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Discovering What Sells Online - Part 1

Nov 12, 2007
This is a popular question, asked especially by those who are just starting out in their online business. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a fixed answer to this. Google this phrase and you'll get a list of search results that seem to be answers. Read on, and you'll likely discover that there aren't ANY definite answers. You'll probably get ideas and suggestions on what you CAN sell online, but no one shows you solid proof on the returns you can expect to get.

Of course, if you are considering information products, you'll find loads of them from affiliate networks such as http://Clickbank.com or http://Paydotcom.com. Your point of evaluation would probably be the one-page pitch page, which more often than not, is filled with overzealous copywriting vying for your attention. In fact, each product is positioned to be money-making solutions that are close to being miraculous and instant. Everyone seems to be making a fortune online easily, except you! Also, while http://Clickbank.com provides data such as % gravity, % affiliates to help you select a product, it's still a challenge to pick out a product that truly works.

In the end, you take the plunge and start promoting some these products anyway. It's tough as you change from one product to another, draining some of your exuberance (and capital) away each time. Finally, you wonder if it's ACTUALLY possible to make a living online.

Does that sound close to an experience you've had? Perhaps you have been selling tangible products on http://ebay.com, but to the same effect?

The key to Discovering What Sells Online is to explore it from a different perspective. Here's what you need to do:

*Look at the big picture

Selling stuff online very much emulates the real world. You want your store to be at a high traffic area, such as a busy mall, with streams of passers-by. In fact, your store needs to be in a strategic location so that you'll get noticed.
The same concept applies online. Is your product not selling because you fail to draw traffic to your website? Did you set a website in a "location" where no one visits? In the online world, generating traffic is the key to online success. The opportunity to sell something arises only when people actually visit your site. Only then would the quality of your product count.

How then can you generate traffic?

Online traffic is directed from search engines or links from other sites. To get your website linked favorably, you've got to have a website with high quality and relevant content. This means that you'll need to have some knowledge in search optimization strategies, and be able to produce good content on your website.

*Is your product in demand?

If no one is interested in your product, or if there is low demand for your product, then there is no point selling it. Again, the same offline principle applies here. For example, if you are selling summer clothing during winter, you would undoubtedly sell fewer quantities than if you were to sell winter clothing. Similarly, if you promote satellite dishes to consumers who already have cable and internet television, you would just be wasting your time.

How would you know if a product is in demand?

With research. I would also say by word-of-mouth, but at times, buzz may be misleading. So, I'd always fall back on research. If you are selling a tangible product, you can always check out eBay's Marketplace research or http://Terapeak.com. Check out the quantities sold of specific products, and their prices. Also, check out sales statistics for the past year. Some products are only "hot" for a season, and don't sell well thereafter. In general, two major categories with high sales volume on eBay are Consumer Electronics and Women's Clothing.

On the other hand, if you are selling an intangible product, such as an eBook, look at sites such as http://CBTrends.com. http://CBTrends.com extracts information from http://Clickbank.com, and displays them in an easier-to-analyze manner. Here you'll find charts, historical and current data as well as statistics that are excellent in giving you a feel of product performance. Look for products with significant sales, aren't TOO popular, new, average gravity, average or high dollar value per sale (important if you are using pay per click advertising) and low or average in percentage referred. The objective here is to find a new product that HAS been sold before, is not really represented by too many affiliates and has a significant dollar value per sale.

In part 2 of Discovering What Sells Online, I'll discuss ideas on:

*Producing your own online product
*Exploring product reviews
*Ways to make your product unique
About the Author
Samantha Tang is the owner of http://www.what-sells-online.com, a site that helps aspiring internet marketers discover what to sell online. She shares her experiences, ideas and approaches towards online marketing, as well as tips and product reviews on products.
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