This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
One of the easiest ways to get started selling your creative work is to set up a Big Cartel online store. Once you sign up for an account with the user-friendly ecommerce site builder, you can add products, set up shipping and payment info, and customize your website. You can start marketing and selling to customers after you launch your store.
Big Cartel offers free and affordable plans. You can use a free subdomain from Big Cartel or connect a custom domain and pay a low monthly fee for more features. You won’t pay a percentage to Big Cartel for your sales—only transaction fees to your payment processor. Overall, Big Cartel is one of our recommended free ecommerce platforms for small businesses. Visit Big Cartel to create a free account and follow the steps below to set up a store.
Step 1: Sign Up for a Big Cartel Account
On Big Cartel’s homepage, you’ll find a button to start the sign-up process in the center of the page. Simply click that to get started or scroll down to see pricing plans. The free plan lets you get started right away with five products. Paid plans range from $9.99 to $19.99 per month and include extra features and fewer limitations.
Signing up for an account only requires you to provide an email address, your shop’s name, the URL for your store, and a password for your account. If you have a custom domain, you can connect that in a later step.
If you’re not sure about selling on Big Cartel, read a thorough review of Big Cartel to determine whether it’s right for you.
Step 2: Fill Out Account Info & Change Preferences
As soon as you’ve created your account, you’ll be taken to your dashboard. There’s a checklist that includes all the things you should do to get your Big Cartel store started. Some of these items on the checklist are required, while others are optional.
Adding your location is necessary, so be sure to fill this out. Your location is important because it’s how Big Cartel will determine the taxes you need to add to each order. In the United States, there are different sales tax rates, so it’s important you use your business address.
You don’t have to take care of each item in the order of the checklist. You can connect your payment options next. Big Cartel lets you accept payments via PayPal or Stripe. Add both, if you have accounts with both, to give your customers more options for how they can pay.
You have a couple of options when it comes to shipping. You can fill out shipping profiles and save them based on weight or country or create shipping rules for specific products as you add them. Big Cartel lets you create a shipping price for a single item and an “each additional item” shipping cost, which could encourage shoppers to buy more for a lower overall shipping cost.
Although adjusting preferences isn’t listed as an item on the checklist, it might be a good idea to do this now. If you click on Account in the top right, you’ll see where you can change your preferences such as requiring customers’ phone numbers when they check out or getting an email whenever you get a new order. Big Cartel also automatically sends an email to customers when they place an order—unless you turn this option off.
Only paid plans get access to inventory tracking. If you’re on the free plan, you’ll have to track your inventory using a different app or through a spreadsheet.
Step 3: Add Your Products
To add a product, you can go through the checklist on your dashboard or click on Products at the top middle menu. Click on the plus sign to open the add product screen. You can add a single image to a product on the free plan—just click on the plus sign to the left to add an image. If you have a paid plan, you can add up to five images per product listing.
Include a product name, description, and price for the item. You can add categories if you sell more than one type of product and apply the category for each product. This helps organize your products so customers can easily find what they’re looking for.
You can also create separate prices for variables. For example, if you sell different-sized stickers, you can create a different price for each size for a single product.
Step 4: Design Your Big Cartel Store
After you’ve added your products, it’s time to focus on your Big Cartel store’s design. You can start by choosing your favorite template. Big Cartel offers 18 free themes from which you can choose. You’ll be able to customize your ecommerce site even more after you choose a theme you like.
Once you have a theme in place, you can adjust colors and fonts and add images to your site. If you want to customize your site more than what’s allowed in Big Cartel’s WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, you’ll need to know how to code in CSS language. To edit a theme, you need to subscribe to a paid plan with Big Cartel.
Optional: Connect Your Own Domain
You can connect your own domain whenever you’d like—the place to change this is in your account settings. A good time to do it is when you’re satisfied with the design of your site and online store. If you don’t already have a custom domain, you can purchase one through Google Domains and Big Cartel. It’s worth noting that this is only available for those on paid plans.
Step 5: Create Discounts for Products
Discounts are a great way to entice new people to buy from your shop, but this isn’t a required step to start a Big Cartel store. To create a new discount, click on Discounts from the top menu, and create a new discount code. You can choose the variables of the discount, such as when a customer spends a specific amount of money or orders a specific number of items.
You can offer free shipping, a dollar amount off, or a percentage off. Big Cartel also lets you apply an expiration to your discount code based on a specific date or once it’s been used—or it can simply never expire. The discount shows up at the customer’s checkout stage.
Step 6: Launch Your Big Cartel Store
Finally, it’s time to launch your ecommerce site with your art. You can do this after designing your store or from your checklist on your dashboard. If you’re unsure about your site’s design, you can preview it. Be sure to go over all the checklist items to make sure you’re ready to receive and fulfill orders, then just click on “Launch.”
Market Your Big Cartel Online Store
Although Big Cartel doesn’t offer marketing tools to help you sell your products, it does connect to various apps that can extend the ecommerce site builder’s functionality. You can add marketing apps like Mailchimp for email marketing and Elfsight for a variety of plugins to help you add FAQs and contact forms to your site.
It’s a good idea to create a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy so your website shows up on search engine results pages (SERPs). In our example of sea creature stickers, it would help to do some keyword research to see what people search for, like “jellyfish round sticker,” and then change the title of your product to match.
Consider adding sign-up forms so that you can collect the email addresses of your website visitors. You can then create mailing lists and market to them with an email marketing strategy.
Even if you sell on Big Cartel, you can expand your reach by selling on marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy. You can also sell on Facebook or Instagram, so it’s a good idea to create a Facebook business page.
Use our step-by-step guide to learn how to sell on Etsy.
Big Cartel Online Store Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Big Cartel good for beginners?
Big Cartel is a great choice for those with no experience creating an online store. Its user-friendly dashboard with a checklist makes it easy for beginners to get started with an ecommerce site on Big Cartel.
What can you do with Big Cartel?
You can create a free ecommerce website with Big Cartel, but you will be limited to five products. The paid plans are affordable and less limiting. The ecommerce site builder is meant for creators to sell their art, jewelry, prints, candles, and other products on it. Big Cartel isn’t the only free ecommerce site builder, but it is one of the easiest to use.
Can you make money on Big Cartel?
Yes, you can make money by selling products on Big Cartel. One of the benefits of using Big Cartel for your online store is that it doesn’t charge fees for you to sell products—you only pay Big Cartel if you opt for one of its paid plans. Otherwise, you pay transaction fees to Stripe or PayPal when you make a sale.
It’s easy for anyone to create a Big Cartel online store. After signing up and setting your preferences, you can add products and design your ecommerce site. Big Cartel is ideal for new ecommerce sellers, thanks to its ease of use. You can go from designing your ecommerce site to launching and selling products on the same day.
You Might Also Like …
- Outgrowing your online store? Maybe it’s time to start a retail business.
- Although you don’t need design skills to use Big Cartel for an online store, it’s a good idea to get a professionally designed logo for your business.
- Do you need a point-of-sale (POS) system? Online and physical stores may need different POS software.