Product Ideas to Try When Your Sales are Lagging

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

Are your sales lagging? Maybe it’s time for a product reinvention, so I looked at Amazon’s Top Sellers and Movers & Shakers for the week to get some inspiration. Below are four product strategies you may want to consider.

Sell Products in Sets

This black choker set is one of the top-selling items on Amazon, and it likely has to do with the fact that the black choker is such a hot fashion trend right now, and comes in so many styles that buyers just can’t decide on one. So they don’t have to with this 10-Choker Set, and sets means you get to sell more products at one time.

Try a New Material

Onesies have always been popular for babies, then they became popular for adults, so now let’s go back to babies with this top-selling item on Amazon – a waterproof onesie for those rainy days. A cross between a snow suit and splash pants, I would have bought this for sure when my kids were younger.

Find a New Purpose

I have a lot of clients that sell laptop stands for the desk, but people really do work a lot while sitting in bed, either late at night at home or when they are staying in a hotel. Therefore it made sense that a “laptop stand for bed” became a top search on Amazon. You may not even have to change your design, but rather just the way you “label” it.

Add the Quirky Factor

Cat bed caves really took off on Etsy first as round pods, but now companies are getting even more creative such as this top-selling Amazon cat bed that comes in the shape of a shark, because quirky always gets attention. I’m sure it will have great editorial potential when Shark Week rolls around.

Wondering why people are not buying your products? With my Product Consultation, I will evaluate whether or not your products are attractive to customers, if you are on top of the competition, what hot trends you should be taking advantage of, what new customers you can target, fresh product ideas to try and where you need to improve and add more value. You can order from my Etsy shop or Selz shop.

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“Etsy Shop Critique – What a deal! Attention Getting Marketing offers great insight and that you can implement as soon as your shop critique is complete. Would highly recommend this product to any Etsy seller, seasoned or beginner. Thank you, Gail!” Jane, Made by Jane Design on Etsy.

© 2017 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

Product Photography I Love! One King’s Lane’s Text Fly-outs

by G.B. Oliver

Are you using your product photos to point out or highlight unique features and/or uses for your products? It can be a really effective selling tool.

Online retailer One Kings Lane is a great example of a shop that uses  text fly-outs on their product photos to show the customer the value, use, target market and prominent features. You can add text to your photos using any photo editing program, so I thought I would give you some inspiration.

How to Use Your Photos to Sell Your Products


Describe How It Can Be Used: Remember it is not always obvious to people what use they may have for your product and that could be why they end up not buying it. So point out how to use it, how to display it, how to wear it, etc., but keep it short and simple.

Continue reading “Product Photography I Love! One King’s Lane’s Text Fly-outs”

New Target Market Ideas for Your Small Business

by G.B. Oliver

I have helped a lot of small businesses and one thing I always encourage, is to think of all the potential markets for your products.


So, if you have been predominately selling your products and services to the consumer or end user, why not expand into the business market as well (and I don’t mean wholesale).

For example, let’s say you sell artwork. Are you strictly focused on selling to people who want art in their homes? What about businesses that want art? Do you know how often the phrase, “Dental Office Art” is Googled? Continue reading “New Target Market Ideas for Your Small Business”

How Much Money Are You Really Making In a Year, Selling Online (You May Be Surprised!)

by G.B. Oliver

My last three blog posts have been case studies, based on real businesses, because I see the same problems cropping up over and over and I want to clarify for you, whether you should even be in the business you are in.  This post sums up the bottom line, based on the things I discussed in the last three posts, so you can really understand if your business is going to work.

$8.80 Necklace at Forever 21

This Jewelry Seller Cannot Compete on Price with Big Retailers

The other day I saw someone who was selling a handmade necklace for $11.50. It was quite a detailed design, like the one in the photo above. Obviously, she is trying to compete with big retailers like Forever 21 and H&M, who charge the same low price for necklaces such as these.

However, Forever 21 and H&M buy from wholesalers whose jewelry is made in factories with low wage workers, and due to the volume they create, these wholesalers can also get materials at ridiculously low prices.

Therefore, an indie designer will always have trouble competing in the low-priced market, if a lengthy amount of labor is involved in creating the product.

What Is The Absolute MAXIMUM She Will Make In a Year?

