Small Business Tutorial
By: Eddy tulip
The idea of this article is to be a basic tutorial for anyone looking to sell products online, or start an online business in general. This would be a rudimentary knowledge base of how to get started. We will go over sources that can be explored for products, as well as ways to find your product for a better price if purchased in bulk. We will discuss methods of selling online and the benefits of a few options. We will help you understand Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and how it effects your business website, and some basic steps to help your site. Overall, this should be a guide to help you get started, and give you some basic information to take the lead and learn as you go.
Finding a product, service, or idea to start your business.
When it comes to your product, there are many places you can go, like Hobby Lobby or Michaels, or any craft store to purchase items to put together a product. Online buying can help you get better pricing, by checking sites like Amazon, Alibaba.com, Aliexpress.com, and DHGate.com. Some of these are outside the country manufacturing websites where you can buy in bulk and get bulk discounts. Understanding the cost of your product is extremely important in figuring out what you want your margin to be, and what your retail price will end up at. Getting your products cheaper will help you stay competitive and make more profits! The best thing someone starting out can do, is start looking at who the players in their market would be, and what they are doing right and wrong. Purchase products from someone selling a similar product and use those products, see what can be improved, see what aspects of the buying experience you enjoyed, and see which may have some opportunities. Using this prepping stage as research will help you make the right decisions now, rather than later through experience. Knowing the route you will take will save lots of time and money in the long run, so don’t forget the research stage. Find out how you are going to stand out, and what makes your product better than the rest.
Establishing an online presence.
One of the biggest ways to get your brand name out there, is to make sure you are found all over the internet. Some people elect to make a product, and they sell their product on one site like eBay. They may have good sales, but their only outlet is eBay. Customers that are shopping elsewhere will never discover that product. Exploring multiple selling outlets will help grow your business and drive lots more sales. If your product is handmade, then Etsy.com would be a great location. On Etsy, you are part of an entire world filled with only handmade items. These are unique and one of a kind items that can almost only be found on Etsy.com. When people shop on Etsy, they expect the item to be different and special in some way, and they want to support a small business instead of the normal big box. Etsy would be my recommendation for anyone that has never sold online before and they have a handmade item. Their selling model is very easy to setup, and their customers and very understanding and respectful. There are many selling guides out there for selling on Etsy and getting started, and we suggest using Google to get started, but we will have some Etsy tips and best practices later in this article.
Other areas to sell your items would be eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram and many more. You should start with at least two sites to sell your items, to get use to running a business online, with multiple websites. Amazon is one of the biggest opportunities to a small business, but requires the most effort to sell online. Amazon requires specific boxing, labeling, and UPC’s. Amazon would be for the seller that has had some experience with other sites first. Start out with one site, and then copy your listing information over to another. If it takes a few hours to setup one site, it will take half the time to get the other one going, since all the information has already been written out. Duplicating your pictures, titles and descriptions from site to site is a simple way to expand your company net to achieve more sales.
Online Selling Best Practices
There are many people selling things on Etsy and eBay, but what’s going to drive sales is a few major things that need to be focused on when creating a listing. One of those aspects is to make sure there is lots of content for your product. You don’t want just one picture of your product, you want to have a main picture that is on a white background that is clean, clear and high resolution. A light box can be purchased online on Amazon.com for around $25 dollars. This will help you take perfect pictures. Pictures are extremely important, as shoppers will scroll down a website looking at pictures first, then choose a product to read about. You always want multiple pictures of your product, some showcasing a benefit of the product or it in use.
Also, when creating listings, you want to make sure you use all the characters for your Title. If the Title on Etsy can be 80 Characters, then make sure you use it all with different keywords. If you are selling a “Christmas Stocking”, your title could be “Beautifully Hand Made Christmas Xmas Stocking Hemmed with Free Shipping” The more words you have in your title, the more likely someone will find you when they are searching for a product. This goes the same for keywords. Some sites like Etsy give you 13 keywords to help customers find your product. Keywords are the most important thing on Etsy, as the wrong keywords will prevent your product from being found. The more creative the keyword, the more likely someone will find you. If you are selling a Christmas stocking, don’t say “Stocking” say “Christmas Stocking”, “Xmas Stocking”, or “Holiday Stocking”. The more detailed, the more likely you will be found. Basic keywords like “Stocking” will get lost in the crowd.
