I think every web professional and freelance worker at some point realizes that there is more money to be made trough having your own online store for selling your digital goods, than it is in having to work with separate clients all the time.
We often find ourselves in tough life situations, because we had thought that one client might be all we need, and taking up more clients isn’t always possible – due to the incredible amounts of work we have to do. The best way to make sure we’re financially safe in the future, is by selling our own digital goods within our own online store.
Icons, templates, logos, WordPress accessories, among a lot of other things are just few of the products you could be selling inside of your digital goods store, and why shouldn’t you? It certainly saves you from having to do the same work all of the time.
You’re most likely aware of the many digital marketplaces online, like ThemeForest, where designers from all around the world come together, to sell their work and in exchange receive a portion of the profits, see that emphasis I just put there?
Having your own digital goods store takes away the need to pay someone for being a middleman, it’s much more effective and you’re going to make a lot more money, by managing all of the selling yourself.
What is Shopify
Shopify is an all-in-one digital eCommerce solution for both web professionals, and creative people alike. If you think you’ve got something that the world needs to see, chances are you won’t need to signup for any other service, other than Shopify.
It’s easy to build your first store, and takes only a couple of minutes of your time. In this article we’re going to take a look at how exactly we can create our digital goods online store, and how to make sure we’re selling our digital products the next day. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
You’re hosting your store with Shopify’s infrastructure, so there is no need to order additional hosting packages, or signup for new hosting services, everything is taken care off within the monthly price package that you’re going to signup for.
Opening a Shopify Digital Store as a Web Professional
It’s no surprise that a lot of designers, developers and other creative enthusiasts have signed up exactly for Shopify, their vast knowledge of eCommerce and feature rich platform comes integrated with everything you need.
To begin with, there is a 14-day trial that you’re entitled to, and you can signup right now. Think about it, that’s two weeks of testing, selling and optimizing. It will be more than enough to realize that Shopify has been the one platform you should’ve started using a long time ago.
It’s feature rich, enables you to install 3rd party addons (apps) to help you tailor everything to your own needs and specifications. There’s community forums available for on-going support and discussion, and it has been recognized as one of the nicest eCommerce platforms in the world.
What are the requirements?
The only requirement is that you’re willing to learn more about eCommerce selling, and that you’ve got some actual products to put up for sale. I do believe the first two weeks of your trial you’ll want to spend tinkering, and learning more about Shopify, and all that it has to offer.
Signing Up and Pricing
The signup process is extremely easy.
You can also avoid signing up for a trial account, and directly purchase a paid plan which will enable you to have all of the premium features at once, here is a small review of the shared features and their limits that come with each of the plans.
You can add unlimited number of products on each of the available plans, learn more on the official Shopify Pricing page.
Starting to Build Your Store
It takes a couple of minutes after signing up to be transferred to your account dashboard, after the initial signup you’re asked to enter some personal details like real name, and address, which are essential and necessary.
You need to make sure you’re checking the ‘Online Store’ check-box, as we’re building a digital goods store, one that people will be able to access only from their computers, mobile devices. (You’d be surprised to learn how many people mistake this step!)
Last check-box, again, make sure it’s digital goods!
Choosing a Theme
This is the first screen you’re going to see after signing up, and here you have the choice of choosing and installing a new theme, adding products to your newly built store, or setting up a custom domain name. We’re going to find a theme first.
The official Shopify themes directory is full of premium, and free templates to change the looks of your digital goods store. You can always style it yourself, if you feel confident enough, or have a web designer do it for you.
I chose the Kickstand theme, it simple, yet elegant. It’s meant for eBooks, but can be used for virtually anything, and it’s also flat – exactly what a web professional looking to sell his work needs.
Adding Your First Product
It’s very possible that you don’t have a product yet, but not to worry, as we can easily make a ‘fake product’ and still see how the whole website and the platform itself functions. After clicking the ‘Add Product’ button as shown in the snapshot above, you’ll be redirected to a new page where you’ve got to fill out the following forms,
- Product details
- Inventory & variants
- Search Engines
It’s all straightforward and you should have no issues whatsoever, its like publishing a new blog post, literally. I’ve added my own product to show you an example, and here is a snapshot of how the product page looks like after we fill out all of the necessary forms.
It all sounds wonderfully easy, but there are things like payment gateways that you need to take care of. You can learn all about the payment gateways that Shopify enables you to choose from the official payment gateway page, you can see which currencies / gateways are accepted within each country.
