3 things you need to know before you start a Shopify Store
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission at not cost to you. In fact, if you use the links, you are directly supporting the creation of awesome content for the future. So thanks!
Side Hustles are incredibly lucrative, and one of the best platforms you can start your own business on is Shopify. Shopify is an elegant online store front with hundreds of templates that are customizable, and allow you to sell pretty much anything (that’s legal).
I recently interviewed Samantha at Infinite Abyss, if you’d like to know first hand what it’s like to start a store on Shopify.
If you’ve always had an idea about selling… something, Shopify is the way to do it. They have incredible customer service, and the potential for growth is just outstanding. You can use their system online, or in a store as a POS system. Their fees are competitive.
A few years ago I had this idea to to start an independent bookstore, that catered specifically to indie authors. I started researching my options, and I eventually decided that I would build my business on Shopify. My reason? The other storefronts out there, just didn’t add up. Sure, you get wooed in by “free”. But once you add all the plugins you need, free is suddenly quite expensive. In fact, it ended up costing more up front and per year with the “free” store front, than it did with Shopify. And with Shopify, I got everything I needed for one low monthly price! Way better option in the long run.
Now, unfortunately, my bookstore never came to fruition. Sometimes life gets in the way, you know? But there is no reason why you can start your store today. All you need is an idea, some product, and little hustle.
3 Things you need to know before you start a Shopify store
If you’re going to start a Shopify Store as a side hustle, then there are at least three things you need to know first.
You need to know about their 14 day free trial
They have an awesome 14 day trial. You can sign up without using your credit card. It includes a domain. You can pick from one of their amazing templates, or build your own. Their back end is just beautiful. They have tons of free (and not free) tools to help you get started with names, logos, suppliers, marketing and more. With your 14 day Trial you’ll get immediate access to all the really cool features like gift cards, abandoned cart recovery, and selling through Pinterest, Facebook, and Amazon. They also have an app store to help you build the site you really need to grow your business. Once you’re ready. Right now, you’re just getting started.
Make sure you have your business plan in place.
When starting a Shopify Store, you’ll want to make sure you know what you want to sell. Make sure you have other important things in place like, how you’re going to build your audience or if you’re going to offer a pre-sell. They also have a subscription option.
Need help coming up with an idea? The Millennial Life Skills Vault has a list of 30 potential products/business you can start.
Even though the trial is free, building a business isn’t.
Where is your product coming from? Are you making it or sourcing it? What about dropshipping? Shopify makes dropshipping easy, but you’ll want to know what what kind of requirements are in place from the dropshipper themselves.
Starting any business is going to require start up money, but it doesn’t have to cost you your first born. You don’t have to go into debt to make a profit. With Shopify, you can sign up with an annual or monthly plan. If you see you’re not making money, you can opt out. Shopify has worked with over 300,000 store owners that have made over 29 Billion dollars in profits. Clearly, they are doing something right.
If I ever get around to opening my own shop, you can bet your sweet grass it’s going to be on Shopify.
What is it you’re looking to sell with your online Shopify store?
Cover letters are the worst.
If you’re not comfortable tooting your own horn, writing a cover letter can be even worse than crafting a beautiful resume- telling your future employer why they should hire you is nerve wracking, uncomfortable, and generally goes against what we’re taught as children; stay humble.
When you’re writing a cover letter, you have to show your employer (often in just a few sentences) why they should pick you instead of someone equally capable or more so than you. You have to mine your talents and skills and promote them in the biggest, brightest light. And that is not only something we’re taught not to do, but concurrently something we’re legitimately not to taught to do at all!
I’ve included a sample of a beautiful, authentic cover letter, but I want to give you seven tips to creating your own beautiful authentic cover letter. There is also a free checklist in the Millennial Life Skills Vault. Employers will respond a lot better to something you’ve written yourself. Something that sounds like you. If it sounds like me (a professional resume guru) or worse, MS Word, they’re going to throw it in the trash pile before they get to “sincerely,”.
Some things to point out in this cover letter:
I used this cover letter to get my current day job. I’ve changed some of the information because the world is a small, small place.
But I want to highlight these things:
I did not say which job I was applying for. If you’re emailing it in, you can include it in your subject line. If it’s an application, they know because of how it’s filed.
