By Sarah Sewell
Throughout my time as both a online shop owner and an online business coach for makers ,I have collected enough data to know what makes an online business successful.
I created the 5 Pillars of E-Commerce after 15+ years of experience and research. These are the 5 main areas in your online business that you must improve on until you just can't improve it any further. Working in some of these areas will be a consistent project you work on for the entire time you own your business.
The important thing to note, is that you will never have a one and done type of experience with an online business. You must remain fluid and flexible and update and change things as needed and as the market fluctuates.
These pillars can be worked with your own time table, some shop owners only want a part time commitment and income from their craft business, others are looking for 6 figures plus. Your revenue will increase as you increase your time and focus. No matter what revenue you want to see, you won't find much success without mastering these 5 main areas of your online business.
These 5 pillars are the basic backbone of the Flourish program. We touch on many different topics from Social Media Marketing to Web Design and Development, but will ALWAYS daily and monthly teach these pillars, as we have proven that they work no matter what platform or venue you sell from.
Start working the 5 pillars ONLY IF you have figured out WHO your target audience is. If you haven't a clue WHO you are selling to, then you MUST first work on your Target Market. Once you have that clear then move to these 5 Pillars.
The following 5 areas are the MOST important in having a successful online shop.
2. Product Photography
Start wherever you feel your business needs to start. However, these steps should be done in order.
Pillar 1: Branding
Your brand is the foundation your business is built on. It isn’t just all about the logo, it is about the message behind your business. Who do you serve? Who do you make for? Who is your Target Audience?
Your branding needs to be attractive to your target market. It is everything about your business, from the products you sell, to the photos you take, to the colors, graphics and fonts you use, to the type of verbiage you use throughout your shop and on social media and even through emails and messages. Your brand is who your business is and what it stands for. It is THE MOST important aspect of your online business.
Do you have a brand? Do you have a story? When you make your products, write your copy, take your photos...who are you doing all that for? Your brand must speak to that person. It must be consistent, remarkable, attractive and inspiring.
Pillar 2: Product Photography
Just because you run a small business mainly from your home studio doesn’t mean you want your online store to look like you are renting a space in a flea market. The MOST successful online sellers take professional product shots of their items. Even if you aren’t able to hire a professional you can still have AMAZING photos. It takes practice and patience but you can achieve photos that make your buyers excited to purchase from your shop.
Also watermarks are not encouraged. With todays technology watermarks can be removed in seconds with simple photo editing photography, also many search engines will disqualify you from search results. If you want to work your business name into your photo there are many other creative ways to do so.
How do your current product photos look? Do you have proper lighting? Is the background light and bright? Is the photo clean, or is there a lot of distracting unneeded props in the frame? Visit the product photography section on the member site to learn more about how to take and stage great photos.
Pillar 3: SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Probably the most difficult area for online craft sellers. However, with a little work you can figure out what will work best for your shop. Basically SEO means how you optimize your listings to be found in search. This means you must use keywords in specific areas in your shop to alert the search algorithm’s that you have a certain product.
You must do keyword research to find out which golden words will bring traffic into your shop. Knowing your target audience well is super helpful for this step. There are many tools out there to assist you with your keyword research. Just remember that Etsy SEO is a bit different than regular website SEO. A bit of reading and studying is necessary for this Step.
Pillar 4: Pricing
Many craft sellers just guess at their pricing and throw up a number that sounds good for them. This is a big mistake in the handmade world. It is imperative that you treat your handmade shop as a real business. You must research your competitors and then adjust as needed.
You want to price mid to high against your competitors and also utilize psychology pricing which means using the 9 or 5 to the end of the price point. For example, if you want to price your item at $15.00 instead you would price at $14.99 or $14.95. This price strategy has been proven to increase sales across e-commerce sites and in person selling.
Pillar 5: Copy
Copy is short for copywriting. Your copy is basically any and all text you have listed throughout your website or listing descriptions. The copy in your shop is your “digital salesperson” the words that you use can determine whether or not your buyer leaves your shop or clicks the buy now button.
You want to ensure you are thinking of your target audience while writing out your copy. The words you use need to be delicious and persuasive. You don’t want to be boring or to technical, keep the words fun and lively. You want your customers to be saying “shut up and take my money” by the time they are done reading. You want them to be creating a mental image of using or gifting your product and you want them to be smiling at just the thought of it. Your photos and copy can do this without you having to do any "extra" work to sell the product.
Mastering each of these pillars can take some time, and if you feel that any of them aren't your strong suit, hiring a professional might be the best route to take. If you are however more of a DIY kinda makerpreneur then you can totally make it happen with a little passion and elbow grease.