For so many of us as creatives, it’s your dream to put your work out there online, share it with the world and have people buy the product you’ve lovingly made with your amazing creativity. When someone does buy from you, it’s the best feeling in the world, so a lot of us either have an online store already or are dreaming of starting one!
Today, I’m giving you all the tips and tricks to start, build and launch your online store. Whether you’re starting from scratch, adding things to your store or launching new products, you’re in the right place - these strategies are going to help make your online store a success.
There are two goals behind launching your online store. You want to create an amazing brand experience for your customers, which will then help you make a living by doing what you love.
Sound like a plan? Then let’s get started!
Start with the branding of your website design itself. What does your online store actually look like? Use your branding elements to guide the visual design of your website and online store.
A big part of your branding is your brand name, as well as the social media handles and website domain that you use. When setting up your online store, make sure that you have an on-brand website domain that’s easy to remember, easy to spell and easy to type in - and that’s not going to accidentally send someone to a different website!
As well as the store itself, think about the other sales channels you might have that are connected to your online store. For example, you might also have your products available through Instagram Shopping, Facebook Shopping or Pinterest. Once you’ve identified these other ways that people can purchase or get to your product, make sure that these channels are branded using all your brand elements.
Create on-brand photos, mockups or graphics for each of your products that convey the overall vibe of your brand and share these on your social media, website, online store and any of the other sales channels you’ve identified.
Use these to catch people’s attention and show your product in action. If you’re selling pins, you might show it off on someone’s denim jacket. If you sell prints, you could take a photo of your print up on a gallery wall so that people can see what it would look like on display.
If you haven’t noticed, I am all about the experience - and a big part of that is the checkout experience. I don’t know about you, but if I have a really frustrating checkout experience that doesn’t work or I’m unsure if I’ve actually purchased anything or not, then I’m not likely to come back or recommend them to someone else! On the other hand, if I have an amazing checkout experience that was super easy and had the best follow-ups, then you can bet I’ll be telling everyone I know to go and buy that thing.
When you’re setting up your checkout experience, think about the experience of adding something to your cart:
Once someone has checked out, what happens afterwards? This could include:
Don’t forget about that follow-up experience, because it can make the whole checkout experience that much more magical.
Now that you’re thinking about the follow-up to your checkout experience, the next thing to do is brand your email marketing.
You might have a few types of emails going out to your customers:
These emails need to be on-brand so that when people receive them, they know it’s from you. Think about the design and copy of your email marketing and how you can brand this to create a great experience for your customers.
What do your products look like when they’re delivered to your customers? What is that unboxing experience like for them?
The packaging design is a big part of your online store, so decide what you want that experience to be and what the packaging design will look like.
If someone has an issue with your product, wants to send you a review or just wants to contact you in any way, you want to make that experience as easy and seamless as possible. Make it really simple for customers to get in contact with you and then make sure that they’re getting a great experience in those conversations.
Now that you know the elements of your online store that you want to brand, now it’s time to actually brand that experience.
There are two parts to this:
I’ve talked a lot about how you want your customers to feel and there’s a reason for that - it’s the number one way to provide your customers with an amazing brand experience. Think about the customer experience that you want to provide through your online store.
It can be helpful to think about both sides of this so that you can think about how to create and brand the experience that you want whilst avoiding the things that you don’t want.
This includes things like your colours, typography, imagery, patterns, photography and even your copy and tone of voice. Take all of those amazing elements that you have for your brand and apply them across the customer experience to brand your online store.
Think about the customer experience that you want to provide and then use your visual and copy elements to craft that experience.
Now that we’ve talked about what you need to brand for your online store and how to do that, let’s talk about how to launch it out into the world. It’s one thing to get it ready, but another thing to share it with the world and get people on board, so let’s make a plan to make that happen!
Work out when you want to launch your shop and create a timeline that works backwards from that. Your timeline will include things like when you want to start promoting, when you want to open your waitlist (if you have one) or when you want to promote discounts or giveaways.
Allow yourself at least a month before you launch so that you have ample time to generate hype, plan social media content, write emails and get everything ready so that you’re not overwhelmed as it’s happening.
There are 3 main parts to your promotional plan:
These can be free channels such as social media, email marketing, organic content or word of mouth, or paid channels to reach a broader audience, such as paid ads or paying influencers to promote your products. When creating your promotional plan, decide whether you are going to use free channels, paid channels or a mixture of both, as well as which specific channels you are going to use that are going to work for your budget, your audience and for you as a brand.
This may start off more sporadically as you tease things and then ramp up as you get closer to the launch of your store. During the launch itself, you may be posting every day or every other day. Plan your posting frequency around what’s going to be manageable for you leading up to and during that launch period.
Next, plan the actual content that you’re going to be sharing. It could be behind the scenes content, testimonials, sneak peeks of the finished products or user-generated content. Think about the types of content you’re going to be making and the topics you’re going to be talking about and create content and graphics around that.
Once you’ve created your promotional plan, schedule as much content as you can in advance. A launch can be pretty overwhelming at times - there are a lot of emotions, ups and downs, things to do and changes to make. The last thing you want is to be stressing about posting on Instagram whilst you’re in the middle of it all! Scheduling as much of your content as you can means that you’ll have more time to get on with your launch.
Before you start launching, start generating some hype. If you aren’t sure how, here are some ideas to get your hype-train started:
Last but not least - enjoy the launch! Make a plan and schedule ahead of time so that you can make things as stress-free as possible. Enjoy the process of the launch, celebrate every time someone buys from you and celebrate YOURSELF for those sales.
Use this time to gather and share user-generated content, testimonials and reviews from people who are ordering from you, sharing that they can’t wait to get their hands on your products or are talking about the amazing unboxing experience when their product is delivered. Celebrate them, say thank you and keep that stellar content to use the next time you launch, promote or update your sales page!
When you launch an online store, you’re putting your work out there into the world and that is incredible. Whether you sell one thing, a hundred things or a thousand things, know that your worth is not tied to your sales. Be proud of yourself and know that your creativity is valuable, amazing and wonderful no matter how many people buy it - it’s valuable just by you creating it and putting it out there.
Now you’ve got the steps to brand, launch and share the heck out of your online stores. I can’t wait to see your amazing products out in the world!
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2022 Brand Plan | A Creative’s Guide To Branding and Marketing Your Small Business in 2022