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.