Hey there Sea Changers and welcome to my post on how to sell fishing equipment online. From the start I have to admit that this post is one that is close to my heart as I am an avid fisherman who regularly makes the trip to the water’s edge with some neighbours where I live. And as is usually the case for me, the motivation for this post actually came from one of the guys the other night who turned up with these new super-dooper lures that he had bought… you guessed it… online.
Now unfortunately the lures were not as super-dooper as we had hoped however it has occurred to me that fishing gear is something that could really be managed as a good online business. The main reason for this is that fishing is something that we either:
- Know what we want so just need to get it bought – such as a particular line type or hook size.
- Need some advice on something that we are not doing well – such as what to use to catch Mahi Mahi.
And as these two questions alone are enough for at least 20 posts. It is also a solid member of the hobby niche so I would be fairly confident that if it was something that you were interested in building an affiliate marketing business around, that you could make some decent money from it. So, on that note, let’s check it all out…
How do we get started?
Now as usual, before we get started let’s just confirm whether there is a market for this online. Based on my own experience, I am guessing that there are a few out there like me who would rather purchase these items from the comfort of their own home rather than fighting our way through the store. I may be wrong however so let’s just see if there is really a call for this type of thing:
What are people looking for?
To start let’s just confirm our market numbers:
1. Number of monthly searches
As we are looking to see if there is an interest in the purchase of fishing equipment/gear online (so we can sell them), let’s start by checking for purchase related searches. You will need to find yourself a good keyword tool (I use Jaaxy) and enter in the keywords that best describe your market. In this case, let’s start with the basics:
Nearly 7000 searches is not bad – there are some good search numbers in niche related areas as well – fly-fishing and ice fishing (not visible on screen dump) both attract a great number of searches. Let’s now check for different wordings just to be sure.
I am happy with this. All in all, the figures above show a nice little niche to work with. It does also show how large this niche can be as we see good searches for Salmon, Bass and Carp fishing gear within the list above also – we will discuss this in more detail below.
2. Search Trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to check that interest is maintained over time. To gain an insight into this let’s check out how the searches for fishing equipment are trending online.
So, from the graphic above we can see good numbers for both the terms fishing equipment and gear. So what does this tell us? Well let’s break it down:
- Interest in purchasing fishing equipment/gear online hums along nicely all year.
- There is a pronounced spike in interest during the year – from what I can see these spikes are in the summer months of the northern and southern hemispheres.
All in all, I really see a good opportunity here.
What is our niche?
Ok, now the fun part begins – we need to start looking at breaking down our market into a niche. Based on the stats above – and others from my research – I tend to think that fishing unto itself is such a large niche that you may struggle initially should you choose to run a generalised site. That said, it you did there is certainly enough ‘fodder’ there to keep you running for years and years. Should you decide to narrow your targeted niche down a little as you start out however there is a great range of topics that you could consider. Examples include:
- Specific fish species
- Fishing locations (beach, river, lake etc.)
- Non fish specific equipment and accessories
- Tackle, rods and reels or nets
- Clothing and other accessories
- Fishing charters (if you wanted to add some high ticket items to your page)
As you start to think about this, the question to ask yourself is whether the content you are discussing is too large to cover effectively. The risk here is that if you start with a niche that is too broad, you may not be able to cover everything to the level required or to become authority on the subject – which you will need to be if you are going to convince people to purchase from you and not their local store. Don’t forget, you can always add a new section to your site as you grow.
As you work through narrowing your targeted niche, consider the following:
- Are you able to solve a problem – Most people undertake searches on the internet to solve a problem – see next section.
- Is it a subject that you have an interest, or knowledge in– I am guessing that you are in this post as you know about, or have an interest in fishing, or something closely related (you might be in the camping and outdoor niche for example). If you don’t have any of these, maybe consider another market as to be honest, you might struggle to produce solid content if you don’t know much about it – or worse, have no interest in fishing at all. Trust me, people will know immediately if your information is not up to scratch or even worse, they can’t get their hands on the correct equipment for the fish they are trying to catch…
Let’s investigate this a little further by discussing the problem solving elements of niche selection.
What problem are we solving?
If this is a niche that you are interested in, you may already know what it is that you are trying to sell. If not, then maybe start to look at it from the perspective of solving problems.
Think about your own search behaviours when you are online – I would hazard a guess that most searches you do are in order to solve a problem. These can be in a number of ways such as:
- You know that you want to buy gear for deep sea fishing but don’t know which is best.
- You have a problem and need a solution – I.e. “I need help setting up my rig for fly-fishing”.
Your goal here is to determine just what problem/s you are trying to solve for your readers. This maybe one problem that spans your site or differ for each post that you write. For example, if you have chosen beach fishing for your niche, then problems might be:
- Matching products to fish types – They may want to know what the best hook size is to catch salmon off the beach – you would outline these with recommended hooks to match.
- Which to buy – There are a number of fishing rods for beach fishing – but which is best?
In these cases, people would be searching for those topics based on having a problem and needing a solution. Your site would outline and review the best options for them.
