The E-Shop: A Blogger’s Best Source of Income?
By: Taylor Davies

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blogging community digital commerce income

 

As I’ve learned more and more about the business side of blogging during my time at IFB, one of the most fascinating elements (or challenges, if you see it that way) has been discovering how we can diversify our revenue streams. That might sound like boring,  jargon-y business speak – but truly, the future of professional blogging will belong to those who can create new and interesting ways to make their passion profitable.

This fascination is what lead me to the e-shop. Lately, I have noticed icons and badges leading from personal style blogs to online shops, run by the blogger. Bloggers like Nicole Wayne of Gary Pepper and Gary Pepper Vintage and Katherine Kim who wrote The Katmosphere and currently runs Mikkat Market have had their own shops for a while, but even new bloggers are getting in on it.

To get an idea of what it takes to run an e-shop, I caught up with two bloggers who are each running very different e-shops. Stephanie Liu, who writes the personal style blog Honey & Silk,  just recently launched Last Night, a shop devoted exclusively to dresses. Chanelle Laurence runs a vintage e-shop, Penelope’s Vintage, as well as her blog, The Penelope Times.

Why start an e-shop?

For both of these women, starting an online shop was born out of a natural love for the kinds of clothing they sell. For Stephanie, she had always been a dress girl, and Chanelle, a vintage maven with dreams of starting her own line eventually.

“I wanted to create this online space dedicated for girls like me who just want dresses and who shop for new dresses for every occasion such as birthday and holiday parties, trips to Vegas, or fashion events,” says Stephanie.

How did you get started?

“I started off small,” Chanelle says, “taking photos of the clothes on mannequins outside of my house and listing a few items a week on eBay.” Soon this progressed to creating a logo with the help of her graphic designer boyfriend, and using herself as a model for her finds. “The next step was photo shoots with various photographers and listing items on Etsy as well. Currently I’m doing studio shots for a more cohesive look and listing items on numerous sites such as Market PubliqueChictopia and UsTrendy.”

For Stephanie, who is selling new product from vendors, her set-up process was a bit different. “It involved first defining my product and mission,” she says. “Knowing exactly what you want to do and what you can offer is key before moving forward. Write a business plan. Next is to find capital or investors for start-up costs including inventory and web.”

What kind of financial investment does it take to start a shop?

For Chanelle: The finances that go into her shop are start with these:

  • Cost of clothes
  • Fees for selling on the above listed sites (monthly)
  • Fees for the domain name and hosting (once a year)
  • Cost of photo shoot supplies (lighting, backdrop paper, tripod etc) – which is hopefully something you only buy once or every so often
  • Any payments made to models, web designers, or photographers
  • Cost of shipping supplies

Chanelle adds, “Another thing that I just started is taking shopping trips which is costly but a great write off. This of course didn’t happen all at once, it was a slow process. The more my store grew the more I could expand and spend on things like shipping supplies, etc. You start off assessing the situation and seeing what you absolutely have to spend, and what can wait”

For Stephanie, she stared with the small investments required of most start ups, creating her website, hosting it, and obtaining the inventory from distributors and brands.  “It didn’t cost too much for me to create the website,” says Stephanie, “because I did it all myself on an e-commerce platform, so inventory is the majority of my investment.”

… And the Blog?

For Chanelle, her shop shaped the style of her blog. “Originally my blog was for my store hence the name, The Penelope Times,” she says. “But when I saw that girls were making a living off of their blogs, I wanted in and switched it to a personal blog. Now, I’ll share blog posts on my store’s social media and I’ll wear my store’s clothes or write about my store’s events on my blog. It felt like it was time to marry them together and start taking advantage of both audiences as they’re both such a big part of me!”

“My shop doesn’t have overlap much with my blog,” says Stephanie. “Though, I do style some outfits with dresses from Last Night and promote it minimally on my blog, they are two separate entities. I do this because Last Night is not just for readers of Honey & Silk; it’s for all girls, even for those who don’t relate to my style on my blog.”

 

 

 

Are you making a profit from your e-shop?

“I think this year was the “break through” year for me,” Chanelle shares happily. “I could start taking some money from my shop’s profits to keep, which is really exciting for me”

Stephanie’s e-shop is still in it’s infancy, so she hopes that the earnings element will come soon. “Since I just started a month ago, I’m not making a profit per say, and haven’t broken even from starting up but I am operating with a profit margin.”

 

Starting an e-shop is a much bigger undertaking than some of the more traditional revenue streams for blogs such as advertising and affiliate marketing. Would you start an e-shop to accompany your blog? Do you have one already? Share your thoughts in the comments.

