How to sell on Shopify: a beginner's guide

How to sell on Shopify: a beginner's guide
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If you want to learn how to sell on Shopify, this will be a great starting guide for you. Especially since Shopify is a beginner-friendly platform that has been improving its functionality to be as easy to use as possible.

The best thing about it is that you don’t have to worry about setting up your store from scratch – which can be a real headache for anyone, let alone a beginner. Since Shopify does the technical part for you, you can focus on building and promoting your business.

In this article, we’ll go through nine main steps to get the ball rolling and kick off your business on Shopify. Let’s get started.

1. Decide on the product idea

Deciding on what products to sell might be the hardest part of the process. If you already have it locked down, lucky you!

If you haven’t decided yet, you can go multiple ways:

  • Choose a product that interests you;
  • Choose a trending niche;
  • Choose a product that you already use and love;
  • Monetize your hobby;
  • Research what people are interested in;
  • Find a niche that’s not over-saturated;
  • Sell digital products;
  • Look at other Shopify store examples to get ideas.

There’s almost no limit to the imagination – that can be freeing, and scary. Our advice would be to choose something that’s not too far from your interests. This way, you won’t be as compelled to give up when you run into inevitable hurdles.

2. Sign up for a free Shopify trial

You’ve got your idea, now it’s time to sign up for Shopify. Your free trial lasts three days, then you pay $1 for a month. If you decide Shopify is right for you, then you’ll have to get one of Shopify’s subscription plans. As a beginner, you can start low, and upgrade later on.

Here’s how to create your Shopify account:

1. Go to or click this link to start your free Shopify trial

3. Fill in the information about your business, or – if you’re not sure yet – skip it all for now.

Shopify signup screen

4. Choose a country where your business will be located. Keep in mind that if you want to choose a different country other than your own, you might run into issues related to tax, shipping, and payments.

Choose where your Shopify store is located

5. Create your Shopify account using one of the four methods.

Create your Shopify account using one of four methods

6. Go through the standard signup process – it will vary depending on the method you choose, but shouldn’t be anything you haven’t done before.

3. Set up your store

Once you create your account, you’re ready to build the store.

Choose a Shopify theme

There are many good Shopify themes out there – once you know your niche, you can pick a theme based on that. If you’re a complete beginner and you’re not ready to invest in an expensive Shopify theme, you can choose one of the free ones. Free Shopify themes have less bells and whistles but they will function just as well.

You can also keep the default theme Shopify assigns to you if you’re happy with the look and the functionality of it. Good thing about Shopify themes is that most of them allow for pretty thorough customization which allows you to personalize your store to reflect your brand.

Buy a custom domain

When you create a Shopify store, your domain will look something like Needless to say, if you want to have a successful online business, you must get a domain that’s easier to type and discover. You can buy a domain from your Shopify admin panel. We recommend setting a domain name the same or very similar to your brand name for better search engine rankings and improved user experience. Just make sure the domain name is not taken already!

Create all necessary pages

Every online store has pages for the privacy policy, terms of service, returns and refunds, about us, FAQ, contacts, and shipping information. Don’t forget to set these pages up first, and only then move to building your product and collection pages.

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4. Add products to your store

Once you set up important pages, buy a domain, and choose your Shopify theme, you can move on to adding products to your store.

The process for this is pretty simple – Shopify makes it pretty easy for its users to add, edit, and delete products anytime they want. From your Shopify dashboard, go to Products (on the left sidebar), and click Add product.

Products panel in your Shopify store

If you have decided to dropship, you can upload items to your Shopify store manually or automatically using various Shopify dropshipping apps.

Shopify also allows you to operate a print-on-demand (POD) store. Both dropshipping and POD share similar advantages – you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping since the suppliers 100% take care of it. It can also be a great route for beginner sellers in order to understand the ecommerce market without the stress of product logistics.

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5. Create collections

Shopify collections allow you to organize your store better. Depending on what you sell, collections might look different – it can be t-shirts, jeans, dresses, best sellers, to name a few examples.

In order to create collections, follow the steps below.

  1. From your Shopify dashboard, go to Products.
  2. On the same left sidebar, click Collections.
  3. In the top right corner, click Create collection.
  4. Fill in the information and click Save. Keep in mind that the title and description can help with your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, so be descriptive, relevant, and to the point.

Create collections in your Shopify store

One thing to note is that you can either add products to your collections manually or set up automated collections with certain conditions. This way, once you create a product that matches the same conditions, it will be automatically added to a specific collection.

