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How To Start An Online Store With No Money In 2024

how-to-start-an-online-store-with-no-money-in-2024
How To Start An Online Store With No Money In 2024

If your 9-to-5 has become tiresome, and you dream of financial freedom, starting an online store could be the answer.

In 2024, worldwide retail eCommerce sales are projected to reach $6.9 trillion, highlighting the industry’s immense potential.

Today, you can start your own online business without initial investment, inventory, or in-depth entrepreneurial knowledge. There are plenty of business models that can help you get started. 

In this guide, we show you how to start an online store with no money by covering everything you need for success – from choosing a business model and niche to sourcing, designing, and marketing products.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links. This comes at no additional cost to you.

When starting an online store, finding the right business model is vital, especially if you don’t have the startup capital to invest. Thankfully, the eCommerce industry provides various options, which we explore below.

While each is a bit different, every one of them is worth considering and can help you make money online.

Print on Demand

A print-on-demand profit calculation example showing how making eight sales for $20 a day will result in a $2911.52 monthly profit.

In short, it’s a beginner-friendly order fulfillment method allowing you to design, create, and sell custom apparel, accessories, and even pet products. You don’t need to worry about inventory, storage space, or logistics.

A brief overview of how Print on Demand works:

  • Step 1: You sign up for an account with a supplier.
  • Step 2: Choose a product you want to sell.
  • Step 3: Apply a design to the product.
  • Step 4: Select a sales channel – an eCommerce platform or marketplace.
  • Step 5: Add products to your online store and start selling.

After a sale goes through, the print-on-demand supplier coordinates all processes, including sourcing, printing, packaging, and shipping products directly to the customers.

With Print on Demand, starting a business has low upfront costs – and only if you decide to sell on eCommerce platforms and marketplaces, which typically have various fees or paid features, or if you invest money in paid marketing.

Industry’s data: Experts forecast that the global print-on-demand market size will reach $38.21 billion in 2030.

Dropshipping

A woman managing her dropshipping orders.

While similar to Print on Demand, dropshipping is slightly different – you can’t customize the products you sell. Otherwise, similar principles apply, allowing you to sell a wide variety of products without holding inventory or worrying about logistics.

Typically, this is how dropshipping works:

  • Step 1: Agree with a supplier on prices, rates, and list products on your store.
  • Step 2: A customer purchases your product.
  • Step 3: You or the automated system forwards the information to the supplier.
  • Step 4: The dropshipping supplier sources or produces, packages, and sends the product to the buyer.

You pay the wholesale price, and the customers pay the price you set. In other words, you simply sell the supplier’s products and take a cut for yourself.

Industry’s data: It’s estimated that the global dropshipping market size will reach $476.1 billion in 2026.

Third-Party Fulfillment Centers

A third-party fulfillment center warehouse filled with boxes.

If you already have products to sell but want to skip out on logistics and the cost of warehousing, partner with a third-party fulfillment center.

For example, companies like ShipHero or Red Stag Fulfillment can connect with an eCommerce website and handle warehousing, packaging, and shipping.

While the process can vary depending on the company and services you need, it typically looks like this:

  • Step 1: You contact the fulfillment center, negotiate rates (some may offer a pay-as-you-go model), and send the inventory to them.
  • Step 2: After a customer places an order on your eCommerce website, the order, either manually or automatically, is forwarded to the fulfillment center.
  • Step 3: The warehouse team picks and packs the product and adds the order receipt and details.
  • Step 4: The shipping carrier collects the order from the fulfillment center and delivers it to your customer.

Whichever of these three business models you choose, thoroughly vet the companies to avoid trouble – talk to their representatives, examine their websites, and read third-party reviews.

Make It Happen Today!

How to Start an Online Store for Free: 10 Easy Steps

With a bit of patience, anyone can enter the world of eCommerce, start their own business, and make money online. Here’s a thorough guide.

1. Select a Niche

A woman researching her product niche.

A niche refers to a specialized market segment for a particular product. With the right niche, you can attract customers, enjoy less competition, and increase profits.

If a niche market is too broad, it won’t resonate with people. If it’s too narrow, finding customers may be challenging. A small business should aim for a healthy balance.

