It is so much easier to sell products and services online than it was when I started out 12 years ago!
WooCommerce, Thrivecart, Squarespace, and Shopify – from digital downloads and eBooks through to coaching programs and courses, the platform you choose to sell your products through can have a huge impact on the success of your busines.
As Shopify is the one that I recommend to life coaches who want to make and sell planners, I thought I should tell you a bit about it and why I like it so much.
What is Shopify?
If you are looking to grow your online empire or monetise your hobby, Shopify is an excellent website platform, even if you’re a complete beginning and want to DIY this. With its extensive feature range, it is possible to sell physical products such as print planners and affirmation cards, alongside services such as courses and coaching programs.
At its core, Shopify is designed to sell physical products via your own website, however with the various tools and workarounds it is easy to sell your services as a product. After all, Shopify is designed to bring your business online so that you can reach more customers and grow your profits.
The benefits of Shopify
Predesigned themes – LOVE THESE. Who needs a web designer when you have a theme that looks amazing right out of the box? One of the main benefits of the Shopify website platform is its ease of use, with a range of simple themes that can be customised to suit your own branding.
Shopify makes everything as easy as possible, with various filters available to help you compare templates such as industry type, layout, style, and visual features. I find that the standard templates are all professional, easy to navigate and designed with sales in mind.
If you do not find anything to suit your business, it is possible to purchase premium designs from the Shopify Theme Store for less than $200 (!!) or various theme marketplaces. Although, if you are handy with coding the platform will provide access – they use Liquid, but honestly, you might use Shopify for years and never need to worry about that side of things.
Pricing – In exchange for a pretty low monthly fee you gain access to a fully hosted eCommerce website, which you can manage from anywhere with an internet connection.
Various packages are available including Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus. I recommend paying for a full year or even two years upfront, as you will be given a discount of up to 20%. There is also a 14-day free trial available, and if you do not finish the testing and building of your site it is usually possible to extend this.
Sales and marketing tools – There are a variety of apps available to support your marketing efforts, with out of the box solutions available through the Shopify interface.
Aside from your main online store, these potential sales channels include a separate shopping tab on your Facebook page, the ability to sell directly via Facebook Messenger, buy buttons which can be embedded in any website page or blog, shoppable Instagram posts and Amazon listings via your Shopify dashboard.
Keep it simple to start with, but know that there’s a LOT you can add on to enhance the experience.
Accepting payments – The cheapest way to accept payments via your online store is through the built-in payment system, known as Shopify Payments.
Through this standard system there are no transaction fees, however you will need to consider the card payment fee which is charged as a percentage of the overall transaction amount. Alternatively, there are more than 100 payment gateways available via third parties, which are always worth considering.
Excellent SEO – The Search Engine Optimisation features within the Shopify platform are great, especially compared to many other self-built website platforms.
On-page SEO is quick and easy to manage, with page titles, meta descriptions, alt text and headings easily changeable. It is also possible to tailor your website to meet the new Google Core Web Vitals which launch in June 2021.
My top 4 Shopify features
Variants – With physical products it is possible to set pricing and inventory levels for each variant.
However, if you sell services, the variants feature can be used to control the availability of places on a course or to limit the number of people who can sign up. It is also possible to use variants to list the date and time of potential slots, which is great if you run courses or coaching programs which require live attendance.
Booking apps – This one’s for the coaches and VA’s! Shopify offers a huge ecosystem of apps, including excellent form builders and booking apps which are excellent for service-based businesses.
In particular, I recommend the free Tipo appointment booking app and the POWR.io form builder, which both provide a range of useful options.
Abandoned cart recovery – This Shopify platform will help you to identify the potential customers which went part of the way through the purchase process, so that you can contact them with an incentive to complete their checkout, such as a discount code.
This is a great tool to push potentially lost sales, especially as the feature is available with all Shopify plans. It is possible to either manually view a list or to setup automated emails from your site to those which abandoned their carts.
Recurring memberships – If your business is based on the concept of customer memberships, the Recurring Memberships app is a great choice. This subscription management tool allows businesses to setup recurring payments, and it is possible to provide members only access to parts of your website.
Who can use Shopify?
When it comes to selling ‘products’, we all know that this term can be used to describe more than just tangible things.
There are many merchants who are using the Shopify platform to sell their products, including online courses, digital products, experiences, memberships, consultations, classes, and workshops.
If your business is selling a service or a digital download, Shopify can be easily tailored to suit your individual needs with a bit of coaxing.
I recommend the Digital Downloads app which is completely free and available through the Shopify App Store, which will allow you to provide your customers with a download link (useful for documents, freebies, audio meditations etc.).
It is also possible to customise the automated email template, so that you can provide details of how your service works and how to download their files – always remember to explain things really clearly to your customers.
Is Shopify the best checkout for selling my course or program?
In my opinion, Shopify is one of the best solutions if you sell products both online and offline and want something simple to set up elegantly, and powerful enough for you to stick with for the long term. Shopify is a platform you probably won’t grow out of.
I would say thte only restriction you might encounter is making long form sales pages for your SERVICES, as this can be slightly clunky with Shopify, and you might find that pairing Shopify with LeadPages or the PageFly plugin, or possibly the native Teachable (if you are selling courses or coaching) sales page – is the best workaround solution.
If you only have one or two PHYSICAL products, and the bulk of your business is services and coaching, it could be that WordPress (using my beloved Divi – like this site!) or Squarespace will work better for you, paired with Shopify Lite – this gives you the speedy checkout and valuable back end of Shopify, but the design flexibilty of WordPress or Squarespace.
Their pricing is super competitive, as there are various options available to suit businesses of every size, and if you are just getting started you will find that Shopify is incredibly easy to use, integrates well with all the other bits and pieces you need (KIND of – I would prefer a smoother integration with ConvertKit or Flodesk) and the free templates are attractive and smart, and the paid templates are really affordable and gorgeous.
So, if you are searching for ‘how do I sell my planner online?’ or ‘what is the best checkout for selling my card deck?’, overall, Shopify is a great option for product-based businesses.
You can try Shopify out for free HERE and if you need a hand, just let me know!
PS: If you’re thinking about WordPress and want to know more about Divi and why I use it for myself, head on over here.