Got a great idea for a product to sell online, but don’t know where to start? Launching an online business is no pipe dream. For millions of American women, selling products online is a fun and flexible way to earn extra money. And here’s how.
She Turned a Hobby into a Money Maker
It’s often said, “Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
For Linda Carney, a retiree of the nine-to-five grind, painting was merely a hobby throughout her adult life. That all changed three years ago, when friends and family encouraged her to sell her paintings through Facebook. Her “hobby,” which consumed several hours a week, became a thriving small business overnight.
Carney’s previous attempts at selling her artwork were limited to a single garden show held once a year in her hometown. Overnight, with her online storefront and Facebook business page, Carney began connecting with buyers all over the country – a dream that hardly seemed possible after 20 years at a desk job that was less than inspiring.
“My audience and customer base is expanding all the time through Facebook and my online storefront,” Carney says. “But I still have the flexibility to accept or reject commission requests so I can focus on the projects that are most inspiring for me as an artist.”
Carney is not alone. These types of small business opportunities, which often begin as peer-to-peer transactions through social media, represent billions of dollars in sales each year, according to the Direct Selling Association. And the vast majority of those doing the selling are women (around 80 percent, the DSA reports).
While many of these opportunities are related to multi-level marketing structures, which promote everything from vitamin supplements to yoga pants, independent sellers like Carney have also succeeded in reaching a niche through Facebook marketing and an online storefront for their businesses.
It happens to everyone from time to time. An idea pops into your head for the “perfect product.” Maybe it’s a catchy phrase that can be mass-produced on a baseball cap or t-shirt. Or it could be a gadget every child would beg their parents to have.
Simply being on social media is not enough to build a business. Here are a few tips to get started on your small business journey.
Create a Facebook Page: A social media presence is critical for small businesses, and Facebook is an ideal choice. You will need to create a Facebook business page that is different than your personal profile on the site. Click here to get started. Once you have your Facebook business page setup, you can incorporate a storefront.
Find the Right Storefront: For sellers, the possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to finding the right tools to sell their products online. In the online marketplace, one size does not fit all. Numerous companies offer “essential” tools for everything from analytics to advertising. Develop a clear vision for your business expectations, and investigate all the platforms until you find a product that aligns with your business strategies.
Get a Catchy Domain: While your storefront url may be lengthy and impossible to remember, you can obtain a short (and hopefully catchy url) to point to it. Check with any popular domain registrar to see if there is a domain name available that works for your business.
Don’t Over-sell On Social Media: A Facebook business page that constantly pushes “sell-sell-sell” will quickly be turned off and tuned out by its followers. Matthew Wilkens, a Social Media Product Manager with G/O Digital, recommends “9/10 approach” for most small businesses. “That means 90 percent should be branded, engaging content and only 10 percent selling,” Wilkens says, “with paid media used to help grow and sell.”