Something a bit different as I explore a bit of a different arena of life that I’ve been pondering sharing here too for a while. I have a question for you today.
If you had a product what would it be?
What would you feel happy enough to sell to others, what would people buy confidently from you?
I went to an inspiring talk quite a while back as part of my Must See Menorca Traverse bloggers gathering all about launching and selling products online. It got my brain thinking about what my product might be as a person, and perhaps as a blogger, have you ever pondered this? Bizarrely I didn’t make the connection at the time that I already had one in the pipeline but it was also the week of my 40th birthday, and a big move to the country.
Realising that products can be ‘experiences’ was a turning point for me, as selling things seemed quite fraught with consumerist and ethical dilemmas, although there are plenty of products we do genuinely need and they can often be made ethical too.
Travel blogging was such a part of our family life, but I realised I wanted to dive deeper into travel in another way, I wanted to create travel experiences for others. Every time we went away somewhere that inspired us, I would be mentally storing up little ideas and Mr A would be googling stuff and running spreadsheets to work out how viable they could be. At some point one of us would be on Rightmove.
The momentum to move to the country snuck up on us in the hot tub while staying at Darwin Forest in the Peak District. Then when we began to look at houses, we realised that to get the land and space we craved, we’d need to be more creative. Viewing a house with an old barn gave us the encouragement to forge ahead and build holiday lets into our home wish list.
Two years down the line and I am fully into the swing of running our cosy character beamed barn and upcycled vintage static caravan. Selling a travel experience sits really well with my values and what makes me truly happy. I love being part of making people’s holidays, family reunions, time out together special – travel is so important to our wellbeing.
Do you have an e-commerce dream? A crafty sideline? An experience you think others would loved too? Or do you wish you had the space to think of an idea?
5 tips for the journey – formulating and selling a product
Choose your product to sit with your values and passions.
The amount of belief you need in something to get it off the ground is immense, you have to really want it, which means you have to believe in it and that’s so much easier when it aligns with your values or sparks your passions.
Not completely sure what your product would be? Feel like diving into what your passions and values are? Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm. Then leave them to marinade a bit, stick them where you can see them and trust the process. I have so many of these brainstorms in notebooks over the years, at the time I wasn’t sure where it was going but it’s a powerful mind trick and it definitely got me where I needed to be over time.
Sometimes you have to fight the fear and do it anyway
It’s so easy to put the dream off; we put off moving to the country for about 10 years. Then our barn and caravan sat empty for a few months while we stood like rabbits in the headlights, a bit afraid and unsure how to proceed. Then one day I took a deep breath on a dog walk, stood in a field and called the joiner someone had suggested. A silly baby step on reflection, but a powerful one than felt huge at the time.
Two weeks later our joiner started ripping things out and we were away. Once you set things in motion you are forced to make decisions and decisions become something you get quicker at dealing with, because you have to! Problems become challenges instead of worries.
Perhaps it is a simple as committing to a website, ordering equipment or choosing an e-commerce platform?
Think about your audience wisely
You probably already have an audience you can share your product with – from friends and family on facebook, likeminded people on Instagram or perhaps even a blog following across social media. If your product is something that reflects your values and passions chances are they will love it and help you to champion it too.
If you have a blog or following, or follow bloggers or influencers, you also have a ready made influencer network. Something I see mentioned a lot as a way to bring in new customers.
However, that’s not to say you can’t target completely different customers from those you already encounter, perhaps your passion is completely beyond your existing network or maybe you would rather keep personal and business separate – facebook ads and online marketing make that incredibly possible.
You can spend a long time trying to get your website, social or shop listings completely perfect, but until you meet your audience you don’t really know if it is perfect for them. Copy, photos and layout will all evolve as you bring in data and customers. Be careful if you’re a perfectionist, successful e-commerce entrepreneurs suggest that you get the product perfect, but don’t let perfecting and customising your website and marketing hold you back from meeting your audience.
You’re probably going to spend quite a bit of time composing social media updates and ads, you can spend hours planning but sometimes it’s the copy you wrote off the top of your head that resonates most with potential customers. Facebook allows you to boost posts and test out different audience segments. Once you know who your audience is you can devise different ads to suit. And if they don’t seem to perform well, you can stop them, analyse the data, refine and try again or try a different avenue.
Embrace social media platforms
It’s important not to rely to heavily on one social media platform because algorithms change and platforms fall out of favour. Modern tools make it possible to be on several, so don’t be scared and dive in. I find posting to Instagram, sharing this to a facebook page from Instagram, and also to Twitter via an ‘applet’ from IFFT which ensures the image can be seen on Twitter is really time and engagement effective, but different tools work for different people and businesses.
Your e commerce solution
Whether you sell online, on social media, in store, or out of the trunk of your car, to sell online, like big brands you need some kind of enterprise ecommerce solution. This depends on your product. You could build it all yourself or pay someone else to, but that can come later, anything that allows you to get in front of your audience quickly is a bonus.
A relative who designs amazing stationery which is now on NOTHS street swears by Etsy as an amazing place to begin and experiment for craft sellers. Airbnb allowed us to get up and running in the holiday market quickly. Shopify gives you an online, easy, customisable store for products.
Your website, blog and social media schedule
I can’t talk, I haven’t quite got onto finishing our website, for now we use Airbnb to bring in customers and deal with money, but long term our own website and booking system is definitely something we want to do. I know blog posts can help to draw in new customers, particularly if you create posts that target specific audiences, mine are all drafted in my head… Things to Do in the Rain in the Peak District, or Best Sites for Birdwatching in the White Peak.
You don’t always have to have everything in place to make a start though, things can evolve.
A blog is a great way to boost SEO and bring new customers to your product. If you have a blog or read blogs you know that a schedule can really help build loyalty as people know when and where to find content. I can’t say I ever write to a schedule here, and I don’t always agree this works on all platforms, but it does help you to keep social media and blogging under time control. Plus, the times when I have had a schedule I have found myself pretty creative as a result – having a schedule often stimulates more ideas.
I hope this has sparked a few ideas, and if you’re curious about creating a product, why not make a cuppa and give yourself permission to play with ideas?
Our caravan and barn both sleep 2-4 and can both be found on Airbnb, they are situated close to Ashbourne, overlooking the Peak District. Only 10 miles from Alton Towers and closer still to glorious Dovedale.
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Second photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash.