How to Start an Online Store in 2019: The Absolute Ultimate Guide

Shopstorm Tips & Strategies

This is why you should consider starting an online store:

  • eCom businesses are exploding as quickly as the industry is expanding.
  • Solutions to common pitfalls are continuously explored and improved as customer feedback is easily received and analyzed.
  • Close interaction with customers through digital platforms is helping businesses develop better intuition and marketing tact.
Mobile eCommerce

The progress of eCommerce has flourished in response to many modern workplace values such as process automation and remote work capability. Many aspiring entrepreneurs want the freedom to live their own lives, do work they enjoy and finally stop living paycheck to paycheck.

Essentially, having passive income streams and the ability to manage your own time by your own priorities is the new American Dream.

A Brief Overview – How to Start an Online Store

As we endeavor to see you confidently navigate this exciting journey to becoming your own boss and creating the financial freedom you desire, we’ll be discussing the necessary subjects every aspiring eCommerce entrepreneur should be familiar with:

  1. Niche Research
  2. Business Models
  3. Branding
  4. Legal Talk
  5. Store Development
  6. How Shopify Can Help
  7. Marketing Strategies

First, a Winning Niche

If you’ve ever googled how to pick a business niche, you’ve seen the general tactic: passion or profit.

Simply put:

A passion niche is one that interests you. The idea is that your excitement for the market/product will energize your business efforts.

A profit niche is one that follows the numbers. The idea is, if the metrics look good, the market is viable and ready for harvesting.

When it comes to opening up your new online store, either strategy can work in your eCommerce business if there’s significant demand from the market. Keep in mind, whichever niche you settle in will come to shape many of your future business decisions.

Choosing a Viable Niche Market

For example, investing in a low volume niche will generate very few sales no matter how often you engage with potential customers. And if you build a business in a niche known for low price points, even a large volume of sales will struggle to produce the profit margins an aspiring entrepreneur needs in order to make a proper living.

Total Cost And Total Revenue

As you research products and niches, keep this list of questions on-hand to help you narrow down potentials.

Thoughts on Growth and Long-term Niche Viability:
  • Is this a niche or product consumers will be purchasing 2 years from now? In five years? Ten? Or is this possibly a fad?
  • Are potential customers likely to return to this niche, or purchase these products again? Or is this a revolving door of one-time transactions?
  • Can I find evidence that demonstrates consumer awareness in this niche or product? Or does interest seem to be stalling out?

Trends and hype may sell, but are ultimately short lived. What comes after is usually a flat-lining of sales figures and, eventually, the ceasing heartbeat of lead generation due to lack of interest.

The moral of the story:
Be nice to your future self and invest in a viable niche.

A little comic relief from the creative minds at john st. advertising.

The Price is Right

Another decision that’s greatly dependent upon (the values and priorities of) the niche you choose is the price point. How you price products on your website will have a major impact on how lucrative your potential niche could be.

In eCommerce, a term that’s used is Average Order Value (AOV). This just means the expected amount of money your customers will spend on an order.

Why it matters:

Low-priced items attract a higher number of buyers – but lower margins.
Similarly – higher priced items will have fewer buyers, but benefit from a greater AOV.

Therefore, you must find a comfortable balance for yourself: It’s going to require your continuous effort to generate conversions. If your AOV is $5 (margins likely $1 or less), it will take divine effort for you to generate enough sales to earn even a livable monthly income.

On the other hand:

If you’re selling $100 items with a $20 margin, you may only have to generate a few sales a week to start seeing satisfying profits.

Ideally, you should aim for products worth $100 or more. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules here, but, generally, a higher AOV will make all the effort you’re investing into your business all the more worthwhile.

An Incentive to Sell High-Priced (or Luxury) Products:

online Luxury Product

You will be required to put forth the same effort to generate a $5 sale as you will a $400 sale, so why would you invest an effort that generates anything less than a $20 margin?

In order to make the most profit per sale, you’re better off focusing on high priced items ($400+) that offer the largest margins in relation to time spent marketing, communicating, fulfilling, etc.

Here’s what I mean:

>>> Look for niches with products of value. Research the demand and the available alternatives. Decide if effort required to sell is more or less than the return on each sale. Winning niches will be those still in their infancy, showing noticeable stretches of steady growth.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid any well-tread path in the world of eCommerce – however, try to approach opportunities with common sense (God generously gave it to us all) and a little creativity.

For example, if a product can be purchased more affordably and obtained more readily offline, there might be little incentive to market such products online. But maybe there is incentive! (Again, this is where research is key.)

Finding untapped niches will take patience and deliberation. Use tactics like keyword research to gain a more insightful and empirical insight into potential markets. Bottom line, starting an online store selling higher priced items often makes sense.

How to Hunt for Niches

keyword research

You can search the web for growth patterns in niche markets by using easy-to-learn keyword research techniques. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are free to use.

Google Keyword Planner provides insights into a keyword’s performance in the search engines — as well as its monthly search volume, competing keyword combinations and other useful metrics.

While use of the tool is free and only requires a Google account, running an active campaign will reveal more accurate data than the general value ranges a free search provides.

an alternate keyword tool for your online store research

You can try out this free alternative, which boasts itself as being the best, generating up to 750+ long-tail keyword suggestions for every search, and allowing access to the tool without having an account. You can also check out Ahrefs’ list of 10 Free Keyword Research Tools that crush Google’s Planner.

Google Trends provides year-to-year historical data. If a search term shows a positive trend, you could be on to something.

Google Trends

The trajectory needn’t be smooth or incredibly substantial, as long as the overall trend through the years in skyward. This means the niche shows promise and may be a sustainable strategy to explore.

How to Use Keyword Data

If there is strong demand for your potential niche (mainly evidenced by search volume), the idea has viability and you should plan to test the market immediately. And, obviously, if the search volume is low that means it’s not an idea worth any time or ad investment, right?

Not so fast. There’s the possibility you could discover a relevant but untapped keyword combo within a growing and active market. This might be a small possibility, but the potential is realistic if you decide to learn how to read and interpret the patterns you find in keyword data.

Google Ad Words Keyword Planner Tutorial

Keyword research can be difficult, but the Google AdWords Keyword Planner is the best tool available. It allows you to search keywords ideas and even enter landing pages to pull keywords from. You will get a list with hundreds or thousands of relevant keywords for your business.

Keep Moving Forward

Settling in a niche must always follow solid research and reflection. Don’t pick one just because you like it or because you’re “feeling good about this one.” Take deliberate time to do research and understand what you find. Then plan your business accordingly.

Next, a Solid Business Model

Would-be entrepreneurs encounter a deadly perception when they first enter the world of eCommerce.

Upon first look, the required web development and market research seem too complex for anybody except a professional. However, the eCommerce landscape has become increasingly user-friendly in recent years.

 Exploring Possible business Models

A Model for Success

For example, innovations in software such as Shopify haved helped to create streamlined interactions with all the the moving parts of an eCom business.

Still, the creation of a successful online business cannot be reduced to the technical concerns of a software’s user-friendliness. Behind every profitable online store is an important key that must be considered well before signing up for any platform.

So, now that you’ve zoned in on a market niche – if you haven’t, please go back to the first section and get that established before moving on! – let’s talk about your next decision, which holds a huge bearing on the future success of your eCommerce store:

How will you handle merchandise?

How will you handle merchandise?

There are two common merchandise-holding options available for eCommerce stores that we’ll discuss in depth. The one you choose will depend on several variables within your unique business model.

To understand why you should store your merchandise where,
there are a few things you need to consider:


First of all:

What level of involvement do you hope to have with the expression of your brand?

If you desire to cultivate a personalized brand that connects with its followers, you will likely be more invested in the quality of the brand’s presentation and reception than other businesses may be.

Other businesses may be more interested in leveraging every opportunity to boost profit margins. This is likely to mean that the handling and packaging of inventory is a more costly strategy than they’ll be willing to adopt.

Either of these scenarios come down to each business owner’s unique business motives: What drives your interest and desire for business?

A cause?
A buck?
A solution?

Your guiding light for determining the direction of your business model is to identify whether profit is the end goal of your business, or the means to an end goal.

Handling Strategy

Handling Strategy #1:
The Case for Dropshipping

In the land of eCommerce, dropshipping is a retail fulfillment business model that frees you, the store owner, from the material responsibility of receiving, holding, boxing and shipping the merchandise being sold in your online store. A third-party company (or multiple companies) will supply your products and ship them directly to your customers. You will market the products and provide the desired online shopping experience, but you won’t hold or box the actual products.

The Advantages to Dropshipping

1.    Low risk and lower barrier to entry

If you have a small budget, dropshipping could be an ideal strategy for your eCommerce business because, often, you can launch immediately. All you need is a website integrated with a supplier and you can start generating sales within hours. Plus, if you aren’t holding any merchandise, you can’t incur any loss from sluggish or absent sales.

