Great Things to Sell by Mail Order. Free Report
Mail Order Millions

TWENTY GREAT Things to Sell by Mail

We've all heard stories of mail order fortunes being made by those around us. All too often however, fortune eludes the rest of us: we instead find ourselves struggling in a business which boasts dubious honour as having one of the highest drop-out rates amongst newcomers to its ranks. So exactly why do some enjoy magnificent success, while others find dismal failure the only end product of their sojourn into the world of mail order?

The most likely answer lies not in expertise or presence of business acumen, as much as in careful selection of the product - or more likely products - offered for sale. Sometimes one product can be relied upon to produce a steady income, especially if it's one for which the operator is sole supplier or prime source; a product for which no acceptable alternatives are available elsewhere. More likely however, a range of products will be needed in order to offer any realistic hope of a reliable and regular income for the operator. And if that range of products should comprise one or more of the acknowledged best-sellers of mail order, then so much the better.

This manual aims to identify just a few of the more profitable goods and services suitable for distribution by mail. But before we do that, we might consider a few of the characteristics that go towards making an item suitable for selling by mail order.

A compact, lightweight product will of course keep packaging and postage costs down, with obvious benefits to the operator's profit margin. If the product or service fulfils an ongoing need and no suitable alternative can be obtained via high street shops or other retail outlets, then we're getting closer to identifying a really profitable mail order product. If a worldwide market exists for what you offer, you could make a fortune. And if you offer a range of suitable products or services, related or otherwise, you stand to earn a place for yourself among the really big names of mail order.

Now let us look at some of the most profitable mail order lines, any one or combination of which you might incorporate into your own business venture.

1 Accommodation Address and Mail Forwarding Agency

For a variety of reasons, accommodation addresses and mail forwarding agencies prove popular with a wide range of business and private clients. From the businessman's point of view, the use of a mail collection and forwarding service might be designed to preserve the privacy of the individual and his or her family. This service also appeals to the mail order operator, who for whatever reason, has no desire to attract personal enquiries. The reason might instead be that the mail order dealer carries out all business from a home which he does not actually own; it might be tied to his or her normal employment - retirement homes, warden controlled dwellings, licensed pubs and hotels being just a few examples. The individual might not be allowed to use his or her normal address for business purposes where that home is one provided by the employer.

Another category of likely clients include expatriates, and other individuals whose employment causes them to move around a great deal. An accommodation address allows at least some degree of permanency to offer correspondents.

Look into the pages of 'Exchange and Mart' and other popular mail order and opportunities' seekers magazines, and you'll discover a number of accommodation address services operating, often with the added benefits of a prestigious city centre address to offer clients.

Fees are normally charged on a weekly or monthly basis, sometimes topped up by a charge for each item or package of items forwarded to clients. Often a range of additional or spin-off services are offered: fax facilities, secretarial services and telephone answering facilities for instance.

A call to my nearest main post office suggests that few formalities are involved, other than to inform the post office that mail in several different names might be expected at the accommodation address. Check it all out first though, just in case rules change or vary between offices.

Anyone interested in this lucrative area might contact a few already established services to obtain inside information on costs, procedures, facilities and such. Then set out to better them!

2 Looking to the Unusual

A gap in the market, a special need, a fad - and here we have all the hallmarks of high market demand which the mail order operator can usually quite easily fulfil. Cabbage Patch dolls complete with personalised adoption certificates, and items for use by left-handed customers are just two examples of recent best-sellers in the mail order trade. Another recent invention is an adaptor which when linked to the everyday telephone, transforms a female voice into male, thereby affording some protection against anonymous callers.

And one highly enterprising individual in the United States, apparently made his fortune from sales of the most unusual of 'pets'; one that requires little attention, doesn't back-answer, and costs nothing to feed - rocks! Sounds silly? Not to him it didn't; pet rocks sold in their millions.

If you think a success story can not be repeated once someone has capitalised on whatever product or service is involved, why not consider introducing the British buyer to something as yet available only in America? Be careful you don't fall foul of copyright or patent laws though, and make sure the item or service actually has a market outside of its country of origin.

Remember the golden rule of mail order - Test. Test. Test. Then go in for the kill!

3 Newsletters

An article in a recent issue of an up-market British women's magazine brought the next proposition to mind. The article referred to a couple who, having enjoyed the era of the 'yuppie' and spent their earnings as quickly as they received them, were forced to come down to earth with a bang when recession put paid to both sources of income.

