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What to Sell Online?

The Ecwid E-commerce Show hosts Jesse and Richie discuss what to sell online if you don’t already have a product.

Show Notes

  • Passion vs. Profit
  • Creating content is key here, and you want to enjoy your day when working.
  • Big markets vs. Niche
  • Trending products and fads
  • Price and profit margin determine advertising options
  • Manufacturing, Dropshipping, Print-on-Demand, Patents

Transcript

Jesse: What’s going on, Richie?

Richard: What’s happening, Jesse? Is that day again?

Jesse: It is. And hello, everybody listening, today is a special show. It’s the Jessie and Richie show. No guests. Just us talking with you, to you, I guess, with you. Hopefully. All right. We actually have a whole bunch of interesting info today. I hope it’s interesting; we have a whole lot of info coming your way. But we want to answer the basic question that people get to us. What to sell online? What should I sell online? We get it all the time. I actually see it in the Ecwid, in the forums, and in the questions. They didn’t really know what they want to sell online.

Richard: Yeah, they saw Shark Tank last night or something, got all excited. They’re looking up online: “How do you sell online? I want to do it. Oh yeah, I got to sell something particular, what do I pick?”

Jesse: I think for some people listening that wasn’t a problem. The idea was bubbling around in your head, and the first thing you did is went and bought a domain, probably about five domains. And some of those, you’re probably gonna have to let go after that first year. But your dream started with a product and a domain. You had the whole idea in your head, and you’re ready to go. Some people start with the dream of “I just want to sell online, but I’m not exactly sure what I want to sell online.” Or you’re in the middle, and you’re thinking: “Well, I’ve got a few ideas, but I want to see what other people are doing out there cause I want to sell more online.” So anyway, Rich, where you’ve fallen that spectrum here.

Richard: As our listeners are gonna hear moving forward, there are arguments for both. I believe in the passion piece, but I also believe that you got to do enough due diligence in your research to know there’s a big enough market to actually make a profit with your passion too because you’ve got to create so many things. You got to do content. Content is the cost of entry to e-commerce these days. If you enjoy doing it, you’re probably going to have more fun creating that content. But it’s super easy to get caught up thinking: “Yeah, I’m going to do this new thing for these quilts.” My daughter said: “Oh, we, let’s make Lulu’s Tutus.” Our dog’s name is Lulu. And yeah, it sounds good. And you probably would have fun putting the tutus on Lulu. But I dunno, is there a big market for people buying tutus for dogs? I doubt it, but you never know.

Jesse: Yeah. Let me back up a second. We’re talking about the difference between passion and profit. There’s a couple of different ways of looking at it, right? As rich mentioned, do you have a passion for this? That’s a really good place to start. Because you’re going to be creating all this content. There’re pictures, there are videos, there are blog posts, you gotta write emails, you gotta have to create a lot of content for this business. And if you like it, that’s great. So your daughter’s probably gonna really enjoy making Lulu’s tutus because she loves her dog and loves tutus.

Richard: He won’t like it probably.

Jesse: He’s not going to appreciate this business at all. (laughing) She could be an Instagram star and she’s probably knocking any of the profits from that.

Richard: Nicer treats.

Jesse: Okay. Extra sheets for Lulu, but otherwise, not really profiting all that much. But it’s a great passion project. You and the family will enjoy making this. So I would generally say it’s great to start with passion. So if you love it, you’re gonna have more fun. Making the contents can be a part of your life. A couple examples that we’ve had on the podcast. Like Kent Rollins, I think he really wakes up in the morning and he’s super pumped about cooking over a campfire. Yeah. So passion is not an issue. It’s hot out there cooking outside. There’s a passion there and it comes through in the videos and it comes through. We had Kissed by a Bee, Akila, she comes from a family growing natural, organic foods on the farm. It was like a family recipe, I believe for this cream. That’s a passion project. Makes it easier to bottle the things and deal with all the things you have to deal with doing business. Who else did we have on there?

Richard: We had Miller machines.

Jesse: Miller machines. Like he works in an orchestra, right? So making the little triangles and was it the finger symbol or something like that?

Richard: There was a couple of different products he had. It was mostly the specific triangle on your percussionist in an orchestra. Right. Super highly specialized. But man, he’s going on the road even, going to check out some of these orchestras while on the road. Talk about passion.

Jesse: And he works in orchestra. He gets to create content, visiting other orchestras around the world. It’s a passion project. He’s going to enjoy making it more often. So I always think it’s best to start with a passion, but let’s not get hung up there. The passion is great for when you’re in the grind and waking up early, staying up late. But we’re in San Diego here. People love surfing, right? So bunch of surfing bros, they’re like “Hey, I just want to surf, surf all morning, spend an hour at night working on my surfing business.” And that’s great, but you’re not the first guy that had that idea. Yes, you love surfing. That’s great. Here’s what you need to go surfing. You need a wetsuit, surfboards, wax maybe. What else? It’s pretty much it.

