Four reasons why you should be selling things online!

Today’s guest post is from Hannah Jones, who set up her own eBay shop last year and is about to teach others to do the same in her 31 Days 2 an Online Retail Business course.

You may be thinking I’m nuts to post an article about this course in the same week that I launched my own e-book Start your own online shop, but I’m not! Start Your Own Online Shop is a concise ‘how to’ guide and 31 Days 2 is a much more in depth course, so I think the two could complement each other nicely. Plus 31 Days 2 focuses in on the online marketplaces (eBay, Etsy, Amazon) whereas my ebook also looks at setting up your own website.

Over to you, Hannah!

Whether you’re still looking for the business venture which will make your family more comfortable, or thinking about ways to supplement your income to make sure you always have that extra bit of money, it’s worth considering starting an online business selling on websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy.  I love selling online, and I could go on for days about all of the things I love about it. But, for the sake of keeping Helen’s blog readable, here are four of the big reasons why you should start an online retail business today! Continue reading “Four reasons why you should be selling things online!”

Why people struggle to run online shops (and how I’m going to help)

Having a shop on the internet is the holy grail for many mums. It’s a flexible way of earning a living, low cost, you can sell things you love and you can work from home at any time of day or night.

It’s not just mums, though. Plenty of people are looking for a way to cushion their income against the risk of losing their jobs. Plenty more want to have a little project on the side that they can grow and eventually leave their jobs completely.

I wrote this post How to start an online shop over a year ago. I mentioned starting an online store on my Facebook page and a few people replied with “I’d love to do that, where do I start?”.  So I wrote down the steps I’d take to start an online shop on a really small budget. It’s been one of my top three posts ever since! When it went live it was shared widely on Twitter and it’s had hits almost every day in the last year.

It’s not that hard to start an online shop, but it can be hard to make money from it. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the big ones are lack of knowledge and not having a proper process. Whenever technology makes something easier or cheaper, the barriers to entry go down. In many ways that’s great, of course. But the problem is that if something is easy and cheap to start, we tend to dive in without much preparation and that increases the chance of failure.

Now it’s fine for me to sit and talk about ‘barriers to entry’ and ‘lack of knowledge’ in a cool and distant way, but the truth is that it’s bitterly disappointing to dip your toe in the world of business and fail. True, being able to deal with failure is a valuable, probably essential, skill.

But people need this income to keep a roof over their families’ heads. One little business success can lead on to much bigger businesses (and our economy SERIOUSLY needs this, doesn’t it?) Plus I knew I had some knowledge that could help people get their first online business off the ground and earning an income.

So what was the answer?  I decided to create an e-book and sell it as widely as I possibly can. My plan is that this will expand my ‘how to start an online shop’ post into a lot more depth, but the price won’t be a barrier to anyone who wants to start their own online store from home.  I have a feeling that some people might want a little more support than an e-book can provide, and if this turns out to be true, I’ll write an e-course or set up a coaching group based on the same series of ten steps.  I’ll still keep this affordable, though.

The e-book is almost finished now and I’m planning to launch it in the next couple of weeks. So if you know anyone who wants to start their own online shop, please do let them know. I’ll be posting the details here at Business Plus Baby, but if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything you might like to sign up for my mailing list.

Right, I’m off to finish that e-book!

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to start an online shop

online shop

Note: This post was updated in May 2014 to include recent changes to SEO and social media.

You can start an online shop on a really tiny budget. Seriously.

OK, let’s get on with the steps! Here’s how I’d start my own online shop…

1. Work out what to sell

I’d have a think about things I might like to sell and then look for niches. (Why is a niche so important? Check out my post Why you need a niche.) So let’s say I fancy selling t-shirts. A basic t-shirt shop is pretty boring and I doubt I’d be able to compete with the big stores out there anyway, so I need to find a specific type of t-shirt. When I type ‘t shirt’ the Google Adwords Keyword Tool I can see what different types of t-shirts people are searching for. This gives me niches like ‘retro t shirt’, ‘designer t shirt’, ‘star wars t shirt’. I’d aim for a niche/keywords that has quite a few people searching for it, but that doesn’t have high competition.

