Why you should always ‘look and listen’ for potential product ideas

Keeping alert and ensuring your eyes and your ears are open at all times can potentially help you and your online business!

It’s simple really. By being alert you can spot product ideas whatever you are doing and wherever you are!

When it comes to ‘what should I sell’, too much choice can sometimes be worse than not enough choice when it comes to selecting a niche market or a product to resell. And when it comes to selling online there is often so much choice it can definitely be hard to know where to start.

That’s why I thought I’d let you into a simple method that you can put into practice anywhere, anytime that will help when you’re looking for a new product idea. This is really easy stuff but it will help you get going, so please read carefully and follow my step by step instructions if you are looking for a new niche or product.

Create a list of things you see

The first thing to do is to simply look around you right now and start making a list of the different items that you can see.

If you’re in an office you might start with wall chart, printer, laptop, pen, diary, notebook, desk, mug, memory stick… If you are at home you might write down clothes, tablecloth, photo frame, cake tin, bed linen, toys, towel.

If you are outside you might think about garden tools, dog lead, seeds, barbecue, washing pegs…the list goes on and on! And you shouldn’t feel silly about writing down even the little things that you can see around you because you’re going to whittle down the list in the next step.

Once you’re finished with the area that you’re currently in have a quick wander around and add other bits and pieces to your list. You’re sure to find a wealth of potential items inside and outside and even in the street, so it should be relatively easy to come up with a list of a hundred or more items in a really short space of time.

Even if you’re reading this on the move on a mobile device you can still start to make a list. If you are on the tube, train or bus consider the different types of clothing that people around you are wearing, the backpacks that they use to carry their possessions, the car seats used to secure their children…

Now make your list smaller

Once you have completed step one you will have a list of lots of products, but don’t worry because now is the time to go through that list and highlight between five and ten of the items that particularly catch your attention.

This could be because those items are something that you are specifically interested in such as a cake tin because you enjoy cooking, dog lead because you enjoy walking your dog, or laptop because you enjoy education or IT, or just something that you might know a little bit about.

You might have a very long list in front of you, but you’ll be surprised; there will definitely be a few options that will jump out at you or that you are drawn towards.

So, hopefully you’re starting to see what I’m getting at here. Spending just a few minutes on this will give you a few ideas about prospective products that you can then research further with a view to sourcing to resell.

Remember that these items don’t necessarily have to be within a niche market that you might already operate in online as you can always sell from different venues – eBay, Amazon or your own website or all three together! On eBay inparticular it’s very easy to set up a new selling ID if you want to keep your niches separate.

Next, research your choices

Ok, so it’s great having your list but you still need to know if there is a general demand for the products that you have in mind (and you must remember that there is the possibility that there won’t be for some of your items) and of course you also need to know that it is possible to source these items for a price that will make you a profit when you come to resell.

To check this, head over to eBay first and search for one of the products you highlighted earlier on your list and look out for the following:

  • How many other sellers are offering similar items?
  • Are any of these sellers running big stores that you may struggle to compete with?
  • Look at the completed listings; how many of the items are selling?
  • What sort of price did the seller receive for each sale?

In doing this you will be able to see whether the product has potential. If it is not immediately obvious, just drill down into a more specific version of the item that you originally considered, for example if ‘cake tin’ was on your list, try searching for a specific size, colour or shape of cake tin.

For example, bog standard cake tins do sell well but there is lots of competition. My search on eBay for ‘round cake tin’ yielded 10,841 matches, and ‘square cake tin’ gave 1134 matches, whereas a slightly more ‘niche’ cake tin will have less competition and also sell well. My search for ‘checkerboard cake tin’ resulted in just 34 matches, just like this one with 529 sales from the listing so far.

So, you should be refining your initial ideas by this point and will start to have a good idea of potential products. This means that now it’s time to think about where you can actually go to find some of the products that you want to sell.

There are plenty of research avenues and techniques you can use and as this eletter isn’t specifically about researching stock I’ll leave that with you to think about, but if you need advice regarding sourcing strategies, membership to my online resource, The Source Report will help you. You can see the full details here.

Always keep your eyes and ears wide open

Your home or office isn’t the only place where you can find inspiration for potential products to sell online though. Once you get into the frame of mind of looking at every scene as an opportunity you will soon be overflowing with ideas. I’m forever finding product ideas in the most unlikely of places!

  • What about the magazine supplements that come with the Sunday papers – don’t put them in the recycling bin – they are full of innovative ideas that can be investigated further.
  • When you are out and about, look around you. What are the high street stores promoting this week? Is there a product that you can take inspiration from?
  • What are your friends talking about this week? Is there a particular item or subject that they can’t stop raving about or that crops up in conversation over and over again?
  • If you have children you’ll know that they provide inspiration every day. Listen to what they talk about not only with you, but with their friends as well – they are full of good ideas that can be adapted, believe me!

Wherever you may be at this moment it’s a place where you will find inspiration for your next product so make sure you always keep your eyes and ears well and truly open.

Finally, it’s an idea to keep a notepad with you whenever possible so that you can jot down ideas as they come to you. This way, every time you think, ‘Oooh I could sell that!’ you can write it down and look into it later rather than getting distracted, then trying to rack your brain later for that great idea you had earlier…and that you’ve now forgotten!