Richard: Some waves. If you could sell waves, that would be awesome.

Jesse: Great idea. If you can sell waves, all right, there’s a business out there for you. I think people are actually working on it. But you’re entering a really crowded market of a bunch of people that love this particular lifestyle, have a passion for it, really tough competition. I applaud the efforts there. A lot of people making surfboards, a lot of people making wetsuits, there’s not a huge market out there, so you’re entering a very crowded market. So be careful with that passion.

Richard: Yeah, I see your point there that would be going back and forth on not necessarily playing devil’s advocate, but maybe exceptions to the rule. So maybe if you already are a professional surfer and you have a following already, then great, you’re going to be just fine. You just need to have a product based around your following. It may be surfboard, maybe it’s some sort of a towel, you know what I mean? It’s gotta be something that’s unique. Where we’re ultimately going with this is …

Jesse: By the way, Kelly Slater, if you’re listening, you can create a surfboard company. Got it. No problem.

Richard: Yeah, exactly. (laughing)

Jesse: Ecwid is in Encinitas, there’re a lot of surfers that live there. They have different rules. You can start a surfing company. But you already made it.

Richard: Well, and that’s kind of where we’re going. It’s passion. If you’re leading it by passion is cause you know life in and of itself already has enough challenges. When you start a business and you got an inventory and you got all these other things you got to do, the more passionate you can be about your product and what you’re doing is going to drive you through some of the harder hours. At the same time, if you’re going solely after profit you could end up also in a very competitive field because if there’s profit in that field, there’s probably going to be a bunch of people there. So there’s going to be exceptions to the rules and both, and we’re going to go through how you’re going to find these things and what you’re going to do. But we would just wanted to set the bar with in this podcast. That’s the two angles we’re looking at.

Jesse: Yup. So it’s passion versus profit. And one more example on the passion side, we talked a little bit about knitting. Let’s say you love knitting. What does it cost for a thing of yarn, like five bucks. How long did knitting needles last? Probably a lifetime. I’ve heard a podcast of people make money in the knitting industry, so I’m not going to say you can’t do it, but if that’s your passion, it’s going to be a tough one. We’re going to switch over to the profit side. On the profit side, boy, I know a lot of people that sell insurance. I’m not sure if anybody who has a real passion for insurance, but a lot of people need insurance. Like I brush my teeth twice a day.

Richard: If they do, they’re the top 10%.

Jesse: Probably. If you love insurance and you’re listening, give us a shout out. Kudos. You’re probably really good at it. Van, my insurance guy, I actually think he really loves insurance and he’s does great at it. But most people don’t. Another example of toothbrushes. Almost everybody brushed their teeth at least once a day, probably twice. Dentists probably say you should do it three times. But I don’t really love toothbrushes or dentists. But there’s that new toothbrush out there. The Quip.

Richard: I got one.

Jesse: You got one? Okay. Maybe you love toothbrushes. I don’t know.

Richard: I don’t, but it was the simple thing of, “Hey I just go until this thing stops.” It beeps and it tells me to switch a quadrant. Beeps, tells me switch a quadrant, beeps. And then when it beep, beep, beep and then shuts off like, cool, I’m done. I don’t have to sing happy birthday four times or whatever the recommended amount is.

Jesse: Yeah. But there’s a huge market for toothbrushes and in that case, it’s expensive toothbrush and the people built it. Maybe they have a passion for it. I could be wrong.

Richard: This is a good point though, because it’s why we said there’s always going to be exceptions to the rule. They could have very, very easily said: “That’s a crowded market, there’s big players or the guys with a dollar shave club.” So you could take something that doesn’t appear, maybe it doesn’t have passion in it. It’s just a toothbrush. But these guys are fanatical about it and the people who use it, I just get it. New one comes every three months. New heads, new battery. Boom. Travels well, just sticks right on the mirror anywhere I go, so I don’t have to worry about where am I putting this in the funky place when I’m traveling somewhere. It just sticks up on the mirror. It’s fantastic. Now I’m passionate about my toothbrush. I’d never go back to another one right now.

Jesse: I can tell, you’re like a salesperson for Quip. Can we get an affiliate link? Can we get an affiliate link in here? Set it up in the show somehow?

Richard: We’ve got to move those guys over to Ecwid. (laughing)

Richard: Yeah, only fair. Did the founders of Quip have a passion for it? We’re going to guess no. They might say they did or whatever, but they might have what I would call like a temporary passion. Maybe they just said they use other electric toothbrushes and they’re like: “There must be a better way.” And they just dove in headfirst and, and went for it. And you can have a temporary passion. I think for another example either, actually there’s a lot of people that do baby products that they have a problem that lasts for like six months. Kids go through phases and then get passes.

Richard: Or can’t sleep and you’ve got the technique, get them to sleep if your babies can’t sleep.

Jesse: That is the biggest problem in the entire world at that moment.

