Reader Mail #25: How To Sell Products Online As A Sideline Business

Posted by Fitz Villafuerte under Business, Freelancing, Reader Mail on August 19, 2013

It’s time for another Reader Mail and for today, I’m answering a question sent to me recently on how to put up a sideline business selling clothes.

The sender wants to particularly learn how to create an online store.

Building an eCommerce site can be quite challenging, but I’ve offered below a simple workplan to get the ball rolling, especially if one does not have much technical knowledge on web design and development.

But first, let’s read the email of Mrs. A:

Hi Fitz, I’ve been reading your blog for some time now. I would like to ask some advice. Currently, I am thinking of having an online shop. Probably selling clothes for women. I think it will be the most convenient “sideline” for me since I am a working student and a mother. However, I don’t have much knowledge on how to go about it. Thanks. Looking forward to your response.

Step 1: Plan the Business

A sideline business is still a business, so planning for it is important. These are the questions that you need to answer thoroughly:

  • Who exactly are my customers? What is my target market?
  • Where is my target market? How will I reach out to them?
  • Why would they buy my products? What’s my unique selling proposition?
  • Where will I get my products? Who are my suppliers? What are their terms?
  • What’s my pricing strategy? What’s my desired monthly income?
  • What are my marketing strategies? What’s my brand image?

Read:
How To Write A Business Plan: The Essential Parts and A Free Sample Template
Creating a Business Model Canvas

Step 2: Make a Product Portfolio

Images rule the online world. So make sure you have good photos of your products. Lifestyle shots, i.e. photos of a person wearing the clothes in a real world scenario, works best.

After you have these, write a 2-3 text description for each product. Highlight the features, and give the best reason why they should buy it.

Print the photos with the product description and put them in a clear book. This is your portfolio, bring them everywhere and start selling them to your friends in real life.

Step 3: Start a “Blog Store”

Sign up and create a blog through Blogger. Choose a simple 2-column template and complete the layout by uploading a header photo that showcases your brand. Buying a domain name is an option but recommended for better branding.

Go to Google Drive and create the following:

  • Contact Form: Name, Email, Mobile Number, Subject, Message
  • Order Form: Name, Email, Mobile Number, Shipping Address, Payment Option, Order Details (Product and Quantity)

Create the following pages:

  • About Me: Tell something about yourself and your products.
  • Payment Options: Specify your payment options and your payment terms. Don’t post your bank details!
  • Shipping: Post the location where you can ship your products, including the courier you will use, the shipping costs and how they are computed.
  • FAQ: Post here the answers to possible questions that your website visitors might ask themselves.
  • Order Form: Tell how the buying process, especially how long until they’ll receive the product. Embed the order form you created here.
  • Contact: Tell how people can contact you, an email and a business mobile phone is enough. Embed the contact form you created here.

blogging

After you’ve done all these, you can now write your blog posts. Write one blog post per product that you have. Aside from the photo and the text description, try to tell a little more about it.

At the end of the post, put a call to action to buy the product and a link to the Order Form page. Do this for every product that you have. Use the “Labels” as stock groups, i.e. tops, bottoms, dresses, etc..

Furthermore, showcase the photos of your products and put a product list on the sidebar. You can also embed there the links to your social media accounts, which you’ll create next.

Lastly, you should consider posting articles as blog posts too. Write stories about yourself and your business to create affinity towards your brand from your readers and site visitors.

Related:
How To Start a Blog That Can Become a Source of Income
Buhay Bohemio – a “blog store” owned by a friend

Step 4: Create a Social Media Presence

A lot of people sell in social networking sites because it works. Feature your products there and engage your friends to share them to their own networks. Create a Facebook Page, a Pinterest Board and an Instagram Feed for your business.

Create a content plan, don’t hard sell your products on social media. Post and share stuff that your fans and followers will find interesting. Talk to them and create a community. Feature your products once in a while.

Remember that for every post you make in social media, be sure to always provide a link to your “Blog Store” so that people can discover your other products, and learn more about you and your business.

Learn more:
How To Manage a Business Facebook Page
Social Media For Business

Step 5: Sell in Online Classifieds

Lastly, take advantage of the traffic that online classified ads get but also posting and selling your products there. Fortunately, I’ve already written a comprehensive guide on this, so just check out the following article:

Read: A Beginner’s Guide To Selling In Online Classified Ads and Auction Sites

Final Tips:

These steps look overwhelming at first, but I assure you it’s very doable with enough patience and focus. Also, Steps 3, 4 and 5 are actually interchangeable – the sequence above is just the best way to go in my opinion.

And that’s it! I hope Mrs. A learned a lot from this post.

What about you? What other tips can you give her? Share them below as a comment.

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Photo credit: barnett


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4 Responses to “Reader Mail #25: How To Sell Products Online As A Sideline Business”


  1. Rose says:

    Wow! This is entirely the concise answers to my questions too! Thanks to Ms. A for asking and of course thanks a lot Fitz for sharing. So clear steps to follow!

  2. paulkim says:

    He thanks for sharing such an informative article ..you have explained in a best way (step by step)..please keep us updated….:)

  3. Lois says:

    Hi Fitz,

    great article.. but how do we issue O.R? my husband just started his online business but it is not yet something that has regular income. But just today he had a customer who rented out his items, and had asked for an O.R because it’s their company who will pay for it. Is it okay to just issue a generic receipt and then indicate his personal TIN? I’d really appreciate your advise. Thanks a lot.

  4. Fitz says:

    Hi Lois,

    It will depend on the customer, but in most cases, a generic receipt or invoice is okay. I’d advise using one of the templates in MS Word so it would look more professional.

    If this happens more often, then it’s a good sign that it’s time for you to legally register your business. :D

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