Instead of saying “You should hire because x,y,z” I stated some of my accomplishments, and lessons I’ve learned. I stated my employment history, and while I didn’t necessarily clarify how it would transfer into my new (potential) job, I think it’s clear that having the experience is transferable. Hiring managers are totes profesh at this; you don’t need to draw them a map. You’ll also noticed how I addressed a gap in employment without it sounding like a big deal.
7 tips for you create a beautiful authentic cover letter:
One: Find out the hiring manager’s name
Dear sir/madam or to whom it may concern, is basically unacceptable. It shows you have done the least amount of effort in researching this position, and company. Find the correct name. You can start at their website, or by calling and asking for the hiring manager.
Two: List your qualities beforehand
Before you start writing make a list of 10 things that you do well. If you have a hard time coming up with a list, ask your coworkers, or supervisor. If you’re uncomfortable, refer to your most recent performance review.
Once you have this list, it’ll help you clarify the tone and illustrate your best qualities without sounding like a pedantic asshole.
Three: Employers want to see value
Illustrate a scenario where you clearly added value to the end result. You can use the list from above to get the juices flowing. Keep the story short and succinct but meaningful.
Talk about a time, project, or other example where you showed leadership, and maybe what it meant to you do have that opportunity.
If you have done it before, you can do it again. Showing this to the employer allows them to kind of build a common issue and apply your tactics to it to see how you fit into company culture.
Five: Bring up the doubts and address them head on
If you feel like you lack enough education or experience for the position you’re applying for, bring it up and explain why it isn’t actually a problem. When you get ahead of the issue it shows that you’re taking ownership and responsibility. Sometimes we have gaps in employment or backgrounds that preclude us from meeting the minimum requirements. Use this opportunity to be creative about your other experience as a volunteer, in school, or how having your time off (or time in jail if that’s something you need to worry about) has helped you grow as a person.
Six: Ask for the interview and make sure you include your contact information
This is possibly one of the most awkward things to include, but you have to do it. No one wants to hire a passive employee. Passive doesn’t get the job done.
Seven: Proofread the stuffing out of it
Have someone else. Even as I was preparing my cover letter for you, I noticed a few errors. How embarrassing! I still got hired, but you should expect that if you even have a comma out of place, you won’t get hired.
You can build your cover letter in Word, which has several of totally free options for templates.
Make sure you sign up for the Millennial Life Skills Vault which has the FREE Cover Letter Checklist, plus resume checklists, interview tips and more.
Hello! Joining us today, we have a special guest who has offered to talk about her business. I love the trays and shelves featured below. For a while, I fancied myself a carpenter and tried to make some things with recycled wood. It wasn’t easy. But I especially love how she’s build a presence for herself using Shopify. If you don’t know about Shopify, let me tell you. Its a one stop online store front that is incredibly easy to set up, and powerful to use. This post may contain affiliate links to Shopify. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission at not cost to you. In fact, if you use the links, you are directly supporting the creation of awesome content for the future. So thanks! In the meantime, if you’re wondering what its like to own a Shopify Store, or whether you should go with Etsy first, read this interview with the Owner of Infinite Abyss.
Hi! Who are you?
What is your side hustle, and where can we find it?
My side hustle is called Infinite Abyss, where I make rustic-inspired home decor from wood and reclaimed materials. It can be found at: www.infiniteabysshandmade.com, and on Facebook and Instagram: @infiniteabysshandmade.
How long have you done this side hustle?
I started Infinite Abyss in 2009 but really found my niche and started to focus on woodworking in 2015.
What drew you to it?
For years I did craft shows selling bags and purses sewn from vintage fabrics. I love sewing and still have the most ridiculous stash of fabric, but I was burnt out on it. When I moved from Pittsburgh to Wyoming, I gained access to a woodshop and created a few products for a craft show I was doing that summer. They did really well and the feedback was amazing, so I decided to pursue that and really take a break from sewing. I found a new niche that I really enjoyed and a few months later, had my biggest selling holiday season to date.
How did you study/train/prepare for this business?
To be honest, I didn’t really prepare much back then. I was new to Etsy and looking for a way to sell some of the crafts I had laying around for a few extra bucks. Most of it was jewelry I had created from old brooches and chains, and then it transformed into sewing, and now woodworking. In the past few years I really started to realize that it is more than just the creating – you have to market yourself and wear so many different hats. Now, I try to learn as much as I can, from growing an email list to troubleshooting my website and everything in between.
What is the best way for you to find clients?