Richard: Oh, flashback to that.

Jesse: Climate change doesn’t even register because your kid will not fall asleep. Or whatever. Maybe you don’t have a passion for it, like I saw this product where they get the baby, what do you call this baby wrapping thing? The baby, the method.

Richard: I’ll get it here, we’ll get it. They’re like a little baby burritos, but that’s not what it’s called.

Jesse: Yeah, like little baby burritos. (laughing) You don’t have a passion for this, but you invented the, I’ve seen the one with us, the Velcro on it. They didn’t have that when my kids were that age. That’s genius. And I might’ve not have had a passion for cloth or Velcro or even babies other than my own babies, of course, which are the best babies. But I could really get into that product for a good six months, a couple of years. If that was like, “I think I just have a bigger, better way to solve a problem.” That’s also a way to have a mix of passion and profit. I’m not just doing it for the money. I don’t really have a passion for this thing.

Richard: But maybe you have a passion to solve the problem which led to a product that you might not necessarily be passionate about.

Jesse: Absolutely. Yeah. I think there’s a lot of examples of that. Now you don’t necessarily even need that either. You might just say: “Hey, I just want a big market.” Maybe you just want to stick with something trendy. We get a lot of customers on Ecwid. They’re just selling the latest trendiest thing. Remember a couple of years ago, the fidget spinners. Everybody had fidget spinners. It was the hottest product maybe three years ago, two years ago. It’s crazy how big it got. Every convenience store had fidget spinners, and where can you buy a fidget spinner right now? They’re not even a thing anymore.

Richard: I think the only place I see them anymore is trade shows. People still have leftover when they probably got it way back then.

Jesse: For sure. Probably trade shows are a thing, cause people are wanting to get a present for the kid. But what I’m getting at here is that fidget spinners were massive. They were huge for like maybe two years and then they dove really fast. And another example that is almost like a fifth 20 year example of the mini RC racers. Little remote control cars were about 15, 20 bucks. And they were really hot for like two Christmases.

Richard: Yeah. I flipped them at the swap meet. (laughing)

Jesse: Yeah, exactly.

Richard: Luckily I got out before I got stuck with boxes.

Jesse: You wrote that trend? Everybody wants these little things. You can buy them in China for a dollar and sell them in the US for 20 bucks.

Richard: That’s one of the beauties by the way of Ecwid, not that we’re trying to convince you to go for trending stuff, but for how quick you can spin up a store. I flashed back, like if Ecwid was around when I was growing up, I would just be like, “Holy crap!” I would literally try to ride almost every trend possible now. That was just my personality, like the startup phase of stuff and probably wouldn’t stock a ton of inventory, but it’s just for those of you who may have already picked your product and you’re just love listening to the podcast. So you can learn a technique here and there, a strategy here and there. That’s definitely something worth thinking about is if something’s trending as long as you don’t have to stock massive amounts in your warehouse and might get stuck with it. With Ecwid, you can spin up a store pretty darn quick.

Jesse: You sure can. I’m not trying to hate on trending products. There’s a lot of them. Generally speaking though, those are short lived businesses and you’re going to be stuck. This is like a game of musical chairs. You don’t want to be the one left without a chair. By the way, this is one of our most popular blogs on Ecwid.com. I believe it’s called 19 Trending Products. You can just google trending products on our Ecwid blog and you’ll find it. A lot of good examples there of this particular thing. We have to refresh it pretty often because things don’t last all that long. Also, on the profit side as opposed to the passion side. There’s a lot of ways if you want to find a big market and you want to find things that sell, but you don’t want to find the biggest market. You probably don’t want to go into the led TV market and compete against LG and Sony and whatnot. You have to find this right sweet spot of a big enough market, but where you can find the competition and just so happens there’s this big company out there called Amazon that has different categories. Everything’s categorized into nice little niches where you can search by top sellers. So you can look for what things sell and the level of the competition, cause the level of competition is ranked basically right from the top. You can go look at directly at Amazon, but there’s also a bunch of other companies out there that have access to that data and more data. They can help you choose your product. Just a couple of examples of those companies. Jungle Scout is pretty big name in that. Another one is Viral-Launch.com. They also have an excellent podcast that I’ve listened to. They can help you if you just don’t know what you want to sell. You can see what is selling on Amazon and where it ranks and how many sell on Amazon. That can give you an idea of the market, not just on Amazon, but you can take that as how would that do on e-commerce as well. Just a couple ideas. If you have no idea what you want to sell, there’s a lot of tools out there. On the trending products, you can use Google Trends.

Richard: Trends.google.com.

Jesse: Okay, so check that out. It basically has trends. Cause it’s in the name, trends.google.com, you don’t really have to explain that. But yeah, that can help you spot things. How did they do relative to the amount of search terms in previous years and things like that.

Richard: Yeah, I mean, that’s a great point because if you think: “Is this just a trend for now?” But then you go back and you look, say under a year, 2015, 2012, whatever. You can go back in years too and you see that it’s still trending. There are seasonal trends too. There’s going to be different times. I mean there’s so many freaking options with this.

