For the past few years I’ve been selling bamboo baby products on Amazon, and my own website. Before that I taught yoga and way before that I had a career in corporate communications. Of everything I’ve done (and it has been varied) selling physical products has been the thing I’ve found most exciting and enjoyable.
If I’m honest, selling my own products started out as more of a necessity than a passion. With two children at home (one just a tiny baby) and an existing children’s yoga business (where I couldn’t physically teach, as I had a tiny baby!) I was desperate to do something that worked around them and didn’t require too much of my time.
Whatever your own goals I have 10 great reasons to create and sell physical products.
1. You’re not trading time for money
This is so key for me. Back when I was teaching yoga I couldn’t make money when I wasn’t in a position to teach. I love that now I can take time off, go on holiday, be sick, go on school trips, focus on my clients and still make sales.
I want to say that you do need to put time into a products business, but you don’t physically have to ‘be there’, wherever you choose to work, for set hours (whether that means at your laptop, or in a physical place) to make money every day. I make the majority of my sales online and, as I have my fulfilment done for me (albeit at a cost), there are days I don’t focus on my business and it carries on making sales.
2. You can work from anywhere
Selling physical products online gives you the freedom to work from anywhere with an internet connection. (You can even work in your pyjamas if you choose!)
While not all of us will be aiming to work from the beach, it’s great to not be tied to a set place. Personally, I like the fact that, while I usually work from my home office, I can also choose to work in a coffee shop, co-working space, or anywhere I like. It’s often quite nice to go out and see people.
Of course you may decide to get your products into stores, sell at marketplaces or popups, or open your own store – but, if you choose to, you can never do any of those things.
You can do most, if not everything, online. From sourcing your product, to working with designers and getting it on a marketplace to sell. I’ve built my business using Alibaba, 99Designs, Amazon and Shopify – and you can do all of that without leaving the house!
3. You can work (or not) at any time
Selling online means you don’t have to be present at a set time, in the same way you don’t need to be present in a physical place – you can choose to work when it suits you. Whether it’s around a day job (I have clients who are running successful businesses), or having kids at home, you can work part-time, full-time – whatever works for you.
There’s also (rarely) any sense of urgency. Sure, you need to respond to customers quickly and there might be steps along the product creation journey where things need to be done to a schedule (although, it’d be a schedule that you set out in the first place!), but you really can set your own hours and work at your own pace.
4. You can automate a lot of processes
I have Amazon FBA manage my storage and fulfilment – meaning I don’t need to physically store, pack and ship products myself. Refunds and returns are all handled for me.
You can outsource lots of things nowadays! All of this automation just lends itself to the time-freedom I’ve already spoken about.
All this does cost you of course – but it’s worth it for me and the volumes I do now. Starting out, you may or may not choose to do it this way depending on your circumstances and the time and money you have available
Remember you can always change as you grow. The main thing is to get started! Many people start off wrapping and posting items from their kitchen table before moving to some kind of fulfilment solution further down the line.
5. People buying something you’ve created is exciting!
This might sound silly – but it’s true! It’s really exciting to see something that started as an idea, or a sketch in a notepad, available for people to buy. And the only thing more exciting than that is people actually buying them, using them, loving them and recommending them!
Your products should be meeting a demand and somehow making your customer’s lives better (even if just in a tiny way). If you can do that, it’s amazing.
6. It can become passive
I’m not sure there’s such a thing as completely ‘passive’ income but, as I’ve alluded to above, it’s definitely more passive than trading time for money. If you can get to a point where everything’s set up correctly and you’re making sales every day, regardless of whether you’re working on your business or not, I’d class that as passive. You can get sick, or go on holiday and hopefully your business will carry right on without you… (Especially if you’ve automated as much as you can.)
7. You can run your business how it best suits you – and this can change
You can sell your products offline, online, or into shops. You can sell on any marketplace you like (within reason) and change at any time if something isn’t working or no longer suits you.
You might start off selling online, then decide you want to start getting out in front of your customers at stalls or events. Or perhaps you’ll decide getting into retail stores is the way forward. Maybe sticking to online selling is what works best for you. My point is, it’s your choice and you can change your business model at any point you want or need to.
Most of us don’t always get things right first time and that’s fine. From packaging to pricing, you don’t need to worry about ‘getting things wrong,’ because nothing is set in stone. I changed the material for my boxes after my initial order, as they just weren’t sturdy enough. Until you get something out there, and start getting feedback from your customers, you won’t always know if it’ll work.
