Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Countdown to Christmas and the Top 5 Ways to Promote

I had the good fortune last year of starting my online selling venture right smack dab in the middle of the Christmas rush. This was not planned, just lucky. Since then my mission has been to keep up the momentum of Christmas sales by offering more products, and selling in a smarter way.

There seems to be no end to the number of ways to promote. Couple that with some top secret formula when it comes to getting results from promotion, and it's enough to scramble a brain.

That said, here is a:

Top 5 Ways to Promote and Get Some Kind of Results List

1. Run a Blog Contest


It's fun. If ran properly, it leads to a large number of people visiting. Plus, it helps to raise pank rank.

2. Set up a Feed for Google Base


It leads to traffic. Once set up it is very easy to use. Plus, it gives an education on the kinds of things Google is looking to see in listings.

3. Occasionally Sell at Local Events


It educates on how people are responding to what is for sale. The feedback from a facial expression is not something that can be gleaned online. Plus, it gives the opportunity to pass out business cards to large numbers of interested shoppers. Double plus, it gives the opportunity to offload a lot of inventory that might have been piling up.

4. Join Forums and get Involved in the Discussion


There are two reasons. There is a lot to be learned on selling and product related forums. Plus, it is a way to expose potentially interested shoppers to your url.

5. Most Importantly, Keep Your Love for Ebay


Because despite doing all of the above things and much more, eBay is still where the traffic is. In a highly competitive market, such as jewellery, it is simply much easier to get exposure on eBay. This is especially true in the early days of one's new online store.

If anyone out there has any tips on favorite ways to promote, I'm all ears!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

May / June Event Schedule

It's nice for us online sellers to go outside once in a while and get some sunshine. Why not drag our inventory outside with us and sell some more?

So far, I am confirmed for 2 sales events in May. At both I will sell jewellery, and also a new selection of children's clothing.

Here are the details:

May 16: Cochrane Children's Festival
-Times TBA

-Held on 4th St. SW in Calgary
-10:00am - 6:00pm
June 6 & 7: Spectrum Festival
-Held Downtown in Medicine Hat at 1 St SE & 6 Ave SE

BF has graciously secured a 10x10 tent to help me set up, and a couple tables. Plus, I've bought all kinds of new display items, (baskets, trays, necklace and earring displays, etc), so I'm looking forward to setting up and seeing how it all turns out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Taking Free Time to Expand Horizons

The long weekend is coming to an end. I had Friday - Monday off which only happens once a year for me without taking Holiday time, and it's a pretty sweet deal. Of course, I'll need to go to work early tomorrow to play catch up, but I digress.

I've kept myself busy this weekend searching far and wide for new and different products to sell. I mean WAY different. Nothing like jewellery. I am very taken in by a drive to diversify.

Part of what brings this is on, is my increasing realization of just how seasonal many items are. Tungsten rings, for example, are more likely to sell when approaching Christmas and Valentine's Day. Planting and gardening products naturally enjoy a busy season this time of year. And on and on it goes.

So, without a great deal of rhyme or reason, I am diving in and researching products that I already know something about for one reason or another.

My first new project is to add a men's hygiene section to my existing store. This is a natural outgrowth as I already deal in men's items.

Beyond this, I plan to move into a whole new industry in the year ahead. I look forward to sharing the details as things unfold.

If any of you have thoughts on branching out into new areas, versus focusing on what you know, I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How to Start Your First Online Store

Online selling made easy!

There are 4 Essential Steps to starting an online store.

Let's look at them one by one shall we?

1. Have a Product

Find something to sell that you can buy, (or make), cheaply and sell for more.

Get ideas by attending auctions, flea markets, and garage sales.

Do searches online to see what kinds of prices different items are fetching.

If you are crafty, search craft forums to get ideas and tips on things to make and how to do it.

Buy something on ebay or Bonanzle and ask yourself, what about this buying process was fun for me? What could I sell to recreate this experience for others?

