What should I sell?
April 29, 2021 4:15 AM   Subscribe

There's a specialist ecommerce course I want to take, and looking at the prep work the teacher suggests creating a "sandbox" ecom website to test and play with while learning. What should my dinky hobbyhorse website sell?

I am not expecting to make any money, but I'd like to build something functional - I'll learn so much more if I can track a purchase through it. Any sales would be to me, or a friend, of course, I'm not that much of a marketing whiz, but I'd like to have it be as "proper" as possible, so I can potentially use it as a CV or training example.

Some ideas I have are:
- PDF downloads (i.e., I could write a guide or worksheet)
- Digital art prints (I am not much of an artist but can bodge together something)
- 1:1 consultancy/classes (I do teach and consult on the side)
- a small physical thing that wouldn't take up much space - kitchen utensil? Soap? Stretch bands? A fun widget??

I'm not looking at something that would require much ongoing labour, so I'm not canning my Nan's pickle recipe (also: health regs, ugh), but I don't mind doing some writing or other up-front work. I'm in the UK, should that affect your advice.
posted by Gin and Broadband to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Connecticut maple syrup. There are several producers and for most you have to go to their farm in season.

You may find a local product in you area with similar distribution issues.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:05 AM on April 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Resume/CV consulting
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:29 AM on April 29, 2021

Is there anything you need to declutter? Stuff you've been meaning to get rid of? You could make yourself a sort of online yard sale/car boot sale.
posted by mskyle at 6:47 AM on April 29, 2021

Selling PDF downloads is pretty easy, and actually quite popular with productivity tools, teacher activities, and more.

- Take some poems (in the public domain!) and make pretty layouts of the text. Or set an inspirational quote across a vacation snapshot.

- Draw up some templates (to do list, weekly menu, your standards shopping list), and sell them.

- Lay out your family recipes neatly, one to a page.

- Make up worksheets for memorizing the names of British counties, or religious lessons, or science vocabulary. The amount of these sold online staggers me -- for home-schoolers and teachers hungry for activities (e.g., https://www.teacherspayteachers.com)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:55 AM on April 29, 2021

Random idea - but, if you want a physical thing people might actually buy without asking them to, it's easy to get a big box of <1USD bicycle lights from alibaba. Whether it could possibly be worth your time to ship them is a different question. (I've only bought them to give away.) Something digital is probably much easier.
posted by eotvos at 8:14 AM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As someone who works in this general software arena, my test companies always sell:

- One Service at an incremental (usually hourly or quarter-hourly) rate
- One non-inventory item, a digital product is a good idea
- One physical good that can be counted and fulfilled/shipped from orders, and brought into the system via Purchase Order

If you want a simple physical good that you can fulfill and also calculate Cost of Goods Sold, and you're only going to "sell" to friends, how about postcards for your physical good? You can create a PO for the cards and stamps, receive them, fulfill the orders, track the cost, and your friends get a postcard from you.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 AM on April 29, 2021 [6 favorites]

If setting up the storefront part of the website is part of the exercise, I think that'd be more interesting to work on if you can come up with something with a few aspects that people might want to filter on. Suppose you wanted to sell stickers, for instance, by printing your digital art onto sticker stock (NB I have no clue whether that's actually a good idea!) - you could let them filter on size, shape, background colour, main foreground colour, monochrome or multicolour, category (e.g. animals), specific thing (e.g. cats), style (photo-realistic or cartoony), whether or not they're in stock...
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:46 AM on April 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

a small physical thing that wouldn't take up much space
Protective sleeves for vaccination cards. (US example). Bulk buy the correct size for your location & sell in packs of 2, 5 or 10.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:43 AM on April 29, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! All great answers, really helpful
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2021

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