Hey there Sea Changers. Today finds us running through another post in our series covering the world of affiliate marketing possibilities as we investigate how to make money selling clothes online. The inspiration for this post actually comes from a little closer to home this time. You see my wife and I run a couple of little businesses and we are always trying to learn from people who have been there, done that and achieved success. This week we were reading a little book called Girl Boss by an amazing woman named Sophia Amoruso.
Sophia started out with an ETSY account and some clothes from the local Op Shop and turned it all into a multi million dollar clothing empire called Nasty Gal. From an affiliate marketing point of view, clothing is something that I believe will always be in demand and you could definitely do worse than have a read of this book for an idea on how to build an online business. That said, I have taken the inspiration that we garnered from this book and have tried to give you a quick outline here about how you can sell clothing online.
Now, the business model Sophia was using was to sell her product via online means but to handle all of the sales, shipping and customer service in house. This obviously differs slightly from an affiliate marketing arrangement where we are simply referring readers to clothing vendors elsewhere. As we go through this post, I will be covering the online sales side of things with some reference to both affiliate marketing and the sales of your own product depending on where you would like to go with it all. So, with that in mind, let’s have a look and see if there is any opportunity to create an effective online business selling clothing…
How do we get started?
Usually at this point in a post like this I would be explaining that we need to check out if there is a possible market for these products in an online world. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I am pretty sure that the answer here would be a yes however as this is a fairly highly competitive niche to get into, we will do some investigation into how we may be able to differentiate ourselves from the pack.
So, before you get started, let’s consider the following:
Is there a market?
Again, we know there is a market there. However, as we get moving into this stream of business we really need to make sure that we are hitting the right market within the online clothing world. I.e. What are people currently looking for? Now you don’t need to go too deep into things here as you will be revisiting and refining things as you start to narrow down to your niche however in order to check out the market at this initial stage, there are two things you can look at:
1. Number of monthly searches
To start with, let’s see how many people undertake clothing related searches online per month. To do this, 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 look at clothing:
We can see here that there are roughly 193261 searches for ‘clothing’ per month. In my opinion, that is a good amount to prove that there is a market. However, I think a niche just on clothing is a little too broad so let’s try and narrow it down a bit and look at baby clothes:
28994 searches per month for baby clothes – again, there is a definite market there. I did some others as well:
- Maternity clothes – 12551 monthly searches
- Ladies clothes – 4793 monthly searches
- Business clothes – 970 monthly searches
I think we are no to something.
2. Growth trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to ensure that your site can be evergreen and that there is a constant market. To gain an insight into this let’s check out how the above searches for clothing are trending online.
So we can see here that over the past 5 years, clothing based searches have remained steady without any huge drops or spikes. This is a great sign as it not only shows that interest has been maintained over this time frame, but interest is not waning. The lack of huge spikes (whilst can be a good sign) also shows in this case that we are not looking at a fad product or market.
What is our niche?
Now that we know that we have a market, we need to start looking at breaking down our market into a niche. As listed above, there are a number of different types of clothing that you can discuss with, and sell to your readers. However, as I have already mentioned, I feel that a site that simply sells clothing is a little too broad, so we may want to investigate whether we need to target certain segments of our market in order to:
- Make it easier to attract specific visitors.
- Narrow our market if we can’t possibly cover all aspects of such a large market.
- Create our site and brand for specific areas.
- Stand out from the other sites marketing the same product.
For example, you may choose to write about clothing for babies, maternity, sports, men, women, weddings and so on. Of course, if you are already making your own clothes, then this decision may already be made for you. If it is an area that you are passionate about but don’t really have a clear idea on where you want to go, then I would suggest starting a little broader and letting your content guide you. Alternatively, let’s revisit our maternity clothes search in our keyword tool:
We can see a few searches here that can assist us. There are searches undertaken for fall clothes meaning we can run through the seasons, casual, luxury, formal and so on. So if you were looking at maternity clothes as a possible niche, then here are some good ideas to write about.
Whatever it is that you may be considering, ask yourself the following:
- Is it evergreen– this means that it can never go out-of-date or style.
- Are you able to solve a problem– Most people undertake searches on the internet to solve a problem – see next section.