Done is better than perfect!
8. You can improve existing products
How many times have you brought something, or looked at buying something, and thought “this could (and should!) be so much better?”
Creating your own product gives you that opportunity!
I’ve spoken a lot about how my products came about after I realised there just wasn’t much on the market for babies that was high-quality, sustainable, made to last and affordable.
If you see this kind of opportunity it can be a real way for you to make a difference. We’ll talk about this more in a future episode.
9. It’s an opportunity to learn new skills
I don’t want to scare you here – as you will have so many skills already that will help you. Maybe you’re really organised, tenacious, great at finances, really visual and creative. Whatever it is, you’ll have skills and experiences you can draw on.
However if you decide to launch and sell our own products, there are steps involved that you may not have experienced (yet). You’ll learn about research, sourcing and negotiations. You’ll need to think about marketing, finances and customer experience.
Some of it you might be good at, some you might not. Some you’ll enjoy and some you won’t
Of course, you don’t need to do it all yourself (I’ll come onto that in a minute!), but learning just a few new skills is great for your experience and confidence. Plus, once you know how to create a profitable product you can confidently repeat the process time and time again.
10. There are plenty of ways to get help – you don’t need to do it all yourself
If you don’t have the time, or desire to do everything yourself, you certainly don’t need to. You can get someone to help you at every step of the process. There are plenty of people out there (including me!) who can help with research, sourcing, copywriting, translations, marketing, accounting, etc. So you definitely don’t need to go it alone!
Finally, it’s important to remember that if you ever decide it’s not for you, or it’s not working you, you can stop!
If you’re interested in starting your own products business, take a look at the steps involved.
Alibaba (for product sourcing)
Come and find me on Instagram – @vickiweinberg_product_creation
10 great reasons to sell physical products
Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast, practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here is your host Vicki Weinberg.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:22):
Hi, and welcome to today's episode. So today I want to start right at the beginning and talk about why you'd even consider investing in your time, your money and your energy into creating a product to sell. So wherever you decide to sell offline or online, wherever you already have a business, wherever this is your first venture, wherever you plan for it to be your full time business one day, or are you just want to make a little bit more money or supplement your income? Whatever your situation is. I have 10 really good reasons to create and sell physical products, and I'm going to take you through them. So the first reason I think selling physical products is great. If you're not trading time for money. So this one is so key for me.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:02):
I'm in my introductory ma I'm in my introduction. Episode I mentioned Howe. I had a children's book of business and how, when I couldn't teach, I actually couldn't make as much money. So while I had teachers, I was having to pay them when I had to take time off when I was heavily pregnant. And then when I had a young baby and so the actual hours, I could work directly effected the income I can make, but now I have a different kind of business. I love that I can take time off. I can go on holiday. I can be sick and all that. I want to be sick, but I can be, I can go on school trips with my kids. I can go to sports day. I can focus on my client's and my consultancy work.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:42):
When I get a bit busy there and I can still make sails. Now I'm not saying that you can completely take your eye off the ball and obviously this kind of business, do you know, it still requires you to work on it? However, I met the majority of my sails online, and most of them are via Amazon. I use Amazon FBA, which I'll talk about a bit, a little bit later. So my fulfillment stuck with me so I can afford to take, you know, a week's holiday or a few days sick, or have an afternoon off and not worry about the fact that I'm not there. And for me, that's a really big plus. And if for any of you who come and you work in any kind of service industry and you know, the hours you worked directly impacts, what do you get paid?
Vicki Weinberg (00:02:24):
And I think you'll probably be able to relate to this one. I'd say the second reason, I think selling physical products is great is that you can work from anywhere. So you come back from your home office or your phone or your actual office, and you can work for a coffee shop, or you can work on the beach. If that's your thing, you can work from your kitchen table or a variety of all of the above. You can even work in your pajamas if you want to. I actually don't, I get dressed. I have the school run to do, but you see my point. I really liked the fact that you don't need a premises and you don't need a proper office space to, to run this
kind of business. Of course, depending on how you decide to fulfill your product's, you might need a bit of room for holding stock and that's something we can definitely talk about more in a later episode, but you
don't actually need to hire office space, which I think is, as a result, you can do everything from your laptop or your computer, wherever you want it to be.