Your descriptions should also be very specific on what you are offering. The biggest thing about selling online is to never overpromise and then under deliver. Make sure the customer knows everything about your product before it arrives. There should be no surprises when your product arrives, as the more accurate you are with your description, the less likely someone will want to return the product. Returns are a huge hit to a business, so make sure your pictures are clean, your description is accurate, and your keywords match your product.
Making a Website.
Creating a website seems like an impossible feat for some people, and it’s the first thing on someone’s mind when they think about selling online. Having a website is extremely important for branding, and selling on the long term. When creating a website, you are creating something that can potentially keep growing and continuing to make you profits for a lifetime. When creating a website, we recommend a service that will help you through the process. Shopify.com is our favorite for websites, as it is integrated with all social media, SEO and has tons of apps to help you make it as specific as you need. Shopify does charge a monthly fee depending on what kind of shop you want from them, and they start out around $39.99 a month, so make sure your product is selling on other sites first before you invest in a website. Making a website doesn’t mean people can find your website. Just like keywords are important on Etsy, SEO is just as important for a website.
Search Engine Optimization – Finding your website on Google.
If you search for your product, and your website doesn’t come up, that means you need some SEO. There are two different ways to get on the first page of google, Organic and Paid. Organic comes from your website naturally ranking up on Google’s search pages. This is done by your website being used by customers, having reviews and content like blogs, and it being linked to other websites. Linking to other websites is key to really growing an organic search result. Ways of getting your site linked to others would be if another site wrote an article about your website. Maybe another website is promoting a deal that your website has. Getting out there and marketing yourself is important. Reaching out to bloggers that write about products in your industry, sending emails to newspaper outlets or magazines to see if they want to promote your product or test it. Some people tend to write blogs and articles for just the product itself, this could be a way to get a review for your website, links to blogs about your product, and social media posts broadcasting your product. Sometimes this can be worth giving your product away to start.
The other method of getting on the first page of Google, is paid. Google AdWords is a website that allows you to setup campaigns to market your website. Campaigns are just a grouping of keywords that customers are searching that you want your product to show up for. Depending on your budget, you can make sure that if anyone searches “Christmas Stocking” you will be the first link that shows up on Google. Google AdWords can be VERY expensive if you are not careful. To get on the first page of Google, you BID for that spot. The BID for the first page depends on how much competition there is for that keyword. The BID you make, is by CLICK. So, to give you an example, if there is a lot of competition for “Christmas Stocking” on Google AdWords, you might have to spend $1.50 a CLICK to get on the first page, because other companies are willing to spend $1.45 to get there. A Bid per Click means that when someone clicks on your link, and you pay Google $1.50. That customer could be on your website for 2 seconds, and you still pay Google that $1.50. So make sure your website is perfect before you start a campaign.
As for Google and bidding for the first page, if you get creative, your bids can be much lower, like .10 cents a bid for “Plaid Christmas Stocking”, or “Large Christmas Stocking”. Getting creative with your AdWords Campaigns will help you be competitive and get on the first page of Google with lots of other creative keywords that you think people will be using to search for your website. Google will also help you create campaigns for free, and help you create a bid strategy that will have a good Conversion. Conversion is how much you pay for each sale on your site. So, if you had 10 clicks at .10 cents each and finally got a sale, that sale would have cost you $1 dollar, and that would be your conversion cost. There are many websites and YouTube videos that can help your setup AdWords, but that is key with having a website. Shopify also helps setup AdWords with your website very easily, so you can instantly be on Google when your website is complete. Other search engines do exist as well, like Bing.com if you wanted to venture outside of Google.
Learning and Growing
Finding an online community of like-minding people is important for growing a business and getting more innovative and cost efficient. Understanding different ways to group your sites together and ship products together with XPSShipper.com, or Stamps.com is only found by partnership. Finding communities on Facebook or Reddit will help you continue to improve and find better ways to do things. The one thing you should always know is that there is no such thing as competition. Being competitive is great, but being collaborative is greater. Helping someone only helps yourself, and sharing ideas makes everyone get better. Running a small business isn’t easy, so help other small businesses get started and grow, even if they are making something similar. There are enough customers out there for all of us to be extremely successful, so let’s do it together.