Let’s say I go for ‘goth t shirts’. I’d still do this if I’d already been selling on eBay and was planning to move over to my own shop.I’d even do it if I was planning to make my own craft items because I might be able to tweak what I make to match what people are searching for. I’d make a note of the words people use when looking for goth t-shirts. Do people search for ‘goth t-shirts’ or ‘gothic tshirts’? How about ‘gothic clothing’? Then I’d look at my competitors to see how I could do things differently. If most goth t-shirts are poor quality, I’d look at selling some really top quality ones, for example. Cost = £0 Continue reading “How to start an online shop”

Tabitha Potts of Mimimyne Gives Her Advice for New Mumpreneurs

Tabitha Potts gives her top tip for starting out as a mumpreneur in the last of the videos that Antonia Chitty and I recorded at the Mumpreneur Conference.

Tabitha is the owner and founder of Mimimyne.com which sells organic gifts, toys and furniture for babies and children. While I was wandering around YouTube, I found that Tabitha had recorded a great little video of how she started Mimimyne. You can take a look here:

Running an Online Shop: Pros and Cons

Today I’m introducing my first ever male guest blogger Trevor Ginn of HelloBabyDirect.co.uk!  Dadpreneur Trevor is going to give us the basics on running an online shop. It would be great to have a few more blokes around here, so if you’re a dad who started a business to spend more time with your baby or toddler and would like to be featured on Business Plus Baby then drop me a line! Anyway, over to Trevor…

The huge amount of money which parents spend on products for their newborns inspires many parents to think about setting up some sort of baby focused retail businesses.  The baby sector is an attractive option for would be entrepreneurs as it has been hardly been touched by the recent downturn.  Recession or no recession, people still have babies.

An increasingly popular option is to ignore the traditional brick and mortar shop in favour of selling online.  This strategy is in many ways sensible as, while the rest of the retail sector is in the doldrums, online sales are still experiencing double digit year on year growth.  Buying online has great advantages for parents in terms of convenience and increased product availability.    In addition, the barriers to entry online are much lower than traditional retail.  So how easy is it to set up an online baby shop?  This post looks at the pros and cons of this business opportunity.

Pros

Easy to start

Sites such as eBay and Amazon make it easy to start selling online.  These marketplaces have a huge, international user bases which allow sellers to get off to a flying start.  Very limited technical knowledge is required, although a basic understanding of HTML can help to make listings more visually attractive.  There are also no set up costs to sell on eBay or Amazon.

For people with more technical know-how, setting up a transactional website is also not as difficult as it used to be and there are lots of solutions available off the shelf at a very low cost or even for free.  OS commerce and Magento are popular open source solutions for creating an online shop.

Cheap

An online retailing business can be started on a very limited budget.  All that is required is some stock and an online presence on eBay or Amazon or your own website.  This is all easily achievable for around £2000-5000.

(Note from Helen:  If you want to know how to do it for less than £200, check out How to start an online shop on a budget)

Sales 24-7, worldwide

Unlike a high street shop, sales on the Internet can be made 24-7.  The Internet also opens up a business to an international audience.  Around 20% of eBay sales are international and the current strength of the Euro makes UK prices attractive to people in the Eurozone, even when additional postage is considered.

Not limited by geography

An online retailing business can be run from any location and an expensive high street location is not required.  Many sellers work from home, although this may become difficult as sales grow.

Cons

Admin intensive

Running an online shop is hard work.  Creating product listings are time consuming and maintaining the product catalogue is a never ending job.  The proposed VAT increase, for example, will mean the retailers must reprice all their products.  In addition all sales should be packed and dispatched on a daily basis.

Customer service

There is no getting away from it, customers can be a pain.  Being a retailer involves dealing with the general public and so it is important to be patient.

Solitary

Running an online retailing business involves very little face to face customer contact and so can be a little lonely.

High competition, low margins

Let’s face it, the web is where people go to get bargains and consequently competition is fierce.  Margins in online retail tend of be lower than on the high street and so retailers need to compensate by selling more.

About the author

Trevor Ginn set up and runs the online nursery shop HelloBabyDirect.co.uk and you can read his blog at www.trevorginn.com