How to Start Your Own Online Shop with Shopify

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As I have discussed plenty of times on this site, I am a huge fan of Etsy as it has been a super-easy way to build my woodworking side hustle to over $20,000 a year. As my business has grown, though, I am beginning to look at ways to control the business’s future.

Probably the best thing about Etsy is, once your shop is live, you have access to literally millions of customers who are browsing Etsy every single day.

The biggest downside of this exposure, though, is you don’t truly own your shop. At any time, Etsy can shut you down for any number of reasons and, if you ever wanted to sell your business, you can’t transfer your Etsy shop to a new owner.

Moving to Shopify

After looking at many other e-commerce options, I have decided to use Shopify to open a second version of my online woodworking shop.

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms for small businesses, and I can almost guarantee you have visited many shops using their platform and didn’t even realize it.

Benefits of Shopify

There are many tradeoffs with choosing between Etsy and Shopify (remember that you can use both as well!), but here were some of the biggest benefits I found in choosing to start moving my online presence over to Shopify.

Customer Data

For most businesses one of their most valuable assets is their customer data. These are the people who have shopped with you in the past so you know they have an interest in your products. Not having control over your own customers can be the difference in a company surviving or closing up shop during tough times.

With Etsy there is very little you can do with your customers once their order has been fulfilled. Etsy likes to keep all of that information for their use and this can be a huge detriment to a shop owner. If for some reason your Etsy shop was shut down tomorrow you would have no customer base to rebuild your business on.

With Shopify you have a lot more data at your fingertips that you can use to help grow your business.


The fee structures between Etsy and Shopify can be a little tricky depending on where you shop is in its lifecycle. If you’re just starting out and are only making a few sales per month then paying the monthly fee for Shopify will probably not offset their lower per transaction fee.

On the flip side if you’re in a position, like I am with my shop, where you’re making a decent number of sales per month then making the switch to Shopify can save you a decent amount of money in the long run.

Etsy charges a 6% fee per transaction plus a $.20 listing fee. Whereas Shopify charges between 2.4% and 2.9% + $.30 per transaction. Shopify also charges a monthly fee between $29 and $299, depending on which features you need for your store. For most small shops, you can easily get by with the $29/month pricing.


This is a big one for me. I want to be in a position where I totally own my business and, if I wish at some point down the road, could sell it in case I want to move on to other things. With Etsy there is no selling your shop. You can sell you branding, photos, listings, plans, materials, etc. But the new owner would have to set up a new shop and that right there destroy a lot of the value in a company using only Etsy as a sales avenue.

On Shopify you can easily sell your shop to a new owner and they can be up and running from day one.

Capabilities and Ease of Use

This is another one that can go both ways. If you’re looking for a super simple way to set up a shop then it truly is hard to beat Etsy. All of their shops have essentially the same layout so you are just adding some photos and text and you’re done.

With Shopify though you have the option to create a website that is all your own. Your branding, your domain, etc. Customers know they are coming to your store when they are on your Shopify store.

This is huge for building a brand and keeping customers in your ecosystem rather than clicking away to another shop. Etsy has made it easier for customers to leave your shop over the years by placing similar product ads from other shops on your shop pages.

Best of all is Shopify has invested a TON in making their page building tools a super easy process. Using their built-in themes you can easily have a fully customized website for your shop up and running in a day.

How to Set up Your Own Shopify Store

We’re going to walk you through the basics of how to set up your own website on Shopify. They really have put in the work to make this a super streamlined process. Our step-by-step guide should get your shop up and running in under a day!

1. Sign Up on Shopify

Head over to and you’ll see this sign up section.

Shopify offers a free 14-day trial, so you’ll have plenty of time to play around with the site and make sure it’s for you before committing to the monthly fees. Note, though, that you can’t officially launch your shop until you sign up for a monthly plan!

The next step is simply a matter of entering your email, new password, and shop name and you’re ready to go.

The last step in this setup process is entering some business information so Shopify knows how to best help you move forward and where to send your money once the sales start rolling in!

2. Navigating the Admin Area

This area serves as the central hub for your shop. From here you can modify your theme, add new products, dive into your shop analytics, or set up a new marketing campaign.

The admin panel’s main center section includes a ton of great tips and tricks from Shopify on how to get your store up and running, quick access to important areas like products, and a checklist to get your shop up and running fast.

