How Much Money Should You Make? How to Sell Online…

Have something to sell? No? You may not think so, but I’d bet good money that you already do, or have the skills to easily create things that could sell well online. Quite frankly, when it comes to selling online, you are 100% limited by your own ideas of what your limitations are. Too vague? Maybe this will explain further.

You do not have to own a jewelry store, pawn shop, or music store to have a product that is high demand and high profile that will sell well online. Regularly, regular people are creating their own businesses by doing exactly what they like to do, what they are good at, and what is easily done in their own homes.    

  • Art – Custom paintings, creative furniture covers, frames, the list is actually endless in the art department.
  • Handbags and Purses – There is actually a fairly large market for handcrafted bags and purses.
  • Bath and Beauty – There are hundreds of thousands of people making a nice living by creating eco-friendly, and homemade bath and beauty products.
  • Candles – Candles of all sizes and styles are always in demand. Most especially candles that are created for weddings or religious ceremonies.
  • Ceramics and Pottery – This can entail many things, but a good potter will know exactly what products people can use the most and create them accordingly.
  • Clothing – Handmade clothing and used clothing have a big market online with many different venues. E-bay does not have a monopoly on secure online open seller sites.
  • Crochet – You may not have thought all of those hours you spend crocheting that blanket for the co-worker with a new baby was worth much, but blankets crocheted larger for a bed size for instance, regularly sell for several hundred dollars online.
  • Edibles – No one says you will be able to make a living cooking dinner for people and selling it online, though some do. But if you have skills in the kitchen, be aware that a few dozen decorated sugar cookies can rack in over a hundred dollars.
  • Furniture – Have carpentry skills? You don’t have to build and ship custom couches to make money. Try building light weight veggie boxes or trinket boxes online. You would be shocked how much custom designed items like this can go for. And the shipping won’t kill your wallet either.
  • Glass – Do you have skills at blowing glass? What about etching it? There is a huge market for these items in holiday, wedding, and religious ceremonies for this.
  • Holidays – Any holiday, all year long. If you have a special skill with creating Halloween costumes, or a knack for making nice Christmas ornaments, you have what it takes to sell online.
  • Music – You don’t have to be rock band quality. If you have a guitar and a nice voice, sell your skills online to create jingles, videos or other audio products for the many businesses that are desperately hunting them daily.
  • Pets – Like making dog sweaters? Seriously, browse some pet clothing shops online. Outrageous prices. If you can do better, you have a lot of money waiting on you as you read this.
  • Plants – Seed sharing is not only an incredible idea for producing great new strains of fruits and vegetables, but it is also a lucrative business to do so. Got some incredible moss covering some of your property? You can sell small chunks of it online for ten bucks a piece all day long.
  • Vintage – Vintage items of any kind are always top sellers. If you inherited some clothing from a great- great anything, don’t turn it over to the second-hand donation box just yet. Even they may not know what to do with it. But a vintage shopper online will.
  • Weddings – Have skills with creating invitations? Knack for decorating? Sell your skills, or your wedding products online. You may have a bit of competition, but nothing a little targeted marketing may not cure.
  • Woodworking – If you have woodworking skills and are not selling those in the creating of custom frames, plaques and the thousands of other quick finish job options online, you are missing out.

So that’s a great place to start. Now that you’ve had a moment to think on it, maybe you just need to know how to begin.

  • Selling Online

Product sales online are divided into three categories.

  1. Selling physical products
  2. Selling downloadable products
  3. Selling services

Note: Even if you’re not taking money digitally your still selling so make sure your brand and pitch are in line with the consumer need.

  • Equipment

So the first thing you need of course is a computer and an internet connection. Be sure you have a reliable connection. Losing the internet for a couple of days mid-sale can cause you to end up with bad feedback or reviews that can be highly detrimental to your online business.

Tip: Setup a backup plan, who has wifi in your area and maybe a valuable tool like coffee?

  • Funding

You will need to have a credit or debit card to do many of the functions online. Although having a checking account is nice, not many businesses will accommodate automatic checking, instead, use your bank ATM card as your debit or credit source.

