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Where Can I Sell Food Online?
If you’re thinking about how to sell food online from home, your first thought may be “is it illegal to sell homemade food on Facebook?” In simple terms, as long as you abide by the Cottage Food law, you can sell food on the Facebook Marketplace.
This does limit the amount of food choices you can sell from this platform. Cottage Food laws allow you to prepare and bake certain foods in your home kitchen to sell them on a small scale.
Since many food vendors on Facebook are operating without a license or health inspections of their facilities, there is a risk of getting reported. So, it is important that you follow all the state and local laws to ensure that you are in compliance.
The great thing about selling on Facebook Marketplace is that there are no fees. However, you will need to organize how you will collect payments and ship your items. If you’re not offering a local pick up, you’ll need to think about how you will ship your items and factor the cost into your prices.
Shopify is another great selling platform. This is a hosted platform offering all inclusive software to help you create an online store. Essentially, it is a one stop shop providing everything that you will need to sell your items online.
- Order management
- Payment processors
There are currently over 800,00 active stores on the platform across the world.
Shopify has an easy to use interface that will guide you through setting up your store. You’ll still need compelling descriptions and appealing photos. But, Shopify can help you with everything else, so you’ll have a fully functioning store in a matter of hours.
However, this convenience does come at a cost. The pricing for Shopify varies from $9 per month to $299 a month. However, there are no contacts to sign and no other fees. You can also save up to 20% by signing up for a one or two year plan.
Etsy is a sales platform that specializes in all things handcrafted. This includes food items. The interface is easy to use and you can set up an eye-catching storefront in next to no time. This is a lower risk option than setting up your own website.
The fees for Etsy include:
- Listing fee: $0.20 per item
- Transaction fee: 5% on the total cost including any shipping costs
- Payment processing fee: If you choose to use Etsy Payments, there is an additional fee of 3% + $0.25.
Yummit is a marketplace to buy and sell home cooked food in your local area. Site visitors can browse the choice of meals prepared in their local area. They place an order and you will prepare their meal. You will then arrange pick up or delivery.
This platform allows you to create an account to start selling food for free. You only need to pay a 20% fee when you make a sale. Yummit allows setting your own prices and your own schedule. There is no limit on what you can offer on the site. From freshly baked cakes to home cooked meals, just decide on what you would like to offer and how customers can enjoy your delicious items.
Yummit takes care of finding customers, so you can just concentrate on cooking your favorite dishes.
To qualify to sell items on the platform, you need to:
- Comply with local food business laws and food safety best practices.
- Supply pictures of the food and inside your kitchen.
- Be willing to receive payments handled by Stripe.
How Can I Make Money From Cooking at Home?
If you have culinary talents, there are a number of ways you can turn this skill into a side hustle.
You can make money cooking at home by:
- Teaching cooking classes: There are a number of platforms, such as SkillShare or Udemy where you can teach others. You can create a cooking course and earn money each time someone buys a copy.
- Write recipes: You can sell original recipes in a number of ways. While this may not be the highest earning potential, you can do it solo. This is a great option for those who don’t like the idea of presenting in front of students.
- Food blogging: Blogging is a great way to create an income stream from your passions and hobbies. This includes food. While starting a blog will not create instant money, you can build up an income of up to $10,000 or more per month.
- Set up a cooking YouTube channel: If you like the idea of being on camera and sharing your food passion, consider a YouTube channel.
Steps to Sell Food Online
Step One: Understand the Legal Requirements
There are regulations for selling food items online. So, it is important that you understand and comply with any and all legal requirements. Unfortunately, the regulations are not always easy to understand. They will vary according to your location.
However, there are some basic laws for how to sell food from home. For example, anyone in the US who plans on selling food from out of their home, needs to adhere to the Cottage Food Regulations. This can be food you plan on selling at a street market or online.
