Week 5: Let’s start a business together.
Want to make extra money? Want a job that is flexible? Read on!
We’ve all heard of eBay, Amazon, F21 and ASOS. The big names of what is today’s most popular online shopping sites. How can we start something that is smaller in scale, something that is what we call a one-man basement “company”?
As a student, I didn’t have enough to spend (well, we all didn’t, huh?). I kept thinking about how I could earn extra cash, while staying in school and that’s when my business mind lit a lightbulb in my brain.
What is it?
My definition: An online shop, hosted on free blog sites, selling everything and anything.
In my time, blogshops were hosted on free blog sites such as livejournal and blogger. Advertisements were free, simply tag your link and what you sell on other people’s blog or blogshops.
Now, blogshops can be hosted anywhere with the advent of social media. Facebook is one very common and convenient site for blogshops.
What you need to consider:
1. Decide what you want to sell
Things that people normally sell ranges from accessories, apparels, quirky gift ideas to baked goods.
2. (A) cheap source(s) of wholesaler(s)
Source for a wholesaler, because they sell items in bulk and often at a much cheaper price. Here are a few that I’ve heard about: Taobao, Cityplaza in the East, Bangkok, Daiso, and Peninsula Plaza. Basically, you just need to develop a keen eye for good and cheap things that you can profit from selling.
3. Some computer skills.
Learn the basics of HTML, at least. You need to spruce up your site to attract customers, and more importantly, to leave a good impression. It would be good if you know how to edit photos, headers/banners. These skills are very easy to pick up, you just need to be interested. You can try Youtube for videos and tutorials.
4. Some photography skills.
It doesn’t matter how good your stuff is, if you cannot portray it nicely to customers. You need a decent camera, a clean and simple background, decent lighting and correct angle. Take a thousand photos of the same thing if you must, choose the one that represents the item best in real life. Remember, no sloppy photos.
Also, at this point, decide if you need pretty girls to model your clothes. You can ask a pretty friend for help.
5. A name
Think of a name for your shop. Something that rhymes, or something that is catchy so that it is easy for customers to mention and remember. Coin a word if you must, make it really simple and nice.
6. Social Media/free blog hosting site
Create an account on any of these sites with the name you came up with. Secure a domain name that you find appropriate. You can try FaceBook, Blogger, WordPress, Livejournal or even purchase a domain when it is on sale.
7. Email address
Create an account with any email providers, this is the email customers use to communicate with you. Placing of orders, confirmation, updates, anything of that sort.
8. A list of contacts
Establish a network and create a buzz for your blogshop. If you are on Facebook, you can tag or add friends of friends of friends. If you are on a blog hosting site, try to get as many email addresses as possible.
9. Decide if you want to invest, or conduct pre-orders
Most customers look for in-stocks, meaning you, as the shop owner must have existing stocks on hand. Customers are less willing to wait for items to arrive like in pre-orders nowadays. Pre-orders are preferred by shop owners because there is no need to provide any capital, the capital is provided by people who purchased the items.
Pre-orders will work, if the items you are selling are unique, in trend or if it is in demand. It will also work if you are buying in bulk from an online store, like Forever21 or Victoria’s Secret (you can earn via exchange rate, handling fees and postage).
10. Payment method
Bank Transfer: They will transfer you the funds, and provide you with reference number and transaction time
Cash-on-delivery: They will make payments on the delivery of their items
Visa/Master: They will make payments online via Visa/Master, you do need to figure out how to incorporate that into your site
Paypal: They can make payments via Paypal
* never divulge your bank account number on your website, give it to them in the email after they have confirmed their orders
11. Decide if you are willing to do meet-ups, cash-on-delivery, self-collection, delivery or mail.
Meet-ups: You meet your customer somewhere to pass them their item that they paid for prior to the meet-up, you may charge extra for places that are inconvenient to you
Cash-on-delivery: You meet your customer somewhere to pass them their item that they will pay for when you meet-up
Self-collection: Your customers collect their items that they paid for at your house
Delivery: You deliver the items to the designated address, you may charge extra for this service
Mail: You mail the paid items to your customers via regular/registered mail, you may charge extra for postage needs
Here are the more established blogshops in Singapore.
Check out how their names are so catchy and classy, they all started out from livejournal and blogger, and as business got better, they moved on to buying their own domain. As of now, most of them have their own physical shopfront. Some of them are even hiring part-timers and models. That is how good their business is.
Okay, good luck guys.