While there are many people out there who claim that setting up a store is easy, there is more to it than meets the eye. This is why I decided to put in my two cents and teach you how to set up a Shopify store step by step.
If you have watched videos on how to start dropshipping and make money, the entire process looks simple. But how true is that?
It is true that setting it up is easy—it is easy in the sense that you do not need to learn how to code, but how do you toggle your options in a theme, how do you change the images, remove and add sections, add collections, and so on?
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Click here to start a Shopify free for 14 days. After doing so, you can then use my detailed tutorial below for easy directions.
You’ll learn how to build a Shopify store in 10 easy steps. Click here to jump straight to step number #1 to start now.
I will address these problems in this comprehensive Shopify guide. By the end of this long and detailed tutorial, you would have learned how to start Shopify store step by step from the ground up.
How To Start A Successful Shopify Store In 10 Easy Steps
Here is our coverage on how to set up a Shopify store:
- Choose a niche
- Pick a domain name
- Sign up for Shopify
- Choose a theme
- Create your assets
- Create your standard pages
- Change your theme content
- Create collections and upload your products
- Set up payment system and other settings
- Market your store
These ten steps are arranged in chronological order so you can learn how to make money on Shopify the right way. You need to accomplish these requirements according to plan to avoid repeat work and committing errors.
If you are ready, let us get started! Click here to start the process.
1. Choose a niche
What is a niche?
A niche is a category or an industry. Motorcycle is a niche. Baby toy is a niche, clothing is a niche, and so on.
Why is this important?
Choosing your niche is the very thing that will make or break your store. A niche determines if there is a market out there looking for your products. Pundits will tell you that of course, there is a market for everything.
This is true to some degree, but picking the wrong niche also spells failure for your store. While all people who build Shopify stores are in it for the money, keep in mind that money is only a result of an action—it is your end goal, but it is never something that will come to you just because you set up a Shopify store.
Here are some of the tips on how you can pick a niche that is going to work for you.
Passion and knowledge
Do you know what you are selling? Passion is the key to succeeding.
If you pick a product just because you like it, or just because you believe it may go in a positive trend direction over time, you are not likely to see success.
Think, about this: some people open an online store where they sell clothing. However, they know nothing about the clothing industry, and so they cannot create meaningful experiences for their target market.
While women, men, and kids surely wear clothes every day, you need to have an adequate understanding what your market wants.
If you’re ready to start your own online boutique clothing business, check out this tutorial where you’ll learn how to start an online boutique from the ground up—from making decisions to sourcing to building your store—everything.
Another example is drones. If you sell drones on your Shopify store, are you qualified to answer customer inquiries about it?
Here are some questions that your customers are going to ask you:
- What is the flight time?
- What kind of battery does the drone need?
- What material is it made of?
- What is the distance it can fly from the controller?
- Can you adjust the camera angle; can you replace the camera?
To be able to answer these questions, you need to be knowledgeable about drones. Your customers must look up to you as an expert. Without knowledge and expertise, you will never be able to build credibility.
Before you can accumulate knowledge, you need passion. You must love drones enough that you live and breathe them. You are passionate about it so much that you only want to sell the best products, not cheap ones that cannot live up to the supplier’s promises.
Passion is what is going to keep you working on your store even if sales are poor. It is passion that pushes entrepreneurs to stay in the game for the long haul. Without passion, you will shut down your store in a month or two if it does not earn.
Market size and trend
Should you go for low-ticket or high-ticket items? Should you sell trending products or normalized ones?
There is no right and wrong answer to this.
What makes sense is to determine if there is a market just enough for you to be able to sell your products. There is no single tool that can give you statistics about hot or trending products better than Google. While many dropship supplier tools have data, they only have data from their own universe.
Google, on the other hand, has enough data to represent the pulse of the world. When picking a niche, avoid going to the extremes, such as toys that are currently selling like pancakes. Trends die over time, and you do not want to build a Shopify store based on a trend. If you do, your business is standing on a peg leg.
