Selling Stuff Online in 2020

Selling Online in 2020

Selling Online

Three Simple Steps To Sell Online:

1: Find/Create products to sell.

2: Create product offerings in your online store.

3: Promote and Advertise your products.

FInd / Create Products:

Google has announced free product listings. This is great. If you want to sell online, then here are some quick, easy, and relatively cheap ways.

Need products to sell? One solution is to make them yourself. Print on demand has been booming lately. Here's a short list:

You'll need a store.

See below for why I don't recommend using a venue like eBay, or Amazon. Amazon restricted many sellers during COVID-19 and eBay is, well, eBay.

One of the easiest ways to build a store is Shopify. They allow you to easily upload product information and start selling right away. Also, they integrate with many print on demand sites likes the ones I've listed about.

There are many others - here are a few: https://www.bigcommerce.com/ , https://woocommerce.com/ ( for wordpress ) , and https://www.volusion.com/ . Some free, some not, some suck, some don't... but Shopify appears to be the stand out leader in 2020.

Advertise!

Now comes the fun part. You get to promote your products. You can't sell if noone sees your offers.

In the past, the best method was getting listed in the search engines. Once upon a time it was called "SEO" ( search engine optimization ). This became "GO", Google Optimization because, well, for the most part they are the ONLY search engine left. That's another topic for another day.

Getting Google to list a new site can take months. Who's got time for that?

While many people opt for Social Media marketing which consists of growing a following, then advertising to them, this takes a long time. So unless you already have over 10k followers just forget this for now.

Why not just BUY ads? Why? They're expensive, or, more exactly, you can't have the cost of advertising exceed your product margin. Great - you spend $50 in ads to sell $25 in products... not good.

Google was, and is, still the best way to advertise products online. Your listing show on Google's search results, millions of websites, and in phone apps. The downside? They cost money. Well, that USED to be the truth. 

Google recently announced FREE product listing ads. That's right. Now you can get into Google's search results immediatley ( well, almost ).

Because just about everything about selling online is now old news. Product, cart, meta tags, checkout button, paypal, merchant account, yada yada... It's all built into these newer apps like Shopify - ready to roll just add water, er, products.

Shopify also makes it easy to send your product data to Google via the 'google products feeds'. Don't worry - they've removed the 'techy' stuff so guys like me can't charge you hundreds of dollars to set it up anymore. There I go giving up secrets again.

Am I a Shopify evangelist? Hell, no. It's just that it's the easy route these days... hiring a programmer just isn't fashionable these days.. unless you really want to.

After your store is running..

People ask me how many sales they should expect. While this is a difficult question to be exact about, I do have a round number I use. You should get, at least, 1 sale per 100 visitors to your site. If you've had a thousand visitors, and no sales, it's time to re-evaluate your product, price, or other issues. Sometimes is just as simple as the site is broken. You need to place a sample order using a real credit card to make sure your store works 100%. Check it from your computer, your phone, someone else's computer and phone... make sure you're not losing out due to a simple misconfiguration.

Sites I've personally built range from 1 in 20 to slightly over 1 in 100 sales ratios. I've done this too many times to count so I know it's accurate. The only time I ever ran into an issue, so far, was with people building online used clothing stores or overpriced drop ship products, or s site that scares people for looking like crap. It seems used designer clothing is a difficult field to stand out in and, with new clothing being so cheap, it's a bit hard. I do know that to sell in that market you need identifyable brands and a good price.

Drop shipping as a source of product: It sucks. There's a lot of competition so it's not as easy as, say, importing the entire database from a dropship site into your store and marking it up a bit. You need to be creative here to succeed. One of the easiest, but time consuming, methods is to order the drop ship product yourself, take your own photos so it doesn't look like what everyone else is selling, and makeup your own ad copy. Ad copy is another topic so I'll just post a link or two.