If this necklace takes her an hour to make, and I am sure it does, again, her hourly wage is now $11.50 less materials, less marketplace fees, less PayPal fees, less other business expenses and less other business tasks that take up her time (i.e. going to the post office to ship product, marketing her shop).

Therefore, if she ends up profiting $8 per hour, and works an 8 hour day and a 5 day work week, then she is making approximately $16,000 a year, and that is the maximum annual income she will ever make.

Why is this the maximum? Because she cannot physically make more than 8 necklaces a day.

If she want to make more than $16,000 a year, she must do one or all of the following:

  • Raise her price
  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to make a necklace
  • Source cheaper materials
  • Reduce other business expenditures

Now I ask you – what is the maximum annual income you will earn from your business, based on this formula? If it is not what you want to make, you have to rethink your business model.

Same Pricing Model, If You Sell Services

It is the same thing if you offer services. If you want to make $500 a day offering graphic design services, for example, then you have to charge an hourly rate based on $500/8 = $62.50 an hour.

So if a graphic design will take you 2 hours to make, you will charge at least $125 for the job (because we are not including other expenses at this point) in order to make your goal of $500 a day. And that is not including communication with the customer and the time that takes up, as well as other non-revenue generating business tasks.

Plus, you also have to try and get enough jobs for one day to make up all 8 hours. There will be days when you don’t fill up all 8 hours with design requests, so you may want to factor that into your price as well.

FINAL WORD: You have to make money! That is the whole point of being in business. You don’t want to find out at the end of the year, when you are doing your taxes, that your annual income did not justify the amount of time and effort you put into your business. Make sure your business model works!

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Need More Marketing and/or Business Advice?

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© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

Stop Killing Your Profit Margins with Special Packaging Customers Don’t Care About

by G.B. Oliver

Sorry if the headline is harsh, but I want you to make money!

I was doing a consultation on a very nice online jewelry shop, and the seller was making the same mistake a lot of other small online sellers seem to do. Every item is sent to the customer in a beautiful gift box. And for free. So I have to ask – why?

Designer Kate Spade charges a small fee for gift boxes
Designer Kate Spade charges a small fee for gift boxes

There are so many things wrong with this I am not sure where to start:

  • First of all, what if it is not a gift? The box is then a wasted cost and definitely not an incentive to buy.
  • What if it is a gift and the buyer doesn’t like the gift box you’re offering? They are just going to toss it anyway, so again, a wasted cost.
  • How much is it costing you to offer these gift boxes that the majority of its buyers don’t care about, eating into probably already slim profits?
  • How is this gift box affecting shipping charges, which without it could then be lowered, and low shipping charges are more of an incentive to buy.
  • What if the buyer orders 5 items? Are you going to send 5 gift boxes? That becomes a pretty large shipment.

In the last year I have ordered clothing and jewelry from many mid to high-end online stores, and guess what? Each time my items came individually packaged in plastic bags. It didn’t bother me. If it means my shipping charges are lower due to less weight and bulk, so be it. I don’t need any more boxes.

But there are cases when clever packaging can work. The other day I bought a pair of earrings at a popular retail fashion chain. The salesperson handed me the earrings, small as they were, in a mid-sized reusable cushioned bag with fabric handles that could be used for a lunch bag or small tote.  It seemed excessive considering how small the earrings were, but it was neon green with their logo taking up both sides, so it would basically act as free advertising for them anywhere I took it. Now, this is smart packaging. And the cost of the bag is essentially an advertising cost, not a packaging cost.

Now, by all means, offer gift wrapping or gift boxes as a value added service that you charge for, $2 or $3 to recoup your costs, or just offer it for free during the holiday season.  Plus, it is dependent on price. If you are selling a $600 necklace, then yes you should probably put it in a box. But for low to moderate priced jewelry, it’s not an issue.

And let your customers know that you don’t use fancy packaging (just protective packaging to avoid damage) because you want to save them these unnecessary costs and it’s better for the environment (well, not plastic). This way there are no surprises, they know how it will be arriving, and they will appreciate what you are trying to do as a small business person.

FINAL WORD: Small businesses need to maximize profit margins in order to offer competitive prices and still make money. Therefore, do away with any unnecessary costs that are not going to impact the buying decision.

Need More Marketing and/or Business Advice?

