How To Sell Online Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 of this article covered what to sell and where to sell online. Here are some more thoughts about online selling to keep in mind if you decide to try it.

Listing items in an online shop isn't the only thing that you have to work on. The main thing that will make a shop succeed or fail is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. You’ll have to learn enough about this scintillating topic to make your shop be “findable” in search results. I’m a bit of a marketing geek, so I actually enjoy this part of the process, but if you don’t you’ll have to rely on direct referrals from your social media, and that takes more work on a daily basis.

There are definitely people whose SEO stinks, and who still sell a decent amount of items. But as I mentioned, they're the ones who have a large social media following to begin with, and they're sending that following directly to their shop by posting on social media. Direct traffic doesn't require any SEO at all, but it's not the way to reach the most people.

On top of that, Etsy has its own search engine, which works differently than Google's does. To sell successfully on Etsy, you need to understand how their SEO works, as well as how Google's works. It adds an extra layer to the puzzle.

I once offered to help someone who had a huge social media following with their Etsy shop because I looked at her SEO and it wasn't the best. One of my suggestions in her case was to put her items on her website, as opposed to having them on Etsy. Her following was large enough that she should have been able to support her own sales without having to rely on Etsy's platform. That's an unusual situation, though, and most people would benefit from being on a platform that has its own built-in traffic.

Other considerations include whether you have time to deal with a second business, because selling online requires a different type of customer service than in-person sales do. People are used to Amazon's quick deliveries and liberal return policies, and they expect that their online shopping experience will mimic that. As small businesses we obviously don't have the capacity to imitate Amazon, but you'll have to deal with people who expect you to. 

And don’t forget the tax man… You’ll need to collect and remit sales tax on items that are sold within your state if the items that you sell are taxable. This will involve registering with your state tax authority and filing returns on a regular basis. Your local government’s business department can give you more information about the requirements for this, including whether postage and handling are taxable or not.

Selling online is a matter of figuring out the right combination of products, the right SEO, and how to effectively market your shop. I can’t emphasize this enough…marketing an online shop is FAR more time-consuming than marketing custom cakes. I’m not kidding. Plus, it involves a different type of selling and strategies that you might have to learn from the ground up. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re willing to put in the effort it can be a good source of income.

To get 40 free listings for a new Etsy shop, use this link to open your shop (I'll also get free listings):

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at and

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