The Cottage Food Laws vary from state to state, but most cover the same basic principles:
- No pets allowed in your kitchen
- You must have proper food storage
- You need to obtain a state business license
- You must have a health department kitchen inspection at least once per year
- You should have zoning clearance and all necessary local government permits
Fortunately, you can reach out to the health department in your local area to answer any questions or queries.
Certifications and Permits for Selling Baked Items
If you’re preparing baked goods or making other foods, it is a good idea to undertake a food handling training course. This will allow you to become a certified food handler. Additionally, these courses will teach you how to handle food properly, storage temperatures, cooking temperatures and other food safety practices.
You will also need to obtain a local permit for your kitchen. Your home kitchen will need to meet food safety and zoning laws. If it fails to do so, you will need to use a commercial kitchen. Additionally, you will need to obtain state licensing for your business. Technically, you will not be able to make any online sales until you register.
Step Two: Organize Your Suppliers
While you may be making your food items from scratch, you will need supplies. If you start making items in larger quantities, it may not be cost effective to purchase your supplies from your local grocery store. In fact, your local grocery store may not even have the supplies to allow you to satisfy your orders. So, you will need to find a reliable supplier.
Since the food industry can be shady, it is vital that you need to track the supply chain before you agree to a particular supplier. Fortunately, there are online directories of reputable ingredient suppliers.
If you have concerns about seeking out suppliers, you may be able to produce small batches by shopping at a warehouse store such as Costco.
Step Three: Consider Your Packaging
If you thought you were done with regulations, you would be wrong. It is crucial that you get your food labels correct. US law requires that every food product carries a label with a full disclosure of the ingredients. Your label will also need to feature the combined weight of the ingredients, product net weight and the producer’s name and location.
These label details should also feature in your product descriptions online. This not only ensures you follow the law, but also can prevent customers asking the same questions.
When you list your ingredients, you need to start with the largest quantity first and work downwards from there. You will also need to highlight any common food allergens such as peanuts or soy.
You will also need to think about how you will package your items. If your iems are non refrigerated, a simple “fragile” or “perishable” label will suffice. However, if your food does require some refrigeration or may be compromised by varying temperatures, you will need to organize climate controlled packaging and a courier who can handle this type of delivery.
Step Four: Set Up Your Online Store
An online store is perhaps one of the simplest answers to how to sell food online. You can set up your own website or use a sales platform.
You’ll need good images for your items, a description and a sales price. You can then create an inventory of your products. Don’t forget to connect your choice of payment processor.
Step Five: Get Marketing
Once your online store is ready, you need to attract customers. This can be one of the most challenging aspects of setting up an online business. With millions of websites on the internet, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, there are some ways to help your online store find its customer base.
- Find your niche: Very few successful businesses appeal to everyone. In fact, trying to target your marketing to everyone can compromise its effectiveness. So, it is crucial that you find your niche. Who will your food items appeal to? Those looking for a gourmet treat or a snack on the go? Are you catering to a particular eating style or those wanting comfort food? Knowing who your target market is will help you to create your marketing strategies.
- Build your email list: Whether you have a blog, social media channels or website, ideally, you will want an email list. This is a list of people who have given permission for you to send your promotions and other marketing materials. Many successful businesses offer a free giveaway or incentive to encourage people to join an email list. For example, you could offer a discount code on a first order by subscribing.
- Create a recipe or food blog: SEO can be a fantastic tool to bring customers to your site. However, potential customers may not actually be searching for your specific products. But, you can get around this by having a recipe or food blog on your website. This will allow you to create internal links and encourage visitors to click on the food pages of your site.
Is it Better to Own Bakery or Sell from Home?
While you may have harbor dreams of owning your own bakery, there are a lot of costs associated with starting this type of business. It can cost up to $50,000 to open a bakery in the USA. So, unless you have lots of capital and are prepared for the risk, you may find it better to sell from home.
Providing you comply with the local and state regulations, you can sell from home with minimal costs. So, you can start small and scale accordingly.