- Does it have some, but not too much competition– Another way see if there is a market is to see if you have any competition. If not, then maybe it is because no-one is buying.
- 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 selling clothing online. If you don’t have either of these, maybe consider another market as, to be honest, you might struggle to continuously write solid content if you don’t know much about clothing – or worse, have no interest in fashion.
What problem are we solving?
We have covered some of this in the previous section around determining our niche, but I wanted to explore it with you in little more detail here as it is such a critical influence in attracting people to your site. Think about your own search behaviours when you are online when it comes to clothing– 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 what you want but are not sure which one to choose – i.e. “I know I want a summer dress but I really don’t know which one to buy”.
- You have a problem and need a solution – i.e. “I have a formal wedding coming up and I just don’t know what I should be wearing”.
Your goal here is to determine just what problem/s you are trying to solve for your readers. This may be one problem that spans your site or differ for each post that you write. For example, if you have chosen maternity clothing for women for your niche, then problems might be:
- Seasonal – maternity wear for hot and cold weather
- Pregnancy progression – maternity clothes to wear at 4, 12, 20. 30 and 39 weeks
- Post Partum – clothes to wear home from the hospital, for the first month etc.
In these cases, women 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 sports clothing, then you would be addressing the fact that I know I need sports apparel but don’t know which ones are best for the types of workouts I do or sports I play. You would then be outlining the best items for each aspect of the subject such as:
- Gym workout
- Particular sports
- Protective equipment etc.
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.
What do we need to do?
Ok, so now that we have 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 products. This can include:
Build a Website
Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts, videos and/or ‘how to’ demonstrations that people can view in order to identify the solutions that they need. Usually, this process is fairly straight forward when tackled from an affiliate marketing point of view. You build your website, write posts (on the benefits of a particular undergarment for pregnancy for example), then provide links so that they can purchase them directly from the vendor.
However, if the clothing you are selling are items that you have either created yourself or imported/purchased to on sell (as per Nasty Girl), then you may decide not to create a blogging website as such rather setting up your own store on another platform such as Amazon, ETSY or EBay – we will discuss these in more detail soon.
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 if you choose the correct platform. In many cases, social media is used to drive traffic to your website rather than work in isolation. Alternatively, special media platforms such as YouTube can be used without the need for a website. It all depends I guess on where your target audience likes to hang out.
If you were planning to forgo the website (and hence lose search engine traffic) and just use ETSY etc. then social media is the means by which you would promote your online shop and products. This is also critical here as one of the problems that you may face in trying to sell clothing online is that people may want to know what they actually look like when worn before they purchase. Visual and interactive sites such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram have proven quite effective within this niche.
Join like-minded groups
Regardless of the niche, there is usually some sort of social media group, online forum or membership page that you can join to gain you exposure to potential visitors and sales. Many groups that may be the target for the online clothing market are popular on FaceBook (mothers, baby groups, sporting groups, wellness forums etc.) and can not only allow you to interact with customers but also gain more information and education in terms of content ideas for your posts or products.
How do we sell them?
Ok, so we have an idea that we want to sell clothing online, that there is a market and that we need some media within which to promote them. So now we need to consider what products we are going to promote and how we are going to sell them. Let’s have a look at some of the best avenues to do this:
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 also available within the clothing market. If you use them in their basic capacity, MLM programs 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.
And yes, the less-than-glamorous name for this method of commission based selling is a pyramid scheme. The advantage of the online world however 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 that family.
Whilst MLM sites are not as common in the fashion/clothing industry as some other areas (such as cosmetics and essential oils), there are some good ones out there. However, almost all are higher end fashion products aimed primarily at women. Some of the more popular MLM programs in this niche include:
Cabi is a retailer of high end and ‘trendy’ fashion products as well as jewelry and accessories. Commission is around 25-33% commission on personal sales as well as a share of those you introduce.
W by Worth
Also known as just ‘Worth‘ this company also specialised in luxury apparel and accessories. Commission rates vary but Worth pride themselves on their training and support networks.
Essential bodywear are a party plan based retailing company selling lingerie, undergarments and some dresses and pride themselves on their ‘real women’ sales strategies. Commissions on personal sales are around 37% with other commissions available for referral consultants.
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.
