(This is a response I wrote to a friend who asked, “I want to sell online using drop-shipping. How can I find a product to sell during a recession?”)
Congratulations on stepping out for more independence.
We’ve been selling online for about 5 years, and we find the freedom and flexibility it gives us to be wonderful.
I hope you can weather the frustrations (like you’ve encountered early) and reach some profitability.
I’m happy to help as I can.
We personally don’t do any drop-shipping, but we try to own and ship our own products.
However, I usually advise that you begin by selling a product that people buy… (An author once wrote about writing… “I usually try to leave out the words that people don’t read…)
Success in online marketing is the same as in a regular store: Have the Right Product at the Right Price at the Right Time.
I’m pretty confident that just about anything you select as viable will continue to sell during recessions.
If you had a regular store, then I’d worry.
But, the Internet is such a great, big, pool of potential customers, that you’ll pretty much always find plenty of people whose life-decisions have included your product as an essential purchase.
But, selecting products (or first markets) is the most important decision to make in launching any business.
Online is no different.
I usually advise that you begin the process by writing down areas that you enjoy or that you know something about. You can sell what you know better than what you know nothing about.
Credibility and authority are vital in an online business.
For example, I know about and enjoy tools and wood-crafting, but I don’t much enjoy fabric and sewing. (Sandi does.)
Both are sort of crafty and creative, but different people are attracted to each of these areas, and not many are attracted to both.
This begins to define an available market for me to try to serve.
Your list should include several to choose from.
Next, I think of all the kinds of problems, or solutions to problems, or gaps in what the market offers inside this market area. I try not to think from my own perspective, but from the general public.
(A fisherman doesn’t bait his hook with food the fisherman likes, but with food the fish like…)
I look online for forums or blogs that specialize in my selected market, and I review the postings and comments – looking for these gaps or opportunities. Look on Yahoo Answers to see what people might be looking for to buy.
This is all valuable research that will help you zero in on the right products to evaluate.
Then, you can begin to evaluate products in terms of price, profitability, and marketing methods.
Your Market comes before Product. Potential Profits come before Products.
Now, removing your own thoughts and feelings about what might be “cool” or desirable, select your product(s) to begin selling.
Your market should determine the products, not you.
You are only one out of the potential thousands of customers you need to please.
I hope this is helpful.
Please let me know how else I can help.