Selling online is a great way to make money in a small business.
Thousands of people make a living selling their products online, and many others make some extra spending cash selling products on sites like Amazon, Etsy, or eBay.
But selling online isn’t as simple as uploading your items and waiting for the cash to roll in. It takes time, research, and know-how to get things up and running.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur wanting to promote your products, services, or ebooks, or a homemaker looking for side hustle ideas, becoming an online seller is a good way to go.
In your journey, a comprehensive post like this – The Complete Guide to Selling Online in 2022 – will give you a complete checklist to help you begin.
As the topic in itself is broad, I have broken it into two-part series. Part 1 talks about strategy development, selling through your website, and online marketplaces. In Part 2, you’ll learn about social media selling, online ads, email marketing, and tips to boost online sales.
Decide What You Want to Sell
Do you already have a product in mind that you want to sell? If you aren’t sure what you want to sell and are looking for ideas, don’t worry. There are thousands of different ways to grow a business online. There are primarily three types of businesses: product-based, service-based, and reselling other people’s products and services.
Know your strength and interest so you can come up with a plan.
You can also try some ideas listed below:
Do you have a hobby? For example, if you have always loved making soap, you can monetize it. You can:
Teach people how to make soap by organizing online or live classes.
Start an online shop to take orders from customers who want custom soaps or room sprays.
Sell an ebook on how to make soap.
Develop a series of courses for beginners and advanced learners.
You can become an affiliate marketer to earn commissions for driving sales or selling through your website and content. It’s best to focus on a specific affiliate niche.
Top Affiliate Niches
The Technology Niche
The Health/Weight Loss/Fitness Niche
Digital Marketing Niche
Finance/Crypto Investments Niche
The Pet Care Niche
The Entertainment (Movies/Music) Niche
The Fashion/Beauty Niche
Start an e-commerce store to sell merchandise, unique handmade items, online courses, or resale items (purchased wholesale).
Brainstorm ideas yourself or ask your friends and family members for business ideas.
Research Your Market
Once you have decided what you will be selling online, you need to check if there is demand for your product. Your business idea can be really interesting, but if no one is willing to buy that, you won’t make money.
To become a successful seller, you need to research the market and identify a niche target customer. If everyone can use your product or service, no one will. Buyer behaviors have changed significantly since the pandemic. Be specific about who you are chasing for business.
Marketing budgets are a terrible thing to waste. Use social media to find your niche customer, survey potential customers to learn their needs, and segment them to serve them better with your content and email marketing efforts.
Market research is an effective way to evaluate the feasibility of a service or product. Market research will help you discover consumer interest, demand, and other important factors important for selling online and making a profit.
Research Your Competitors
Competitor research is vital for understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
It helps you know how you can improve your business, what new products you can offer, and how you can attract your target buyers with new offers.
Knowing what your competition is up to will allow you to position yourself and your products or services in the market. Competitor research will also prevent you from making mistakes so you can maximize profit.
Selling on Your Website vs. a Marketplace
When you first venture into selling online, a big question is where to do it. You have several options, and some require more legwork in terms of technical details (like setting up a website and buying online ads), while others will require more marketing savvy, so you stand out in a crowded marketplace like Amazon, Esty, or eBay.
The first option is to set up your own eCommerce website so people can buy directly from you. The key to selling on your own site is getting a professionally-designed website that is easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. There’s no middleman taking part in your profits, though you will need to pay for an eCommerce website using a platform tool like Shopify, BigCommerce, or Wix. You’ll also need to manage the site yourself (or hire someone to do it). The biggest challenge with running your own website is building a brand online and driving traffic to the site. Thankfully a lot of the options on the market offer templates to build an eCommerce website that doesn’t require design skills.
One of the most important steps you need to complete if you are going to selling online directly from your website or Shopify is setting up your shipping and payment systems. You’ll need to know your shipping costs and have a way to receive payment. This means you need to partner with payment processors and add that to your site. Many people use Square or Stripe for payment processing, and Shipstation is a popular shipping and labeling option. If you plan on handling fulfillment yourself, you’ll need trusted shipping options to deliver products safely and swiftly to your customers’ doorstep. But if you’re selling a service, eBooks, SaaS, or something else that doesn’t require physical delivery, you don’t need to worry about shipping.