Tip: If you can’t afford a charge back or lack of funds availability get a corporate card because credit is far more forgiving then bank accounts when it comes to fraud. If your credit is in the recent tank like so many others ask your bank about secured cards that start at as little as $300. Credit cards are much more safer then bank accounts when it comes to internet transactions. (This tip thanks to Doug @ Suffolk County National Bank)

  • Email

You will need an email account. For business purposes, try to find an email server that will allow you to get your company name in the email address. Yet one more way to put your company name into cyberspace for recognition. Google, Hotmail and Yahoo all provide free email accounts that are commonly compatible with many other sites and services online.

If you grab a domain you like run a generic, sales@ info@ and use a POP setup, in the early portion of your business you don’t need to be spending money on exchange services and avoid any tech that tries to tell you otherwise.

  • Domain and Web Hosting

If you want to be easily found, and easily remembered, you will need to get your own domain name and find a web host with good solid service. Always try to get a .com if at all possible. Of course you or a hired web designer will still need to build the site, but never settle for a free option on another sites server alone.

SEOTrick: Avoid your name, you not famous or important (yet) take a look at your product or what your customer is searching for, run that through the AdWords keyword tool and buy a domain that fits that.

No one says you shouldn’t have an Ebay store, but you should also have your own. The Ebay store should actually be used to direct customers to your real store front, the one you own the domain and pay the host for.

  • Exercise the Options

Do not limit yourself to your website and an extra Ebay store on the side. Although you should be careful not to overextend yourself, there are so many other options available that it’s hard to imagine an online store owner that does not network themselves and their product. Check out these sites to build an extra store front. One more place on the net with your product, and one more place on the net with your name on it. Don’t let someone tell you that you should pay for this or that service because they have great online storefront options, use these free options.

  1. http://www.etsy.com/
  2. http://www.artfire.com/
  3. http://www.ebay.com/

This isn’t the stopping point. Check out the unique ideas these online product sellers are marketing themselves.

  1. Valentine’s Day Services
  2. Business Logo Embroidery Service
  3. Cancer Research
  4. Music Services

Take note of those sites. Register with them, offer a lower cost product you have, and with each product you send out, send a business card with your real website address on it. Offer them a discount for shopping directly through your store. Do what you have to do to network your business, but never, ever, just pop a store up and wait. There is no quicker way to fail and to let frustration cause you to give up.

  • Merchant Services

Get your account set up with a merchant service that will allow you to accept credit card payments. You can do this several ways, but Paypal does offer great merchant services at about the best price you are likely to find.

Authorize.net is arguably the largest and easiest plug and play merchant account offering integrated web systems and virtual terminals.

  • Promote Your Site

If you have utilized all the tips here you have definitively gotten a great start on advertising, networking and promoting your site. Go the extra mile, build a blog that provides helpful information on your products, find some affordable SEO services such as those who will help you release great PR’s for reduced cost. Remember those micro sell sites you exercised your options on? Check thoroughly through those for some quick and incredibly affordable marketing and advertising options as well.

They may not shoot your store to the top all by themselves, but with your own efforts and theirs combined you will have definitely begun to make your mark as an online seller.

Good Luck!

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Social Brand Visibility: Brightkite

Brightkite is a location based social network that allows its users to “check in” at places by using text messages on mobile phone that have downloaded the free app.

 

Users can see who is frequenting a certain establishments, and where their friends are at the moment. Sending a text connects the user to his group of friends and they can all join in the conversation.

Brightkite has been around since 2007. It has been founded by 3 guys Brady Becker, Martin May and Alan Seideman who founded the SMS service Loopnote. In 2009 Brightkite was bought by the mobile social network Limbo.

Once a user comments on a place or posts pictures to show where he is, other can start a conversation with him. Privacy control allows user to decide who will see their post. The service has the possibility to connect with Facebook and Twitter, and share photos on Flickr. All is unlimited and free

The Wall is a presentation of real time updates from a place, user or keyword.

