There are more and more ways to sell online popping up all the time.
It’s never been easier to reach the masses and sell almost anything to people around the globe.
Not only are there are a variety of platforms to list items, but there are ways to earn a full-time income by selling online.
When I was little I used to take an empty cardboard box and turn it into my store.
I’d stand in the “window” of my “store” and peddle my belongings to family members during holiday gatherings.
My goods started with stickers until I began mass-producing friendship bracelets.
Clearly, I was a born entrepreneur, and the birth of eBay was like a dream come true.
What am I not, though, is a salesperson. In fact, I’m usually good at talking people out of buying things.
So, as much as I love the idea of having a store, it has to be online only for me.
Here are a few ways to sell online
Amazon Private Label
Have an idea for a product? You can have it made and list it for sale on Amazon.
Want a product, but don’t know what to make?
There’s software out there like Jungle Scout (affiliate link) to help you find product suggestions.
There’s a lot to learn about Amazon Private Label, and I haven’t done it myself yet.
It requires more money than I’d like to risk and a lot more knowledge than I’ve yet to learn.
However, people are making serious money with Amazon Private Label.
Amazon Private Label Pros:
- No inventory – goods are typically shipped from the manufacturer straight to Amazon. Products are stored and processed all from one of Amazon’s many warehouses.
- Less marketing – since products are for sale on the most popular store in the world, a lot less marketing is required. Everyone and their grandmother knows about Amazon. So many people go straight to Amazon without looking elsewhere. It’s an online marketplace they trust and know they’ll get their product in a jiffy.
Amazon Private Label Cons:
- Competition – Amazon Private Label has been around long enough to garner some serious competition. Software exists to show people how to pick successful products. If you do launch a winner product, the chances are good someone will quickly find it, tweak it, and launch their own version.
- Cost – Most of the work from home businesses I mention require more of a time investment than financial. Amazon Private Label requires both time and money. It will take time to properly learn how to be successful with Private Label, research products, negotiate with manufacturers, get the product made, send it to Amazon, and then wait for sales. You’ll have to pay the manufacturer up front or once it’s complete. So, you definitely have to have some money to float during this process.
- Risk – Your product could fail. There’s absolutely no guarantee that your design will sell at all. Your items could arrive at Amazon damaged. There are also liability issues to think about. What if someone gets hurt using your product? Definitely, do your homework.
- Control – Not dealing with inventory is a huge plus, but if you’re a control freak like me, it may also be a con. I like to look at and touch everything before shipping to a customer. You’ll probably receive a sample of your product while the bulk of it is sent directly to Amazon.
If I seem negative about Amazon Private Label it’s because I’m afraid of it. I am an over-thinker and a worrier.
I don’t mean to discourage anyone interested in it, only to suggest you do a lot of research before diving in.
If you launch the right product, it can be life-changing and possibly passive income for years to come!
Most of us have sold unwanted items sporadically on eBay, but did you know people make a full-time income reselling?
Reselling pros scour local thrift stores, resale shops, garage sales, estate sales, and more to flip items for a profit online.
Use Amazon FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) if you don’t want to deal with inventory.
The fees are greater, some categories are restricted, and it’s difficult to get good profit margins with Amazon FBA, but it is still an option for reselling products.
Create an online store on eBay or other platforms depending on the type of product(s) you focus on. More on that to come.
With this option, you have to deal with storing, shipping, and processing the items.
- Fun – If you love to shop, reselling is a ton of fun. Download scanner apps for your phone and head out on a deal hunt solo or with friends.
- Scalable – Reselling is really all about the hustle. The more you get out there, the more you stock your store and increase your chance for sales.
- Competitive – Another space that’s a lot more popular and quite competitive.
- Have to go out – In my experience, retail arbitrage is a lot more profitable than online arbitrage. You can find deals online, but there are programs and bots that usually beat you to the punch. Big players are behind those bots with big money to buy profitable items in bulk. Not all introverts are hermits like me, so get out there and explore to find better profit margins!
- Active – This is a very active income stream. Unless you blog or vlog about your journey, not much income will continue should you stop working.
- Space – If you choose the eBay route, you need all kinds of supplies and a place for inventory. If you use Amazon FBA, you still need boxes and shipping supplies.
Want to run a store and deal with zero inventory?
Dropshipping is a magical way to do just that.
Dropshipping allows you to be the middle-man between the buyer and the product.
Someone buys from your store, and you purchase it for them elsewhere.
There are a couple of ways that I have tried dropshipping, and neither of them were for me at the time.
This might anger some people, but please know that I’m only sharing my experience, which happens to be frustration and disappointment due to my impulsive nature and bad timing.
Dropshipping with Shopify
Create a Shopify store and use Oberlo to connect to Aliexpress.