Jesse: Google Trends isn’t used just to find trendy products. You don’t necessarily need to find a trend. You just want to find something really on the upswing. Whatever things that are being replaced by apps on your phone. Okay. Maybe not the best market to dive into. Or I don’t know, that’s just one example, but you just want to know what you’re walking into before you start, especially if you don’t already have that product chosen. Those are a couple ideas there. But in addition to the things we’ve mentioned about the passion and the profit, there’s a lot of different attributes we’re going to dive into. But price, market, repeatable business, fanatical customers and identifiable niche. This applies to both the passion and the profit. We’ll go into them a little bit more in detail here. Rich is going to try to pick these apart and we’ll just give you some ideas to think about. The price of the item and related to that, the price of the entire basket. When in doubt, my opinion is go with a higher priced item. You’re doing all this work to sell a product. Personally, I’d rather sell a hundred dollars product than a $10 product because one sale might as well make a little bit of money on this. The reason I mentioned the basket size is you might have a product that’s 25, but they need to buy several other items in order for it to work. You know, like maybe they just need to add batteries to the card. That doesn’t really work anymore cause every people buy batteries from regular sites. But in general, if people have to order multiple things, the price of the product isn’t so important. It’s the price of the basket.

Richard: Yeah, I mean it’s a good point. Definitely get it. People might be sitting there thinking, gosh, I’m just getting started. If I’m selling a $100 product now, how much is my inventory gonna cost? And there are workarounds too. Let’s go back to your total basket comment. You could always bring someone in with a low-cost item. I flashback to our fellows at Traffic and Conversion and the marketing guys over there where Perry Belcher was starting a store and he undercut everybody with the wicks, but he knew the real money was selling…

Jesse: Candle wicks. It doesn’t get transcribed here.

Richard: Yeah. Candle wicks. He was under cutting all the candle wick sellers and the old school guys were saying: “Oh, don’t worry, he’s going to go out of business.” But all he was really doing was trying to get the new customer in the front end via that cheaper price. But he knew: “What the heck, it’s not going to be any good without the wax and the essential oils.” But that’s where that total basket could still be a high price for the total basket. I totally get your point and they should be paying attention to that work. It comes down to advertising.

Jesse: Before that comes down to the profit margin too. We’re going to get into the advertising. We’d set price, but really price is one part of it. It’s profit, right? If it’s a hundred dollar item and you only made $10, that’s a big difference than a hundred dollars item where you spent 90. So price and profit are very, they’re similar. They’re not the same. If you’re selling cosmetics, it tends to have a high profit margin. Cause people don’t know the real cost from the raw materials. If you’re selling something that’s more of a commodity, you can only charge so much more than if people know what it costs in other stores. Price, profit, those just go together to “Can you afford advertising?” To me, that’s a huge factor in choosing a new product. You can sell things that you can advertise all day long. If you have a huge Instagram following, you don’t really need to advertise that. If you are willing to create a whole lot of content and get in front of the right people with your product, you can do that. $10 products, you can make a lot of money on $10 products. So I don’t want to say you can’t do it, it’s just you’re not going to be able to use a lot of the usual tools in eCommerce. Like Rich, Lulu’s Tutus. Like what’s a dog tutu go for these days? 15 bucks?

Richard: Yeah, I know. And how many are they going to buy? (laughing)

Jesse: I don’t know what the basket size is there. Maybe you need more than one tutu. I don’t know who buys just one, but at the end of the day, you could make it but you’re probably not going to be able to use dynamic retargeting or Google Shopping ads or AdWords, like the tools that we talk about on other podcasts. Those are probably closed to you. Not necessarily, but probably, just be aware of it. Low-cost items with low margin, those are going to be tough to advertise and you’ve just taken away half of the tools you have at your disposal.

Richard: You can’t bet, even though we would all love, you can’t place your bets on a viral video. We might be able to make a super cute video, but you can’t place your bets on that.

Jesse: If your product success is dependent upon a viral video or you getting on Shark Tank, as soon as I get this into Target, you can make it. I don’t wanna want to be negative here. You can make it, but that you’re setting yourself up for a lot. It’s a very high risk venture at this point. If you’re selling something where you can advertise, start building the base, get a customer list, much more likely road to success there. That’s why we mentioned the advertising. It’s not like we’re a shell for Facebook and Google, but it is the easiest and most proven way to build a business online. Rich, this is your favorite here. The next item is related to the price. It’s not just the price of the first sale.