Take a look at the fidget spinner. For a time, it was the hottest craze in the world. But now? No one is buying it.
Stay on the safe side—sell normalized products but ride on the success of a trend as it comes and goes.
Take a look at this fidget spinner trend from Google Trends:
As you can see, the interest peaked in 2017, but this product is dead in the water. If you have built a Shopify store based on this product, your store would have been closed a long time by now.
Niche down if you can
One of the pitfalls that many entrepreneurs make is that they try to be everything all at once at the same time. They build a general store based on the premise that if they have a lot of items for sale, then a person will surely find something he likes, right?
To be an effective online store owner, you need to sell products that belong to a sub-niche. This is the only way that you can build an avatar of your customer. A customer avatar refers to the personality of the customer that you are looking for.
An example of a sub-niche is sports clothing for women doing yoga. It belongs to the clothing niche, but it is targeting yoga enthusiasts—and women only. As you can see, it is easier to create marketing materials this way, as opposed to trying to reach out to every kind of consumer.
Another example are drones. It belongs to the toy niche, but you sell only drones. If you want to get to a deeper niche, sell professional drones where your target consumers are video and photo creators—professionals who make video and photo content as a living.
Pick a niche that you love and know about. Do not sell items for the sake of making money. Choose a reasonable niche that has market and demands, and make sure that you niche down.
Build a niche store instead of a general store.
2. Pick a domain name
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the name that the World Wide Web protocol will recognize. Ideally, your domain name must be the same with your business name. If they are different, site visitors are going to be suspicious.
The default domain name in Shopify appends the Shopify domain with it. It is free. For example, your chosen business name is Cherry Blossoms. If you use this on Shopify, your website is going to be cherryblossoms.shopify.com.
No, you do not want this. What you want is cherryblossoms.com. However, the issue is that someone may have already bought this name. As such, you cannot use this anymore.
Got to a registrar like Siteground to find out if the domain you want is still available. You can also do this on Shopify, but it is best that you do it before you even sign up.
Here are some tips in choosing a domain name:
- Use TLD – TLD stands for top-level domains. These are .com, .edu, .org, .net, and more. Avoid domains that end in your country’s suffix, such as .de, .ph, .in, and so on. While the TLD does not really affect your SEO, it just does not sound professional enough. Customers trust .com TLDs so buy one in that domain.
- Shorter is better – shorter domain names or business names are better. While these are also more expensive, consider it as an asset. Long domain names are tiresome—make sure you use no more than three words in your domain name.
- Easy, easy, easy – make your domain name easy to remember, easy to spell, and easy to type. Avoid trying to be cool. Many entrepreneurs use domain and business names that sound weird—these will simply not fly.
- Must be brandable – your business name is your brand, and it must reflect on your domain name. The two must match exactly if possible, to make your branding efforts consistent.
Lastly, check if the domain name is trademarked. If the .com is not available, then it is likely that the domain name is already being used by somebody. In this case, do no attempt to use a .net or .org version of that domain. Instead, think of a new business name whose domain name is still available.
After buying a domain name, make sure that you also get an email address for it. Use this email address in all your business transactions and online account registrations, including Shopify.
3. Sign up for Shopify
Now, we are getting to the meat of the matter. The next step is to sign up for a Shopify account. This is a critical phase and you must only do this once you already have a domain name and an accessible business email address.
Shopify offers three plans. The basic costs $29, and this is what you want if you are just starting out an online store.
However, the best thing to do is to sign up for a free trial, as this is going to give you 14 days free to build your store without having to pay.
Go to Shopify’s home page and you will see this screen.
Enter your email address and click on Start Free Trial. After that, you will see this screen.
Enter a password that you want to use, and then enter your store name.
As you type the store name, you will see if the store name already exists. Change it if you want to. This is not going to matter later on, as you will be redirecting your domain name to your Shopify store, and you will not use this business name.
An important point: the business name you enter here is going to be your log in credential. It is going to be your Shopify identifier, so use one that you like.
Next, click on Create Your Store.
