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The challenges and rewards of Facebook Live Selling

There’s no doubt that this era has embraced e-commerce and made live selling prevalent. As we scroll across various platforms—even on Facebook, we would definitely see lots of online sellers showcasing their businesses with their own setup and strategies. But, behind their tactics, charm, and non-stop chitchat, there are stories that we won’t usually see in their live videos. That’s what we’re going to explore.

Getting started: Why online live selling?

Have you ever wonder how live selling even started? How did most live sellers kick off in this kind of business? What made them decide to do live selling? To further uncover their stories, we’ve interviewed three women—Khalee, Jersey, and Rice— who have shared their lives as online sellers and how they began.

Author’s note: Interviews were conducted online.

Question: What made you decide to do live selling? And how did you start?

Khalee shared that she started first as a buyer. She was just among us— buyers who only watch live selling videos and say “mine.” However, the time had come when her interest in live selling grew, and she has decided to try if she’s also capable of doing this kind of business. Hence, live selling has opened an opportunity for her to earn a living.

Khalee: Before ako maging live seller naging buyer din muna ako hanggang sa tin-ry ko kung kaya ko ba, kasi gusto ko ng business. E that time ayaw ko na mag-apply kasi mahirap din ang may amo. Hanggang sa sinimulan ko, ayun nag-focus ako sa pagla-live selling.

[Before I became a live seller, I was a buyer. I tried if I could do it. That time, I don’t want to apply (for a job) because it’s also difficult to have a boss. Until I started, and from there, I focused on live selling.]

The pandemic has pushed many people to get into different businesses. Jersey and her friends are also among those people who have embraced the shift to the digital world and started live selling as well.

Jersey: Since most of us are transitioning to the digital world—my partners and I decided to do live selling as well. During the pandemic, we’ve seen tons of live selling videos and nakaka-hook talaga siya—and effective. Ipapakita lang nila iyong items then they can easily make a sale—kahit nasa bahay lang sila. And feeling din namin fun siya gawin since magkakaibigan kami, and we share the love for fashion.

[Since most of us are transitioning to the digital world—my partners and I decided to do live selling as well. During the pandemic, we’ve seen tons of live selling videos, and they can really get you hooked—and it’s effective. They’ll just show the items, and then they can easily make a sale—even if they’re at home. And we feel that it’s fun to do since we are friends, and we share the love for fashion.]

Jersey, Moreen, and Manilyn of Bay Palette are working together as business partners in live-selling clothes. Other than making a sale, live selling is something that they think is both fun and effective, wherein they can also share what they’re interested in. In this case, fashion.

Another live seller— Rice of Tsong-Gay Japan Surplus— shared her story of overcoming her insecurities to start off selling various stuff online. She has to think of a way to get noticed and admitted that starting live selling isn’t easy, and it’s more of a risk as you are not sure whether there would be people to support you, watch you, or even buy from you. In this case, she used her sense of humor to help get started.

Rice: Hindi ko siya balak. Insecure ako sa sarili ko, feeling ko mostly ‘yong live sellers magaganda. So siyempre ako kailangan ko rin ng way para mapansin din ako, which is ‘yon komedyante na lang. Kung hindi man ako maganda, at least nakakatawa ako, sasaya ‘yong mga buyer ko. Pero sa una siyempre hindi rin talaga siya madali, sugal siya, kasi hindi mo alam kung may papansin ba sa’yo, may manonood ba sa’yo, may bibili ba.

[I didn’t intend to do it. I’m insecure with myself; I feel like most live sellers are pretty. That’s why I need a way to get noticed, and that’s being like a comedian. If I’m not pretty, at least I’m funny, and my buyers would be happy. But at first, of course, it’s not really easy either, and it’s like trial and error. You don’t know if anyone will pay attention to you, will watch you, or will buy from you.]

While sellers have different ways of getting started, but they all have one thing in common: they’re all motivated to earn.

The process and challenges

Unknown to many, live selling has its own challenges. Preparation is needed, from introducing themselves, stating rules, showcasing offers, attracting potential customers to dealing with buyers— an online seller’s life certainly isn’t just one smooth spin.

Question: What are the challenges/struggles of live selling? 

