Hey there Sea Changers and welcome back to my series of posts outlining ways and means to create yourself an online business to fund that sea change. Today’s topic on how to sell home products online is a bit scary to be honest as I may have bitten off more than I can chew within the one post due to the sheer size of this niche. After all, regardless of how big a home is, there is just so much ‘stuff’ that goes into filing, maintaining and cleaning it. That means that there just has to be an online market for it right? We will check that out in a minute but if this is a subject that you are passionate about, then it may just be something that you can explore when it comes to setting up an online business.
So, can you make money selling home products online? Let’s check it all out…
How do we get started?
As I have mentioned above, the fact that there are just so many different items that go into a home does lead me to believe that there is probably a good online market for house related products. That said, I would hate to convince anybody to start their own online home decor or furniture business and have it fall away due to the fact that there is no interest in purchasing these products online. So as usual, let’s see what people are searching for:
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 home products and services online, 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, we will start with the basics:
Yep, just as I thought – interest is definitely there but it is spread out over a number of different needs such as home insulation, storage, safety and natural products. This doesn’t mean all is lost, it just means that our niche selection needs some good thought. Let’s check a different search:
Now that’s better – especially on such a direct search. Over 4000 total monthly searches and we can also see some good ideas here too such as people wanting to know when and how to buy furniture as well as some interest in second hand and bulk purchases. Let’s go a little deeper:
Wow! – I didn’t expect that – over 53000 searches per month on the term ‘home decor’. And who knew that Tuscan home decor was so popular? This also demonstrates how many different sub-niche options there are if you were looking to focus on home decor and/or interior design on its own.
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 home product related products are trending.
This is good! We can see that interest has remained steady – although I was pretty confident that this was no fad – and there are no spikes making it a really good year round opportunity. All in all, I really see a good opportunity here.
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What is our niche?
Ok, now the fun part begins! The statistics and screen dumps above have done nothing to change the fact that this is a massive niche with so many options within which to base an affiliate marketing business. The decision you have now is to determine whether you wish to create your online business covering home products in general or concentrate on a specific area or sub niche. There are a good number of different areas you could explore here – some examples include:
- Furniture – general or room specific
- Home Decor
- Healthy/Chemical free
And that is just some off the top of my head – I will probably think of a hundred more before I finish this post. However, all of these can be marketed from the point of view of the writer, or simply as a means of supplying information to those looking to purchase. I do tend to think that a generalist site is maybe a bit large here however a few of the above areas could be incorporated into the one. As you start to think about this, the question to ask yourself is whether the content you are covering is too large to discuss all angles 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 well.
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 home products of some description. If you don’t have either 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. Trust me, people will know immediately if your information is not up to scratch or even worse, can put the enjoyment or safety of their home at risk.
Let’s investigate this a little further by discussing the problem solving elements of niche selection.
Do you have your own niche in mind? Enter your keywords below to checkout your ideas…
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. This, added to your area of interest is a great way to work out exactly what you think you might like to base your online business upon.
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. Now think of this in a manner in which someone might have problems within the greater home products niche such as:
- You know that you want to buy a new outdoor furniture set but don’t know which is the ‘best’.
- You have a problem and need a solution – I.e. “I need to renovate my kitchen – where do I start?”.
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 bedroom furniture for your niche, then problems might be:
- Matching products to use– They want to know what mattresses are best for those with allergies.
- Which to buy – There are a number goose down quilts on the market – 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 interior design then you could look into the following:
- What is the minimum you need to ‘fill a room’?
- What paintings should I get?
- What accessories are needed?
- Should you consider a particular brand?
- When is the best time to buy new curtains?
- What type of wood is best for picture frames?
- How do I get that ‘Tuscan’ look?
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?
Now that we know our niche (or are at least working on it) and have an idea of the types of problems that we want to solve, there is one last thing to consider which is the online purchase behaviour of your targeted audience.
The first thing you would need to consider is exactly who will be looking at your site. The first group that comes to mind are those the constant ‘home improvers’ – those who like to know all about the latest and greatest ideas for home improvement and style. But what about home maker who just wants to get themselves a living room setting on a budget? Oh, and don’t forget those who want pure luxury – they will want a good understanding on possible returns on investment. Your sales/post pitches not only need to match the needs and problems that your site visitors are looking to solve, but also target them specifically as well. Some examples include:
- Those that are fitting out a newly acquired property to rent out will want to know exactly what they are getting and why it is better value for them.
- The luxury buyer will want detailed information – they will dissect your reviews with a fine toothed comb.
- Professionals will want to the best bang for their buck. And we all know what a poorly chosen couch pillow can do to the reputation of a stylist…
So at the end of the day, even though we do have purchaser behaviour on our side, to be successful in selling house related products 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 or accessories that might interest them!
- Provide the intangibles – One major disadvantage when it comes to selling anything online is that we can’t really know what the products look, feel and smell like – and this is especially important when it comes to home purchases. We can’t always see how it looks in place and words such as ‘dark wooden tones’ and ‘floral colours’ can mean different things to different people. Your posts will need to cover this information in a manner that puts minds at ease and explains some of the intangibles.
- Know your audience – A big mistake many make here is to target the product and not necessarily the buyer. This is especially important when dealing with a budget minded audience. It is very easy for example to get carried away explaining how great a bed is because it is cheap all the while forgetting that those intending to buy it are looking for something that is going to protect their backs. The same goes for high end options… Expensive doesn’t always mean better. 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.
How do we sell home products online?
And now we come to probably the most important aspect of this whole online selling caper in that we need to consider how we are going to sell the products that we have decided to promote. Depending on the product, there are a number of methods you can use to do this.