You can find a trending niche with quick market research.

  • Identify trends. Facebook, Instagram, and X provide valuable insights into customer preferences.
  • Use market research tools. Try Semrush or BuzzSumo to see if your ideas are popular enough to build a business around them.

2. Identify Profitable Products

When starting an online business, making a collection of products potential customers will gladly buy is essential.

Here’s how to find the best-selling items for a business.

  • Try product research tools. Sell The Trend and Niche Scraper are great for identifying products that are in high demand.
  • Analyze competition. Research other businesses, their product collections, and customer reviews. Analyze this information to identify and sell products that are similar but better.
  • Use marketplace search bars. For example, when using the search bar of Etsy or Amazon, you’ll get suggestions after typing only a few letters. Type in a niche and a list of products will appear in a drop-down window.

3. Find a Reliable Supplier

A woman talking on the phone with her online store supplier.

While there are many dropshipping websites and suppliers, they’re each different, so research and vet them carefully.

Here’s what you should pay attention to:

  • Supplier’s reputation. Search for their existing merchant reviews and check whether they have good ratings.
  • Location. If possible, choose a local business to guarantee quick delivery and reduce the cost of shipping.
  • Quality and selection. A good supplier provides high-quality wholesale products at a reasonable cost. Order samples to make sure they meet your standards.
  • Turnaround time. Ask – better yet, test – their turnaround time and check whether they can meet your requirements without delays.

Don’t trust a supplier without confirming that they’re a real and reliable company – get in touch with them, read verified reviews, and go through search results.

Quick Tips

In Printify’s print-on-demand dropshipping supplier database, you can access over 80 thoroughly vetted Print Providers.

Take a look at other suppliers who provide product-sourcing services.

4. Create Product Designs

If your focus is solely on dropshipping, you can skip this step. However, if you go with the print-on-demand business model, here’s how to create original product designs.

Start by exploring sites like Dribbble, Pinterest, and Behance to gain inspiration and understand what’s trending.

Then, use tools like the Printify Mockup Generator, Canva, or GIMP to create a design.

With our beginner-friendly Mockup Generator, you don’t need to be a professional designer to create your own designs. Easily upload graphics, images, logos, or create original designs from scratch with the help of our AI Image Generator, Text Editor, and free Graphics Library.

5. Establish a Brand

A collection of font and color samples for a company logo.

Good branding sets a business apart from the competition. If you build a brand that resonates with your target audience, captivating their attention and developing an emotional connection is easier.

Firstly, come up with a business name. Three hallmarks of a great business name are simplicity, originality, and memorability.

Then, consider the following aspects:

  • Vision. What’s the mission of your business? Tell customers your story and motivation for starting an online boutique. Why should they trust you?
  • Values. What do you stand for? Animal rights? Environmental protection? If your customers share the same values, it’ll be easier to gain their trust.
  • Voice. Tailor your tone of voice so that it appeals to your target audience. Use it consistently across all channels.
  • Visuals. Design visual assets (like a logo, illustrations, icons) in a consistent color scheme highlighting your brand’s personality. Try Pixlr or Adobe Express to get started.

Quick Tip

Learn how to build a brand identity that reflects the heart and soul of a business.

6. Register Your Business

Each country, state, and city has different rules and regulations, so it’s important to understand the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.

Disclaimer

Intended for informational purposes. To prevent any confusion and legal issues, we highly advise consulting a qualified legal professional who can provide guidance tailored to your business needs.

Firstly, evaluate various business structures to find the right one.

Then, go to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website and check their guide on registering a business. While registering isn’t always necessary for small businesses, without doing so, you could miss out on personal liability protection as well as legal and tax benefits.

In some cases, you might need a business license or a permit. You can learn how to get a business license from our article.

7. Choose Where to Sell

A graphic of Printify's integrations – Etsy, Shopify, TikTok Shop, Walmart, eBay, and more.

When learning how to start an online store with no money, it’s important to choose the right sales channel. Whether you want to open an online store on an eCommerce platform or a marketplace, both have their own features, capabilities, and limitations you need to consider.

