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How To Sell Online

Lesson 4 of 6

Building The Part Of Your Online Store

Megan Auman

How To Sell Online

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

4. Building The Part Of Your Online Store

Lesson Info

Building The Part Of Your Online Store

Hello and welcome back to how to sell online. In this lesson. We're gonna be talking about building the parts of your online store. So all of those elements that come together to make your online store able and ready to sell. So before we dive in, I just want to talk about something that I think is really important to understand, which is that your website is a constantly evolving project. This could be taken as a bad thing, right? Your website is never done, it's always going to require work. You're always going to have to change and update and do things and that could be a bad thing. But honestly it's actually a good thing because what that means is that your website doesn't have to be perfect in order for you to launch it to start selling things to start making money from it. You can do the best that you can do right now and then work on evolving and improving over time. So don't let this idea that you have a lot of work to do because as we go through this lesson, you're probably go...

nna realize I have a lot of work to do. So don't let that idea scare you. Just know that you can put your website out in whatever state it's currently in and evolve it over time and that's a good thing. So before we dive into the elements of your online store, I want to talk about D I. Y versus hiring help. So the advantage of using a platform like Shopify or squarespace or any other e commerce e commerce platform is that the heavy lifting is done for you, right? The really techie stuff, you know, making sure it talks to a payment processor setting up the back end. All of those things are done for you. So you don't have to worry about them, which is great. But that doesn't mean there isn't still work that has to go into your website, you've got to write copy, you've got to take images, perhaps film video, there's all kinds of things that you need for your website and it's really easy to get overwhelmed. So I just want to remind you as we talk about these different elements that you can either D. I. Y. Then you can certainly do them yourself. That's something that I do on the bulk of my website. A lot of the artists and makers and small business owners that I work with do most of it themselves. But you can also hire help. You do not have to do this all yourself. If product photography is not your skill set. If copyrighting is not your skill set, you can always hire help. There are lots and lots of places to look for. Help. Shopify actually has a platform called Shopify experts. So if you're building a Shopify store and you're like, oh, I need a copywriter, I need a product, photographer. Whatever it is, you can go and search there. You could ask around in your local network, you can google things like squarespace web design and if you have employees, you can certainly task them to do some of the stuff. You certainly don't have to do all of the elements of your website yourself, especially if you're feeling overwhelmed, you've got a lot going on in your business. So just know that these elements are essential and you certainly can do them yourself, but you don't have to. I also want to remind you that you can use the tools that you already have to build your online store. There was a time where you needed a lot to build a website, right? But now we have the technology we need in our pockets, not just to build the site, but to take your product photography to take your videos. Um, if you're trying to build a website on like a 10 year old computer, you're probably gonna get frustrated. But you can do the same things on a newer phone, on a newer tablet. Actually, quickly, more quickly and easier than trying to do something on some outdated technology. So if you're feeling overwhelmed, you can start with the tools that you already have. Our phones take great product images. Now, they're excellent for video. So don't feel like you have to go out and invest in a lot of equipment to build your website. The beauty of these platforms and the ever evolving technology we have are that you can really do it very quickly and easily with the tools you already have. All right, So let's talk about some key elements of your online store, things that are going to be essential, even if you don't have them all at once, you don't need them all to launch. But these are the things that you want to build towards. You need your home page, your about page, a contact page, your category pages, which is where all or some of your products live. You're product pages, shipping returns and other frequently asked questions, page reviews or testimonials. We'll talk about these. Don't stress if you don't have them yet and then a privacy policy. So your homepage is what sets the tone for your brand. It gives a glimpse into the business and it tells customers where to explore next. Now, a little caveat here, not everyone enters your website from your home page. Your homepage. The easiest way to think about it is it's the front door to your website, but some people don't enter through the front door. They enter through the back door, they climb in through a side window because they saw something that was pinned to Pinterest. Right? Not everyone is going to land on your homepage, but chances are good that a lot of your traffic is going to land on your home page. And since it is your front door, it's your entryway. It really does set the tone for your brand. So you want to make sure. But it sets that tone that it aesthetically matches what we're doing, that. It tells people immediately who you are, what you're selling, what they're doing there. And it also helps them figure out where to go next. Right? If you walk into the door into the entryway and the design of the space tells you, oh, you should go into the living room or you should walk up the stairs, whatever it is, so your homepage is going to serve that function. So a couple of examples to show you this is Alana Whelan, who is one of my members and artists and profit makers and she has this really just beautiful, evocative brand. And you see that immediately on on her homepage, right? You get what the brand is about. You see the navigation as you scroll down, you can shop