5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Owning a Shop
I get a lot of emails and messages with questions about owning a product shop. There’s just not a lot of information out there about it. And I get it. I was desperately looking for answers several years ago. While I wish I could sit down with each of you and have a coaching call, I know that’s not possible. So, I wanted to put together five of the most common questions I get asked regarding shop ownership. I hope it’s helpful! And if you’re wanting to dive deeper, I have something coming your way SO SOON!
Let’s dive into these questions!
How do you grow your following on Instagram?
This is the most common asked question! Are you surprised? Probably not. As much as we love to hate Instagram, we also love it. As shop owners, I do believe that a marketing platform like Instagram is very important and should be used accordingly. But I also want to remind you that you can’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket. You need to put efforts in a lot of places, not just Instagram. That being said, let’s talk Instagram. There are three things I always say about Instagram and if you’re feeling stuck, maybe these will help.
Think of Instagram as a way to serve: you are serving your audience and potential customers through your Instagram presence. For me, I want to give more than I ask for something in return. As shop owners, we ask for a lot in return. So, we want to focus on giving away as much as we can. For me, giving away looks like offering encouragement daily, giving fun tips/tricks about lifestyle, offering giveaways, having sales/coupons, posting artwork/quotes in my stories, etc. I see my Instagram as a way to build relationship and trust with my audience, and trust builds revenue.
Treat every single follower as your BFF: every time I reply to a DM or a comment, I want the person I’m replying to to feel like I know her. I want her to feel seen and important. It might seem silly, but this really matters. You want your audience to feel taken care of by you. You want them to want to engage with you. They way you do that is through making them feel important, seen, and valued.
Consistency: show up for your audience. I know you’ve heard people say this. And I also know that you’ve tried “everything” and you’ve been posting for two weeks and then you give up for a week. You’re tired. And I get it. I don’t want to say this to toot my horn, but I’ve never given up. I’ve never stopped posting. I’ve never stopped preaching the same mission. I took it seriously from day one and have continued to show up for the people that have graciously chosen to follow me. I create content that serves them. They know what to expect from me. This is what builds a magnetic brand and engaged audience.
2. Where do you source all your products?
I get asked this more than I’ll ever be able to count. And to be completely frank, I hate getting asked this question. I have spent YEARS (yes, years) trying out different products, spending my own hard earned cash, researching, failing, having issues, and losing money. That money lost and time spent created the brand I have today and when you ask that, it disrespects my hard work and makes me feel super icky. And I hate to have to tell people no. Running a shop takes hard work. It takes time. It takes YOUR own grit and determination. The ONLY place I share my sourcing companies is in my Product Shop Guide. I’m sorry if that upsets you. I’ve lost money making mistakes and it’s taken me a lot of time and money to find the suppliers I now use. I personally did the work to find the suppliers. I don’t share the information everywhere.
3. How do you know how much inventory to buy?
This has also taken a lot of time to figure out and I still get surprised by which products are more loved vs. other products. When I was just starting out, I would typically order the minimum from my suppliers. Most of them have a 24 or 36 minimum, while others have a 72 minimum. I would only use suppliers that had smaller minimums so I could afford it. I also wasn’t in a position where selling 72 of one item was possible. So, I would start small and go from there! It’s always better to sell out and need more, versus having too much and not selling it. As your shop grows, you’ll be able to order more and sell more.
4. How do I even get started?!?
This question is always funny to me because there is no good answer to this that will make you feel better. Sometimes the biggest barrier between you and starting is YOU. You need to just start. If you want to start a shop, START THE SHOP. Get a website, create the art, start telling your friends about it. I had ZERO figured out when I started my shop. I mean that. I didn’t even have a business name or a business bank account. You can’t wait to get started. I wrote this blog post which has the five first steps to starting a product shop! Maybe start there :)
5. How much to charge? How to calculate shipping?
One common mistake I see product shop owners making is with their pricing. You’re probably pricing your products too low in an effort to get more sales. You think that maybe if you price a little lower than others, you might get more sales. But what’s really happening is that your product might be perceived as “cheap”. And you’re not making enough money to then invest back into your business to grow. My main “rule” for pricing is that the product I’m selling should be at least 3 times more than what I paid for it. For example, if a product was $6 a piece, the lowest I will sell it for is $18. Sometimes I don’t use this rule because some products have a higher cost (like apparel), but my rule for that would be that I need to at least double what I paid for it. So, if it costs $21 a piece, I will sell it for at least $42 a piece.
When it comes to shipping, it’s all pretty tricky and there are different solutions for different products. But make sure you charge enough for shipping. You aren’t just covering the postage cost, but also the cost of boxes and other materials that you use for shipping. I typically only ship Priority Mail via USPS because most of my packages are over 1 lb (if the package weighs more than 15 oz, you have to ship it Priority if you’re using USPS). Plus Priority Mail comes with insurance up to $50, so if an item breaks, I can file a claim and be reimbursed.