Jersey: Lahat ay challenging. Kapag nanonood ka ng live selling videos, parang sa unang tingin, madali at fun-fun lang pero hindi pala ganoon. Pero matrabaho talaga siya. Gagawa ka muna ng teaser or announcement na magla-live kayo para aware ang target customers mo. I-sosort ninyo ang items na ipapakita. Lalabhan, pa-plantsahin. Magpa-pricing. Lalagyan ng label ang mga damit for sizes and prices. Then, need mo i-set up ang camera, ring light, background.

[Everything is challenging. When you are watching live selling videos, at first, it looks like it’s easy and fun, but it isn’t just like that. It requires a lot of work. You have to make a teaser or an announcement that you will do live selling so that your target customers would aware of it. You’ll have to sort the items that you’ll show; washed and ironed. You’ll also do the pricing and labeling of clothes for the sizes and prices. Then, you have to set up the camera, ring light, background.]

Jersey has shared their usual process of selling clothes, which she identified all as challenging. Live sellers really have to exert much effort to prepare for everything before and during a live sale. The preparation also includes making a teaser, preparing the items, as well as setting up the equipment needed to make the live video appealing.

Jersey: Tapos during the actual live, mayroon dapat magshe-share ng video sa iba’t ibang groups, FB accounts. May tagabantay ng comments. And siyempre, iyong nagho-host ng live, usually nagpapalit-palit ng damit kasi mas na-aappreciate ng viewers kapag tina-try talaga iyong mga damit.

[During an actual live, there must be someone who will share the video to different groups, FB accounts. There’s someone to monitor the comments, and of course, the host would usually change clothes as viewers would appreciate it more when the host tries out the clothes.]

Jersey also noted that during the live, there must be someone who will post/share the video to various groups and FB accounts and someone to monitor the comments. She also added that the host has to try out and show the clothes live to exhibit what the items look like when worn to get more potential buyers.

Not to mention, you also need to have a good internet connection. A slow internet connection would result in a low-res stream, which might discourage potential buyers. So, yes, the items you sell might look good, but a poor internet connection might not be able to give justice to what you offer, and worst-case scenario, it might even affect the whole live sale.

[Jersey: Dapat din may mga pakulo or games para hindi ma-bore iyong viewers and para mas ma-hook sila. Then after the live stream, mag aayos kayo—ng set-up, ng mga damit. I-sosort ninyo ulit para mabukod iyong for delivery na. Fun siya gawin sobra, lalo na at magbabarkada kami ng partners ko but very time consuming and exhausting siya.

[There should also be games so that the viewers would not be bored, as well as to get them hooked. Then after the live stream, you’ll have to fix everything— the set-up, the clothes. You’ll also have to sort the items, and separate the ones for delivery. It’s really fun to do, especially that my partners are my friends, but it is very time-consuming and exhausting.]

According to them, live selling is also difficult to do on their own. In fact, Jersey mentioned that there are different roles needed during the actual live selling: 1) the host; 2) the one who will share the video to different groups 3) the one who monitors the comments; 4) the one who will take note of the order details. Luckily, Jersey and her friends work together, and each of them has a role to play.

Moreover, the process doesn’t just end after the end of a live video. There is still a lot of work to do, such as sorting and putting labels on each sold item, as well as packing and shipping the items to the customers.

With all the said procedures, live selling could also be exhausting and stressful. Plus, other than the process before, during, and after a live sale, there might still be other issues along the way.

As a matter of fact, Khalee has shared one of the live sellers’ challenges, and that is getting viewers. Live sellers probably could relate to this. In a post, Khalee has expressed her struggle of getting more viewers and miners. According to her, this still happened even after sharing the live video with different people or groups.

Khalee has also pointed out another struggle of live selling, which is dealing with customers. For her, live selling is really not an easy job, especially that you have to interact with different kinds of people. Also, since live selling happens virtually, there might be misunderstandings between the host and the viewers/buyers.

Khalee: May mga buyers na hindi nakakaintindi, kaya talagang nakaka-stress sobra. Mahirap din talaga makipag-interact sa iba’t-ibang klaseng tao pero masasanay ka rin at matututo.

[There are some buyers who can’t understand, that’s why it’s really stressful. It’s also difficult to interact with different kinds of people, but you’ll get used to it, and you’ll learn.]

Furthermore, live sellers also have to deal with “joy miners,” and Rice is also a victim of them. Joy miners are people who expressed interest in items during a Live but ended up not buying them.

