Selling Merch With Shopify [Crash Course]
Shopify is the leading online store platform. Many of your favorite brands use Shopify to create their online store. It's not free (it's around $26 per month), but it pays for itself with only 1 sale (as you’ll most likely be selling t-shirts at that same price or higher).
Shopify isn’t just an online store either. If you don’t already have a website, you can design your website using Shopify.
If you do already have a website (either built on Squarespace, Wordpress or Wix) but still want to use Shopify, you can do that too as Shopify will allow you to embed products on other websites (like your artist site) with simple html codes that work for websites on all platforms.
Since there are many amazing apps that you can install to give your store even more capabilities (like giving discount codes to super fans on their birthday), Shopify is great if you plan on expanding and selling lots of merch.
So first you'll need to visit Shopify.com and create an account. You can start with a 7 day free trial.
Once you create your account you’ll be brought to your dashboard. It looks like this:
Your dashboard is where you can do things like add products, track orders and sales, design your store, create discount codes, and add apps (like Printful).
You can do all of these things using the menu on the left.
Home - This is how you access the main dashboard that has a snapshot of your most recent sales as well as some other cool options.
Orders - This is where you keep track of all of your orders.
Products - This is where you can see all of your products, plus add new products and create collections of products to sell (for instance, you may have a “winter collection” with hoodies and beanies).
Customers - This is where you’ll see a database of customers and their contact info. You can export this information and import it into a newsletter program like Mailchimp, and send email updates and discounts to your customers to make them buy more.
Analytics - This is where you can see some really awesome reports such as your total sales, your returning customer rate, average order value, and so much more.
Marketing - This is where you can connect your Shopify to Facebook and create marketing campaigns.
Discounts - This is where you can create discount codes to give to customers (and potential customers).
Apps - Shopify has a ton of apps that you can download to give your store even more functionality such as the Printful app that allows you to drop-ship your merch (we’ll get into that in a bit), there’s also other apps that give your store some cool features. You can explore the Shopify app store and see what sticks out to you.
Sales Channels - Underneath those options you’ll see a “sales channels” section. This is where you add all the ways you want to sell your merch. For instance, you can sell merch via an online store that you create with Shopify (you may see the online store option there already), or you can sell it using a “buy button” which allows you to embed products on a separate site. You can add sales channels by clicking the plus “+” sign and choosing the sales channel that you want to add.
Settings - The settings option is extremely important as it’s where you set up your payment providers (so that you can receive payments). It’s also where you configure your shipping settings, customize your customers check out process, plus control all of your billing options and much more.
Adding Your Products (print and ship yourself)
If you already have your merch designed and you plan on printing and shipping them yourself, you can click on PRODUCTS on the left menu, click on ADD PRODUCT and fill out all of the necessary information about your product.
You can add as many products as you want by repeating the above steps.
You can group products together into collections (for instance, a “winter collection” that has hoodies and beanie hats that are great to wear in the winter). At Taste Creators we have a “Signature Series” collection with items that have the Taste Creators logo in the middle.
Here are a few examples of collections that you might create:
clothes for men, women, or children
items of a certain type, such as lamps, cushions, or rugs
items on sale
items in a certain size or color
seasonal products, such as holiday cards and decorations
To learn more about creating collections click here.
connecting your store to printful (to set up drop-shipping)
If you don’t have products ready to sell, and you instead want to set up drop-shipping through Printful, you’ll first need to connect Printful to your Shopify store:
Be sure that your Printful account is already created.
Click on APPS on the left menu.
Click on VISIT THE SHOPIFY APP STORE.
Once you’re in the Shopify app store, simply search for PRINTFUL and follow the instructions to install Printful into Shopify. It may ask for your login credentials.
Once Printful is connected to your store, you’ll see it show up on the APPS page.
To ensure that products are synced to your store properly, you’ll need to add products via Printful (not the normal way which is by clicking on Products on the menu and adding them manually).
To add products that will be drop-shopped with Printful, click on APPS on the main menu, then click PRINTFUL app.
Once you click on the Printful app, you’ll see another screen pop up within Shopify. Once you’re on that screen you’ll want to click on Products on the menu and you’ll be taken to the following screen:
To add a new product and automatically sync it to your Shopify store, click the red “add product” button.
This pop up will appear (which is Printful’s mockup generator) and you’ll be able to choose what product you want to add, customize it, choose prices, get the mockups and add it to your store.
The products will automatically sync to your Shopify store once you’re finished.
Using Shopify’s “Buy Button” Option
If you already have a website and you’re only using Shopify for the online store capabilities, then you can think about using Shopify’s “buy button” option which allows you to embed your products on your current website without having to design an entire store on Shopify.
Using only the Buy Button option (and not designing an online store) also saves you money as it will allow you to downgrade your Shopify Plan to the “Shopify Lite” plan which is only $9/month (instead of close to $30/month). You’ll first need to upgrade to a basic Shopify plan and then downgrade to the Shopify Lite plan.
To use the Buy Button option, simply click on “Sales Channels” on the left menu and click the plus “+” sign. On the next screen click the plus “+” sign next to “Buy Botton” to add the Buy Button option.
