Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Self Employed | What To Think About Before You Sell Online

Selling your own products, whether online or on the high street, is the thing of the decade. How do you get started and how do you make a business out of it? Reality is the anchor to your hot air balloon of a creative mind - and you'll soon find that neither part can exist without the other.

Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | What To Think About Before You Sell Online

Before you sign up for a website and start shouting out about how great you are, take a step back and plan your big debut with some easy steps to ensure you are a stable and secure business heading for great things.


Creating Your Brand Identity


Branding should be your first project when you're planning on selling products. First and foremost you need a name for your brand. This is not to be thought of lightly. Not only should this name explain the personality and purpose of your brand, but it also has to be unique and most importantly it shouldn't be one that's currently being used by someone else! When you're happy with your choice, don't forget to register your new business and name with companies house too. Think about social media channels when you're creating a business name. Are account names available? This will take a lot of work but you'll be relieved when it is all sorted!

As well as your brand name, you should start thinking of a tag line. This is a short descriptive sentence about what your company does or is about. We're not expecting a 'Just Do It' top-level slogan, just something that can be used across product packaging, your website, or your social channels. Keep it simple, short and sweet.


Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | What To Think About Before You Sell Online - Oh, Bother
Branding doesn't stop here, next you have to think about the look of your brand. If you're a designer, maybe this was your first idea? If you're not a designer and you want to take your business seriously, think about hiring someone to help you with your branding. Steph B offers cheap and cheerful packages for small business who are just getting started, so have a chat with her to see what she could offer you. Keep your eyes on the blog for future posts on where to get started on designing your own brand.

Product Creation and Selection

 
It's likely that your products will follow a theme or style, whether it's clothing or stationery, kitchenware or toys. Make sure that what you are planning on selling is something that you enjoy making and creating. If you get 6 months down the line and realise you hate what you do, you can feel defeated and unsure of what move to make next, so take the time to consider what you really enjoy doing or personally love buying - you're in no rush!


Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | What To Think About Before You Sell Online - Felt Mountain Studio



When you are a few months into planning, take a step back and look at what you're doing realistically. Would you buy these products? This is why branding is so important. You'll realise as you go on that an identity is what engages people. If you're a real person who is passionate about the products they make and sell, this will shine through your brand and people will love to buy from you. Be honest with yourself and ask if what you're making is what you really want to be known for. Go by the rule of design 20 things - only sell 10. Not everything you make is going to be good enough to sell straight away and you'll know this once you get started.


Choosing your first products to sell can either be great or a bit of a toughy - it differs with everyone! Whilst you should have every right to free your creative mind and do whatever it wants with paints, fabrics, wood... whatever, there is also an element of control that needs to be applied to your creative process. 


Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | What To Think About Before You Sell Online - Capola Live The Adventure
  • It's impossible to do every single idea that pops into your head, so find what you're most skilled at and leave the other bits to the people who are better at them! 
  • If there's something you really can't stop thinking about, do a course and slowly incorporate it into your current products until you're confident to dedicate a whole range to it.
  • Find a balance between what sells, and items that you yourself would like to buy.  
  • Don't follow trends TOO much as whilst they seem great at the time, the more established businesses usually tend to get on it first and have more throw away funds in order to get the sales. 
  • Find ideas that can last and mix them up with fun, perhaps cheaper, bits that can mix and match with your other items. 
  • If you have one item that doesn't go down too well, chances are you will have others to fall back on. Keep an eye on sales and don't worry if something doesn't sell too well, just reassess your products and start again.
  • Work with the seasons and holidays, as these will help keep your sales up and keep you on top of what's trending.
Ma Bicyclette: Self Employed | What To Think About Before You Sell Online - Felt Mountain Studio Happy Autumn
Pricing

When sellers are starting out you find that they either undercharge or totally overcharge. Product pricing is a combination of factors, and you should take all of these into account when pricing each individual product.
  • Your hourly rate is one of the first things you should consider. In a full time job you may earn between £8-£12 an hour in your first year. Self employment is a lot more risky and you can afford to set your hourly rate higher and stand by it proudly.
  • Cost of materials and equipment should be the base price. This includes the physical material that a product is made out of and anything you use to develop the product - paints, ink, thread etc.
Hourly Rate + Material Costs = Price of Product
  • Checking out competitor pricing is a must. Whether you want to compete with other sellers or not, the competition will always be there, so keeping ahead of the game will always benefit your business.
  • Think about how much you would be willing to pay for the item if you hadn't made it. If you're worrying about undercharging or overcharging, ask friends to say how much they would personally pay for a similar item.
Good luck getting started on this exciting new venture and check back soon for more posts on selling your own products online!
Steph B & Steph H 

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