Richard: Yeah, there are three ways basically to get money in a business and we covered one, which is to get a customer. And then we started to get into one, but it’s really just getting them to come back. If you sold Halloween supplies, you might be able to do it. And if you can do a lot real quick, that’s cool. But unless you also do costumes for I don’t know, theater or I don’t even really know. I can’t really think off the top of my mind. But that’s a one-time type of thing. I you might get them next year, so your repeat purchase is going to be all the way in next year. But back to the dollar shave club or whatever. If you can get a repeat purchase or like the Quip, we were talking about, every three months get a new new supply of the heads. So basically getting the lifetime value of the customer. We talked about an increased basket, we talked about getting a customer, but that repeat purchase and a lifetime value. The second one, getting a customer to come back again, that’s where a lot of the exceptions to the rule come in because you could technically, if you’re selling something that they’re going to buy every month for 200 bucks. I don’t know what this product is right now.

Jesse: I wish I knew, we’d get off this podcast. (laughing)

Richard: I think the food companies, the delivery, thought this was going to work. They just didn’t realize how many other food companies were going to jump in and try to do it. But let’s just run with that as an example. If you were selling something that was consumable, there was 200 bucks a month and they were going to stay with you for six months, nine months, a year, 18 months. You could pay more than the $200 to acquire that customer and it wouldn’t hurt you as much because you have these future, $1500-1600 however long they stay as customers. But yeah, the repeat purchase, that’s something that when it comes to passion or profit, I think that’s where we like the fanatical, you touched on that earlier. Those super fans, the fans that are just because they might buy things in different forms. They’re there. You’re from Minnesota, you love the Minnesota Vikings. So like if someone could buy your Minnesota Vikings Jersey, they get buy your calendar, you could literally buy so many different things. It doesn’t always have to be that same thing too, but just that lifetime value or repeat purchase, that’s a huge thing to think about in your business.

Jesse: Absolutely. Yeah, high price, high margin, repeat purchase, all good things. You don’t have to get all of them, but those are the things you’re looking for as you’re looking for new products. We talked a little bit about the size of the market. So the size of market, you want a bigger market like Miller machines. There’s only so many people that are buying a specific amount for a triangle for an orchestra. Now there’s way more people that buy drums, but then the higher up you go on the market, the more people you’re also competing with. So there is a sweet spot to the size of the market. It’s not always that the bigger the market the better because you’re just running into more competitors, but you want to get an idea of the size of the market. And the inverse of that is this is the niche. Yeah, you want a nice, it’s not really the inverse, I guess I would say it’s more, can you identify the niche, right? Like people that love whiskey, for instance, they’re probably put it in their Twitter bio or their Facebook, or they join Facebook groups about whiskey. There’re ways to identify them. Earlier, you were rested on the couch, and you had some special little gel packs under your back because you’re back hurt. And there’s a product for that. And it makes sense. But you did not join the Facebook group “My back hurts.” Yes, there’s a product, and there is a niche, but it’s probably not identifiable. It’s not identifiable; you can’t market to it easily. So it’s not just a niche that you’re looking for. You’re looking for it identifiable. And Facebook probably knows that niche. Probably they probably know that you need an ice pack, actually. But let’s not get too crazy. But you want it to be more identifiable without some crazy algorithm being able to pick that out of thin air. Competitors. It goes along with that when I mentioned the market size. So, yeah, you don’t be a too big market. You also just don’t want to go against these entrenched competitors so much. For clothes and things like that, there’re always openings. Stick with the toothbrush if you’ve got a great idea for an awesome electric toothbrush. Man, there’s a lot of competitors in there. It doesn’t mean it didn’t work for Quip. I’m saying both things. They were able to beat the Phillips, Waterpik, and all the other things. But now there’s a new big dog in there. And how many millions of dollars would it take to develop the next product to beat them? Probably a lot. Take a look at your competitors out there. I’m always surprised by people who don’t just Google it or put the name of the product on Amazon, what do you see right there? If the first page of Amazon looks like, “Wow, those are pretty good products, really good reviews, I don’t know how they made it for that price. I can’t make it for that price.” That’s probably not a good market. Just saying. And people don’t check this. And then, later on, they say: “Well, I can’t make it, I’m just getting killed by Amazon.” Well, you didn’t check it.

Richard: Yeah, it’s interesting. There’s one thing I thought of as you were saying that right now. Now, because, again, we’re trying to poke holes to find there’s always an exception. This is more of a thought-provoking in different ways for you to think about what product you should pick. But you could take that list that you’re referring to. You went to Amazon; you see: “Wow, there’s a lot of great products.” But if you took the time real quick and you looked in the reviews, and you start to see a common trend of: “Wow, everyone complains about this one thing that none of those people are doing.” You might be onto something then. Very much just exceptions to the rule that not trying to tear anything apart. There’s always gonna be; it just leads me back to… We won’t go deep on this, but it really is the importance of brand because it’s the one thing that is ahead of all these things, whether it’s a passion, profit, whatever. If you sell something and you’re just a commodity if you’re just going for the lowest cost and the fastest like you’re going to lose out someday. I can’t predict when that day is going to be, but you’re going to lose out, and it’s probably going to be to the big dog, the Amazon right there. Bezos said straight out he wants to carry every single SKU on the planet. When they get the data, and they know, and the only thing you’re doing is the lowest cost, it’s probably gonna be a race to the bottom. To keep in point with what you’re saying there, just. If you see a bunch of people is doing it, but you can do it in a different way, and they’re complaining across the board on all those products, and you can come in and do that and solve that problem, you might actually don’t know how long you have that wave because they got a lot of money. They might be out to fix it quickly, too. But if you created a brand around, you were the one who fixed that. You never know. It might be the very place to enter.

