With so many people interested in improving their health and losing weight, the idea to make money selling supplements online just makes sense. Clearly, there is demand for supplements and there is no shortage of different variations out there to promote. I buy supplements online, so there are definitely people that will buy your stuff, no matter what the business model is. So in this post, I want to look at a few methods of selling to find the best model for you.
Because of the demand and ease of selling, it’s easy to see how supplements could be a great product for many new online business owners to start with. But, appearances can be deceiving.
Often the products that seem to have the most potential are the ones with excessively high competition or some other issue that makes it hard to actually earn money. “Male Enhancers”, testosterone boosters, alkalizers, and other products with dubious health claims may not always be the best choice long-term.
Directly Selling Supplements
Perhaps the most basic way to sell supplements online is to have the physical version of a supplement and then try to sell it. For example, you might buy them cheap from a wholesaler that will allow you to purchase “white label” and then attempt to make a profit selling them online under your own brand.
In terms of actually selling them, you might end up relying on sites like eBay or Amazon, or you may decide to create your own website instead. Either technique can work, although there is typically a lot more setup with your own site. For example, I purchased a product called Brain X Energy. Though the ingredients were listed, this could easily be the same formula as 50 other energy supplements just with a different logo.
With your own site, you need to set up eCommerce properly. If you use a place like Shopify, it's done for you automatically like Plug-n-Play. If you use something like WordPress, you will need some simple customization with plugins (no code required).
You can go through Amazon as well, and that's where I usually buy my supplements, including nootropics from time to time. That's another VERY interesting area of selling online supplements that's getting big right now. Setting up an Amazon store is pretty simple, and inserts your product into a giant marketplace with millions of daily views.
One option is to build an Amazon store, then leverage a simple blog without ecommerce to drive traffic to your Amazon store.
Taking the MLM Option
MLMs offer an interesting choice for selling supplements, such as companies like Kyani or LifeVantage. Strictly speaking, selling through this type of company mostly involves direct sales. However, many companies do also offer an online component.
Most of the time, this means that you are provided with a cookie-cutter website and the ability to earn commissions from any sales you make on it. This can seem like a great option because you don’t have to worry about stock or shipping.
However, the website is the same as what every other distributor gets, so you don’t have much chance to drive traffic to it. Instead, your options include trying to convince friends to make purchases, getting visitors via social media or creating a secondary site to drive traffic.
At the same time you’ll still be under pressure to sell products offline and to recruit others into the company. Many times the real money of direct sales (another word for MLM) is made by creating a team of sales people, and recruiting others into the business.
The only real advantage of going through an MLM is their reputation. In some cases, the company or its products may be well-known and being able to take advantage of brand reputation can work to your advantage.
In theory, the marketing and reputation of the company can help you make sales. However, that can backfire too, as negative press will tend to lower people’s opinion of the products. MLMs tend to create a snake oil salesman type effect where overenthusiastic sales reps give false claims about health benefits or behave in unprofessional ways when someone ultimately doesn't buy the product.
The Challenge of Supplements
It’s easy to see the potential for income with supplements but, at the same time, supplements do tend to be somewhat controversial. One issue is that there isn’t much regulation in the industry, so there is no way of knowing whether the supplements that you buy actually contain what the label claims. In some cases, there is even the risk that a supplement may cause harm.
I suppose this element also work to your advantage, meaning that you can promote something as simple as Vitamin C as a “natural immune system booster” and sell it for 5x the normal cost of drugstore brand product.
There is also controversy about how much good supplements actually do.
For example, many people end up taking supplements daily, with little to no idea about whether they actually need the nutrients that they’re supplementing at all. Some research has even suggested that people may smoke or engage in other unhealthy behaviors more often because they feel that they are helping their health with a supplement.
There are also many supplements out there that have very little scientific support, such as detox supplements or many that focus on weight loss. Not only may these supplements not do anything but there is a risk that they will interact with other supplements or medications. If you're going to be telling people to consume something, or create a blend of products, you may be risking someone else's health.
Of course, there are exceptions. Some supplements do seem to be effective, particularly for people who were deficient in that nutrient, such as calcium, folate or vitamin D.
At the same time, you can actually sell products that don’t do much good – that’s a personal choice more than anything.
There is one final issue and it’s a major one.
The issue is that most supplements are incredibly common. You just have to visit a grocery store to see how many different brands and choices there are. This begs the question, why are people going to buy them from you? You need to target a specific niche of people, and have branding on your site. I recently purchased some New Mood supps from Instagram because I got sucked into the ad.
Ya, I got suckered into a free trial. They didn't work at all (of course). Then they billed me $60 for a recurring payment which I didn't realize I was signed up for! Anyway, Kudos to them for their branding and advertising technique!
I was looking for something to enhance productivity, but you can repeat this successful brand outreach with any subset of people. Bodybuilders, students, business people, vegans – they are all potential groups of people to target.
Be Careful with Marketing and Labeling
With supplements, you have to be particularly aware of how you label and market them. Often, people tend to over-emphasize the potential benefits of a given supplement – making it sound much better than it actually is.
The Federal Trade Commission has some pretty strong rules in place concerning health claims made about any product, so you have to make sure that anything you say can actually be backed up. Most of the time, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid making any bold claims, regardless of what you personally believe.
When marketing this type of product, you’ll also need to have a disclaimer on your site. According to the Food and Drug administration, the precise phrasing of the disclaimer needs to be as follows and cannot be altered in any way.
These restrictions are true regardless of the specific supplements you’re selling or how you are selling them.
Selling Supplements Through Affiliate Marketing
An alternative way to make money selling supplements online is to use affiliate marketing. Like in an MLM, this technique involves promoting products from other companies to earn a commission. However, there is no recruitment to worry about and you don’t even have to deal with a physical product. Everything is done online!
The online nature of affiliate marketing dramatically reduces the risk. It means that you don’t have to invest any money in buying products and you don’t have to store them or try to ship them. Likewise, you can easily change from one product to another, if you find that supplements aren’t selling or a newer, better one comes out.
With affiliate marketing, you use a website to promote products – and you’re the one in control of that website. So, you don’t just have to focus on supplements.
Instead, you might choose to do a website that talks about health and nutrition as a whole. That might include information about the best foods to eat and the best types of diets to lose weight, as well as information about particular supplements that people might need.
Doing this still lets you sell supplements but it also means you don’t have to exclusively rely on them. You can even compare & contrast competing brands, talking about which ones are cheaper, which ones work better, and the advantages/disadvantages of each. Navigating this complicated world and helping people making smart buying decisions is extremely useful, and a great way to make money in the industry without creating your own product.
Actually though, you don’t have to promote supplements at all if you don’t want to. Instead, you can do affiliate marketing with just about any type of product you can imagine. This lets you design a business around the things that interest you. For example, I developed a website about brewing beer that’s as much of a hobby for me as it is a business.
What’s more, affiliate marketing is pretty easy to learn. All you need is some good training and one of the best places to turn for this is a site called Wealthy Affiliate. There you can learn all that you need to know and you can also get considerable community support to help newbies trying to get their first business off the ground.
Both the training and the support on offer can be exactly what you need to create a business that can grow with you.