Back in 2007 I decided that I might like to give affiliate marketing a try. Believe me I had no idea how difficult it can be to come up with something to write on a specific topic day in and day out. I am not really a gabby and long winded person. I have a tendency to come right to the point and be rather brief about it. So after a bit over a year and spending way too much on pay for click I was bankrupt and disgusted. For some reason (maybe lack of competition) I did fairly well with my chocolate truffles web site. My site was either on the second or third page and I did make several commissions from that site. The unfortunate part is that the commissions are very small. The big commissions are on thing like monthly clubs and service type items like ring tones or financial services. Also e books would be more generous than physical products. Now 2 1/2 years later I decided I would love to sell skin care and other fun products in the bath and beauty category. But boy has there been a world of difference between blogging or creating a static web site and selling a physical product when it comes to both web site and marketing skills. Here is an image of one of my products, that some people have said brown Yuck to.
I decided to use Livesite and never having used something that complex and with lots of terminology from coders I had a long learning curve (several months). Well that's long to me, I consider anything over 1 to 2 months as long. My pages would end up disappearing and reappearing and the web host would say that it looked just fine to them and that they could see the missing page. Well it turned out that their operating system is Linux based and I have no idea what web browsers they have either. Both of those things could make a difference when you are visiting a web site. I finally had a problem logging in and I did manage to talk to one employee who was studying technology and he used different browsers and finally got the same log in problem that I did. What it boiled down to is if the employee couldn't replicate the problem then it was your tough luck cause it was on your end. So much for customer services HUH? Oh and the coders said they didn't know anything about the server so they couldn't really help.
My first six months "trying" to sell on the internet has been a real learning experience, I had to learn much more than I thought I would.
They are as follows:
Shipping costs for packaging is especially high because it's bulky
Don't plan a label for a jar or bottle until you get one in your hands (they do give you the measurements but it's all the way up to the top of the neck).
Here is one of the bulky jars I have.
You have to find out where your customers hang out which sounds easy but it's not
Just having a sale doesn't make people buy who otherwise wouldn't
Once you get a strong customer base, give special rewards to your repeat customers
The best venues to sell on for one type of product don't always work for a different type of product or at a different point in time
Product photography is harder than you would think
Images are just as important as SEO if not more so.
Here is a image of the easiest image to photography that I tried. Someone finally said to me that the camera can pick up more saturated colors more easily making them less of a trial and error item. Honestly that certainly has been my experience.
The amount of mark up that you could/should have will vary even with your products
When you price items, don't forget the shipping costs you paid, plus your hosting fees and payment fees. Those three fees may add up to a higher percentage than you might think (depending of course on the price point of your items)
It pays to pay a staff to help you especially to create hype and come up with catchy phrases for your products and the right prices, if you have deep enough pockets.
Some people do get lucky and it may be because of when and where they started and not that what they did was so much different than what you are doing.
Yes there is a market for just about anything but that market may not be big enough to make selling on the internet worth your time.
Once you get loyal repeat customers, focus on keeping them happy and make getting new customers secondary. It is more difficult to get a new customer than to keep a current one so why would you treat your previous customers like that don't matter and only getting new ones is your goal. This is a very silly philosophy of build and build and ignore your existing customers that some people actually do.
If you make friends on venues with other artisans, they are more likely to try something of yours but that doesn't mean slack off on the customer service just because they are sellers also.
Good customer service isn't just thanking the customer. Give your customers prompt service and keep in communication if it is going to take several days for them to receive the package. It is also giving a coupon or free shipping after so many orders or on orders over a certain amount, etc. I gave one of my repeat customers free shipping on his third order.
Don't suggestive sell people to death, people resent pop ups and flashing ads. Yes this may work on some, but honestly you are limiting yourself when you do this, not to mention many will consider you not only really annoying but desperate as well.
Free samples sometimes work, but honestly when I get one because it is not something I am interested it usually goes in the trash. I received one sample of a seaweed scented soap and I thought yuck are you kidding me?
Lastly I found that most people want to be attracted to your item before they buy and that means looking pretty. I had a few people who said brown, YUCK!! Well honestly there are a group of people who do not want a bunch of chemicals in not only their food but also anything product they may purchase.
I decided to get some really nice looking one of a kind bottles as an experiment in will people buy something because it is pretty? Here is an image of one of the bottles I have.
Now I know a group of people who will make fun of this because they say everything is a chemical and yes that is true and chemical processes happen in nature constantly.
However, they don't get the point that man made chemicals have often been found to have long term unwanted "side effects". I remember there was one type of plastic bottle a few years back that was lined with a chemical that ended up causing testicular cancer in some men. Plus really do you truly want to eat wax because wax makes that apple look shiny. Then of course there is the issue of whether the pesticides used were absorbed by the product and will there get absorbed by your system as well (rhetorical question).
Why does everything have to be so gosh darn pretty. It makes extra work and costs extra money to make these things pretty and you get to pay for that and it creates no real value. I try to be part of the "don't judge a book by it's cover" crowd but yes even I find myself attracted to the pretty packaging at times. Just remember poisonous things can be very pretty, so pretty isn't always a great idea.
Hopefully tomorrow I will have a crafting article to publish.