Side hustles are a great way to start a business, while keeping your day job or a smart way to start or test an additional business. One increasingly common side hustle is selling products online. But what’s the best way to do it? Here’s a closer look at the best platforms for starting an e-commerce side hustle.
There are two basic options for selling online if you don’t want to build your own e-commerce site:
- Online marketplacesare like digital shopping malls. You rent a “space” in a larger marketplace.
- Hosted e-commerce platforms are like freestanding stores with landlords. You customize your online store using their software; they handle the behind-the-scenes stuff like site hosting and software maintenance.
Almost half of all U.S. online spending takes place on Amazon, where 83 percent of U.S. consumers have bought something in the past six months. The third-party sellers who account for over 50 percent of Amazon’s total unit sales are benefiting from that exposure.
Amazon’s Individual plans (starting at $0.99/sale) are an affordable way to test the waters but limit the number and type of products you can sell. For unlimited items and product categories, choose a Professional plan (starting at $39.99/month). Simplify your life and use Fulfillment by Amazon to handle packing and shipping for you.
You can sell handmade goods, craft supplies or vintage products (at least 20-years old) on Etsy. The Standard plan is free to join. Just create an Etsy account, select a shop name, create a listing ($0.20 per item, plus fees when it sells), and choose how you want to be paid and pay your fees. Accept payments via credit and debit cards, PayPal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay and more.
Etsy offers tools to promote your products, customize your store and design a website powered by Etsy; it also providesshipping labels and discounts. Upgrade to a Plus plan ($10/month) for additional marketing tools; a Premium plan will launch later this year.
eBay isn’t just an auction site anymore. You can sell both used and new items and choose from auction-style or fixed-price listings. You can start with a Personal account, but for those looking to scale, a Business account offers more functionality. Listing up to 50 items per month is free; you pay $10 of the Final Value after an item sells. eBay provides shipping labels and postage discounts.
For additional selling tools, bigger shipping discounts, and lower Final Value fees, set up an eBay Store. This lets you designa custom homepageand access a wide range oflisting tools to help you manage your business better.
Hosted e-commerce platforms
If you have big plans for your side hustle, BigCommerce could be for you. Big businesses and small startups alike use BigCommerce to create e-commerce sites using responsive design templates with best-in-class SEO built in.
BigCommerce also features built-in selling on Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook and Pinterest—with no transaction fees. The Standard plan ($29.99/month) is ideal for startups and offers a free trial.
Basic Shopify ($29/month) is also great for side hustles. Design your e-commerce website and blog using one of Shopify’s theme templates with drag-and-drop ease. You get 24/7 support and can sell via online marketplaces and social media.
Want to start reallysmall? Use Shopify Lite ($9/month) to sell on Facebook and communicate with your customers via Facebook Messenger. Want to do more? Shopify offers tools to help you do everything from choosing your domain name to marketing your business and accepting payments.
Use Volusion’s responsive website themes to create an e-commerce site with features including inventory management, unlimited storage and product listings, and secure checkout and payment collection. It accepts payments via Stripe, PayPal or Apple Pay.
Volusion has built-in SEO tools and a comprehensive management hub that lets you see customer details, create discounts, and enable flat, free or special shipping rates. The personal account ($29/month) has everything you need and offers a free trial.
Take some time to explore all the options. By choosing the solution that best fits your budget, product mix, and target customers, you’ll put your side hustle on the road to success.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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