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How to come up with things to sell 🤔

How to come up with things to sell 🤔
By Ahmad Abugosh • Issue #3 • View online
Hey friends,
In my last post, I went over the different ways to make money online. Today, I want to go over how to brainstorm what to sell.
If you want to start selling something online, and are unsure of where to start, here are 5 practical techniques you can use to come up with ideas to work on, whether that be selling a product or a service.

1) Your Pain
The first place to start is to think about something in your own life that you would want to exist. This could be:
  • A product or service you wish existed. Did you ever search for something you wanted to buy online, and not find it?
  • Something you wish could have been done better. Think about the last thing you bought online and what could have been better about it.
  • Think of a negative experience you constantly have in your personal or work life. What is something that you do frequently that could be optimized? (think about or ask your friends what is something you constantly complain about)
2) Using Data
It’s easier to swim with the tide than against it. It’s easier to sell something people want than to force them to be interested in something. That’s where using data comes in. There are a ton of places for you to look for trends, to see what people are currently looking for.
  • Google Trends. This is a free tool to let you explore what are the most popular Google searches people are making. You can filter by location and category to get an idea of the types of products and services people are currently interested in (You just need to go to the Explore tab to filter by location and search type)
  • Google Shopping. This is where Google shows brands that are spending money on ads to advertise products people can buy online through Google shopping ads.
  • Facebook Ads Library. This is a tool that lets you see what kind of ads other companies and organizations are running. This is a good way to get inspiration and see what others are selling.
Since Google and Facebook alone account for the vast majority of ads running online, just looking at those two channels will give you the best indication of user demand.
3) Water Holes
Probably the biggest mistake I’ve seen by aspiring entrepreneurs is asking people what they should create. They usually do this by having them fill out questionnaires or surveys.
This is a bad way of doing customer validation.
Why? Because if you ask someone if they would buy something, bias could creep in.
Either:
1) They would be too honest with you and make you feel discouraged (telling you how it’s a horrible idea and would never work).
or
2) They would tell you it’s a great idea when they don’t really like it (people are sometimes too nice).
So what do you do?
The best way to validate a business is to start selling, and see if there is demand.
But what if you’re not ready for that?
The next best way is to see what people are discussing online in their natural habitat or “water holes”. This can be on social media, blogs, forums, groups (Facebook, Slack, Whatsapp etc).
For example, you could go on parenting forums, Facebook groups etc. and see what issues parents are facing, and build a product or service around that.
4) You're the Product (or Service)
The movie Catch Me If You Can follows the real life story of Frank Abagnale, one of the most famous con men in history. As a teenager in high school, he starting teaching a French class for weeks, despite not knowing French! When he was asked how he did it, he answered “I just had to be one chapter ahead”.
Think about how that applies to your life and profession. If you want to teach others something, or offer a product or a service to any skill you have, you don’t have to be an “expert”. You just have to be one step (or one chapter) ahead of whoever you are teaching.
I’m sure that all of you reading this could teach me about something that I don’t know.
Whether that be accounting, painting, fitness, or knitting, everyone has something they know better than the average person. Think about that skill and then you can package it either as a service you offer, or a virtual product (read last week’s issue for more on the ways to package your offering).
5) Flipping
The idea of flipping is that you take something that you can acquire for a low price (usually a physical item), and then you charge people more for it (known as flipping). This is one that has recently become very popular due to Gary V. Ways to flip things could be:
  • Finding used items and reselling them (things you find around the house, or at second hand shops)
  • Geographical arbitrage. Take something that is cheaper in one location and sell it at a higher price somewhere else.
  • Make something better. Refurbish, or clean up items and resell them. You could also take something and customize it in some way (add a design or your own style to something), to transform it enough to make it unique.
Your Next Steps
This is the area where I give my recommendations on what to do next to put what we talked about into practice.
Brainstorm the 5 ways I discussed here, and try coming up with ideas in each of them. I’m sure you’ll find something new you never thought about!
Further reading
  • If you want to attend a practical course walking you through these steps, AstroLabs offers digital courses on topics such as digital marketing, ecommerce and coding.
  1. How to find your audience’s online watering holes by Alex Hillman
  2. The Mom Test (book) by Rob Fitzpatrick (a great short book that shows you the right way to ask people for feedback on your idea).
  3. Start a business this weekend by Noah Kagan
Next Week
Next up, we’ll be covering how to do market sizing to figure out how many potential customers your idea could have.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ahmad Abugosh

Practical digital & tech guides, deep thoughts and useful ideas delivered by me Ahmad Abugosh. I'm the Director of Marketing & Learning Programs at AstroLabs and the Author of Timeless Digital Marketing. Hope to see you inside!

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