There are plenty of opportunities to sell through marketplace sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy. Whether you are just starting a business or are a retailer looking to expand your business online, marketplaces are a great place to do business. They have millions of customers, but that also means there is lots of competition on that platform.
Pricing is key as you always give a cut of profits to the platform, so you must set your prices to pay the fees and make a profit. It’s most important to know your keywords and become familiar with the listing policies of the specific platform you plan to use. If you are going to sell on a marketplace owned by a third party, you will need to agree in advance to abide by their policies. These policies can be significant and change at any time without notice to you. For example, if Amazon decides not to sell products with a certain ingredient, your listings of products containing that ingredient could be removed with no notice to you. If you sell on your own website, payment processors can frequently do the same thing. For example, certain merchant processors will not process payments for CBD products.
How to Sell on Amazon
Amazon is the largest e-retailer company in the US, where 66% of buyers start looking for products. Selling on Amazon can be a lucrative opportunity for both established and new brand owners alike.
Selling on Amazon can make up a large sum of your gross business income.
To start selling on Amazon, you need to create a seller account, choose a plan, list your products, add product descriptions with images, and choose how you want to ship. Amazon is also a great place to drive sales through ads.
Amazon provides numerous ways to sell:
Seller Central: Most popular of all.
Vendor Central: Invitation-only feature.
Kindle Direct Publishing: Useful if you want to self-publish eBooks and paperbacks.
Merch by Amazon: Good choice for influencers, creators, and branded businesses.
Once you know which type of account you want to go with, in the next step, you need to understand the fee structure.
If you’re selling through Seller Central, you need to pay based on the selling plan you choose – the individual plan costs $0.99 per unit sold and the professional plan costs $39.99 a month. After that, there are referral fees, fulfillment fees based on your shipping method, and other associated costs.
Fees for Vendor Central are decided by Amazon and mentioned in the contract with the company.
How Do You Become an Amazon Choice Seller?
Amazon Choice Seller is a vote of trustworthiness that Amazon confers upon products based on sales performance.
The Amazon Choice Seller tag can help you establish trust and boost sales. So, try your best to achieve this by keeping your customer satisfaction rate high and your product price fair. Other factors that you need to check if you want to become ab Amazon preferred seller are:
Your products are Prime-eligible.
Your products are always in stock.
You have a great sales track record.
And, you have received high customer ratings.
How to Set Up an Etsy Store?
If you have unique handmade or craft items to sell, Etsy is the right place to sell online.
With Etsy, you don’t need to worry about a domain or hosting fees or having coding knowledge to build a website. Setting up a professional-looking shop on Etsy is as simple as clicking a few buttons.
If you want to reach more organic buyers on the internet, optimize your Etsy shop and add keywords, so they appear during online searches.
To turn store visits into sales, your shop needs to have clear product descriptions, good quality images, and a compelling story about yourself and the products you sell.
How Do You Sell on eBay?
eBay is one of the oldest-known selling platforms that has been helping small and independent business owners for a very long time.
Setting up a shop on eBay is really easy and far less complex than most platforms.
To sell on eBay, you need a seller account and then choose between auction-type and direct fixed-price selling.
Now just add your products, write compelling descriptions, add images and shipping charges. It’s that simple!
How to Build an Online Store on Shopify
Like any other platform, to build a store on Shopify, you have to create an account and choose the best plan that meets your requirement.
The difference between selling on Amazon and Shopify is that you need to build your shop from scratch, including designing the storefront and product pages, uploading products, and setting up payment and shipping methods.
Here’s how I sell courses and books online through my website.
Note that my products are also available for purchase on Amazon, but I also listed them on my website so that readers can buy directly from me and get an autographed copy of my books and discounts for my online courses.
It’s important for you to understand which online selling channels can generate the most revenue for your company. If you want more help to get started selling online, you can also check out my course How to Sell and Market Online at Smallbizladyuniversity.com. This course combines all my knowledge and will definitely help you make a living selling online.
And remember to subscribe to my blog, so you don’t miss the second part of this series coming out next!
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