One of the more recent advertising plans was with JCPenny where they offered a $10 Off coupon for checking in and sharing the location with friends (Dec 2010).

Other services similar to Brightkite are Facebook Places, Foursquare, Google Latitude, and Gowalla.

In 2009 the company employed 35 people and had 2 million active users.

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Blogger VS WordPress

Since both of these blog services have their pros and cons, let’s just cut to the chase and investigate what those are.

Why Blogger?

  • Blogger’s dashboard doesn’t look overwhelming. Although for a shiny new internet user, it would likely still be cause for concern, even a novice can pick up on its formatting, configuration and customization options.  Things have changed since Blogger first set out, their updated custom design and template features are an incredible tool for those with little experience in this area.
  • Blogger has built in stats that will help you track your traffic. You may also add any third party tracking scripts for monitoring.
  • If you want to create a private blog with only designated access, Blogger has no restrictions on the number of allowed users per blog.
  • As far as Bloggers commenting system. It comes with captcha and spam filtering options, but no ability to edit comments.
  • For an individual that is new to online business and indeed even new to being online, Blogger is a great place to set up your first shop and learn the ropes.

Blogger Cons

  • This may be a perfect blog option for personal users more than business. As although there are tagging features to help increase traffic to your site, there is little else besides the power of your own words to drive viewers to you.
  • You may only import blogs from other Blogspot user pages.
  • Blogger has no gallery options for users who need to upload multiple photos.
  • There is no available contact form.
  • The simple fact is that although you may tweak Blogger to look like most any other available, for the business owner looking for a busy blog server to hawk their wares, it just doesn’t have those all important bells-and-whistles.
  • You will likely need to invest a bit more marketing funds into Blogger than WordPress.

WordPress

  • One of the main trade-offs that become glaringly obvious is the overwhelming number of folks that use WordPress. This could have a good effect, or an entirely negative one, depending on your writing, aesthetic and marketing strengths.
  • WordPress will import from Type·Pad, Israblog, Live·JournaI, MovabIe·Type, Vox.com, Posterous, Yahoo! 360, Blogger, Blogli, or another WordPress blog.
  • While Blogger supports one gig of image storage, WordPress supports three gigs. They also have optional paid upgrades for more image storage if needed.
  • WordPress offers comment editing and Akismet spam protection.
  • WordPress is highly functional for affiliate marketers, business owners, niche writers, online storefronts, and the many endless options in online businesses blogging. Its SEO features and options will allow a person who targets the proper keywords and information to quickly raise their blog to the top of, at least, WordPresses website relatively quickly.
  • Although WordPress does a bit of marketing for their users with their own high rankings and blog system, it may also take the more ‘novice’ user a bit of time to fully understand, and therefore fully utilize properly its many options and functions.

WordPress Flaws

  • WordPress can  be quite overwhelming. A person new to the internet will most likely be highly intimidated by some of its more technical features. Those who have a working knowledge on the World Wide Web may have a bit better luck, but if they want their blog to succeed, and in a relatively quick manner, they will need to do quite a bit of studying, and picking and choosing the right plug-ins for their sites needs.
  • WordPress is a web designers nightmare. Want a custom theme? First thing you will need to do is get your WordPress, off of WordPress. WordPress free blog accounts do not allow users to create their own custom themes, but do provide thousands of options to choose from. Even once you have your press on its own domain, the ‘average’ web designer, meaning one who is adept at managing their own site, will find WordPress to be a bit cranky when it comes to creating templates.
  • If you want to remain on WordPress’s server, you will find it pretty costly and for this reason it is not optional for a lot of small struggling businesses, or even larger ones in the struggling economy.

With WordPress most of your investment will be in the time you spend learning how to utilize its many helpful tools and features correctly. It is a good rule of thumb, however, to keep up with trends in blog services and aspects of what each has to offer. Dependant on your course of business and your plan for the path to success, there may be better options, free or paid, that can help you target your specific niche visitors.

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Social Brand Visibility: Plurk

Plurk, launched in 2008, is a communication medium that is meant to be a connection and balance between blogs and social networks and between instant messaging and e mails. 

