Saturday, November 26, 2016

Keeping all your Eggs in one Basket




Keeping all your eggs in one basket is a refrain that on-line sellers tend to use in relation to selling on just one venue or multiple ones. If you only sell on one venue, then if something happens to the venue, or your performance there, you may find yourself out of business with no way to go back. Most venues that I know of have systems in place for suspending sellers for breaking rules, whether intentional or not. Other venues change policies and suddenly you may not be seen any more in searches on that site. So, if you have been selling on one venue you may find yourself in hot water through no fault of your own.

Of course, starting out as a seller, you need to understand the site you are signing up for, learn the ropes of making good listings, good photos, etc. Once you have your first store/selling venue set up, then you can look for another place to sell. Preferably you will want to be selling on sites that don't charge fees just to have things listed like eBay. Or at least you don't want two sites where you are being charged listing fees. This is one of the reasons that I like eCRATER. You can list as much as you want, have more than one store and you won't have any listings fees and very minimal selling fees if any. Don't forget that your reason for selling on line is to make money, NOT to give it all away in fees. For instance, at one point I was paying $400-700+ in eBay fees a month. One month I went over $800 in fees! My last month on eBay, January 2009, I paid over $200 in eBay fees and sales were so slow, that after fees, shipping, cost of goods sold I had $87 in income for the month! Now paying $200+ in fees is not a good way to make money. At that point I went full time into eCRATER. Things went along well for several years until in 2012 Google made some changes, and before I knew it my sales had plunged.... badly. I had all my 'eggs' in one basket at that point and I knew I had to make some changes. So, I started listing on Amazon that had just opened to my sort of product. Sales picked up and I was selling well again.

At this point, there hasn't been any significant changes on either venue, except for one thing. Many people who needed more money heard about selling on line as a fast and easy way to make money so they started listing everything that they could lay their hands on! On Amazon prior to this I had to make up many product pages or listed against already established pages with only 1-2 other sellers, now I find while listing that I am listing against 2-3 pages worth of sellers. Many that don't even seem to know what they are selling or understand the product. If you know your product, it is easy to figure out who doesn’t.

Yet again I realized that I had all my eggs in one basket in a different sort of way. For the most part, everything I was selling was a sewing pattern. I needed more product. I have been fortunate to find and continue to find some good products at decent prices that I have could list. As of this writing, around one quarter of this month's (November 2016) sales are coming from those added eggs. This happened last month as well. I didn't throw in spark plugs to my inventory, I found more products that fit nicely into my main product so that while I have the eyes of a person that wants a pattern they may see other items that go along with their sewing hobby. Another thing I had been doing wrong was rejecting one pattern brand that I didn't think sold. Boy, was I ever wrong. I added that company into the mix and at this point, one-fifth of my sales each month come from selling patterns from that company! I was already poor, but I would have been much poorer for sure if I hadn't started selling these items.

Knowing what will go along within a niche is part of the secret to selling on line. I try to stay within my selling name of Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts . It would seem to be rather silly to add spark plugs, novels, horror movie DVDs to my store. They just don't go along except for novels. Many authors have jumped on the band wagon of crafting that is sweeping the nation and write novels based on knitting, quilting, sewing, and other crafts. I would be willing to have these in my store to sell if I could find some that would bring in a decent price. There are also many non-fiction books on different needlecrafts and if I run into some that I don't need for my own reference library, I will put them up for sale and the same for magazines on needlecrafts of all sorts. I want Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts to be known as the place to go for sewing patterns and other needlecraft supplies.

I've seen many sellers with a mish mash of goods that make no sense in one store. Not much inventory in any of the types of products. Rather than try to sell in a niche they are just throwing up whatever isn't nailed down to put up for sale and then have seller names that doesn't reflect at all what they are selling.

Final Remarks:

1. Make your selling name reflect the product you want to sell so it is easy for buyers to remember you. This is something you need to do prior to even signing up for any venue as it is hard to undo your name once you use it and some sites charge a fee to do so.

