you have the most engagement and expand from there.

Read: How to Start an Online Store With a Global Reach

5. Go Live with Your Online Seller Marketing Strategy

Now that your online store is up and functioning, it’s time to start putting your marketing strategy into action to drive people to your new ecommerce site. What this step looks like, and how you sell online, will depend largely on the marketing strategies you have chosen.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: your marketing strategy as an online seller needs to be flexible. When you decide you want to learn how to start an online business and put it into action, change is inevitable. You will find that some strategies work well and some marketing ideas don’t work at all. Pay attention to your analytics, and adjust your promotional strategy accordingly.

Don’t sweat it if the marketing strategy you end up using is completely different from the one you originally put into place. This trial-and-error evolution of your online marketing approach is all part of building a successful online store.

Read: Launching A Successful Click Funnel in 6 Steps

6. Never Stop Learning How to Sell Online

The most successful online seller never stops learning how to start selling online, and they are always looking for ways to improve. The internet is constantly changing, and even if it were to freeze in its current state there would still be more information than a single online seller could ever get through.

The more you learn about how to start an online business, the better you’ll do. After reading this article you know how to sell online, and now it’s time to go out and find what works best. Test new tactics and make adjustments. Never get complacent. If you keep learning you’ll find a formula that works, even if it takes a little time.

A space shuttle takes off, symbolizing your growth when you learn how to start selling online with Sel the Ecommerce platform for growing businesses

Summary – How to Sell Online:

1. Choose or Create a Killer Product

Select products to sell that support your life, business and vision.

2. Put Together an Online Seller Marketing Plan

Do your marketing homework before you build your ecommerce website to ensure successful online sales.

3. Start Selling Online with the Right Ecommerce Platform

Do your homework and find the ecommerce platform that’s a right fit for your business now, and as your business grows.

4. Build Your Ecommerce Website

Clean design, great photos of your products, persuasive copywriting, and clear calls to action are essential.

5. Go Live with Your Online Seller Marketing Strategy

Put your grand marketing plan into action, one step at a time, and measure your results.

6. Never Stop Learning How to Sell Online

Keep trying new things, make data-driven decisions, and stay inspired!


Ready to start selling online today? Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Selz and start building your ecommerce empire!

This post was originally published in July 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About the author

Molly Corless

Molly has been marketing for small startups for over 5 years. From marketing automation to Facebook ads to copywriting, Molly has figured out the key to growing a business from the ground up. She lives in rainy Portland, Oregon with her dog named Hamms.

10 comments

  1. Kathy Spencer

    Excellent post Molly! Migrating to online world has become need of the hour. And the first step is choosing right niche and name. The domain name speaks about its brand which is why it is must to provide a memorable name that is easy to remember too.
    Kathy

    1. Molly Corless

      Thanks, Kathy! The niche and name are very important! And finding a name for your brand can be the most enjoyable part of starting an online business ;) -Molly

  2. Anand jha

    Hello sir
    Please suggest me, If I write 2 blogs for the same product in the same way and place that on two different sites of mine, will that be against the copyright laws. Because I’m the writer could place same content on my two different sites? Please suggest.

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Thanks for commenting! Because you own the content you write, you should be able to publish it in as many places as you would like!

      Hope this helps :)

  3. Jay Casey

    When selling based on paying per item, how many different sites do most sellers list the same products on simultaneously?
    ie: listing products on Shopify, Retailmenot, eBay, Big Commerce ect but paying only the site the item sold on.

    How do I get other websites or bloggers to place a link to my store?

    Is it better to build multiple specialty stores or just one website that sells everything & anything?

    I have been delaying the launch of my business until, I am properly educated in the age of digital marketing. There seems to be never ending opportunities to waste valuable marketing dollars on.

    Which marketing option brings the most visitors to a website?

    Information sharing is the one thing the elite can not control and the most important tool for the average working person. I look forward to reading your opinions and any proven facts. Thank you

    1. Molly Corless

      Hi Jay,
      Thanks for your questions, I’m glad you’re taking time to learn.

      Most people do not add their products on multiple sites such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Selz. Those act as a storefront, but do not do marketing for you. Places like eBay and Etsy, and Amazon, however, are marketplaces where people can specifically shop for your products.
      There’s no magic answer for getting websites to place links to your stores. Some people use affiliate programs, some use partnerships, and others just get lucky.

      Please feel free to continue to browse FounderU, where we do spend a lot of time teaching how to start your business and also market it. Best of luck!

      -Molly at Selz

  4. Ruchika gandhi

    How do I sell products online.

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Hi Ruchika! Thanks for your comment. There are lots of great articles here on FounderU – https://founderu.selz.com/. If you’re ready to sign up for a free 14-day trial, our Customer Success team will be there in live chat to help you get your store set up. Hope this helps :)

  5. inna

    How much do you charge when an item, is sold?

    1. Kristen

      Hi Inna, the current Selz processing fee is 2% + current credit card transaction fee is 2.9%+0.30c, bringing the total transaction fee for item sales to 4.9%+.30c. You can read more about transaction fees here.

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