To find affiliate programs in the supplements space, simply type “affiliate: xxx clothing” into your search engine. Below are results for baby clothing:
And Maternity clothing:
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 product.
- 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 clothes is unfortunately not generally a good enough answer).
- How you plan to promote their products.
These programs can be very good for newer sites rather than the MLM examples above as there are no sales triggers. That said, some marketplace programs such as Amazon and EBay can give you access to the bigger brands listed above without the need to join their membership programs – worth a look for sure.
Tip – Why not have both? Many clothing sites will run under the MLM setups of the major vendors but also include affiliate links to other supporting products such as jewelry, handbags and other accessories.
If affiliate marketing or MLM programs are not your cup of tea, maybe you could try white labeling. This is a process where you actually purchase ‘brandless’ fashion products from a vendor, 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 however will affix the labels that you send them and then manage the packaging and shipment for you. This will cost you less to set up but obviously you will make less on the sale once they take their processing fee.
To find these, a simple search for “white label clothing” found the following (again, you could narrow this down according to your niche and search for options such as “white label baby clothes” or “white label sports clothes” etc.):
From here you will need to follow the same process as with affiliate programs in determining whether they:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products
- Have solid delivery and customer service arrangements.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
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 see and try your products, they can purchase from you there and then be directed to your website for future sales.
Marketplace stores basically sell you an online sales space within their platforms allowing you to sell the products that you have either purchased (via white labeling or importing) or made yourself. These platforms will allow you to:
- Display your products.
- Manage sales and shipping.
- Incorporate promotional sales and discounts.
The advantages here over creating your own website are as follows:
- The site are well-known hence already generating traffic.
- You do not need to do any website creation or SEO.
- The sites are trusted.
- You can add and remove products based on your own choice rather than at the whim of affiliate vendors.
- You can track and monitor well and poor performing products.
The main sites in this category include:
Amazon is one of the most popular ways to sell a product online. Listing your product with Amazon gives you access to a worldwide customer base in the hundreds of millions with websites in 15 countries. Products are sold via categories and for a little extra, you can even get them handle your shipping and customer service processes for you. You can sell on amazon with or without your own website.
The advantage of its size here however is also its downside. Unless you have a specific niche product, you may potentially be in competition with 1000s of others selling the same or similar products. You will also be paying a fee to Amazon for the privilege so you will need to make sure your price point is high enough to make a profit after fees but low enough to compete.
For more information in regards to selling on Amazon, click here.
What started as a simple auction site has grown into a multi-billion dollar a year empire with sites domiciled on over 26 countries worldwide. The inception of the “buy it now” option allow you to sell your product for a fixed price rather than having people bid for it. If you have more than one product you are also able to set up your own ‘store’ where you can display them all in the one place.
As with Amazon, it is easy to get lost in the crowd with eBay so you might need to do a little more fancy work to stand out from the crowd but again, you don’t need your own website. Check out their fee structure carefully however as there are tiers based on the amount of listings you have, the cost of the product and whether you use any of their ‘extra’ services such as your own online store or promotion of your products. For more information on selling on eBay, click here.
Is your product more on the creative side? Then ETSY might be more up your alley. In fact, the easiest way for me to describe it is to take simple copy and paste the lead line on the ETSY page : “If it’s handcrafted, vintage, custom or unique, it’s on Etsy”
As with the others, there are plenty of tools and processes to allow you to set up your own shop and promote on social media as well as 24/7 support. Also as with the others however there are fees which can add up to about 10% of the sale price. For more information on selling on ETSY, click here.
If you are looking at taking your online selling processes to the next level or creating your own marketplace then shopify is a good place to start. It is a complete online commerce platform allowing you to handle all aspects of online sales including product management, inventory, payments and shipping. It can also be set up to sell in multiple places including social media, amazon and eBay etc., physical shop fronts or through your own website.
You can start shopify with a 14-day free trial. For more information, click here.
And that is only a small list, if you want to try your hand at a smaller niche specific marketplace then do some searching. There is more than likely one for you!
And there it is – How to sell clothing 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 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.
Alternatively, if you wish to see what all the fuss is about, click on the link below to watch me build a website from scratch in just 7 days.
Until next time
Note: If you make a purchase from this page, there is a very good chance that I make a commission from it – these commissions do not increase your sale price.Follow me on Social Media