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How to Start an Online Store - Part 1: Define

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

If you found this blog post, I’m guessing you’ve typed “how to start an online store” in a google or Pinterest search and you’ve found yourself here. Well, firstly a big warm welcome and secondly I’m so excited that I can help you.

But before we get into the juicy info, I just want to clear a few things up. So if you're anything like most people starting something new, you might have a few negative thoughts that might be holding you back. A few pesky “self doubts” and limiting beliefs that keep you from even starting.

Have you ever heard yourself say:

  • Starting an online store is way too much work.

  • It’ll take up too much time away from my family.

  • I can’t afford to start an online store.

  • I’m not tech-savvy.

  • I’m not creative.

  • I don’t have the right skills to start an online store.

  • It’ll never make any money.

  • No one would ever buy what I want to sell.

Listen, building a successful online store doesn’t have to be so daunting. Creating and launching your online store with Shopify (the platform I use and recommend) takes less time than you may think and you don’t have to be a “web developer” or know code to get a professional-looking online store up and running.

Not only can you build and launch an incredible online store, but you can also create a brand that will attract your ideal customers and raving fans, who will be lining up (or should I say - adding products to their cart) to buy from you!

With the information, you’ll find in this post and the three that will follow, you’ll find out that creating your own online store can be easy, fun, and a great way to earn additional income for you and your family.

So ready to dive-in to the first part of the framework?

Part 1: Define

Step 1: Define Your Ideal Customer Avatar

This is listed as the very first step for good reason, and that’s because it’s the most important step you need to take before starting your online store.

Before you take any further action in your online store (or any other business for that matter), you want to make sure you know the ins and outs of your ideal customer.

By understanding your ideal customer, you’re able to create a product they want to buy, you can tailor your messaging, create marketing that resonates, ensures they’re excited about your business and are ready to buy when you launch your store.

So how do you identify your ideal customer avatar? You’ll first want to answer a few questions to better understand your target customer.

Some of the questions that can help narrow down your ideal customer avatar include:

  • What’s their age?

  • What is their gender?

  • What are their interests?

  • Where do they hang out online?

  • How much money do they make per year?

  • What brands do they like?

  • What’s their reason for buying your product?

  • What’s this customer’s concerns when buying your product?

By answering questions like these, you’ll have a better understanding of who you are selling to and then better target them with your branding and products.

Step 2: Choose Your Niche Product

Once you’ve figured out your ideal customer, then you’ll then want to decide what niche product you’ll sell in your store.

For example, if your ideal customer is a young female - mid 20’s, has recently decided to go vegan. She’s committed to going to the gym 4-5 days per week. She’s interested in losing weight (whilst gaining muscle) and has been searching for the perfect tasty but nutrient-dense treat to have after a workout.

So with this information, you’ve identified who you’re selling to and what they want. So now you just need to come up with the perfect product to sell… this might look like a “plant-based, coconut & chocolate flavoured protein balls”.

Step 3: Choose Your Online Store (Business) Name

Now that you’ve identified what you’re selling and who your selling to, now comes the fun part...

Picking a name for your future online store.

For this step, I would recommend getting out a pen and notebook and allow yourself the time to brainstorming name ideas. Try to come up with a store name that will resonate with your ideal customer and always have your ideal customer in mind.

Once you have a name you like and feel like it will be the right fit for your business, before you lock it all in, you’ll just want to head over to your local business name registration. This is to first make sure that the name is available and secondly the place you can secure your store/business name.

Step 4: Create Your Mood Board & Basic Branding

If you design and create your own handmade products, then you most likely have the skills required to create your mood board and basic branding assets… go you!

However, if you lack the confidence or skills to create your own branding, no problems! As this is where a freelancer might come in handy.

Search on sites like Upwork or Fiverr for a graphic designer to help you. I would suggest sending them details about your ideal customer avatar and niche product so they are able to base the branding around these important details.

Depending on who you hire and how much they charge will determine what type of assets they provide you with, however as a minimum you would want a custom logo, a set of brand colours (with the exact hex codes) and a recommended font pairing.

Step 5: Set-up Your Online Store’s Custom Domain

Creating your own custom domain is an important element when aiming to create a professional online store. A custom domain is a strong signal that you're an established business and a place where customers feel safe purchasing from.

Would you trust or buy from a store whose domain was: - I think not.

So what you want to do is register a custom domain, preferably the exact match or if not as close as you can to your business name.

Shopify makes it super easy to buy and manage your custom domain. Configuration and setup are completely automated and have competitive pricing.

Step 6: Set-up Your Social Media Accounts

Now you have your product niche and branding sorted. You’ve got your business name locked in and you’ve registered your custom domain, now it’s time to set up your social media accounts to match your branding.

To start with, I would suggest setting up a Facebook Page, an Instagram Business account and a Pinterest account. Before you even start creating your online store, you can start using your social media accounts (which are free to set up) to help drive excitement and anticipation around the launch of your new online store.

Don’t forget to make sure that your social media handles and account names are the same if not very close to your actual online store business name.

Here's the overview:

Okay, so there we have it the very first part of our four-part framework to start an online store.

So as an overview you’ll want to:

  1. Define your customer avatar

  2. Choose your niche product.

  3. Decide on your business name

  4. Create your mood board and basic branding

  5. Set-up your custom domain

  6. Set-up your social media accounts.


If you've always dreamt about starting your own online store, then be sure to check out the FREE starter course, Build Your Online Store.

Inside the course, you’ll find a three-part module curriculum with easy to follow, step-by-step videos that will show you how to sign-up with a free account with Shopify, choose, upload and customise a free Shopify theme and set up your online store, ready for you to upload your products and start selling your amazing products.

In part two of this series, we’ll be going through how to create or source the perfect products for your store. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss when we launch the next post




I'm Alicia.

I'm a wife & mama from the beautiful city of Adelaide in South Australia.


A self taught business owner who loves geeking out over all things business & strategies.

I'm here to provide guidance & tools to help you start & launch a successful online business selling digital products.

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