Plurk is a free social network that allows users to send updates, through short messages (up to 140 characters) or links. All the updates are placed in the home page in a chronological order. Users can respond and each such response opens a conversation thread.

It offers a way to share the things users do, the way they feel and what interest them at the moment. Users can post pictures and embed videos. They are asked to attach ‘qualifiers’, or tags to their posts: love, like, hate etc. to each message, which makes the post in the third person. Plurk can be used as an alternative to chat as well.

Considered a rival to Twitter and other micro blogging services, it offers the site in over 20 languages.

Signing up and using Plurk takes a very short time, and is extremely intuitive. The User Interface is very pretty, and you can’t appreciate how great it is compared to other services until start adding more than ten active friends and see how easily you can absorb all their activity. Those who complains about Twitter’s lack of threading is surely going to enjoy the threading on Plurk.

You can look at any Plurk and immediately see how many replies it has gotten. You can see all these replies and add your own (threaded chronologically) simply by clicking on the number at the end of the thread. You can also click the Plurk page link, which takes you to the full conversation page for that message and allows you to add your reply.

Compared with the overall internet population, the site’s audience tends to be Asian and Plurk is very popular in Taiwan where it ranks 26 in site traffic.

On March 20, 2010, The Chinese police investigated an Internet threat posted on plurk.com that called for the assassination of the President of Republic of China. It was found to come out of Taiwan.

Plurk.com is visited more frequently by females; their age range is 18-24 and they are mostly college educated.

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QWiki: Full Media Search Engine with Results You Actually Need

Is it the sum of all human knowledge? Tidily gathered in one place and put in the hands of every individual on earth, the internet has brought us unparalleled research capabilities, unforeseen technologies, and untold fortunes. However, there is no doubt that there are issues with the current systems.

That said, Jan 24, 2011 marked the day that the term “Google It” started to fade away! On Oct 1, 2010 I mentioned qwiki as one of the major future technologies of the future and now just 24hrs after they have gone live I add to my thoughts.

Notoriously, as expansive as it is, it has for the most part remained a one way street. We bash some letters into a search engine, and patiently await a relative return. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others have had great purpose, but also been an incredible source of confusion for some users who may not be incredibly aware of its algorithms and nuances.

The Solution?

Facebook Co-Founder, Eduardo Saverin launched a new search engine known as Qwiki that provides what is referred to as a ‘rich media narrative’ format. In the spirit of Wikipedia, a user can add to the knowledge available on any topic. This engine provides a combination of photos, audio and video clips that relate to the queried topic.  Opened for public testing on Monday, January 24, 2011, the game has just begun.

Qwiki says their goal is to bring science fiction film to life by enabling computers to collect data on the behalf of their human counterparts. Not exactly mind reading, but not the passive system utilized so widely now. Qwiki wants to make the internet a two-way street.

So far, reviews say they are doing just that. Instead of providing one-shot information, it provides more help when even deciding on a better topic of interest.

Using Qwiki

This is a straight-forward interface. Users land on the home page, input their topic and Qwiki will load and begin to play automatically. No more robotic sounding readers. Qwiki’s voice-over has almost completely removed the non-human, monotone Robbie the Robot voice, and replaced it with a surprisingly pleasant female voice that includes highs and lows in the appropriate places.  If you never thought an artificial voice could sound soothing, Qwiki may change that for you.

Resources? I would have imagined loading all of this media would have caused a bit longer load time. On a 64bit dual core processor +6000, it took no longer to load the search bar than Google blank page, it took .03 seconds longer to load the rest.

After your initial search plays, Qwiki offers you more options below and the topics seem to be highly relevant after many searches.

What Now?

I don’t see how Qwiki can help but change the way that internet searches currently work. The results are entertaining and at some point someone needs to jump on a research group that can dig into the details about learning curves and get Qwiki right now to the users who may be able to better retain information because of it. It is hard not to focus when you have a calming voice reading the text as it scrolls below gripping slideshows and photo galleries.

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