I realize you may not have a burning passion to sell mugs, yoga mats and t-shirts. But it could be a nice diversion from your job or business, and it can also give you some extra funding when you need it most.
Imagine if this week you’re designing mugs and next week you’re designing shower curtains and t-shirts.
You could do this anywhere in the world. And no, you don’t have to be an artist or designer.
In fact, you don’t even need to be creative, understand product design and manufacturing, or have a brick and mortar store.
But with the help of online tools and outsourcing, you can create and sell a line of physical products on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy or any other site you choose – or have your own online store.
Why do this?
Maybe you need a break from your information business, or you need extra money so you can quit your job or buy a house. There are as many reasons as there are people.
And if you like to travel, you can use the inspiration from being in new places to help you choose what to create next, with or without the help of outsourcers.
Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Pick A Print-On-Demand Service
Not long ago, you had to purchase a minimum of 100 to 1,000 units of a product in order to get it manufactured.
Now that’s scary.
Who wants a garage full of mugs and shower curtains nobody wanted to buy?
But today there are print on demand services that will print just one of something and drop ship it for you.
Because you don’t have to deal with printing and fulfillment, you can concentrate on the business itself – designing new products and selling them.
Check out these print on demand services. Look at their pricing and products, and find the one that’s best for you:
- Cimpress Open
Pick out which products you might like to create.
If you don’t yet have a target audience in mind, choose one. The most important things in choosing your audience is knowing how you will reach them and that they spend money.
Step 2: Find A Talented Designer
One thing to keep in mind is that your tote bags and mugs and t-shirts will be a lot like everyone else’s except for ONE thing: Your designs.
That’s why it’s important to have amazing designs that people LOVE.
But don’t worry, because you don’t have to be a talented graphic designer. In fact, you don’t have to be a graphic designer at all.
That’s because you can always partner with someone who IS a graphic designer. Just go to a site like Upwork, Fiverr, Dribble or Behance and find someone you want to work with. Or find several people, if you’re really ambitious.
Here’s the catch to this entire business, and the reason why many people won’t run with it. You must find a talented designer, and you must be ready to spend some money up front for the designs you request.
Spend an afternoon reviewing design portfolios and then contact your top 5 choices. Have each designer create one design for you, as a test. Give them a detailed idea to work from. You might find samples of work you can show them, just so they can get an idea of the style you’re looking for.
From here, you can get a good idea of who can deliver the kind of work that you’re looking for.
Once you’ve found your designer(s), you can work together to bring your ideas into fruition. As you finalize each design, choose which products you want to place the design on.
You can create multiple designs on different types of media, without risk or cost.
This means you can try out as many images as you want, on as many products as you want, and the only upfront cost you incur is for the designs.
Naturally, some of your designs will do much better than others. You’ll be able to promote the winners hard, and in the process you’ll likely sell some of the less popular designs as well when people order more than one item at a time.
Step 3: Create a Storefront
While it used to be that building an e-commerce business was tedious and time-consuming, today it’s easy and you can have a store ready to sell your products in one afternoon.
When you’re just beginning, you might want to list your products on Etsy rather than building your own site. This way you can take advantage of Etsy traffic to see which products are good sellers and discover what your market wants. You might also list your most popular products on Amazon, too.
And when you are ready, you might open your own Shopify site. If you start out on Etsy, you’ll find that migrating to Shopify is easy. You can download all of your files from Etsy into a CSV file to upload directly to Shopify or Amazon.
Alternatives to Shopify abound, so might also want to check out sites like Squarespace and Big Cartel to see if those are a better fit for you, depending on your needs.
Step 4: Give it Time
This isn’t a business that will make you rich overnight. Launching your new product line and growing it into a sustainable e-commerce business will require time and effort.
When you first start out, sales may be slow. Depending on your niche and target market, though, it is possible you can pick sales up through social media. In fact, entire product businesses have been grown to 6 figures simply by using social media. For example, the right t-shirt at the right time can sometimes generate hundreds of sales in just a few days.
For example, as I write this the U.S. President is in danger of impeachment. Since this is the topic on everyone’s minds in the U.S., a funny t-shirt concerning this and shared via social media could make tons of sales. And it wouldn’t matter if it was for or against impeachment – people on both sides will buy a shirt that aligns with their beliefs.
Remember, your only real risk is the money you invest in designs. If you choose your designs carefully, even this risk will be greatly minimized.
And in the long run, you can have a very profitable product business that you can run from anywhere in the world.