Thinking About Selling Goods Online? Here’s a Quick Guide to Getting Started
By Rachel Puryear
If you’re interested in flexible, remote income that can allow for traveling and doing other things you enjoy; you’ve probably considered selling goods online. Doing so can be a great way to enable and finance the lifestyle you want – once you’re established at it, of course.
Nowadays, getting started selling goods to a large market has much lower barriers to entry than it used to. That’s because of available business infrastructure now in place online – without a new shop owner necessarily needing to manufacture anything, put up large amounts of money, or start from scratch.
Here’s a quick guide to getting started with selling goods online for beginners:
Your online sales methods options include affiliate marketing (the easiest way to start, and it’s free or very inexpensive to do), or opening your own online store.
Here’s some basics about each option:
Affiliate marketing is very simple, and you don’t need to outlay any cash to do it. It’s a great way to keep making money on your website or social media posts, again and again – even passively.
Here’s how it works: You already know that for traditional salespeople, they guide customers in buying products, and then they get a commission on the sale.
It’s similar with affiliate marketing – you promote and recommend products on your website/social media posts, and you get a commission each time someone uses your links to buy products.
Better yet, you don’t need to be the pushy, stereotypical salesperson at all, though – the trick is instead to create great content that people will enjoy reading and find helpful, but with product promotion incorporated into it.
You’ve probably already read many such articles – for example, with titles like, ’10 Best Gadgets You’ve Gotta Have,’ or ‘Your Gift Giving Guide,’ or ‘Items to Pack on Your Trip,’ or ‘Five Latest Fashions,’ ‘The Tools You to Maintain Your Own Home,’ – and yes, you’ve seen such articles on this blog before. 🙂
Different companies will pay different commission amounts, and have their own terms you must meet as an affiliate. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms of any company you affiliate with, to avoid having your privileges revoked.
Generally, though, you must state in any post in which you use product links that you’re an affiliate, and earn a commission from purchases made through your links – see my own disclosure about that at the bottom of this post, as an example.
You must also comply with Do Not Call laws, anti-spam laws, and any other local applicable regulations.
One of the easiest places to get started with affiliate marketing is through Amazon. If you already have an Amazon account, you can sign up as an affiliate. See here for more about affiliate marketing, and an example of how it works.
Your Online Store
If you’d rather sell your own goods than someone else’s, it’s now easier than ever to open an online store of your own.
This option offers the exciting possibility of bringing your ideas to the marketplace.
Operating an online store has more complexity, more risk, increased responsibilities, and higher costs than affiliate marketing; though. Make sure you understand in advance what your profit margins will be when all expenses are deducted from sale prices.
If you want to give it a go opening your own online store, you will need to consider your platform(s), as well as how your goods will be manufactured.
Platforms for Your Online Store:
There are several established, major platforms for online stores. These offer large amounts of regular traffic, which can bring visibility to your store and drive sales. For that, the platforms will take a cut of your sales – and you will have to abide by their rules.
At the same time, you will need to still do your own marketing, and work these systems to your advantage (stay tuned for deeper dives into that subject in future posts). Nonetheless, millions and billions of visitors will see these sites every month, giving you a big hand up.
Of course, you can also use multiple platforms. Here are suggested platforms for getting started:
No doubt, you’ve heard of them. As one of the world’s largest sales platforms, selling on Amazon offers an opportunity to put your products before billions of pairs of eyes, some of whom will be looking for what you’re selling.
In order to start selling on Amazon, you will need to create a Seller’s account – that will get you started.
You have an option to create different kinds of seller accounts depending upon whether you will sell lots of items regularly (professional), or a few periodically (individual).
You can also choose whether you want to be responsible for shipping items and handling customer inquiries yourself (Fulfilled by Merchant); or whether you want to ship your items to Amazon, and have them handle those logistics as well as customer service – there are fees to store the items, of course (Fulfilled by Amazon).
Shopify is another platform made just for the needs of online merchants. A great many successful merchants have gotten started through this site that’s designed to help take you from beginning to success.
The platform offers a variety of services for online merchants; including handling payments, shipping, customer engagement, and marketing.
Etsy is a major platform specially for creative folks everywhere, who sell their handmade goods. A great many unique and awesome items can be found here.
Etsy sellers only need to list one item to get started.
Acquiring Your Goods
To sell goods, you will of course need something to sell – that is where manufacturing and acquiring come in.
Chances are, you don’t have your own factory at home. That’s okay, though – nowadays, you can easily get around such. Here are some ideas:
Arbitrage refers to buying goods for a relatively low price from one source, and then reselling them for a higher price in another market where they will command more – and thereby profiting from the difference.
For instance: You could buy items on clearance sale at local discount stores, and sell them online for a higher price. Or, you could buy items cheaply at garage sales, and again, sell them online for a higher price.
There’s an app called AmazonSeller, which allows you to scan barcodes on items in order to see what they’re selling for on Amazon. If there’s enough of a difference in price to make a profit after shipping – generally, you want the item to go for at least 3x as much on Amazon – you could buy and then resell the item for a profit.
Dropshipping means that when a customer orders an item from your store, a third party manufacturer produces that item, and ships it to the customer for you. Essentially, it’s outsourcing your manufacturing and shipping.
In the past, I wrote a post about dropshipping, cautioning about serious pitfalls which could occur with this business model. While these are still important to be aware of; since then, I’ve also gotten good feedback about reputable dropshipping companies that successful online sellers like to use.
These recommended dropshipping companies include CJ Dropshipping (quick shipping, great for first timers), Sunrise Wholesale (quick shipping, great for first timers), Modalyst (high ticket items), Spocket (fashion and beauty), and Wholesale2b (quick shipping, great for first timers).
Print and Ship
If you’re creative and have designs, slogans, or logos you’d like to put on goods; such as shirts, hats, and mugs; you could use the print-and-ship model. When a customer orders a product from your store, a print-and-ship company then prints the item with your design or slogan on it, and ships it to the customer.
It’s like dropshipping, but with you making your own designs. Well-reputed print-and-ship companies include Printful (easy to start, lots of options), SPOD (great for beginners, good prices), Printify (cost-effective, flexible), CustomCat (hard-to-find products), and Lulu xPress (great for publishing books).
There’s also Amazon Merch on Demand, but you’ll have to demonstrate having already solid design skills – they are selective, and must first approve you.
MAKE YOUR OWN
If you’re creative and pretty handy, you can also make your own products and sell them. The sky’s the limit in terms of what kinds of items you can make.
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Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to successfully selling online, to fund the remote, flexible lifestyle you crave!
Check out my other blog, too – World Class Hugs, at https://worldclasshugs.com. It’s about celebrating empathic and giving people, toxic versus supportive relationships, spirituality through curiosity and exploration, and nature trips.
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