Jesse: For sure. Actually, that’s a very good strategy that other people are using — to use Amazon’s data to find those right products. So first, you’re just making sure that if everybody’s got 4.8 stars and everything looks good, then be a little bit of afraid as well. So just want to make sure that you don’t start spending a lot of money in that area, and you haven’t checked it on Amazon and or Google. It doesn’t take long. So please, please do that and just be aware. A couple of last items here that apply to both. These aren’t necessary, but do you know if people search for it? Meaning “search for it” like is there identifiable terms for it? Right. Electric toothbrush. OK. People do search for that. You can still have the best electric toothbrush. But if you complete creating a whole new category that people aren’t searching for yet, that’s going to be harder. It doesn’t mean you don’t do it. It just means people aren’t searching for your product. A little bit harder. Kind of related to that. Not related, but doesn’t look good in a picture. Like all the social media platforms out right now are generally visual. So if your product is going to stand out and look recognizable as people are scrolling with their thumb on a mobile phone, that’s a big advantage. If it doesn’t look that good or it’s sort of intangible or it, you just don’t even know what it is when you look at it, it’s a bit of a negative in this area. So have a good example there. But just think if there’s an influencer on Instagram that you see it in there like holding it up at the beach. That’s probably a good answer. If you’re like, “What is this weird industrial widget here? I don’t know what this is.” That’s bad.

Richard: It’s a good point. They talk about that. Let’s go back to Shark Tank for a minute. If you could have an amazing product that solves a problem, but unless you create amazing content. So this goes back to it. Would you sell a product that’s not necessarily amazing to look at? As far as the product itself. But when you finish the product. Jessie sells fish also. If he’s sold by just the picture of the fillet before it was cooked. Good luck. But here’s this product that’s finished. Here’s this nice looking recipe, a great picture in there that might be something that actually might sell. But where I’m actually going with that is. If the content is the cost of entry. And you have to explain your product. If you can’t make it look good in a picture, you better be making content that at least explains what you solve.

Jesse: For sure. You’re right.

Richard: There are just so many different nuances in this. Because it’s not just one platform to look at all these different platforms. It’s back to the passion and profit in the beginning. If you have so many different things, you need to do it. We both like passion. In addition to that, if you’re passionate about something, other people might be passionate about it. And that’s why you brought up that. Does it look good in a picture because you’re trying to get people’s attention to something that somebody else is interested in?

Jesse: Yeah. If Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tick-Tock, all these things, it relies on someone to recognize what this thing is in the fraction of an instant or their thumb keeps moving in scrolling up. It doesn’t mean it has to look good on Tick-Tock. But it’s going to help with a lot of products — all the items we just mentioned. You don’t need to have every single one of those. You don’t need a perfect fit for every single thing we talked about. Those are just things that I would think about. And I went into businesses that don’t meet all those things. And sometimes I kick myself later and sometimes it is what it is. You’re not going to get the perfect thing on these. Just be aware of those. And that helps. I hope it helps in your decision-making process. I talked about a bunch of the attributes that we would look for in a product to sell. Now, where the heck do you get these things? You have to create them at some level. You can’t just create them out of thin air. 3D printing is not quite there yet. Let’s forget that as an option. But my first area would be to check local. It depends on where you live. But generally speaking, somebody locally can probably help you make this product or at least some of the components of it. It’s gonna be so much easier to work locally. Of course, this depends. If it’s something crafty, you can probably find somebody local. If you’re making high-end electronics, you’re probably not making that here. You’re going to be on a plane, going to China, going to Taiwan. Of course, it depends. But in general, using local connections, local trades, people is probably a good place to start. Beyond that, they’ll go on. Just another step up is trade shows. I think a lot of people discount that, Google it. There’s probably a trade show for every type of category you can think of. They might do it a couple of times a year even. They might not have the perfect product, but they at least have something similar. And then you can talk to people and get that made. That’s if you want to stick to your own country, just look for the trade shows. That’s an easier tip there on a more on the easier side; less investment is dropped shipping.

Richard: That was an interesting one. I think we both have mixed feelings on that one. It’s great in that the cost of inventory, you don’t have to store the inventory. You don’t have to pay for everything ahead of time. But you build in someone else’s brand, and there could be a bunch of other people’s selling it. We talked about this a little bit before. How long now we’ve been here in 10+ years. Drop shipping’s dead. Then you get keep on seeing someone else come through and make it happen.

