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We've all heard stories of online selling fortunes being made by those around us. All too often however, fortune eludes the rest of us: we instead find ourselves struggling in a business which boasts dubious honour as having one of the highest drop-out rates amongst newcomers to its ranks. So exactly why do some enjoy magnificent success, while others find dismal failure the only end product of their sojourn into the world of online selling?
The most likely answer lies not in expertise or presence of business acumen, as much as in careful selection of the product - or more likely products - offered for sale. Sometimes one product can be relied upon to produce a steady income, especially if it's one for which the operator is sole supplier or prime source; a product for which no acceptable alternatives are available elsewhere. More likely however, a range of products will be needed in order to offer any realistic hope of a reliable and regular income for the operator. And if that range of products should comprise one or more of the acknowledged ebooks/informational products regarding online selling, then so much the better.
This manual aims to identify just a few of the more profitable goods and services suitable for distribution by mail. But before we do that, we might consider a few of the characteristics that go towards making an item suitable for selling online.
A compact, lightweight product will of course keep packaging and postage costs down, with obvious benefits to the operator's profit margin. If the product or service fulfils an ongoing need and no suitable alternative can be obtained via high street shops or other retail outlets, then we're getting closer to identifying a really profitable online/ebay product. If a worldwide market exists for what you offer, you could make a fortune. And if you offer a range of suitable products or services, related or otherwise, you stand to earn a place for yourself among the really big names of online selling.
Now let us look at some of the most profitable online selling techniques, any one or combination of which you might incorporate into your own business venture.
1. Looking to the Unusual
A gap in the market, a special need, a fad - and here we have all the hallmarks of high market demand which the online seller can usually quite easily fulfil. eBooks on how to make money online, and overstocks of name brand product of recent best-sellers for selling on ebay and other online venues.
And one highly enterprising individual in the United States, apparently made his fortune from sales of the most unusual of 'pets'; one that requires little attention, doesn't back-answer, and costs nothing to feed - rocks! Sounds silly? Not to him it didn't; pet rocks sold in their millions.
If you think a success story can not be repeated once someone has capitalised on whatever product or service is involved, why not consider introducing your buyer to something as yet available only in other countries? Be careful you don't have problems with copyright or patent laws though, and make sure the item or service actually has a market outside of its country of origin.
Remember the golden rule of online selling - Test. Test. Test. Then go in for the kill!
An article in a recent issue of an up-market women's magazine brought the next proposition to mind. The article referred to a couple who, having enjoyed the era of the 'yuppie' and spent their earnings as quickly as they received them, were forced to come down to earth with a bang when recession put paid to both sources of income.
They were forced to look around for bargains and all-in-all budget in much the same way as those of us used to a far less affluent form of lifestyle. In doing so, they discovered a latent talent for budgeting, and also found they could acquire decent goods and services for far less than they would previously have been happy to pay. The final phase in their growth program was to produce and distribute a newsletter revealing their ideas and identifying sources of quality - but not costly - goods and services. It sells like wildfire! Clients pay an annual subscription for the monthly newsletter, and into their second year as publishers the couple found the majority of their customers renewed their subscriptions promptly.
To understand why email newsletters can provide such a useful source of income from their publishers, we might consider the fact that just one tip or piece of advice can in itself save the reader more his subscription costs. A few good tips in each issue make repeat subscription a virtual foregone conclusion.
A wide variety of newsletters are available to guide readers through sometimes complicated procedures, changes to the law, or provide information it would simply be too costly and time-consuming to acquire on one's own account. Financial services, mortgage and insurance matters, money making and business interests, job matters and special interests, all feature amongst the many newsletters produced in United States and the UK.
Income can be derived from numerous sources, including subscriptions, sale of related products and services, and advertising revenue.
3. Business Start Up Packages and Opportunities Manuals
Information products, including newsletters as mentioned in the previous section, can provide very high income for publishers, particularly those who enjoy prime source status. The prime source or sole supplier might find his or her status results from having personally written the manuscript concerned. Take a look through mail order and opportunity seekers' magazines; through the pages of 'Exchange and Mart'; in national daily and Sunday newspapers; decide what gap exists that you can fill, then begin the far from difficult task of researching and writing your very own business plan, manual or package.
4. Wholesale Supplies
Many of us, if asked to define the term 'wholesaler', would begin by describing a very large warehouse, with shelves, large doors for vehicles to enter, loading facilities, and so on. But this isn't always the case, and many a highly successful wholesaler operates either entirely or at least partially by mail. Stationery, small fancy goods, jewellery, novelty items, clothing, make up and hosiery, are just a few of the relatively lightweight and easily portable items offered in magazines read by market traders and other retailers. SaleDaddy.com has many very good sources for wholesale products covering a large gammit of name brand products.