2.    Ease and accessibility

We’ve established that you can quickly launch an eCommerce business on a low budget, with little to no experience. Dropshipping will allow you to skip common obstacles in running a business (sourcing goods, shipping costs, warehousing, packaging, etc). Your primary responsibility as store owner will be running the website and perfecting your marketing – the suppliers and fulfillment centers will handle the messy details of order fulfillment. 

3.    Flexibility

First, without the burden of storing your merchandise, you can jump right into your desired niche without risking a large initial investment into products you might not be able to sell. Secondly, you can add large catalogs of new merchandise to your eCommerce store, so you can test products on markets – again, without risking that large upfront investment.

With helpful platforms like Shopify, building the store requires zero technical skill. You will only be required to use simple drag-and-drop tools and maybe flex your creative spirit a little. wink

3 Reasons to Jump This DropShip:

Dropshipping may have bashed down the doors to the modern world of eCommerce, but it’s not without its downfalls.

1.    Brand protection

If you’re all about generating sales and boosting margins, this might not be a killer for you. However, it might be in your future business plans to build a substantial online brand that specializes in unique customer experiences. In that case, you will want to have majority control over how your customers’ orders are fulfilled.

It’s easy to take care of potential mistakes if order fulfillment is handled in-house. You can reach out directly to your customer yourself and bring immediate peace to the issue. 

However, having fulfillment handled by a supplier across the globe essentially means you have zero control over the packaging process, and any mistakes will be reflected on your brand. After all, when your customer receives an empty box or a defective product, that feedback will be coming to your store – not to your supplier.

2.    Ethical returns

Your average fulfillment center or dropship supplier will source products from multiple manufacturers – overseeing returns would be a cumbersome and costly process for them. In fact, most dropship platforms won’t allow product returns due to the impracticality. 

The most practical solution is to do away with returns all together, especially if you’re launching your store on a low budget. Keep in mind, a strict no-returns policy will ward off many potential customers. And since many customers will barely take the time to read the Terms and Conditions – likely assuming returns are allowed – it would be unethical not to make this caveat glaringly apparent. A better compromise may be a selective returns policy, exclusively for items that are defective.

If you have received many complaints from customers, it would be wise to keep records of all the returns, keeping track of the suppliers who are frequently sending out defective merchandise so you can replace broken suppliers with companies who are willing to reach your quality thresholds.

3.    Missed connections

Finally, dropshipping often means that your merchandise will not be branded. Shipping products from multiple manufacturers across the world makes it difficult to guarantee consistent quality and brand expression. There are some ways to counteract this.

For example, you can request your dropshipping supplier to exclude their promotional materials from the packages they ship to your clients. This way, your customers will be unlikely to affiliate your brand with the source of the merchandise arriving on their doorstep.

Shipping products

Instead of receiving the name of the supplier or manufacturer, your customers will open a nondescript box without branding or labels. (Better than the alternative.) Some companies may work with you on packaging options, and many offer branded invoices.

Handling Option #2:
The DIY Model

For some brands, allowing a supplier or manufacturer to wrap up the final steps with their customer is more risky than convenient. If you want your business to provide unique and personalized experiences for shoppers from start to finish, one alternative is to hold the merchandise yourself. While more hands-on than the dropshipping, the do-it-yourself model has several clear advantages.

diy inventory storage can boost online store profits

Why it’s harder than dropshipping:

1.    Holding your own merchandise creates a higher barrier to entry due to the high costs of purchasing and storing inventory. You need to factor in the costs associated with picking and packing the merchandise for shipping. Holding your merchandise will also result in higher overhead and you may be forced to increase your selling prices. 

2.    Holding merchandise comes with more responsibilities (organization, stock, packing and labeling, etc.) and increases the likelihood that your business will require extra team members as sale volumes increase.

Why it’s better than dropshipping:

1.    You’re able to respond directly to shopper concerns with a higher quality of attention, providing prompt and helpful replies, and positioning yourself as an expert in your niche. This one advantage can greatly increase customer retention rates.

2.    With the added expense of shipping and storing products, it might surprise you that carrying your own inventory can boost your profit margins. How?

>>> Enter the Minimum Order Quantity:
(MOQ) is a stipulation pushed by many manufacturers – and often comes with heavily discounted rates. This allows you to obtain a lot of merchandise at extremely low prices, which can then be sold for a very nice margin. Or you can leverage these savings in the name of brand equity, and pass your price advantages on to your shoppers – gaining you a precious, competitive edge in your market.

3.    Well-packaged and well-branded products are more desirable to shoppers. When you go the extra mile to design intentional packaging (inserts, business cards, etc.) you are creating cohesion for your brand.

Your efforts to provide a personalized experience for your customers will not be lost on them. Try adding a handwritten note or a QR code customers can use with their next purchase. This is a great way to build customer loyalty and encourage repeat visits.

Alternate Business Models:

The Subscription Box

The Subscription Box

According to their guide on How to Start a Subscription Box Business, Cratejoy claims,

Subscription commerce offers a stable financial model that can be built around almost every niche – from puzzles to beauty to pets. If there’s an existing community around a product or category online, chances are you can build a subscription box around it.

Subscription boxes are one of the most lucrative niches in eCommerce – currently one of the most popular business models due to the recurring revenue built into its method. This is a perfect business model for lifestyle products like shave kits and other beauty products. With this model you will still need to decide how you will hold merchandise.

The Third-Party Fulfillment Center

The Third-Party Fulfillment Center

A fulfillment center handles many tasks like a dropshipping company would, like managing and storing your inventory, picking and packing boxes, etc. However, many of these services are especially for those entrepreneurs selling private label products.

Keep Moving Forward

In the Age of Social, consumers like to share their shopping experiences online with friends and family. Google caught on to the unboxing trend in 2014 and responded by developing updates for their video platform, YouTube, to help content creators monetize unboxing videos.

This consumer pastime could very well ignite a new marketing strategy in your business. With a business model that allows for complete access to the picking and packing process, you can design bold packaging and creative unboxing experiences that resonate with your market in an Instagram-worthy fashion.

Next, a Relevant Brand

What if I said you can run a successful online store without investing much time or effort into building a solid brand or cultivating valuable brand equity.

Not convinced?

It’s clear if you’re going to build a serious eCommerce business with the oomph to shake up your niche, you’ll have to invest in professional-level business branding.

Designing a Relevant Brand

Now, there are many facets to branding a business, and how you approach these processes will shape the effectiveness of your online store for better or worse.

A Market vs. An Audience

The branding process starts with choosing a business name. But picking a one can be a complex (sometimes agonizing) process.

If you have a knack for inciting creativity or inspiration in others, you can try meeting with your team for a short brainstorming session to think up possible names and brand values that would be ideal for your business and its goals.

If the brand is all you, try reflecting on this list of questions by Neil Patel on coming up with The Best Name For Your Brand:

To come up with the perfect brand name, you should first consider who it is you’re trying to reach. What is their language? Style? Age? Income? Education? Level of sophistication? Interests? Religious outlook? Brand preferences?

A Market vs. An Audience

Did you know your brand may not become familiar to a shopper until the fifth or sixth time you engage them? Consider these suggestions to encourage brand cohesion:

1.    Make it memorable

Your business name should be easy to pronounce and easy to remember. Try playing with rhyming or alliteration, which will help consumers more readily recognize your brand name.

2.    Make it relevant

Even if you want a unique brand name, you should make sure it still holds significance to your niche. Some rare exceptions to this suggestion would be Amazon, Google, Apple, etc. (Maybe it could work.)

3.    Make it original

Some entrepreneurs try to play with variations of popular brand names within their niche, but this is not only an unethical practice but a copyright infringement issue. Even if you do it well, your brand will likely come off as just a poor imitation.

4.    Make sure it’s available

Most shoppers will assume your website is If you use another extension like .ca, .us, .de and fail to register the .com version, somebody else might pick it up. Organic traffic that should have been making its way to your online store, would be directed to somebody else’s – losing you crucial leads and possibly hurting your brand’s image.

5.    Make it short

Shorter names are easy to pronounce – and easier to remember.


For a price, you can even search unique business name ideas by category on websites like Brand Bucket, Brandpa, BrandRoot or KillerLaunch. The domain names on these sites have already been claimed and are being resold at a high price.

If you have the kind of budget to splurge on your business’ domain name, these sites are ideal hunting ground for cool and “brandable” names at little (mental) cost to you. 😉

Keep Moving Forward

Be patient with the process and trust your instincts. Crowdsource ideas. Use community forums such as Quora to explore creative ideas from people willing to freely offer their experience and knowledge through mini guides and suggestions.

Once you’ve found the perfect name, the next steps will be 1. registering that name, 2. securing the online domain and 3. designing brand your expression (not only for your eCommerce site, but across all relevant social media channels, as well).

