eCommerce: How to Become a Part-Time Freelancer on the Cheap
Every human has at least one talent that they enjoy. For most of them, it is only natural to turn this talent into a hobby. Some people, however, manage to reconcile career and talent, but these cases are rare – especially if the talent is discovered later on in life. The thought of it being too late is wrong. It’s never too late to turn your hobby into a job and found an avocational business with eCommerce.
Not everyone is able to throw everything away, and jump right into autonomy. So this article is a golden thread for everyone that plans to slowly go freelance while keeping their day job.
The first thing is always the question: what do I even want to sell? You either produce something yourself, or you resell goods. Of course, the former takes more effort and requires individual skills. The latter, however, is less complicated but takes a lot more capital. We will focus on a self-produced product, as our goal are minimal costs. All recommendations made for self-produced products usually apply for selling third-party goods as well, though.
Now, you have to decide what exactly you want your product to be. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a product that seems to sell well, but is outside of your talents. A lot of quality would be lost, and work would become frustrating over time. Stay authentic, and find something that you’re good at. No matter what you choose, your product should meet three basic requirements:
- It can be made at home (no additional rooms have to be rented).
- No additional workers are required. (Whether you want to include your family or not is up to you, but, before the cooperation, agree on potential payment – instant, or only in the case of success.)
- No expensive, additional machines are required (this doesn’t include sewing machines, or large cooking pots).
If your product meets these requirements, you can continue with the next step.
Even with a part-time activity, you won’t get around a detailed market analysis. Knowing if people are willing to buy your product is essential. To figure that out, you should first check the competition in your niche. If there are lots of providers, it’s a sign that an individual demand for your product exists. At the same time, however, this might mean that the market is already saturated. If your product is very innovative, and there are very few to no competitors, this can be a sign of an unsatisfied or lacking demand.
As you can’t draw any clear results from simply analyzing competition, it’s important to create additional context. To do that, you should directly contact your targeted customers. Surveys, and internet research in relevant forums may help you gain a detailed image of your client. Now, all you need to do is find out where to find these customers, and go there. The next step takes some courage: ask your clients what they think about your product. What else would they wish for? How much are they willing to pay for it? This type of feedback is invaluable and will help you adjust your product to your customer’s wishes. As an additional advantage, your research will also show you places where you should advertise your product.
The price makes or breaks your autonomy. It has to be high enough for you to profit but mustn’t scare off the customers. Due to your spadework, you already have an idea of how much the customers are willing to pay. Now, you can also check what prices the competition demands for similar products.
An important thing to keep in mind when deciding on a price is your costs. Every product causes costs that you have to cover with the price. Costs divide into two categories: overheads, and variable costs, Overheads always accrue, no matter how much you produce. This includes things like rent. For you, the variable costs are even more important. These are the costs for each product you produce. Used material and shipping cost are classic members of this category. Many part-time freelancers forget to calculate their own work time. Even if you do everything yourself, work time is a resource that should be included in the price. Otherwise, you’re just stealing your own money.
Equipped with the market price level, and the cost calculations, it’s time to find the balance between the two. The price ideas of the customers could help you here. In the end, you should make a profit. After all, this is supposed to be worthwhile.
You know what you want to sell. You know who you want to sell it to. You also know what price you want to sell it for. Now, there’s only the question how you’re going to sell it left. Assuming that the production site is limited (your flat/house), you usually won’t open a store. Then, the easiest option is an online trade. A digital shop space removes geographical limits. Thus, you can sell your product to everyone that you want to sell it to. Normally, designing, and marketing a professional online shop would take a good chunk of money. So why not profit from existing online shops? Usually, they offer a system called drop shipping. Here, the online shop offers your product on their page, taking care of ads, billing, and first level customer contact. Now, if a customer orders one of your products, the online shop hands that order over to you. Now, you have to take care of packing, shipping, and possible product returns.
The customer pays, and everyone is happy, as the online shop usually takes a share of the turnover. Although you’d probably prefer keeping 100% of the turnover, this type of distribution is worth it, especially in the beginning. As you don’t need to care about ads and the shop, you have time to optimize your business processes. As soon as these are set up, and you have some profit on the side, you can deal with your own online shop. Typically, both models can be operated at the same time.