If you migrate over from Etsy, you can easily transfer over all of your product data, so you don’t have to enter it all a second time!

Heres a quick rundown of the areas in the navigation menu on the right side of the screen.


This is where you are currently. Your home screen will serve as a hub for a summary of everything going on in your shop.


This is where, once your shop is live, you’ll manage all of your orders.


Here you will be able to manage all of your product listings. You can quickly view information such as quantities, prices, tags, etc, in this area.


The customers section includes a listing of all your customers and their orders, contact information, sales history, etc.


The analytics screen is where you can really dig in to understand how your shop is performing. Here you will see where your customers are coming from, sales history, customer flow, financial reports, etc. Shopify has some great documentation on better understanding this section as it really is the backbone for understanding your e-commerce business.


Here you can manage your marketing campaigns through email or advertising. Shopify provides a ton of great feedback on these campaigns, so you’ll know what is working and what isn’t.


Discounts will be where you will manage your coupons or store-wide discount codes. These are great for those busy shopping seasons like Black Friday.


Shopify offers a bunch of integrations with companies to help manage processes like bookkeeping, shipping, email marketing, etc.

Online Store

Despite this being 2nd to last on the list this section is where we will be heading next. The Online Store area is where you’ll manage the look and feel of your Shopify site including the layout, images, text, etc. We’ll cover much more on this momentarily.


Shopify Settings Page Layout

The naming of this section is my one dislike with Shopify’s admin page. When I think of settings, I think of basics like my account name or other somewhat unimportant details.

This settings tab, though, includes a ton of important details for your shop like shipping, taxes, billing, legal pages, etc. There isn’t much you’ll need to do in there right now but once you get closer to going live with your shop, definitely spend some time in each of these areas to make sure your shop is fully ready to go.

3. Setting Up Your Online Store

Lets take a step back now and go to Online Store section we discussed earlier.

When you choose Online Store you’ll see a dropdown menu with all the areas of your new website that are customizable.

Choose Your Theme

Themes is where we’ll want to start. Shopify includes a number of awesome free themes that you can choose from as a base to build your store. Simply scroll down to the Free Themes section and choose the theme that you feel best fits your shop.

Shopify also offers a marketplace of premium themes broken down by industry if you want to add a little extra flair to your site.

Once you have chosen a theme click on the Customize button to get started editing your new shop.

Customizing a theme on Shopify is an extremely intuitive process as all the elements on the page are editable using the navigation menu on the left side of the screen.

You can click through each of the elements on the left side to add photos, edit text, add product sections, etc. If you want to add a new element to your page just select the Add Section button and move it within the existing list.

You can further edit your theme back on the Admin Panel under the Online Store section by adding blog posts or pages, editing your site’s menus, or adding a custom domain.

4. Adding Your First Product

Selling your products are the reason we are here in the first place so it only makes sense we take a little time to talk about how to add your first product listing.

Head back to the Admin Panel and choose Products from the menu on the left. This will bring up an empty screen where you can select the Add Product button.

Now you truly start building out your shop. In this section you will write the product heading, description, price, weight, and add photos. Essentially everything a potential customer would need to see to want to purchase your latest and greatest widget.

Remember that e-commerce is a visual marketplace so take stunning, professional quality photos of your products to stand out amongst the crowd!

Remember, if you’re migrating over from Etsy or just setting up a Shopify account to run alongside your Etsy shop, you can quickly transfer over all of your product data from Etsy to Shopify. This will automatically create listings with titles, descriptions, prices, etc.! If you want to transfer over your Etsy shop products, go back to the Home screen on your Admin Panel and scroll down to the Import Store option.

And That is Basically it!

You now have an online shop where you can start selling your products to the world!

Certainly take some time to tweak your shop, set up payments, manage your shipping options, etc. All the things that come along with managing an online business. Shopify has a ton of great tutorials for how to manage all of these aspects of your business so you can focus on making and selling awesome products.

Shopify Inspiration

If you’re looking for some inspiration in setting up your shop here are a few examples of websites running their stores on shopify that I love:

Remember that Shopify offers a FREE 14-day trial, so you’ll have time to make sure the platform is the right fit for you and your business.

If you feel that setting up your own site is adding a bit too much to your plate, Shopify will connect you with experts who can help design, migration, branding, writing, etc.

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