In last week’s installment of our new series, we covered the basics of making money online. Or, everything you need to know before you even start selling. You should be armed with an idea of what you’ll be selling (a concrete, easy to build off of one), the tools you’ll need, and the platforms you want to use. All of this will come into play as we start on today’s entry.
Which will focus on just people selling physical products and services. We’ll get into content creation later, but we wanted to really dive into both areas. We had to split them up, but don’t worry: they can be used together to create a kick-ass social strategy for your business!
Finding Your Platform
No matter what you’re selling, you’ll need a home base for your products and purchasers. This will be where they go to buy an item, learn more about the business, and get in contact with you if they have any questions. With the rapid growth of social media, there are a ton of platforms you may already be using that have spaces for you to sell your products.
And your best bet isn’t to get on as many as you can. It sounds counterintuitive, we know, but it would be better for you to build a really strong and steady base on one platform before expanding to the others. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple platforms and shops, but trying to focus on 3 or 5 at once is exhausting. Something will slip, you’ll make a mistake, and now you have a space full of disgruntled customers. Select 1 platform, dive in, and then expand out when you know the ropes.
Let’s walk through some of the more popular platforms and tell you a bit more about their shop features.
What article about selling products online could skip Etsy? Etsy is one of the biggest shopfronts and store sites, focused on handmade and vintage items. You can find a wide range of products on Etsy, including furniture, jewelry, handcrafted clothes, vintage finds, and more. If you’re ever looking for a unique gift, Etsy is a fantastic place to start.
A lot of Etsy items are handmade and new, or vintage pieces. There is a cost to list items and Etsy does take a commission, but it’s an established brand with a huge customer base. Plus, customers can track their orders and receive shipping notifications right in the app, which is a well-loved feature.
This one probably needs no introduction. Facebook Marketplace is a hub for local finds. While most listening will be resale or used items, it’s a great way to target local buyers. A quick scroll will show mostly furniture or gently used items, but you’ll still find local business owners and crafters selling their work on Marketplace.
Prices, by the way, are almost always a steal. It’s up to the seller and buyer to communicate how the item will get from one person to the other and there is a selling fee.
Instagram’s newest feature is Shopping, which allows users to shop for items from videos and pictures. Users set up a shop in their profile with the capability to list individual items and group them into a collection. You can take items in your posts, so if it grabs a viewer’s attention they can jump right to it. Users can also check out in the Instagram app or by going to the brand’s website. Shops can also showcase their deals and offers, too! This feature is mostly home to retail brands.
While there is no cost to create an Instagram account and post, there will likely be fees to set up the shop and promote your items. Do some research to see if these are costs you’ll run into – and if you can afford to take them on.
If you’re wanting to sell services, Fiverr is the way to go. Fiverrr is an online marketplace specifically for freelance services. You can find listings for graphic designers, editors, data entry, SEO, and more. Basically, anything you could ever need for business admin is right there, ready to go.
Fiverr has no listing or shop opening fees and makes the process of setting up your freelance page easy. You can set multiple price ranges (all in increments of $5) and each kind of listing comes with a variety of services you can choose to offer. While there’s no cost to set up a shop, do some research into any selling fees or promotion fees they may offer.
The Clapper Shop feature combines everything that you want in a storefront with the super popular short-form content style. Clapper Shop allows any creator to set up a shop right in their profile, and they can start selling their products right when they join. You can also promote your products on Shop Live; go Live on Clapper and pull a listing from your storefront into the Live. People can purchase right through your Livestream!
There is no fee to list an item on Clapper, but we do take a small commission on any sales you make. We take 5% from each of your sales, whereas other e-commerce sites charge up to 30% commission. We want to make sure you’re keeping the money you earn.
Create Your Own!
Websites like Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress help you create your own website. All of them have shop functions, so you can set up a personalized storefront and run everything through your own space. This can be a heavy lift financially and time-wise but is still a good option to consider.
Why? If something happens with the app you’re using, you have access to your website. And you have full control over the website, meaning it can look however you want.
These are just a few of the options available to you when you start selling. Spend some time researching each platform and finding the one that fits you and your products best.
Setting Up Shop
Depending on what you’re selling, this may take a while. No need to rush it! Each platform you choose will walk you through creating your account and setting up your shop, so we’ll just leave that to the professionals. Just make sure your profile clearly shows us what you’re selling. The name, profile picture, and description should communicate what people can buy from you.
Creating a Listing
This will be the same no matter what platform you use to sell. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep product listings uniform across platforms. Below are some basic questions to help you develop a product listing.
- What is the name of your product?
- What are the dimensions? How big or small is it?
