3 Creative Ways to Sell Your Products & Services Online

Website for Small Business Owners - UgMonk - Sylvia Adams

We’ve all seen the news clips of the “new divorcée” (Carol Gardner) who became a millionaire taking photos of her dog for a Christmas card or the “uber-talented graphic designer” (Jeff Sheldon) who built a t-shirt business “on the side”, out in the middle of nowhere, that let him quit his day job. But running an online business takes a lot of preparation and work.

It’s not something that should be entered into lightly but that doesn’t mean it can’t be lucrative and fun. Here are 3 creative ways you can sell your products or services online.

1. Set-Up Shop on an E-Commerce Platform Like Zazzle or Etsy
Ecommerce sites for the Maker Movement like Etsy and “print-on-demand” sites like Zazzle are all over the place. If you Google either “ecommerce maker movement” or “print-on-demand products” you will find a plenty of them and that’s half the battle. How many of these are you supposed to sift through and figure out? Well for our purposes here, I’m going to use two of the more established and well-known sites – Zazzle and Etsy to make it easier.

Zazzle is a “print-on-demand” website that allows it’s users to print their designs on everything from cellphone cases and t-shirts to custom headphones and mugs. They source the raw materials for you, pack, print and ship right to your door.

There are several “print-on-demand” sites out there, but few have the range of Zazzle which has been going strong since 2005 and doesn’t appear to slowing down anytime soon. If you are a novice to the print, gifts & accessories world – this would be a good place to test the waters.

Etsy is another contender for those of you who are more experienced and make the products yourself. While it remains to be seen what will happen to the “cottage industry” that Etsy originally fostered, if it goes public, Etsy is essentially the “Facebook” of the Maker Movement. You simply can’t beat it when it comes to sheer number of people who visit the website, from around the globe everyday.

These sites all vary in how they charge you to use their services. Ebay – the grand-daddy of them all charges somewhere around (as of this post) 10% commission and that doesn’t include a wide range of “insertion fees” and “gallery upgrade fees” that could easily bring that up to 15% when all is said and done. Zazzle gives you the option to either sell in their marketplace or just act as your manufacturer and let you sell on your own.

Etsy charges a listing fee of around 20 cents plus a commission on every sell. If you have services, don’t fret – you can even sell those and well as become a wholesale-supplier on Etsy too.

Just make sure that whatever marketplace you choose, it should already have the right audience for you. So before you jump on either of these sites be sure to do your homework first. You can find out just about everything you would want to know, not only on their site, but from current users and evangelists on YouTube and Google too.

2. Create an Affiliate Program
If you don’t want to open up a storefront online – you may want to consider creating an affiliate program for your products. Affiliate programs are essentially you giving someone else (ideally someone of influence with a bigger audience than you) a commission for promoting your product or service to their audience.

These vary in terms of how much you would pay them (usually it’s quite high like 50% – 60% of the price) but if you find the right person – what you lose in profit, you could make up for in volume.

Now if you’ve never done this before – you won’t get rich quick. It takes some time for you to become well-known enough in your space to attract the right affiliate partners. In fact some people work solely as an “affiliate marketer” for a living and I would advise you to avoid these people if you’re a novice.

Some affiliate marketers will say just about anything to get a sale and it could be at the expense of your company’s brand or reputation, so do your homework before signing any affiliate agreement.

You can also avoid a lot of headaches by creating your own affiliate program and there’s lots of great programs and software out there to help you deal with automatically paying affiliate and distributing products (including digital info products). If you’re ready to take the plunge you may want to look into affiliate management software from companies like 1ShoppingCart, Ontraport, Clickbank and InfusionSoft.

3. Product Development
The third and final option that I am going to address here is developing your own “product”. Now this could be a physical product like a line of t-shirts or a mug or it could be a online course that you can charge either a flat fee or monthly subscription for. The main difference here is that you’re most likely hosting and generating the traffic and leads for the site yourself.

It’s better than an affiliate program, because you get to keep all the profits, but harder because you also get to do all the work in the beginning. If it takes off – you can make great money and hire someone to help you manage it. Another plus, is that you can reach beyond your current geolocation and have customers all over the world at your fingertips.

Developing a product though, takes a LOT of time and planning to get right. There are even coaches out there, who specialize in teaching you how to launch your own product. Some good – some not so good.

My one piece of advice is keep in mind that this is a case of “quality over quantity”. You can have a very small list of people {like around 500}, but if they’re targeted, you could get a conversion rate as high as 20% as opposed to the industry standard of 2 – 5% for a list that isn’t targeted.

Let me illustrate the point. Let’s say you have a product that sells online for $100.00 and you have a list of 500 people. If that list is targeted you should get at least a “double-digit” conversion. That means at least 10% should buy your product. Let’s use our example above of 20% – that would translate to 100 people buying your product for $100. That’s 100 x 100 = $10,000.00 Not bad right?

If it’s not targeted and it’s just a random group of people you managed to get to “pull the trigger” through some slick marketing or even worse if you bought a list your conversion will most likely be around 2 – 5% or 10 x $100 = $1000.00 (at 2%) or 25 x $100 = $2500.00 (at 5%). That’s a far cry from $10,000.00 – for the same product.

You also have to keep in mind that “attrition” or the “return rate” on online products & services is quite high. It can be as much as 50 to 60% – ouch!! That’s why it’s vital that when you market your products, you want to hit your target audience nearly “spot on” otherwise you’ll be doing a lot of work only to lose money in the end from all the transaction fees you’ll have to pay out in returns.

As I’ve said throughout this post – while all of these may seem fun and have a tremendous amount of potential to bring even more money into your business, you’ve simply got to do your homework here, first.

If you have a pretty well-established business “offline” with a steady flow of customers, once you’ve figured-out what you would like to sell, you can create a campaign using your current base of customers to help “launch” your new found venture. Your existing customer base is a great place to “boost” traffic to your new offerings.

You’ve just got to keep in mind how much time you have to devote to it, your audience online and your budget. Remember, to win the online game it’s all about pace not race. Well that’s it for this week. Congratulations! You made it to the end of this long arse post! LOL!!

Question: What’s been your biggest problem in trying to sell your product or service online? The technology? The sourcing for the actual product you want to make? Figuring out the shipping & taxes or all of the above? Share your comments and questions below.

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The posted was updated on July 25, 2020.

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t shirt designs
8 years ago

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why this coincidence did not came about earlier!
I bookmarked it.