Warning: Don’t obsess over a business name. Avoid overthinking and overspending too much time finding that “game changing” brand name. Find a suitable and appropriate name, test it out and move on. If you are spending months figuring out the perfect name for your business, you are throwing away valuable time and wasting potential profits.

Don’t rush the process, but also, don’t take forever.

Next, a Legitimate Business

It’s common for starting entrepreneurs to build a website, partner with a dropshipping service, then start selling products and earning money without registering or incorporating their online business.

This is especially common for people running multiple eCommerce websites. You can easily launch your eCommerce store and start marketing products before the business legalities are completed.

That is the beauty of eCommerce: you can start running your business today without any paperwork.

It is, however, strongly recommended that you take care of the legal aspects of your business.

Making your business legit

Primarily, 1. registering or incorporating the business, and 2. getting a sales tax ID or business number.

The main advantage of setting up your eCommerce company an an incorporation is that your business would operate as a separate entity from yourself.

Meaning, if something happens to the business or its assets, you will not be personally liable. Your personal assets will also be fully protected should your business incur any liabilities.

the differences between registering and incorporating an online store
Using Quora, I was able to find a helpful but short summary of the differences between registering and incorporating an online store.

You can read it here.

The truth is:

Incorporation can be a slow and lengthy process.

From a practical standpoint, it may be wise to wait until you have strong revenue and clear margins before you begin incorporation.

>>> If your online store is garnering a respectable amount of business, it’s likely you will run it for the foreseeable future; going through with incorporation will make sense. Many eCommerce businesses, however, will not succeed; in that case, you will have wasted valuable time, effort and money by incorporating right away.

Additionally, when you are generating strong revenue through your website, your business will have enough cash flow to pay for the cost of incorporation, meaning you won’t have to pump in additional spending money from external sources.

Online Sales Tax

Generally, once you have an online store running and you are generating sales, there will be a sales tax nexus you will be liable for in any US state where you will have a physical presence. This might accrue from the inventory, employees or the property.

Things might start to get complicated if you have a nexus in more than one state, in which case a sales tax permit must be obtained before you can collect taxes in states where your business is not physically situated.

To register for the sales tax permit, simply visit your state’s Department of Revenue website, which will offer you information about the dates or period of dates during which the payments for the sales tax will be due.

Keep Moving Forward

There’s a bit of paperwork involved, but this is an important step to complete if you want to run a prosperous and reputable online business.

Finally, an Online Store

Now that you’ve targeted your market, worked out your business model, nailed down your brand expression and drafted a plan to settle the legal aspects – setting up the store is going to be the easy part. 😊

Building your store

If you haven’t completed each of these steps yet, please review the four previous sections before you start setting up your online store.

Choose Your Web Builder

There are many eCommerce platforms and intuitive web builders that can help you set up an attractive online store.

Here is the number one reason you want to choose Shopify over those other platforms:

1.    It’s extremely approachable and easy to use, allowing you to start building your online store from pre-made structures and templates, rather than building it “brick by brick.”

In today’s online space, every tool out there promotes itself as “easy-to-use.” Few actually are.

The tough part about being easy-to-use is that a truly friendly platform should be usable from day one, not once you invest hours of your learning about it.

In that manner, anything could be labelled “easy-to-use.”

Start Building Your Online Store

After completing the very short sign-up process, including a couple questions that seem to gauge your readiness to launch your online store. (And you very well could, if you’ve been following this guide from the beginning!)

Start Building Your Online Store

You’ll be sent to the Shopify Dashboard where you will find three ways to begin building your online store:

  1. Add products
  2. Customize theme
  3. Add domain

First, we’re going to customize our theme (since it’s the easiest task to check-off).

customize our theme

1. Pick a Theme

Once you’ve been redirected to the Themes main page, you have a few more options:

–       Upload a previously acquired theme
–       Explore free themes
–       Browse the theme store

custom Shopify Theme

Shopify has developed 10 free themes to help get your store up-and-running as soon as possible. If you have the budget, you can purchase licenses to premium themes in the Shopify store. Browse premium themes by industry or features (grid-style, minimalist, large inventory).

There’s even an option available to hire a custom Shopify Theme Developer to uniquely design a theme customized to suit the needs of your business.

2. Customize

There are many apps for Shopify that can increase the versatility of your store. They can also optimize it for both revenue generation and the customer experience. Like our shipping bar app that encourages larger AOV, or our 1-click wishlist that offers valuable insight into product performance.

If you’re interested in trying Shopify today, you can give it a try for free for 14 days (no credit card required) to get a feel for how the system works, and then transition into one of their monthly plans.

Shopify Pricing Structure
Starting Your BusinessGrowing Your BusinessScaling Your Business
$29 / month$79 / month$299 / month

Click here for more information about Shopify monthly plans.

3. Upload Products to Your Online Store

On the left-hand panel of your Dashboard, click on Products then on the Add product button. If you don’t have any products, you should choose the option to Find products next to the previous button.

As you add products to your store, double check you are also filling in descriptions for each product, in addition to the meta descriptions. These should be customized for each product and search engine-optimized.

If you’re using a Shopify plugin like Oberlo, which lets you find and import products from various suppliers – this will be an extremely simple part of setting up your online store.

Oberlo – Online Store Product Import – Tutorial

4. Build Important Pages

Did you know there’s more to your eCommerce site than the product pages?

There’s plenty of content and modules to add, shuffle, remove and revise. You can give shoppers a complete profile of your business with a page About Us, or a look into your Policies and Returns, or instructions for how to Contact Us.

Draft a reflective write-up of your company’s “mission.” Hire a professional copywriter to create content specifically designed to attract shoppers by offering them tasteful bites of your business’ brand.

Company Mission Statement

Keep Moving Forward

Extra pages are not only informational (and critical to brand equity) but beneficial for search engine rankings, as well. Leverage them as opportunities to drive additional traffic to your store and present snapshots of your brand to its audience.

Marketing for Lead Generation and Beyond


Opening an online store with effective branding and quality products is, of course, important. But you are also going to need the eyes and hearts of shoppers who are interested and willing to consume what you have to offer.

Attracting customers continually to your store will either cost you money or time — often both. Many businesses use Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, generating conversions instantly. (If you go this route, make sure you set aside an adequate budget to sustain the entire campaign.)

Organic Traffic

Another tool on your marketing belt is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which can direct traffic to your online store organically. It is a rather involved and long term strategy, but arguably necessary for any success driving unpaid traffic.

While you can’t depend on SEO exclusively for substantial business growth, you should integrate it into an overall marketing plan. This should also include PPC marketing and Social Media marketing.

Pay Per Click Marketing

When it comes to PPC marketing, the best strategy may be to take to Facebook.

This is a low cost, high-converting strategy using tools that can be leveraged to deliver highly targeted campaigns that generate high conversions.

Like Google Adwords, Facebook has powerful targeting features you can use to reach out to certain types of visitors that match specific criteria.

If you have the budget, it’s recommended you use AdWords alongside your Facebook PPC campaign. Before Facebook ads were developed, Google Adwords was the default PPC marketing platform. It still remains a potent tool in PPC marketing today.


SEO is a longer-term content marketing strategy but you would be unwise to ignore its application.

A carefully crafted SEO strategy will “mop up” residual leads your PPC marketing fails to capture.

A perfect tool for building a mailing list or humanizing your brand, SEO delivers the most return for time invested. Not only will you be able to generate leads at little cost, the funnel will keep producing leads indefinitely.

Content Marketing

Content is the reason search began in the first place.

Lee Odden

How to Generate Leads for Your Online Store from Facebook

Let’s say you sell specialty goods to a niche market of low carb home cooks and chefs. If you browse Facebook’s community, you can find exactly where this audience is hanging out.

platform for keto cooks

A quick search on the platform for keto cooks reveals a group of 190,000 members on “a journey of physical and emotional health and wellness.” A massive network of consumers interested in topics related to your niche!

>>> Engage this community with valuable content and become genuinely interested in their problems and concerns. Then find, create and share with them the very solutions to those problems.

Social Media Marketing

With the worldwide reach of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s difficult to imagine building a respectable online brand without an active social media profile. Apart from the creation of your business pages, you will also need to attract a fanbase and keep them engaged with enticing content.

The world’s most successful companies know that social media is a powerful marketing tool, and Cameron Hughes knows how to make social marketing even more effective: by never injecting an ounce of effort into it.
Our Best Tips for the Beginning Marketer:

Create a content calendar or use apps to curate and schedule social media updates. This way, you can spare a few hours of your weekend to plan your posts for the upcoming week, or the entire month. This will eliminate the stress of having to constantly log in and update.

Content marketing ought to be strategic, consistent and creative if you want it to impact your rankings and generate new leads.

SEO for all content should be metric- and research-driven. Map out a complete list of keywords you’re planning to rank for, then design your content around them in order of priority.

Keyword research + content marketing will cast a wide net and maximize the conversion rate on a broad selection of keywords.

The end game is to funnel endless visitors to your website. There really is no limitation except your own willingness.