by collection. So it's very clear sort of what the brand vibe, what the mood is, what she's selling and what you should do next. So Prana is another one of my members and the same thing. She's got this very clear vibe and you can immediately see that in her homepage and as you scroll down, you get to know soul. She's got this beautiful video where she talks about her and her work. She gives a little bit of her story right there. On the home page. Yes, you are going to have an about page that does this. But I love putting a little snippet of of your story, your brand, the people behind the business on the homepage as well, because again, or welcoming people were bringing them into the business with our homepage. All right after you've got your homepage, you've got your about page and this goes even further to create connection and show customers that you're a legitimate business run by humans. This is what I talked about in a previous lesson where it's so important for building trust that your about page shows there are humans behind your business because customers want to support small. They want to support local businesses. That's so important to them. But they need to know that that's actually what you are, that there's a person that they're going to get their products and your about page really lets you show that. So this is a nice example from Prima Studios Patricia vargas, where you get a glimpse into her. If you go check out her about page, it goes more into not just her but her process. So you really get a good sense of who she is and what her work is about. And for me, if you are a small business with 123 even a small team of employees, you need to have pictures of yourself on your about page. This is a non negotiable for me because we are visual humans. We don't just just create connection by reading text. We create connection by looking at other people's faces. Right? And so it's really important that you've got your face or your employees faces, or the people that run your brand or your business. You've got to have somebody space on your about page. That one is a non negotiable for me. Your about page is also perfect for clearing up any confusion. So this is Briggs Sure. She has an amazing name, right? Breaks or breaks or ceramics is her business. But if you didn't know, you might think that Briggs sure was a place right? You might think Briggs Sure, ceramics is made in brick. Sure. Where the heck is that? So she actually uses her about page to clear up that customer misconception to show a little bit about her, her personality, her sense of humor. And so this is just a really great way to use the about page to create connection. All right, after your about page, you are going to want to make sure that you have a contact page. Now, it is also helpful to put your contact information at the bottom of your website in the footer so that it exists on all your web pages. But it's also helpful to have a specific page because it builds trust and gives customers away to ask questions. Now, there are lots of other ways you can have customers ask questions. You can install apps that let you have chat or let people instantly email you. And those are really great things to play around with as well. But somewhere in your navigation on somewhere on your website, you should have a contact page so that customers know how to find you. It doesn't have to be complicated. It can simply be a form that they fill out. It might just be your email address. I love in this example that Alana actually answers a question that gets asked a lot about charity donations. So you can even use your contact page is like a mini frequently asked questions if you need to. But the idea is that if people have questions they can get a hold of you. And if you are a local bricks and mortar business, please please please please please put your address on your contact page also in your footer. Put it everywhere you can because chances are if someone is going to your website because they know you have a store, they're gonna want information like where you're located and when you're open. So if you have an in person business make sure you share that information on your contact page as well. Alright so now we're getting into the meat of your online store which is actually how people navigate and find and get information on the things that you're selling. And the first thing we want to look at our category pages. So category pages are what allow customers to browse different groupings of products at a glance. This could be by category, it could be by collection. The beauty of the platform. Like Shopify is that it lets you do any and all of those options. But the idea is that people have a page where they can scroll through multiple products. Like I said in Shopify, a product can appear in an unlimited number of category pages. So it's really essential that you're giving customers these different ways to browse and shop for your products. All right now, even more important than category pages are your product pages. You're product pages are what give customers all the information they need, visually written and possibly video to purchase a specific product because if they're not on the product page, they're not going to make a purchase. So at some point we have to move them from all of the stuff that, you know, the homepage, the category pages and get them on a product page where they can add something to cart and they can make a purchase. So the key elements of your product page. Now, this is going to be a little bit different for everyone. But ultimately what you're going to have our product images, a written description and potentially video, video is really growing in terms of its use on product pages. I mean, we know it's growing on all of the internet, let's be real, but it's really growing in terms of its use on product pages because people want to replicate that in person shopping experience and video does that so much better than still photography alone. Now don't get overwhelmed. You don't have to start with the video, but it is something to think about, especially if you're struggling with how to do still photos of the products that you're selling. Video can be a great way to add that in. So your product images should show use scale detail, brand personality and emotion. Yes, that is a lot. Your product images have to do some heavy lifting. And so honestly, this is one of the things that I encourage anyone