Jesse: Yeah. Exactly. “Drop shipping’s dead.” That’s been a blog title for so many years. And I still see business all the time making much money doing dropshipping. I’m like: “How do they make the margins?” But they do it. It takes unique to unique spots. Where I’d caution people is that if you are starting drop shipping by, you’re going to sign up with one of the big drop shippers. There’re a lot of people out there that do this, some that connect with Ecwid. If you are choosing a handful of products that really fit your store and your niche. Great. I think you can do something with that. If you said: “I’m going to choose every single product they have and just throw it on my site and hope for the best.” Boy, just hesitate a little bit. If you’re basically saying, I’m going to make a bad look in Amazon with higher prices and not the same customer service.

Richard: Good luck.

Jesse: Yeah. Good luck. Kudos if you can make it. I’m just sort of surprised. For me personally, dropshipping has some places where it might really make sense. Small niches or you are talking directly with the factory that they’ll drop ship on your behalf. That makes sense. I have done drop shipping in the past. It did work for a while. Dropshipping gets a lot of buzz in the market, so it can work. Just make sure to expand your mind beyond drop shipping. With that, my next example is actually drop shipping. (laughing) This is a different type of drop shipping. It’s more print-on-demand. So print-on-demand is actually drop shipping. But we have a connection with Printful. I think we have some other connections as well. We’ve had Printful on a podcast a while back. What they will do is they have probably a couple of hundred different items. But let’s just start with hats and t-shirts as an example.

Richard: Hats, T-shirts, coffee mugs. All the basics like that. But quite a bit more too. Let’s just stick with if you have the best idea ever for an awesome t-shirt; you might have a business right there. You don’t have to buy one t-shirt even to do this. You can get the design created, and then you can advertise like even an image of this. But you didn’t even print the t-shirt yet. And then as soon as it sells, they will automatically ship it for you for a fee. You can still make decent money doing that, and you actually hold no inventory. So for some people, I think it’s an awesome idea. If it’s a business just on that, that’s one thing. You can also, if you have a brand, and if you have a store and you also want to have T-shirts and hats, but you don’t want to have one of every size. Then this is a good opportunity as well to make a little extra money from a store.

Richard: This is a perfect one to bring upon this podcast with passion and profit. Let’s just go into that word profit for a little bit. That’s all relative. Some people want to completely change their life and be the next Internet millionaire. Their level of profit is going to be totally different. Then there could be someone listening to this show that if they could just make five hundred extra dollars so they could pay for a new car payment and some insurance. They would be perfectly happy. First off, we will keep in mind that. And the reason I’m bringing that up is. What do you want to be doing all day? If you’re creative and you’re looking at this print-on-demand thing and what you want to be doing is creating T-shirt designs, then this could be perfect for you. You won’t keep all the margin if you were buying the t-shirts yourself, and you were printing them yourself. But that might not be what you really want to be doing back to the passion side.

Jesse: Also be doing a lot of printing labels and going to the post office.

Richard: Exactly. In this case, you could just stick in your passion and be creating these designs. You don’t have to buy the T-shirts. You don’t have to print T-shirts. You don’t have to ship T-shirts. You don’t get all the margin. You get some of the margins. You don’t have to do a darn thing except do what you love doing.

Jesse: Yeah, absolutely, and I think I just want to make sure people are aware of this option. It’s a very good option if used, particularly if a question is “I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t know what I want to sell.” Well, do you have a good sane catchphrase, a brand or a logo, anything like that that you could just start selling tomorrow? It’s a good, good option for you. All right. So the next option is probably where a lot of people would make a lot of money. This is overseas. Hey, just a little newsflash here, a lot of products are not made in your country. As for the US, a lot of products are not made here. Just a heads up. It’s probably made in China, or it’s made in Asia. In order to tap that, there’s a lot of ways to tap that. But the easiest one is going to Alibaba. I guess we’ll call it a marketplace, but it connects Chinese manufacturers with the rest of the world. Almost any product you can think of is probably listed there. Be careful. If you go to Alibaba, do not within the first-hour wire somebody ten thousand dollars, that is just insane. Don’t do that. But do spend some time there. Try to find a similar product to what you have in mind, and then start talking to people, have a conversation. It’s probably gonna be over Skype. It’s gonna take a little bit there. You’re going to sort through some good and bad answers, and you can buy directly from there. The next level up from that is there’s a lot of brokers in there that will help you navigate China. It’s different, different culture. Just business is a little bit different. A lot of people on Alibaba are actually brokers themselves, so they are actually a front for a factory that may not be as savvy in the online world. So it depends on how big you want to be. If you’re saying: “I’m going to spend a couple of thousand bucks on some products from China.” You want to roll the dice, great. Just again, make sure you’ve done some research, check it out, make sure there’s a smell test here. Use your spidey sense, I guess. I don’t know. But if you’re spending, once you’re into the five figures and higher and you’re really serious about this, go to China. Go there, see the factory, make sure you see these products going offline. There’s another level of brokers that were are basically there to help people from other countries with translation stuff. So from the US, you want an English speaker in China that will help. They sometimes take a fee as well. Usually take a fear commission. But I’ve heard from people that actually they save them way more money than it costs them for the services. I don’t want to go way in-depth and to navigate China to buy your products. But there’s a lot of people that right now if you want to create a new product that you can’t find here, that’s probably the answer. And you don’t necessarily just need to navigate with Alibaba alone. You may want to go there. You may want to work with brokers that do that. If you’re more like searching about, there’s the Canton Fair. It’s outside of Hong Kong. I believe it’s in January, February, something like that. They are now called the biggest trade show in the world, I guess. Rich?

