Do you run a soap making business and you need ideas to promote it? If YES, here are 20 smart tips on how to sell your home made soaps online successfully.
If you want to turn your soap making hobby into a business, most people are terribly concerned on how to make the best soap that has the softest of texture and fragrance. When the first batch is ready, they now remember that the soap needs to be sold beyond just hawking them off to their friends and neighbours.
This is now where you have to look out for the various ways you can sell your soap so you just don’t keep piling up merchandise. If you basically run your soap making business from home, one of the ways you can sell your soap easily is to sell them online. Yes, what can be easier than taking a few classy pictures of your soap and then posting them online while you wait for the dollars to roll in. Well, it is really not as easy as that.
If you want to be successful with selling your soap online, there are a few things you have to put into consideration as well as a few unwritten rules you have to follow. Here are a few marketing techniques and sales skills that would help you sell your soap online to prospective customers.
20 Smart Tips on How to Sell Homemade Soap Online
- Decide who your target customers are
One of the first rules of marketing is to decide who your customers would be. By knowing the characteristics of the people you will be selling to before hand, it will enable you make products that will suit their taste and behaviour. The colors, scents and type of soaps you sell will attract different customers.
Determine the age, income level and other demographics of your target market to refine your marketing techniques. You’ll need to know what they read and what websites they visit to find the right mix of advertising. This will also enable you make soaps that are tailored to their various needs at that particular time.
- Presentation is everything
Let’s face it, if people need soap just for the sake of getting clean, they know where to get them. Special soaps are an art form and people love the uniqueness of these products, their scents, ingredients, texture and appearance, these are the things that make up the whole package.
In person, people can experience all these things, but on the internet, they can only see the soap. This is why the way you present your creative work can actually make or break your online business. If you plan on selling online, you absolutely need to take high resolution photos and consider packaging the soap nicely.
You really want to showcase what you’ve made in the best way possible. If you are not 110% satisfied with your current photography online, you need to improve it. You just have to.
There are too many platforms online and even social media apps that don’t allow for photography mediocrity. We live in an online, visual world now. Your soap could literally be made from the best of products and ingredients, but if your pictures suck, nobody will care.
- Make a list of places you want to sell your soap online
There are many options as to where you can go about selling your soapy creations when it comes to the internet. Etsy is a great place to sell all kinds of creative and craft based products, including soap. The upside is you can immediately tap into a targeted source of buyers and the costs are very low.
The downside is you are competing against established sellers with a reputation and good reviews. A similar platform is called Amazon Handmade, which is designed specifically to help artisans sell their wares to the right buyers.
Either one of these are potentially great places to sell. If you have enough patience to put in the needed effort and build your reputation as a great seller, you can make it work. But you can also do this on your own. There are many websites that allow you to sell your products online and different ways you can go about it.
For example, you could sell soap to hotels, resorts, health retreats or boutique stores. All you need is a simple website showcasing your products.
This looks much more professional than showing business people an Etsy store when they are evaluating your products. One simple way to get them to your website is to call them. Ask if you can send them an email about what you have to offer.
It’s normal if you get a lot of No’s, but you’ll definitely get some nods. Within that email, refer them to your website where they’ll love what they find since you took awesome photos and make great soap. The fact remains that you only need a handful of these clients to create a steady recurring income.
- Get yourself established online
For you to be able to sell successfully online, you have to put up some good appearance. You need to put up a website and in there you should write about your products. You can equally put up articles and write-ups in other blogs and websites, while of course linking them to your website.
Learn online marketing techniques to incorporate keywords so that searchers can find you. Advertise on sites that your prospective customers visit. When you do all these, you are building up an image for yourself, and in a couple of years, your own followership will grow to the point that you no more need aggressive marketing.
- Take Note of Soap Selling Regulations
You can have the best ideas and products in the world, but you need to know how to sell soap legally if you want to have a lasting business. Turns out there are some FDA regulations on handmade soap that you should be aware of. Depending on how the soap is made and it’s intended use, it can actually be classified as a cosmetic or a drug.
As boring and annoying as this aspect of your business is, it’s super important. Take the time to do your research on this carefully. The last thing you want to do is destroy your business on a technicality, so it pays to know and operate within the relevant laws.
