How to Start a Business Selling Soaps Online
Soap making is something you’ve enjoyed for a while now. People have told you how much they’ve loved your soaps, and you’ve enjoyed the opportunity to test out new ingredients and produce some beautiful bars of soap.
So why not take it the next step? Why not turn your hobby into a real business?
How many times have you heard others lament that they were putting up with the daily grind to support their hobbies? This is your chance to earn money doing something you actually enjoy.
Having said that, transitioning your favorite hobby into your daily job can be a little jarring. It’s not just about having fun, anymore. It’s also about work. And that can change things.
That’s not to say you won’t have fun. You’ll still be expressing your creativity and developing wonderful products all the time.
There are just a few things you need to keep in mind if you’re going to start a business selling soap online.
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 okay, at best. 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.
(One final note for this startup phase is that any business that sells hygiene or cosmetic products, could have a number of regulations that you must conform to depending on the state. Be sure to check research as you begin this process.)
But 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 10-item product line. As you gain more customers, you’re going to spot more opportunities to grow.
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. (Not sure how to get started with that? We have plenty of great soap recipes you can play with.)
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.
Perfect Your Soap Making Skills and Processes
You can really set yourself apart from the competition by selling soaps that are of a much higher quality (in appearance, aroma, and actual cleaning ability). You can use some simple soap making tips to perfect your recipes, and then determine how you can increase your production without losing any quality.
This is particularly important in a market where people are starting to be suspicious of the ingredients that goes into the mass market soaps. They want to feel confident that their products are safe and natural, and as you build your brand as a maker of quality soaps, more people will want to keep buying from you.
You Need a Brand to Sell Your Soap
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.
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.
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.
And if you’ve build a strong brand, you won’t have to.
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. Proper advertising is necessary, though, 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.
Run It Like a Business, Not a Hobby
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.
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 trip 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.