School of Side Hustle Lesson 2: From Concept to Commerce

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In Lesson One: Create & Cultivate + Weebly talked brand building basics. We worked through some simple, but necessary brand building exercises. And we read up on how Emily McDowell grew her online card side-hustle into a legit brand. So let’s turn the lens on you for a minute.

You’ve done the brand work. You’ve figured out your three adjectives. You’ve played “This Not That,” and you’re ready. But, you’re not. But.... you are. You think. *Scratches head.*

Are you ready? It’s a hard question to answer because the “launch my biz” trepidation tremors are real. Of the hundreds of women we talk to about entrepreneurship the common thread is “the leap.” At one point they’ve all faced the challenge of closing their eyes and sprinting straight ahead. You need guts, because as you know, without guts there is no glory.

Watch: Lesson 2   From Concept To Commerce

Carly Kuhn, AKA The Cartorialist, had to take one such leap. And it all started with a secret Instagram persona. When she launched @theCartorialist she was working full time on “Chelsea Lately.” She had no clue what her illustration  side hustle would turn into, nor did she want it to look like she was trying to switch careers. However, Carly did know that she had to show the world the artist within. “Working in comedy,” Carly says, “I thought it may be awkward to tell my coworkers “Hey guys, I started an Instagram account where I draw people, check it out!’”

But she gathered her courage and did it.

“I think the reason I had the courage to actually go through with it was because I had been doing Improv and Sketch comedy for a few years. Let me tell you - standing on a stage with no lines, improvising comedy to a group of strangers seemed much more daunting to me than posting a drawing to the unknown abyss that is the internet! So, I guess you can say, without comedy, I wouldn’t have had the chutzpah to show my art to the world!”

It was that chutzpah that turned into her first sale. “A lot of the monetization happened organically,” she says. “For example, my first paid job (while I was still at “Chelsea”), a PR company hired me to draw a few top magazine editors that they then framed and gifted to them for the holidays. I had no clue how to price this- I think I just made up a number! They came back with their budget, and what worked for them. That’s kind of how it happened in the beginning. And once I had one paid job under my belt, that was my barometer for pricing moving forward.”

With that sale she knew she could take her idea from concept to commerce.  If one person is willing to pay, so are others.

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But all of those questions about pricing and getting started are tricky. Which is why in Lesson 2: From Concept to Commerce, Create & Cultivate's CEO & Founder Jaclyn Johnson is breaking down a creative’s guide to easy e-commerce.

Now, that’s a lot of info to take in. But here are some of the basics, further explained.

One of the most important touch-points for you brand is your website. And Weebly gives you the ability to create one that tells your unique story. Weebly offers users the ability to tell their unique story. And storytelling is the rock solid foundation of any successful brand. With Weebly you can:

  • Choose a unique online store design with a customizable theme to showcase your products. Their easy-to-use drag & drop builder helps you launch your online store quickly.

They also offer intuitive and time-saving marketing tools, which are incredibly useful when it’s only you, business party of one. With Weebly you can:

  • Use customizable email templates, like an abandoned cart or welcome email, to connect with your customers.

  • Optimize your site for SEO to help search engines discover you. Their analytics tools help you track site performance. Plus, you can further enhance your store with partners from their app center.

Their blog also offers a ton of amazing and useful content for new builders. From the “4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing Your Web Store,” to turning a one time customer into a return customer, to how to design your site so that it’s optimized for SEO. When you’re launching there is so much to consider-- the good news is, Weebly has already considered it for you. Seriously. Do you know what your “hero” product should be? Or what people should see first? These are all small details that require patience, thoughtfulness, and attention.

Even as your business grows, there are a million considerations. For Carly, selling is still a work in progress, but she encourages young entrepreneurs to do their research. “I had a hard time pricing out my work in the beginning (and still do!). But today, there are a lot of resources out there. You can approximate the pricing of your work through research. There are a lot of other art/design websites out there that can give you a sense of what is being sold and for how much. Then go with your gut...what feels right.”

She also shares this insider piece of advice: “I feel like I am only now just beginning to get the hang of it! But, what I did learn very quickly is that the holiday season is when most customers want to make their special art purchases. So, if you can launch a site/start selling your work, do it in time for the November/December holiday season!”

As for how she prefers her sites to look and feel? “A website should be clean, clear, not overwhelming to the eye, and user friendly. I typically like a white background with black text, but that’s just me! Let the content speak for itself. If you can’t navigate a website easily, people will leave it after a few seconds.”

Let the content speak for itself.

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Whether you opt for a white background with black type, or you’re into a more colorful interface, Weebly has options. But we bet they’ll also tell you, make that website user-friendly, or that user will no friend of yours.

Have more questions, drop us a line below and we’ll get them answered!

Be sure to look back at Lesson One: Building a Brand Online and check in for Lesson 3: Don’t Just Build a Website, Build a Business and Lesson 4: From Market To Marketing.

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