- Basic rule: Start Small
One thing most entrepreneurs will advice you in business is for you to start small. You don’t need to be the Amazon of homemade soaps the day you launch your business. It’s better to specialize and make a name for yourself by doing a few things really well, instead of a lot of things, that you don’t really get professional in everything.
Keep your initial product line small enough to handle so you can focus on a single market. You can also get started without a website to call your own. Instead, you can begin to sell directly to customers on other sites like eBay or Etsy, and start building a name for yourself.
This is usually the most affordable way to start selling because, while there are some fees, they are set up to make it easy for new businesses to jump right in. Then, as you start to generate some reliable income from these initial endeavors, you can think about branching out a little further.
- Test your products before trying to sell them
If you’ve been making homemade soaps for a while already, you’ve probably gotten some positive feedback from family, friends and others who have used your soaps. If it’s a newer endeavor, make sure you are confident of your products’ quality and marketability.
Give them away to relatives, friends and neighbors to get feedback. This is really important because you would not want to make all the efforts in getting customers online only for them to not like your product. That could be the beginning of your failure in your online soap selling business.
- Use Google ads to precisely target only people in your radius
With AdWords campaigns you can target only the people around your store or home who are interested in buying your handmade soaps. You may have to learn the best ways to manage your advert. Since you are just starting out and would not want to start hiring any AdWord experts, you need to learn to do it on your own. This can serve you in more ways than one.
- Have a Plan to Grow
It’s a good idea to start small, but that doesn’t mean you have to always limit yourself to a 5-item product line. As you gain more customers, you’re going to spot more opportunities to grow. The first rule is to listen to your customers. What did they like about your previous products? How can you improve on them?
Half the fun of this business is experimenting with recipes to create the most unique and visually attractive soaps, and this is the opportunity to develop your offerings and slowly grow your line. Just remember, though, a plan for growth isn’t just about what you will sell, but how you will sell it.
It’s a lot of fun to make and develop new soaps, but if that takes all your attention, some of the important business functions can start to slide. So, create a plan. Make sure that you don’t add more products than you’re capable of delivering. Don’t get so caught up with the fun of the R&D that you aren’t taking enough time to run the business.
Determine where you want to go with this business. Are you in it to earn a few extra dollars, or do you want to have a retail store front or distribute through a local chain of stores? There a lot of possibilities, and if you have a plan from the very beginning, you’ll have a much greater chance of seeing it happen.
- Make branding a priority
People want to buy from someone they trust. They may not be able to get to know you on a personal level, but they can get to know your brand’s reputation pretty easily, especially if they have tested and have trusted your product. Trust and recognition are immediate competitive advantages. It may take some time to build them up, but they will quickly become some of your most valuable assets.
Your brand involves your colors, your logo, and your tagline, but it’s also about the voice and the personality of the business. It’s about their experience with you. So, as you go through this startup period, take the time to carefully define your brand with the understanding that it will guide many of your future business decisions.
- Create Value For your Product
There are a lot of people out there trying to sell soap online, so there will always be competition in the marketplace, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise. You need to be competitive to keep up, but you shouldn’t just try to compete on the price alone.
In this industry, people are looking for quality. They’re looking for unique. They can get cheap and generic off the shelf at the grocery store. They want to buy from you because you have created something that has a lot of value. So, compete on that level – compete by providing more value. Offering better products from better soap making supplies may mean charging a little more, but that’s okay, too.
You just have to make sure you’re targeting the right market – the market that really appreciates quality and value. There are a few ways to start building your brand around value. Start learning how to take amazing photos of your products. Be transparent about your soap making processes and highlight some testimonials from happy customers.
- Advertising is Part of the Business
Advertising is one of those things a lot of new, professional soap makers don’t want to think about. They assume that it’s going to be really involved and really expensive. What they essentially do is just stick their soap online and pray that people get to buy.
Proper advertising is necessary because you can’t just sit back and hope someone stumbles across your products online. And, when it comes right down to it, there are some very affordable and effective options for advertising online.
Social media is the simplest way to get started. Be active in social communities, write blogs and publish them. Make videos and put them on YouTube. The only cost here is time, but if you stick with it, you can start to build a solid following.
Don’t try to get on every platform at once. Like the rest of your business, start with a handful of properties and go from there. Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook are good starting points. Facebook even lets you pay for ads that are surprisingly affordable. Eventually, these communities can start sending interested people to your online store. If you are able to keep these people, you are well on your way to success.
