If you’d like to start an online boutique from home but you’re short on funds, keep reading. I have six easy ways for you to start an online fashion boutique for free!
Do you daydream of owning your own fashion boutique with piles of designer denim, trendy tops, and stylish jewelry and accessories? But where do you begin? Where can you find suppliers and inventory? What business licenses and permits do you need? What are the startup costs involved!?
For the majority of the population, starting a brick-and-mortar store is simply out of the question due to the costs involved. But even starting an online business is cost-prohibitive for many, with web hosting, inventory, legal fees, and advertising costs. But guess what? Technology has made it possible for you to open your own online store in a few simple steps. And better yet — you don’t need any experience or money to start!
Here are six easy ways to start an online fashion boutique for free!
If you’ve beauty and skincare products, becoming a beauty influencer with Avon might be a good option for you. With Avon, there are zero startup fees, and you’ll earn a 30% commission once you reach $100 in sales. You’ll also receive $1,500 in free products once you reach $500 in sales. Avon provides free training and digital tools to representatives, and with well-known brand recognition, the products should be easy to sell.
Poshmark is a free online platform and smartphone app where you can sell clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, handbags, and more. To make money with Poshmark, you can start by cleaning out your closet of things you no longer wear. Just take some high-quality photos, write an SEO-friendly description, and price your items. Once your item sells, print out a free shipping label and send your item off to its recipient. When the sale is complete, Poshmark will take a 20% fee and you’ll get to keep 80%. To keep this business going, you can use your profits to buy thrift store apparel and flip them for a profit, also called retail arbitrage or reselling. For more tips on starting a resale business, check out this helpful post.
Spreadshirt is a free print-on-demand opportunity. With this business idea, you’ll create a free account with Spreadshirt and design your products (t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, accessories like tote bags, caps, aprons, and more. Spreadshirt gives you the option to have your own storefront or you can create a store within their marketplace. They also have an option where you can integrate third-party platforms like Etsy, Shopify, Amazon, and more. For each item you sell, you’ll earn a commission, and Spreadshirt will ship the items directly to your customer.
4. SQN Sport
If you’re into fitness, this next opportunity might be right for you! SQN Sport has an ambassador program where you can earn a 20-25% commission on sales and a referral commission. You don’t receive a website with this opportunity; just promote your link on your social media channels, blog, and at pop-up parties. While this program is free to join, they do have a sample box that you can purchase at 50% off. According to their website, you’ll also get a monthly newsletter with special promos, content, and coupon codes that you can use to market the clothing.
5. Stella & Dot
Stella & Dot started as a direct sales company and has switched over to a free online ambassador opportunity. With this business opportunity, you’ll be able to sell jewelry, handbags, makeup, and skincare products online. Just sign up for their program, and share your referral link online. Ambassadors can earn 10-30% commission on sales; the more you sell, the higher your commission rate. Ambassadors will receive early access to new products and can earn prizes and getaways for meeting certain sales milestones. Cash payments are distributed weekly, or you can take your earnings and double the commission value by choosing store credit.
Teespring is another free print-on-demand platform, that allows creatives to design their own t-shirts, tanks, hoodies, sweatshirts, totes, throw pillows, and coffee mugs. To start earning money with Teespring, create an account and then start designing items for sale.
I have zero design skills, but I designed this t-shirt which costs $26.99, and for every t-shirt that is sold, I would earn $8.60 profit.
Payments are made via PayPal or Payoneer. With Teespring, they give you a free storefront that you can promote on your social media profiles and email.
How to Market Your Online Fashion Boutique
The saying, build it, and they’ll come, couldn’t be further from the truth. To get eyeballs on your business, you’ll need to promote it. Luckily, there are many free and affordable marketing methods that can help you get the word out.
Social Media Marketing
Focus on SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it’s where you optimize your descriptions to contain the keywords people are searching for. For instance, if a person is looking for long sleeve shirts on Poshmark, and your listing does not contain the word long sleeves, it won’t pop up in the search results. You want to be as descriptive as possible so that your items can be easily found.
If you’re serious about growing your business, you need to be capturing your customers’ email addresses. The way you do this is by signing up with an email marketing service. Don’t worry: there are free options like Sendinblue and ConvertKit. Once you’re signed up with a service, you can add your email marketing form or sign-up link to your shop, social media profiles, and email signature. Then when a new collection is released, or there is a sale, you can email all of your customers about the offers.
If you have some money in your marketing budget, paid advertising can be an excellent way to get more people to your shop. With Google ads, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Facebook ads, there is no shortage of places to advertise. To make sure you have a good ROI from your advertising dollars, you’ll need to write persuasive copy, have compelling images, and know to how properly run ads and measure conversions. There is a lot that goes into running a successful advertising campaign, so be sure to read up and perhaps take a course on running ads.
As you can see, you don’t always need a big budget to be an online boutique owner. If one of these free business ideas speaks to you, start building up your leads and contacts through social media, and in no time, you’ll be earning an income from home in an industry that you’re passionate about.
If you’re successful with these free business models, you may decide to launch your own online clothing store from scratch. In this post, Anne Marie Blackman shares her success story of starting an eBay store and then opening an online clothing boutique using the eCommerce platform Shopify. She shares a lot of great tips so be sure to check it out.
Have you signed up for any of these free business opportunities? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience.
Would you like to be a small business owner, but you’re not sure where to start? Grab our FREE Simplified Business Plan Template, which will walk you through the questions and steps you need to take to get your business off the ground!
Originally published on March 12, 2015. Content updated on October 2022.