As every business owner knows, marketing is a pain. Even if you have a great product, it can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to get the word out to the right people.
That’s where the Internet can help: You’ll now find dozens of online marketplaces that aim to connect small vendors with a broader audience in exchange for a fee or a percentage in sales commission.
Here’s a look at four of the most popular online marketplaces for entrepreneurs in various industries.
1) Ebay – The oldest and largest online marketplace of all, Ebay has over 56 million active users and permits sales in every conceivable category, from home decor to industrial surplus. The site takes a roughly 8.75 percent commission in addition to a small listing fee. For sellers, the company’s huge size means if your prices aren’t competitive, you may not do much business, but you’ll find better exposure here than anywhere else.
2) Etsy – If you sell vintage goods or handcrafted products — anything from wooden toys to scarves to scented soaps — Etsy is the place for you. Members can create galleries to spotlight their favorite products, and the site regularly features interviews with featured sellers. Etsy takes a small listing fee and a 3.5 percent sales commission. Again, because the site is so popular, vendors must price competitively to make sales — but the focus here is on quality.
3) Foodzie – An online specialty marketplace for gourmet food, Foodzie connects artisan food producers with people who love to eat well and don’t mind paying a premium for it. Foodzie takes a 20 percent cut of your profits as well as a small listing fee, but if you’re focused on picking up a wider audience among the haute cuisine crowd, it could be worthwhile.
4) Elance - Elance connects companies looking to outsource work that can be done remotely like writing, translation, or web development with professionals in those fields. Vendors who’ve paid subscription fees can see details about clients’ projects and are invited to place bids for jobs. In most cases, the winning bids are among the lowest — so if you’re aiming higher, you may want to skip this site and market locally instead.
Which online marketplaces have proved valuable for your small business? Share your thoughts in the comments.