Richard: Yeah, Rob used to go there, there are quite a few people I know that go to that one.

Jesse: Yeah. So if you’re like: “Man, I’m really want to sell something. I have no idea what it is. And I have the time and the money to invest.” Just go there. It’ll be overwhelming. But you will find everything under the sun at one trade fair. We mentioned all the other. There’re a lot of other trade fairs for specific niches all around the world. But the biggest one is the Canton Fair. All right. Last one on the list of where to make your own products.

Richard: You literally can create your own.

Jesse: You can start with a block of wood, Rich, and a knife and you can carve a statue right now. This is real. This is an old school entrepreneurship. You create your own product. Stop talking about China and all this having somebody else. Make yourself make your own product. You are going to navigate the patent process. We’re not talking about statues. Yes, of course, you can make a statue yourself. But we’re not talking about crafts, talking about products. You can navigate the patent process, navigate the manufacturing process. We had a good podcast on this. Was that the Road Trip Potty?

Richard: Oh, yeah. So here’s the perfect example. Some people will ask, what are some of the things that can sell online? And you never come up with it. This was a mix, a hybrid of could you profit off of something that someone was passionate about? It was Road Trip Potty. And this woman just basically got stuck in traffic. And it was bad.

Jesse: You gotta go. You gotta go.

Richard: And she was so inspired because this happened, I guess, more and more frequently than she was like: “I’ve got to fix this problem.” And she created literally a little urinal for women.

Jesse: Female urinal.

Richard: To do their things on the road trip. She solved the problem. But would you dream that up? She had to go through that a few times. It’s not like: “I got an idea. I’m just gonna make this product for people.” But she’s been doing great.

Jesse: Yeah. And she went through the process of creating her own product from scratch. You’re talking about 3D modeling. The CAD process was the thing I was missing there and go to the patent process and find local manufacturers. That’s probably the vision we probably should’ve started with that because that’s like how people think it’s always done. The other answers we just gave you are really more of shortcuts or different alternatives to “I must invent a product and get it created and manufactured.” Yes, you can do that. That sometimes takes a couple of years. I think her process was several years to take that from idea to product to market. And by the way, there’s a lot of people that can help you with that process. I know she recommended the people that helped her out with the patent process specifically. We have some friends, colleagues that have used a company called Pro… Am I spelling that right, Rich?

Richard: I don’t remember the exact spelling. I’ll look it up real quick while we’re talking about.

Jesse: Prouduct. No, actually, it’s P-R-O-U-D-U-C-T. And you know, I guess we’re on audio, so it doesn’t really matter how I spelled it. (laughing) But just one example of. And there’s a bunch of people that can help you out. Take a product from concept through the patent process and then get a manufacturer overseas. So that can shorten that timeframe, but that can’t happen overnight, it can happen in the process of a few months. If you really have the best idea, have a little more money than you have time, I would look into people that can help you with product development.

Richard: Just to clarify, yes, it is Prouduct.

Jesse: Dot com?

Richard: Dot com.

Jesse: All right. Hey, give them a shout out. I don’t even know them personally. Rich, that was a pretty information jam-packed podcast there. Get some ideas that you want to run by, start a new business here today?

Richard: Actually, every time we do these podcasts, there’s always something I want to go start to apply. I remember now just how easy Ecwid really is. I’m gonna sit here and look through Google Trends and look for some more stuff. What can I throw up here before the holidays?

Richard: Perfect. It’s Friday. We can go have a drink here, takes ideas. What I’m hoping, if you’ve listened, I hope at this point you can not say, “I don’t know what product to sell online” or “I don’t know where to find products I saw online.” There’s a bunch of ideas. If it were that easy, everybody would already be doing it. You can have to do a little bit of legwork. But hopefully, we’ve given you 10 or 15 different places to start your journey. Get out there. Start selling. Rich, any other last little questions here? Last comments?

Richard: Now, that’s it. I’m just literally starting to look.

Jesse: I see. I’ve already lost you again.

Richard: I’m now signing up for another Ecwid store.

Jesse: Another brainstorming session here is about to start. So, everybody, hopefully, you’re brainstorming. Think of some ideas and already turned off this podcast. If not, get out there. Make it happen.

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