They were forced to look around for bargains and all-in-all budget in much the same way as those of us used to a far less affluent form of lifestyle. In doing so, they discovered a latent talent for budgeting, and also found they could acquire decent goods and services for far less than they would previously have been happy to pay. The final phase in their growth programme was to produce and distribute a newsletter revealing their ideas and identifying sources of quality - but not costly - goods and services. It sells like wildfire! Clients pay an annual subscription for the monthly newsletter, and into their second year as publishers the couple found the majority of their customers renewed their subscriptions promptly.

In the United States another newsletter publisher has made his fortune from a somewhat more unusual approach. His monthly offering, known amongst other things as 'Meanies' Monthly', provides tips and techniques for making subscribers' money go further - not by normal budgeting methods however - this newsletter is dedicated more to the budding 'Scrooge'. Scrooge and fellow scroungers will be told by what means to avoid paying for a round of drinks; how to prevent family dream holidays from becoming reality; how to avoid guests dropping in for drinks and snacks; how to turn teenage children against fashion, and so on.

To understand why newsletters can provide such a useful source of income from their publishers, we might consider the fact that just one tip or piece of advice can in itself save the reader more his subscription costs. A few good tips in each issue make repeat subscription a virtual foregone conclusion.

A wide variety of newsletters are available to guide readers through sometimes complicated procedures, changes to the law, or provide information it would simply be too costly and time-consuming to acquire on one's own account. Financial services, mortgage and insurance matters, money making and business interests, job matters and special interests, all feature amongst the many newsletters produced in Britain and the United States alone.

Income can be derived from numerous sources, including subscriptions, sale of related products and services, and advertising revenue.

More about newsletters

4 Business Start Up Packages and Opportunities Manuals

Information products, including newsletters as mentioned in the previous section, can provide very high income for publishers, particularly those who enjoy prime source status. The prime source or sole supplier might find his or her status results from having personally written the manuscript concerned. Take a look through mail order and opportunity seekers' magazines; through the pages of 'Exchange and Mart'; in national daily and Sunday newspapers; decide what gap exists that you can fill, then begin the far from difficult task of researching and writing your very own business plan, manual or package.

The flurry of activity that accompanied the notable British business plan 'Key to Success and Wealth' must surely be sufficient to prove there's a large market out there for new and interesting information products, particularly those incorporating some capital accumulation project or business plan.

5 Wholesale Supplies

Many of us, if asked to define the term 'wholesaler', would begin by describing a very large warehouse, with shelves, large doors for vehicles to enter, loading facilities, and so on. But this isn't always the case, and many a highly successful wholesaler operates either entirely or at least partially by mail. Stationery, small fancy goods, jewellery, novelty items, clothing, make up and hosiery, are just a few of the relatively lightweight and easily portable items offered in magazines read by market traders and other retailers. 'Trading Place', 'World's Fair', 'Exchange and Mart' and 'The Trader' are a few of the publications providing details of mail order wholesale services to thousands of interested traders.

Stock if not specially manufactured, can be purchased from bankruptcy sales, as job lots, from auctions, or else imported from source.

6 Typesetting

A much-needed service in commerce and industry, a good and reliable typesetting service can generate numerous repeat customers, particularly if charges are competitive.

Custom might come from the mail order trade and operators' constant requirement for quality circulars and sales letters; from private individuals and small businesses in need of stylish letterheads and stationery; from wholesalers and mail order sellers whose lists will achieve far greater impact if professionally produced, and countless other small and large operations. Hotel menus, hairdressers' special offers, local retailers' Christmas and January sales - all present potential custom!

You might consider producing and retailing customised stationery packs: letterheads, compliments slips, invoices, confirmation slips, and so on. Look in 'The Trader' and 'Exchange and Mart' for ideas.

Other possibilities include typesetting newsletters for local and national clubs and societies; providing typesetting and book-binding services similar to those offered by the 'vanity press' to writers who otherwise might never see their work in print, and who for the privilege are often prepared to pay well.

7 Writing

Though not providing a service usually associated with trading by mail, most writers do in fact work entirely from home, sending work to British, sometimes worldwide editors and publishers, and awaiting their reward by mail. But writing what? Novels, plays, radio dramas, and all of those other writing forms which often involve years of accumulating rejection slips and increasing disillusionment before the creator ever gets to make a penny? Most certainly not! How about writing readers' letters and fillers for those magazines willing to pay #25 a time for every item printed? How about articles for mail order publications? The latter represents a more than likely proposition for payment from editors keen to pass your specialist knowledge on to less experienced readers. And even if you don't invite payment by cheque, you'll find countless publishers more than willing to publicise your products and services in return for articles and snippets; many of them happy to provide 'free' advertising for regular articles from you - an easy way to offset the financial problems of placing advertisements you find don't work as well as you'd hoped.