Wait until Shopify has recorded your data. The next screen is going to be an account set up like the one below.
Do not check the box that says you are developing a store for a client. That box is for developers and partners.
Complete this process and click on Next after each page.
Once done, you will see this screen:
This is your dashboard. It is on this page where you will create your store. Everything that goes on in your store is shown here. Bookmark the URL of your admin page or save it on notepad.
4. Choose a theme
The next step to building your Shopify store is choosing a theme. Shopify offers a few free themes, but you can also buy premium ones.
Do not buy themes outside the Shopify marketplace. You should only pay for a theme that is found inside the Shopify domain because these themes are vetted by Shopify.
Take some time studying how the themes look like, what features they offer, and then decide which one fits your business the best.
Once ready, follow the instructions below.
Click on the Online Store link to the left and then click on Themes. You should see a screen like this.
Wait for Shopify to load, and you should see this screen:
As you can see, the theme is defaulted to a theme named Debut. If you do not like this theme, you must change it. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you should see this:
As you can see, you have several options here. You can browse the Shopify theme store, go to free themes, or upload a theme that you bought somewhere else. For the purposes of this tutorial, we will use the Explore Free Themes button.
After clicking that, you should see this page:
You can scroll down to browse for more. Click on the theme you want. I will choose the Supply theme. After clicking on the Supply theme, this is what you will see:
The next step is to click on Add to Theme Library. Once done, the system will take you back to your dashboard. On this dashboard, scroll down until you see the Supply theme. Click on the Actions menu, and the choose Publish.
After clicking publish, you will see this screen:
Click on Publish again and your store is now going to use this theme. As you can see from the screenshot below, the theme that is showing at the center of your dashboard is now Supply, not Debut.
Now, we want to customize this theme, but the first thing we want to do is to create our assets. Before we build our assets, we need to explore some things about the theme, such as the ideal image sizes that we must use.
To do this, click on Customize, and you will see this page.
What you have to do is to check each area that contains an image. For example, if I click on Slideshow, I will know that the ideal image is 1000px by 500px.
Take a look at this sequence:
Explore your theme. List down the size of each asset that you need, and then move on to the next step.
5. Create your assets
The next thing in our process on how to start Shopify store step by step is to build assets. These are comprised of photos, videos, icons, standard company logos, blog posts, page texts and contents, and so much more.
For images, you need to create them according to the sizes you listed down earlier. If you work with a virtual assistant, like a graphic artist, he has to know these measurements.
If your images are bigger than the ideal sizes, the store may cut the images. If they are smaller, the store will expand them and they will look blurry.
Here is a list of the assets that you need to prepare:
- Images and videos – headers, product photos, and images that you sprinkle on your home page
- Blogs – your store needs a blog page; your target customers must be able to read helpful materials that help them solve a problem; write at least ten blog posts and upload them
All of the materials here should be set aside, and then uploaded later. For the pages and blogs, write them on MS Word and save them.
6. Create your standard pages
Now that you have the assets, it is time to upload them and build the pages where they will sit. In this section, we will cover how to create a page a blog.
Creating a page
Go to your dashboard and click Pages.
Next, click on Add Page and you will see the screen below:
Use the Text Editor to fix your alignment, use bold, italics, etc. Once you are done, scroll to the bottom and click on Edit Website SEO.
To make this appear in the menu from a customer’s perspective, you have to add it to your navigation pages. To do this, click on the Navigation link and then wait for the page to load. Choose Footer Menu.
In the Footer Menu, click on Add Menu Item as shown below:
After clicking that, you should see this window:
Do not forget to click the Save button on top.
Repeat this process for each of the pages we created such as the Terms & Conditions, refunds, and more.
Setting up a blog
The next thing we need to set up is your blog pages. To set this up, just go to your dashboard and navigate through Online Store > Blogs Posts and you will see this:
Just like the pages, type the content of your blog and then save it. Make sure that you choose the blog post as a visible one, and then add a feature image, too.