I offer a variety of affordable consulting services. Just let me know your needs below:

© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

Product Photography I Love – Upsell More of Your Products with Vignette-Style Photos

by G.B. Oliver

When you group a variety of items together in a manner that works and compliments each other, it is called a vignette. Photos in which products are incorporated into vignettes can be highly effective for selling your products in many ways.

  1. Helps people visualize how to use your product
  2. Helps show the perspective of size
  3. Helps upsell your other products if they are shown in the photo

Take this product photo from the online store, Wisteria:


Why It Works: This photo is for the textual wall art on the left. What I like about it, is that it gives you an idea of how to use the wall art, plus you get a good idea of the actual size (maybe not as big as you initially thought), and it helps upsell the other Wisteria products in the photo, such as the oars, the fish, the mirror, even the table, because it all looks so great together.

You can do this kind of photo for virtually any type of product, from wedding products and vintage items to pet and beauty products.

How-to-photograph-your-productsEven if you just sell one type of product, display them together, as in this photo from One Kings Lane.

Why It Works: If you sell candles, why just promote one candle? Have a photo that shows how a mix of your candles look together. It may be enough to convince a buyer to buy them all because they want to duplicate the look.

Great-product-photography-tipsIf you sell a variety of products, why not show them bundled together as part of a gift basket like this one from One Kings Lane.

Why It Works: You don’t necessarily have to offer the gift basket, but it does make the buyer think about maybe including your product in one, or how buying several of your products would make a great gift.






FINAL WORD: Photos can always sell products, especially with the current popularity of visual social media sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr. Just try to find creative ways to photograph and display your products that will encourage customers to buy more. 

Not Making Sales? Need Some Creative Marketing Ideas?

Since I specialize in helping small business selling online, I offer extremely affordable consulting services that will make a difference for your business. Just fill in the form below for more information, email me at to inquire or see my Marketing Services page.

© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

6 Popular Blogs That Will Mention Your Sale

by G.B. Oliver

Having a sale in your online shop and not sure where to promote it? There are a variety of popular blogs that have regular features, typically on Fridays, where they promote online retailers having sales.

Now, I cannot guarantee they will add you to the list, but it is worth a shot. You could also try adding your sale in their comments section, if you see that they allow others to do it.

Deals of the Day at Lucky Magazine Online
Deals of the Day at Lucky Magazine Online

Where to Promote Your Sale is one of the most widely read blogs for home decor, recipes and more, with over 8 million readers a month. In their online Weekend Guide, they regularly feature Sales & Events from across the country, both online and instore, and even have a submission form for shops to submit theirs. So go for it! is not just a blog for fashion for college girls. It started off that way but has evolved into one of the top fashion blogs, known for their interesting theme inspiration boards. Every Friday they have their Coupons and Sales section, where they post sales from typically the top online fashion stores. That doesn’t mean you can’t try and make their list. Just ask in their contact form. also has a Friday section on their blog called, Top Online Shopping: Weekend RoundUp for fashion and beauty products, as well as mens fashion. Email the editor at and see if they will add your sale to the list.  

Racked is a great blog because it covers fashion, home, kids and wedding products. They have a section called Deal Feed. You can submit your sale as both a National sale or a city-based sale i.e. New York Deal Feed. Submit your deal to and be sure to give all details including the length of time of the sale, the amount of the discount, and what you sell. You can also try to get in their Weekend Sales Report, but it does seem to focus on major retailers.

Lucky Magazine offers a Deal of the Day  at their online site. Mostly fashion and beauty deals, they do seem to promote less known online shops, so it is worth a try. You have to offer a good deal, though. Contact them at lucky

People Magazine’s StyleWatch has a section online called, Exclusive Deals You’ll Actually Use, and they do show deals from smaller vendors here. Contact the editor at but be sure to put, “Submission for Stylewatch’s Exclusive Deals” in the subject line.
MalloryHopeDesign_AGMarketing_eBookNeed More Help Marketing Your Shop?

If you like my blog, you’ll LOVE my series of ebooks, Small Business Marketing Ideas That Work! Get all my amazing marketing tactics (that I don’t put on the blog) with versions for selling Home products, Wedding products, Kids & Baby products and Jewelry & Accessories. Please check out my Ebook Shop at the top of the page.

© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.