2. Sell in a niche, and broaden the base to include many items in your niche that are within the subject range.

3. Sell on more than one venue using at least one venue that doesn't charge listing fees, preferably both with no listing fees. Limit how many venues you sell on so you have the time to focus on sourcing stock and running your store's efficiently and well. I've heard of some sellers selling on 7-8 different venues. I don't know how they keep their head attached as mine would be spinning off my body.

4. Sell not only your main product, but include when you find them, books and magazines (good quality used ones are okay), tools, and other items that support your niche. Those books that you just found at a yard sale may be exactly what your buyer has been looking for. Depending on what you sell it is amazing what you can find to resell. For instance, perhaps you sell coins, then you might want to sell coin holders, books and magazines on coin collecting as well.

5. Want to sell more than one item/niche type? Then sell under a different name if possible and with a different store for that other item. Expand that niche as broadly as possible as well.

Some of my products as listed on Amazon:



 

Friday, November 18, 2016

How can I tell when to go 'Full-Time' when selling on line?


On an on-line forum, the other day, I saw a question from a seller asking about when it would be feasible to go ‘full-time’ with his on-line business. That isn’t just a single number that can tell you that. Here are only some of the things you should consider.

Well one thing you must look at is not your sales figures, but your net profit figures. A person could sell $7500 worth of product a month, but because of high costs and expenses and a low profit margin they could be netting only $250/month. Not enough to quit your other jobs or businesses. Someone else could have $7500 in sales and because of high profit, low costs and expenses are netting $5000/month. That my friend is a livable income. If you don't think it is, try living on a SS check that is 1/4 of that and see how you feel.

Over the years as I have sought every idea possible for living and surviving on Disability pay, I've seen many folks bemoan the fact that although they earn $250,000/year they can't make ends meet. Well to begin with in their head they are thinking I make a 1/4 of a million dollars a year I should be able to afford ______ (fill in blank). the reality is with an income that high, they are forgetting the money they send to their Uncle Sam, the governor and mayor as well as to SS and Medicare, etc. They may only be taking home $180,000 or $70,000 less than they thought they were making. You must be clear in your head just exactly how much you are making when deciding if something has turned into a full-time job/business, and it takes lots of figuring to come to those numbers. Of course, you also must see an entire year's selling cycle to see the peaks and troughs of your income during the years. My best months selling months are January>April. My December sales are generally in the toilet as I don't sell items that are gift type things. I sell items that you can make gifts from so they should be bought out further ahead of Black Friday.

Lots of things to look at and figure out. How efficiently are you running your business? Are you spending money where you need to? For instance, I have bought items from people that have a hand scribbled address on the package, don't bother with a return address and no packing slip. Apparently, they don't want to invest $40 in a printer. Instead they send out packages that you have nothing in your hand to help remind you of the seller's name in case you want to buy more. Same with sellers that won't invest in a scale. Both items are business expenses and both will allow you to keep shipping expenses correct and help you promote your business. So, the person netting $500 a month might be able to change that number to a higher one depending on how he deals with expenses.

So, before jumping into thinking you can support yourself if needed on your on-line income, be sure you KNOW what that income is. Of course, you can also look at your own living expenses to see if you can chop things out if necessary so that you can live at lower costs as well and figure out how many months you can live off what is in your savings account. You don’t want to go full-time with $500 in the bank only to have a major selling slump with no income coming in for days if not weeks, or due to being dismissed from selling on the only site that you have and have poured all your energy into. Lots of things to consider before making the full-time plunge.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Made in America and Sold by Americans

Something to think about when you are deciding whether or not you want to sell on line is explained in this post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/09/12/the-postal-service-is-losing-millions-a-year-to-help-you-buy-cheap-stuff-from-china/

As an on-line seller, our biggest competitor is China, even if they don't sell what we sell, their postage discounts, that we as Americans, don't get affect all on line sellers I sell fairly frequently to the UK, Australia and Canada. My postage to send patterns to them is helping subsidize Chinese 'FREE SHIPPING' to the USA for a 99 cent gadget! Currently (October 2015) it runs me between $9-12+ to ship a small package internationally, while the Chinese may have to pay around $1.50! Something is wrong with this picture.

