Hosting a livestreaming shopping event from your kitchen table (perhaps with a generous pour of wine nearby) sounds like an easy way to make some extra money. And the popularity of these homegrown, live shopping shows has exploded.
The entertainment value of seeing neighbors hawking handmade jewelry, home decor, antiques or flea market finds keeps potential buyers hooked. Here’s what two sellers, one five years in, the other launching less than a year ago, had to say.
A home-based boutique
Lynesha McElveen of Atlanta started selling her Discount Diva Deals, including purses, women’s clothing and accessories, on Facebook Live shopping events five years ago.
“I kind of converted my living room and dining room into a boutique space,” she says, hosting live events three times per week.
McElveen is now building an online network of other “deal divas.”
group has grown to over 15,000 members and serves as a platform for about 300 Facebook Live sellers to help buyers, as she says, “get your Gucci without getting gotcha.”
“On that group, I have some people who just post items for sale, but the vast majority of them do one-hour Lives,” McElveen says. Sellers are scheduled in fixed time slots each week, “just like a TV show,” she says.
“I want to be a 24-hour-a-day livestreaming service. That’s what I’m shooting for.” McElveen says she receives “a small fee” and provides training to the sellers on how to build viewership and increase sales.
Go live now, rebroadcast later
Pinkey Stewart of Lombard, Illinois, is a relative newcomer to hosting online shopping events. She’s been handcrafting jewelry for about six years. Stewart launched her PinkGLITZ website in 2019 and began hosting Facebook Lives in late 2020.
How are the shopping events working out?
“It depends,” she admits. “It’s so diluted now,” as more social networks compete for users’ attention. She’s had livestreams with just two or three viewers at a time, but often more people watch the rebroadcasts, which remain online and can be seen at a viewer’s convenience.
However, the shows build a relationship with the viewer, she says, and that enhances trust.
Having an eye for good buys
You can start selling online by purchasing just a couple hundred dollars’ worth of inventory, or less, both sellers say.
“Starting out your first year, if you can make $10,000, I’d say you’re doing great,” McElveen says. “But don’t quit your day job.”
McElveen’s business was built on resale inventory bought by thrifting at yard sales, flea markets, secondhand stores and the like.
You need to have an eye for finding bargains and pricing items for sale, she says. “You have to have patience. There are literally some people that sit outside these stores for hours before they open because they know on certain days there’s new inventory coming in, and they’re there to get it.”
Related: How to pick the right side gig
Tips for getting started
McElveen warns new sellers to avoid overhead, such as having a brick-and-mortar location. Doing live shopping events from your home is a low-risk way to start.
“I always tell my sellers: People buy from who they like,” she says. “Don’t feel like you have to be perfect. I’ve had Lives where my children are screaming in the background. The Live cuts off in the middle, and I have to get back on, ‘Oh, the Wi-Fi went out!’ People want to know that you’re a real person.”
Other tips offered by the two sellers include:
Evaluate shipping services like Shipt or Stamps.com. Customers these days expect low-cost and preferably free shipping.
Check your technology. Stewart says she began doing video streams on her computer but noticed a grainy image and a humming sound. She started using her smartphone with attached lighting to achieve a better look.
Consider flea market sales for in-person opportunities to sell merchandise, gain exposure for you and your products and get real-time feedback from potential customers.
Explore online vendor shows. These virtual vendor events are often connected to a regional or national conference or trade show.
“Folks who really want to do this have to really have a passion for it and not get discouraged and just keep at it,” Stewart says. Expectations may be that you’ll jump out of the gate with a large amount in sales, “and that doesn’t always happen.”
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Hal M. Bundrick, CFP writes for NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @halmbundrick.