It's time to bring that great business idea out of your dreams and into people's hands – all from your phone! Here's how to run an online store...

Ever had a game-changing idea for a business, but no clue how to get it off the ground? Forget bricks and mortar, in 2019 it’s totally possible to run a completely online store from your smartphone.

Ready to bring that unique product of yours out of your dreams and into reality? Looking to carve out a new career for yourself? Here are the apps you need in your arsenal…

The big question: which business model?

Fundamentally, this boils down to two options: handmade products or services that you make and deliver yourself, or things where third party companies can do all that for you.

Or, in other words: do you have physical stock and a bunch of postage stamps at home, or is all that logistical work done by someone else? We’ve got both options covered below, with a choice of apps to help you manage things on the move.

1. Handmade products or services

If you’re busy batch-making the world’s best jam, welding together completely unique earrings, or want to sell any kind of service (whether that’s graphic design or dog sitting), you’ve come to the right section. There are lots of great ways to turn that hobby into a flourishing online business, and a few essential options for doing just that from your phone.

Sell on Etsy | Android and iOS, Free

Etsy is the online king of arts and crafts, and its scope is only as limited as your ability – you can sell just about anything you can make, whether that’s a physical object like a homemade cushion, or a digital download like a custom illustration.

Thankfully, the Sell on Etsy app is just as fully featured as its website counterpart, offering the ability to upload and edit your store listings at any time, message buyers, keep up to date with open and fulfilled orders, and even schedule holiday time for when you’re not around. In other words? It’s a one-stop shop for your one-stop shop.

Fiverr | Android and iOS, Free

If what you want to sell is a digital-based service, Fiverr is the place for you. Maybe you do video editing, animation, copywriting, programming or even voiceovers? With Fiverr you can easily set up a virtual shop window for yourself, with tiered options based on how long any given task will take.

What’s more, if someone likes what you’re about but wants something totally bespoke, you can send them a custom offer for any value – and for anything they need. Naturally, you can manage and keep tabs on all of this from the official app, including answering any incoming messages as they appear.

Squarespace Commerce | Android and iOS, Free

Maybe what you’ve got to offer the world doesn’t fit into one of the boxes above? Or maybe you want your own dedicated website to make your wares really shine? Either way, Squarespace is probably the best answer.

You’ll no doubt already have heard of Squarespace through its many YouTube or Podcast adverts, but its services go way beyond just building websites; it’s got a bundle of smart eCommerce options for budding entrepreneurs, including everything from setting up your stock to adding VAT to orders. And, as you’d expect, the accompanying Squarespace Commerce app lets you manage all that on the go, with traffic data and notifications for incoming orders.

2. Designs, photos, and third-party products

If you want a more laid-back approach to running an online store, we suggest entering the world of dropshipping. For those unsure, dropshipping basically means lining up products that are manufactured and shipped by a third party. That might be a design you created that gets printed onto a t-shirt, or a pre-existing product that you sell through your own online store.

There’s lots of competition out there but, if done right, dropshipping can lead to an easy flow of ‘passive’ income – where you don’t need to lift a finger. Here’s how:

Shopify | Android and iOS, Free

Shopify’s bread and butter is helping new stores get up and running online. As such, it’s a website builder that puts eCommerce at the forefront. But what makes it special is its own inbuilt app marketplace, which lets you plug dropshipping services directly into your Shopify store.

Printful is one example: a service that will take any design you create and let you add it to t-shirts, posters, mugs, phone cases, and just about anything else. Oberlo, meanwhile, is a Shopify-made service that lets you choose from thousands of products – from clothing to headphones – to stock in your store. As you’d expect, Shopify’s official app is a data fiend’s dream, with oodles of stats and insight to learn from to improve your store’s figures.

Snaptee | Android and iOS, Free

All of the options mentioned above let you manage things from your phone, but most of them come with the caveat that you need to set things up on a computer first. Snaptee is different; the app is all you need to upload your photos (or designs) and turn them into t-shirt designs that anyone can buy.

It’s an incredibly easy and low-maintenance way to turn everything from your Instagram masterpieces to mobile doodles into a budding business.

Shutterstock Contributor | Android and iOS, Free

If your photos are truly next level, you could consider signing up to become a Shutterstock Contributor. Shutterstock is one of the world’s biggest stock image libraries, and is used by media outlets around the world.

As a contributor, you can upload snaps using the dedicated app, get help with picking the right search keywords for your photos, and get notified whenever someone with a Shutterstock account licenses your image for use. All you need to do is upload your snaps and wait for the cash to roll in!

Still on the hunt for your next big hobby? Check out all our other ‘Get Started With…’ guides!