Stock if not specially manufactured, can be purchased from bankruptcy sales, as job lots, from auctions, or else imported from source.
5. 'How to' Books, Reports, etc.
Joe Karbo had it; so did Napoleon Hill; Melvyn Powers has it in great abundance, as do countless other online selling who have recognised and capitalised on the curiosity of people seemingly less talented than themselves. What they, and hundreds like them, have latched on to, is a virtually insatiable demand for information products: manuals, books and newsletters written by one successful individual and passed on to those who would like their own share of fame and fortune.
And many, because they are held in such high esteem by their colleagues, find that no matter what the topic, their work will find a ready audience. Once the autobiography is out of the way, they produce further manuscripts, sometimes related to their personal activities and experiences in online selling; sometimes not.
There is no need to restrict your own efforts to business reports, get-rich-quick schemes, or whatever other information today's entrepreneurs are queuing to buy. As already touched upon, today's successful self-publishers don't write purely from experience, and countless prolific online selling publishers produce newsletters, directories, lists, business plans, 'how to' books, and so on, from information available in local libraries and researched from the work of other writers.
6. Antiques and Collectors' Items
Look in any special interest publication or hobby magazine, and you'll find a number of advertisers offering lists of collectors' items and other products for sale to readers. And one thing you need to learn now is that if it is in demand in the real world, it is likewise in great demand online. The leisure interest pages of 'Exchange and Mart', contain advertisements from suppliers of stamps, old postcards, prints, ephemera, small antiques, large antiques, and various other collectors' items.
Those a little reluctant to enter what is frequently seen as a specialist area, will discover there's very little to learn about some collectors' items. You might not be able to make an immediate start in expensive antiques, but anyone can wander around car boot sales and fleamarkets, picking up whatever books, kiloware stamp supplies and early paper products are available, to which a respectable profit margin is added before listing the items for prospective clients.
And because so many societies and special interest clubs exist for collectors of whatever type, an excellent mailing list can be acquired by joining the ranks of other 'collectors' whose personal details will usually be provided for you in annual membership directories.
8. Career Related Services
This is little more than a listing of biographical and career-related details, produced in a compact, easy to read format, ready for forwarding to prospective employers and training consultants either electronically or in printed form.
Though you could operate a perfectly professional service with just an electric typewriter at your disposal, many CV agencies today find repeat custom generated from the memory banks of their word processors, where clients are offered an updating facility at very small cost.
Several good books are available to guide readers interested in writing their own CVs, or else wishing to take advantage of a highly profitable business proposition.
9. Personally Speaking
Today's up-market gift service strives to find new and more interesting ways of conveying those age old messages 'Happy Birthday', 'Merry Christmas', and so on. Teddy bears have the message embroidered on the sashes around their waists, aeroplanes parade long flowing banners with appropriate messages for all and sundry to see; giant crosswords come complete with clues and answers relating to the life, interests and characteristics of recipients.
Other highly personalised gift services operating primarily by mail, include personalised children's story books, with details about the recipient built into the text; bride and groom books including personal details of wedding party and guests; and on a far less expensive note, numerous smaller personalised gifts are available to that person seeking a unique gift for someone special. Bookmarks, pens and pencils, brooches and other items of jewellery, cups and mugs, eggcups and cutlery, all can be purchased, personalised, and dispatched direct to the intended recipient.
Numerous franchise operations have recognised the profitability afforded by the personalised children's book trade; some of them also customising wedding books, stationery, greetings cards and so on.
Though not restricted to operation by mail, the relevant franchise opportunities can in fact produce an additional source of income to those who offer other online selling services, especially where related products and services are offered.
Franchising is a business opportunity where, in return for an initial franchise fee and sometimes ongoing management fees and stock purchase commitments, the business man or woman receives the support of an already established business, whose products and services he or she is entitled to market on licence. Normally full training, back up support, and ongoing advice are provided by the franchisor to those operating in its name. Franchise operations normally confer a degree of security on the newcomer to business, who even so, must take appropriate advice from legal and financial advisors before committing him or herself to costly business propositions.
10. And Not Forgetting.....
The numerous other goods and services that can be relied upon to provide a good and ongoing income in online selling: mailing lists, big mails, circular mailing, printing and photocopying, business management and advisory services, publishing directories and employment guides, books and cassette lending libraries, publicity agencies, tracing family trees, specialised gift agencies, advertising agencies, fan clubs, import/export services, dating bureaus, cherished car number plates, plot writing, computer services, biorhythm charts, swap shops and bartering facilities, out of print book finding services, etc., etc., etc.