For entrepreneurs, small business owners, and anyone just “trying to make a buck” on the side, one of the most useful and beneficial things about the Internet is the ability to develop and sell a product without a lot of middle men and “permission.” Products are evaluated and vetted not by the preferences of a market executive or a corporate purveyor, but by the masses. At least in theory, the best products rise to the top.
The other benefit of selling and buying online is the long tail – the incredible amount of variety, and the room to fit more. It’s possible to locate almost anything you’re looking for online, and what you can’t locate represents a market opportunity for yourself or another eager entrepreneur.
Previously on this blog, we’ve talked about how to get started selling online in technical terms, including websites that allow you to sell your stuff through your own online store. Of course, knowing where and how to sell is important, but having something to sell in the first place is kind of a prerequisite. How can you develop products to sell?
Here are a few suggestions:
If you have any kind of artistic ability, it can be a good place to start for sourcing products. Over the years, I’ve met photographers, painters, sketchers, quilters, book writers, drafters, and countless others who in one way or another have an ability to create something beautiful.
The beautiful thing about beautiful things is that the Web provides you with a worldwide reach, and no matter how unusual your particular art form is, there’s always the ability to find a paying audience. Some of the most successful artists I know would never be considered “mainstream” or even liked by a wide majority of the population, but the fans they do have will stick with them and buy every last thing they create.
If you have decent writing or speaking abilities and something to share, you can create content for others to consume. Primarily speaking, that’s exactly what this blog and some of the eBooks sold on it are—written content created for our mutual benefit (you get information, and I get indirectly or directly paid for it).
Content has to packaged in some form—a blog, book, brochure if it’s written content, a podcast or radio broadcast for spoken form, webinars, videos, or even coaching for more direct transmission. Any kind of content can be effectively sold online, but you can take advantage of a wide variety of distribution channels, particularly if your content is written or visual.
Don’t know what to write about? Everyone has some knowledge or experience that makes them unique, and that’s exactly where you need to start. People are willing to pay to avoid risk and stop themselves from making mistakes that you might have made in the past.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can start with a problem or issue you’ve observed in the world and create a solution or fill the need for the problem. This might take work and research on your part, but it’s how some of the best companies in the world were founded and became successful. You, in your own small way, can make a difference in someone’s life with the right information or solution for their problem.
A very common excuse for why people haven’t created something for sale yet is that they lack some part of what they think it takes to be successful.
- “I have this great product, but I can’t code websites.”
- “I have so much to share, but I can’t write at all.”
- “I really want to write a book, but I only have an hour a week to work on it.”
The validity of these excuses aside (many of which are questionable to begin with), there’s a very reasonable strategy to overcoming a great majority of them: team up with someone. It might be just one other person, or an entire team of individuals, but chances are that you know someone who compliments your own skills perfectly and with whom you could make your dream a success. Chances are that they too have been thinking about starting their own projects and might be lacking the exact skills you can offer. You can also make use of online templates to simplify the process of opening your very own ecommerce store.
The Low Cost of Entry
The beauty of making something for the Web is the near lack of downside—for many projects, all that’s required is some time and effort to make a dream a reality. In other words, there’s no excuse not to start. Even if you fail (or fail repeatedly), you’ve at least gained an experience, and there’s always a chance that the next project will finally be your big breakthrough. Good luck!