Keep On Keepin’ On!

Above the endless stream of information, try to remember these two keys as you endeavor to open an online store in 2019:

  1. Develop and follow a solid business plan, which is separate from a business model.

    (This will be your anchor.)
  2. Do your required research on product viability, niche engagement, etc.

    (This will be the rope that ties you to the anchor.)

And if you feel like you could use more guidance navigating this exciting adventure of starting an online store, be sure to check back with ShopStorm often for more content and strategies to help your eCommerce store prosper and succeed.

How to start a T-shirt Business on Shopify

How to start a T-shirt Busines on Shopify
Photo by Keagan Henman on Unsplash

With T-shirt sales at US $154M in 2019 and with an estimated market growth of 5.4% you want to have a slice of the T-shirt pie. Your passion for these garments has stirred within you a desire to start your own online store with Shopify.

Yet, you realize that you don’t know how or where to start, but that yearning in your heart won’t go away. Never fear, keep reading and by the time you have finished, you’ll be all set to start your own profitable T-shirt business through Shopify.

Your customers are who?

Before anyone ventures into the world of business, they need to find out what their target market is. That is, what is your niche? If you don’t know who your market is, then you are going to take a very expensive shot in the dark.

Yet, how do you go about identifying your niche? Here are some tips to help you identify your potential audience that will be willing to fork over their cash to buy your T-shirts.

Check out your competition

What is it that they aren’t doing? What is the gap in the market that you can identify? Spot the gap and you have a segment of the market you can reach out to. Read the lower rated reviews (those with 1-3 stars) on online shopping sites such as Shopify and see what customers may be dissatisfied with.

Become “one” with your market

To really get a feel for your target market, you need to think, breathe and eat as they do! That is, you need to get an intimate understanding of your ideal customer.

  • Where do they hang on online? What Social Media do they use and which groups, forums, etc. do they subscribe to?
  • Are they male, female or are you targeting a mix?
  • Which age range are you aiming to reach?  
  • What do they love and hate?
  • How about their culture? American tastes may differ from those in Ireland.

Do your own market research

Do you have a Social Media account? Then use that to do a marketing survey. Facebook and Twitter allow you to create surveys and polls so you can test the waters. Place some t-shirt mockups on Instagram or Pinterest to gauge reaction from your prospective customers. Another option is to use a site like SurveyMonkey.

As you identify your niche and target market, then you can get a feel for the style of the T-shirts that you want to sell.

Love the design!

Your designs are what is going to set you apart from the competition but how are you going to create the design? Will you do it yourself or hire a graphic designer?

If you are adept at using Photoshop you can make your own designs. When setting up your initial design ensure that you choose 300 dpi. Also, you want to have your background set as “Transparent” and the color mode should be RGB 8bit.

Now you have set up Photoshop and made your first design, you can’t wait to see what it looks like on a T-shirt. It’s time to see what your potential creation looks like by using a T-shirt mockup.

There are plenty of T-shirt mock-up Photoshop templates that you can download. You can check out Creative Market which offers a decent range of templates. Or just do a Google search. A mockup template takes your design and puts it on a T-shirt so that you can get a visual of how your end product is going to look.

If you don’t have Photoshop or you aren’t good at graphic design, you can always hire a designer. There are plenty of freelancers that can be found through sites like Fiverr or Upwork.

What printing technique to use?

You have your design ready and now it’s time to put it onto your shirt. There are several printing techniques you can choose from:

Screen Printing

This is a great option if you are looking at producing a large number of shirts. Also, it allows you to print in a variety of colors (just remember each color needs a new screen, so it can become pretty pricey). Another plus with screen printing is that your design will be durable and not fade.

The disadvantage is that it is uneconomical if you are producing a small number of T-shirts (25 or less) as the set up cost is somewhat fixed.

Direct to Garment

With Direct to Garment you are printing your design straight onto your shirt (just like printing onto paper!). There is little set-up involved and you can print a small batch of shirts or even one-offs. The end result feels soft as the ink thin (which also means it’s best suited for lighter colored fabrics, otherwise the design won’t look that great).

Make sure that you use a high-quality printer otherwise your design is going to look low resolution (which will definitely turn your potential customers off!).

Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer is a good option if you are only doing a small number of shirts. Put your design onto some transfer paper, apply heat pressure onto the transfer and then peel it off. It’s a great option if you want to print colour images or photos onto your shirt. Plus it’s quick, taking only 3-5 minutes.

Just be aware that with this technique the print can fade after a while. Another point to be wary of is that the transfer will make the fabric of the T-shirt firm.

Dye Sublimation

Dye Sublimation is ideal for polyester or any other man-made fabric. It is a similar process to Heat Transfer where the design is printed onto paper and then applied to the garment. You can’t feel the transfer on the shirt, so that means a soft touch to your T-shirt.

However, this process is only ideal for light colored or white T-shirts. Another downside is that you can’t print onto 100% cotton.

Embroidered printing

If you want to give your T-shirts a formal look, then this is the technique for you. Instead of printing, the design is sewn onto the garment which means that it is going to last a long time.

It’s not an ideal option for full graphics as it can be costly when one considers the amount of different colored threads needed. When it comes to small text, the result can become unreadable.  

With a range of printing options available, it’s simply a matter of you deciding what you want your end product to look and feel like. Also, how many print runs you are going to do. If you don’t want to do the printing yourself, you can use an online T-shirt printing service.

Quality means happy customers

Can you think of the time you bought a T-shirt that was well…falling apart after you wore it a couple of times? Simple business advice: Don’t sell those to your customers!

How can you tell a quality T-shirt from one of its cheaper counterparts? First, go to your closet and pull out one of your favourite T-shirts and study it. How does it feel? What is it made of? When you put it on, is it too tight or too loose? These are all indications of an amazing shirt.

Chances are that your best-loved T-shirt is made of cotton. That’s because it’s a breathable fabric and the print on it looks amazing. Look for a tighter weave and longer threads, as these mean that the material is going to last longer and have a softer feel about them.

Another indicator of a good quality shirt is one that won’t wrinkle much when you squish the material in your hand.

Sure, quality costs more, but you can also ask for a higher price for your product as people know that they are going to be getting a great T-shirt.

Brand time

Think of your favourite brand. What makes them stand out? Why do you like that particular brand? What is it they do differently?

When it comes to making a dent in the competitive world of T-shirt retailing you need to think long and hard about your brand. What is your mission statement? What is your unique point of difference? How are you going to promote your brand? What are your values? What image do you want to portray?

It takes a while to build up a brand, but when you do you can become an icon in your field.

Taking stock of your stock

When it comes to thinking about inventory, you can either have the stock on hand or you can utilize print-on-demand services such as Printful or Zazzle, or even go with dropshipping.

Your own Inventory

The benefits of having your own inventory is that it is quicker to dispatch the order to your customer and also you can provide better customer service because the consumer is buying directly from you rather than going through a middle-man.

The downside to having your own inventory is that you can have stock sitting around that you can’t sell, therefore tying up your cash. Also, you have to consider the possibility of incurring storage fees if you plan on storing your stock in a warehouse or storage facility.


With print-on-demand services, you don’t have to concern yourself with tying up money in stock as these services will fulfil the order once it is placed. Also, there is no need to invest in any printing equipment.

The disadvantages with using these services are that you lose control of your customer order systems and it takes longer to ship the product to the customer (due to the amount of time it takes to create the T-shirt and then shipping it out). Another negative with these services is that you are relying on the company to be able to provide the product (out of stock items or discontinues lines means trouble for you).


Dropshipping is a popular way to start a store as there are very little start-up costs and you don’t have to store inventory. The dropshipping company handles everything as soon as they receive an order for your product. That’s a plus for anyone who is just starting out with a brand new online store.

The things you need to be wary of with drop shipping is that, similar to print-on-demand services, you lose control over your customer fulfilment process. Also, dropshipping companies take a cut of the sales which means less profit for you. Something else to keep in mind is that due to the popularity of drop shipping, there is a lot of competition so you definitely need to have something unique in order to stand out from the crowd.

Shopify, here we come!

Now you have done your research, figured out your brand and customers as well as your printing technique and inventory handling option, it’s time to get your shop open. Exciting! Here’s how to get your store up and running.

1. Sign up to Shopify

It doesn’t take long to set up your shop with Shopify and you can even take advantage of Shopify’s 14-day free trial. So, obviously, the first step is to head over to Shopify and sign up.

2. Choose a theme:

When it comes to the look shop, you can use one of the themes provided by Shopify (you have the option of free themes or you can buy a Premium one). One thing to keep in mind when choosing a theme is the style and feel you want to have for your store. Do you want something conservative or a theme that is more cheeky?

If you aren’t a fan of any of the themes you find on Shopify, you can always head over to sites such as Themeforest or TemplateMonster and see what they have to offer.