Alternatively, if your site is about what to wear when fishing, then you could be addressing problems such as the fact that I know I want to go fishing on a boat at night, but I don’t know what gear I would need. You would then be outlining the entire range of gear that they may need such as:
- Water proof gear
- Lamps/head lights
- High visibility requirements
- Warm gear
- Lightweight gear
- and so on
Note: You do not need to identify every possible problem that your readers may have straight away. In many cases, the more you write, the more ‘problems’ will present themselves so initially you really just want to make sure that there are some that may need solving as we have found here.
How are you going to convince them to buy?
Normally at this point I talk about how important it is to consider the issue of consumer buying habits – but based on the guys I know who purchase their gear online – within this niche this is critical. As I have mentioned, this is a market where people will purchase online as long as you are able to match what you write about to the real needs of your readers. Some examples include:
- Those that are looking for the most cost effective option – such as parents looking for fishing gear for their children – will want to know what is the best bang is for their buck. Highlight value for money and how the products you are promoting will give joy and ease of use to their family.
- Those looking for advice and assistance will want to know that your information is sound and not going to put them, or their expensive gear at risk. Ensure that you know the level of expertise that your posts are aimed at
- Avid and/or professional fishermen will want to know everything about the products you are discussing or promoting in detail – Make sure you are covering the specifics such as sizes, strength, species made for, benefits and so on.
- The weekend warriors (such as your truly) will want to know all of the information covered in the previous sentence and if you could also give them a little tip on something that may work for them, then do it – just don’t bore them with the basics of how to fish.
So at the end of the day, even though we do have purchaser behaviour on our side, to be successful in selling fishing gear online, consider the following:
- Solve problems without purchase – That’s right – write your posts in a way that actually makes it easier for people to do their research and buy elsewhere – by doing this, you are solving problems and helping readers out. If they trust you, they will be more likely to return next time and buy from you then – especially if you follow up with posts on similar or compatible products that might interest them – or a number of tips that might just help them bag that big one – never underestimate the power of bragging rights amongst fisherman!
- Provide the intangibles – The good thing about most fishing gear, especially if you are dealing with tackle etc., is that your readers generally do not need to touch or feel the products prior to purchase. If you are aimed at the family market however, whilst you may not need to have them feel what the fishing rod is like to hold, you may need to sell them on the idea of fishing in the first place. In this case sell them on the feeling of catching a big fish (remember those bragging rights), or what you can get for the kids to almost guarantee a catch of some sort – kids brag about numbers – not size. Your posts will need to cover this information in a manner that puts minds at ease. A good picture of a smiling child holding a fish they have caught will go a long way here too.
- Know your audience – As we have already discussed, the biggest mistake you can make here is to target the product and not necessarily the buyer. This is especially important within this niche where there are just so many different levels of ability and passion. It is very easy to get carried away explaining how this is a great product because it is cheap all the while forgetting the sturdiness aspects of it – salt water is a killer of fishing gear. The same goes for high end options… Expensive doesn’t always mean more fish. Make sure you do your research on the buying behaviours of those you are targeting before writing your posts.
Tip: Still not sure? Have a look and see what others are doing. It might just help you with some ideas.
What do we need to do?
Ok, so now that we have an idea in regards to our niche and know some of the problems that we can investigate, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our product. This can include:
Build a Website
When it comes to selling fishing equipment online, you are usually going to require a website of some description. Whether it be one you create yourself, or one that is set up under a bigger marketplace site such as Amazon, EBay or ETSY, websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts and videos that people can view in order to identify the solutions that they need.
Usually, this process is fairly straight forward in that you build your website, write posts (on the differences between certain types of surf fishing rods for example), then provide links so that they can view/purchase the relevant materials from your links. And whilst you can certainly do affiliate marketing without a website, I highly recommend you look into this avenue if you plan to build a fishing related business online.
Promote on Social Media
Social media is a powerful platform that can allow you to get your message out there into the big wide online world. It has the power to reach thousands and allows you to target specific segments of your market if you choose the correct platform. In terms of selling fishing gear online, social media is a perfect platform to show off the catches that people are making with your equipment. I mean within my community you always know when a big fish is caught as it is all over FaceBook.
Another good platform to start with is YouTube where you can discuss items with your audience and even demonstrate them in use. And if you are selling tackle, why not give a lesson on how to tie/use it. Visual platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram can also be good for showing pictures of your target audience in contact with your products – great for those intangible family vibes that we discussed earlier.
Join like-minded groups
Now without sounding condescending, fisherman love a good social group (I am telling you, the brag factor is a real thing). These groups can be found either online or as part of exhibitions and trade shows. By getting involved with these groups (online avenues such as FaceBook groups are much easier for this) you can really get a great understanding as to what they are struggling with, what information they seek and what products they are looking to buy. Some examples of fishing groups are below (they are obviously geographically based):
Note: Many of these groups will not allow you to spruike or promote your sites directly, however if you can interact and demonstrate your knowledge then people will ask you directly for the information. At the very least, as above, it is a great way to get ideas and insight into what people in this area really want to know about and what they are buying online.
How do we sell them?