[Image credits: Honey & Silk; The Penelope Times]

Comments

  1. Abiola says:

    Great advice! Thank you.

  2. Avatar of KOOS
    KOOS says:

    Great post! Last Night is such a professional-looking site.

  3. Abiola says:

    Excellent advice. Thank you!

  4. Avatar of Alexandria Cianciulli

    Last Night’s site looks great! I am in the works of opening up an ebay vintage store and selling paintings on my blog. Thanks for the advice!

  5. Dolly Dahl says:

    I have an online store and have had for quite a while. It went through several incarnations, starting on Ebay and Etsy and then trying out some other platforms. The downsides to Ebay and Etsy are that they take a cut of your money so unless you price your items at just the right sweet spot you can actually end up not making anything on your sales. The upside, however, is that you get a built in community and exposure. You are bound to show up in some search results and get some sales that way. About a year ago I moved to Storenvy.com and have loved it. It’s free and they don’t take a cut of my sales. I like that. They are fairly new but are starting to get quite a community going. Also, unlike Etsy, you can sell new, handmade, vintage, housewares, whatever you want. So zero start up cost involved in that transition, however you will have to work a little harder to promote your shop to get sales. There is a little bit of customization you can do to your storefront too which is pretty great for carrying through a brand presence from your blog to your store.

    xoxox
    Dolly Dahl

  6. Avatar of CynthiaCM
    Cynthia says:

    Works well if you’re a common size. How am I supposed to sell my size 4 1/2 and size 5 shoes?

  7. Avatar of Shamelessly Overdressed

    Great post! I’d actually love to hear / read more about how these ladies were able to either create (design) or source their merchandise…. I’ve thought about starting an e-shop many times but have no idea how to get in touch with suppliers or manufacturers and have no contacts in that area!

  8. Anessa says:

    I’m thinking of starting my own e-shop. I thank you for your truth about your e-shop.

  9. Avatar of Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I see these popping up everywhere! I can’t imagine the amount of work it takes, but I love when my favorite bloggers do it because I know I will want nearly everything!

    http://www.glitzyblues.com

  10. Kat says:

    I suppose I came to the process from the other way around… I am a Miche bag rep, and began blogging not just about the bags, but about larger fashion issues in general.
    This blog is just terrific! Thanks so much for the resources!
    Kat

  11. Amanda says:

    This is definitely a great tool for bloggers to make extra cash. Another great tool is the Poshmark iphone app where you can sell items from your shop or own closet! That way, if you don’t have a huge following like some of the above bloggers- you can still sell to a fashion loving community! I’ve made hundreds!

    http://www.poshmark.com -join!! it’s free! and follow me- @fashionableeme

    <3 Amanda

  12. Avatar of Irina Dorn

    Very interesting post!!!
    I want to share my experience as well.
    I’m an international online personal shopper. I’ve been doing this for almost three years. I have clients from all over the world who contact me via social networks and ask me to purchase items for them in the United States and ship it to their country.
    In the past year I lunched a blog to reach more people. A few months after that I created a website where I moved the blog to and also created an online store.
    I picked up on a trend for the blog which my readers and customers seem to like – I check out different stores and take shots of new and interesting items.
    This has worked great with Anna Dello Russo Collection for example – I bought some items from the collection, wrote a post about it and listed the items in my online store. Within three days I sold half of my inventory!!

    My concern is that with so many platforms for listing your products the market is going to get too overwhelmed. However, if you have a hot item and a strong following – you should have no problems in any market.

    Please check out my links:
    Website: http://www.brandnamesus.com
    Blog: http://www.brandnamesus.com/blog.html
    Shop: http://www.brandnamesus.com/shop.html
    Anna Dello Russo: http://brandnamesus.com/2/post/2012/10/anna-dello-russo-for-hm.html

    Best,
    Irina

  13. Avatar of Trisha Renee
    Trisha Renee says:

    This was a great article. I am considering selling some of my things as well and this is great advice.

  14. Avatar of FaconConnect
    FaconConnect says:

    Starting an E-Shop sounds like such a great idea. It’s something I think about all the time when trying to determine ways to make money from blogging. This is a great article. Thank you! StushiGal Style – http://blog.faconconnect.com

  15. I’ve had an eBay store selling secondhand designer bags and clothes for the past 11 years but only started a blog 2.5 years ago. I’ve just incorporated both together via my blog. It’s lovely to receive emails from my customers who have been following my blog for quite sometime.

