No matter what you’re selling on eBay you’ll probably find that product being talked about in forums, and it’s in forums where your can develop a loyal customer base for just about any product. Hence the reason Joan Archer sells hearing aids and bird cages, alongside hundreds of other products on eBay and, instead of trusting eBay’s search engine to find buyers, she directs them from niche forums instead.
The power of niche forums
Joan has worked with the deaf and hard of hearing for more than 30 years, mainly helping them find goods and services to best match their individual special needs.
Until a few years back Joan was talking to and advising people in their own homes and recommending suitable hearing aids, though not selling them direct. Then came the Internet and forums catering for just about every interest known to man, including how to cope with deafness and hearing loss. When that happened some of Joan’s consultancy work began taking place online, through forums, at which point she spotted a very simple way to identify high profit products that always have plenty of buyers.
In short, Joan now sells more than one hundred different products on eBay, from hearing aids to wheelchairs for disabled dogs, reproduction Victorian garden ornaments, beehives and outdoor aviaries, and much more besides.
All-in-all she banks more than £10,000 every month selling goods she has dropshipped, so she doesn’t have to buy stock up-front and she doesn’t have to deliver bulky items either.
But dropshipping isn’t actually the secret of her success; it’s the way she finds buyers that makes Joan’s business so very different to most others on eBay.
Joan devised her product-sourcing method when she spotted people talking about their various problems in forums for the hard of hearing and members telling others about products they’d found useful and others they hadn’t. “I realised I was getting all of this information straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and it was the products receiving the highest recommendations in forums that I also recommended to my home-based clients.”
When she realised how easy it was to identify products receiving the best recommendations in forums for the hard of hearing she began looking at other forums and spotting products to benefit alternative niche markets.
So in forums for beekeepers she found members talking about specific types of beehives, in a pet health forum people were talking about wheelchair aids for disabled cats and dogs, in a cooking forum they were discussing the health and cooking benefits of one particular brand of vinegar.
And that’s just a couple of the hundreds of niche forums Joan visited for ideas about products she eventually began selling on eBay and Amazon, and lately from a handful of niche market affiliate sites also.
Joan gives these tips to help our readers copy her formula:
• First of all, you have to find the right forums, by typing, for example “deaf forums” into the search box at Google or other major search engine and see what comes up. You could be more specific by typing “deaf forums UK”, but always make sure that the words you enter meet your exact requirements. And of course, apart from forums for the hard of hearing you can search for “forums disabled pets”, “forums bullying at school”, “forums professional photographers”, and so on, almost ad infinitum.
• Once you get a list of forums that interest you, check how popular the sites are and how many members they have, also how many daily or weekly postings there are. Ideally, you need forums with hundreds of regular visitors and thousands of postings each week. If you’re happy with what you see, then check their rules and regulations as to what you can and what
you can not do as a member, because apart from studying product recommendations at the forum, you’ll ultimately be placing your own recommendations and driving customers to your eBay listings.
• When you join, become part of the crowd by entering your own posts and replying to other people’s postings, before recommending your own products on eBay, or Amazon or other marketplace.
• Each forum will ask you to create a profile and you really should take the time to do this, as other members will begin to trust you when they can see a little bit of information that makes you into a real person, rather than just a name on the forum list. Within that profile, you can also describe the kind of products you sell and your expertise in whatever subject the forum targets.
• So, you’ve joined a few niche forums, you’ve contributed by adding good information in your postings and you’ve added your eBay shop or listing details to your profile, and a few weeks later you can begin recommending products and inviting people to visit your eBay shop. But that invitation must be subtle, you can’t shout about your product inside your postings.
• Try linking your forum postings to a specific product listing so you can test which forums generate the highest profits. Once you know which forums make the most money for you, continue posting to those forums and abandon others that don’t pay their way. Then go about studying and joining more forums for similar and very different products and eventually you’ll have hundreds of different dropshipped products listed and making money for you every day.
by Avril Harper
eBay Trading Expert
Avril Harper is the editor of eBay Confidential and helps new and expert eBay traders find ways to increase their eBay profits. You can sign up for her free weekly eletter here:
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