Make sure you test the theme for functionality before settling on it. The last thing you and your customers want is a theme that isn’t user-friendly.

3. Payment:

You want money from your customers, right? When it comes to receiving payment you want to minimise any costs of processing the payment. Look at the fees that the different payment gateways charge.

Cheap doesn’t always mean the best service either. Look for a balance between a reliable payment system and the costs charged to process the transaction from your customer.

4. Business Information and Tax:

Before making your new Shopify store live, you need to provide company and business information to Shopify as part of the setup process. What is the name of your store? Where is it located?

You do have to pay tax (it’s one of those givens in life). If you aren’t familiar with setting up for tax, then seek the advice of a financial adviser or accountant.

5. Do a “test” order:

A final step in the creation of your store is to place a mock order to see if everything is running smoothly. You don’t want any headaches or grumpy customers on your opening day!

Head over to the very useful Shopify Bogus Gateway and from here you can do a test run of your store. When you are happy that everything is working the way it should, then you’re good to go.

All the best for your Opening Day

Now you are all set and ready to build your own T-shirt business. You have your unique brand. You know who your customers are and the printer is ready to pump out your first batch of t-shirts. Good on you!

But, it takes time and effort to build any successful business, so stay focused and committed. Keep an eye on the competition. Listen to what your customers are saying or wanting and keep your creative design juices flowing.

Good luck with your Opening Day! Go and smash your goals!

How Customer Testimonials and Social Proof can Grow Your Shopify Store


Customer Testimonials happen when one of your previous customers leave a review or testimonial on your product or service. This shows “Social Proof” that your Shopify store is providing good service and has gained trust on the internet and social networks.

Can Customer Testimonials really help conversions for your Shopify store? 

The answer is absolutely! Utilizing and optimizing your previous customer’s reviews and testimonials can help convert new traffic into new customers! Why wouldn’t you want to leverage a powerful tool like that?

Your reputation is what drives potential customers to buy from your store. Reputation through (Social Proof) is a key part of what makes a person buy from you. With the use of different strategies, you are able to hand pick these testimonials and use them to carefully craft your Shopify stores reputation. Instantly converting more of your store’s traffic into customers.

“Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.”

― Robert Greene

What is Social Proof and How does it affect my Shopify Store?

Online sales take a lot more effort in converting traffic into actual customers than they used to. There are not as many easy tricks or ways to game the system so to speak. This has paved the way for an important metric and deciding factor in whether a purchase is made or not (Social Proof). 

When a customer leaves a review, a comment, or a posts a picture of your shopify product, they are telling other potential buyers, these products are good and we trust this website. It gives you instant trust and authority.

Trust is a very important metric online. The big search engines have all crafted their new algorithms to penalize sites that use untrustworthy tactics. In online sales, it is not the product or website or marketing that matters, it is the customer themselves. Social proof is a momentum that is turning the tides in the way we market our Shopify stores. 

If a new visitor to your site can see other people just like them in your content they relate to that person and it becomes all about them. You should be using social proof and customer testimonials to put the spotlight on the customer, acknowledging their needs and the value that you provide them. 

The biggest signal in social proof comes from friends and family, 83% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social share or a family members word of mouth.

Customer reviews and testimonials drive people to buy.

What is the Psychology Behind a Customer Testimonial

The psychology of an online buyer (customer) comes down to customer experience, speed, convenience, usability and reliability. The journey for a buyer doesn’t start in the store anymore it starts with research. Online reviews are the metric used to decide what has trust and what doesn’t.

The customer wants to be a part of the experience. Your Shopify store should always put the buyer and their needs at the center of attention, making sure your service provides customer satisfaction.

The point isn’t just to sell products, you must offer a service and value that appeals to the online customer. The buyer also wants to help! If you offer quality products and a valuable service the buyer will want to help you spread the word because they are now a part of your story. Customer testimonials tap into the minds and behaviors of both the buyer and potential buyer.

Here are 4 Ways you can Utilize Testimonials

  1. Insights and analytics can show that a customer is returning to your site multiple times and may want to purchase more items or leave a review. Make sure to utilize this type of data in your webmaster strategy.
  2. Automated emails can also help to send out that call to action for feedback after a set amount of days. This increases your chance of getting reviews and puts your brand out there. Email lists can be very fruitful.
  3. Social media posts are a great way to encourage more positive customer reviews and testimonials. People love to share things on social sites. A simple post with a call to action, asking the customer to show off their new purchase.
  4. There are also alternatives out there to help with the testimonial process, such as Get Satisfaction which helps gather customers into communities where they share feedback.
Analytics offer important insights into customer behavior

How to Get Testimonials From Existing Customers

The most effective way to get a customer to leave a review or upgrade from a review to a customer testimonial is to search your insights for shares and social signals that have highlighted your product or service in a post or share. Buyers who are satisfied love to show off their awesome purchases in pictures and videos on social media. Often times even tagging or #hashtagging an online store or brand. 

Another good practice is to reach out to your email list. If you have an engaged audience, just asking for feedback from those who have already shown interest or made a purchase with your store will most likely bring about an opportunity to give positive input. You can also use insights from your email list to find the most enthusiastic of your followers and reach out to them for more detailed testimonials.

One way to get more reviews is to add a call to action in your automated purchase message, asking that customers who are having a great experience leave feedback. You may even let them know that their customer testimonial could be featured on the website.

Customer Testimonials and How They can Improve Your ROI

As you now know customer testimonials accelerate your trust and social proof. So how does that affect your bottom line? These strategies to strengthen your reviews and testimonials cost little to nothing but make a huge impact on your Shopify store.

Use the tools outlined in this article to improve your ROI and keep customers engaged with your content and services. 

Bringing the customer into the fold also gives you a higher chance to convert a one time customer into a recurring customer. You are building a service with your Shopify store. Good practices along with careful crafting will bring in a higher ROI.

What Kind of Customers Leave Good Reviews

The success in converting an ideal customer relies on your ability to connect with them on a personal level. Once you make that connection you have won them over to your side and they may now leave you a good review or mention your store on social media. These types of customers are also ready for you to reach out and ask for the customer testimonial.

It can be hard sometimes to find that sweet spot where your service and the customer are both comfortable enough to reach out, but it does happen if you keep your strategy going and keep working towards the goal of making your customer happy.

Who not to ask for a Review

There can be a thin line between who is happy and who is not. Some buyers might not have had the best experience because shipping took longer than expected, or a certain size of clothing didn’t fit just right. Whatever the reason, make sure you do your due diligence and try to make them happy. Good reviews can make your shop successful but bad reviews can slow that success down to a halt.

Make sure your customer support and service is a well-oiled machine before you start reaching out for testimonials. Often times someone who was unhappy can be made whole again to the point that they now want to share that positive experience.

What is the Best Practice for Setting Up a Testimonial

Remember to not be too pushy. You want to ease in with the delayed email or even a printed or digital satisfaction survey card that emails with the order. You don’t always need to try that hard because the buyer by nature wants to help. They want to be involved.

Where to Place Your Testimonials for Best Results

You should be featuring your testimonials on pages and in some of your articles and blog posts. Having that visible social proof on the same page as the add to cart button or at the bottom of your footer so they can be seen during every part of the customer experience within your store is essential. These types of techniques can make all the difference for your growing Shopify store.

Social media sites are also a good place to share your reviews, on your official pages, in profiles and across networks. It helps to have them in your ad copy as well. If you are advertising some of the best content you can provide is customer testimonials.

More Customer Testimonials Means More Content

The best part of this customer testimony and review building strategy is that it provides excellent content for your Shopify store. The search engines consider the word count on every site they crawl as a signal of its credibility. When you combine great content with social proof you have a powerful tool at your disposal.

Are Video Customer Testimonials Effective

Video is more effective today than ever and has become one of the most best ways of showing off a product you love. In this modern age of selfies and social media posting, videos have now integrated into everyday life for both consumers and businesses. This is a great opportunity for you. People love to show off their stuff, and often will do the advertising and promoting for you!

The Human Touch of Customer Testimonials

To conclude, the best way to grow your business using customer testimonials is to be as human as possible. Integrate that humanity into your process. You and your buyers have a connection and it’s up to you to make sure you maintain that relationship while providing value.

What better way to show the world that you care than to reach out to your customers for their personal feedback!

7 Tips on How to Write a Killer Shopify Product Description

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or expert. You’re going to have to battle blank space on your Shopify product description.

How should you write that category page? What product description is most likely to make your customer add to cart? Besides, how do you even get started?

Glad you asked. Check out these seven copywriting tips that will lead to fewer shoppers leaving your page, and more people clicking that big juicy buy button.

Tip #1: The Magic Three

Before you write anything, and this works for product descriptions, blog posts, or even customer “Thank You” emails. Ask yourself three questions:

Question #1: Whom are you writing to?

You’re writing to a person and a search engine.  Err on the side of talking to a human.  Yes, it’s a balancing act.  But remember search engines don’t buy products, people do.

