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