As a student, an extra source of income is a blessing, and as an art student, a means of getting your name out into the world is also just that. So here is a clear and concise way of achieving both of these. Opening up an online shop can be relatively low-cost, easy to maintain, look impressive on CVs and for employers, and it will help put some extra money in your pocket. For those of you who imagine this to be a daunting task, I can certainly understand, but let me assure you, with this guide, you can have a beautiful and professional online shop ready to go in under two hours.
1. Register and Sign-Up
To begin with we need to get set up on two websites- BigCartel, and, if you would like your own website address GoDaddy.
BigCartel is the platform on which you will sell your products, it allows for a wide range of themes, customizations, is easiest to use, and also the cheapest. I recommend choosing the Platinum plan, this allows for you to sell a maximum of 25 products, and gives you all of the customization options that BigCartel offers.
It also allows you to use your own domain name; this means you can have www.myonlineshopname.com as apposed to www.myonlineshopname.bigcartel.com. If you want to save £7 a month, then there’s also a free option, but you can only have 5 products at a time, and customization options are extremely limited.
As mentioned, you will also need to make a GoDaddy account if you wish to use your own domain name. It will make your site look much more professional and gives you a full identity. A domain name can normally be purchased for around £7-£9 a year.
Lastly, you’ll also need a Paypal account, this will allow you to accept payments and get cash in your bank. Sign up for Paypal is free, but they do charge a measly 5% on all transactions for the privilege of using their service.
2. Set up
BigCartel is about as user-friendly as they come, but despite that, it doesn’t skimp on features, nor does it charge you extortionate prices like its competitors do. Setting up your online shop and personalising it to your tastes is incredibly straightforward, with an easy, ‘insert logo here’, ‘type name here’ layout.
Make sure you have a high-res logo ready to upload, and then pick a theme from the wide range of free or paid options available to you. You then need to link your Paypal account, which is as simple as following the instructions on screen.
BigCartel has a handy checklist on the homepage of the use dashboard, with quick links to all the things you need to look at before making your website live.
3. Populate Your Shop
With the skeleton of your site now up-and-running; you now need to populate your site with products. If you selected the Platinum plan (or higher), you’re able to add multiple photos to your products; you can also add different variations (i.e. different colour T Shirt) as well. You’re unable to do this in the Basic, free version of BigCartel. Add a description, name your price, and add shipping information, click save and your product is now live on your site.
Fill your site with as many products as possible, the more populated a site is the more professional and complete it will look. Having two or three products doesn’t look as ‘ready’ and leaves potential customers thinking that the site isn’t finished yet.
Now that your shop has items on it that are ready to buy, it’s the best time to customize and tweak your site to specification. BigCartel gives you a wide range of options to make your site your own, from typefaces, font colour, background colour, pages, social media icons, and many more.
At this point you may wish to change your branding and theme to accommodate how your products look on the pages.
As you’ve been building your website, anybody has been able to view it and buy your products, the only thing is that nobody knows it exists yet. This is where social media and word-of-mouth are invaluable keys to the success of your site. If you have a solid following already, then great, share, share and share again. Pass it onto your friends, get them to share, and before you know it you’ll have your first customer.
As mentioned, I strongly recommend you purchase a domain name and link it to your online shop, doing this enforces your brand and makes you look a lot more professional, and for only £8 a year, you really would be mad not to.
That being said, linking the two, also known as ‘mapping’ can be a bit techy, but I’ll talk you through the steps to have your domain up and running in no time.
Head over to GoDaddy and search for your desired domain name. Find the domain name you would like, add to cart, and buy it before somebody else does. Then head over to this handy page for step-by-step instructions.