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Chapter 1: Why Create Physical Products
There are many attractive reasons to work online. There’s the freedom, there’s the potential for big earnings and there’s the sense of satisfaction that comes from choosing what kind of business you want to run.
But for some of us, the biggest draw of making money online is that sense of accomplishment. We love being able to tell people we’re ‘entrepreneurs’ and we get a thrill out of earning a living on the back of our own ingenuity alone. But perhaps you’re getting to the point where that isn’t quite enough? Because sometimes, selling digital products and running blogs can start to feel a little empty… while you might be creating value, at the end of the day you’re still just selling ideas and text and nobody actually gets anything physical to hold at the end of the day.
When you tell someone you’re an entrepreneur, what springs to mind? Most likely, they’ll imagine that you’re an eccentric inventor – someone who comes up with gadgets, gizmos, ideas and more and then uses those to make people’s lives better and make a bit of money on the side. We think about people like Arthur Fry – the inventor of post-it notes.
When you say: ‘nah, I run a website’, you can almost hear them deflate with disappointment.
Oh, that kind of entrepreneur…
Make no mistake – making money online is a fantastic way to earn cash while enjoying the lifestyle you want. And it’s incredibly skilled, talented and impressive if you can do it.
But at the end of the day, it’s not quite as exciting as creating a genuine, physical product.
Imagine being able to hold something in your hands that you dreamed up. Imagine being able to use it as part of your routine. And imagine visiting a Big Box store and seeing your product there on the shelf…
Imagine your product taking off and becoming incredibly popular. Imagine walking down the street and seeing lots of people using your item.
With a physical product you can quite genuinely change the world and make a much bigger impact than you can with an ebook.
Physical Products for Profit
But it’s not just about the noble cause of getting to feel that sense of accomplishment. Making a physical product also makes a lot of sense in terms of money.
That’s because physical products are still where it’s at when it comes to revenue and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
For starters, physical products have a much wider appeal and can sell to a significantly bigger audience. Even through ecommerce, physical products sell significantly more than digital products. Why? Partly it’s just because people like to hold something in their hands when they’ve spent money. Have you ever bought a digital product online and then felt immediately empty? As though you haven’t really gotten anything worthwhile for your money?
Now imagine trying to sell an ebook to people on the street. How many people would be likely to go for it? Or even be interested?
A lot of people would never buy an ebook and certainly not one on making money online. In fact, the vast majority of people would never consider that. They’re not getting anything tangible that they couldn’t find for free online, they don’t like reading books on their computers and they’re not interested in working online.
Compare that with a physical product though and you now have something with obvious value to a large audience. If it’s the right price, then there’s a chance anyone who passes on the street will be interested.
Imagine just showing your Grandparents what you make for a living. Show them a book you wrote on the computer and you’ll get an unenthusiastic ‘that’s nice dear’ if you’re lucky. Show them that you’ve made your own toy, gadget or item of clothing though and you’ll have genuine interest.
That’s the difference with a physical product.
And then you have the ability to scale. The most scaling you can do with a digital product is to get it on JVZoo or another affiliate marketing platform. That way, you can get countless other marketers helping you to promote your product in exchange for commission. That’s good – but it’s not quite as good as having millions of units selling through countless high street stores around the world…
Why Now is the Best Time
So with all this in mind, why is it that most people don’t create their own physical products?
Why is it that most people will settle for ebooks or just placing ads on a website?
The answer is simple: they think that creating a physical product is beyond them. The assumption here is that companies like Apple, Microsoft, Hasbro, Ikea, Nike… They make the physical products because they’re the huge, multinational corporations. They have manufacturing plants, patents, shipping deals, huge amounts of marketing and more – and they poor billions into market resource, focus groups, R&D and more.
So how can one person do all that? How can you possibly compete?
Well, that’s where things are changing. And that’s where all this gets very exciting.
Because right now, it’s actually incredibly easy to create and sell your own digital product. If you’re willing to make something simple, then there are options that will allow you to start selling physical products from your website today.
But I’m not just talking about those simple ideas. I’m also talking about the ambitious ones. Want to make your own smartwatch? Well you can do! Want to make some kind of device for opening jam jars and sell it from major stores?
Again, you have that option.
It takes a little bit of work – and that’s why I recommend creating an online business first and using that to bootstrap yourself (although we’ll see how you can avoid the need for doing that too).
