We now get to the heart of your business – selling products. If your objective in starting a business was to make money online, it means you got to have something to sell. Today’s article just covers the basics of product sales; we’ll be giving you more details and resources to help you in the coming days.
The first question is obviously, what are you going to sell? It could be a product – something the customer can buy and use, or a service – where you hire out your knowledge and ability to help the customer. We will be looking at this in detail below.
There are two types of products you can sell – physical products and digital products.
There is no limit to the variety of physical products you can sell on your business website. Whether it is books, clothing, household items, toys, DVDs, artwork or accessories – just about anything can be sold online. You can either sell these products on your own website or use third-party sites like eBay. There are various eCommerce solutions to help you set up the payment process from your website. However, you will have to keep the shipping and handling process in mind – it has to be set up even before you start marketing your products.
Here’s an example of a website that sells physical products:
Flipkart.com sells a variety of products online while assuring secure payment and home delivery.
Digital products are those that cannot be physically handled but can be purchased and delivered online. The good thing about selling digital products is that you don’t have to worry about shipping and handling. Here are a few types of digital products that can be sold on your business website.
A lot of people are writing and self-publishing ebooks on their websites these days. You can compile the knowledge you have about a topic that jives with your audience and write your own ebook. The image above is that of the ebook, The Good Wife’s Guide. The author has written and self published her ebook, and is current selling it on her website.
You will have to decide which formats you’d like the book to be available in. Traditional ebook formats include PDF, Kindle & Nook versions. While you can sell the PDF version on your own site, Kindle and Nook ebooks will have to be sold at Amazon and Barnes & Noble respectively.
An online course is another great way to share your knowledge with your audience while making money from it. Courses could be in the form of audio, videos or PDFs. You will have to figure out how you’d like the course to be delivered to the customer – whether all the content will be readily available and delivered at once, or if it will be divided into modules and delivered on a daily/weekly basis.
Heavenly Homemakers has an eCourse on how to incorporate real food in the kitchen. Users get unlimited access to all the recipes, workbooks and printables once they purchase the course.
3. Software & Apps
If you are good in computer programming, you can create software that will remedy a pain point for your customers. With the increased usage of smartphones and tablets, you can also create apps that will help your audience in some way.
4. Themes & Templates
On Day 15, I mentioned how you can download themes and templates and incorporate them into your website design. Well, if you have the knowledge and experience to create them yourself, you can sell them to thousands of people who purchase them everyday world over. You will need to have a thorough knowledge of HTML and CSS though, and know the mechanics of web designing.
If you are skilled in graphics, you can sell the images you’ve created online. Those who are good in photography can also sell high resolution photos – either on your own website or to a stock photo site.
For each of these digital products mentioned above, you’ll have to decide where you are going to sell it from. Will you be selling on your own website or on a third-party site? If you plan to do it on your own site, you’ll have to choose an appropriate payment method and make arrangements to ensure that the product is successfully delivered to the customer.
When it comes to selling services online, you are basically helping the customer do something they need help with, for a predefined cost. Services that can be purchased online are usually of two types – web based services and freelance services.
Web Based Services
These are usually based online and require the customer to set up an account and log in in order to avail the particular service. Here are a few examples of web based services.
- Google Marketing Platform for Enterprises – They offer detailed analytics and reports that will help users analyze and optimize their website traffic.
- Plan To Eat – A meal planning service that helps users plan their menus and their grocery lists.
- Moz – This is a one-stop shop that offers a variety of tools and services related to online marketing.
These services help the customer in a particular problem area, by easing the load and streamlining the process. If you can offer a service that will do the same for your customers, you can sell it as a web based service. You can charge a monthly or yearly subscription fee for users to be able to access your service.
Freelancing is a huge umbrella that covers a variety of services that can be offered online. The beauty of being a freelancer is that there is minimal business setup requirements. Here are some of the popular freelance services I’ve come across.
- Web designing
- Virtual assistance
- Content writing
- Graphics designing
- Search engine optimization
- Social media marketing
If you are planning to offer freelance services, you need only a payment process. A payment gateway is not required. You can create an invoice with your charges for the service requested, and the client can directly send you the payment. Freelance services usually require only a one time settlement, unless your client keeps requesting your services.
Membership sites can be built with combination of products (digital and physical) and services that are sold in a package. These websites are usually built on a subscription model where customers will have to pay a monthly/yearly fee to have continued access to the material. There are however a few membership sites that offer lifetime access with a one-time payment. In that case, customers will have to pay just once and they will have unlimited access to the content.
Here are a few examples:
Platform University – Founded by Michael Hyatt, this site offers training and resources for members to build a successful online platform.
Financial Peace University – Members of this Dave Ramsey program get videos, course material, tools and access to an online community.
Lest you get overwhelmed with all the information presented in this article, I suggest you only concentrate on defining what it is you are going to sell. You can check out the article 50+ Authentic Online Business Ideas for inspiration.
Next in the series is an easy to follow, step by step guide for selling products online. Be on the lookout for it tomorrow!