At the bottom of that page, you will see some options. Like the name of the author, the category, and the website SEO. You can choose to create categories or not, but make sure you change some of the content of the SEO so your blog post is search engine-friendly.
Repeat this process every time you want to add a page, or if you have a new blog post to share. Do not forget to share your blog posts on your social media channels.
7. Change your theme content
Once you are done with preparing your website materials, it is time to change your theme’s content. I have to tell you right off the bat that I cannot explain every single aspect at this stage of building your store.
What I will do is to navigate you through basics only, and then you have to explore the theme on your own.
To get started, head back to your dashboard and navigate through Online store > Themes > Customize.
Start by going to the theme settings and change each component. It is in the theme settings where you can change the color of your font, upload an icon, select a font style, and add images.
Next, go to sections.
A section is a row, and a row contains images, texts, or videos. It is up to you to add and delete a section according to how you want your home page to look like. As you can see, all of the images on your store right now are default ones. You need to upload all the images you created one by one.
You have to experiment on how you want your store to look like. You can interchange the position of the sections. For example, you may want the Collection List to show after the Featured Collection. In this case, just click on the Collection List and hold it, and then drag it below the Featured Collection, and then release it.
The Eye button allows you to hide or show the section. If you hide it, it will be there but your customers will not see it. If you want to delete the section, click on that section, and then click on Remove section.
Experiment on this process. Change the border colors of your theme, remove them, add more—the options are limitless. Use Shopify’s theme customization features to make your store look different from the rest.
8. Create collections and upload your products
The next important step is to create collections and load your products there.
What is a collection?
A collection is a group of items that are of similar nature. For example, you may have a product line for dresses. In this case, you want a collection of dresses. If a customer clicks on this collection, she will only see dresses, not pants or tops.
To create a collection, navigate to your dashboard. At the top left, click on Products. Next, click on Collections. Then, click on Create Collection on the top right.
Creating a collection is like creating page. You need to add a title to the collection, like Dresses, and then add a short description. At the bottom, edit your SEO snippet, and then do not forget to click Save.
Create several collections according to your business plan and inventory. In a clothing store, you may have a collection for pants, for hats, belts, necklaces, etc.
Once all your collection pages are done, it is time to add products for each collection. To do this, navigate to your dashboard > Products > Add Product.
Adding a product is like adding a blog post. In this area, type the title or name of the product, type the description, add images, and add as much details as you can.
Here are some of the things that you can find in the product upload page and what they mean:
- Media – click this to add a photo of your product
- Pricing – the Price is the actual selling price; the Compare at Price is the “old” price. If you fill up the Compare at Price, it should be higher than the selling price to make it look like your item is on sale.
- Shipping – this is the cost of shipping that you will charge
- Variants – you can add different variants such as color or sizes
- Collection – choose which collection this product will belong to
Repeat this process for each product, and your store should be ready.
9. Set up payment system and other settings
Okay, now that we have created blogs, pages, and set up our collections and pages, it is time to add our payment settings and change other settings in our store.
To do this, go back to your dashboard and then hit on Settings at the bottom left. Take a look at the screenshot below as this is what will appear:
The first thing we want to do is to create our payment system so our customers can pay us. Hit the Payments link and you will see this page:
The default payment set up is PayPal, but if you scroll down, you will find other options as shown below:
If you do not want to get paid via PayPal, you can choose third-party providers. This is a long list so we will only look at the top of the page as shown below:
Choose one that you want and click it. After that, you will see a page for that payment provider. It is on that page where you have to input either your API or a special that only you know.
These codes are important, and you can only get them once you have signed up for an account with that payment provider. After inputting the code, Shopify and that payment provider will integrate.
Now, it is time to change the setting of other areas. I will just talk briefly about these different areas.
- General – set up details about yourself such as your address and phone number
- Notifications – choose how you want Shopify to send you notifications; you can enable or disable emails from Shopify about orders, invoices, cancellations, etc.
- Store languages – here, you can set up how you want your store to show to other people from around the world; you can set it to English as a default, or add a Language that Shopify has in its database.