Ultimately though, the web is the ‘great equalizer’ and has closed the gap in many ways when it comes to creating hardware. It’s now more possible than ever to not only do all this but to do it from the comfort of your home without ever stepping foot outside. You can outsource your manufacturing, you can outsource your shipping and storage and you can do all your marketing and selling through the web.
Today, just one person can have the same kind of impact with a physical product that a large company can. And it’s only going to move more and more in this direction in future. And actually, that’s an incredible thing.
There is a genuine hardware revolution occurring right now. Are you going to get involved?
Chapter 2: Some Very Easy Ways to Get Simple Products Off the Ground
This book is going to tackle everything you ned to know about coming up with an idea and then taking this all the way to market and manufacturing/selling it.
But before we get into the technical and ambitious stuff, let’s start out by looking at the easy stuff. If you want to create a physical product to sell from an existing website – just to gain some additional profits and perhaps strengthen your brand (it always looks very ‘professional’ when you have your own physical products), then there are ways you can do that right now without having to learn a ton of new skills or invest any cash.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can dip one toe tentatively into the world of physical products.
One of the easiest ways to start selling products is to sell physical books. If you’re already selling a digital product such as an ebook, then it’s only a small transition to start selling a hard copy of that book. And actually, this is incredibly easy to do.
If you already have the file, then all you need to do is to take that file and upload it to either Lulu (www.lulu.com) or Amazon’s publishing service. This is called ‘Print On Demand’ (POD) and it essentially means that you’re printing out your physical books every time someone orders one.
Normally, if you were going to self-publish a book, then you would have to order thousands of copies of the book to keep in a warehouse. This would involve a large up-front investment and you’d then have to sell all those copies at a profit to make any money. That would mean going to retailers and generally it’s a lot of work that led to a lot of people crashing and burning over the years. Alternatively, you could try and find a publisher, which would mean going via an agent – and this would usually lead to years of rejections before you got a deal. Even Harry Potter was rejected by several publishers before it found one!
With POD though, you simply upload the files to a machine that’s capable of printing out the books.
When someone orders your book (or you do), the printer simply makes a new copy ready to sell.
There’s no up-front investment and no risk of losing a profit. And the only overheads are the printing costs (which are very small) and whatever you paid for designing a cover etc.
There are plenty of sites on the web that allow you to create items with your brand printing on them. These include sites like Vista Print (www.vistaprint.com) and like Spreadshirt (www.spreadshirt.com). Using these sites, you can start selling printed t-shirts or printed mugs, caps, mousemats and more – and all of them will look highly professional without any work on your part.
Like POD, these print each time items are ordered, which means you’ll never end up with a ton of stock on your hands! You can’t create anything particularly inventive but if you just want to get a physical product on your website, it’s another easy way to do it. What’s more, is that this route is ideal for strengthening your brand. By giving or selling items with your logo printed on them, you increase the sense of loyalty your customers have as they feel proud to brandish your brand. What’s more, every time someone uses your custom mug or cap in public, more people will see your logo!
And some people actually manage to make quite a lot of money by selling t-shirts with funny slogans on them etc.
And guess what… there is one more way you can quickly start selling. It’s pretty retro but it works! That method? Simply start making things by hand and selling them online. If you watch The Big Bang Theory, then you might remember the ‘Penny Blossom’ episode where Penny creates lots of small paper flowers and sells them online. She ends up creating a human assembly line and minimizing her overheads and the result is that she’s able to generate a good profit for a day’s work.
You can do the exact same thing, with a website to sell your product and something you can relatively easily mass produce, you have all the basics you need for an easy online business. This is made even easier by the fact that you can also promote your products on sites like Etsy (www.etsy.com) or eBay (www.ebay.com).
There’s also no reason that your items have to be mass produced at all. If you are a creative type and you have a particular skill or craft that you can sell, then you can just as easily make money selling portraits on eBay, caricatures, home-made jewelry or even artwork. My sister left art college with no job lined up and became a sales-person. That wasn’t exactly what she wanted but it doesn’t matter to her because her real passion comes from making stunning artwork and selling it on eBay. What’s more is that this makes her a very nice little profit on the side!
Finally, why not have someone else design and manufacture the products – even handle the fulfilment – and you just put your logo on it? As it happens, that’s actually a thing! And it’s called ‘drop shipping’. This is a white label service, meaning no one will ever know the other company is involved. The only difficulty is finding companies that offer this. Try WorldWideBrands (www.worldwidebrands.com) or Alibabab (www.alibaba.com) to find companies that do.