Have something to sell? No? You may not think so, but I’d bet good money that you already do, or have the skills to easily create things that could sell well online. Quite frankly, when it comes to selling online, you are 100% limited by your own ideas of what your limitations are. Too vague? Maybe this will explain further.
You do not have to own a jewelry store, pawn shop, or music store to have a product that is high demand and high profile that will sell well online. Regularly, regular people are creating their own businesses by doing exactly what they like to do, what they are good at, and what is easily done in their own homes.
- Art – Custom paintings, creative furniture covers, frames, the list is actually endless in the art department.
- Handbags and Purses – There is actually a fairly large market for handcrafted bags and purses.
- Bath and Beauty – There are hundreds of thousands of people making a nice living by creating eco-friendly, and homemade bath and beauty products.
- Candles – Candles of all sizes and styles are always in demand. Most especially candles that are created for weddings or religious ceremonies.
- Ceramics and Pottery – This can entail many things, but a good potter will know exactly what products people can use the most and create them accordingly.
- Clothing – Handmade clothing and used clothing have a big market online with many different venues. E-bay does not have a monopoly on secure online open seller sites.
- Crochet – You may not have thought all of those hours you spend crocheting that blanket for the co-worker with a new baby was worth much, but blankets crocheted larger for a bed size for instance, regularly sell for several hundred dollars online.
- Edibles – No one says you will be able to make a living cooking dinner for people and selling it online, though some do. But if you have skills in the kitchen, be aware that a few dozen decorated sugar cookies can rack in over a hundred dollars.
- Furniture – Have carpentry skills? You don’t have to build and ship custom couches to make money. Try building light weight veggie boxes or trinket boxes online. You would be shocked how much custom designed items like this can go for. And the shipping won’t kill your wallet either.
- Glass – Do you have skills at blowing glass? What about etching it? There is a huge market for these items in holiday, wedding, and religious ceremonies for this.
- Holidays – Any holiday, all year long. If you have a special skill with creating Halloween costumes, or a knack for making nice Christmas ornaments, you have what it takes to sell online.
- Music – You don’t have to be rock band quality. If you have a guitar and a nice voice, sell your skills online to create jingles, videos or other audio products for the many businesses that are desperately hunting them daily.
- Pets – Like making dog sweaters? Seriously, browse some pet clothing shops online. Outrageous prices. If you can do better, you have a lot of money waiting on you as you read this.
- Plants – Seed sharing is not only an incredible idea for producing great new strains of fruits and vegetables, but it is also a lucrative business to do so. Got some incredible moss covering some of your property? You can sell small chunks of it online for ten bucks a piece all day long.
- Vintage – Vintage items of any kind are always top sellers. If you inherited some clothing from a great- great anything, don’t turn it over to the second-hand donation box just yet. Even they may not know what to do with it. But a vintage shopper online will.
- Weddings – Have skills with creating invitations? Knack for decorating? Sell your skills, or your wedding products online. You may have a bit of competition, but nothing a little targeted marketing may not cure.
- Woodworking – If you have woodworking skills and are not selling those in the creating of custom frames, plaques and the thousands of other quick finish job options online, you are missing out.
So that’s a great place to start. Now that you’ve had a moment to think on it, maybe you just need to know how to begin.
- Selling Online
Product sales online are divided into three categories.
- Selling physical products
- Selling downloadable products
- Selling services
Note: Even if you’re not taking money digitally your still selling so make sure your brand and pitch are in line with the consumer need.
So the first thing you need of course is a computer and an internet connection. Be sure you have a reliable connection. Losing the internet for a couple of days mid-sale can cause you to end up with bad feedback or reviews that can be highly detrimental to your online business.
Tip: Setup a backup plan, who has wifi in your area and maybe a valuable tool like coffee?
You will need to have a credit or debit card to do many of the functions online. Although having a checking account is nice, not many businesses will accommodate automatic checking, instead, use your bank ATM card as your debit or credit source.
Tip: If you can’t afford a charge back or lack of funds availability get a corporate card because credit is far more forgiving then bank accounts when it comes to fraud. If your credit is in the recent tank like so many others ask your bank about secured cards that start at as little as $300. Credit cards are much more safer then bank accounts when it comes to internet transactions. (This tip thanks to Doug @ Suffolk County National Bank)
You will need an email account. For business purposes, try to find an email server that will allow you to get your company name in the email address. Yet one more way to put your company name into cyberspace for recognition. Google, Hotmail and Yahoo all provide free email accounts that are commonly compatible with many other sites and services online.
If you grab a domain you like run a generic, sales@ info@ and use a POP setup, in the early portion of your business you don’t need to be spending money on exchange services and avoid any tech that tries to tell you otherwise.
- Domain and Web Hosting
If you want to be easily found, and easily remembered, you will need to get your own domain name and find a web host with good solid service. Always try to get a .com if at all possible. Of course you or a hired web designer will still need to build the site, but never settle for a free option on another sites server alone.
SEOTrick: Avoid your name, you not famous or important (yet) take a look at your product or what your customer is searching for, run that through the AdWords keyword tool and buy a domain that fits that.
No one says you shouldn’t have an Ebay store, but you should also have your own. The Ebay store should actually be used to direct customers to your real store front, the one you own the domain and pay the host for.
- Exercise the Options
Do not limit yourself to your website and an extra Ebay store on the side. Although you should be careful not to overextend yourself, there are so many other options available that it’s hard to imagine an online store owner that does not network themselves and their product. Check out these sites to build an extra store front. One more place on the net with your product, and one more place on the net with your name on it. Don’t let someone tell you that you should pay for this or that service because they have great online storefront options, use these free options.
This isn’t the stopping point. Check out the unique ideas these online product sellers are marketing themselves.
Take note of those sites. Register with them, offer a lower cost product you have, and with each product you send out, send a business card with your real website address on it. Offer them a discount for shopping directly through your store. Do what you have to do to network your business, but never, ever, just pop a store up and wait. There is no quicker way to fail and to let frustration cause you to give up.
- Merchant Services
Get your account set up with a merchant service that will allow you to accept credit card payments. You can do this several ways, but Paypal does offer great merchant services at about the best price you are likely to find.
Authorize.net is arguably the largest and easiest plug and play merchant account offering integrated web systems and virtual terminals.
- Promote Your Site
If you have utilized all the tips here you have definitively gotten a great start on advertising, networking and promoting your site. Go the extra mile, build a blog that provides helpful information on your products, find some affordable SEO services such as those who will help you release great PR’s for reduced cost. Remember those micro sell sites you exercised your options on? Check thoroughly through those for some quick and incredibly affordable marketing and advertising options as well.
They may not shoot your store to the top all by themselves, but with your own efforts and theirs combined you will have definitely begun to make your mark as an online seller.
About Basil Puglisi
@BasilPuglisi is a Content Contributor and the Chairman of the Board for Digital Ethos. Basil C. Puglisi is also the Digital Marketing Manager for PMG Interactive. As the Digital Marketing Manager he provides oversight and support to Digital Campaigns, from Website Development to Search and Social Reach.