Let’s explore them below:
Affiliate 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 home products and then refer your readers to a link where they will purchase directly from the vendors. The vendors then pay you a commission for the sale.
Affiliate programs are especially good for those selling many home products online as you, as the affiliate marketer, do not need to hold any inventory or organise shipping. And in keeping up with the latest styles, you can move seamlessly through changes to taste and seasonal needs without needing to purchase and store the stuff yourself. This way you can promote/review the products that meet your target audience preferences and then refer your readers to the vendor to manage the sale.
Finding affiliate programs is generally not a difficult task either. To locate them, you would normally just type “Affiliate: home products” into your preferred search engine. However, my research has actually found this to be a bit hard to decipher so I have decided to break it down a little:
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options in regards to affiliate programs for home decor related niches.
And some good ones for furniture as well. As you search through them all, you can check it all out 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 or unsafe products.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangements.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
- Whether they have high ticket items you can promote on the side.
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 bed spreads” 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 home related products 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.
Dropshipping is something that may be of advantage to you in this niche if you are looking to play with pricing on your products (price is a big seller in this niche). 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 – see below.
- 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 searches for whatever it is that you are covering within your niche (as discussed above). The screen dump below is as example of drop shippers within the furniture niche from a search “dropshipping: furniture”:
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 – this may just mean that you need to organise the shipping yourself after it is delivered to you.
- 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.
Multi-level marketing programs
Multi-level marketing (MLM) programs are the mainstay of the ‘party plan’ world of products such as Tupperware, Mary Kay and Amway etc. and are commonly thought of when it come to the essential oils, cosmetics and clothing markets. And whilst not as prevalent, they have also started to make inroads into the home care industry with more and more MLM programs popping up throughout the world.
If you use them in their basic capacity, MLM programs can mirror affiliate marketing platforms in that you make a commission on every sale that you refer to them. It is however the secondary aspect of these programs – and where the multi-level influences come from – that can really boost your revenue earning capabilities. The process works as follows:
- You attract a visitor to your site and convert them to the sales page.
- They are offered an incentive to sign up as a member of the program (there are different names for this but they all mean the same thing).
- That new member is then placed ‘underneath’ you in a hierarchical arrangement
- You then gain extra commissions for everything they sell as well.
MLM is not an easy area to make money in, however the advantage of the online world is that if you do it correctly by providing solutions to the problems of visitors to your site, you don’t have to hassle (and alienate) all of your friends and family.
As mentioned above, MLM sites are not as common within this niche as some others, there are however some out there that can be again be found with some online searching – you will have to trawl through the 1000’s of MLM reviews but they are there. Examples within the Home Care industry include:
Sell your own
If you are more interested in selling your own products or services, then this is also entirely possible in an online business scenario. There are three main ways that this can be undertaken:
- White labelling – Here you actually purchase your product from a vendor or wholesaler, add your own label and then on-sell the products via your website or relevant platforms. This process is particularly popular with those more in the ‘decorative’ side of thing such as rugs, pillows etc where a label can be added and sold as personal product. Again, to find out where to acquire your product, do a search for “white label: product”:
- Offer a Service – This is where you perform a task that assists those within this niche such as:
- Interior Design – either by doing it yourself or teaching others to do it.
- Teaching/Training – how to make or repair furniture or other household items for example
- Build your own and sell – if you are more on the handy side, then make your own products and on sell them. This could be absolutely anything such as furniture, decorative items (curtains, picture frames, candles etc.) or cleaning solutions for example. Items can be made and then sold via a website or marketplace platform such as Amazon or Shopify.
These process requires a much higher setup costs as you will need to purchase or build your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders and shipment. If you are looking at the white labelling option, 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 markets or trade shows. 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.
What do we need to do?
Once we have all of the above sorted, or at the very least a plan in place, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our product. This can include:
Build a Website
If you are looking to build your online business as an affiliate marketer, drop shipper or supplier (or MLM if one is not provided within the program), then chances are you will most probably need a website. Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts and videos that people can view in order to identify the solutions that they need. This process is generally fairly simple and straight forward in that you follow a four step method to choose your niche (as we have discussed earlier) build your website, write posts to attract visitors (on the differences between certain types of scented candles for a dinner party for example), then provide links so that your readers can view/purchase the relevant materials from your links.
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Promote on Social Media
When it comes to home products – especially interior design, there is a good chance that many of those looking to solve problems are also reading social media to locate information as well. It has the power to reach thousands and allows you to target specific segments if you choose the correct platform. In terms of home ware related products online, a good platform to start with is FaceBook where you can discuss items with your audience, display products in use and show videos.
However, if you are looking to set yourself up as an expert within the niche, then Instagram and YouTube will be your absolute best friend – some even use these platforms without a website. These are great for visuals such as pictures and/or videos showing you discussing, building, decorating and repairing everything that there is to look at within the home. And, if you are able to build a following you may even get noticed and be paid gazillions to review home decor brands within your videos – this takes time, but it does happen…
Join like-minded groups
Anther great tool when it comes to selling products online are social groups. By getting involved with these groups you can really get a great understanding as to what its members are struggling with, what information they seek and what products they are looking to buy. Below is an example of home repair related FaceBook groups (again – obviously you can search for whatever subject you are interested in):
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.
And there it is – How to make money selling home products 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 home related website?
Are you looking for a comprehensive training platform that can give you step by step training, 24/7 support, tools to develop and host your very own website, ongoing assistance with SEO and social media and access to some of the best affiliate marketing minds on the planet, then click on the following link to read more about Wealthy Affiliate.
Until next time
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