One of the first things that comes to mind when many think of a home business is selling something. Setting up an online store can be a good way to earn money, especially since it is possible to do it by either selling your own goods, or becoming involved in drop shipping, so that it isn’t necessary to keep goods in stock.
No matter how you decide to run your online store, though, you need to give careful thought to how you set up your store, and how you market your goods.
3 Tips for Successfully Establishing Your Online Store
Establishing a successful online business requires planning and effort. Steve Chou runs Bumblebee Linens, a successful ecommerce store selling table linens for special events and keepsakes for men. Steve runs the store with his wife, and they made a profit of six figures in their first year, by carefully considering their target market — and how to market to that target.
Steve offered these three quick tips for setting up a successful online store:
- Pick a product that is not readily available in stores.
- Pick a product with an ambiguous dollar value. Stay away from brand name goods that are easy to comparison shop.
- Pick a product that is timeless, and that will never become obsolete or go out of fashion.
When looking at Bumblebee Linens as a case study, you can see that Steve has followed his own advice. You can’t find handkerchiefs, especially those that are custom embroidered, easily in stores. Additionally, these types of handkerchiefs are hard to find, since they have an element of customization and personalization. The dollar value isn’t set. And, finally, a nice handkerchief is always acceptable as a momento, or a token, and a very fashionable addition to almost any occasion or special event.
But you don’t have to choose handkerchiefs. There are plenty of items that fit this description — especially if you are particularly good at making something hand-made, or if you can find a good wholesale price on something that isn’t available in the big box stores.
Making money with your online store starts with carefully considering what you will sell, and how you will get it to customers. You can use drop shipping to avoid keeping the items in stock yourself, or you can actually sell items that you keep with you, and arrange to ship them yourself. Steve is running an excellent course on running a profitable online business, if you are interested in starting your own online store I highly recommend this course.
Market Your Online Store
Of course, next you have to figure out how you are going to market your online store. People won’t buy what you’re selling if they don’t know about it. Some of the common ways to get the word out on your online store include:
- Use an AdWords campaign to increase your visibility online.
- Sign up with other ad networks and programs to help you place banners and ads on a variety of web sites.
- Make use of social media by creating profiles on Facebook and Twitter.
- Start a blog to draw traffic to your online store.
- Encourage bloggers to help spread the word by offering an affiliate program that pays commissions.
- Buy more traditional advertising in print, radio, and magazines (although this can become very expensive, very quickly).
Part of your marketing strategy has to include search engine optimization, though. An increasing amount of business online comes as a result of web searches. Your online store needs to show up in results when people are looking for the items you sell. This means that your product descriptions, tags, and other web page elements need to be optimized so that search engines can see that you are a good fit for a potential customer’s search.
If you want to start your own online store, check out Steve’s course on Running A Profitable Online Business.
More on Making Money
It pays to carefully think about your optimization, as well as what you are selling. Make sure that you use only techniques that are “white hat,” and that are likely to be viewed favorably by search engines. You can boost your usefulness to customers, and improve your authority and ranking in the search engines by providing extra features and value with your site. One of the things Bumblebee Linens does is include instructions for various crafts you can enjoy using handkerchiefs. This is the sort of feature that visitors get interested in — and that can raise your position in the search engine rankings.
In the end, your online store’s success will rely on the products you choose to sell, and the way you decide to market them. Create a plan to address these issues, and you will have a greater chance of success.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.