By Jaclyn Konzelmann
In the past, starting your own business from home might have seemed like a scary thought. Even if you had a great idea or product to sell, you would still need to figure out a way to share that idea with the world. The options for educating people about your idea, product or service were fairly limited.
Large companies dominated the playing field with budgets that let them advertise using orthodox methodologies such as TV commercials, magazine ads, and billboards. For the everyday person, you were left relying on friends and family to help you spread the word, posting on community boards and sending out flyers to your neighbors. It’s no wonder that many people shied away from starting their own business – the barrier to entry was just too high.
Luckily, the playing field has been leveled and now anyone with a good product to sell has a chance to do so online from his or her own home!
With the rapid growth of social media platforms we have seen a shifting trend in the way consumers buy products. Word of mouth and brand loyalty are now top influencers in customer attraction, and great customer service is a key driver in customer retention. What do all of these things have in common? They are all things that you, as someone selling from home, can control about your product to maximize success.
Rather than marketing being a one directional relationship as it was in the past, it is now a conversation, between customers and brands. The days of large companies “telling” consumers how to think, act and feel through TV ads has transformed into Facebook pages where consumers and companies can engage in a conversation. Finally, the channels through which consumers learn about products are accessible to everyone. Now all you need is a computer, and you can start successfully selling from your own home.
Selling Shouldn’t Be Scary
Many people have acknowledged and even embraced the social media revolution, yet they are still hesitant to try selling online. The idea of getting a product out there in front of consumers is viewed as this huge deal, and as a result many people who have great ideas and great products aren’t selling online. It is generally thought that the typical workflow to selling online should start with having to create an online presence to attract potential customers and fans before you should start selling:
It’s no wonder people get scared off from trying to sell online when they think that the first thing they need to do is get themselves known and develop fans. So how do you overcome this? Look at things backwards:
If you start your journey into e-commerce by offering your product to the world then you have already solved the hardest part of creating an online presence – having something to talk about!
Storefronts & Marketplaces: Why They Aren’t Ideal
So how do you start selling from your own home? In the past, the world of e-commerce has been dominated by two standard ways of selling; creating a storefront or posting to a marketplace.
A storefront is a great option if you have lots of different products to sell, but it also requires time to invest in creating it and usually incurs upfront monthly fees. Some popular storefronts are Shopify and Magento. If you are looking into starting your journey into e-commerce, this method might not be right for you because of the large time and monetary costs associated with it.
The other option that has gained popularity is the marketplace model. In this model, sellers can post their products to a third party site such as eBay, Craigslist or Etsy. This model can be appealing because there are no upfront costs to posting and sellers can leverage the traffic that a big name site gets, however, there are several downsides to this method if you are trying to create your own brand and a fan base. Many marketplaces lack the professional touch and appeal of a well-curated experience, because it is not their goal to look good – think Craigslist, a great place to sell used furniture but hardly where you want to go to sell your own hand made crafts or self published book.
Posting to a marketplace also drives users away from your own site or page, which makes it much harder to build a fan base. A key to being successful is building a brand, if you are directing users away from your own site to buy somewhere else; you are making it much harder on yourself to build your brand. Another common mistake when using a marketplace is to “set it and forget it”, meaning that it is really easy to post your product somewhere then forget entirely about it. This means you are not tracking how well it might be doing, listening to feedback about possible improvements, and overall engaging with your audience and potential fan base.
How To Sell Successfully Online: Directly to Fans
So if storefronts and marketplaces don’t offer the ideal solution, what does? The number one way to sell a product, is to sell it where the audience is already – this could be your own website, blog, Facebook page, etc. I currently work at ShopLocket, a new platform that allows you to do just this by creating an embeddable widget for your product. You can then put your product directly into your own website, or share a link to your unique product page through Twitter, email, or however else you want to spread the word.
So what are you waiting for, selling online is finally easy and accessible to everyone. If you have a product you think people will like, start selling!
If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear them! I can always be reached at Jaclyn@shoplocket.com.
Jaclyn is the Director of Business Development at ShopLocket – a Toronto based startup looking to change the world of e-commerce by making it easy for anyone to sell anything from anywhere, in minutes. We want to help decentralize online sales. Our goal is to make it as easy and social to sell as it is to share a YouTube video. Now anyone can “Create. Share. Sell.” www.shoplocket.com
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