Since I've been marketing bbq rubs online for several years, I'm sometimes asked for information about how it's done and how to get started.
Like many bbq enthusiasts that start competing extensively, I began searching for various opportunities to earn back some expenses. I'd seen several of my friends start selling bbq rubs at contests and it seemed like a good business opportunity to promote at TheBBQGuy.com .
I started with a Google search, and it just grew from there. First I found a co-packer that would sell in smaller quantities and then I learned about labeling regulations. (You generally have to buy in quantities of 15 cases or more for an initial order size.)
I started selling a 13 oz bottle and it's still the more requested size. Due to changes by my co-packer, I am now only able to offer my rub in 8 oz bottles. I've also discovered that the bigger the bottle the more profitable it is. The difference in the cost of goods is not that great, but the profit margins are considerably different. I've also learned that BBQ enthusiasts prefer to buy in bigger quantities. Hobbyists and those just starting to learn low and slow cooking seem to want to purchase the smaller bottles.
So, therein lies the predicament in starting a bbq rub business. What you want to sell isn't what most people want to buy. And as I learned in business school....that's why they call it marketing.
But perhaps most of all, I've learned that plain old word of mouth is still the most effective method for bbq rubs when you're just starting out. Friends, family, and neighbors are loyal customers who will keep coming back for more. As with any new venture it's always nice to get some regular customers when you're starting out.