By Lauren Carter

Making Money by Selling Online

Starting an online business is growing in popularity, without the need to hire a shop or office space, the costs of getting started are virtually non-existent which means so are the risks.

Internet businesses take many forms and your skills and strengths will play a big part in the route you choose to take and what help you will need from outside. If you don’t know where to start or what will work best for you, here are a few things to think about:

Direct selling

Many people try direct selling as a way to make some extra money. It has been around for years, but now thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever to get involved. The key concept is that you become a sales person for an existing company; you host parties or attend networking events where you promote the products and then you order products on behalf of your customer through the company’s website. You deliver the orders to your customer, collect the money and receive commission from sales made.

This can work well if you find a company whose products you believe in and are confident you will be able to sell. If you don’t believe the products you are selling are beneficial this will come across to the customers you want to sell to. Whilst you might make a bit of money selling to friends and family who just want to support you, you will struggle taking your sales to a wider audience. If you have had experience in sales positions and are confident in your sales abilities you might be able to turn it into a more lucrative business.

Selling through your own online store

Online selling is far less intimidating to many people than direct selling and rather than earning a commission you keep the majority of profit for yourself. These days most of us have some experience with selling online, whether that’s selling old unwanted clothes on eBay or selling old books on Amazon. The number of online marketplaces is constantly growing, in addition to the option of starting your own online store.

Setting up your own online shop allows you to establish a brand for your company and avoids you having to pay fees to a third party marketplace. The difficulty in doing this, however, comes from building and marketing your website as well as driving traffic to it, all of which cost time and money.

If you set up a brand new website you cannot simply wait for somebody to stumble across it in the hope they then decide to buy something from you. If you are setting up your own online store you need to be confident that there is a specific market for the products you are selling and you need to know where to find that market in order to advertise to them.

On top of this you need to know how to build a professional looking website that stands out from the crowd. We’ve all seen online shops that look like they were designed in the 90s. You need to be able to earn customers’ trust and keep them invested in your brand so that they want to keep shopping with you. This can take some technical skill or you could outsource to a web designer but for a truly professional job this won’t be cheap!

Making your own products to sell

If you are a creative person you might be able to make a profit selling goods you make yourself. Etsy has grown massively as a marketplace for handmade arts and crafts. Say for example, you get compliments everywhere you go on the scarf you knitted yourself why not try knitting a few more, and testing the waters selling them online. Depending upon what sort of products you are making and how long it takes you to make them, you might not be able to make a huge amount of profit.

If you are simply looking for a bit of extra pocket money this could work well, especially if you are selling something you enjoy making. There are plenty of shoppers out there who love unique hand-made goods that none of their friends have, and are willing to pay that little bit extra for it.

Online marketplaces

So what about those of us with no technical skills, no artistic flair and do not fancy the thought of direct selling? Don’t worry there is still a chance to make some money with an online business. Selling on eBay or Amazon is simple and is open to just about anyone. E-Commerce (selling online) can be carried out from your own home and fees are usually low. The only difficulty is sourcing stock to sell.

Many people make money through these platforms buying second hand goods at low cost from garage sales, car boot sales or charity shops. Smart phones make it easy for us to check the resale price of goods while you are out and about, and buying low cost items makes this an incredibly low risk business plan although perhaps time consuming.

Alternatively you could source products in wholesale quantities which would enable you to grow without spending huge a huge amount of time searching for stock. The downside of this is that you take a bigger risk by buying in large quantities. The wholesale industry can be intimidating if you have no experience and it can be difficult to figure out if you are really getting a great deal.

A disadvantage to selling though an online marketplace is that it is very difficult to establish your brand and gain loyal customers who will promote your business. This is arguably outweighed by the fact that you are instantly exposing your products to a huge existing customer base without having to find traffic and promote the site yourself. As long as you have products which are in demand you will have no problem selling your goods.

Setting up a business is easier than ever thanks to the internet, but you still need to be willing to put in the time and effort to make it work, your empire won’t build itself! For more information on sourcing products for online selling visit, connect with us on Twitter @profitsourcery or on Facebook.