Genius tricks to sell anything from home | Money Matters Series | Episode 7
How to Sell Products From Home
Home-based businesses allow entrepreneurs to make a living while saving on commuting costs and childcare. Selling products from home can be profitable if there is high demand for the product. Some salespeople create homemade goods, while others re-sell used or wholesale items. The right product, combined with efficient organization and time management skills, can help you be successful as you sell products from home.
Strategizing and Buying Cheap
Brainstorm what type of products you have knowledge of and could succeed in selling from home.What do you enjoy doing? Most people enjoy working on projects where they feel skilled in. What's yours?
- If you are skilled in crafting, sewing or cooking you may decide to make and sell home décor, accessories, jewelry or edible items.
- If you have an eye for bargains you may be interested in buying and re-selling antiques or other items.
- If you enjoy working with a network of business owners and socially interacting with your customers, you may consider becoming a consultant for an existing home-based direct sales company.
Know what makesreally goodproducts.To have the most possible success as a home entrepreneur, you want to make sure you're not just selling any old product. You want to make sure you're selling awesome products — products that are convenient, portable, and cheap to manufacture:
- What makes a home productreally good:
- Convenience. Your product makes life easier for your customers
- Portability. It ships easily. That also usually means it's easier to manufacture.
- Cost. It doesn't take an arm and a leg to manufacture. Try to get your margins at or above 50%.
- What makes a home product not so good:
- Overly mechanical and liability-prone. If your product demands super high quality standards or puts you at a liability, stay away. No mechanical drills.
- Imported by big retailers. If the product you're trying to sell at home already is being sold at Walmart, don't expect much.
- Trademarks. Unless you want to spend all your profit fighting legal battles with huge corporations, stay away from items that are protected under trademark.
- What makes a home productreally good:
Determine the size and competitiveness of the market.Okay, so you've decided to sell miniature craft accessories — miniature chairs for doll collectors, perhaps. The next question you should consider ishow good of a business proposition is this?You may be the best miniature craftsman (or -woman) that money can buy, but it won't mean very much if no one buys miniatures for dolls, or if the market for doll miniatures is already really competitive and margins are razor thin.
- The size of the market is effectively how much money people are spending today on whatever product you're selling. You can usually research market size online by consulting market studies, journals, and government reports.The bigger the market size, the bigger the market opportunity.
- How competitive a given market is should be a big consideration in your choosing to step into it. If there are a lot of players vying for a piece of the pie, your job is going to be very hard. If there are not as many players vying for a piece of the pie, you're going to have an opportunity to make more money.
If you can, stock up on the product by buying wholesale.Wholesale is buying the product or things necessary to build the product directly from the manufacturer, thereby avoiding a markup from any middlemen. If you can buy whatever you need to make your product without involving any middlemen, your profit margins will be much bigger.
- You can get the best wholesale prices by shopping around. Reach out to several possible suppliers (with a junk email, unless you love spam; or by telephone) and ask them about getting a tester sample of whatever it is you're ordering. A tester will let you determine the quality of the product you're ordering.
- Be sure to ask about the minimum order, as well. If you need to buy 1,000 sets of dish drying racks in order to get the deal, it may not be a great investment, especially if you're just starting out.
- If you are joining a direct sales company, get signed up on its website or through another consultant and order your starter kit of inventory.
Building a Product and a Business
Start making your product.Very few retailers successfully buy wholesale and then flip the product(s) without changing it in some significant way. What you'll probably find yourself doing is buying the raw materials from a supplier or host of suppliers and then spending time and manpower fashioning your product into reality.
Test, test, and then test some more.You may think you've got a really reliable product on your hands, but no one is as discerning as the customer. The customer uses the product, sometimes on a daily basis, sometimes the "wrong way." The customer is constantly asking herself, "did I get my money's worth?" Testing your product on focus groups, friends, or even (especially) strangers might give you insight into how to make it even better.