Another important thing to do is setup the Refund, Privacy and TOS Statements, without these you’re literally letting yourself be humiliated by your own customers. Make sure you thoroughly understand what you’re selling, and how you’re doing it. If you feel unsure, get a real lawyer to help you, it’s one of the best ways of staying out of trouble.
FetchApp for Digital Download Delivery
Now, in order for us to sell our digital products and make then downloadable after a user submits a payment, we will need to utilize Shopify Apps (more on those at the bottom of the post), more specifically – we will need to get FetchApp. What’s FetchApp?
FetchApp is the easiest way to sell digital goods such as music, videos, photos, e-books, PDF’s, or software online. It’s built with user and security in mind, and there is no need to install or configure anything separately, everything will be integrated within your Shopify store seamlessly.
We’ve got a demo of a store using FetchApp a little bit further down. Its pricing begins with a free plan that offers 1MB free storage, with unlimited bandwidth.
We have just learned how to build a digital online good store with Shopify, the first time is always the hardest, so pay close attention to what you’re doing and everything will be fine. I wouldn’t worry too much about the TOS policy, as you can find examples online and modify them according to your own needs.
But, what is next for us? What’s the next logical step to take after finishing our stores setup? I think it’s worth taking a look at other established online sellers, brands and businesses that are making the Shopify store work for them.
This store is a very simple landing page, populated by a lot of photos and good typography to get the message across. We’ve included this in the list to show you that simple store pages like this work, and there is no need to overdo something just because you think it might drive more sales.
It’s a custom built design, but you’ll notice that it’s very lightweight, and most of the emphasis has been put on the products themselves. The Shop & Authors sub-categories really go to show how versatile Shopify can be, and how easy it is to organize your products by their sections.
That’s how the product pages look like, totally relevant and with no extra bias anywhere on the page, straight to the products.
Great Shopify store built for products that only web professionals themselves can use. A Book Apart sells brief books for people who make websites. They’re showing off some of the Shopify functionality really nice, like for example – the ability to sell coupons, and integrate blog posts within the store itself. It takes away so much time from having to setup and install a new installation just to publish some blog posts.
This is the store I said that uses the FetchApp application to power their digital downloads.
Digest is using a single page styled theme, which is rich with CSS and other HTML elements, its completely mobile friendly and looks amazing on any device. The thing to pay attention to is the simple ‘Read Now’ action call button on each of the sections, so simple – yet makes it clear where the user is going to be taken after clicking it, straight to the sales page!
FiftyThree is known for producing great artistic products like Paper, and Pencil. They’re literally designers themselves, and so their design goes to show that they know what they’re doing, and they know what the moderns possibilities of the web are.
The homepage itself, features a huge parallax background video, displaying the demo of the product, and once you go to the product pages, you’re blown away by the smoothness of style and how well they’ve managed to explain their products, in a manner that makes you want to buy them.
Our last Shopify store for inspiration and observation sells a wide variety of products, and so there is need for solid pagination to be put in place, in order to make the shopping experience seamless. If you’re looking to sell a lot of products on your store, try and see how Kaufmann Mercantile manages to organize and paginate all of their pages for maximum potential.
The App Store
It goes without saying that the Shopify App Store is one of the best features added to a eCommerce platform that I’ve ever seen, it literally takes thing to a whole new level, when it comes to adding features and additional functionality to your digital online store.
You’ll find hundreds of apps in the official directory, and while many of them are premium and cost money to use – many of them are free, and offer incredible additions to your newly built store.
You can easily browse the categories for apps, and sort them by price, like you see in the above snapshot. It turns out, most of the common features that an online seller might need are completely free, it works very similarly to the WordPress plugin system – all the essential stuff comes free.
Why Shopify & What are The Benefits?
It wouldn’t be a wise idea to commit to something, without making sure it’s the right thing for you. We’ve learned a lot from the information above, but what were the main things that stood out? We’re going to wrap this up by looking at the most beneficial features of signing up for Shopify’s service, and why everyone should at least give it a try.
- 1-Click Install: Pretty much everything can be installed within a single click, nothing is complicated and everything is documented whenever a problem arises.
- One Price for Everything: You get what you pay for, so there is never any reason to think about complicated something that’s very well explained to you. This is good because it draws a line from having to worry about free disk space and bandwidth.
- Easy to Style: Incredibly easy to style templates, everything is documented within the official documentation, and most of the templating is done trough pre-configured styling tags, so easy to get to know and use.
- Apps: Great for adding additional features to your store, especially for growth and marketing.
- Digital Downloads: Thanks to FetchApp, we’re able to build a digital downloads store within minutes and begin selling our digital work instantly.