How To Set Up Your Online Shopping Empire & Make The First Sale!

09/07/2015 by  in Web Development

45 0

Note: This is a 10 minute guide to setting up an online store, finding your first customers, and turning it into a successful business.


Making your first ever sale is a special feeling.


It marks the beginning of your own shopping empire and the chance to build a business.


We’ve seen it happen. We’ve watched bedroom entrepreneurs turn their dreams into million dollar e-commerce companies. All you need is a great product and an online shop.


If you’re reading this page, perhaps you’ve already got a brilliant idea, but you’re not sure how to build your store.


Sound familiar?


Trust us, it’s easier than you think, and we’ll show you all the secrets. For simplicity, the guide is broken down into three sections. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s get stuck in.


Part 1: Where do I even start?
A quick introduction to your first online store.


Part 2: The technical bit
A step-by-step guide to setting up your own website and shop.


Part 3: Making your first sale
A store needs customers! We’ll show you a quick trick to make that first sale.


PART 1: Where Do I Even Start?


The best way to sell products online is through your very own website.


Did that just give you a little shiver of excitement? It’s easier than you think too.



WordPress + WooCommerce = Free Online Shop!





If it sounds like a foreign language, take a deep breathe. Creating a website is now easier than ever. We’re going to start by using WordPress: the most popular website building platform on the planet.


In fact, 24% of all the websites on the internet are powered by WordPress. So you’re in good company.


You can choose pre-set designs, and tweak it to your liking. You don’t even need to know a single line of web code. (Phew!)


But, what about the tricky payment mechanisms, products, and shipping?


That’s where WooCommerce comes in. WooCommerce is the technical toolkit that makes your shop work. All you have to do is download the software, and install it on your WordPress site.


It will help you create and design your storefront. It will also set up all your tricky payment systems, manage your stock and sort out your shipping.


It’s completely free too.


All that’s left to do is watch the product orders roll in!


Sound good? I thought so! Let’s dive into a step-by-step guide to getting things and running.


PART 2: The Technical Bit


Trust us, this is easier than you think. You can have your entire shop set up in just an hour. Take a deep breath, here goes.



Step 1. Web hosting


Web hosting is the patch of internet land your website will live on.


It can be a tricky thing to get your head around if you’re new to the game. Think of it like this:


Web hosting companies are like internet landlords. They rent out a portion of the web to you, and that’s where you’ll build your site.


But here’s the thing. There are good hosting companies, and there are bad ones.


So, don’t just choose the cheapest option. The speed and security of your site is vital, and your online shop deserves the best.


The best web hosts are fast as hell, close to your target audience, and secure from hackers.


We’ve had a lot of experience here, and this is what we recommend:


Inmotion Premium Hosting


InMotion Hosting: InMotion is a brilliant premium choice. If you’ve got big plans with lots of global traffic, we highly recommend them. They’re fast, secure, and great with customer service. is hosted on their VPS plan.



iPage Budget Hosting
iPage: iPage is perfect if you’re just getting started and don’t need a lot of resources. They’re a budget option, but it will handle everything you can throw at it.



Step 2.!


This is your ‘domain name’. It’s the address that points to your website. You’re looking for something simple, unique, and straight to the point.


Choose this very carefully. Hopefully, you’ve already got a business name all picked out and ready to go. To see what’s available, head to a domain site like GoDaddy or Network Solutions and you can buy your very first domain name.





Step 3: Designing your shop


Now that you’ve got your address and plot of internet land, it’s time to build your shop!


As I said before, WordPress is super easy to decorate and make your own. You can choose from hundreds of preset designs for free, or you can splash out on a premium theme. We like Themeforest who offer affordable, unique, and beautiful themes.


Expert design tips:


  1. Simplicity is everything
    Choose a simple design that highlights your products and is easy to navigate.
  2. Logo and branding
    Look for a theme or design that allows you to create a unique identity.
  3. Big, high-res photos
    Photos sell products. It’s that simple. Choose a site that shows your images at their very best.




Step 4: Counting the money


Of course, no online store is complete without the payment mechanism. The most familiar service online is PayPal and you can easily slot their payment gateway into your checkout process.


Sometimes customers prefer a simple credit card payment. You can handle this with Braintree. They power the payments system at AirBnB and Uber so you’ll be in good hands.


Now you’re all set up and ready to open the doors! Now you just need to find some customers.


PART 3: Making Your First Sale


The first sale is always the trickiest. After that, it’s a snowball effect! We’ll leave you with one expert tip guaranteed to help you make that first sale.



Get your product in front of millions of eyes


The internet is bursting with powerful blogs, YouTube channels, and social media influencers. These people have the power to get your product in front of a lot of people.


Start by making a list of blogs and influencers in your niche. They are always on the lookout for cool products and stories to share with their communities, so reach out and ask for a review or sponsored post.


These influencers receive hundreds of emails and pitches every day, so how do you stand out?