Ok, now we come to probably the most important aspect of this whole online selling caper in that we need to consider what products we are going to promote. When it comes to selling fishing equipment online, there are three main methods that you can look into:
- Affiliate marketing
- Drop shipping
- White labeling/wholesaling
Affiliate marketing programs are setup directly by companies or marketplace platforms (Amazon, Ebay etc.) that allow you to join and then refer traffic to them via customised affiliate links. In short, this means that you will write about fish and fishing and all of the fun to be had and then refer your readers to a link where they will purchase directly from the vendors. You then make your money via commissions from those vendors.
To find affiliate programs in this space, simply type “affiliate: fishing” into your search engine:
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged if you promote poor quality, fake or unsafe products.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangement.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
In most cases, you will need to apply for the program before you are allowed to promote their products – don’t take this step lightly or you will be rejected. Affiliate programs will generally want to know:
- Your website name.
- Traffic levels.
- Why you want to join – (so I can make money by selling your fishing rods is unfortunately not generally a good enough answer).
- How you plan to promote their products.
One thing to be aware of here I guess is to keep in mind the issues we discussed earlier in regards to selling this gear online. You need to make sure that the programs you choose can be trusted and that the consumer is comfortable that they have recourse if something goes wrong. For this reason you will need to make sure that your chosen programs are going to resonate with your readers and your niche. That said, some marketplace programs such as Amazon and EBay can give you access to these types of products and as they are more trusted, then they maybe worth a look for sure. Some Amazon examples are as below:
Dropshipping is something that may be of advantage to you in this niche if you are working with larger items such as fishing rods and storage etc. This process is similar to affiliate marketing in that you are generally promoting the products of others without the need to actually hold any inventory. With affiliate marketing, you are paid a commission on whatever price the vendor sets but do not manage any customer service, sales processes or post sales requirements. The main difference with dropshipping, is that you perform the following (there are a number of variations to this but this is the guist of it):
- Strike a relationship with a wholesaler.
- Promote the product for whatever price you see fit – often via a marketplace site such as Shopify, Amazon or Ebay.
- Manage the sales processes and customer service.
- Send the final order and payment to the wholesaler for packaging and shipping.
The money that you make is effectively the difference between whatever you managed to sell the product for and the wholesale price that you owe the vendor. The other advantages of dropshipping over affiliate marketing is that:
- You own the customer list – which is another means of building an effective email list.
- You control the cost of the product and hence the profit margins.
- You can control when you put things on ‘sale’, group them in packages or increase the price for high demand items.
The disadvantages however are the extra workload in handling payment and any ongoing customer service requirements.
To find dropshipping suppliers online, you can enter “fishing: supplier” into your favourite search engine:
Note: These results will usually be based on your geographical location.
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Offer dropshipping services – Not all product suppliers offer dropshipping as a service.
- Have experience and are helpful – If they are not helpful and/or appear inexperienced then you can expect the same when you are trying to process sales.
- Have acceptable fees – most dropshipping wholesalers will charge a small fee for the dropshipping service – just make sure it is not so high that it eats into your profit margins.
- Provide fast shipping – One disadvantage with dropshipping when dealing with vendors is that the customer is yours, not theirs hence sometimes shipping priorities are not where they should be – make sure shipping times are acceptable.
- Have quality products – as with affiliate marketing, don’t sell rubbish.
- Have a good name – do your research and see what others are saying about them.
Sell your own
If affiliate marketing or dropshipping are not your cup of tea, maybe you could try sourcing and selling your own products. This process is especially popular with those selling smaller items such as tackle and clothing etc. and commonly referred to as White Labeling. Here you can either make your own, or purchase your product from a vendor or wholesaler, add your own label and then on-sell them via your website or platforms such as Amazon etc.
This process requires a much higher setup costs as you will need to purchase your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders and shipment. Some wholesalers/vendors will affix the labels that you send them and then manage the packaging and shipment for you (see dropshipping above). This will cost you less to set up but obviously you will make less on the sale once they take their processing fee.
Again, to find out where to acquire your product, do a search for “whitelabe: fishing”:
Note: These results will usually be based on your geographical location so you may at times need to sort through a few pages.
Also, as it turns out, White Label is the name of a popular European fishing site – check it out – some good ideas on there – especially on how to use YouTube on an affiliate marketing website aimed at fishing! So with that in mind, and the fact that it took up most of my search pages, I did adjust my searches a little and looked at “wholesale: fishing:
From here you will need to follow the same processes as with affiliate and dropshipping programs in determining whether they are a good fit for your business plans including:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have solid delivery and customer service arrangements.
- Have good testimonials covering service and quality of product.
Alternatively, keep your eye out in your local area for fishing or hobby related exhibitions and swap meets. These are a great way to find and purchase your products at good prices – you never know, you might even find a solid supplier for future sales as well.
Tip: This method can be very effective in driving online traffic and sales via the implementation of more traditional sales methods such as kiosks and market stalls etc. As people get to know you, they can purchase from you there and then be directed to your website for future sales.
And there it is – How to make money selling fishing equipment online. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own fishing based website?
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Until next time
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