Message boards other fan communities

Let’s think outside the marketplace for a minute. How can we cut out the fees, the restrictions of the platform and just connect directly with the people who want our product? One of the best resources for casual selling is one you may already be tapped into and don’t even realize it.

View of fully threaded message board

View of fully threaded message board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are the communities that surround your niche? Do you already connect with other collectors, writers, artists or crafters somewhere? The message boards and other online communities related to what you have to sell can be a powerful place for sales and are easy to overlook. Just be sure to check the rules for trading on each site and learn how they handle trader feedback. There are usually no costs to sell through community posts and that means more profit per sale. By cutting out the middle man, you can connect directly to your customers and fans without any restrictions on cross selling, marketing or shipping time or cost.

Another advantage of selling directly to your network is the ability to trade. Once you take money out of the picture, you open yourself up to the opportunity to trade your items for goods, services and favors from others. Being savvy with how you exchange what you have for what you want can sometimes yield more value than a cash sale. Think outside the box when it comes to trades as it can be a powerful tool for getting otherwise expensive items and work done for only the base cost of your items.

Selling through fan communities also requires less marketing since your target audience is already there. But there are downsides to selling peer to peer. Namely,

  • There’s no protection for either buyer or seller. While many fan communities have a trader feedback section, it’s seldom anything all that formal. If a buyer scams you, you have no recourse unless you have some kind of external payment protection, such as through your credit card processor or a service like PayPal. If you are a newer user to the community and they don’t know you yet it can also turn off buyers so getting sales can be difficult at first.
  • Smaller audience, lower prices. Because they’re going peer to peer, community members often expect better prices from their fellow collectors or artists then from a known retail marketplace. Your items are also only shown to a limited pool of potential buyers (though more targeted) and a small audience means sales can be harder to make, especially at the price you may want. On the other side, without having to pay fees, you may be willing to accept lower prices for some items since the profit may work out the same.
  • No fancy tools or features. Some of the niceties you may be used to on a larger marketplace won’t be in this bare bones solution. No bulk listing tools, automatic emails, or other features. It’s usually just text posts with the occasional image though some communities are equipped with something a little more robust.

Of course, you can also just use the fan communities to direct traffic to wherever else you are selling.