  1. Be personal
    Craft a unique and personal message for each blogger. Mention something you saw and liked on their blog, and tell them why you think your product would be interesting to their audience.
  2. Address them by name
    It’s easy to find the names of most bloggers. Prove to them you’ve taken the time to look at their site.
  3. Create a compelling story
    Writers and bloggers are looking for more than just a cool product. They want a story that connects with their readers. What makes your product unique? What’s the emotional connection? Why do people need to hear about you and your product?
  4. But, keep it to the point
    They don’t need to know your life story. Just give them what they need to intrigue them and show off your product. Bloggers are looking for short, sharp leads.
  5. Follow up
    Just once, about a week later. Keep it polite, and if you don’t hear back, don’t take it personally. Just try another one!
  6. Sponsorship
    There are lots of blogs and social media accounts that will accept payment to share your product or create content around it. It’s a small price to pay for lots of eyes on your product.


A free sample works wonders here too 😉


Phew, you made it to the end!


So, what have we learned?


  1. WordPress + WooCommerce has everything you need to build an online store (for free!).
  2. Research a variety of hosting companies to find the fastest and most secure service for your shop.
  3. Choose a clean and unique design using WordPress-WooCommerce compatible themes.
  4. Reach out to influential blogs to secure reviews and coverage.





The hardest part is taking the first leap. Don’t feel daunted by the process, embrace it and learn as you go. Trust in yourself and your product!


Follow your passions, start a successful business, and ditch the day job!


It really can happen, just read our interview with Kalen, an online fashion store owner making $1000 in her spare time!


Good luck!



Daren Low

Daren Low is the founder of and co-developer of the free Server Speed Checker. With a decade of experience in website development and internet marketing to his name, Daren is considered a premier authority on all things related to building and managing an online presence. Feel free to pick his brain by connecting via Google+ and Twitter.

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  • Great step-by-step guide on setting up your own online store. I really love the last big of advice best: “The hardest part is taking the first leap. Don’t feel daunted by the process, embrace it and learn as you go. Trust in yourself and your product!” So many people wait until everything is ‘perfect’ and end up never taking action. Start with a website – it all starts there and that gives you a foundation upon which to build.

  • Great article! I completely agree that creating a well-designed eCommerce site is a great way to strengthen your brand and start building a loyal clientele. Good technical tips too – most people are surprised to learn that you don’t need to know tons of code to create your own website! All it takes is a little bit of research and work, and it’s well worth it.

  • Awesome article. I’d mention that a great way to start marketing once you have your store up and running is to integrate an instagram page with it. Photos sell products and there’s no better place to market your products with photos than the social network for photos.

    I’ve adopted the like blitz strategy where you go and research the hashtags of your chosen niche. Then once you search for the hashtag just like every photo there for 5-10 minutes a day. You can also follow this up with following major accounts in that niche.

    Once you start building up a following you can reach out to the big accounts in your niche for a sponsored post. Usually accounts that have email addresses in their bio will take sponsored posts. Either pay them or just send them your product and they will do some kind of review or post about your product with a link back to your site. This is one way to get momentum fast.

  • Katy Smith

    Wow, what a succinct article about selling items online. I really enjoyed the step-by-step method of the post. I wouldn’t hesitate this to somebody who is looking to start an online business. One thing that I find very interesting is that I wish it would be easier to sell items without feeding the other large companies (paypal/ebay/etc.). Perhaps it’s for the more advanced businessperson, but I wish it would be easier to conduct business without the other companies taking a bit of your profits. I guess they have to make money somehow too, eh? Anywho, I really enjoyed reading this article. It was fun and well written. I liked your emphasis on personal relationships, I think that’s really important to make your business a personal relationship focused business.

  • TheSimpleHomemaker

    This is an excellent run-down of how anybody with a vision and a great product can succeed online. In my experience, you are 100% spot-on with your assessment and guide.

    Yes, it is easier to go through Etsy or another organization, but you are correct in that they will continue to grow rapidly and become selling powerhouses, while you may grow slowly if at all. It isn’t the way to go if you have the business support behind you.

    The technical advice is great. Immotion seems like an ideal web-host. It makes SUCH a huge difference which host you use. I’ve frequently been so frustrated with a site that I click away, because it is too slow or items aren’t loading properly. The right host is vital. A second here or there of load time can lose you valuable sales and repeat customers.

    Thanks for the great guide and the kick-in-the-pants encouragement!

  • AQeeL ALi

    This is a great article i loved it, Thank yo for sharing it with us.

  • Cartivo

    Hello Dare
    You are just awesome i have started my online shopping store in june and don’t know where to start and how to start i have got your article from goolgle and after complete reading of it i must say your blog got my attention i must read your other article great help for newbies like me thanks buddy keep posting such a useful content

  • Thank you for your kind words. Please feel free to check out other blogposts in Please also do subscribe to our newsletter so that I can send you the latest sharing directly with you.

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