I try to utilize all the different tools I have, such as email marketing, social media, Facebook groups, word of mouth, classified groups, etc. I still enjoy doing craft shows and really love to network with those individuals. When I moved across the country and had to start over, Instagram became my new best friend. I have found a lot of clients and shows from Instagram by looking for events around me.
Tell me about the platforms you use. What are some of the features that make it incredible to use? Does it have any downsides?
When I first started, I signed up with Etsy as my primary platform. But once my business really started to grow, I realized that I needed a site of my own. I still use Etsy and love the traffic I get from there, but it is nice to have my own space to promote myself as well. But I wanted something that was just mine, so I bounced around a bit before settling on Shopify a few months ago. And I am very happy with my decision.
Awesome. Tell me more about your experience with Shopify.
At first I was a little nervous about jumping into a plan that had a monthly fee, not that $29 a month is high but it was still something, but it has already paid for itself. Not only was it easy to set up, but there are so many templates and different apps out there that make running an online business a breeze.
Shopify offers shipping discounts and easy label printing, saving me time at the post office, and I love that I was able to set up a separate wholesale shipping area for my shops. One of the main reasons I chose Shopify is for easy wholesale ordering and it has been a great experience so far and my stockists love it.
I don’t have anything negative to say about Shopify so far, but it is a lot of work to drive traffic to my site without relying on the traffic within Etsy that I am so used to. It is a very rewarding feeling though when those orders do come in!
What would you recommend to someone just starting their business:
I would recommend having a business plan and some funds dedicated just to that. It is good to have an idea of what you want and how to get there, as well as some start-up money for a workspace or tools, depending on your business. Had I known what I know now when I first started, I might have done a few things differently. Then again, it was more of just a hobby for me that grew into something I never would have imagined, and I don’t regret taking the path I did.
How many hours a week do you think you spend on it?
Right now, I probably spend 15 hours a week on my business. Having a full time job only leaves a few hours after work and I have been spending most weekends catching up on orders and working on projects for my book.
What are your business goals for 2017?
I am currently working with a publisher to write a DIY book on projects to build from wood pallets, called Wood Pallet Wonders, so that is really pushing me to set goals in different areas. I would like to expand my product line to include more items like those in my book, build up my blog more with tutorials and projects, and eventually leave my full-time job to pursue Infinite Abyss as more than a hobby.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’m going to tie this question in with the best learning experience I have had. Back in August I was chosen from thousands of applicants around the world to join 35 others attending Etsy Open Call in NYC. We were able to pitch our lines to retailers both big and small and it was literally the opportunity of a lifetime. I got to speak with so many talented people from companies such as Macy’s and HGTV that had great advice and critiques, and for the first time I really felt like I could turn my side hustle into a full-time business. The Etsy team taught me valuable information about wholesale and marketing and it was just a ton of great information to take back home with me.
Tell me the greatest/favorite review/testimonial you’ve received?
I actually just got a review a few days ago that really touched me. A woman reached out to me for a custom order tray that had built-in handles and I was SO pleased with how it turned out; I couldn’t wait for her to get it!
She left me a review with this: “I wanted a mountain tray and I actually ordered it from another company. Big mistake! It just wasn’t what I was looking for so I returned it. I found Infinite Abyss and I loved their trays but I had one request, for it to have handles. Samantha was awesome and said she could do it and the tray turned out amazing! It was exactly what I was looking for. If you’re looking to buy a mountain tray I highly recommend Infinite Abyss! Amazing customer service and amazing work! Thank you!”
What is the best way to build a relationship with your clientele?
I think the best way to build a relationship with the clientele is to just be real with them. Customer service is often difficult but I try to convey the image that I am a one-woman operation, and every single item is made by hand when ordered.
Sometimes I am running behind when I’m swamped with orders but I just shoot out an email and my customers always understand. If it takes an extra long time to get an order out, I send them a coupon or another small item. I love to feature my customer and stockist photos on social media to show them that I appreciate the time they took to style and post an image with one of my products.
How active are you on social media? Do you spread yourself around or stick to one or two mediums?
At first I thought it was important to get myself out there across everything – the more the better. I quickly realized that no matter how hard I try, I just hate Twitter, and Facebook is very frustrating to me. Personally, I love Instagram, and being visual is a great way to promote my products since they can be styled so many different ways. I have found that to be the one outlet I concentrate most on, but am working on Pinterest and my email list next. I am trying to get better at blogging because I know that is important as well, but it has been a slow process.