Don’t just write to anybody.  Figure out who your target audience is.  Develop an avatar or a picture of your ideal customer.

You can do this with some basic questions (and I’ll answer these with a sample later):

  • What is their age, gender, education, income level, marital status, and family status?
  • What are their values, interests, attitudes, and hobbies?
  • What are their pains? And what do they seek to gain?

Example: premier Shopify client Magnolia by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Chip and Joanna Gaines

  • We’re guessing here to a degree. They sell to women 25 to 44, college educated, $75,000+ a year, married with children.
  • They’re christian or conservative with similar values to Chip and Joanna Gaines. It’s women seeking to copy their success. They may want to dabble in interior design, staging, or real estate as a hobby, career, or side project.
  • They are crazy-busy moms and wives who may work in or outside the home. They want to build a beautiful home and still have time for a family.

Beautiful Home

Let’s call our avatar Magnolia Mandy. Now when you write the copy for your page (if you were Magnolia) you write to Mandy or a family member, friend, or an acquaintance you know that’s just like her. This will make your writing relevant, real, and right-on-target.

Question #2: What’s in It for Me (WIIFM)?

Your customer’s favorite radio station is WIIFM. Who’s the first person you look at in any group photo? You. Your customer is no different.

What will you customer gain when they trade the precious attention for your copy? This is the heart of empathy. It helps you walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins. Tell them how your product helps, and you’ll be on your way to another closed sell.

Question #3: What Do You Want Them to Do?

Action. You can skip the lights and camera.

You’re the director, and the focus is on your customer. Now tell them what to do. What is the goal or the next step in the process? It could be as simple as I want them to add this shirt to the cart. Make sure you’re direct and obvious.

Tip #2: The USP and Your Tribe

Mad Men

If you watched the show, Mad Men, then you may know the writers loosely based it on revolutionary advertiser Rosser Reeves. In 1954, he created the slogan, for M&M’s “It melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” That little slogan turned an okay candy company into a billion-dollar brand.

He did it through the power of a term he coined called the Unique Selling Proposition or USP. What’s a USP? It’s something your product or brand can offer that no one else can.

But you’re thinking I sell T-shirts, sunglasses, or watches. People can get those just about anywhere. You’re only half right.

Why should they buy those “commodities” from YOU?  Before we can answer that, we have to go back to the first question of The Magic Three.

Tribe the People Following You

You have your “who” from the avatar, you built earlier.  Now you need a tribe.  Marketing guru Seth Godin, says “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Okay, let’s break that down. Remember, Magnolia Mandy, now we add her best friends Mary, Melissa, Megan, and thousands of other moms just like them. Who’s the leader? That’s Joanna Gaines and Magnolia. And they’re connected on this idea of beautiful homes fit for families (the USP).

You build your brand on the USP that will grab your tribe, niche, or segment of the market and never let them go. This fuels every word you type.

For example, your clothing USP could be T-shirts for Introverts. Our shirts help our otherwise shy customers start conversations everywhere they go.

Your tribe chooses you for a simple but powerful reason. They ask themselves, “what do people like me buy, wear, or flaunt?” Then they do likewise. It’s social proof that proves profitable for you.


Tip #3: Sold on Emotion Justified by Logic

Win the heart before the head.

Gerald Zaltman, a Harvard Business School professor, says that 95% of buying decisions happen on a subconscious level. But it doesn’t feel this way in reality because we find conscious reasons to justify our choices.

So visiting the mall doesn’t make us go crazy like a giant kid in a chocolate shop. We choose emotionally and dress it up with “grown-up” rational reasons.

Imagine Joe, the corporate accountant, who just put 45 candles on his birthday cake. Before he can blow out the fire and make a wish, he rushes down to the Harley Davidson dealership. Joe test-drives and buys thunder rolling on two wheels.

Sold on Emotion Justified by Logic

When he gets back to the office on Monday, his buddies gather around the water cooler. He’ll tell them he bought a bike that goes 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, has an 883 cubic centimeter air-cooled evolution engine, and emulsion rear shocks.

Joe won’t tell them he was buying coolness. The guy purchased the confidence he’s missing for not being as successful as he thinks he should be. The man paid $25,000 to feel 25 again.

What emotion makes people buy your product? Is it fear like our mid-life crisis guy? Maybe it’s shame, envy, pride, altruism, or greed. Figure out the core emotion and beat that drum with the force of a marching band.

Tip #4: Features Vs. Benefits

If you learn the difference between the two, then you’ll be crushing your e-commerce competition. Because average online sellers drone on about features.

Legendary copywriter Bob Bly defines in his classic tome, The Copywriter’s Handbook, “a ‘feature’ is a descriptive fact about a product; it’s what the product is or has. A ‘benefit’ is what the product does; it’s what the user of the product gains as a result of the feature.”

A benefit results from applying the WIIFM question to the feature. Or you could ask “so what?”

Example: Features and Benefits for a # 2 pencil 

Pencil Gif



So What?

hexagonal cylinder shapeprevents it from rolling off your desk
yellow exteriorIt stands out on in your drawer, and it’s bright, visible, and hard to misplace
eraser on the topYou can quickly and neatly correct mistakes

We took facts about the product and turned it into something that helps the customer. Do this with your merchandise.

Tip #5: Kill Addie by Being Specific

Who’s Addie?

Addie Adjective likes to put “best-in-class,” “world-leader,” and “innovative” in front of every product. Addie doesn’t realize these words are so overused they’ve become trite, cliché, and meaningless fluff.


  • NO-best-in-class sunglasses from a market-leading manufacturer
  • YES-Sunglasses that 9 out of 10 optometrists recommend because they block 99.9% of UV Rays.

Being specific assassinates Addie.

Tip #6: Shopify Product Description Overhaul

Here’s a Shopify product description template of questions to make the process easier.

Think of yourself as a reporter. Answer the five W’s and an H:

  • Who uses the product? Remember your avatar.
  • What are the simple facts about the product? Include details such as dimensions, features, functions, and materials.
  • Where would the customer use the product? Is it used inside or outside the house? Is it used at home, in the car, or in the office?
  • When would the customer use the product? Is it only a specific time of day (the morning coffee mug), during a particular time of the year or seasonal (a winter coat) or for a certain occasion (an ugly Christmas sweater). Also, stress if the customer can use it more often because that builds value. I mean you can always wear the ugly Christmas sweater on a first date, right?
  • Why would the customer choose this product over your competitors? Pick a feature and/or benefit that competition doesn’t offer or hasn’t highlighted.
  • How does the customer use the product? Some things are self-explanatory. Explain when it’s high technology or something new to the audience like a gadget.

Tell a Micro-Story

Now you can take those five W’s and an H and build a micro-story for your product. Give it a beginning, middle, and end. Or enough story that the customer can imagine using the product.

Example: Shopify User Argent Work (Notice the Product Description)

Shopify product descriptionShopify product description

Five Reasons to Buy

Engage the five senses. Make them see, hear, smell, taste, and touch your product.

Example: Shopify User Death Wish Coffee (Can you almost sip the product description?)

shopify product description


For a collection description, Shopify likes-you should keep it simple, descriptive, and orderly. You can always update this as your inventory changes, or you have promotions.

Tip #7: Editing Made Easy

Mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, “if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Many beginners think editing is the five minutes spent on spell check. Ding. Wrong Answer!

Editing is cutting your writing for clarity. Before you give a rose, you trim all the leaves, thorns, and thistles in the way.

Pardon the pun, but that’s how you plant ideas in the minds of your readers.

Here are three checklists that cover style, apps, and actions. The style one I adapted from Bob Bly’s excellent work The Copywriter’s Handbook:

Style Checklist

  • Put the reader first: write “you” throughout remember you’re talking to a person.


NO-Energetic Executive watches are the world’s first user-friendly watch that has smart energy management and tracking software with the style and prestige of a business watch.

YES-The Energetic Executive watch is the world’s first business watch to monitor your energy levels so you can be at peak performance in and out of the boardroom all while matching your sleek, professional style.

  • Short Sentences and Short Paragraphs

Short sentences are easy to understand. The apps below will help with this, especially the Hemingway one.

Keep your paragraphs short. Two to three sentences or 100 words or fewer is a good rule of thumb. People are reading on smartphones and computers, so big blocks of text are intimidating.

  • Use simple words.

This is not an English report where you change every ordinary word to its more “highfalutin” counterpart. “Car” becomes “automobile,” “end” becomes “terminate,” and “best” becomes “optimum.”

Use the small, simple word don’t choose the $10 word when $2 one does the job.

  • Be concise

NO-a wide variety of different models

YES-a variety of models

NO-simple and easy to use

YES-easy to use

NO-from a low of 7 to a high of 17

YES-from 7 to 17

  • Write in a conversational, friendly tone

You’re writing to your ideal client. They should be a friend. Speak to them as if you’re sitting across from them at Starbucks. I said this earlier, but it bears repeating. Never forget you’re talking to a human.

