Creating a Product to Sell Online isn't Hard

I did it and so can you

November 10, 2021

So I've been working on a farm lately and it is nice to be working, everyone should aspire to work in some capacity to be able to provide and care for themselves and their families, and working on a farm is great to let my mind be free but also to be able to talk with people I work with. A number of weeks ago one of my coworkers told me that he'd taken a lot of good pictures around the farm and that he wanted to show them to our boss and suggest that he put them together into a calendar to sell. Since the farm is seasonally open to the public for certain events and has a gift shop this wasn't a bad idea if we ignore the fact that not many people buy calendars in October (or really at all these days) and having a physical gift shop meant having to keep physical stock on hand that might not sell. But I didn't respond by pointing those things out instead I asked him, "Why don't you make and sell one yourself so that you are the one keeping the profits?" to which my coworker responded saying he didn't have the money or resources to do that. I then told him that he didn't need any of that. He didn't really believe me, nor did he express much enthusiasm in learning how which was a bit discouraging to see.

It is not uncommon for me to see people who have put themselves in the same, or a similar mental box that my coworker has. I know a lot of people who have had the idea to create designs for calendars, or stickers, or shirts, or custom prints with artwork they've made (or plan to make) or with their own photography (because nearly everyone with an Instagram account thinks they're a photographer) but of all those people who I've known who have had the idea to do this I don't think any of them have actually done it, some of these people have even invested in equipment of some form for the purpose of using to create designs or pictures to put on things to sell but still none of these people have ever put a product up for sale. I got a bit tired of seeing people who don't act on those ideas and I guess that conversation with my coworker pushed me over the line, so, to prove a point, I put a design of my own up for sale.

The simplicity of making a product

I decided to make a calendar because that was what my coworker talked about making, so I went on to create one. There were a few reasons that I chose Lulu, it is a print on demand service so in order for me to sell a product I don't have to pay for a hundred to be printed then loose money after only ever selling three, I can sell the product directly through Lulu for free so I don't need to set up a Shopify site or something like that (although if you do plan on being serious about selling a lot of things it would be best to set up your own site, but if you are just starting out or just testing the waters it is fine not to have it), and most importantly I had already heard of Lulu. Are there better services for making calendars? Probably, but remember I'm mainly doing this to prove a point and Lulu is sufficient for that.

Once I was on Lulu, all I had to do was make an account, select what I wanted to make, upload some pictures, write a description, and determine the pricing. The whole process took me less than a half hour and that included the time it took me to generate the images and mess around a bit in gimp to put text on the cover. It wasn't hard, I considered writing out a tutorial for it but after doing it I realized that a tutorial would be boring and insulting to your intelligence because the entire process is self-explanatory. The process is free and it is simple, there is no reason that you can't do this.

And the nice thing about it being a calendar is that I pretty much already had the images to put in it, I wrote a program to make them six months ago. Odds are you do to. If you are an artist you most likely already have twelve pictures you could put into a calendar. If you are a photographer you most likely already have a hundred and twelve pictures that you could put into a whole bunch of calendars. In fact if you are an artist or photographer with some sort of following than it would probably be a good idea for you to make a calendar and put it up for sale since it is the time of year where people buy those and it is an inexpensive yet rewarding way for your friends to support your work. And you have nothing to loose, it is free and takes less than a half hour so if you end up selling nothing you still wasted less time than you would have watching a single episode of a TV show. And if you only sell five, so what? You'll be like thirty bucks richer than you were before, and that's great, nobody is going to get rich off of a calendar so you shouldn't expect to.

Why don't people do it

The point I am trying to prove by making this is that it is not hard to create products like this and put them up for sale, because most people aren't familiar with services like Lulu they think that making and selling these products is a lot harder than it actually is and they choose not to actually do it. That should have already been clear and was unnecessary to say, but I do feel like this article would be incomplete without mentioning a few more reasons that people may be hesitant to start doing something like this. One is marketing and I don't really have anything to say about that, but the other thing is a challenge that many people have that spans beyond this specific application, and that is anxiety related to perfectionism.

I wrote an article several months ago titled perfectionism hinders progress (whose link is ironically one of the only file names I've accidentilay mispelled) and right now I'm considering writing more about perfectionism because I know so many people who struggle with it. We all know that none of us are perfect, therefore nothing any of us ever create will be perfect, this is simple reality. Of course this does not mean that perfection is not an admirable goal, during the sermon on the mount the Savior told us to be perfect, but we don't become perfect instantly. Obtaining perfection in anything, a craft or in life, is a long journey but we won't get anywhere on that journey if we don't take our first step. So if you have been wanting to start an online business selling anything really (it doesn't have to be something this simple), or if you've been wanting to start a podcast, or learn a new skill, or just try anything new, don't be afraid to do it because your first step doesn't look like someone else's 1,000th step, you will get better with time unless you never start.

But that's enough of my perfectionism speech for now, I should probably get back on topic before I end this.

If for whatever reason you want to sell things like stickers or shirts or whatever online, there is no reason for you to hesitate any longer, it is simple, free to start, and if you do sell something it will be rewarding in more ways than one. You have nothing to loose. But before you do that I'd be a bad internet salesperson (or whatever I'm supposed to call it) if I didn't encourage you to buy my product, even though I made it to prove a point rather than as a serious product I'd be very grateful if you did buy one as having at least one sale would strengthen my point quite a bit and, unlike creating that product, keeping this website up is not free. So, here is that link again, and I'll talk to you later.