Side Hustles & Finance

How to Start an Online Store for your Side Hustle

E-commerce Side Hustles

Everyone has heard the advice to create multiple streams of income. That doesn’t have to mean being a landlord, flipping houses, playing the stock market, or selling MLM products.

Approximately 44 Million Americans have side hustles. A huge barrier to new business ventures has been the capital required to invest into standing up the business.

To name a few side hustles – these days people are:

You can grab your piece of the pie by setting up an online side hustle. The internet has made is quite easy to turn a passion into a business. Physical storefronts are no longer needed, and you can set up an online hustle without face to face interactions.

Here is a quick guide to setup an online store.

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Selling Online

This guide will focus on selling products online. For that you will need an online store that can display your products, manage pricing, capture payments, calculate shipping, and track orders.

That may sound complicated but there are easy solutions you can use that takes care of most of that. The work you will need to do is the initial setup.

First, let’s go over different platforms to run an online store.

Shopify – nope.

They are popular mostly because they spend a lot on advertising and celebrity endorsements. They have an easy to use platform, but have very limited design options so in the end all the stores using Shopify end up looking very similar. To really make your store unique and custom means upgrading and spending more than they advertised.

Etsy – nope.

It’s quick and easy to get started on Etsy, but it’s no different than selling on Ebay. Etsy will show your products on search results but so will all your competitors. And when a sale is made there are fees taken out of your revenue.

WooCommerce – Yes!

The e-commerce side of It is an open source platform that is free and highly customizable for different designs and functions. The only cost involved is the hosting service and domain registration.

Out of all the options out there, WooCommerce is the way to go because it is versatile and can scale with you as your grow. You want to avoid the headache of starting on another platform and then migrating everything to WooCommerce after you started growing.

1. Pick Your Product and Name

Brainstorm about what you enjoy that has potential to be sold. It can be as niche as building decorative wooden flags or handmade baby clothes.

Try to pick something that has demand but also that you are passionate about. Don’t try to sell birdhouses if you have no interest, because eventually you will quit out of boredom.

Consider any factors that might be specific to your products like what it will take to ship, how to acquire the supplies to make the product at a low cost, or if you will buy from a supplier, or how to reduce production time, or how to beat competitors with pricing.

All these things can help you identify opportunities of what to sell and how to sell a product.

Then you will need a store name and logo. This part is totally up to you to get creative. But once you have decided on a name, a logo can be easily created with tools like Canva.

2. Get Your Domain Name and WooCommerce Hosting

A domain name and web hosting are the foundation of building an online store. A domain name is your website’s address on the internet where people can find your site. It’s what shoppers type into their web browser to visit your site.

Web hosting is your site’s real estate property on the internet where your files and images are stored. A simple analogy is think of a domain as your street address and the hosting is the building at the address.

Domains are very in expensive, especially if you get your domain from Namecheap. But you will need to connect your domain to the hosting service.

Nexcess is an industry leader when it comes to hosting online stores. They have built hosting plans specifically designed for WooCommerce stores to perform fast and reliably. Plus it is managed hosting, so they take care of a lot of server maintenance and site updates for you.

Do not use shared hosting for an online store.

The last thing you want is for your store to be down or unable to process orders because you chose cheap hosting. Another headache to avoid is having to switch from one hosting provider to another. If you spend more on one thing for your store, it should be your hosting.

It’s also worth noting that you can get your domain and hosting from Nexcess in one place. For a few extra dollars you can save a few hours of technical work.

For about $13/month you can get set up on the Starter plan which is perfect for one website and comes with a free SSL certificate. You need to have an SSL certificate to capture payments online.

It has all you need in a hosting server you need and then some. At first it may not make a difference but, as your volume of sales grows you will be glad to be hosted with Nexcess. Things like PHP workers, daily backups, bandwidth and storage capacity, and CDN will begin place as your store grows. You won’t have to worry about your website slowing down your business.

3. Create Your Online Store

Run through the setup wizard. This will help you set up the basics and the integration for collecting payments. WooCommerce really makes it easy.

After you have completed the setup wizard, it is time to pick a theme. This will give your store an image and help it stand out. If you want to do things right, pick a powerful theme like Kadence that will allow you to customize, have a blog, and integrates really well with WooCommerce.

Each theme has different features and layout to organize your content. This is a fun step to visualize how your store might look, but don’t get stuck on getting everything perfect at this stage. Regardless of which theme you use, a tool like Elementor will allow you to build custom pages to make very specific designs.

Just like themes, there are tons of extensions and plugins for WooCommerce that you can add to your store so it can do more. In order to avoid potential tech problems it’s recommended to get premium plugins. For example, Iconic WP has has plugins adding wishlists and cross selling other products.

4. Add Your Products

Now it’s time to add your products. For this step it is helpful to have images of each product ready to use. On the left menu of your WordPress dashboard go to Products > Add New.

From here you can upload images, add titles and descriptions, color/size variations, and set pricing. With the addition of plugins you can add more functions like adding reviews and suggesting related products. You can also group products together in categories and add tags.

Publish your first product and then repeat the process as many times as needed.

5. Start Marketing

Start up your social media game. Show off your products on Instagram and Tik Tok. Show people what you sell by creating short videos about how to use your products.

Depending on what you are selling, your social media content will vary. But having a social media presence is invaluable if you want your business to grow.

Find influencers in your space and offer to send them free products. The goal is for them to showcase your product to their followers and you may gain some long term partnerships. As you interact with the community in your space, word will spread.

Collect emails. Use tools like OptinMonster to create sign up forms for email subscribers. Having email addresses gives you the ability to email people and offer more value.

Get Response is a great tool to manage your email list. Anyone who subscribes to your newsletter gets added here. You can design and build attractive email newsletters to let people know when you have a new product or a discount, or something exciting happening. Who doesn’t want to have repeat customers?

Create landing pages for your most popular products to really highlight features and why people should buy.

Blog about topics related to your products. Being listed on organic SEO can help new crowds find you as they learn about topics relevant to your business. If you sell replica Star Wars helmets, make an epic video with a helmet being worn. Or if you sell phone cases, test your products against your competitors and show the results.

Final Thoughts

Remember that success takes time. Your side hustle won’t become your main source of income overnight, but remain consistent and it will build up to be a new stream of income.

There is a lot of other work that goes into building up an online store. But with your store powered by WooCommerce and a powerful host like Nexcess, you will have the foundation to focus on growth.

After you have built up a revenue generating website and you want to do something else, you can always sell it. Flippa is a reputable platform for selling online stores and blogs.

Consider setting up an LLC. Although you don’t need it to get started, it is a good idea to have that as you begin generating consistent revenue. As you grow and manage more money through your side hustle, an LLC can help make taxes easier.

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