When adding new products, make sure that “buy button” is selected for your sales channels so that you can embed them on your website.
To embed the products and Buy Buttons to your website, click on “Buy Button” on the main menu, then click “create a buy button” (as seen in the photo below).
Once you click “create a buy button” you will be asked to choose whether you want to create it for a product or for a collection.
If you have created a collection of products that you want to display on your website, choose the “collection” option. If you simply want to create a buy button for individual products, click the “product buy button” option.
We chose to create a buy button for one of our beanie hats.
On the next screen you’ll see options to customize how your product and Buy Button will look on your website. You can choose things like sizes and colors of the button plus choose how they are displayed.
Once you’ve customized your Buy Button click on “Next” in the top right corner. You will be brought to the following page:
To add your Buy Button to your website, click the “copy code” button to copy the code.
If you have a Squarespace website, you’ll want to login to the back end of your site, create a new page named “SHOP” or “STORE” and add the “CODE” option. Paste the HTML code for your buy button into the CODE option so it will appear on your website. For more detailed instructions on how to do this, click here.
Designing Your Online Store
If you want to create an online store (instead of just embedding products using the Buy Button), Shopify makes it really easy to design a professional and aesthetically pleasing online store.
To design yours, make sure you add “online store” as a sales channel. Once you add it, it will show up on the menu on the left.
Click on “online store” under “sales channels” on the menu and as you scroll down, you’ll see a few different options.
Free Themes - Shopify has a few themes that you can use for free99. Check them out by clicking on “Explore free themes.”
Paid Themes - If you aren’t satisfied with the free themes, you can purchase themes via the Shopify Theme Store, Simply click on “visit theme store” to get access to paid themes. You can also check out the Themeforest database for more paid themes.
Installing A Theme
You can add a theme in a few ways:
You can add a free theme quickly and easily from your dashboard.
If you already paid for a theme and have it in a
.zipfile on your computer, then you can upload it.
Shopify has a great guide to installing themes if you get stumped.
Customizing a Theme
Once your theme is installed you can customize it to fit your brand using the theme editor. You can access the theme editor on the left menu. Click on “online store” and you’ll see another drop down menu. Click on “themes” and you’ll be brought to the same theme dashboard you were on to install the theme.
Once on your theme dashboard you should see your theme on the right with a button that says “actions” and another that says “customize.”
Click on the “Customize” button.
Once you click on the customize button you’ll be taken to the following screen:
You customize your theme using the controls on the left menu. You can add sections to customize your home page (you can add slideshows, an announcement bar, a newsletter subscribe form, text, single images and so much more). Simply click “add section” button under “sections” on the menu.
You can also click on “theme settings” to adjust the colors, fonts, social media links and more.
Aside from selling your merch on your home page, you can also create other pages for your site (such as an “about” page or and “contact” page). You can actually turn your shopify store into a full blown website if you wanted to that contains your bio, music, videos, photos, press and more.
You can add these pages by clicking on “Pages” under the “online store” menu on the left.
Shopify has an awesome guide on creating pages, you can check that out here if you want more detailed instructions.
Adding A Menu
Once you’ve added your pages you’ll need to add your navigation menu so people can access those pages.
Typically Shopify sites come with two default menu’s already built in:
The Main Menu is the menu that shows up at the top (or in the sidebar) of your website. It’s the main menu that people will use to navigate the pages on your site.
The Footer Menu is the menu that shows up at the bottom of your website. Usually people check out the footer for things like
To do edit the main menu, click on “main menu” and you’ll see this screen pop up:
Simply click “add menu item” (outlined in red in the photo above) to add a new page to your menu. You’ll be able to link to each of the pages you created in the previous section, plus specific menu items and collections.
For more details on Shopify navigation click here.
Adding Your Domain + Making Your Store Public
So you’ve added items to your store, designed it how you’d like and now you’re in the home stretch!
If you’ve already upgraded your Shopify account then your store is already live as Shopify gives you your own domain based on your store name (example: yourstorename.myshopify.com).
If you already have a website (separate from your Shopify store) then have a few choices:
You can either:
Add items or collections to your website with Shopify’s “buy button” (as explained in an earlier section).
Add a “shop” tab to the menu on your own website and link it to your new Shopify store (using the built in domain Shopify gave you).
Create a sub-domain and link your store to it (for example shop.tastecreators.com). Even if you use a subdomain you should add a SHOP button to your website’s main menu and have it link to your sub-domain. Creating a sub-domain is different depending on your domain hosting provider. If you want to do this but are unsure how to do it, visit your domain provider and ask them how to create a sub-domain.
If you don’t already have a domain name, you can purchase it through Shopify, or you can buy it through another domain hosting site (like Godaddy.com for instance) and connect it to your Shopify store.
To add a domain to your store, click on “Online Store” on the main menu, then click on “Domains” on the sub-menu that pops up.
If you don’t have a domain, click on “Buy New Domain” and Shopify will walk you through the steps.
If you already have a domain name, click “connect existing domain” and Shopify will walk you through the steps to connect it.