If you could go back and make your start a little easier, what is one thing you would have changed?
I don’t think I would really change anything. As cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason and the choices I made up until now have given me some amazing opportunities. If I did something differently, I may not have traveled to Etsy Open Call last year. And I definitely might not be writing a book, so I am glad things played out how they did.
Any other advice, or stories to share?
Don’t give up! Starting a business is hard work, whether you use Esty, Shopify or something else, and there will be a point where you want to throw in the towel. Trust me, I’ve been there. In the end, there is no greater feeling of self-satisfaction than when you get your first client or make your first sale, knowing you worked hard for that.
Shopify Store: www.infiniteabysshandmade.com
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission at not cost to you. In fact, if you use the links, you are directly supporting the creation of awesome content for the future. So thanks!
Saving is something we’re told to do, but find the process actually really hard. Starting a savings plan that works for you might seem impossible, but I’m here to show you a couple of tips to help get you started.
Saving money is something I’ve struggled with in the past. But I wanted to share with you what has really worked for me, and hope you’ll find it works for you too.
There are so many different ways to save these days. I’ve included a couple of infographics of different plans you could try, but saving money is only saving until you spend it. If you get through week one, or week twenty of your plan, you have to count each week as a success. But here’s the thing: you’re going to have to find some self discipline. These tips will only help you, if you stick to it, and don’t borrow from the savings at the first sign of trouble. For me, sticking my new savings plan has been relatively easy (though it hasn’t been in the past.)
Saving has been easy because I recently purchased an incredibly inexpensive plane ticket to Europe in fall of 2017. Upon that purchase, I knew that if I didn’t start saving now, I wouldn’t be able to afford my trip! But I had some major goals for 2017, and I knew I had to make everything work.
Yes, as of writing this post, we are only 4 months into 2017, but it’s a good time to check in, right?
Apps for Saving
First, I set up an account at Acorns, where I stash away $5 bucks every week. It earns interest (potentially) and if nothing else, it’s a set it and forget it. Acorns can also roll up your change on your purchases (like putting away little acorns) and invest that as well. If you sign up through my link, you can open your account with $5 for FREE!
Before you know it, you’ve stashed $50 bucks away for the month! And I’ll bet you didn’t miss it! (You can also use something like Digit.co or Stash, or Robinhood.) Currently saved:
Stash the Cash
I don’t go shopping much these days; usually once a week. While I’m at the store, I pull out an additional $10-20 dollars, and stash that somewhere in my house. (Check out this really cool way to keep your dollars stashed.) Currently saved: $250.00
My day job is one where I get paid once a month. Some people hear that and think, “Oh hell no!” but for me, it’s a really good lesson in long term budgeting. I have to make my money stretch. But part of that is upon getting paid, immediately paying myself. It goes like this: Me, rent, electricity, phone, dog, internet, food, other bills. Those are the essentials, and anything left over is my play money for the month. But, if you get paid weekly or bi-weekly, chances are you also have the opportunity to work overtime. Anything you make, in addition to your regular paycheck should go straight into your savings accounts.
I even set up a second savings account that I can transfer money into, but never have to look at. Mine is through my main bank. Once a week or so, I log in and decide that I can probably put $10 bucks in to savings. You can even make automatic transfers. Ally Bank might be a good option for you if you’d like to set an account and forget it. Currently saved: $565.00
And of course, I started a second job/business: Millennial Life Skills Coaching. Through this, I pay myself, and my debts. Having a side hustle is an excellent way to save money. If you can live on your first income, then your side hustle income can go straight to your savings account. (#protip: Sign up to access the Millennial Life Skills Vault and access free resources to help you start a side hustle today!) Currently saved: $150.00
Filing your taxes is simple (usually) and can be incredibly lucrative if you keep your receipts, or have a diagnosis for Celiac Disease (which I don’t. Boo!) because you can add that money to your savings. No, I am not a financial planner or professional tax person so make sure you get some real advice and real research before filing. But I recommend (if your budget allows) to save 10% for yourself, 60% to savings, and the rest to any debts you could pay down. Those could be student loans, car payments, or to the principal of your mortgage. Currently saved: $400.00
With theses little pieces, I’ve been able to save over $1000, even though I moved recently, and doubled my rent. When I think back to how easy it was to start putting away a couple of dollars at a time, I wonder why I didn’t start sooner! It never felt like I was stealing from my future happiness or excitement. There are literally thousands of more ways to save but these are a really good place to start if you’re just figuring it out.
