How to Choose the Right Products and Services for your Online Business
Today’s blog post is about what you’re selling - whether that is physical or digital products, services or freelancing (I tend to refer to what you’re selling as your ‘product’, so when you see me talking about ‘products’, you can safely assume I mean anything you’re making (or hope to make) money from!)
A lot of people start a Business or Blog with a product idea. By the end of the lesson you will have thought about the viability of the product ideas you already have, come up with ideas for further products to expand your customer base and looked at what makes your products and/or service offerings unique and irresistible to your customers.
If you don't have any Product Ideas or even a Business Idea yet - take a look at this blog post on Choosing the Right Online Business for You.
Are your Product Ideas going to work for Your Business?
Ok, now let’s get to it! Whatever you are planning on selling, it’s not enough that you absolutely love making them or could do whatever it is all day long (though that will certainly help!) You need to ask 2 important questions about your product ideas - ‘Can you sell it at a profit?’ and, ‘Why will your customers buy yours over anyone else’s?’
Whether you’ve decided on your products or services or are still making up your mind, your mission is to find that magic overlap of your knowledge and skills and the needs and wants of your customers. (Badass BusinessMum note - This is highly likely to involve some (possibly lots of) trial and error when you first start out)
Can you make money from selling your product / service?
And when I say money I mean a decent hourly wage and profit to grow your business after you’ve paid your expenses!
You’re not going to be able to spend all day, every day making stuff! You’re going to have to find time for marketing (social media, your blog, email newsletter), maintenance tasks on your website, blog or e-commerce site as well as the boring things like accounts and stock-taking. Or you have to make enough from your sales to pay someone else to do some of the other stuff. (You might need to sleep at some point too!)
Think about how long product creation takes. And not just how long it takes to make 1 finished item (be it physical, digital or something like a website for a client). Whatever you sell, there will be a design and planning stage and a prototype stage. If you are making physical products you will have to photograph them and list them on your Etsy shop or website and then, when they’re sold, pack your creations and get them to the Post Office. Wondering how people make money selling handmade products for a few pounds? They’re not! (or they’re not handmade!)
If you’re now beginning to think your products are going to have to be prohibitively expensive to ever turn a profit - don’t panic quite yet! I have some ideas that will help you create a range of products that take less time to create and build on the work you’re already doing.
Growing your Product Range
Printable, digital downloads are fab. They’re immediately available so offer instant gratification to your customer. And once you’ve created it, you upload it to your site and automate everything else. No packaging, no shipping, no making more when it’s sold - just market it (which you have to do anyway) and watch the sales come in while you’re creating the next thing. Some ideas for digital products to get you thinking:
Pdf patterns (knitting, crochet, cross stitch etc)
DIY Kits / Supplies
You already have supplies. Have you considered writing instructions and packaging up kits for your customers that want to make what you do. This works great for knitting, sewing, cross stitch, jewellery making or even paper crafts like card making or scrapbooking. You get a product to sell with very little time investment required and a whole new customer base that probably weren’t going to purchase a complete item from you with its premium price tag anyway. Selling supplies requires even less time investment and means you can take advantage of bulk discounts when purchasing your own supplies and sell the surplus.
If you sell art or photography, you can get it printed on to keyrings, mugs, notepads, tea towels, even canvas bags or cushion covers, as well as the more obvious prints and greeting cards. The options are endless. There will be a financial outlay to get your products printed but again, the time investment is very low. You get maximum use out of art you have created and these products appeal to a different customer than would buy an original from you or commission a custom piece.
Introduce ‘add on’ products
Focus on high output for little time investment. As an example - if you sell your individually designed, handmade baby clothes, make a range of burp cloths and bibs. They will take a fraction of the time to make but by using the same beautiful fabrics you use for your clothing, you are still offering something unique and out of the ordinary that the discerning customer will pay more for. Think of things that complement your main product so you can create an introduction to your brand with lower price point products.
Product ideas for Service Providers and Freelancers
If you provide a service, particularly a one-on-one or premium one, products are a great way to provide an introduction to your services and business. Consider writing an e-book on your area of expertise, or an introductory workbook. If you offer services such as graphic design, you can produce a range of ready made logos, blog design templates or a brand identity kit. Photographers - have you thought about selling stock photography? If you are a coach or offer training, create a product to sell alongside your services. For instance, a business coach specialising in organisation and streamlining - design and create a life planner. As a freelancer or educator you are in a really good position to know which products will actually enhance your customer’s lives and their experience with your brand.
Think of ways to add value to your products so your customers will pay a premium price. Think about things like luxury packaging or presentation, personalisation, extra special service or bundle products together to create a luxury package. Scarcity adds value too so think of ways you can upgrade some of your products to a ‘limited edition’.
Time to Take Action (1)! Brainstorm some ideas for your product range including ideas for Introductory/Add-on products, Standard products and Luxury products on the Product Ideas Sheet (<< Click that link or the image below to download it)
To get maximum profit you need to be able to produce lots of something quickly and easily at low prices (eg; digital downloads) or produce small numbers at high prices (eg; limited edition products or one-on-one services).
When you've filled out your product ideas sheet you should have lots of options to explore for finding the perfect product range for your business. Your homework is to narrow down your choices by asking yourself, ‘can I create enough of these and sell them for the right money to make a profit?’ and, 'do they provide an obvious, clear solution to a problem my customers are facing?'
You don’t need to make your final choices now - just eliminate the complete duds! As you work through the course there will be more things for you to take into consideration and your ideas will develop and change as you get a better idea of where your business is heading.
Your Unique Selling Point
It’s highly likely that somewhere online, there are other people selling or doing similar to what you sell or do. This doesn’t mean you need to come up with something different - but it does mean you need to work out how you can make your offering unique. You need to come up with (or define) your Unique Selling Point (USP)
Your USP is what differentiates your business and products from others in your industry. It is what sets you apart and makes your customers choose your products or services over the next company’s.
Time to Take Action (2)! We will come back to your USP as you develop your brand and define your target market in the coming weeks, so for now, answer the following questions on the Lesson 1: Unique Selling Point worksheet about your product or services.
Define your Unique Selling Point
How does it fulfil a need or want?
It’s not just about the features of your products and the benefits to your customers, it’s about solving the problems of your customers.
What is unique / special about your products?
Are they eco-friendly? Are they all original, One-Of-A-Kind pieces? Are your products personalised? Is your product or service something completely new to your industry? Is the way you deliver your product new or different? Do you offer tailored packages in an industry that normally doesn’t?
Carry out some research of other businesses in your area of business
How can you / are you doing things differently? Perhaps you’ve fulfilled a gap you noticed when searching for a specific product or service - if you have, tell people about it!
Creating your USP isn’t about being better than everybody else. It’s about doing things differently, in your own way, which will be the perfect way for your perfect customers.
Write down the USPs for your product ideas as a sentence or two. These notes may form part of your mission statement and will definitely be needed when you start to write your product descriptions for your website and/or online shop.
The Next Step
Join The Badass BusinessMum's Club to get your list of 50 Ideas for Freebies, Bonuses and Extras to keep your Customers coming back for more.