While we aren’t experts on the topic, today we’re sharing our experiences with setting up a website store to sell products from our own websites. And, we’re continuing the conversation in our Mastermind group. Head over there to share any tips or ask any of your hiring questions: www.growwithusmastermind.com.
This is a bit of a taboo topic that we are going to jump into today—selling on your website. Angie and I are in no way claiming to be experts on this topic, but we’ve received a lot of questions about it lately. Our stores are pretty new and we are still in the beginning phases, but we wanted to share our experiences, what we’ve experimented with and do our best to answer your questions.
Please know that we are in no way encouraging everyone to start a store or to take resources off of TpT. It’s a great platform that drives a lot of traffic to our resources and has been a huge blessing for us both. We are simply exploring options to grow our business which has led us to open website stores in addition to our TpT stores.
This is not something for everyone. We are going to answer your questions as honestly as we can to give you a good indication of if this is a good option for you or not. So, here we go:
When or why should you start a website store?
As mentioned above, it’s not for everyone. If you’re already overwhelmed with creating resources, building an email list, and growing your social media following, it might not be the right time for you. It’s not as simple as just throwing up your resources on one more site and calling it a day.
We don’t recommend for beginners
This is not something for beginners. If you only have a few resources up at TpT, focus on growing your store there first. They drive traffic to the website and teachers naturally come to it to look for resources. This is the best place to start growing your sales. If you’re just starting out, stick with product creation for now.
When you have your own store, you’re the only person driving traffic to it. It’s not going to just start flowing in without you working on it.
We don’t recommend if you aren’t looking for additional features
If you don’t want to use more features than what TpT already has—if you don’t want to pixel customers to retarget them with ads, give coupons to your email list, and things like that—just stick with TpT.
Having your own store allows you to have a lot more analytics about your customers which allows you to target them further. If that’s not important to you right now, it’s probably not worth your time to start a store on your website.
We don’t recommend if you don’t have the money and time
It cost money to set up your shop, get traffic to your store, etc. I know a lot of sellers were interested in starting their own stores when TpT increased their commission from 15% to 20%. However, when they made that jump they realized they weren’t selling as much on their own stores. TpT gets a lot of organic traffic that you just aren’t going to get on your own store. You have to create all of that momentum yourself.
You are going back to square one when you start your own store.
If you’re on the fence and can’t think of any other reason to start a store than wanting to make more commission, it might not be for you.
What sales platforms should you use?
As we mentioned, Angie and I aren’t experts on website stores, so we are only able to share our own experiences here.
Woocomerce is a really popular WordPress plugin. A lot of people use it. However, I can easily get carried away with tweaking things in WordPress which eats up too much of my time. I wanted to avoid that with my website store, so I opted not to use Woocomerce.
It’s a free plugin, which is cool. But it’s limited in what you can do. If you want to make a lot of customizations, you are going to need to use paid plugins along with it. A few that you can look into include Customer Product Tabs and Product Bundles.
Or, if you want a lot of customization you can just hire a designer to handle it for you. That’s one of the cool things about Woocomerce is the options are pretty much unlimited with a designer. You have complete control over it, but it costs time and money.
I highly recommend that you don’t host your files on your website because that will slow down your site a lot. I suggest using something like Amazon AWS, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
Since I wanted something that would be quick and easy for me to upload resources to and start using, I kept looking instead of going with Woocomerce. I didn’t want to worry about customizing it a lot or figuring out how people would download the resources or how to handle customer service. So, eventually, I found Ecwid, which is something Angie and I both use now.
One of the things that I really like about it is that my customers don’t have to create an additional login. It uses their email login.
When I first got started with it, I added several products and sent my email subscribers a coupon saying “Here’s a free $5. Go shop.” People started shopping and buying and I got to work through any issues or problems that popped up. This helped me to see where the issues were and create canned responses for the commonly asked questions.
Then, I did an hour-long flash sale for 50% off. But pretty much after that, I took a break from it for a while because I was overwhelmed by a lot of other things going on in my business. Having a website store demands your attention because you need to send traffic to it and really utilize your email list.
One of the things that Angie really likes about it is that it allows you to create categories that make it easy for people to browse and shop. We also both like that you can choose which products to show shoppers when they are looking at something similar.
It allows you to do some customizations but not a ton. However, they are adding more options all the time.
If you pay monthly, the cost is around $15/month. There is a free plan but it has a lot of limitations that come with it.
We do have an affiliate link if you’re interested in trying Ecwid here. We would never recommend it if we didn’t both use it and like it.
Setting up bundles
Here’s a screenshot with an example of what it looks like when I set up bundles with Ecwid:
One thing I love about having a store on my website is the payments are almost instantly. I see bank deposits all throughout the month instead of having to wait for the once a month TpT deposit.
The two most common payment forms that I’ve seen are Strip and Paypal. Most people are familiar with Paypal. Stripe is a payment processor that accepts credit cards as well. They charge 2.9% + 30¢/transaction. That can be a significant fee if you have resources that are only a few dollars. However, on the larger resources, you’ll notice a difference over the 20% TpT fee.
But remember, it costs you time and money to get that momentum coming to your store.
How much traffic should you send to your website store and how much to TpT?
This is a popular question and unfortunately one we don’t really have an answer for. We have no idea and have gone back and forth on it ourselves.
I’ve seen a few people that have great audiences move everything over to their own store and do very well. But they were really watching the data along the way to see how it was affecting the store and if it was really worth it.
You have to look at the data. I’m still sending everything to TpT and slowly moving ads to the website store because I’m able to see the conversions on the ads, which I can’t do on TpT. I will probably move other traffic over eventually.
Angie also goes back and forth on when and where to link to the website store. Her blog posts that are linked directly to the website stores are the resources that are doing better for her in sales which shows that people aren’t afraid to buy there.
We really don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here. It’s really doing it, tracking the audience, doing what works best in your situation and then sticking with it. If you have an audience that knows and loves you, they’re going to buy from you wherever you are.
How so you best market your website store to customers on Facebook and email after they purchase from you?
For Facebook, as soon as I set up my Ecwid store, I set up my Facebook and Pinterest pixel on it. This allows me to track who purchases things so I can retarget them with ads. I will be doing that with coupon codes to get them back to the store.
For email, I have a four-week email sequence that I use. I’m going to be updating it soon, but right now I send them the following:
- An email with access to the resources they purchased. Ecwid does this too, but I like to send it myself with a video showing them how to do it.
- A second email following up and asking if they have any questions on the resource.
- A coupon code.
- An email asking what other resources they’re looking for that they didn’t find in my store.
Should you open a website store?
This is really a question that you need to answer on your own. The option is nice to have more control over your sales and what you see about your customers since there are some limitations on TpT. But this isn’t something that I would have been ready for a few years ago.
Make sure it’s the right time for you before jumping into it.
If you have a website store open now, even if you’re just a beginner, we have a Facebook group of others in the same position. Send me a message if you’re interested in joining. But it is for those that are already up and running so everyone is in the same place.
If you are still considering it and have questions or want to bounce ideas around, hop over to the mastermind group to continue the conversation.