With eCommerce platforms, you can build a visually appealing store without the help of a website designer. They have drag-and-drop features for designing, pre-made templates, various payment processor options, and professional themes that streamline the whole process.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Seamless personalization
  • Customer retargeting
  • Control over customer data
  • A store may take time to build
  • Higher marketing costs
  • Some require technical skills

Quick Tips

An even faster and easier way to start selling is by using the Printify Pop-Up Store. We fulfill every order on demand, so there’s no upfront cost to get started. Then, we deliver straight to your customer’s doorstep.

While some eCommerce platforms have a monthly fee, they offer free trials so you can understand whether it’s the right one for your business.

With marketplaces, setup is quick and easy – perfect for small businesses just getting started. You simply open a store and list products for sale to an existing customer base. However, due to limited customization, building a brand is much more difficult.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Easy and quick setup
  • Pre-existing traffic
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Easy maintenance
  • Less customization, creative control
  • Highly competitive
  • Strict policies
  • Fees

A few examples:

If none of these fit your business needs, but you have coding experience, consider our Printify API. Integrate it into your own website to develop personalized functionality and automate the workflow.

8. Make and List Your Products

Printify's Pop-Up storefront with various products listed – puzzles, t-shirts, long-sleeves, and more.

After choosing an eCommerce solution, list the products on your store. Each platform and supplier will have a different procedure.

For example, with Printify’s print-on-demand service, it’s a straightforward process that goes like this:

After a design is ready, click Save product and do the following:

  •   Select a title image and mockup views to display in your store.
  •   Choose a title image color. If available, because some products may have only one variant.
  •   Edit the title.
  •   Write a description.
  •   Set or use a suggested price and profit margin.

When all is ready, click Publish to add it to your store.

After you make a sale, our Print Providers will handle all the heavy lifting – printing, packaging, and shipping.

9. Work on Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way to increase your store’s visibility and ranking in search engines to get more traffic.

Optimize your store by:

  • Adding relevant keywords in product titles, descriptions, and elsewhere throughout the store. Find keywords with a research tool like Semrush or Ahrefs.
  • Using great product photos with keywords in their meta descriptions.
  • Building a mobile-friendly website that loads quickly and has a user-friendly interface.

Take a look at the best SEO courses and our SEO Masterclass for Driving Sales to learn more.

Quick Tip

You can also increase your store’s visibility with paid advertising, like Google Ads.

10. Promote Your Online Store

A marketing team working on their online store promotion strategy.

Without an all-encompassing marketing strategy, new businesses are unlikely to succeed. Try various marketing channels to expand your customer base and get more sales.

  • Social media. A free way to advertise. Establish a social media presence on various platforms. Post captivating product photos, offer giveaways, and run contests to drive traffic to your store.
  • Content marketing. Another marketing strategy you can start with no money. If you consistently publish relevant content, you can gain your customers’ trust.

Additionally, consider starting a YouTube channel. YouTube videos are a great way to engage with your target audience and showcase your products.

Make It Happen Today!

Why Open an Online Store With Printify?

With Printify’s print-on-demand services, opening an online store is easy. We provide everything you need to design, create, and start selling one-of-a-kind products.

Start an online business without investing in inventory or storage space.

Our print-on-demand services are 100% free and accessible to everyone, everywhere.

Anyone can open and run an online store without the complexities of producing, packaging, and shipping products.

Whatever you’d like to sell, the Printify Catalog has more than 900 products to suit any business needs.

We provide seamless integrations with all the major eCommerce platforms and marketplaces, so you can easily start selling today.

How to Make an Online Store for Free: A Summary

As we conclude our guide on how to start an online store with no money, we hope you found the information helpful, providing enough inspiration to take the first step.

A brief recap of the steps you should take:

  • Select a niche
  • Identify profitable products
  • Find a reliable supplier
  • Create designs
  • Establish a brand
  • Register your business
  • Choose where to sell
  • Make and list your products
  • Work on SEO
  • Promote your online store

While starting a small business requires patience, persistence, and planning, it’s a truly rewarding journey.

Start a Print-On-Demand Business Today!

This originally appeared on Printify and is available here for wider discovery.
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