8 Copywriting/Producing and Designing Sales Letters and Circulars

This represents another service much in demand by mail order operators, particularly those with less experience than yourself. Copywriting of sales circulars and related material is perhaps one of the most lucrative of writing forms, with the exception of blockbuster novels and West End plays. A recent article in 'Writers' Digest' points to a growing copywriting industry in America; one that could easily be emulated here in Britain. American advertising specialists frequently charge upwards of $1,000 for every thousand words they produce for direct mail and mail order specialists in the United States. In Britain, I see advertisements placed by at least two mail order and multi-level-marketing professionals, offering copywriting services at a far less costly #250 a thousand words. When you consider the financial benefits arising from a well-composed sales package, then it becomes obvious that anyone skilled in the art of persuasion has much to offer colleagues in mail order; a service for which they will recoup far more than they will pay you. It must also be obvious that even if you don't generate sufficient business to make a good living from copywriting, as a sideline to your other mail order activities, the profits should be sufficient to keep you afloat when other products suffer a temporary decline in popularity.

So next time you think 'junk mail' when those circulars drop through your door, pick them up; read them; analyse them; look for popular words and phrases; look at the layout; count the average number of words in each paragraph. Leave out nothing as you study the secrets of those who make their entire living from providing the most essential components of all profitable mail order businesses - publicity circulars and sales letters!

9 'How to' Books, Reports, etc.

Joe Karbo had it; so did Napoleon Hill; Melvyn Powers has it in great abundance, as do countless other mail order professionals who have recognised and capitalised on the curiosity of people seemingly less talented than themselves. What they, and hundreds like them, have latched on to, is a virtually insatiable demand for information products: manuals, books and newsletters written by one successful individual and passed on to those who would like their own share of fame and fortune.

And many, because they are held in such high esteem by their colleagues, find that no matter what the topic, their work will find a ready audience. Once the autobiography is out of the way, they produce further manuscripts, sometimes related to their personal activities and experiences in mail order; sometimes not.

There is no need to restrict your own efforts to business reports, get-rich-quick schemes, or whatever other information today's entrepreneurs are queuing to buy. As already touched upon, today's successful self-publishers don't write purely from experience, and countless prolific mail order publishers produce newsletters, directories, lists, business plans, 'how to' books, and so on, from information available in local libraries and researched from the work of other writers.

One useful tip is to acquire mail order magazines and adsheets imported from abroad - particularly the United States - which are then scrutinised for whatever gaps exist in the British market.

10 Newspaper Clippings Agency

A time-consuming proposition perhaps - but also a very profitable one - a newspaper clippings agency is ideally suited to operating by mail, and presents very little competition. Writers, historians, researchers, trade publications, newspapers and magazine editors, are just a few of the many potential customers for those cuttings taken from past and present worldwide publications, which when batched together by theme or topic, are offered for sale in writers' magazines, 'The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook', or else forwarded direct to likely prospects.

Trade magazines incidentally, are noted for their regular reliance on good and ongoing sources of cuttings for the many snippets and filler items used in their pages. Trade magazines are those which cater for operators in specific professional and commercial sectors. British caterers' and bakers' trade publications might therefore be approached with a selection of cuttings taken from their American counterparts, or perhaps from the pages of early British magazines. Fleamarkets and car boot sales are excellent sources of early magazines and newspapers.

11 Antiques and Collectors' Items

Look in any special interest publication or hobby magazine, and you'll find a number of advertisers offering lists of collectors' items and other products for sale to readers. The leisure interest pages of 'Exchange and Mart', contain advertisements from suppliers of stamps, old postcards, prints, ephemera, small antiques, large antiques, and various other collectors' items. A stamp or self addressed envelope is all you send for a detailed list of what's available. Make your selection, send your cheque, and wait for the postman to call with the goods.

Those a little reluctant to enter what is frequently seen as a specialist area, will discover there's very little to learn about some collectors' items. You might not be able to make an immediate start in expensive antiques, but anyone can wander around car boot sales and fleamarkets, picking up whatever books, kiloware stamp supplies and early paper products are available, to which a respectable profit margin is added before listing the items for prospective clients.

And because so many societies and special interest clubs exist for collectors of whatever type, an excellent mailing list can be acquired by joining the ranks of other 'collectors' whose personal details will usually be provided for you in annual membership directories.

