This is part 4 of a continuing series about making money online. Please feel free to check out the earlier entries at the links below.
How To Make Money Online With Physical Products
Buy Low - Sell High
Ok, ok. Here's the real article.
Selling physical products is one of the oldest methods of making money online there is. Its roots go back to the very earliest days of personal computing when a person had to dial up the local server on the telephone, then place the receiver in the cradle of the modem and read the local message board on their Commodore 64. They could then read the postings about someone across town selling their old Vic 20 or the cassette tape drive they had finally outgrown.
Times are not that much different now than then. People still supplement their income, or even make a living, selling physical items online. Granted, things have changed and mostly for the better. Now, instead of seven geeks reading the bulletin board, there are countless millions trolling the internet looking for that special item.
When it comes to making money online with physical products, you basically have three options for getting your item in front of people; create your own web presence, use online advertising or use an online auction service.
Your Own Web Presence
Having your business' own web presence could mean having your own site, complete with a catchy domain and hosting. (Considering the very low start-up costs associated with this, it's almost a no-brainer.) It could also mean having a mini-store for your wares in an online shopping site like CraftMall.com or Qflea.com. This would be the equivalent of a table or booth in a craft mall or fair.
Having your own web presence is a great option (Some would say necessity) if you are trying to make money online with physical products you have created, but can also work well if your physical product is something you acquired, especially items of a collectible nature.
Online advertising of physical products includes a couple of main options. The most obvious example would be the purchase of banner space on websites catering to your target market. Banner advertising is best used as part of a larger advertising plan. Unfortunately, banners by themselves are only marginally effective at best. This tends to result in too low a return on investment for most entrepreneurs on a limited budget. In other words, not enough bang for the buck.
The other primary form of online advertising to make money with physical products is websites devoted to classified ads such as CraigsList.com. Through these sites you can usually post a limited ad for a short term for free or nearly free, or you can pay more for better placement, size and time frame. This type of ads seem to work well for acquired products like cars or furniture but can work reasonably well for created items also.
Of course the grand-daddy of all online auction sites is eBay, with literally millions of potential buyers trolling the hundreds of thousands of listings at any one time. No matter what kind of obscure physical product you are selling, you can rest assured people will see it.
EBay is by no means, however, the only option for online auctions. Just as niche-mania has taken over the blogosphere, thousands of small niche-targeted auction sites have sprung up online. These auctions are often formed along side forums or other online communities. While these sites don't have anywhere near the traffic or exposure of eBay, they do usually have a close-knit community of highly targeted shoppers.
* My direct experience with online auctions has been strictly as a buyer but one of the guys I have been learning at the feet of lately, Terry Gibbs, is considered an auction guru and is extremely well known in the collectible toy train market. In fact, he literally wrote the book on how to run a successful eBay business. The book is titled, The Auction Revolution, and if you are considering using online auctions to build your business, it will be one of the best investments you ever make.
Go ahead, take the quiz on this page and see how much you don't know ;)
The fact is, anyone making money online with physical products needs to seriously consider using an online auction site. The shear volume of targeted traffic can give your business the level of exposure you couldn't begin to hope for from organic search in a competitive niche. With a little effort, a good portion of this targeted traffic can even carry over to your non-auction web presence pretty easily. This makes auctions perform, not only as an income generator, but effective advertising as well.
Next time we'll discuss...
...to be continued.
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