Vicki Weinberg (00:03:19):
Personally, I'd like to do a little bit of coworking. So I get to see some other people. Cause that is one thing that can get a bit lonely. I think that's the downside could have been able to work from anywhere so often you do work on your phone and you can buy it a bit, a bit isolated. But of course, I do think that the benefits outweigh that say, for example, You can do most, if not, everything on nine nowadays. So From sourcing your product. Are you working with designers to get it on our market place, ready to sell? I have essentially built my own business using Alibaba 99 designs Amazon and Shopify. And you can do a lot of that without leaving the house. And of course I know I've ran through that list very quickly. I will link all of the sites in the show notes and in future episodes, I will talk about all of those in much better detail as well.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:05):
And of course you might decide at some point you want to get your products into stores. You might want to sell at marketplaces or fares or pop-up shops or open your own store. But if you choose to never have to do any of those things, if you want a business that you wear, you can work from your home or at the hours that seat you, this is definitely a great advantage. So the fed reason, I think that said in physical products that is great is that you can work or not at any time. So you can literally work when it suits you. So you can work around a day job. So I have clients now who are running a successful Product businesses alongside, there are nine to five.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:46):
You can work around having kids at home. If they, if you need to do that, which is what I do. You can work part-time, you can work full-time, you can do whatever works for you because there is rarely a sense of urgency. Now, of course, customers might need to be responded to promptly, but nobody expects an immediate response. I think within 12 hours or 24 hours is pretty good. So you certainly don't need to be tied to your computer or at the time. And of course, sometimes things might need to be done quickly or things might need to be done to a schedule, but that would be a schedule that you would have set yourself. So for example, if you are fulfilling your own products down the line and you start shipping terms, of course you want to stick to those, but that will be something that you will have decided to do yourself.
Vicki Weinberg (00:05:27):
So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that there is no, you know, needing to be in the office or online a certain time. You can certainly schedule your work day. Have it suits you? When I started this business that I had a child or a preschool and then a little baby, I may not be used to work when they were napping and then in the evenings. And, and that was the key. That's the thing with this kind of, of business that you can do that. And I think that's a really good advantage. So reason number four, that you can automate a lot of processes, which again, leads onto the points that make me feel about not having to be in a safe place at a
certain time. You can have a lot of things done for you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:06:07):
So just a few examples that, and of course we will talk about the, or more in future episodes. So the majority of my sales are done by Amazon and I use Amazon FBA, which stands for fulfilled by Amazon, which means that Amazon physically store's my stock. And ship's out to the customers and customers get the next day free delivery. We have Amazon prime. So a huge benefits customers benefit to me because I don't actually have to go to the post office, which I really need is like, if I'm honest, I, you will say, send follow up emails to customers, which is something that I used to find really time consuming. But now I use something called a jungle scout for my Amazon orders. And for my Shopify site, I have MailChimp set up.
Vicki Weinberg (00:06:50):
So automate all of that. So that is something else that I don't have to do. And my Refunds in returns, which nobody likes, but if they do happen of all handled by Amazon for me at the moment, and, and of course I do step in if needed, so customers can contact me. Do you contact me in a very welcome to contact me, me directly? And I do Welcome that it, it's nice to note that some of the day to day basics, I just handled it for me. And I also have to point out that, of course, if there is a fee for everything that I've just outlined, none of this comes free, but for me and for the volumes I do now, but it's definitely worth it. I think Starting out, you may or may not choose to automate all or some of this.
Vicki Weinberg (00:07:32):
It kind of depends on your circumstances. And of course the time and, and the money to be honest that you have available. So when I started out, for example, I used Amazon FBA, but I used the person who sent follow up emails to every customer, because that wasn't something that I can afford to automate. And I actually, I don't mind telling you this is a bit embarrassing, but for the sort of Amazon European marketplace is because I sell it for sure. But I used to just translate these emails. I've written myself using Google translate, which is probably not very professional. And I mentioned to I, because I did pay professional translations once I can afford to, but at the beginning, you know, cash was tight and I was trying not to pay too much.
Vicki Weinberg (00:08:13):
And eventually that got to kind of a time consuming because the amount of orders I was getting meant, like just couldn't possibly keep up with that, but that's a good problem to have. And that's a good time to start thinking about automating some things, if you can't do it straight away, because I know that while I am selling, this is a huge benefit. It might not be something you can do from day one, but it's definitely something that you can work towards. So reason number five might actually sounds a bit silly, but I promise it's true. And that's that people buy in something that you've created is a really exciting, I mean, it's exciting, even when you hold it in your hands, something that was just a dream or whether it was weeks or months or years ago, you know, you've had this idea for a product.