- Say, for example, that you order 100 vegetable peelers wholesale, stick your name on them, and then sell them with a 100% markup. That's not necessarily a bad idea if you can get swift sales. But what if the vegetable peelers dissolve under hot water, and a week into your new sales venture, you've got dozens of angry customers whose dishwashers have been ruined by the peeler? If you had tested them, you'd know they weren't a good product. If you hadn't tested them, you'd be giving refunds, losing money and having your brand take a hit.
Apply for a tax identification number.A tax ID will allow the government to set up taxes associated with your sales. In most cases, you'll need to register your tax ID number in each state you plan on selling your goods.
Open a new bank account to keep your business earnings separate from the rest of your family income.This makes it easier for you to track your profit and expenses, though you can transfer your earnings into your personal account once your records have been noted.
- This also makes things a whole lot easier come tax season, when you need to be exact about what expenses you had and how much you were paid.
- Link a PayPal account to your business bank account in order to make online transactions more efficient.
Purchase business software for your home computer or laptop that will allow you to keep an organized database of inventory, invoices and accounting.It may sound boring, but boring is better than fines or jail time when the IRS comes auditing.
- You may choose to hire an accountant or bookkeeper to track these records for you.
Advertising Effectively and Selling Swiftly
Advertise your new business and the products you are selling.A product will usually sell in one of three ways: repeat buys (meaning the customer enjoyed it the first time and went back for more); word-of-mouth (rave reviews from trusted influencers); and advertising. If the quality and usefulness of your product is already high, there's not much you can do to affect repeat buys and word of mouth. That's where advertising comes in. Advertising is a way to build interest in a product by selling a dream of how to use it.
- Order business cards and distribute them to everyone you know or meet.
- Create business pages on social media sites and invite your friends and family to follow you. Encourage them to invite others, and make frequent status updates to keep your followers up to date on your business.
- If you joined a direct-sales company, review your materials for promotional ideas customized for your brand of products.
Experiment with, but don't rely solely on, PPC or Social.PPC stands for "pay per click," where you (the advertiser) pay the website on which your ad appears (the publisher) anytime a customer clicks on the link. Increasingly, however, many people are finding it difficult to generate leads with PPC. Social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, offer promotional content or advertisements as well. Social networks like these may be good at branding, but they don't necessarily translate into swift sales. Try both of these methods for yourself, but don't make them your entire advertising budget.
Arrange a way for customers to access and buy your products.Unless you truly want to sell products from your physical home (not recommended), you'll probably want to put the product up for sale online. There are several upsides and several downsides about selling online:
- The advantages:
- Lower startup costs.You don't have to pay nearly as much for an online domain as you do for a retail store. Listing items on eBay is relatively cheap.
- Farther reach. Even if you're in New York, you can reach customers from all over the world.
- Seamless marketing and convenience. Market online, and allow customers to buy with a click or two from the comfort of their living room.
- The disadvantages:
- Security issues. Credit card or other payment information can be breached, making for angry customers.
- Difficulty and time associated with delivering goods. It may be difficult and take weeks to ship a product to Tanzania, for example.
- The advantages:
Consider creating your own website.If you plan to do online sales, create a website that customers can shop from. Link your PayPal account to the website. Make sure that the layout and design of the website make it dead simple for customers to buy the product. People who are familiar with their product and website layout often find it much easier to understand than people with no knowledge of the product or website.
- It's becoming increasingly easy to build your own sales channel online. Many online services now exist, like Shopify, that let you pay for someone else to build and maintain your sales tools for you. The less commission you need to give eBay on each sale, the more money stays in your own pocket.
There are a lot of things that do into selling on eBay, the internet's biggest auction place. But the main idea is simple: Create a listing, decide how you want to sell it, and then ship it when the listing is sold. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Pictures are important! Take attractive, useful, clear pictures. Your products will sell more if people feel like they can understand them through pictures.
- Choose an auction format or fixed price format. Auction format works best for rarer items that people are likely to fight over, while fixed price format works best for more common items where the supply outstrips demand.