Importantly, get out a calculator and figure out all of the costs involved, and make sure that what you are looking to sell will be profitable.

2. Start a Website for Free

I started this website for free. When I was ready to make use of the more advanced features, I upgraded to a package that costs $10 a month.

Click here to start your own website for free.

3. Take Pictures

Good quality pictures are obviously important. All the info you need to do this is available with simple Google searches. Here are some tips to get you started:

-If you do not have a lighting system of some kind, natural light is your friend. Go outside.

-If the items you are photographing are small, invest in a closeup lens.

-Try a bunch of different angles and lighting conditions.

4. Figure out Shipping in Advance

Shipping can make or break you. Some items are easy to ship, and others cost a fortune.

Find out ahead of time how much the items you are thinking about selling will cost to ship. This is better than selling an item for $25 and then finding out it will cost $50 to ship it.

I use Canada Post. If you have the patience of a saint, this website will eventually give you an idea of how much it costs to ship things.

If you plan to sell a lot of items, buy shipping supplies in bulk. I use Uline.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How to Find Public Selling Venues for Online Sellers

I realize that we're all online sellers here, but as I've said before, occasionally it is valuable to dig in, get your hands dirty, and get some public feedback.

In learning how to get the most out of market / festival selling, I've learned a few things:

1. This may not hold true for everyone, but for myself I will now only sell at venues that are reputable and well organized. These higher end venues are just more reliable when it comes to drawing a pleasant crowd that is ready to shop.

2. With the last point in mind, be choosy! It is easy to get overenthusiastic and sign up for events indiscriminately. However, it is more fun and profitable to save energy for the better venues, rather than to get burnt out on attending too many shows with not enough of a return.
How to Find Great Public Selling Venues:
1. The first thing to try is to attend the nicest market in your area, and talk up the vendors there. Some will be hestitant to share the tricks of the trade, but others selling a completely different product than you will have excellent suggestions based on years of experience.
2. When it comes to annual events, look for events that have been successfully running for several years. These more established events are better known and naturally draw larger crowds.
3. Look for blogs run by local sellers. Often local artists and vendors will list the events they will be selling at on their blogs. Look for vendors that have been on the scene for a long time, as they will likely mostly attend worthwhile events.
4. Do Google searches for festivals and markets in your area. Look for lists of such events that are featured in reputable newspapers, as they do their homework so you don't have to.
One word of caution:
Some of the best attended events, such as the Wedding Fair in Calgary, are prohibitively expensive. It might be better to get your feet wet at some of the medium cost venues in order to hone your public selling before taking on something like that. That is just my opinion though, as I have yet to take on the largest venues, and have heard it is quite possible to spend dozens of hours on something like that and come out at a loss!
On a more positive note, a well run and well attended affordable venue can be an action packed day of selling and business card distributing that leads to going home with a pocket full of cash, and new online contacts.
If anyone out there plans to be in the Calgary area and would like to share a booth, give me a shout!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Face to Face Selling....How Unusual

I got up early this fine Saturday morning. Spring is in the air, finally. It has been one bejebus of a long, cold winter.

Nobody wants to shop outside in the dead of winter here. No sir, unless we are snowboarding, we stay inside and hundle around whatever keeps us warm.

But now that it's sunny, I've been thinking about taking part in upcoming markets and festivals. I've been registered for the Lilac Festival for months now. It's an annual event in the hip part of town here in Calgary.

You see, as I've recently been learning, in order to take part in anything well known and well attended around here, it is necessary to be on the ball and plan months, if not a year in advance.

With that in mind, I spent the morning filling out applications, putting together sample packages, and sending links to my websites.

I much prefer selling online than face to face, but getting out there from time to time has its advantages too.

Hope to see you out there!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blog Contest Follow Up

Congratulations to Helene from Westwood Doodles!

She has been notified of her win, and I'm just waiting to hear her prize choice.

This has been fun. I really enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Thanks so much for participating. I look forward to running another contest soon.
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