12 Comic Cartoon Service

A while ago, in a popular women's magazine, I came by a truly unique mail order service, one in which an artist produced cartoon drawings of subjects suggested by the customer placing the order. A big head on small body - the essential requirements of all good caricatures - nothing offensive or distasteful - just a unique and highly personalised gift idea. I now see regular advertisements for this particular service, which at this point apparently faces little or no competition.

Even if you've never tried your hand at art before, there could be an opening here for you, and several courses are available to those interested in creating cartoons for profit. Try local colleges and correspondence schools for suitable courses, and look in the pages of writers' magazines where advertisements from correspondence schools regularly feature.

13 Hobby Supplies

Study those special interest and hobby magazines again, and count the number of advertisements for all manner of materials which when acquired in bulk, broken down and offered in manageable sizes to readers, can often be relied upon to attract regular repeat custom. Competitions enthusiasts for instance, flock to entry forms suppliers whose advertisements feature regularly in 'Competitors Journal'. For a small monthly fee, these suppliers provide mixed batches of forms, thereby saving the competitions enthusiast the long hours and cost involved in collecting forms for themselves. Craftworkers require ongoing supplies of patches, ready-to-make craft kits, remnants, trimmings, blueprints and plans, but not all have access to high street stores offering suitable products. A catalogue or list of suitable products could be all you need to tap a nationwide market.

14 Running Correspondence and Special Interest Clubs

Whether they do it to find romance; someone to correspond with, or just to find someone with whom to share a special interest, the majority of people have need to meet with others who share a common interest. Not surprisingly then, there's a great deal of money to be made from bringing like-minded individuals into contact with one another.

Pen pal and correspondence clubs are advertised in virtually every local and county newspaper; some find their place on the pages of what are essentially mail order and opportunity seekers' magazines.

The organiser of the club or society might do little more than circulate a membership list or newsletter including members' details to all subscribers, who might then communicate with, or contact another member or members of their choosing.

The organiser of a pen pal club might instead offer a selection of hand-picked prospects for which the client will be charged a set fee; any more names and addresses attract additional payment.

Special interest clubs tend to operate on much the same lines, with subscribers making an annual payment, in return for which they receive a monthly newsletter and sometimes a members' directory. The newsletter might include details of events, dates for the diary, articles, special offers and discounts, readers' letters, and advertisements placed by members and non-members. Amongst the many special interest clubs operating in Britain today, we find fan clubs (for celebrities living and dead), autograph collectors' societies, bottle collectors' clubs, ephemera and postcard collectors' groups, writers' societies, mail order dealers' and homeworkers' clubs. You name it, and where there are sufficient people sharing a common need or interest , there will almost certainly be someone to have capitalised from coordinating the activities of previously isolated individuals.

Seek out advertisements for clubs and groups similar to that you intend to operate, send for details, identify the best features of each, arrive at a competitive subscription price, then off you go!

You could even join a number of similar groups yourself, especially where membership lists are circulated, from which you derive a ready supply of potential customers for your own business.

15 Correspondence Courses

Self-improvement and educational courses are popular products for selling by mail, not least of all because of the convenience of learning in one's own home at one's chosen pace.

Anyone with specialist knowledge can write a perfectly acceptable correspondence or home study course, which might then be provided on an instalment basis, with or without assignments provided for clients. Some of today's more popular courses are offered on a one-package basis, in much the same way as manuals and instruction books are provided by mail order publishers.

And finally, if you don't want to write the course yourself, how about buying and selling used correspondence courses? As long as the subject matter is up-to-date, this is a service as yet very much under-exploited in the British mail order market. Greatly reduced costs for your courses should well be all you need to earn a good living from the growing market for information products.

16 Leaflet Distribution

Cut down on others' advertising and postage costs by offering to deliver circulars and samples to homes and businesses in your area. Advertise your service in mail order magazines, in trade publications, 'Exchange and Mart', even in 'Yellow Pages'. For a set fee per 1,000 advertising pieces, deliver to your own area, or else build up a county-wide or national team of individuals willing to do the 'leg-work' while you gather in orders and ship out the work from the comfort of home.

17 Astrology and Good Luck Services

Browse through 'Old Moore's Almanac' and you'll wonder why you aren't offering books on the occult, card games, lucky charms, football pools and racing forecasts, self-improvement books and tapes to countless readers of this popular annual booklet first published almost 300 years ago, and attracting a massive clientele today.

Astrology services demand a responsible, caring attitude, but do not necessarily require that you personally provide the service. Try enlisting the services of a trained astrologer, whose findings you will relay to customers, either individually or by means of regular newsletters.

Courses are available from the Faculty for Astrological Studies and through several correspondence schools. Several inexpensive self-tuition guides are available from advertisements placed in 'Old Moore's Almanac', available from most newsagents and stationers.