who's selling physical products. The bulk of your time should be spent on creating product images. They are way more important than copyrighting because let's face it, people don't really read very well on the Internet, but that's especially true when they're shopping. Yes, there are those exceptions. There are people who read all the product description in detail, but there are a lot more people than don't that don't. So the more you can give this information in your product images, the better and more likely it is that customers are going to make a purchase. So a couple of things here, when I say that you should show scale, I don't mean that you should do like the old school Ebay, put a coin in there to show scale because that's definitely not going to enhance your brand. Your personality create emotion. So you want to think about how you can show scale without actually doing like the literal scale thing. So a couple of examples here, I love this image from Alana Whelan's website where she's showing scale by putting in both a human hand and an object that we recognize and understand the scale of right? That's also showing use. So most people can envision the size of a lighter and then you can put those candles in context with that and see, oh right there, candles you like them. She's also got kind of that moody brand vibe going on. So she's communicating a lot Just with this one image. This is Prima Studio and I love Patricia's images because they are this is actually a digital image. She sells prints, they are printed on demand. So she designs them on her ipad. They don't physically exist until someone orders them. But she does these beautiful composite images that show when we're talking about use, right? They show use, they show scale, they show mood, they show personality. It's such a compelling product image. And I want to show you guys these things too, because it's important to realize that this is the caliber you're competing with. You know, you have to have great images in order to really effectively sell online. But again, they're doable. This is something that Patricia does is a digital composite. You can shoot things with your smartphone. So I want you to be inspired by these but don't be scared is totally doable. Uh this is another great example from Sapporo know where she is really showing off like the light catching effects of her Prisma and you really see what's going on there and then in some of the images because she's showing them in the room, you also get that sense of scale. And here's one for my website just to show you the kind of range, right? This is very much going for a mood. These are simple stacking rings. They aren't really that exciting off the body, but boom, I went for it. I want for the mood. And so have fun with your product Images. To this isn't something it has to be boring. This can be part of your creative process and again, just remember you can always outsource this to you can hire help. You can have someone else in your company do this for you. You don't have to do this all yourself. But product images are really key for communicating on your website. Your product descriptions are also important, not quite as important as your product images, but still important because there are people who will read them and so you need to communicate things like materials size, other pertinent product info. So depending on your product, there may be things that you need to share and then shipped times. Even if you have shipped times on a frequently asked questions page or an information page, I recommend putting shipping times in with every product on every product page because thanks to the age of certain big box retailer, ah we all want to know how fast we're going to get things. It's fine if you can't do it that fast, but customers just want to know what they can expect. And so it's really important to have shipped times in your product descriptions. So you can see here, this is a good example from Briggs Shore website. She does a really nice job of adding in some personality to her product descriptions will also giving the key information and you can see on my website, I've got things like the length when it shifts how it comes. So it comes in a gift box tied with a ribbon, perfect for gifting. Uh so things like that so that people know what they're getting when they place an order. I do recommend. If you look at a lot of the examples, you will see that the price and the add to cart button appear above the text. And I do recommend that for websites, for people who don't like to read or scroll, it is amazing that if you don't give people visual cues, they will not realize that something is for sale and so you want that price and you want that buy now button right at the top, so that if they see it and they don't read, they can just boom, add to cart. So that's really essential for helping with conversion, helping people actually make a purchase on your website. And then, like I said, you can also use video. So video can be a way to showcase product attributes that are hard to communicate through still photos or descriptions. There are some things that just come across better in a video. So this is a good example from Seoul perennials website where her pieces hang, they move, they reflect the light and you are going to get that 1000 times more clearly in a video than you will from a still image. So she utilizes a lot of video on her website to demonstrate that. But even if your products aren't something that naturally moves video can still communicate a lot. So this is a ratty Devonshire and she actually create these videos after taking a course that I have called the 30 day video boost, which challenges you to make videos for your product pages. And this is just a simple T tail and her video is just her unwrapping and it just comes with a simple band and it shows unwrapping and it's very simple, but it gives the customer a little bit more information about the experience of the product. All right. So obviously there's a lot that goes on in product pages and that's probably gonna be the bulk of your time. But there are other things that you need to add to your website as well. So you want a page for shipping returns and other frequently asked questions. You want to give customers the information that they need to confidently make a purchase. You certainly want shipping times, You want your return information, but you also want to think about