When a lot of people think of Lylia Rose, they think of an online fashion boutique and not a blog. This is because Lylia Rose started as exactly that. In the beginning my website was an ecommerce store with a blog on the side. Now it has switched. Lylia Rose is now a UK lifestyle blog with a small shop on the side. Before discovering my passion for blogging, my passion was in ecommerce. I’d spent several years working as an Ecommerce Order Fulfilment Manager for a popular clothing label. It seemed only natural for me to set up my own online store as I had such a passion for online selling.
I never researched the market and just took the plunge when I was on maternity with my daughter. What started as making and selling cards on Etsy, evolved into a fashion accessories website of my own. I never had a business plan or an aim. It all just kind of happened. I secretly hoped I could make lots of money from it, but realistically I knew it was just something smaller on the side and a hobby if anything at all. It’s now a small side hustle of mine and after considering closing my store, I have decided to continue with my little shop with a much smaller selection of goods as blogging is now my main focus.
Here are a few (honest) things I learnt from running my own shop business.
Honest things I learnt running my online shop business:
(Your new best friend when you run an online shop from home)
Everyone is doing it
Yes, really. Everyone is doing it. When I started I didn’t realise quite how many people were trying to do exactly the same thing as me. As soon as I started networking on Facebook and Twitter back in 2012-2013 I quickly realised every man and his wife was trying to set up their own business selling something, or at least every mum on maternity leave! This meant my idea was not unique and it was easy to be lost amongst the waves of other people selling the same or similar items. Unless I had a very unique selling point I really wasn’t that different to anyone else.
There is a positive though – I was able to virtually meet and network with so many wonderful likeminded folk on a daily basis, sharing the highs and lows of trying to set up our own businesses as busy mums.
Outgoings can be a killer
After 3000 orders in 3 years (taking off my maternity leave) I’ve learnt quite a bit! I’ve learnt that outgoings for a small ecommerce business selling low value items really can be a killer. With the majority of my items selling at around £5, there really isn’t much profit to be made. Take away the cost of the item, the packaging, the postage, the eBay fees, the PayPal fees, the advertising costs and there’s really only pence left. It’s much better to be selling a higher value item, especially if selling on eBay. Sometimes it's much better to sell on your own website instead of eBay to reduce outgoings, if you can get the customers to your own website. You could sell wallets on eBay for example, but your outgoings will be much lower if you can sell from your own website and avoid the costly eBay fees and sponsored listing promo costs. Sometimes you can sell items via dropshipping or getting a commission using affiliate links which means you don't even need to buy stock and hold goods. If you are selling your own products then you need to be savvy with your postage too. There can be huge differences in postage costs between companies. Use Parcel2Go to find the best deal for your package.
They won’t come
‘Build it and they will come’ is perhaps the most useless saying I have ever heard. No, they won’t come. You have to get out there and sell, sell, sell! Interact, engage, build a community and fan base, talk to your customers, network with likeminded businesses, promote on social media, and build your email list. Just because you build a website, it doesn’t mean they will come.
I naively thought as soon as I built my website, I would be found on Google and the customers would be flocking over to purchase my wares, but not so. After a few days of no website visitors I realised I had to get out there and market myself to the max.
I only had daily sales when I was promoting my shop all day long on Twitter (or Facebook in the beginning). Plus I took part in up to 13 networking hours a day chatting to likeminded folk. When I didn't do this, sales would stop.
It’s hard, hard work
Running your own business is hard work. When you’re doing it by yourself you have to be everything. The photographer, the content creator, the website designer, the admin, the finance, the picker, the packer, the marketer, the advertiser and so on! Every role is covered by you. There’s also no switching off. Your business will quickly become your baby and you won’t be able to stop thinking about it! The determination to succeed will make the hard work worth it, but it can also be exhausting. I really don’t think anyone understands how much work goes into running your own business until they’ve tried it themselves.
Though these may all be seen as negatives, they really don’t have to be. It’s been a huge learning curve and from every negative comes a positive – a lesson learned, an eye-opener, a deeper understanding of a process. I really have learnt so much from running my own business over the past few years. With thanks to my online store I have surprisingly found a new passion in blogging and have managed to make my blog my full time job! You really never know what is around the corner and what opportunities will arise for you unless you give it a try. If you are thinking of launching your own business, I say go for it! You can learn along the way like I did and make plenty of mistakes (like I did) which will help to better yourself in the future.