Branch Out: Stop Depending On eBay and Amazon for Your Home Business

How to Expand Your Brand and Market Reach Beyond eBay and Amazon

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Don't Put All Your Sales in One Basket. David Crockett | Getty Images

Third-party sellers offer a great way to get your product noticed, especially for home-based business owners. But outlets like eBay and Amazon have restrictions that can dig into your bottom line and limit your ability to acquire new customers. Fortunately, there are options to extend the reach of your home-based business and supplement when these popular selling sites fall short.

One of the major benefits of selling on eBay and Amazon is getting your product noticed by millions of people who use those sites.

However, these sites limit your brand visibility and your ability to enhance customer experience. In order to bridge the gap between the necessity of using seller sites and the need to expand your marketplace, branch out to create your own web presence and make your business visible on other selling and social media sites.

Don't Just Sell it, Tell it With Blogging

Creating a strong online presence is crucial to drawing in new customers and increasing brand recognition. Plenty of people can see your product on eBay and Amazon, but that doesn't guarantee they will buy your product, remember your brand, or even care about where it comes from. Creating a blog is one of the most effective strategies to growing your online following. There are numerous free website builders, including the massively popular WordPress and Drupal, which you can use to easily set up and maintain a website without devoting tons of time.

With your blog created, you can follow and post on similar blogs that fit into your product's niche and expand your online presence. For instance, if your home business specializes in restoring antique furniture, connect with blogs that talk about DIY, tools, historical restoration, and home decor. Once you reach out to new audiences and build your reputation, more people will become familiar with your brand, and they'll search for your specific products by name.

The Social Media Referral

More than 71 percent of people make buying decisions based on social media referrals. In 2014, Facebook and Pinterest directed the most business traffic to websites. With social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, you can personalize and expand your brand and image beyond eBay and Amazon. Due to the increased control over these pages, you can also offer deals on your product that would not be possible on other third-party sites. Although some social media sites have their own drawbacks when it comes to marketing for your business, you can never have too much online presence. The easier it is for people to share your information and content, the more likely your product will get noticed.

Backlinking: Everything Comes Back to the Product

Finding your product using Google search is far easier for the customer if you build backlinks to your website. Backlinking refers to the process of building links from external sites that point back to your domain. Including your link on your social media profiles, engaging with other blogs and industry forums, you can increase the likelihood that your product will be found in Google search.

Other methods for creating backlinks include listing your business on local directories, joining Yahoo and Google groups, commenting on experience sites like Yahoo Answers and creating a Wikipedia page for your business.

Although backlinking is just one part of a broader SEO strategy, the more solid links you have, the higher your business will appear in Google search results.

eBay and Amazon Aren't Your Only Options

EBay and Amazon are the most widely used buying and selling websites, but that doesn't mean you can't list your product on other sites as well. Etsy.com is right behind the top sellers for finding and buying specialty products and can expose your product to a different niche of buyers. Other options include Artbid, Ebid, and Newegg.

You can also set up your own simple ecommerce website to facilitate purchases. Having your own online store allows you to make the rules and you don't have to worry about third-party seller restrictions or fees. Plus you can combine your ecommerce platform with your blog to improve your backlinking efforts, and link them to your social media accounts.

To get new customers, consider offering deals using Groupon or Livingsocial. These options allow people looking for deals to find and try your product.

eBay and Amazon are easy and affordable ways to start selling your product and getting your home business off the ground. But you can take control of your brand and expand your reach by moving beyond these sites. You don’t have to abandon your loyal customers or leave these sites to expand your options. Instead, utilizing other marketing and selling resources makes it easier for others to discover and enjoy your products.

   

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.