Rice: Sa live selling hindi rin talaga mawawala ‘yong mga “joy miner” at mga scammer. Nandiyan na ‘yong na-pack mo na, expected mo kumita ka na. Tapos biglang boom, wala pala. Biglang hindi pala kukuhanin, gano’n, parang nasayang lang ‘yong effort mo tapos ‘yong inaasahan mong kita mo, wala pala, minsan nakakaiyak na lang kasi sayang ‘yong pagod mo. Pero wala akong magagawa kasi part na siguro ‘yon ng live selling. 

[In live selling, there are really joy miners and scammers. There are instances wherein you have packed the items, and you are expecting an income. Then suddenly, they will no longer be getting the items. It’s like your efforts have gone to waste. It’s really heartbreaking, especially that you have given so much hard work. However, it really seems to be part of live selling.]


Facebook as a platform for live sales

Undoubtedly, Facebook keeps changing and evolving over time. It is a community for connecting people, a platform for games, and it keeps growing. Now, the platform unlocks opportunities for people’s businesses. If you ever search for “live,” “live selling,” “live sale,” or any other related keywords, you will definitely see a lot of people showcasing their own businesses from different parts of the country or even the world.

Question: What made you choose Facebook as a platform for live selling? 

Khalee: Kasi sa Facebook ko unang nalaman ‘yong live selling, pero ngayon nagla-live na rin ako sa Shopee.

[It’s because I have learned about live selling on Facebook, but now I am also doing live selling on Shopee.]

Other than Facebook, other platforms like Shopee offers a live selling feature, which gives sellers more possibilities.

Jersey: Facebook is the most accessible platform to everyone. Siya iyong may wider reach since halos lahat ng tao ay Facebook ang naunang na-discover na social media platform. Siya iyong napili namin since lahat ng kakilala namin ay sure kami na may Facebook. Mas madali rin makakuha ng potential buyers with the help of Facebook groups.

[Facebook is the most accessible platform to everyone. It has a wider reach since Facebook was the first social media platform that most people have discovered. We have also chosen Facebook since most of the people we know have a Facebook account, and it’s easier to get potential buyers with the help of Facebook groups.]

Live sellers also benefit from having various groups on Facebook where they can post and get more potential buyers.

Rice: Mas marami akong kakilala sa Facebook. Facebook kasi malawak na siya, halos lahat nando’n na.

[I have more friends/acquaintances on Facebook. I have chosen Facebook because it has a wider reach, and almost everything is available there.]

These live sellers also see the potential of Facebook as a platform for reaching a wider audience.

The Income

The primary reason why one gets into selling is income from sales. As it turns out, live sellers can actually earn enough to help provide for a family.

Question: How’s the income of doing live selling? 

Khalee: Sa una hindi kaya punan yung everyday needs pero nagbunga din yung pagtiyatiyaga at pagtitiis hanggang sa nababayaran na ‘yong everyday needs at bills.

[At first, it isn’t enough to sustain our everyday needs, but with dedication and hard work, I am now able to provide for our needs and bills.]

Jersey: Sa una lang medyo tight kasi doon pa iyong maglalabas ka ng pang capital, mage-experiment pa ng ino-offer. More on labas talaga muna ng money. Very risky siya. Pero slowly, napunta na kami sa phase na nari-reap na namin iyong aming mga efforts. Growing na and business namin—and the income as well.

[It was a bit tight at first, since it’s when you’ll have to draw out a capital and experiment more of what to offer. It’s very risky especially it’s when you’ll have to draw out more money. However, slowly we are getting into a phase, in which we are reaping the fruit of our efforts. Our business is growing, and our income as well.]

Rice: Nakakabili na ako ng mga bagay para sa sarili ko, para sa pamilya ko, sa mga pangagailangan namin ganyan. Okay ‘yong kita niya, matutuwa ka na. Pero hindi lagi. Minsan mas malaki ‘yong kinikita mo sa live selling kaysa sa regular na trabaho bilang empleyado, pero hindi palagi. Minsan up, minsan down, kaya kailangan mo pa rin talaga ng hard work at effort.

[I can able to buy for myself, for my family, and for our needs. The income is good, and it’s something that could make you glad. But, it isn’t always like that. Sometimes, the income you get from live selling is even bigger than a regular job of an employee, but isn’t always like that. It’s either up or down, so you still have to exert hard work and effort.]

Live selling as a long-term business

These women saw the potential of Facebook live selling as a long-term business and have an optimistic look about it.

