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Four secrets to online-selling success


From Amazon to Facebook, Etsy to eBay, and countless other platforms, there are more options than ever for artists, crafters, and anyone else looking to sell items online.

But where you list your items is only part of the battle. Whether you’re an entrepreneur building a business or you simply want to make a little extra money with your creations, it’s important to think about how you list and promote your items, too.

An engaging, attractive listing makes people take notice: Even if it doesn’t result in a sale today, you’ve quite possibly planted a seed for tomorrow — many shoppers will be intrigued enough to return later, check out your other items, or even share your listing with friends.

Those things are far less likely to happen if your listing is boring, or if nobody sees it. And the worst part? You might not ever know, because shoppers aren’t going to tell you why they didn’t buy from you. They’re just going to keep shopping.

The good news is that it’s not hard to create better listings and spread the word about them. It just takes a little thought and some effort. Here are four ways to make sure your items stand out.

1.      List your items where it makes the most sense. For example, if you sell handmade arts and crafts, a dedicated store on Etsy could put your items in front of the right audience. If you’re a high-volume seller, the massive traffic of Amazon might be your best bet. And if you want to keep things local, options such as OfferUp, Craigslist, or even Facebook neighborhood groups give you the ability to target specific cities and regions with individual items. Don’t limit yourself — if you like, choose a combination of sites and cross-promote! (For an overview of several popular platforms from NerdWallet, click here.)

2.      Take better product photos. You can still have great images with your listings even if you don’t have expensive camera equipment. Shopify — yet another online selling option — has a very helpful blog post about how to get the most out of your smartphone camera. A few quick tips: Shoot against a white or light gray backdrop. Use an inexpensive tripod for stability. And if possible, choose a location that features natural light. (For more recommendations, see the full Shopify post.)

3.      Write to your audience. Even well-written descriptions won’t resonate if they don’t speak to your ideal buyers. Think about who they are, their personalities, what drives them. Then, don’t just list features and measurements — talk about the experience your item offers, and have some fun if it’s appropriate. For instance, here are two ways to describe a wallet:

o   This small, convenient wallet, made of genuine leather, makes it easy to carry the necessities.

o   Isn’t it time to break that receipt-hoarding habit? Our ultraslim wallet is made for people who don’t need to carry more than an ID, a little cash, and a couple of credit cards. (Whether you know it or not, this means you.)

Which sounds more interesting? Try a few descriptions in your listings that differ from what you’d normally post. You might be surprised at the response. (Learn more here.)

4.      Don’t be shy. You’ve got great photos and descriptions. Now you need to attract an audience, and that requires promotion. If you have an online store, build your brand with dedicated (and cross-linked) social media accounts — and add fresh content regularly, such as links to new listings, product photos, information on special deals, maybe even a video of you creating your items. Consider advertising on Facebook and other platforms as well. Finally, don’t forget the classic tactic of asking friends, family, and satisfied customers to help spread the word.

But whatever you do, do something. When you give people different ways to engage with you, you’ll grow your audience — and your business. (Here are some great ideas from Etsy.)

Remember, as your sales volume grows so does the time-consuming burden involved with filing your sales tax returns. Avalara TrustFile saves you time and headaches in preparing, filing, and remitting your returns. And there are other ways to simplify your business operations such as our shipping partner ShipStation, which makes order fulfillment a breeze.

So go ahead — get more of your work out there in the world. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve got a thriving online store, we’ve got you covered.


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