Using a Chrome extension, it’s beyond easy to add products to your store and fulfill orders.
You can also use a WordPress plugin and Woocommerce for a similar setup.
Shopify Dropshipping Pros:
- Platform – If you don’t have a website or blog, Shopify is a user-friendly platform to create a store.
- Automation – Using the right tools and extensions can help you seamlessly process each transaction. So much of the process can even be automated.
- Margins – Most of the items on Aliexpress are crazy cheap. When you list the item in your store, it’s marked up enough for a substantial profit margin.
- No bulk purchasing – Unlike Alibaba, you don’t need to buy in bulk to save on Aliexpress. I had no idea this was possible until running a Shopify store, but you can buy a single item if you want. Spoiler alert — anyone can buy a single item — no store required.
Shopify Dropshipping Cons:
- Fees – Shopify has a monthly fee and many of the add-ons are additional. The monthly fee gets expensive if you’re not selling enough products.
- Marketing – Unless you have an existing audience, you must learn how to run ads. For the love of everything, this is where I failed the most. If you don’t learn how to set up a Facebook ad that converts, it’s easy to burn through money in no time. It’s not as easy as “$5 per day in Facebook ads,” so please learn this before doing anything.
- Quality – Since the items on Aliexpress are so affordable, they are often low-quality and cheap. Oberlo does a good job of vetting the products, so if you go through them to choose products, it’s safer. Although, I recommend ordering each product for yourself first. This way you can see the quality for yourself, measure the shipping time, and take unique photos and videos to stand out.
- Time – Shipping time can take weeks to months depending on the buyer’s location. As I mentioned above, order the item for yourself to measure time. Be crystal clear about shipping time on your store to prevent unhappy customers. The more you disclose about the item, the better.
- Taxes – Depending on the country and state you live in, you might owe sales tax as well as income tax on every item you sell. There are programs like TaxJar (affiliate link) to help pay taxes in each state. Do your homework on this before you get in too deep, as well. I’d even suggest talking to an accountant.
List an item you do not have possession of on eBay.
When someone buys said item, you then purchase it elsewhere.
You’re essentially buying the item for them, again playing the middleman.
Dropshipping on eBay Pros:
- No inventory – Dropshipping is an excellent option for people who don’t have space for inventory.
- Small startup cost – It costs very little to start dropshipping on eBay.
- Scalable – You can hire VA’s and put systems in place to scale your eBay store much larger than with reselling.
- Tools – Software and tools exist to streamline the ordering process.
Dropshipping on eBay Cons:
- Against TOS – Um, perhaps the biggest con is that eBay doesn’t like dropshipping! I only did dropshipping on eBay for about a month and lost my Top Seller Rating. Some people are okay with this, but I’m a rule-follower.
- Shipping time – Unless you’re using Amazon (which also doesn’t like dropshippers) to fulfill orders, the shipping time might not please your buyers.
- Competition – I feel like a broken record. The more people who learn about all of these income streams, the more competitive everything gets. Most people are using tools to find the best items to list.
- Stressful – This is my opinion only and based on my experience, but dropshipping on eBay stressed me the F out. There are too many steps outside of my control. When will the item ship? Will there be a receipt with the price on it in the box? Will the buyer get mad if they realize I literally just bought this for them?
- Low margins – This business plan is based on quantity. Since you’re only making a couple bucks or so on each sale, the goal is to crank them out.
- Store issues – Typically when the billing address and shipping address are different, it raises a flag. When you’re placing multiple orders per day and shipping to multiple locations, this raises a flag. If you order several things on your credit card, flags are raised. All of these things can throw a wrench in your process. I had orders canceled, credit card companies call me, and other issues that caused delays. Most of the commonly-recommended stores for fulfilling orders with eBay dropshipping don’t want people dropshipping, so you also have to lie to their customer service.
- Sales tax – Again, in the US, you will owe sales tax. You have to learn the rules of each state, fill out forms, and factor that into your prices if you want to avoid surprise fees down the road.
I feel like I sound like such a Debby Downer, but it’s because I dive face first into things like this and I want to warn others.
There are so many “gurus” out there that make it all sound so easy.
There’s a lot more to know about all of these online businesses.
Some of the reasons that dropshipping was not for me is simply a personal preference.
I’m a control freak, rule-follower, and honest to a fault.
Too many of the processes involved fired up my anxiety.
If you do your research and learn a ton before starting a dropshipping business, it can absolutely be an amazing way to work from home.
Just go in with eyes wide open!
I hope to have an online store again in the future.
With the lessons I learned, I’d prefer to attach a store to an existing website instead of hosting on Shopify.
Ideally, it will be our own digital products for easy delivery and passive income potential.
Have you tried any of these ways of selling online?