Are you selling digital products or services online?
Being an entrepreneur and having started a few online businesses with experience of having a brick and mortar shop, I’ve had quite a number of people who came to me for entrepreneurial/online business resources and tips. So I thought it might be a good idea to dedicate this blog for people on the same path as me.
I have launched my bag and lifestyle product label GLUSH/ a few years ago and am interested in creating a few other businesses to generate income without the need of my presence, allowing me to live a life that I want – to explore the world. I am not any successful business owner (yet) but I would like to use this blog as a sharing platform of my process and growth, while providing some useful tools I’ve tried, and discoveries for all those of you who are going towards the same goal – to be able to afford and free up time for some quality travels.
The tools below are divided into two parts:
- general online business resources
- for businesses selling online services or e-products
General Online Business Resources
1. Template Monster – as the name suggests, this website is the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs or people who needs a ready-made web template for their online business. They provide templates for Wordpress Themes, Website Templates, Magento Themes, Joomla Templates, PrestaShop Themes, WooCommerce Themes, Website Builder, OpenCart Templates, Drupal Templates, Shopify Themes and more.
2. Bluehost – this is the most common hosting platform for a number of common websites like WordPress, WooCommerce, and others. I am personally using their services and am very happy with their support. If you are a newbie to building your website, I would suggest to start your hosting here. Plans starts from US$3.95/month.
3. Shopify – I have started my first ever e-commerce site with Shopify and I am still going to stick with it after 5 years. They provide the best customer support (turn around time is 3 mins via chat), and UX friendly online store layouts. Plans starts from US$9/month.
Online Payment Solutions
1. Stripe – a convenient online payment tool for online stores. With the flat-rate service charge for their basic plan (2.9%+30¢), it is probably their 2-day payout policy and the acceptance of Apple Pay that lead to its growth of popularity. It is compatible with various popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, Big Cartel, BigCommerce, Plasso, and more. I am happily using it as a first priority gateway my online store, supported by PayPal as a secondary, just because some people prefer to use their own PayPal credits for payments.
2. PayPal – another convenient online payment gateway. Their service charges are basically the same as Stripe (2.9%+30¢), but you can request a volume discount if you have large or frequent transactions. Micropayments below US$10 have a different set of pricing, starting from US$2/transaction. One thing I really liked about PayPal is their PayPal Here app and device which you can use when you are selling in a pop-up shop situation. You get a portable chip card reader or a mobile device (which you can plug into your smartphone), sync it with the app and get paid by accepting credit cards right there and then. Using these devices might mean higher service charges (from 3.9%), but it is the convenience you buy.
1. 99designs – it is a one-stop shop for all kinds of graphic designs. From logo, identity, advertising, web, apps, to books… you name it! Once you submit your request, various designers from all around the world will send you proposals and compete over your project within 7 days. You will get to choose the best design you like and get it done all within a few days. You can get your money back if you don’t get any designs you like.
1. Trello – my personal favourite tool for keeping all my work info and progress while sharing with clients instantly, without the redundant 1-line emails. Completely free to use unless you have giant files (10 megabyte) to upload. Paid plans starts from US$5/month.
Selling e-products or services?
If you are designing things for brands and others, like myself, you might find the followings useful. Some platforms are great for you to sell your designs or promote yourself.
2. FetchApp – an app that allows you to sell and digitally deliver downloadable goods such as e-books and music. It can integrate with popular payment systems like Shopify, WordPress, Bigcommerce, Goodsie, and PayPal. It automates delivery for customers with no need to install or download anything. Free plans are available, while paid plan prices are based on your storage space needed.
3. Easy Digital Downloads – basically very similar to FetchApp, but it supports WordPress sites with an app integration. Pricing is free, but you will need an account at Stripe to process payments. You can also build your customised add-ons with their starter package, which covers more comprehensive integrations such as Mailchimp.
3. Viyet – If you are an interior designer, you should watch this space. It is the design aficionado’s destination to buy and sell timeless high-quality designers’ furniture and accessories. You can sell your clients’ existing furniture through this site and start each project fresh. They take care of everything from photography to pick up and delivery, giving you more time to focus on designing. Or, sell your own inventory and realize a quick return.
Promotion Tools & Platforms
1. Reddit – Find relevant subreddits to your niche and share your content or products with them. But be mindful that Reddit doesn’t like self promotion, so you don’t want to just throw links to your site up without becoming a member of the community or earn enough karma points first. Make sure to look at their guidelines for what they allow to be posted. Some subreddits will only let you submit text, others will let links but no personal blog posts, and so on. Follow the rules and you won’t get banned.
2. SumoMe – a WordPress plugin that offers a plethora of tools to help you grow your email list. There are millions of ways to ask your website visitors for their email address in return for your irresistible offer. It can be pop ups on the top of the page, the side of the page, pop-ups that slide in, pop-ups that wave at you etc. But don’t have all of them at the same time, as it might affect your page loading time and SEO. You can try their free version and test which function gives you the best performance first (although their logos will be everywhere).
3. HARO – it is the abbreviation for “help a reporter out”. Join their mailing list to get access to the topics that international journalists, from independent online magazines to Times and Forbes, are digging into. They submit their needs, and subscribers like us will get 3 emails a day for the topics we are interested in. You can provide them with the information that they need and earn yourself a chance to appear on international press. I have tried it multiple times – you will have to keep an eye out for those emails as they often come in with various topics that might not be relevant to your business. But if you spot something, you have to act fast, as their deadlines are often set to a daily basis (note the time difference as well).
All the information here was compiled with blood and sweat, and will be updated whenever I discover new awesome tools. I hope you find them useful. Shoot me an email or a comment below the post if you have any requests or problems encountered – I am more than happy to be your support and research on useful tools to suit your need.
Keep rocking creativepreneurs! Work smart, travel often!