Vicki Weinberg (00:08:56):
And so the need is real and you can see it in the hold. It, you can see your vision comes to life and you can see people by your product and use it if it is so exciting just yesterday, actually I was walking down the street and I saw a lady have a buggy come pass. Me and her baby, what a toddler. I think she had a muzzle in and I realized it was one of mine and I were so excited and I was still sort of years old. And I just find it really exciting because if your products meet the demand, which of course they shared and somehow make your customer's lives better, even if it's just in a really tiny way, like they have a blanket that it looks beautiful is just amazing. And it just really nice and humbling to see people buy something that you've created.
Vicki Weinberg (00:09:40):
And yeah, don't lose sight of that because I think that while it is it compared to all of these other reasons, I've said, it might sound quite a small thing, but, but it isn't. I think it is something to be proud of in case there a reason. Number six, it can become a fairly passive selling products. I'm not a hundred percent. All of that passive income is real. And I'm so ready for Pat Flynn, who I mentioned in my intro episode, do you have a podcast all about this, but I'm not sure that it is ever going to be completely passive, but I do think that it's more passive than trading time for money. So once everything is set up and the sales are coming in and you can take your phone off the ball a little bit a particularly, if going back to point number four, you've got a lot of your processes automated.
Vicki Weinberg (00:10:28):
You, you know, you don't need to work on it at nine to five, Monday to Friday, we can work out. As I've said, you know, there is work involved, but you can set your own schedule. You can decide when you work, how much do you work? And what are you going to focus on is definitely not a business. It requires you to be set behind a desk all the time. And I, and I do think that is a big benefit and it's nice to kind of have that baseline income come in. I mean, the ideal thing would be that, you know, you might not want to grow up really a huge retail empire, or you might just want to earn, you know, some regular money is, you know, actually my product sales make X amount of month and I've kind of got that baseline income coming in and I don't have to do too much work for it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:11:13):
And if that's what you want, that was definitely achievable. Okay. So reason number seven that running Your selling your own products is a great business, is that you can run it. Habits suits you and you can change. So you can sell your products online. You can decide to sell them off-line you can decide to do business to business and perhaps sell into stores and retailers. You can sell on any market place you like with within reason. And you can change that at any time. If something isn't working or no longer Cici, you can launch new products, you can even launch an entirely new brand or an entirely new range of products and you can make products and you can make changes as you go. Sorry.
Vicki Weinberg (00:11:53):
So most of us don't always get things right. First time, and that's fine. So from packaging to pricing to what you actually sell, I don't think you needed to worry about getting things wrong because absolutely nothing is set in stone. And I say, for example, when my very first product, I ended up changing the packaging. After my first daughter, it turned out, they just weren't sturdy enough. And this is a story I probably share in more detail in a future podcast, but it was a really big learning for me. However, I, until I got my first all weather out there. And so I'd be getting feedback for my customers at the packaging. You know, it wasn't sufficient. I have absolutely no idea.
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:34):
And once I didn't know, I was able to change it and now its fine and I don't have any more issues, but unless you get something out there and unless you try, you are never going to know. So my motto of mine has done this better than perfect. And While of course you want to make your product and everything around it is as good as possible. There was a point where we have to say, do you know what? This is good enough? And lets go out into the world, let's try and sell some and see what the feedback is and things can always be improved. It's a please don't let perfectionism hold you back. Say that ate Friesan. I think it's great. So physical products is that you can improve on existing products out there.
Vicki Weinberg (00:13:15):
So I don't know how many times, if you bought something or thoughts about buying something, perhaps you just looked at something in a shop and just like, Oh this could, and perhaps should it be so much better than that? You know, you can see a really obvious floor or perhaps, or maybe, you know, a really simple tweak that we just make something so much better. So a much more user-friendly or creating your product gives you that opportunity. And not just with the product either, we have sort of every aspect of the business, even down to the customer service experience that people have, you know, we've all had these bad experiences. And so this is a, this is an opportunity for you to do things a bit differently. And, and I think that's really exciting.
Vicki Weinberg (00:13:56):
So I've spoken before about my products they came about after I realized that just wasn't much in the market for babies that was high quality and sustainable, a made to laugh, make it a laugh and make it to last sorry, and affordable. And that's how they came about because it met a need that I didn't think it was out there. And so in a future episode, I'm going to be talking about ways to get Product ideas. And certainly this was one of them just looking at existing things on the market and think, how can I make this better? How could I put my own own spin on this? And yeah, we'll talk about that in a lot more detail. So reason number nine and it's an opportunity to learn new skills.