- Run It Like a Business, Not a Hobby
A lot of people who run their businesses from home are sometimes tempted to see it as a hobby instead of a full fledged business.
Remember, every business has to deal with taxes, insurance, shipping methods, keeping everything properly updated on websites, and more. If the thought of that level of business management doesn’t seem like much fun, be sure to consult with someone who can help you through it all. But again, like I will say, no knowledge is a waste.
- Never Give Up
There are inevitably going to be some speedbumps between startup and full-time business. Everyone has to start somewhere, though, and no one gets a free ride to the top.
It will take some time, and it won’t always be easy (and you may even occasionally miss the days when you made soap just for fun), but in the end, when you’re your own boss, you are doing something you love and getting to call it a living, you’ll see that it was all worth it. So the basic thing here is just to keep at it with all your might.
- Email newsletters are a must
It is getting harder and harder for online businesses to get in front of potential buyers through social media. You can post, tweet and Instagram until your fingers are numb, but unless you pay for advertising, the system is such that you just aren’t going to be able to hit as many people as you may like.
And if you do pay for ads through social media, it is still a sketchy game – you might get a lot of new likes, but do the ads always translate to sales? Email is still the best way to connect with your customers.
Whether someone signs up for your newsletter from a form on your site, or a subscribe pop-up, or an opt-in sign-up at the check-out page, your customer (or prospect) has taken the step to trust you with their information. They have given you permission to contact them directly through their email. This is great. You must take advantage of this opportunity as much as you can.
- Price your products so that your business makes a profit
Yet another problem handmade soap makers usually face is the problem of pricing. The vast majority of soap crafters don’t have formal business education, so when they start their businesses, they usually still see it as a hobby. And so when it comes to pricing, they usually don’t have the nerve to charge enough because they have this hobby perspective.
Many folks do just a wee bit of market research and settle on a price for their bar of soap or jar of sugar scrub that usually undermines the blood, sweat and tears that went into making each one. As crazy as this may sound, don’t even try to compete on price.
There is always going to be someone out there selling cheaper than you, but do you think that matters to companies like Apple, Nike or Victoria Secret? Know what you have and stick with your worth. If what you are selling is worth the price, people who know the value will still buy from you.
- Get your own website
It is relatively cheap to set up a website, and another sweet thing about it is that you can do it on your own. Your website would help you in a great way to become autonomous on the internet. Etsy is good, and you can bring in some revenue through it, but having your own URL is unmatched when it comes to publicity.
- Set goals for your business
Fewer than 3% of Americans have clearly defined, well-written goals that they review daily. One thing you have to keep in your mind is that you can’t hit a target you don’t have. If you don’t know what direction to take in your business and personal life (and how they intertwine), find someone to help you. Everyone needs a coach or a mentor every once in a while.
In your long list of goals, you need to create a budget for your business. Figure out how much everything is costing you to make and budget according to how much revenue you are projecting your business to make each month. And again, if you need help in doing this, find someone to help you.
- Offer Variety
Like they say, variety is the spice of life. Customers would rather buy one bar of each type of soap than several bars of one kind of soap. Most people like trying new products and comparing them. Plus everyone loves variety in day-to-day life. To take advantage of this in growing your business, you should ensure that you offer several kinds of great soaps to your customers and they will want to try them all.
Learn the properties of the soap components, as people will ask what soap suits best for their skin. Be an expert in the products you sell. By doing this, you will notice that your customers will start feeling your confidence and attention to their needs. This can place you in a rung above other soap sellers online.
- Simplify your menu
While a lot of soap sellers may be tempted to start off with the best and rare soaps, but sometimes this may not be the best strategy. It would pay you in the long run if you reduce the amount of products you sell, and in doing so, make them with impeccable quality and set up a system that is easily reproduced. Once your business starts growing, the time it takes to photograph/describe/title/edit etc. etc. every new product will be time you will not have.
Furthermore, people will get lost with too many choices. If you currently have 30 different products you sell, try to cut it down by 30 – 50% and then make those top-notch remaining products with the very best ingredients and packaging. You will be surprised at how this helps your business. It allows you to keep a lower inventory of materials, and it hones your customer in on the cream of your business.