- Checkout – this is where you set up how your checkout page looks like; you can make it mandatory for customers to have an account, get their contact info, require their full name, etc.
- Gift cards – this is where you can create gift cards that you will sell from your store; it is like Amazon Gift Cards but it is only available to select Shopify plans
- Billing – this is where you add own credit card so Shopify can charge you your monthly subscription
- Shopping – it is on this area where you will create your shipping stricture. You will choose the zones where you ship to, and also determine the price of shipping for these zones.
- Files – this is the repository of all the files you upload to your Shopify store. This is where you can add and delete them
- Taxes – set up the tax you collect or each transaction in your store.
- Sales Channels – this is where you add other sales channels like Facebook, Instagram, or even Amazon.
Shopify is a huge platform. It has everything that you need to build an online store. Another aspect that you can explore is the Apps area. Here, you can find applications that will do wonders for your online shop.
For example, you can create automatic pop-ups that will show up as your customers are browsing your products. There are also apps that will allow you to program a bundle program.
For example, a customer may be looking at a pair of shoes—with an upsell app, you can show a customer an item that matches the shoes, like a dress. If the customer buys both, then you just increased your average order value.
There are many apps in the Shopify platform that can do wonders for your store. Explore each one but do not pay for them yet. Use the free versions and then test them. If they do the job, you can buy the apps on a subscription basis.
10. Market your store
The final chapter in our mini-course on how to set up a Shopify store is marketing. Building a store can be done in less than a week, but marketing is a continuous process.
Marketing is where a lot of people fail—but marketing is an essential aspect of how to make money on Shopify. It takes a while to be good at it, and it takes a longer while to develop a following.
Here are some of the most common ways to market your store:
Choose the type of social media that you will. Each social media channel has a different type of customer persona.
Facebook is a social media that caters to everything. Instagram is best used for imagery, especially for the health niche. Pinterest is a search engine on its own, and it is great for products like jewelry.
Do not fall into the trap of doing everything altogether. Focus on one or two social media channels, and become an expert at it. Build your social media page by uploading a blend of product photos, quotes, and helpful materials such as your blog posts.
Blogging is one of the most ignored marketing strategy of all. If you want to learn how to make money on Shopify, you need to understand blogging and make it a part of our marketing efforts.
There is a reason why Shopify put a blog on the platform—it works. Your blog posts must be aimed at your audience. You need to create posts that will solve a problem. If you need to write a step by step tutorial how to use a drone, do it.
All your blog posts must answer a particular problem that is a pain point to your target consumer. If you are selling camping gears, then write blog posts about camping—tips and all that.
A blog post is an important asset. Once you publish a blog post, it is there for the world to see and you do not even have to pay for it. Use SEO to your advantage to drive traffic to your blog.
This is by far the most heavily used marketing strategy. While it works, it can become costly. If you plan to advertise, you must focus your expenses and advertising efforts on the same social media channels where you have an account set up.
What you want is to drive people either to your social media page to get people to like your page, or to your website to increase your conversion rate. Slow down on ads—launch one or two here and there and see what works before you scale up.
How to set up a Shopify store: Conclusion
It is to time to wrap up this mini-course on how to start Shopify store step by step. Now that you know how to set up a Shopify store, the next step is to take action. Creating a store is a bit tedious, but not hard. As I mentioned earlier, the process does not require you to code.
Your challenge now is how to make money on dropshipping or with your own products. In this case, you have to learn about how to choose a supplier, what dropshipping is about, and how to make it work.
Before anything else, you need to have a plan—take courses, and decide the niche where you belong. It is sad but true that many people open a store without carefully thinking about it, and they close their stores in a matter of months.
Remember this: passion and hard work are the only things that will take you to success. There is no magic formula about winning products, so do not get swayed by marketers who promise you this. Think of a niche that you love, choose products that will solve a problem, and you should be on your way to success.
Click here to start a Shopify store for 14 days free if you haven’t already.