Although we see the economy slowing down in so many areas, and many of us and our colleagues are unemployed, the best news is that online sales in America are continuing not just to rise, but to reach out for the stars!

2010 is predicted by many sources to see the beginning of a spike of up to a 50% rise in online selling. For many people this represents a huge opportunity. You do not have to go back and work in an insecure situation for an employer you don’t like. You can choose to spend more quality time with your kids, and work the hours that suit you.

Don’t get me wrong, you will still have to put in your 40 hours a week, or even more. You can however arrange these hours around other activity to enhance your quality of life. I know you can read lots of promises about spending an hour a day and making millions, but that is a very outdated concept – we need a grip on reality – the self styled gurus who promise such rewards are feeding off people who have little money and big dreams. If you want to make money on the internet it does require hard work and long hours for the first few years usually. What is cool though, is that you can do these hours around taking kids to school, visiting elderly parents, contributing to the community, pursuing a hobby or sport or just fit them in around a low level job you hate.

There has never been a better time for Americans to consider having their own online retail or service business. If you have a hobby about which you are quite passionate – maybe you can turn this into an income, buying and selling equipment, consumables or even models. For example - If your passion is historic farm equipment, perhaps you have a chance to collect other farmers ‘rubbish’ clean it, paint it and turn it into spare parts for other historic collectors all over the country. Perhaps your passion is collecting trading cards, or toy cars, or teddy bears – the same thinking applies. Can you repair them? Can you buy damaged ones and resell them? Can you just trade them? I know someone who paid for his wedding by buying broken collections of trading cards at fairs, and then selling them singly on the internet – he made thousands in just a few months using well known classified websites.

Are you a budding young fashion designer? Can you build fabulous fashion from scrap materials, recycled fabrics purchased from a charity shop? You can sell this online and begin to build your own fashion empire. If you start doing this, I especially love jeans and t-shirts from recycled vintage fabrics, so I may be your first customer!

Don’t go off and pay hundreds to build your own website – nothing will happen unless you become a webmaster, and then you don’t have time to pursue your real business. No one will find a new website without a lot of continuous effort on your part. Instead take a webshop on easysellamerica or ebay or similar high profile classified site. These shops cost as little as 10-12 dollars a month, and the traffic is already visiting the site! It is like having a small shop on the Main Street Mall but without the rents and overheads.

Once you are established you can then build your own site, link your webshop to it until you have enough traffic and customers, then decide to join the online retailing community.

This is all so easy. You do not need to pay a guru your last dollars to tell you how to do it. You can spend this money on getting started in whatever you want to do. You do not need to pay for traffic to your site, you do not need anything but a passion for what you do, an idea that others like you will want to pay for, and basic internet skills to place ads online. Some classified sites are free for basic ads, so no cost or risk.

What do you have to lose? Start building your future, and stop just waiting for that next job. Lift yourself out of despair and celebrate something exciting to do today! You can even do it part time whilst you take an interim job until you sell enough for a main income.

On the internet there is no discrimination or prejudice. No one will tell you that you are too old, you failed the medical or you do not have enough experience. They either want what you have or they do not – it is that simple.

Some Tips on How To Sell Effectively Online:

Use an existing site to start and set up a webshop, people will find you faster.

Price your products or services to meet the market, if you are too expensive or too cheap, people will not buy from you.

Tell everyone in your neighbourhood, family and circle of friends and acquaintances and give them a piece of paper, or a card if you can afford it (special tip– try Vista Print – they often have free offers online) with your webshop address on it. Tell them what you do, be proud and happy about your passion.

Promote your business at every opportunity and above all have fun, then the money will start to flow (provided you have a viable product or service, of course – this means don’t try to sell icicles to Iceland.)

Provide every customer with exceptional customer service. This does not mean to give huge discounts, it just means be responsive, answer their questions. Be helpful and always polite, even when sometimes the customer is unreasonable – that is just how some customers are. If you satisfy an unhappy customer, they will mostly be your best supporter.

Provide reasonable delivery times.

Accept PayPal and Credit Cards (via PayPal).

If your product allows, ship anywhere as long as they pay the costs – does it matter where your customer lives? This also means outside America. You can trust PayPal payments system; it is very hard for someone to cheat you.

Do not ship until they pay you, and never give out your bank account details. Do not respond to emails who offer you more than your asking price, it is a reverse scam. Anyway, do not worry, they won’t pay via PayPal.

If customer responds to your webshop, or ad, via email they expect a timely answer. Check your email, every day at least, if possible twice per day. Respond quickly, you would be shocked how many emails from potential customers go unanswered and business is lost. Truly, I know someone who missed a $250,000 order because he didn’t bother to check his emails. This represented one month’s sales for him, in one extraordinary sale, and he missed it. The customer bought elsewhere in the interim.

If you can offer advice then write articles about your product or service, or hobby, and post them on ezines. You can put a link back to your ad or webshop in the resource box and this further promotes your business.

If possible publish a nice smiling friendly photo on your webshop, promise people the service levels you are willing to offer. Keep it appropriate though –For example, do not use a semi nude photo on something you want to sell kids, or parents.

Be honest, be happy, and celebrate what you do – you will feel good, your customers will love it, and so will your friends.

With these basic tips in mind, it is easy to start your own online business, with minimal risk and build something that no one can take away from you. Don’t miss out on the easiest and best time to start a business ever – Right Now!

Author's Bio: 

Terrie Anderson is the author of The Little Red Success Book, 30 Days of Inspiration, 999 Legendary Selling For the 21st Century (due March 2010) and other books and publications on Success, Happiness, Human Potential, High Performance Team Building and Essence of Leadership.
She is also a CoFounder of Easy Online Portals Pty Limited, the owners of a classified portal engine with free basic advertising.

Contact Terrie Anderson via the website

Buy Terrie’s books on Amazon, Booktopia, Create Space or order via your favourite bookstore.