Sign up for the Millennial Life Skills Vault and get a free cheat sheet to help you start saving today. Plus, get access to information about how to start a side hustle, start a blog, and how to earn more money at your current job.
Did you start a savings plan? Do you need help deciding where to start?
Why is my job search taking so long?
You’ve been putting out applications left and right. You’re not getting callbacks. Or you are, but it’s for positions you don’t want, or are over-qualified for. Why is your job search taking so long? There are a multitude of reasons this could be. You could be in a highly competitive city or field. Your city’s economy could just be very slow at the moment. Maybe you think you’re applying to a lot of jobs, but once or twice a week isn’t enough.
I remember every period I spend job searching. Especially in the beginning of my career, I would often go 4-5 months in between jobs. My mom and my friends (and my poor poor credit card) floated my living expenses while I job searched. It was hard. I either wasn’t finding the job I wanted, or was unqualified for the ones that were available. If I could find a potential listing, it was a temp job, or the market was too competitive for me to stick out.
Eventually I found a job. I took it out of necessity, not want. I worked it as long as I could until I was able to pay off some debt and start planning for my future employment change. Some of the best advice given to me was, “It is always easier to get hired if you already have a job. It shows immediately that you are employable and valuable enough to keep on payroll.”
If your job search is lagging, I suggest you do a self audit, and check the following:
Have a professional look at your resume.
If your issue is that you’re applying to jobs, but not even getting an interview, you need to check your resume, or redo it completely. In the Millennial Life Skills Vault, I have a free checklist to help you identify the 9 things you need to make sure your resume has.
But if you’ve updated it, and you’ve had others look at it and it’s still not getting you any interviews, then it might be time to check in with a professional for either an audit or a complete re-write.
Resumes serve exactly one purpose: to get you the interview. There is just no way you can completely showcase all of your amazing skills, experience, talents, and personality on one or two pieces of paper. But professional resume creators know how to highlight the most important skills, experience, and make your personality shine through so the reader is intrigued enough to talk with you in person.
Your day job should be applying for jobs, or building a marketable skill set.
If you’re currently unemployed, stressed about finding a job, then you need to make finding a job your job. But there are a lot of ways to do this; it’s not all sitting in front of a computer filling out application after tedious application.
The best way to build your skill set and network is through volunteering. Once you’ve built a rapport, you can ask those people if they can help you find a job, or drop your name to one of acquaintances.
There are a few marketable skills that will probably be useful in most jobs you’ll ever have. They are: sales, customer service, internet marketing, and programming/coding. If you’re not job searching, you should be doing everything you can to develop those skills.
The side gig is part of building your skills. If you’ve successively figured out how to sale, or market on the internet, or code, a side hustle will be easy to get started. Depending on your hustle, and your investment, you can create the opportunity to float your own income while you job search. If you’ve actually earned a livable wage from the income, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be included on your resume.
We are quickly moving into a gig economy. What that means for you is you have the opportunity to create for yourself an income that is entirely reliant on your ability to hustle. You’re usually an independent contractor, providing individual services for individual pay rates. You set your own hours, and your business either comes from word of mouth, organized companies, or companies that allows clients to find you (like rover.com.)
Job search challenge
Job searching is a life skill. It is not something you just wake up and know how to do. If you’re lucky, you had a lot of supportive adults in your life or school who taught you the basics of filling out a resume, an application, and how to act and dress on an interview.
But not all of us did.
Classes get cut.
Parents are too busy, or not around. Or worse, parents did all the work for you instead of teaching you how.
Or maybe it’s just been a while and you need a refresher.
If you want to take a more hands on approach, get in depth about your job search and really build some momentum in your job search, consider signing up for my Job Search Challenge.
Everyday for six days, we’re going in-depth on a topic related to the job search. Resumes, applications, where to find jobs, interviews, and more. At the end of this challenge you will be empowered to confidently reach out to employers and explain why you are the best case scenario.
The Job Search Challenge also allows you access to the Millennial Life Skills Vault which has a resource library. it includes information about resumes, interview tips, side hustles, and so much more related to supporting your career. This challenge will help you get ahead in your job search experience and develop an incredibly important life skill.
Now I want to know: What do you think is the hardest part about job searching?