anything that anyone has ever emailed dems. You asked you about a website. Those should absolutely be added to your frequently asked questions. So don't worry if you're like us are short to begin with because you can always come back and add questions later. So you can see on Prima Studios she has shipping, she decides guides lost packages as that unfortunately is a part of e commerce life returns and exchanges wholesale all of that information on her website. Same thing with Souls. You can see she has shipping returns and exchanges. You get to decide what those policies are. You as the business owner can set your return policy, but you want to very clearly spell it out so that people know when they're looking at your website what they're getting into. All right. So then the next piece, our reviews or testimonials, these are things that create trust and social proof, but they need to be used strategically. So I think one of the biggest mistakes that a lot of new e commerce brands are people who are new to selling online make is that they install plug in on their site that shows reviews for every single product, even though most of those products don't have sales and don't have any reviews and make sure website look really inactive. So when you're just starting out or if you don't have a lot of sales or you have a lot of one of a kind products, you can actually just do a page or part of your website with reviews or testimonials that customers can read. This is especially great if you're saying bricks and mortar store that's transitioning to online and you have testimonials or reviews from existing customers, you can put those on your website. So you can see here on Alana Wieland's website, she just does a roundup of customer reviews, things that people have emailed to her about her products on my website. I use an app called Judge Me, It's Judge dot me through the Shopify app store. And this actually automates the process of reviews. So a certain amount of time after a customer places an order, it sends an email and it encourages them to go back and just leave a quick review and then they automatically populate on my website. So I don't have this installed on every product because a lot of my products are one of a kind, but I have this installed on the home page of my website. So people who are browsing and looking can get that sense, get that trust, get that confidence. All right. And then a little detail. But important is to have a privacy policy. This just helps keep you compliant. It tells customers that their data is safe as more and more companies unfortunately have data breaches. It's making consumers more and more concerned about what's happening with their data. And is it safe? And so you want to just have a privacy policy. Websites like Shopify have a place where you can auto generate them. If you don't have that on your website, you can certainly google there are templates that you can purchase but you do want to have some kind of privacy policy on their just so that people know what's going on with their data, what information you collect and how they can have their data scrubbed if they don't want it there anymore. It's one of those little things that just adds that extra element of trust that's really important to consumers right now. So I know this is a lot and I just want to remind you again to improve your website and make changes over time. You don't have to do this all at once. You can work on it kind of bird by bird style. Right bye bye bye. Work on building up your website. So because there's a lot that we just covered in this lesson, I'm gonna give you two action steps. So the first one is that I actually want you to start by creating your first product page if you don't have anything for sale yet on your website. This is where you can start because even though all of this other stuff we talked about is important. You can't make money if you don't have things for sale. So the best thing to do is set up a product page, get that going, take your images, get out your smartphone, take some pictures, put it up there, get going and make something for sale so that your website can start generating revenue. But then your second action step is to actually take everything. We just talked about and break it down and give yourself a list, right? Make a list of all the pieces you need to build for your online store. Go back and think about all the things we talked about and then create a plan with deadlines to complete them. Maybe it's your work, maybe you're outsourcing. But the idea is that you want to have a plan here so that you can step forward and not be overwhelmed with everything that you have to do in your online store. So that's it for this lesson. In the next lesson. We're gonna come back and talk about a big piece that I know trips people up when it comes to selling online and that's shipping and fulfillment. So I'll see you in the next lesson.

Class Description

The global pandemic accelerated the transformation to e-commerce by at least 3-5 years. In other words, if you haven’t been selling your products or services online you were likely hit hard by the lockdown. Maybe you scrambled to launch your online store and you are struggling with ad hoc solutions that aren’t really working for you or your customers.

In this class, you will learn how to get your online store up and running using the tools and technology you already have at your disposal. Megan will cover strategies to help your customers go from passive browsing to excitedly purchase your products.

This class includes:

  • Choosing your platform
  • How to handle shipping fulfillment and inventory
  • The essential elements every eCommerce website needs
  • How to improve sales conversion


Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith, educator, and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for great design and sustainable business. Her eponymous jewelry line is sold in stores across the US and online. Her designs have been featured in Design Sponge, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, and more. In 2009, Megan founded Designing an MBA to help designers and makers develop their business skills. Since then, she has created a number of successful e-courses, including Marketing for Makers, Wholesale Academy, and Do/Teach. She is a frequent speaker on pricing, wholesale, and business thinking for creatives.

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