Image source: Photospin.com
The Internet has brought craftsmanship back to the forefront when it comes to home décor and personal style statements. For a long time, local flea markets were the small businessperson's best bet when selling unique items, but more crafty entrepreneurs are flocking to online selling platforms such as Etsy to reach national and even global markets. Just like having an appealing display in a flea market can help net you more customers, your online store needs a personal yet professional touch of its own to move sales.
Start with the following five tips to help make your home business a roaring success online.
1. Learn Search Engine Optimization
In order for buyers to find your store and the items you list, you need search engine-optimized content to ensure that your store shows up in a Web search or Etsy site search. Simple yet accurate product titles are key, such as "brown leather moccasin boots" instead of just "leather boots." Including keywords specific to your product in the title can help boost your search results.
You can also improve your hits by including a succinct description for your store and products using keywords found with one of the many free keyword research tools online. Be sure to incorporate keywords (called “tags” on the Etsy site) that are specific to your item.
Once you have the right content in place, ask your friends to share links to your inventory on their websites and social media to give your page views a boost.
2. Use Professional Photos
Having a high-quality camera to take photos of your items is a good place to start, but you should also consider factors such as lighting and staging to make your products stand out. When selling homemade candles, for example, a photo that suggests a use for the items, such as dinner table decorations, will be far superior to a standard shot against a white background.
If you are uninspired or lack experience with photography, you can always hire a friend to take the pictures. To save money in the long run, you could enroll in a photography course at the local community college or simply study online.
3. Conduct Market Research
Even if your merchandise is well represented visually and descriptively, you still may not make the sale if another store has a similar product listed for a much lower price. Always check your prices and products against the competition before listing, or even before producing the items, to make sure you can make sufficient income within a reasonable time frame.
If there are many similar products on the market already, you will need to make your merchandise stand out all the more. The easiest way to stand out is to sell for less, but lower prices lead to smaller profit margins. Regardless of the sentiment your product has to you, the market will ultimately determine its value.
4. Find and Refine Your Voice
According to the Pew Research Center, social media usage has risen nearly tenfold in the past 10 years with 65 percent of adults in the United States actively registered with one or more of these sites as of 2015. In order to make more income from your online store, consider creating a brand profile with a consistent voice to appeal to social media users.
Look at what is trending; once anything related to your brand goes viral on social media, you can expect your profits to increase because people will often browse through all your posts after they have read one that they really liked. Just keep your message consistent and positive so that your fans will stay interested.
5. Be Prompt and Polite
Remember that you are only one of many choices for your customers, so you need to make them a priority in your life. Always answer customers' questions within 24 hours; the sooner you can answer them, the less likely they are to look elsewhere.
Be prepared to ship any items that sell immediately. Before you list anything, stock up on an assortment of shipping and postage supplies so that everything is ready to go when life's demands might otherwise interfere. A satisfied buyer is more likely to order from you again.
Finally, accept any criticism from your customers as graciously as you can, particularly if you use social media to promote your brand. You may come across difficult people who will question your product or business practices. Have a boilerplate message prepared to respond to negative social media posts and emails to prevent employing any rash words in the moment. Be sure to express your gratitude for the feedback and acknowledge the importance of the customer's concerns as well as his or her continued business. This may prompt more positive reviews in the future, which is a good sign for customers who need some encouragement to purchase from you.
Ultimately, making money by selling online is a result of great customer service and knowing your market, just like any other small business.
© 2016 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.