How To… sell yourself like coffee?!

We’ve all heard that you need to sell yourself. To employers, friends, universities, partners… everyone, really. The fact of the matter is that everyone wants to exchange with you. Your employer wants to exchange money for your skills and time. Your friends want to exchange their time for yours. Universities want to exchange an education for your money and rating. Partners want to exchange your time and body for their time and body.

But many people have a hard time selling themselves properly to anyone. So here is how to sell yourself, in coffee terms.

1: You are in control of the market price.

Let’s say you’ve just opened your coffee shop. Sure, demand and customers are the most important things. But coffee is always in demand and this is an area with high footfall. So you set the price, not anyone else. You can set the price wherever you like, really. Is it too high or too low? We don’t know yet. But it’s in your hands, nobody else’s.

2: Observe other sellers, but don’t copy.

Watch what they do. What sort of coffee are they selling? Is it good coffee? Is the price reasonable? Do they get many customers? Do they cover their rent? How much coffee do they sell?

Don’t copy what they do, just watch and take note.

3: Stand out.

You want to be different to the other sellers. Most people think the only way of doing this is lowering the price, but this isn’t true. You can sell better coffee, sell different coffee, sell it with a gimmick, try and be friendly to your customers. You can stand out from the other coffee shops in many ways and each way will attract a different type of customer.

4: Set your prices.

Now’s the time to decide what your price will be. Your price has no upper or lower limit. But if you price your coffee too low you won’t be able to pay for your shop or new stock and if you price your coffee too high then you may go a long time without customers. You can choose to sell highly exclusive or accessible coffee, but know your customers.

5: Advertise well.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling accessible or exclusive coffee, what sort of coffee you’re selling or how you’re standing out, if you don’t advertise well, then nobody will know it’s there. Advertising well isn’t really about advertising widely. For very little money you could probably drop fliers for your coffee shop all over a Chinese city, but unless your shop is in that city you won’t be reaching your target market. Think of your target market, their habits, where they congregate and advertise wisely. Make sure the advertisement is in the right place, catches the target market’s eyes and tells them what sort of coffee they will find at the coffee shop.

6: Freebies and sneak peeks.

It’s fine to offer free coffees or snacks, sneak peaks and events from time to time if you aren’t quite reaching your target market. But don’t offer too much for free too often.

If you offer a lifetime supply of coffee then you can’t offer it to just anyone or to a regular customer, or else you won’t get paid for your coffee and the gimmick won’t work. If you offer free coffee to just anyone then word will get out that there’s free coffee and people will feel cheated when they have to pay.

Some people may offer a lot of free coffee, but their business practices shouldn’t dictate yours. They will eventually shut down or lower the quality of their coffee to keep up with demand. Don’t try and set your price lower than everyone else’s, rather, offer a few exclusive freebies or sneak peeks to customers in a way that will advertise your coffee shop well and attract the right sort of clientele.

7: Wait it out.

If you want a certain type of customer and have done all the above, be patient. They will eventually come to you when you’re doing everything right. On the other hand, if you change your mind about the target market quickly and often, you might lose a lot of customers who would have stayed around and wind up selling a type of coffee you don’t like at an unreasonable price to a clientele you didn’t want. Instead, keep advertising to the right clientele, keep making coffee and wait until the clientele shows up.

And that’s how you sell coffee. Or how you sell yourself to employers, friends and partners.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… Start a Small eBay “Shop”.

So, Jon and I run an eBay “shop”. We’re not going to say what our name is or what it is we sell, but we use eBay to make a small profit of around £50 a month. We’re currently working on expanding our product range a little, so that may go up, but in principle we run it just to make a small profit on money that would otherwise be idle or accumulating an even smaller interest in the bank. After all, 20-50% return a month beats any interest rate.

So here’s how to start up such a “shop”.

1: Work out what you want to sell. It needs to be a specific category with a lot of variety in it. For example, “pristine antiquarian books on railroads of Britain” would be too select, but “books”, “railroads” and “Britain” may be too broad. You need a category that’s specific enough to have a consumer base, broad enough to sell a variety of products to each customer and to guarantee return customers and “window shoppers” as well as well-known enough to have a large market or niche enough to have a high-paying market. Taking our examples above, a category such as “railroads of Britain”, “books on railroads” or “antiquarian books” would be more profitable than the extremely narrow or extremely broad categories.

2: Learn about what you’re selling. I don’t think, for a project like this, you need to sell what you already know (although it helps). But make sure to get to know what you’re going to sell. Research brands, authors, designers, critics, prices, etc.

3: Find a good, stable, cheap source of your item. If you’re selling antiquarian books, try antiques stores and thrift/charity shops. If you’re selling jewellery, try online stores or pawnbrokers.

4: Number crunch. Work out what profit you want to make. Do you want to double your investment every time? Make £3 for every £2 you spend? Or simply make a profit? Bear in mind postage and packaging costs both for receiving the item (if you buy it online) and for posting it to your customers. Always add 10% of the final sale onto your costs to account for eBay and PayPal fees. So if you want to sell something for £20, add £2 onto your expenses.

5: Set up an eBay account. Make the account a personal account. They can be far easier to manage at first.

6: Don’t sell abroad unless your country has excellent postal fees.

7: Don’t auction anything except maybe to clear any remainder stock.

8: Don’t accept best offers or returns, this will just end up as money out of pocket.

9: Take several photos of the item right before posting it, including inside the box, the address on the box etc. Always track or get proof of postage when you post it.

10: Don’t review a buyer for an item they haven’t reviewed you for. If after 14 days you have no review, feel free to leave one. This minimizes buyers trying their luck.

11: Don’t let your “shop” sit idle. Make sure there’s always something on sale.

12: When things don’t sell, either try selling them as a bundle and knocking off some of the postage costs or sell them so you break even. If the situation looks very dire, consider selling so that you make a small loss. An unsold item is always a loss.


And there’s the basics on starting and running your own small shop on eBay.