Choose an Online Marketplace - dummies

Choose an Online Marketplace

By Wendy Piersall, Heather B. Armstrong

For selling physical products, the key to using a mom blog effectively to send traffic to your online store is to use a soft-sell approach. It’s hard to build up a loyal audience if your blog is simply publishing product descriptions and pitches. You want to create content that’s useful to the people who are likely to want to buy your products at some point.

For those of you selling actual products, you have many choices as to where you can sell online. eBay, Etsy, CafePress, and Amazon are some of the most common marketplaces used by bloggers, and some people venture out to setting up shopping carts on their own websites as well. You don’t need to limit yourself to one way of selling online.

Bloggers might sell products on their own sites, Etsy, and eBay simultaneously. This, of course, increases your work load, but it also gets your products in front of the largest number of potential customers. Those who have used this approach have found it’s worth the extra time and effort to maintain multiple storefronts. But it is best to get established in one marketplace first before you branch out.

Here’s a quick overview of the most popular online store sites to help you determine where you may want to begin. Selling on any of these sites is certainly beyond the scope of this book, but there are extensive training and selling tools available to sellers from each of these marketplaces directly:

  • Amazon: No site on the Internet converts visitors into sales better than Amazon. Their site is the one most trusted and most frequently used by shoppers, period. You can sell items for $0.99 per listing, a $0.80 to $1.35 closing fee, plus a varying percentage of the sale price of the item.

    Some of these fees are waived if you pay a flat rate for their Pro Merchant Subscriber program at $39.99 a month.

  • Etsy: For handmade items, nothing beats Etsy. You can also sell craft supplies and vintage items on Etsy as well. Etsy doesn’t have the market reach that Amazon does, but on Etsy you’ll find buyers more interested in your products because they shop there specifically for handmade items. Etsy charges a $0.20 listing fee plus 3.5 percent of the sale price of your item.

  • eBay: It’s hard to beat eBay for selling used items and vintage finds. eBay has the volume that Amazon does, but also attracts buyers hunting for a good deal.

    eBay charges no listing fees for starting prices under $0.99, and then scales the listing fees up based on starting price to a maximum of $2.00 for items with a starting price of $200.00 and up. When an item sells on eBay, you pay eBay 9 percent of the sale price. eBay also has an eBay Stores level that starts at $15.95 per month.

  • CafePress: CafePress is different from the previously mentioned online marketplaces because it actually manufactures the items sold — you’re the one who designs them. The benefit is that you don’t have to pay for your inventory before you sell it, and you can sell on CafePress for free. You also control the pricing of your items by choosing your own price markup.

    In this scenario, CafePress is the one earning the most from each sale, so you need to sell more volume in order to make the kind of profit you could make on your own. The site also has a premium-store feature that starts at $4.99 a month, which pays out a flat 10 percent of the revenue from your store to you.

For those of you selling your services, you may want to consider joining an online service marketplace like Elance or Elance and Guru work essentially the same way — service providers are charged a small monthly fee, and then also pay a portion of every fee earned from projects gained from the sites.

Both also offer a limited option with the monthly fee waived so that you can test the waters and decide if the work you gain is worth the costs.