Apps and Actions for Polish


Paste your Shopify product description or paragraph into Word. In Options turn on check for grammar and style.

Catches stuff Word misses.

Tag team with Grammarly.

Focuses on readability, so you’re not writing for rocket scientists who do part-time brain surgery.


  • Read It Aloud.

Basic but valuable. If it doesn’t sound right to you, then it won’t sound right to your reader.

  • Give It 24 Hours.

Time makes it go from subjective to objective. Your mind is filling in all the mistakes because you know what you mean. A day of rest grants detachment.

  • Have Someone Else Read It.

A spouse, family member, friend. Bonus points if it’s a prospect. Can they catch any mistakes? What did you do well? What can you improve? Would they buy?

  • Read It Aloud Again.

Before you publish.

  • Good Enough Is Good Enough.

You’re not writing the next great American novel. Progress > Perfection. It’s the internet right. You can always fix your Shopify product description later.


What Questions, Ideas, and Insights Do You Have?

You’re starting the famed journey of a thousand miles. It’s a marathon with some sprints throughout. Don’t be like the Shopify snobs who treat customers like numbers.

It’s trite but true. You can sum up all seven tips in the golden rule. You’re putting the customer first. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Good copywriting is good customer care.  If you found this article useful, and you’d like to see if I could do your copywriting for you GO here.

What are your biggest copywriting challenges? Which tip helped you the most? What ideas would you share with others just starting? Tell us in the comments.




Branding on Shopify: How To Get It Right

Branding on Shopify

Branding is a multi-faceted but not insurmountable task of business.

So if you’ve had second thoughts about a theme you bought or a piece of content you sourced out, do not fret. Awareness is the first step towards change smile

Branding on Shopify is a discovery process that uses the most static and dependable asset of your business’ identity. Read on to find out if you’re making the most of this asset in your Shopify store.

The qualities (and quality) of your brand attract and repel potential customers. Which customers run and which ones stick around will start to change as you develop your branding on Shopify. The effort you put upfront into adapting your business’ brand for different platforms is an investment that will return.

No one else can be an authority on your brand. Through marketing and branding, you become distinctly positioned as an expert over your niche. More importantly, any time you spend getting to know your current customers will show future ones just how much you know them. And how much you care.

So, let’s go beneath the surface of some of the elements of branding on Shopify to create an awesome customer experience!

The personality of your business

In social circles, it’s often the brightest personalities that attract the other bright and playful associates.

If your business attracts customers who value reason, intellect and order, you want your branding on Shopify to look like it.

Did you know, recent stats are showing 50-80% of online shopping carts never make it to the checkout screen? Clarity surrounding your business’ brand, the message of “who you say you are,” is critical to get right.

Potential customers first encounter your store and begin getting to know your business and products immediately. You want to make certain your message and personality are congruent across all their platforms and interactions.

A knight in branded armor

So, what is the best way to “court” potential customers? How can we design a heroic persona that attracts them? And how do we build more connections that grow into conversions?

In her book, Slaying Dragons, Richelle Goodrich illustrates my next point poetically:

“I am not what you see.
I am what time and effort and interaction slowly unveil.”

To win the hearts of our audience, we need to be caring, transparent and hungry for real connection. There’s no faking it to make it here. Customers are savvy, especially online. They see right through shams and scams — and they are always sharing their opinions and experiences in their own network. That’s why this element is so important! Your products and solutions must express themselves to your niche as personal remedies and thoughtful gifts. Your store needs to be a place where your customers feel valued and heard.

Internalize the underlying quirks and driving vision that distinguish your business as yours. Make sure you don’t skip this element as you work on branding your Shopify store. Combine your company’s unique qualities with all the valuable content, effective products and relevant solutions you’ve thoughtfully created. Look for exciting ways to paint your core messages in colors that resonate with your customer’s pain or passion!



Some say logos and business cards are the ultimate expression of your brand. Others recommend you spend several months of the branding process to brainstorm business values and mission statements.

Whatever your priorities may be, there is an abundance of science that compels us to acknowledge the psychological effects of color.

“In art therapy, color is often associated with a person’s emotions. Color may also influence a person’s mental or physical state. For example, studies have shown that some people looking at the color red resulted in an increased heart rate, which then led to additional adrenaline being pumped into the blood stream.”

Color theory

Color theory is a full topic beyond the scope of this article, yet a few basic guidelines may help prime the canvas:

  • Designing the landing pages of your Shopify store with a color strategy can have compounding effects on conversion rates.
  • Shades of red and orange are likely to stimulate customers, while blues and purples will have a relaxing effect.
  • Use the brighter shades to draw attention to critical areas of your store, such as “Add to Cart” buttons.
  • Use darker shades around captivating media or content to immerse your customers into the unique experience of your Shopify store.
  • My favorite tip of all: Don’t be afraid of choosing black!

“Without black, color has no depth.
But if you mix black [in], suddenly there’s shadow [and] fullness.
You have to be willing to mix black into your palette
if you want to create something real.”

A word from author and musician, Amy Grant,
about being bold and fearless with color.
Shopify’s blog offers guidelines
Worded a little more eloquently, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German poet and artist of the 19th century) plays with the relationship between black and the rest of the color wheel.

Want to paint your audience a picture?
Here are 4 tips to help challenge your color palette:

  1. The impact of color on the world is as broad as it is subtle. Wield this power with calculating confidence.
  2. Glean inspiration from natural color schemes, like peacocks and agates.
  3. Monochromatic themes are refreshing; you can use highlighting colors strategically for striking effects.
  4. Being adventurous and making an impression are important aspirations of branding, so don’t be afraid to color boldly.

Keep your most important assets consistent

Shopify’s blog offers guidelines to help you as you review or begin to design your store’s brand. I think the following tip creates a solid anchor point to return to if you are ever overwhelmed by the process:

“Creating a marketing message that is unmistakably, undeniably you requires consistency. Focusing on uniformity in your brand attributes and identity means everything customers see and hear from you evokes the same kind of feeling. That feeling is what sets your brand apart from your competitors. It’s what connects with customers and brings them back time and again.”

Your brand is essentially a reflection of your business’ inner values and thoughts. The way you express your brand will either woo or ward off your audience. If you’ve spent a lot of time developing your brand and attracting your ideal customer, you want to protect that investment; keep it secure, shareable, and accessible for revisions.

For this, you’ll want to create a style guide.

Shopify wisdom says, “The product you list this week should have a similar layout, language and attitude as the product you list next year. A style guide keeps you and your employees accountable to the overall branding vision of the site.”

Consistency in the little things, like your brand’s color palette and font choices, will go a long way towards building trust and familiarity with your customers as they explore your business’ personality. So document your changes and choices as you make them, and encourage all team members to refer to the style guide when creating or reviewing content for the brand or store.

Brand upkeep

Ideally, your business is already crystal clear regarding who your target market is. If you need to spend time on that, hopefully your website can wait for now.

The personality of your business must be weaved into everything you do (marketing, development, branding, etc.). The pattern you weave will be based entirely upon your customer: what kind of person they are, how they think, what they need, and what they like or want. So focus your branding efforts on conveying your business personality. Yet always show that your customer comes first.

If you’d like to review the branding of your Shopify store, here are a few thoughts to reflect on:

  • In which ways can you express your core value message to your ideal market? Get creative with your ideas and try to see your store through your customer’s eyes.
  • What kind of funnels and pathways does your site take your audience through? Are they complicated or straight forward? Using page analytics, you can find out if you’re losing a large percentage of conversions, and where they’re being lost.
  • Are you offering no-strings-attached value to your customers? This speaks volumes to your audience about your intentions.
  • Is the entirety of the site cohesive and calm? Make sure your business personality is flowing throughout every page and interaction.

As products launch and platforms change, we should strive to keep our brands relevant and fresh. This ought to remain in balance with the previous aspiration to be consistent.

So continue to test your imagery and language with your audience. Visit forums like the Shopify Partners Facebook group where you can ask other merchants for advice and feedback. Use tools like SEMRush to view the SEO strategy of your competition. You can use the data to decide if some of their products or topics might be suitable to adapt to your brand.

If you look at the branding process as telling a story, you can take carve out a beautifully illustrated adventure for today’s experience-driven consumer.

Take 15 minutes today to review the pillars of your company image and Shopify store and decide whether they’re reflecting the self-same brand.

Why Your Shopify Store Must Build an Email List From the Beginning

Email marketing has been around right from the very beginning of the web.

Long before anyone dreamed of PPC, social media, mobile apps or even virtual reality, there was email marketing. It has been the most enduring and also one of the most effective online marketing tools for a generation.

Email marketing still remains one of the best ways for store owners or online retailers to capture leads and generate sales almost effortlessly.