So understand that even if you don't sell to China or sell Chinese products, your sales will be affected by them and their postage discounts lovingly given to them by our Post Office. If you are selling Chinese made goods then you are getting a double whammy. Well you be able to charge enough to cover your costs of getting the goods and the shipping you will have to pay and still make your prices look good next to the Chinese listings of the very same thing? This is one of the reason that it is very important to research what you want to sell before you pay money to get it. If you purchase inventory and for say $5 a widget plus you will need $3 for shipping. Are there Chinese vendors selling the very same thing for $1.25 with FREE shipping? If so and you really want to sell this thing, what do you plan to do to make your products stand out? You will need exemplary titles, listings and photos. You will need A1 customer service which would include shipping within less than 24 hours (most Chinese goods take a week or two to get here). You will also need to promote like crazy.

If you still think that selling on line is an easy way to make money, just try listing a Chinese made good that they are also selling, slap up the listing without running spell check, take a fuzzy photo and sit back and wait for the money to NOT roll in. This is a case of you need to put more and extra effort into your selling.

One of the things I am trying to do is be sure my customers are buying American, and that is nothing against our allies like Canada, the UK, Australia and the EU. Many people want to buy American and you have to tell them that they are.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cunningly Clever Entrepreneur

I always enjoy reading business books and especially finding that the author is on my wave length as I found in this book: Cunningly Clever Entrepreneur by Andrew Wood. I haven't gone to business school, I have only worked for businesses and have run my own business, Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts, I have learned by experience and also by the many books that I have read on starting and running your own business long before I ever had a business. My goal for years was to have a business that I could run from my own home. My goal with this blog is to help you learn how to avoid some selling on line errors and how to do the right thing so that your business will grow to where you want it to be.

On one of my early posts here, Begin How You Plan to End I talked about starting your business in the same way that you want it to be running when you sell it, die, or for whatever reason you no longer want to be in business. Having the end goal in mind keeps you focused so that you don't run into someone else's' goal and score the point for them. In Cunningly Clever Entrepreneur the author also states this same philosophy. To look ahead, make goals, measure those goals, market your product (and you will be surprised to learn what your product is!) and many other essential things that an entrepreneur needs to learn. I'm not quite half way through the book and I have already found some ideas that I could use. Instead of waiting until I had read the whole book, I instituted them today with my store Moonwishes Sewing and Crafts . I look forward to finding many more ideas that I can use as well.

Besides his actual points of advice, Wood also pushes the necessity of continuous learning. Reading or listening to audio tapes or watching videos all on different topics that will help you to achieve your goals for your business. I have never, in all the books on business that I have read, met up with any author that pushed the necessity of keep studying like he does, ..... and he is right. You should be able to find an entire steak dinner including desert  to 'chew' on while reading this book. If you can't find even one scrap, then you aren't looking hard enough or perhaps you don't have enough imagination and creativity to run a business. I love having my own business where I don't have to send all suggestions up to my boss where she takes it to her boss and then the idea I had that everyone else in the office loves gets tossed out for some idea that is completely different. My business, no committee. If I skin my nose it is my fault, but if I earn $$$$ from the idea I can take full credit as well. So many times when I suggest that people read and research before starting and jumping in with both feet into a business venture, they give the excuse of not having enough time or they don't read fast, or deep down they really just don't like to read. Those are all excuses for being lazy. Just because you want to sell on line doesn't mean that you shouldn't be prepared and continue learning so you will always get the best results. The internet is very fluid and you have to be able to respond to change in the middle of the day sometimes. Your knowledge base will help you do that efficiently.

