If you decide to start selling products online as so many people do these days, there are a number of things you will need to plan and decide on long before you flip the switch and announce to the world that you’re open for business.
What might be obvious, but needs saying anyway, is that you should probably plan on selling something you have a real interest in. Just because a product is hot or trending is no reason to jump on the bandwagon to sell it if you don’t like it yourself. It would be like trying to market fine wines when you only drink beer – or marketing pet supplies when you don’t have a pet yourself.
So, first determine your interests, and then go in search of products to sell, or create one yourself. You will need to figure out if there is a demand for what you want to sell. One easy way is to go to the Google search engine, and type in the product you’re interesting in selling. If, when you do this, you see paid advertisements for it or similar products at the top and sides of the resulting page, that’s a sign that there is a market for it since people are paying for advertising it.
Another thing you can do is get a Google “AdWords” account – it’s free to set up – and use what is called their “Keyword Planner.” In this tool – also free – you would type in your product name and see if there are any searches for what you are thinking of selling.
Of course there is more to it than that – but we’re talking very basic research here. You may wish to consult a website marketing specialist to help you do your starting research if you don’t know how to do it yourself.
You’ll need to decide on a business model. We talk about drop-shipping elsewhere on this site, where you sell other people’s products, but they ship it on your behalf. This is something you can do with your own website, or on eBay and Amazon as a seller. You may also decide that you want to sell your own creations. Again, you can do this on your own website or use existing platforms – again, like eBay or Amazon, or even Etsy if your product is appropriate for that site.
No matter which way you decide you want to market your products, you’ll need to learn as much about the nuts and bolts as possible long before you make your first post. For example, selling on Amazon isn’t as easy as just joining, putting up a photo of the product, and setting a price. Fortunately for anyone wanting to sell on Amazon or eBay, there are plenty of resources available to teach you the ropes before you commit.
The same is true about setting up your own website. Invest in some education about how to create and host a site.
No matter which direction you take when it comes to ultimately posting your products online, there are do’s and don’ts when it comes to your marketing strategy. Learn – or hire someone – to correctly promote your business so that your product listings actually show up in the search engines so that your prospective customers find you to begin with. If you aren’t showing up on the first page of the search engines when someone is looking for your product, you won’t sell anything. Learning how to get to that first page is a skill in itself. If you do not have this skill, you will need to budget for someone to help you. That’s another topic, but it’s called “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO – and it’s something that you can easily search for online or in your local area.
You will need to budget carefully for this adventure. What if you don’t make sales right away? In fact, you might want to count on that! Rarely do people put up a website one day and have sales the next. First of all, it takes some time for the search engines to even find your website, and even more time for customers to find you.
Before you decide on starting an online business, please invest in some basic education about it first! You won’t be sorry, and you’ll make a far more informed decision as to whether or not doing so is the right fit for you!