Email marketing still delivers the best online marketing ROI
Email marketing still delivers the best online marketing ROI

Given its potent value as a marketing tool, the email marketing channel is one that should be exploited right from the word go. As soon as your store website is up and running, there should be an opt-in email form that you can use to capture leads and build your mailing list. Every lead is a potential sale and letting these go untapped is literally throwing money down the drain. If you are opening a new Shopify store, an email capture page should be one of your top priorities.

A good email marketing strategy will yield stratospheric returns. In the US, email marketing delivers an ROI of 3800%, the highest of any marketing channel.

Why is Email Marketing Still Effective?

From an online marketing perspective, email marketing may seem quite archaic. However, the channel still offers some massive and distinct advantages that online businesses should exploit.

Email marketing is very direct. As long as you have a mailing list, virtually everyone in the list will receive the email or promotional blasts. Whether they will open it is another matter altogether but at least you can be sure of the delivery part. It is more direct than search engine results pages (SERPs), social media marketing or PPC marketing where the delivery is still a matter of chance.

email marketing on Shopify
Email marketing is very direct

Email is also an integral part of communications in the internet age and a part of our modern lifestyle. You may go for days or weeks without vising your social media profiles, opening an app or performing a Google search but most of us who use the internet will open their emails on a daily basis and even check their mails multiple times a day. As a content delivery platform, the email channel still has a higher degree of efficacy and usage that cannot be matched by any other marketing channels.

The third winning factor in an email is the customizability. An app, social media profile or PPC campaigns do not offer you the high degree of customization and personalization that you will get from an email campaign or e-newsletters. You can literally design your emails to your heart’s content with your message, products or brand expression. Professional email marketing will actually contribute towards growing your online business’ brand equity. A large and responsive email list is as valuable as a good and high-converting ecommerce website.

Then there is the cost factor and ease of implementation. It doesn’t cost a fortune or special technical skills to design a professional promotional email or e-newsletter.  There are also a variety of email marketing software and tools that come with thousands of templates and features to make your email marketing on Shopify a breeze. Some of the most popular email marketing tools include the following:

  • Constant Contact
  • Aweber
  • MailChimp
  • SendinBlue
  • GetResponse
  • Infusionsoft
  • Zoho Campaigns
  • Campaigner
  • Hubspot

Email Marketing is Cost Effective

One of the biggest draws of email marketing through time has been the very low barrier to entry. It can range from free to very low to slightly expensive depending on the features that you need.

Besides, the various email marketing tools have various level of service differentiation. They don’t offer the same package. Some will simply offer the email-based aspect of the service while others go on to provide an integrated marketing service in which the email marketing or mailing list is just a cog in the wheel of a much broader online marketing strategy. Some email marketing software, for example, include a  built-in landing page, page builders and social media marketing tools among others.

Costs will vary depending on the packages chosen but generally, email marketing will be your cheapest online marketing strategy.

It is however counterproductive to simply compare email marketing software or tools based solely on price. You are likely to miss on a lot of valuable features and functionalities if price is your overriding consideration. Rather, these comparisons should be based on a needs basis. Buy the right email marketing tool for the job rather than simply going for the cheapest offer available.

CRM and Automation Functionalities

Email marketing can be a powerful customer relations management (CRM) tool, particularly for small businesses. Email software come equipped with rich features including in-built CRM tools in some cases. There is also the marketing automation functionality that you can set and forget, allowing the email marketing tool to do the work for you as you focus on other aspects of your online business.

Email and CRM make for a powerful marketing combination
Email and CRM make for a powerful marketing combination

Email marketing delivers the best ROI when the email blasts are triggered at the right time and to the right leads. With the growing sophistication of email marketing tools, it is now possible to leverage “big data” that helps you automate this process. This data will be stored in the CRM system. Large corporations will generally install a separate CRM software and then integrate this with their email marketing tools. However, if you are running a small enterprise, it’s more prudent to shop for email marketing software tools that come with an integrated or in-built CRM system that can serve as your all-in-one sales and marketing platform. Some of the email platforms that offer integrated CRM solutions include Hubspot, ActiveCampaign and Ontraport.

Generate and Manage Your Subscribers

An email marketing service will be your lead generation as well as subscriber management tool. You can upload contacts to your email marketing software via a CSV or by using Microsoft Excel. There some email marketing tools that can integrate with third-party tools and enable marketers to import contacts from Gmail, other webmail services as well as from CRM tools such as Salesforce. You can also use your email marketing software to manage both subscribers and those that unsubscribe.

Then there is the lead generation role of email marketing software. The greatest thing about email marketing tools is that they are opt-in-based systems. The subscriber asks to join the mailing list. That means you can use them to collect the contact details of users who are already interested in your products.

There are various tools and Shopify modules that you can use to maximize your conversions. A perfect example is the premium GrooveJar conversion tool that helps you capture more subscribers through pop-ups and other tools. GrooveJar utilizes a pop-up tool known as GrooveUrgent which delivers a conversion rate of 10% and helps you build your mailing list a lot quicker. This is five times the average conversion rate for most pop conversions which is 2%! GrooveUrgent delivers those impressive conversions due to its embedded countdown timer which creates a sense of urgency in the mind of the visitor and prompts them to enter their details.

Playing on the fear of missing out (FOMO) is just one way to drive up the conversions. Another good strategy is by offering your web visitors goodies such as promos, coupons or discounted pricing for subscribing to your e-newsletter or leaving behind their contact details. Couponing is generally a powerful lead magnet and will also drive impulse buying.

Email marketing can therefore be used to generate hot leads that you can convert and re-convert for years to come to ramp up your sales.

The Email List as the Anchor for your E-Newsletter

The primary reason for building an email list is to leverage it for email marketing purposes. Email marketing tools have lots of features that make email marketing a breeze. These including tools and features such as pre-designed email templates, autoresponders, visual email campaign builders, e-newsletter, email list segmentation, drag and drop user interfaces for e-newsletters and email templates, image libraries and much more.

Email marketing software will offer some superb features to make your email testing success. These include:-

  • A/B testing: Most email marketing software tools will enable you to split-test various aspects of your draft email content such as the subject lines, content and send times before you send it out to end users so that you can see what works. It’s even possible to split-test an entire automation sequence to determine where you are likely to get the best conversions.

Email Data Analytics and Reporting

Having an email list that you can leverage for email campaigns can provide you with great insights and analytics on the responses and behaviors of your subscribers. The data can help you tweak your email campaigns for optimal results and also give you some insights on whether your email campaign is generating a positive ROI. You can get invaluable insights such as the open rates, click rates and time spent viewing the email among others.

Email data analytics
Email data analytics

Email lists drive revenue

In ecommerce marketing, conversion drives revenue. Email marketing is one of the most potent tools that you can use to take advantage of impulse buying by your customers. Customers in your mailing list can go from seeing a good offer to buying an item with just two clicks of the button. Email marketing also creates the hype factor with tempting calls to action (CTA) as well links that take subscribers directly to the product page. Email blasts are some of the most effective channels for selling special offers, promotions, discounted pricing and other advantageous pricing offers. There is a psychology behind successful email marketing and it works like magic in driving online retail sales.

Excellent Deliverability

Emails provide a direct marketing channel with excellent deliverability. A large percentage of emails sent to your mailing list will reach the intended target. Email marketing services generally perform various functions to provide marketers with optimal deliverability rates. These include the following:-

  • Getting rid of problematic clients
  • Monitoring the blacklists
  • Flagging recipients for review if there are too many bounced emails or complaints.
  • Managing the reputation of the IP addresses

Without a dedicated email marketing strategy and campaigns, your mailing list is just that: a mailing list. You have to leverage it through professional email marketing to build your brand equity, generate leads and drive your sales. Email marketing allows you to choose your own audience-they choose to opt in based on your targeted email message or CTAs. It costs you nothing to reach them and they are often high prospect leads who are already interested in your brand or products. This makes for a valuable sales and marketing pipeline that should be an integral part of building your Shopify store.

Add Trust Badges to Your Shopify Store [2019 Edition]

shopping online more and more

It’s 2019 and consumers are shopping online more and more. Cybersecurity is an ever-growing concern for Shopify shoppers. For online stores, this means building trust amongst potential customers so that they spend their money before experiencing your products. This is where trust badges and seals can help.

In this post, we will go over why trust badges are important, the different types of badges, and how you can include badges on your Shopify store. Read More…

Guide to Developing a Shopify SEO strategy with Keywords

SEO strategy with Keywords

If you run an online store, you want to attract as many visitors as possible. The more people that visit your Shopify store, the higher the chance of making sales and ultimately, generating profits. Once you?ve set up a Shopify store, you need to focus your attention and energy on spreading the word and attracting customers. Learning about, and improving, your store?s SEO (search engine optimization) is a great way to do this. If you have a Shopify store and you?re keen to improve your SEO strategy and evaluate how effectively your current plan is working, this guide on keyword planning will provide useful information to take your store to the next level.
Read More…