Get this book and read it. You can borrow it for FREE using Kindle Unlimited if you are signed up for it, or you can buy it outright. Either way it is a must read! Please note that there are two authors at least with the name Andrew Wood, so be sure you have the right one! The links here will lead you to one of his books and just follow links at the book to his other offerings.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Working from home

While you may think before you start a home based business that it will be easy since you can work it around family activities, that isn't quite how it works. You will either find yourself buried in work or putting things off since the kids want to got out for lunch or to the park, etc. One of the main secrets of having a successful on line business, especially one conducted from home is organization.

Here is an interesting article that I received the other day and since the author says it better than I can, I will refer you to it instead of trying to paraphrase it. The name of the article is The Challenge of Working from Home 4 Steps to Focus . Just click on the article name to be taken to it. You might also want to sign up for their newsletter while there. Every website that has important information and you can see the potential for more, you should sign up for.

While I have always been an organized person, I have much more trouble keeping to a schedule of any kind these days as my health causes me to have many bad days out of the blue. But I try to focus on what is the most important thing for me to be doing. For me that is the on line stores I run, http://www.MoonwishesSewingandCrafts.com as well as http://www.amazon.com/shops/moonwishes . Then my crafting blog. After that comes my reading and review blog as well as this one. I don't purposely put off this blog, but as I don't earn anything from it and I do earn from my stores, that has to be where my concentration is. Eventually I want to be able to spend more time on my blogs and writing in general for pay since my health is only going downhill and eventually I won't be able to deal with packaging orders, etc. That will be a sad day.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Photos - What Not To Do.


One of the most important things to selling well on line is having decent photos of your inventory. Let this photo be your guide of the many things not to do. Too far away to see details, fussy so yet again you can't see details and for the life of me I don't know why anyone would use a barbeque grill as a staging area for taking photos of things, especially like this pattern that can be ruined (for re-sell purposes) with leftover grease from last night's hamburgers.

This photos was found on Amazon and does not fit the Amazon guidelines for photos either.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bookkeeping and You

Much of my time in the past month or so has been taking up with sorting through piles of paper and doing taxes. Something I'm sure we all love to do. I got behind this year due to my poor health, but I decided that I'm not going in the direction any more. Losing and not tracking receipts can cost you money by making your income from being self-employed higher than it really was. Every year I try to find better ways of dealing with the paperwork involved with running 2 businesses that my husband has. It is tough. There is a lot to keep track of of the rules are ever changing.

When it comes to selling on line, or having your own business of any kind there are many things that you need to be aware of from the point of your own business being an idea in your head so that you can track expenses and then as you start selling, your income. While you may want an accountant or tax preparer to do your taxes, YOU need to be aware of the government rules  so that you save the proper paperwork to give to your tax person. They can't take a deduction for you is they don't have any paperwork showing that you paid for something.

Over the years on many forums I have seen many people that don't want to be bothered with tracking income and expenses because they don't think they are in a business, this is just a 'hobby' to them. However, what happens when that 'hobby' begins to take up 40 hours a week? It has gone past the point of a hobby and into the realm of being a job or your own business. Treating your hobby as a business from the beginning can help you keep more of your income because there are more deductions available to a business than to hobby income. The best thing to get is a current copy of IRS Publication 334 Read it. Don't understand it? Read it again. I have done my family's taxes for my entire adult life and I still have to read up on the rules and any changes. And yes, it is confusing but it doesn't mean you get a 'get out of jail free card' just because you don't understand the rules. The IRS doesn't care if you don't understand something, they expect you to follow the rules anyhow.

I'm not suggesting that you become an IRS expert, but that you understand the basics, such as what is considered an expense, what is income, and those sorts of things. Read through the Publication 334 paying special attention to chapters 6-8. Copy those pages out and go through them with a highlighter. Many rules are there for multi-million dollar companies and most of us who are making some money on line aren't probably going to get there, but we don't want to miss those deductions that we can take.

Now I'm taking my own advice and going back to my tax forms with 334 to be sure I did everything correctly.