Writing Ad Copy That Sells https://duckduckgo.com/?q=writing+ad+copy+that+sells

Remember, the NUMBER ONE THING that successful online sells have in common is: PERSERVERENCE.

btw: Yes, I prefer Duck, Duck, GO as my search engine these days... TOO much data being taken by the major engines.

Background:

I started writing this part first but it's just a little history and personal thoughts. I put the important stuff up top.

Me:

Programmer since age 14, selling online since 1997, electronics engineer, software engineer.

My background makes me a terrible salesman, but I've managed to survive online working for myself since my thirties. I've sold a few million dollars worth of things, but my most profitble venture was selling posters of old public domain images. Because of my 'tech' background I started with $100. I bought a broken 24" printer, sold a few on eBay after investigating sell through rates of other sellers, and the rest was history.

Prior to that I worked for people. I hate working for people.

In This Article..

I'll be sharing a few things I know without spilling the beans on some proprietary bits I'm working on.

Sales Are Everything.

No matter what you do in life, you're selling something. If you work for someone you're selling your time. If you're in the service industry you're selling both your time and your personality. If you own a business you're selling your products. If you're in the government you're participating in robbery at gunpoint - but that's another article.

To make money online, or anywhere, you have to sell something. Online you can sell your popularity if you have a large Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media following. That's called being an 'influencer'. It's a field dominated by young people or celebrities. While it's not impossible to become a 'net celebrity over 40, it's not a path I'd take.

Just putting your band's music video won't do it. To survive in social you have to post, repost, reply, comment, update, don't say too many things considered threatening like you voted for Trump, or that you like Seaworld... I've personnaly known a few people making tens of thousands of dollars per month by posting videos over and over again to Youtube. Some were just young girls posting makeup turotials. Others liked to smash things on video. I'd considered it for myself but my personality doesn't allow for it, plus I'm over 50 and lose interest quickly. Because of my lack of social I'm willing to share all my Youtube videos combined make me $30 per month. On this upside, that's a 100% passive $30... However, selling products online I've went intor the millions ( with an 's').

04/30/2020

The shape of online selling has changed. When I started, it was easy to get traffic. Today it's more difficult. eBay used to be an easy way to make money but today that's changed. They have more rules, more penalties, more competition, and, quite frankly, many people I know don't trust to buy anything there. The lion's share, of course, is Amazon.

I sold on Amazon briefly in the 2000s. I was already kicking ass with poster sales so when they started implementing rules like requiring UPC codes, and not dealing with my questions directly, I wasn't comfortable moving forward with them. However, I made a move from retail to wholesale and found my retailers selling on just about every site from Sears, to Walmart, to Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, etc.

Venues

Venues are any place online that, like a traditional mall, you pay a premium because they already have traffic ready to buy. Examples of venues are: Walmart, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy... the usual suspects. People opt for these becase the typically have the lowest barrier to entry. Want to sell some junk from your garage? List it on ebay, or Salehoo, or apps like LetGo and Mercari. 

A venue offers an easy way to list a few products, or tens of thousands. The downsides are: 1: The fees, 2: The rules. I've known people who've invested everything into eBay accounts only to find them closed one day for a perceived violation of a rule. It's terrible. These same types of rules exist on all venues. All it takes is one irate customer, or an over zealous competitor, to say you're selling questionable products, or any one of many other complaints, and you're done. Goodbye. Finito.

People have said, and you'll see this in forums, that the sellers that got booted MUST have done something wrong... until it happens to THEM... and then you'll see the comment boards light up with a 100% about face.

This article is a work in progress...  last update 04/30/2020 during the Pandemic

 

 



A Few Notes From Our Customers:

  • J. Reynolds in Seattle, Washington: I didn't get a million hits, but I got a few hundred visitors - 2 even bought products... worth the 5 bucks.
  • F. Swanson in Savannah, Georgia:Thanks for the traffic! It helped me get my site up and running.
  • S. Sizemore in Houston, Texas: ... did ok - got more traffic on the third day. Paying with Zelle was a little wierd, but it was only $5 so what the heck. Will use again.


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