  16. Avatar of Pinksole

    I’ve had my online store on Etsy for 3 years now, an independent online store for bandage dresses and jewelry for a few months. I finally seriously started blogging in july. And I have a full time job. its crazy and hectic at times but I love it. If anyone need any help please feel free to shoot me an email.
    xo
    Rachelle
    http://pinksole.com

  17. Ebony says:

    I just started my blog, It will be 3 months next week. I started with the intention of eventually creating an e-shop, however I wanted to get my fan base up before I took that venture. I want to know my audience and target before I begin that process. I don’t want to half step when it comes to anything that has my name on it. I would prefer to do all of my research, and have a solid plan before jumping into this venture, but I am super excited to get this show on the road!

  18. Beckahebrew says:

    This was a great article. I am considering selling some of my things as well and this is great advice.

  19. Avatar of
    snowblackblog says:

    This is a great idea. I used Asos Marketplace once a long time ago, but now I have been thinking about re-stocking and selling more stuff. It’s easier when you are already using a platform or site for selling stuff, the only down side being that they take commission from your sales plus monthly rent, but it saves you building a website (something a webdesigner could charge 100s of bucks), plus you don’t have to worry about setting up a payment system because online retailers like Asos have that already sorted for you.

  20. Avatar of House of Le'Moore

    Great post! I started out first with a brick and mortar store, moved to Etsy, started blogging and then on to eBay. It has been a journey but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I sell vintage clothing mainly and the only problem is that I keep falling in love with my merchandise.

  21. Missthabeng says:

    Totally worth considering. I have grown into blogging a great deal, this is not a bad way to try make money while I have fun!

  22. Avatar of Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    This is such a great piece, I’m thrilled to read all of this. I’d love to give this a try, thank you for the advice!

  23. Avatar of ShoppeGirls
    ShoppeGirls says:

    Thank you so much for your advice. I have a little big cartel shop linked on my blog.

    http://www.shoppegirls.blogspot.com.au/

    I am starting an online children”s boutique also due to launch in a few weeks

  24. Dayner says:

    I agree, this is a great revenue stream, but it’s hard work and takes a lot of commitment. I run my fashion jewellery & accessories store http://www.shopmozzypop.com but I was already doing this before I started blogging – for me the blog accompanied my store. It takes a lot of time, especially sourcing/creating stock and editing your store photos! But I do it because I love it.

    I love reading articles like this where bloggers are doing similar things!

    Dayner x my blog – mozzypop.com

  25. jb says:

    Great information. I have an e-shop, and this was helpful in giving me ideas on how to combine both.

  26. Rupam Guha says:

    This is a great idea for any finance related blog also. We can sell any services by that.

  27. Miranda says:

    I would really love to start up an e-shop but would need to save up a bit of money and probably would need to be a little bit older. I know though I will start one when I can get an ongoing job that I can get a reasonable amount of money for then some day the shop will be on my side bar of my blog. Great post these are some of my favorites.
    Miranda
    mirandarue.wordpress.com

  28. Jessica says:

    Thanks a lot, been meaning to start an EShop but I have no idea as to how to start and how t contact designers for their stuff. Hope there will be more posts talking about how to collaborate with designers to provide clothes on you EShop. Thank u

  29. Online shopping for dresses can give comfortable, time saving and cost effective shopping experience.

  30. Great Post.
    Nowadays, its very easy to start an online shop.
    Its kind of get set and GO..
    Lot of options available in the market to choose from.
    However, there are certain things you need to take care.
    1) Choose appropriate name
    2) Build your brand
    3) Product Photography

    You may hire freelancers or agency to help you.

    Cheers..!!
    Hatim Laxmidhar
    twiw.in | info@twiw.in

  31. david grey says:

    online shopping is gaining popular as internet rises its fame. so in the same fashion our online website portal
    has vast range of vibrant prodcuts to serve you at affordable price ranges.
    So if a blogger targets an E commerce website or Online shopping then they can make a handsome amount of money out of it.
    by lemuda.com

  32. To open up an online shopping store it requires exposure and with the help of blogging you can easily earn after promoting yourself through blogging.

  33. Really e-shop is the better source of income. it is an great idea. Thanks for sharing this informative blog it contains very useful information.

  34. Very interesting post.
    Just launched an online Vintage Boutique and we’ve merged it with our blog.
    Its a curate selection of vintage/ vintage designer clothing and accessories. Hoping to generate a lot of grownth and also have fun doing what we love. Fashion. Check it out, link below.
    http://thebackroommtl.com/

  35. rajesh says:

    Buy and sell Shoes, Clothing, Bags, more Online shopping and everything else on shopeeonline , the world&apos;s online marketplace

    http://www.shopeeonline.com/

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