- Be kind and courteous to everyone — even jerks — in order to keep your feedback rating high. Your reputation may well be the selling point if a competitor lists an item like yours at the same price.
.Selling on Amazon is much like selling on eBay, except that the auction format isn't available on Amazon. To sell on Amazon, all you need to do is create a profile, list your item (along with descriptions, condition, and price), and then ship the product once it's sold. As on eBay, pay attention to your ratings and feedback.
.Etsy is a digital marketplace designed for crafts. Unlike eBay and Amazon sellers, who sell anything and everything, Etsy sellers focus on handmade crafts with a personal touch. So if you have a talent at crafting something like a fabric coaster, platinum jewelry, or folk art, Etsy might be just the place you're looking for.
If you're adventurous, consider selling door-to-door.Whether you want to supplement your online income or rely on your personal charm, selling door-to-door is still a viable way of hawking products. It's certainly not easy, and it's not for the faint of heart, but with a bit of know-how and a lot of determination, it can bolster your bottom line.
Ensuring Lasting Success
Ship the product out expeditiously.If you want to make the best possible impression on your customers, package the product elegantly (making sure it won't break during shipping), bring it to the post office, and ship it off. It's really as simple as that.
Offer refunds and exchanges.Unfortunately, sometimes the customer isn't going to like what they bought. Make the return/exchange policy clear, but don't burn bridges by refusing a refund. Eating these refund costs will be a good business practice, and should keep your Amazon/eBay/Etsy ratings high.
- Cycle the feedback you get into making your products even better. Iterate on bad designs, negative interactions, or product flaws.
- Remember that the customer is always right, even when they aren't. It's one of the hardest parts of doing business, but it's one of the oldest rules in the book. If you treat your customers like undeserving bums, they'll feel like that. And while that mayfeelgood after a brutal exchange, it certainly doesn't pad the wallet.
After a while, branch out to new products.In the beginning, it can be a good strategy to stay focused on one or two products, so that you get a hang of the process and don't spend too much time juggling pictures, descriptions, demographics, etc. After you've gotten a foothold in a market and developed confidence in an e-commerce platform (such as eBay), it could be profitable to start selling distinct, but related, products.
Slowly but surely, start to sell bigger and better.If you're serious about making money, you'll want to look at your sales after a couple months and figure out how to increase them. Here are just a few ideas you can use:
- Negotiate better prices from wholesale. As you buy more in bulk, your power to negotiate goes up. Don't be afraid to use it! The wholesalers want your business.
- Look for recurring revenue sources. Think about ways you can ensure repeat business. Could email, snail mail, a subscription pack, or something else creative get you return business?
- Ask for help, or outsource. Could a few more pairs of hands and legs help you deliver more packages and increase the sales you make? Especially if you're only selling part-time, constant trips to the post office and regular time sunk into payment processing could be eating away at your profitability.
QuestionCould I start a small garment business from home alone?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can, but you may want to consult a person who has worked in that business before for suggestions, business models, and basic advice. You may also want to consult an business accountant to be prepared for filing for your business when necessary.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need to have my product tested or get insurance to sell homemade bath salts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGet it tested by family/friends to see how other people like it, but you don't need to get insurance, as long as it's something like door-to-door.Thanks!
QuestionIs it necessary to patent my products?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you're really serious about making a large business, it's suggested that you do.Thanks!
What is the best way to start a watch, sunglasses, wallet, and belt business?
If I'm selling different products, how do I make a home advertising board that people can see when they pass by?
How do I sell products from home?
- Arrange child care for small children, even if only part time, so you have an opportunity to have uninterrupted work time during the day.
- If you will sell product face-to-face, organize an area in your home for customers to shop. If you will be bringing products to customers' homes, find storage space for your inventory, as well as some space where you can sort orders for your customers.
- Licensing is usually not required for home-based product sales, but there are some exceptions depending on what products you are selling and your location. Contact your state Department of Commerce to make sure your business does not require any licensing or inspection.
Sources and Citations
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