18 Curriculum Vitae Service (Resume)

A curriculum vitae is little more than a listing of biographical and career-related details, produced in a compact, easy to read format, ready for forwarding to prospective employers and training consultants. Though actually very easy to prepare, remarkably few people elect to produce the document themselves when someone else is able to produce a more professional curriculum vitae on their behalf. Curriculum vitae specialists charge somewhere in the region of #25 for each document they produce. Considering that the CV might extend to only 2 or 3 pages, and remembering also the size of Britain's unemployed population, then it comes as no surprise to find this features amongst the most profitable services offered by mail.

Though you could operate a perfectly professional service with just an electric typewriter at your disposal, many CV agencies today find repeat custom generated from the memory banks of their word processors, where clients are offered an updating facility at very small cost.

Several good books are available to guide readers interested in writing their own CVs, or else wishing to take advantage of a highly profitable business proposition.

19 Personally Speaking

Today's up-market gift service strives to find new and more interesting ways of conveying those age old messages 'Happy Birthday', 'Merry Christmas', and so on. Teddy bears have the message embroidered on the sashes around their waists, aeroplanes parade long flowing banners with appropriate messages for all and sundry to see; giant crosswords come complete with clues and answers relating to the life, interests and characteristics of recipients.

Other highly personalised gift services operating primarily by mail, include personalised children's story books, with details about the recipient built into the text; bride and groom books including personal details of wedding party and guests; and on a far less expensive note, numerous smaller personalised gifts are available to that person seeking a unique gift for someone special. Bookmarks, pens and pencils, brooches and other items of jewellery, cups and mugs, eggcups and cutlery, all can be purchased, personalised, and dispatched direct to the intended recipient. If you need any more ideas on highly personal gift products to offer by mail, look through 'Exchange and Mart', 'The Trader' and most glossy women's magazines, particularly at Christmas time.

Numerous franchise operations have recognised the profitability afforded by the personalised children's book trade; some of them also customising wedding books, stationery, greetings cards and so on.

Though not restricted to operation by mail, the relevant franchise opportunities can in fact produce an additional source of income to those who offer other mail order services, especially where related products and services are offered.

Franchising is a business opportunity where, in return for an initial franchise fee and sometimes ongoing management fees and stock purchase commitments, the business man or woman receives the support of an already established business, whose products and services he or she is entitled to market on licence. Normally full training, back up support, and ongoing advice are provided by the franchisor to those operating in its name. Franchise operations normally confer a degree of security on the newcomer to business, who even so, must take appropriate advice from legal and financial advisors before committing him or herself to costly business propositions.

Amongst the franchise opportunities involved in the personalised children's book sector, we find 'Create-A-Book', a company established in 1980, to provide a range of books for children and grown ups. Wedding books, business cards, bookmarks, letter heads and greetings cards also feature in Create-a-Book's extensive product range.

Other useful products for selling by mail include personalised address labels and rubber stamps, both of which can generate regular repeat custom for quality, competitively priced goods.

20 Proofreading and Indexing

The proofreader's job involves reading through work received from the author; sometimes from typesetters, looking for spelling and typing errors, inaccuracies to text or grammar, ambiguities, and possible omissions.

Those with some expertise in certain areas should find their services in demand by publishers of books on appropriate subjects. In the mail order trade, there are countless publishers who would also welcome the services of someone able to read, evaluate and correct manuals and business blueprints before they bring a swarm of returns from dissatisfied customers.

'Writers' and Artists' Yearbook' and 'Writer's Handbook' provide an excellent introduction to proofreading, and also contain details of worldwide publishers to whom your services might be offered.

The indexer references and cross-references a book's contents in order that the reader might easily arrive at the point he requires in the text. A clear, well-organised mind is essential, as is an ability to spot related items suitable for cross-referencing in the eventual index. Again, those two books mentioned in the previous paragraph will point the reader in the direction of publishers who might provide employment.

Proofreaders and indexers might place their advertisements in any mail order opportunities magazines, in 'The Bookseller', and other magazines of interest to writers and publishers.

And Not Forgetting.....

the numerous other goods and services that can be relied upon to provide a good and ongoing income in mail order: mailing lists, big mails, circular mailing, printing and photocopying, business management and advisory services, publishing directories and employment guides, books and cassette lending libraries, publicity agencies, tracing family trees, specialised gift agencies, advertising agencies, fan clubs, import/export services, dating bureaus, cherished car number plates, plot writing, computer services, biorhythm charts, swap shops and bartering facilities, out of print book finding services, etc., etc., etc.

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