- What details are important or eye-catching?
- What can’t be communicated in a picture?
We also recommend having at least 3 high-quality pictures of your product. Be sure we can see every side of it and any small details!
A Note on Shipping
One downside of selling physical products is having to store and ship them. There are quite a few options for each, and there are some manufacturing companies that will store and ship the product for you. Definitely do your research into how you’ll make your products, as well as how you plan to get them to customers.
If you’re going to ship something out, be sure to include an estimate of the timeline and the cost in your listing. It cuts down on confusion and frustration later on, and having all the information readily available can make customers more excited to buy.
Just like everything else we’ve discussed, we encourage you to do your research into marketing strategies and see what works best for you. Because there is no one right way to market your products.
Seasoned marketing professionals will tell you that the key is to try something new and track the results. In plain terms, throwing a bunch of mud at the wall and seeing what sticks. What works for one industry or creator may not work for another: Facebook ads might be perfect for your business, but an email newsletter may generate more leads for your friend’s. There’s no wrong answers…just a lot.
One route that’s available to everyone (and yields some pretty good results) is social media. Anyone can create a social media account and post content about their products. And every app has a ton of features that you can use to share your work with people across the world. Plus, that research we mentioned is already built in.
Social media is full of people selling and marketing their products and businesses. Take advantage of that and see what they’re doing! Spend some time looking into hashtags or communities related to your business. What kinds of videos are going viral? What trends are taking the community by storm? What do you like about them? And what don’t you like about them?
If we go back to the example of selling a planner, they’d start to buy searching the hashtags “planner”, “planning”, “paperplanner”, or anything similar. They would also spend some time looking through profiles like Passion Planner or Golden Coil to see what kind of content they post. You shouldn’t copy them directly, but seeing what works well for them will give you the inspiration to try on your own page.
When we think of doing promotion on social media, most of us think of posts. For Instagram, you’d post a picture or a Reel: on Clapper, you post a video. But promotion extends beyond the usual posts. Every platform will have a variety of features that you can use in addition to what they’re known for. Try them out and see what you like best.
For example, Clapper has Livestream, Radio, and Groupchat features. You’ll see shop owners going live as they make products or pack orders, jumping onto Radios to answer questions or get stuff done, and sharing product updates in their Groupchats. Click through your chosen social media platform and see how you can use its features to suit your needs.
No matter what social media platform you choose to promote your product, it’s best to have a strategy to go along with it. We’ve talked about social strategy, content calendars, and setting content creation goals in other blog posts, but we want to give you some questions to help guide your strategy.
Because even if your business is a passion project or something you love, you’ll have to start thinking of it as a business. You’ll need to catch people’s attention and make them want to buy from you. These questions should help you find ways to stand out and show customers why they should buy from you.
What makes your products different?
Do you have a specific niche or hard-to-come-buy knowledge? Are your products made for a specific type of person? Do they meet a need for similar products aren’t?
What makes your story different?
Maybe nothing makes your products unique. That’s fine: how many different brands are there selling jeans or chairs or paint? Your product doesn’t need to have something that makes it special, but you probably do. You likely have a unique experience that made you want to start creating or selling. You might be what makes your content stand out; don’t be afraid to share that with us!
Why should people buy from you?
This ties into the other two questions! There are so many things to buy, why should someone choose you? Do you have specific expertise or experience that gives you an edge? Are you giving back to your community or using sustainable methods? Do you or your brand have a specific kind of personality or fill an unoccupied niche? You may never have to say this, but it doesn’t hurt to have an answer ready.
Marketing is never easy and can feel overwhelming when you’re approaching it for the first time. Don’t stress: we’ve got some ideas for promoting your business on social media. These are pretty popular and it’s likely you’ve seen them before – and with good reason! They work well and can really grab an audience’s attention.
- Peel back the curtain. Give us a little sneak peek into your business! Introduce yourself, tell us why you started selling, or show us how you run things. If you craft or make products, consider showing us that process. People love seeing how things are made and comparing the starting point to the final product.
- Go live as you work. Whether you’re creating a new product or packing orders, set up a camera and let us join you. This can be a great way to draw in new customers, connect with old ones, and answer questions about your products. It also shows us the human behind the brand, which gets people more excited to buy.
- Host a giveaway. If you have the stock and can afford to, try hosting a giveaway with some of your most popular products. A lot of people gain followers and interest through giveaways by having people follow, share, or tag their friends. It’s a great way to show off what you’ve got while still spreading the word.
In the next installment, we’ll go over making money online as a content creator. Be sure to revisit part 1 in the meantime so you’re armed with everything you need to set up your profile.