How to start online selling if you don’t have startup money

Learn How to start online selling with little to no startup capital


Let’s assume you don’t have the money to start your online eCommerce. While Shopify is a great option to start your online eCommerce site for its cheap subscription of $29/month, the majority of your budget would be thrown into marketing and advertisement.

Having a shop online alone won’t bring you money. You need traffic and lots of traffic coming to your site. It should be targeted traffic as much as possible.

Random traffic could be as useless at times as no traffic.

So how do you bring traffic to your site without startup money?

Let’s assume you want to sell makeup (beauty products)!


  • Don’t open a Shopify store yet
  • Don’t predefine nor decide your products yet – although having an idea is not going to hurt


  • Visit and engage with makeup communities everywhere

Tip: communities like Reddit, Pinterest, Facebook groups, and Quora.

  • Provide value in these communities – Share an article you wrote on Medium Or good detailed reply for one of the questions asked
  • Open business Instagram account – engage and build your profile (establish presence).

How to build a presence on Social media, particularly on Instagram?

This is done by posting 5 times a week. You can scheduling tools like Coschedule or Hootsuite.

  • Perform 5 posts a week on Instagram – you can be creative and add your own – I list below 4 types of post to have an idea.
  • 1st post: find related images in one of the free image stock websites like Burst and Pixaby. Post it in your Insta profile
  • 2nd post: Find a valuable quote and go to Canva (choose free templates) to find Instagram post design. Past the quote in there and post in your Insta profile
  • 3rd post: repost an influencer and give credit by adding a hashtag #makeup. There is no repost option on Instagram. What you can do is by taking a screenshot of the influencer post and repost on your profile
  • 4th post: Post about one of your products. But you can post a product similar to what you have in mind. It doesn’t have to be yours for now.
  • 5th post: User Generated Content (UGC) post.
  • Follow all the influencers in your niche (here we have chosen makeup niche for the sake of argument)- Google Top beauty influencers on Instagram. You want to follow them to receive regularly their posts on your feed. This step is for learning. Study their approach to the market, what they post and share, what activities they carry on, what type of PR they are using, what type of engagement triggering ideas are performed.


Social Commerce or Social selling is the terms used for their behavior on Instagram. all online companies have been doing since the very start. Amazon started SC or SS in 1999.

How to start online selling top beauty influencer on instagram using google search

  • Engage and comment on anything you find related to makeup/beauty niche. Be authentic, you don’t have to force it
  • Pay attention to your own behavior – We think we are unique, but we do almost everything the same. This step would have the utmost reward if you are already a makeup user. Females might have the upper hand in understanding how girls think about makeup. Not to limit anyone, men could do it but a little bit of research is needed.
  • Pay attention to makeup lover’s behavior on Instagram. Online and Offline.
  • Pay attention to trending products and record it – have an excel sheet
  • Be aware of makeup advertisements – build a swipe file.
  • Do record original ideas. Some of these epiphanies are majestic and could be your dream ticket
  • Keep track of a couple of influencers’ behavior on a daily basis – See how they handle their profile – copy good ideas.
  • Try new ideas. Be creative in your posting. Let’s say you can bundle photos in video with music by using one free video maker tool. Take this video and put it on Instagram stories.
  • Your posts don’t have to be all about makeup all the time. You can toss sarcastic or funny posts in there. Also, you could share a day of life type of post, or behind the scene if any.
  • Establish relationships with micro-influencers. They are ridiculously easy to reach compared to big ones.

Learn from the known made influencers. Implement the good ideas that suit your business with micro-level influencers.

The correct perception

Don’t expect social media to send you great traffic – This is because Insta will only allow you to include your link in the bio section. Not a good place to get as many clicks for the number of impressions.

Why? This is because Instagram wants you to advertise on their platform. They won’t give up their traffic easily. Their traffic is money. Unless you advertise, nothing big is going to happen.

Your intention is to understand your niche better NOT to sell, of course, it’s always good to have a couple of sales but don’t rely on social media to get free traffic. Organic reach is very hard in a mature established social site like Insta, and so organic traffic as a result. You want to find product ideas with great positive engagement and hence demand.

The desired outcome

You know your market better

A good number of followers

Ability to ask for feedback and suggestion from your followers

Find killer product ideas that have demand. You would know firsthand since you are browsing the market and engaging regularly.

Launch your store

  • Sign up for Shopify for $29mo
  • Use the Dropshipping method in the beginning- most product ideas found in sites like Aliexpress.

Why Dropshipping? because you don’t have to buy the product up front. You only buy when someone purchases from you.

Start working with influencers

Work with micro-influencers. Those who have less than 50k followers. Fortunately, they do better than big influencers for the amount of money.

Use affiliation program to work with this micro-influencer. Yes, they make money once a purchase is issued, and this way you don’t have to pay upfront. Although you assign them a percentage on every purchase which is more expensive compared to a one-time payment.

Still, you don’t risk giving them money when you are not sure if they could be effective. Basically get paid with your performance. It’s a win-win for all.

Rules to follow for your affiliation program:

  • Choose influencers with a minimum of 10K followers.

Experience Tip: sometimes influencers with less than 10k followers bring a lot of traffic and therefore revenue. Don’t completely ignore them. Believe me, some of them have hidden tricks.

  • Promise to give 5% for every purchase
  • Minimum revenue (total sales) $1000 from each influencer to issue payment
  • Give discount codes – this will encourage sales – it’s also a win for the influencer to reward their followers


These are strategies, not cheat codes. Prepare to work. The best way to start with no enough budget is by cultivating a following and understanding the market better than anyone. You want to generate free traffic in your online store, it is vital for your success. To start from the beginning purely concentrating on Ads might be very costly because you are prone to errors and mistakes. Yes, sponsored ads are very important to reach your goals, and so the free traffic. Paid traffic is for scaling your business, not for building a new site. Although once you confirm or have a social network prove, you can use initial testing using Ads. Make sure the market exist and there is a demand for a particular product. Further, challenge yourself to bring in new free traffic, and if it works, then, by all means, go and spend. I forgot you don’t have money. At this point, it’s easy to look for someone to have a look at your project and invest since you made it work without resources. Pretty convincing to me.

Share if you have more ideas on generating free traffic and finding demand!

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