When you’re looking for products to sell, in most cases you’re going to want to start looking at products and/or services that you know, and are familiar with. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert on the topic, but you do need to be interested in it. Finding things you’re interested in selling can be a challenge for almost everyone who sets out to start an online business. To help you brainstorm for products, and services you may want to offer, answer the following questions:
- What are your hobbies?
- What do you do when you have free time?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to do, or become good at?
- What are some of your talents?
- What things would others say you’re good at?
- If you could quit your day job, what would you spend the rest of your days doing?
Answering these questions will help you generate a list of ideas you can build your business around.
There are two main reasons that you need to have an interest in what you sell: Transparency
If you don’t like or understand your product, your indifference might show through to those who visit your site. Any salesperson knows that it is extremely difficult to sell something you don’t understand or believe in. Choosing to sell something you have an interest in will shine through in your business, and often times you’ll be more likely to work hard, and do the things that will be needed to obtain the success you desire.
The second reason, and most important, is that of providing information. When it comes to online marketing, information is your greatest asset, and it is what will genuinely set you apart from your competitors. Your ability to provide persuasive information to your consumers will be directly related to your experience, level of interest, and passion for your products and/or services
Screening Potential Suppliers
When you talk with potential suppliers for the products you want to offer on your website, you will need to run the supplier through a screening process. But first, you need to understand the different ways you can fulfill orders for your products. Below are a few of the most common product fulfillment methods:
Drop Shippers are simply suppliers that are willing to send the products directly to your customers for you. You, the seller, are still responsible for marketing the item, collecting payment, and sending the order to the supplier, or dropshipper. The dropshipper then processes the order, shipping it directly to your customer for you. Dropshipping has it’s benefits and drawbacks:
- Low Risk – you don’t have to spend a lot of money purchasing products up front. You never have to buy anything from the supplier until AFTER you have been paid by the customer.
- Less Work – The fact that the supplier is shipping the items for you means that you no longer need to worry about packaging the items, buying packing materials, or going to the post office.
- Freedom – Dropshipping allows you freedom from being tied to your inventory. All you need to process your orders is a computer and an internet connection. I processed orders on a dropship website of mine when on vacation in Brazil. I had my laptop, and an internet connection, which is all I needed to run my business.
- Price: The biggest drawback of using a dropshipper is that the dropshipper is one more middle man you have to go through. As such, the price you pay is going to be higher than if you were to purchase your products directly from a wholesaler or manufacturer.
Key questions to ask suppliers:
- Do you wholesale? YES
- Do you Dropship? YES
- Do you have a minimum order? NO
If the suppliers answer these questions correctly, they are likely a dropshipper that you can work well with. The next step is to ask them what you need to do in order to sell their products. Each supplier has a different process for getting established with them. If you ask them how to get established to sell their products, they will tell you what the next steps are. Take the steps required and get set up with them. Keep in mind that getting set up with them does NOT mean you have to use them. But, it DOES allow you to get a price sheet and catalog of products to see what opportunities the supplier offers.
Finding Drop Shippers
There are three main ways to find drop shipped products, which include:
- Drop Shipper Directories – Drop shipper directories are data bases build by companies who professional seek out and locate drop shippers. The put their findings into a large database, and sell memberships to the database via a website. Drop shipper directories put you in DIRECT contact with potential suppliers, which gives you the option to negotiate price, and work closely with the suppliers. Here are some of the better drop ship directories I’ve found:
- Product Directories – Product directories, unlike drop ship directories, give you access to products, but not to the suppliers themselves. Product directories also charge membership fees to belong to the directory. The benefits of this are that you have one centralized location to place orders, so it’s very convenient. However, one drawback is that because you don’t have access to suppliers directly, you can’t negotiate price, and therefore products offered on product directories are often more difficult to make a profit on. Here are some of the better product directories:
- Manual Research - Another way to find drop shippers is to search for them manually. While you can do this research for free online, it is often very time consuming, and may take weeks or months to find a drop shipper. However, when you do find drop shippers for your products, chances are you’ll be able to offer better products, with better pricing. There are some tools you can use to find manufacturers and dropshippers online, but it will be up to you to ask them the screening questions mentioned previously.
Wholesalers are typically suppliers that sell in bulk at reduced prices. Wholesalers are much easier to find than dropshippers are, however you are usually required to buy in bulk. This can be difficult for someone just starting out because you may not know which products will be the most popular. Many people have purchased products in bulk, and gotten saddled with a truckload of products they can’t sell. For those just getting started, dropshippers offers a faster, more risk-free way to get your feet wet. Once you are familiar with which products you sell the most of, and how much volume you sell, you could look into buying in bulk via a wholesaler.
Offering affiliate products on your site is somewhat like working as an outside salesperson, except that you’re doing the sales online. The difference between affiliate marketing and drop shipping is that with affiliates you simply redirecting your customers to another merchant’s website. Affiliate marketing allows you a few different ways to get paid.
Affiliate Marketing is a revenue sharing venture between a website owner and an online merchant. The website owner will place advertisements on his websites to either help sell the merchant’s products or to send potential customers to the merchant’s website, all in exchange for a share of the profits.
There are three ways to earn money through affiliate marketing:
Pay Per Click – Every time a potential customer leaves the affiliate website by “clicking” on the link leading to the merchant’s website, a certain amount of money is deposited in the affiliate’s account. This amount can be pennies or dollars depending on the product and amount of the commission.
Pay Per Sale – Every time a sale is made as a result of advertising on the affiliate’s website, a percentage, or commission, is deposited into the affiliate’s account.
Pay Per Lead – Every time a potential client registers at the merchant’s website as a result of the advertisement on the affiliate’s account, a previously determined amount is deposited into the affiliate’s account.
For many website owners, this is a great way to earn some extra money without actually having to “do” anything. All it involves is placing an ad on the affiliate’s website. There’s no selling or promotion of any kind. The affiliate can just sit back and wait for the profits to roll in.
It’s also beneficial to the merchant. By placing affiliate marketing advertising on websites all over the Internet, he has free advertising and doesn’t need to do much selling on his own. The more websites a merchant is affiliated with, the more exposure his products get, and all he has to do is allow ads for his products to appear on someone else’s website.
It’s important to choose wisely. In some cases, an ad can be placed on an affiliate’s website for months before a potential customer “clicks” or purchases something. If the commission is only pennies, this can lead to a frustrating relationship. Both the affiliate and the merchant are well advised to ensure the relationship will be mutually beneficial.
Finding affiliates to work with is pretty simple by using one of the three main affiliate networks listed below (in order of best to worst in my opinion):
- Commission Junction – http://www.cj.com
- Click Bank – http://www.clickbank.com
- Link Share – http://www.linkshare.com
by Stacey Barrus