Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My First Day as a Knifty Knitter Retailer

I've been making webpages which are "collections" of Knifty Knifty  patterns for about 2 years. For those of you that don't know, "Knifty Knitters" are knitting looms. I got the idea to write about them when I bought my first set of looms at Wal-Mart and quickly realized there was very little information online about how to use them. When I would find patterns, I would add them to my webpages to make it easier for other people to find them. These pages I've created mainly on Squidoo and they've done very well for me as far as passive writing income.

I got to know lots of people that also enjoy knitting on these looms when I created a fan page on Facebook. As of this month, it has 1,000 fans. Whenever I create a new page of pattern collections, I share it there for my Facebook fans. Many of these fans began expressing concern this winter that they were not able to buy the looms. I visited my local Wal-Mart and learned that they were carrying looms by Boye instead of Provo Craft. It was an unwelcome change, as many people prefer the Provo Craft looms. I went to many other stores that according to the Provo Craft website were retailers of their looms. I couldn't find them anywhere. Several fans also told me that when they followed the Amazon links to buy the looms from my pages, Amazon was sold out as well.

I was concerned that lack of availability of the looms would limit the number of viewers to my webpages. I'd invested so much time writing these pages, so I called the Provo Craft to ask if they were still manufacturing the looms. The assured me that they were. I learned that I could become a retailer and that sparked the next phase of my freelance work.

I have an Amazon seller account and have sold "used" items there before, mostly books I no longer need. But, I began to kick around the idea of buying the looms wholesale and selling them on Amazon. My motive was largely to prevent my readers from having to search so hard to find the looms only to be left empty handed.

Provo Craft approved my application as a retailer of the looms. I set up my retailer account and ordered the looms. This morning, I created a spreadsheet analyzing the cost of each loom, adding to that the expenses I would incur selling the looms, such as Amazon fees and shipping costs. I also added in what I hoped to earn as profit to arrive at a selling price.

I added my product listings to Amazon today. I quickly realized that I was not a large enough seller to be competitive with pricing. When other larger sellers have the items in stock, they are much less expensive, simply because these sellers have found ways to cut costs by selling in volume. Since my goal in becoming a retailer was not to make volume sales, but rather to prevent the products from being out of stock, I am fine being a higher priced seller. About 1/2 of the products I listed were sold out from other retailers, so although my pricing isn't competitive I have offerings for those wanting to buy. I believe this is what marketers refer to as an "underserved market."

It's been only 9 hours since I listed my products and I've already made 4 sales. My profit on each sale is $5.00. That means I made $20 profit today as an Amazon seller and I didn't get my store up and running until 2 pm. That's a pretty good day.

When I began freelancing, I heard the word "niche" a lot, but it's taken me a few years to understand what that is all about. Knowing a product, writing about it, earning affiliate fees by placing product links in my web content has made writing lucrative for me. In my case, eventually becoming a product retailer seems to have promise as well. If it weren't for the time invested in writing about the looms and networking with others that used the looms, I wouldn't have found this "underserved market."

I will keep you posted in the months ahead about my experience, for those of you considering becoming a seller at Amazon.

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