Vicki Weinberg (00:14:36):
And I certainly don't want to scare you here because yes, there are lots of things that you may or may not
have experienced yet. So you may or may not know much about doing research. It's about sourcing and negotiations. You might have, you have varied experience or no experience perhaps in marketing and managing your finances and, and customer experience. And I don't want to scare you because you already have so many great skills that can help you. So maybe your, when you organize, maybe are tenacious, you are great, your finances, you're a really visual your creative, umm, you can, you know, whatever it is, you will have skills and experience, but you can draw on some of which you probably won't even know that you have and some of what you need to do to run a product business, you might be good at.
Vicki Weinberg (00:15:23):
And some of it you might not be so good at. And some of it you'll enjoy and some of it you might not enjoy, but I promise all of it is doable and you are going to learn so many more skills and learn about things you can do that you didn't even know you could do. And I'm, I think that's a huge benefit. And of course you don't even need to do it all yourself. And I'm going to come on to that. And when we get to the, my 10th point, but learning just a few new skills is great for you experiment. It's a great for your confidence. And once you know how to create a profitable product, a product and how to sell it, if it's something that you can confidently repeat time and time again, and you can get better, are all kinds of aspects as well.
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:04):
And you know, you might find that they were things you enjoy, that you sort of never knew you were at. So I'll give you an example for me is I've actually started taking my own product photos, which is, I know I'm not a professional photographer. I've never had any training, but I think, you know, they look pretty good. You can have him go on to my Instagram. I'd put that in the show notes and you can take a look for yourself, but I think they are okay. And it's something that I've enjoyed and something I probably never would have tried had I not decided to launch my and products. Okay. So I'm gonna go on to the 10th and final reason. Well, I think it's great to sell physical products and that is that there are plenty of ways to get help out there and you don't need to do it all yourself.
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:48):
So it might be that you listened to all of these reasons and you're like, yeah, yeah, yeah. If I can, I see this, I can see this. And it all sounds great, but perhaps you're a bit daunting because there's a lot to do or because you are not sure, you know, which order to do things in and I'm in this podcast. I promise it will help you a lot with that. But it might also be that you don't have the time to do everything well, you just don't want to do everything yourself. If that's the case, you certainly don't need too. And you can get someone to help you every step of the process. So there are people out there including me who can help you with researching, which would be the best product for you to sell. We have sourcing your products. We have copywriting with translations will help you with the marketing and the accounting.
Vicki Weinberg (00:17:32):
Those last year. I can't do that. You can let me know. I can certainly put it in the direction of people who can
say you definitely don't need to, to go it alone. So if the only thing putting you off is, is maybe a lack of confidence or a lack of time or feeling there. You know, you don't have perhaps have a nest, every experience I, I do stand by the fact that a lot of this you'll be able to do and you'll learn some new things along the way. And you will learn things that you didn't even know you could do. But if there are certain aspects of it that I actually think, I don't even want to attempt that you can get help with it. And I just want to give you that piece of mind. I'm just going to really quickly recap. The 10 reasons that I think selling physical products is great as the number one, you're not trading time for money.
Vicki Weinberg (00:18:16):
Number two, you can work from anywhere number for free. You can work or not work at any time that Cici for You can automate a lot of processes for five people. Buying something that we've created is very exciting, sexy. It can become a fairly passive. As I said, not a hundred percent. Number seven, you can run your business, how it best suits you. And you can change this any time. Number eight, you've got the opportunity to improve. Existing products are already out there. Nine. It's an opportunity to learn new skills and 10, there were plenty of ways to get help and you don't need to do it all yourself. And the final thing I'd like to mention is that if you start this however, fall along the road, you get and you decide it's not for you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:18:60):
You can always stop. Its not something you have to do forever. And you can also start really small and just test the waters and see if it's something that might potentially work for you. You definitely don't need to go all of them. So some things you might find useful is on my website. I've outlined the entire product creation process from start to finish. Well of course talk about that in future episodes. But if you'd like to go across and have a look and just get an understanding of what's involved right now, you can find that there, I'm also going to link through to my blog, which has got lots and lots of free resources and articles and checklists, all kinds of things to help you get started. I really hope you've enjoyed this episode.
Vicki Weinberg (00:19:41):
I really love to hear any feedback you have. You can email me at Vicki at tiny chipmunk, all one word.com. So that's a, Vicki at tiny chipmunk.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, please do tell your friends. And I would absolutely love it. If you could leave me a short with you as well. We'll thank you so much and see you next time.