Making money online involves selling something.
It doesn’t have to be your something that you’re selling, and you might even be just promoting or advertising for that something.
The thing is, it isn’t actually that easy to work out what products to sell online, particularly because there are so many different options.
Have you ever taken the time to stop and look at what is offered online?
Even if you just take a look through Amazon or Clickbank you’ll see a huge variety of products (and sometimes services) that you can promote.
But, not every product is profitable, and you need to be careful about your product selection and the company behind the products, otherwise you will end up with products that you simply cannot sell.
For the moment, I’m going to assume you are looking at promoting the products of other people, although I will cover making and selling your own products briefly at the end of this post.
The Process for Finding the Perfect Products
The very first thing to consider about selling products is whether you will be physically stocking them.
Some people do try the approach where they buy products cheaply then resell them on an online store, making a profit from the difference.
This can be an effective way of earning money, but it is also very risky.
There are a lot of additional costs such as having the physical space to store products, shipping fees and the need to order product before you know exactly how much you are going to sell.
Personally, I don’t think this approach is good for anyone getting started at making money online.
Really, it is only a good approach if you are already experienced at website building and know how to drive traffic to your site.
If you are looking at physically storing and shipping products, then you need to look at how much space they take up and whether they are profitable.
However, if you are taking an affiliate approach or are selling only digital products, you don’t have to worry about any of that.
When you are trying to figure out what products to promote, here are a few key things to take into account.
What’s the Market Size?
Your market size is the number of people you are potentially selling to.
If you have a broad niche, this number is probably quite large, while it will be much smaller if your market is narrow.
As always, market size is a trade-off. If your potential market is too small, then you will have a lot of difficulties actually finding customers.
However, you may stumble upon a market that is small and unique, which does actually have some advantages.
An example of a large market would be a site that targets pregnant women.
There is a lot of flexibility in that type of site, and the types of products you can promote are also very varied.
A site with a small market might be one that targets pregnant women who are interested in sci-fi.
Clearly, there is a lot of difference between these two markets, and the first one has many more potential customers and products than the second.
However, the small market site does have the potential to be entirely unique.
If you target a small market, you have the potential to sell a combination of products that simply aren’t found elsewhere, and that can really make your site take off.
Additionally, unusual sites can often be easier to promote, because of their novelty. This really does work in your favor.
You need to know your market size because this plays a key role in defining the products you choose.
If you have a large market size, then you want to be looking for products that have a wide appeal.
If your market size is smaller then the focus should be products that appeal to your audience.
This brings me to my second point:
Who is your Audience?
If you are going to sell anything, you have to understand your audience.
Otherwise, you are trying to sell products without having any idea of whether the audience is actually going to want them.
You might get lucky sometimes, but in general, this isn’t a good strategy.
The more you know about your audience, the better you can meet their needs.
In particular, you should be trying to meet needs that aren’t being met elsewhere or meet needs in a unique way.
This means that you shouldn’t try to develop a website that sells basic towels or the same type of clothing you can get at Walmart.
Knowing your audience will help you to figure this out and you can even talk them about what they need.
One good way of doing this is to ask people about the problems they have.
Often, this information will help to inspire you about a particular product or give you a whole new direction in your ideas.
Know Your Competition
Your competition plays a huge role in how successful your site is.
You really do need to seriously look at what websites are competing in the same niche as yours and what these have to offer.
You won’t be successful if you simply develop your own site that basically sells the same products as your competitors. Instead, you need to be doing something different.
If you can’t figure out a different angle, then that may be an indication that the market is too competitive, and you may want to look at a different niche.
Product Quality and Price
Think about shopping in a store.
What things do you look for?
Most of the time, you will want the product to be of good quality and a decent price.
You might sacrifice some quality for a lower price (or vice versa), but you won’t normally buy an expensive product when there is a lower priced one of the same quality.
The same applies online.
When people shop online they have a lot of information at their fingertips and they can comparison shop better than ever before.
If your product doesn’t stand up to its competition, your audience is going to know, and that will affect your sales.
This means that you need to pick products that have a selling point. There needs to be a reason for people to buy that product over what else is out there.
A really good place to start is would you buy the product? Why or why not?
If you wouldn’t personally buy the product, think very carefully about promoting it.
If you have any hesitation at all, think about why.
You really want to choose a product that you can promote convincingly without having to lie about it or omit information.
The thing is, if you choose a product and make it sound much better than it is, you are going to end up with some very frustrated purchasers.
In some cases, they may be able to get a refund, which will directly affect your commission.
Even if they don’t get a refund, you can be certain that person won’t buy from you again.
Repeat customers are one of the strongest assets that you have in an online business, so you want to make people come back, which really involves being honest about your product.
The Value of the Product
Products have multiple types of value.
Their value comes from how much the seller charges, how much a consumer is willing to pay and what they are actually worth.
For some products, it’s pretty easy to work out their actual value.
Cameras, computers and game systems are all examples of this.
If people can directly compare your product with another one, or compare the specifications of your product with another, then they are going to do this.
When this happens, it lowers your chance of making a sale, because you’ll only really make one if your product wins in these comparisons – and most of the time it won’t.
The trick is to pick products that can’t be easily compared. In particular, you need to look at products that are experiential.
This basically means that there is a degree of experience involved with the product, rather than just being something that people use.
This experience is important, because you can’t put a dollar value on it, and you can’t fully compare it to anyone else.
A good example of this is movies or books.
When you see a new movie, what factors make it a good movie for you?
What ones make it a bad one?
Most people make their own opinions on a movie based on personal factors and their opinion won’t be the same as everyone else’s.
Have you ever loved a movie that a friend hated?
I know I have.
In reality, there are very few movies that people agree on, and even then, there will always be someone who disagrees with the majority.
If you can pick products with this pattern, then it should be much easier to promote the product than to promote a product with a set value.
There are actually lots of examples of products that have some degree of experience, such as mementos, books and even services.
When you figure out what products to sell online, you need to be looking for products that meet the needs of your readers and are different in some way than what your competitors offer.
For any website, there are many products that are likely to be effective and profitable, and many more that are not.
Figuring out the best products does take time and effort, and you will probably get it wrong a few times.
However, even your mistakes can provide you with information about what your readers are interested in and this can help you to refine your product selection for the future.
One of the best approaches that you can use to support your product selection is to talk to other internet marketers.
Often, a fresh set of eyes can give you a new perspective that you just hadn’t thought about before.
Personally, I love the community at Wealthy Affiliate for this, because there is a good combination of experienced and new people who can provide you with the advice you need.