Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has one of the largest natural health sites on the Internet, recently addressed the question: “Why Do I Sell Products On My Website?”
I have had numerous people ask me a variation of this same question from time to time. And recently, a doctor who is becoming involved with my work and doing some research on natural healing methods, sent me an email requesting that he not be associated with the commercial aspect of my work – in order to maintain the integrity of his research and recommendations. Oh boy, did I ever relate to his request! So I’m going to share with you what I wrote back to him:
I totally understand what you are saying about the Holistic Health Shoppe (HHS) – this is why in the beginning I did not sell any products, but just referred people to the manufacturers of each product (in the Appendix at the back of the book – which I still do). Then I kept getting emails from international readers begging me: “I’m having to order from 10 different places and the shipping charges alone are killing me. Isn’t there just ONE place I can go to get all this stuff?”
So then I arranged with a health store in Arizona to stock product and ship out to people. But they kept messing up about every 3rd order, so people were getting really pissed off. I did NOT want to start a health shop – yuck! Not my thing at all. Warehouse, inventory, shipping, returns = HASSLE. Not interested!
But at the same time, I really felt for all these people – so sick they can barely get out of bed – having to spend hours contacting and ordering from each manufacturer, and then paying separate full-whack shipping charges for EACH product order.
That’s why I eventually set up HHS and convinced my husband Ian to handle the day-to-day running of everything – because I was not interested in doing that! But yes, I wrestled for a long time with the “commercial implications” of that. I felt it would lessen my credibility and dilute my message of healing and I really felt uncomfortable with the whole thing. But at the end of the day, the pleas from all the overseas readers took precedence.
So when we set up HHS, we figured only overseas readers would use it – since all of the products were available in North America and if people got their local health store to order them in (which is what I recommend in the book and give them all the info to be able to do so) then they would not have to pay shipping charges. Hence, we went into it with the attitude that, “Well, let’s just hope to break even and help these people out.”
Since we can only afford to sell at regular retail prices and the shipping is expensive because it is courier shipping (we tried USPS in the beginning, but they kept losing packages which made people really angry and cost a lot of money to replace) – why would someone is the US buy from the Holistic Health Shoppe??
Surprise! – they preferred to buy from HHS because of CONVENIENCE. One-stop shopping, and they didn’t want to have to wait (anywhere from 1 -4 weeks) for their local store to get the product in. So there you go, now 90% of HHS customers are from the US. Go figure.
Oh yes, and the other motivator was that people would go to their local health store to get a specific product, but they didn’t have it in stock and the health store worker would talk them into buying another brand – which they assured them was identical. However, it was NOT the same and would contain secondary ingredients, fillers, etc. that directly aggravated their IBD symptoms resulting in a bad experience.
So that’s the whole story. Would I prefer to have someone else own and profit from HHS and I just refer readers to them? Hell yes. From a logistical point of view, but primarily from an integrity point of view. If someone is profiting from their advice, it dilutes the power of their message. I get that. I feel it myself. That’s why I first tried to get the health store in Arizona to do it (they are the largest in the State, in business for over a decade, excellent reputation, etc.) – but their accuracy and customer service just wasn’t good enough. My motto in life is: Do it right, or don’t do it at all.
So, here we are. And I’m sure to many people, at first glance, I may look pretty “selly” and they may well wonder about my integrity and validity. That’s the sad part for me – I’ve done all this and set up the Holistic Health Shoppe at THEIR request, because I honestly felt so bad for the extra burden on my overseas readers. And now that I’ve set it up, yes, it’s a business, with a warehouse, staff, etc. so it has to generate money to pay everyone. It’s a rock and a hard place.
Aside from which, supplements are not a profitable business anyway – unless you have your own line, then the profit margins get a bit better, but your up-front cost also increases drastically. But in terms of a business model and a time/profit/hassle ratio – not a business I would ever choose to be in!
But that’s the thing in life, sometimes the universe has other ideas for us. And many times, the meaning and heart-value makes up for what’s lacking in the business model. I made much easier money in my telecommunications business, but it had nowhere near the meaning and love that this business contains.
Note: I called it a business. Yes. Because if something is taking up all of my working time, then it has to generate me money. I’ll get the odd email from time to time from someone who feels I should be doing this for free, not “profiting from the sickness of others”. Hello? Do you work for free? Does your rent, food, car payments etc. just magically appear or do you have to pay for them?
If helping people heal themselves takes up all my time, then I have to charge for that. If I didn’t, then I would put my time into another business which would generate income. Here is a key point that many “righteously indignant” people just don’t seem to get:
I don’t need to be doing this – I’m already healed!
This whole business started as the result of people continually asking me “How did you heal yourself?” People asked me for help, not the other way around.
I’ve owned my own businesses since I was 19 – and my first business was a candy store at the age of 9. As a previously successful business person, would I sit down and say to myself: “Hmmm, I think I’ll start a new business, selling to people who are so weak and sick that many of them can’t work, so they won’t have any money to buy my books. And they also won’t have any money to pay for their own supplements, so they won’t be interested in natural healing methods in the first place.”
Gee, do you think it’s safe to conclude that I did not start this business for the money?
And let’s be real clear about this: I do not have a poverty-consciousness. I do not believe that “money is the root of all evil”. I think money is great; it is tool that can be used to do great things in the world, increase your freedom of movement and experience, eat better, live better, and have more fun.
Part of the reason I love to see people healed is so that they can have the energy and stamina to earn good money for themselves. I’m a big fan of automating systems and working smart vs. working hard. And I do not believe that healers and health professionals need to be low income in order to be sincere. Integrity does not equal poverty. Integrity stands on its own. You can be a fabulously wealthy person with integrity. You can be a poor person with integrity. Hopefully people who read my stuff will see who I really am and the results they achieve will speak for themselves.
‘Nuff said. As per usual, feel free to add your comments or questions below – I love being able to explore these issues freely and together! – Jini