6. Add payment methods

In order to add a payment method, you need to follow these steps:

  1. From your Shopify dashboard, go to Settings.
  2. Click Payments.
  3. From there, you can choose a third-party payment provider (Shopify recommends their partner Stripe), set up or connect your PayPal account, or add a manual payment method.

Set up payments in Shopify

7. Choose shipping methods

In order to set up shipping methods, go to Settings from your Shopify dashboard, and click Shipping and delivery.

You can choose to ship domestically, internationally, or both. From there, you can also set custom shipping rates, choose whether expected delivery dates will be shown at checkout, set up local delivery and pickups, and more.

8. Add analytics

Once you launch your store and start selling products, you should set up analytics to track your store’s performance. Shopify offers its own analytics dashboards but if you want to get even more insights on how your pages appear in search engines, whether they’re indexed and working properly, we recommend setting up Google Search Console and Google Analytics.

9. Test UX and ordering

It’s important to always keep an eye on your website’s functionality. Ask your friends or check yourself if the navigation works properly, if people can find your products easily, if the search function works as it should.

We also suggest placing a test order and going through the checkout process yourself. This way, you can act as a customer and improve areas that may be difficult to understand or navigate.

You can also hire user experience specialists that could help you out and make sure your Shopify store functions well in all areas.

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You're selling on Shopify - what's next?

Once you get the ball rolling, you should look for ways to increase your store’s visibility and revenue.

Promote your store

You can promote your store in various ways. We’ll talk about the most popular and effective strategies.

Search Engine Optimization

There’s a lot that goes into good SEO but you certainly can get the basics right from day one. Do keyword research, take care of meta titles and descriptions for all pages, make sure your store doesn’t load too long, optimize images, add ALT texts, optimize your headings for keywords that are relevant to your store, make sure your website has correct breadcrumbs set up. These are just a couple of ways to ensure good SEO but it’s a good place to start.

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Social media

Everyone’s on social media – make sure you are too. Create an Instagram account, run ads, and promote your store on TikTok. Generally, try to find out what your target audience is and where they’re mostly located.

Google ads

Yes, people still click on ads in search engines. And even if they don’t, they still see them, so it’s a great way to increase visibility to your store.

Add more sales channels

You can sell your Shopify products from other sales channels, including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok Shop, your other websites, Google and Youtube, to name a few. Keep in mind that some sales channels might only be available in certain countries.

In order to add other sales channels to your store, follow these steps:

1. From your Shopify dashboard, go to Settings.

2. Click on Apps and sales channels.

Sales channels on Shopify

3. Go to Shopify App Store and search for channels you want to add.

4. Install the channel to your store.

Facebook and Instagram sales channel for your Shopify store

Work on maximizing the sales

There are always ways to improve your business’ performance and increase sales.

Conversion rate optimization

If your store is getting decent traffic but that doesn’t reflect in the sales, it’s time to think of ways to optimize conversions. One way of doing that is by implementing conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategies. You can see your conversion rate by using analytics tools like Google Search Console.

In order to increase conversion rate, you can implement such strategies as enticing call-to-actions, limited-time sales, and running A/B tests on landing pages. You can also work on your Shopify blog which can be a great source of organic traffic, increase your store’s visibility, and eventually lead to sales.

Affiliate and influencer marketing

You can also become an affiliate partner and allow other websites to promote your products for a percentage of the revenue. In the same way, you can reach out to influencers or people with a substantial amount of followers, and ask them to promote your products.

Buy now, pay later options

Give your customers a change to pay for items later by implementing installment payments. You can install a Shopify app to help process these payments seamlessly.

Frequently asked questions

No, there are no laws requiring Shopify store owners to have a business license. You don’t have to be a legal business entity in order to sell on Shopify.

You have to be 18 years old to start using Shopify according to Shopify’s Terms of Service. If you are underage, you can set up a store with a parent as long as the ownership is in the hands of an adult.

Generally yes. You can sell anything from physical products like clothes to digital items like online courses. Just keep in mind that you have to abide by your country’s laws and that the sale of forbidden items is not permitted.

About the author
Nikoleta Kokleviciute
Nikoleta is a Marketing Manager at TinyIMG, an app for image and SEO optimization for Shopify merchants. Nikoleta loves diving deep into digital marketing, eCommerce, social media trends, and creating content that benefits its readers!