Is it any wonder that people struggle to make any money online? The Internet moves so fast. What worked a treat for pulling in the cash last week, is now old news. The days of being able to throw up a web page and start selling the same day without doing a jot of advertising are long gone. Equally, the days of buying pretty much anything from a wholesaler and chucking a quick advert on eBay to turn an instant profit are also a distant memory.
One of the main problems online is how easy it is for people to copy a great idea. Someone starts selling widgets on eBay, someone else sees how many they are selling and for how much. They spend some time looking for a wholesale supplier of widgets (much easier now than it used to be) and order a few. Now they start selling widgets in competition with the first seller which leads them into a price war, each knocking 50p off at a time until they have squeezed their margin right down. Oh and just to make things interesting, two more sellers have noticed how popular these widgets are and they too are now selling them and have also joined in the price war. The original seller throws his hands up in disgust and leaves the party – it’s all too much effort for no reward…
Of course, this type of competition has been going on for years offline but the process is much quicker online. So what is the answer? Well, you can make very good money simply jumping from one product to another, moving on when the market is saturated with sellers and the margins are too fine to make it worthwhile. The downside is that you have to constantly be looking out for new products to sell. This makes it a lot of hard work but the rewards are there if you are prepared to put in the effort.
If you don’t fancy chopping and changing your product line every week, you could stick to the same products but work on the basis of selling for absolutely the lowest price you can manage. You make a tiny margin on each product sold but hopefully you will be the cheapest and can therefore sell a lot more than your competitors. This is a risky strategy and even if it works, you will end up having to pack and ship huge quantities of product just to break-even. Not something I would recommend (unless you like working 20 hours a day packing up widgets!)
The Internet isn’t everything of course – you could always try selling ‘offline’! I know, I know, who does that these days? Well actually, plenty of people! I’m not suggesting going out and leasing a retail unit in your local high street but how about car boot fairs (yes they are still very popular), craft fairs and so on? I started selling offline long before the Internet was even invented – I used to take stock to school and sell it! Seriously, I liked nothing more than relieving my classmates of their dinner money for whatever the latest craze was!
Or how about simply finding something so unique that it is very difficult for someone else to copy it? Maybe you have a particular talent and can design something individual or maybe you can think of something which requires a fair bit of work before it is ready to sell, thus meaning that all those lazy ‘steal someone else’s product idea’ sellers won’t be bothered with it? A couple of years ago, I was making upwards of £500 a month from one of these very ideas. I’ve never shared it with anyone before but as I don’t use the idea myself now, I am happy to pass it on. It gives you an idea of what is possible if you think outside the box.
I came across a huge collection of old car magazines for sale ranging from the 1940s onwards. I figured that the magazines had lots of articles and adverts which car enthusiasts might be interested in, either for collections or to frame. Turns out I was right. I cut out and scanned some of the better adverts for cars such as the Jenson Interceptor, Ford Escort Mexico or the Ford Capri and listed them on eBay for a few pounds each (£5.00 including postage was a nice round figure). To say I was amazed at the response is an under-statement. These old adverts literally flew off the shelves.
I had a few weeks spare so I devoted some time to listing more adverts and articles and ended up with several thousand on eBay. It was very time-consuming BUT this meant it would be hard for anyone else to compete. Equally, all the work was done upfront – I had to cut the adverts out, scan them, file them and upload them before making a penny (again this made it unattractive to the ‘get rich quick’ merchants). On the plus side though, when someone bought one, all I had to do was put it in an envelope and post it.
The other plus side was the profit margin. I purchased over 1000 car magazines (each one containing 30+ usable adverts and articles) for £150. Just one of these adverts sold for £5.00 (less a couple of quid for postage and packing), so if you say after eBay fees etc you were making £2.50 an advert, each magazine was potentially worth £75.00! If you couldn’t be bothered cutting all the adverts out, there was a good market for individual magazines but you would only get around £7.00 – £10.00 per mag. Still a superb margin though if you consider that 1000 would be potentially worth £7000+!
In the end, it became too much work for me and other business interests took over but for a time this one, unique idea was making me some very handy pocket-money.
There must be thousands of opportunities out there to do similar things so don’t try and copy everyone else selling the same items on eBay, do something different and see how much easier it can be…