Question: Do you see live selling as a long-term business? 

Khalee: Yes, sa panahon ngayon, lahat ng tao puro hawak nila cellphone. Minsan hindi na nga kamay ng mahal mo ang ka-holding hands mo, cellphone na lang. Saka ‘yong iba mas gusto nila mag-shopping online kaysa lumabas pa. 

[Yes, in this day and age, most of us use our phones. Sometimes cellphones are most likely what we are holding, instead of the hands of the ones we love. Also, most of the people prefer shopping online than going out.]

As most of us keep on scrolling and checking out our needs and wants on our mobile phones (or any other gadgets), it gives sellers opportunities to continue showcasing their businesses online. Besides, with the pandemic still in place, most people surely opt to shop online instead of going out.

Jersey: Definitely, since digital means na ang ginagamit ng lahat. Padagdag din nang padagdag ang features to support the FB business side, so yes, we think na we will be utilizing live selling for a long time. But of course, we will adapt to whatever platform ang papatok or magwo-work as time goes by.

[Definitely, since all of us are now using digital means. Facebook’s features to support businesses also keep growing. So yes, we think that we will be utilizing live selling for a long time. But of course, we will adapt to whatever platform would go trending or work as time goes by.]

We are now in a world that takes the benefit of going digital. Even so, Jersey recognized the growing features on Facebook that support people’s businesses. Though, she noted that they must adapt to whatever platform would work in the future.

Rice: Oo naman, siyempre. Wala naman akong nakikitang rason para hindi siya ipagpatuloy. At siyempre, hindi naman ‘to ibibigay ni Lord ‘yong oportunidad na ‘to kung hindi ‘to long-term. Kaya tuloy lang, hangga’t may sumusuporta pa sa’yo, may nanonood sa’yo at naniniwala, magpatuloy ka lang. Laban lang.

[Yes, of course. I don’t see any reason not to keep going. Also, the Lord wouldn’t give this opportunity if it isn’t for a long time. That’s why we must keep going. As long as there’s someone supporting you, watching you, and believing in you— just keep going. Keep fighting.]

Tips for those who want to start live selling

If you ever want to start but don’t have enough courage yet, here are some of the tips from the live sellers.

Khalee: Huwag susuko agad. Hindi masamang sumubok ng bago, pero alamin mo rin kung linya mo talaga siya, para hindi masayang once namuhunan ka.

[Don’t give up just easily. However, it isn’t bad to try out something new, but know first if it is something you want, so it won’t go into waste once you’ve invested.]

Jersey: Prepare in advance—kasi marami rin na mga unexpected na nangyayari sa actual live so dapat mayroon ka or kayong ‘Plan B.’ Minsan kasi biglang magkakaroon ng technical issues, and may times na hindi nagre-respond well ang audience, so dapat may gagawin kayo para ma-hook sila. It all boils down sa level ng preparedness para maging smooth ang overall run ng live ninyo.

[Prepare in advance— because there might be a lot of unexpected events that can happen during an actual live, so you must have Plan B. Sometimes, there would be technical issues or the audience won’t respond well, that’s why you must do something to get them hooked. It all boils down to the level of preparedness so you would have a smooth overall run.]

Rice: Sumubok ka. Hindi madali sa umpisa pero go lang. May times na walang manonood, walang magma-mine, tapos maraming mga challenges talaga pero huwag basta-basta susuko. Manalig ka lang kay Lord, and iga-guide ka Niya along the way. Gano’n naman talaga. Basta maniwala ka lang na kaya mo, kakayanin mo ‘yan. 

[Go on and try. It isn’t easy at first, but keep going. There are times that no one will watch you, no one will buy from you, and there would be many challenges— but don’t give up easily. Keep your faith in the Lord and He will guide you along the way. It is really just like that. Just believe that you can, and you really can do it.]

Live selling is just one of the examples that showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos, especially during the pandemic where people are looking for ways to earn from home. Selling clothes is just one of them as there are other products being sold live online like bags and rare plants. Like any other business, you have to start somewhere. You have to do your research, shell out capital, and do most of the work yourself.

It’s not for everyone, though, but we don’t see Facebook live selling to lose its appeal any time soon. With smartphones and internet connectivity becoming more affordable and available, digital banking more accessible, and we have platforms such as Facebook, we’ll see more home-based businesses flourish online.

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