With the Internet, first-time entrepreneurs can easily get in on the lucrative import-export industry.

And that’s no exaggeration. The days of traveling to China to find a manufacturer are over. And you don’t have to order a shipping container full of goods to sell back in the U.S.

Valerie Johnson was a college dropout looking for a career. She was at a party in 2005 when a child walked out in some “footie” pajamas. One of the guests joked that they wished those pajamas came in adult sizes. And that gave Valerie an idea: footie pajamas for adults.

But Valerie didn’t know anything about the clothing business. She didn’t know anything about running any sort of business. But that didn’t stop her. She did some research online and found the website I mentioned yesterday, Alibaba.com. There she easily found suppliers to help her make her dream come true.

Her business really did start with a few e-mails sent from the computer in her basement office. And her first year, she made $360,000. That doubled the next year… and today, she’s making nearly $2 million annually.

Not bad for a little business that started in a basement. And it’s a model that any entrepreneur can follow. You don’t even have to have an idea for a product. There are plenty of tools, also online, that can help you figure out what’s selling… and jump on the trend.

With a business like this, everything… from market research to sourcing products to selling those products… can be done online.

Today, I’m going to show you just how easy part of that process — finding the hot products — is. This is exactly what you would do to start an import business. And it’s exactly what we teach in our China Wholesale Trader program.

I encourage you to try it yourself. In the Trader, of course, you get the next steps, too, which include tips on negotiating with manufacturers and strategies for marketing your products online. And, no, you don’t have to be an Internet marketing whiz to make it work.

My first stop was Google. (It’s funny how so much of what we do online starts with Google.)

I went to Google.com and clicked on the Shopping link at the top of the page. That brings up a list of 25 or so products recently searched for by consumers. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

  • Portable DVD players
  • Bath towels
  • Tire pressure gauges
  • Bike locks

Then I shot over to Amazon and eBay to do some cross-referencing.

On Amazon, you go here to find the bestselling products in all the categories they offer, from electronics to clothing: www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/. EBay has a great trend tracker at pulse.ebay.com.

Did I find any matches among the bestsellers on Amazon and eBay? Well, Apple products like the iPod and iPhone dominated. But I didn’t think Steve Jobs was going to cut me in on that action.

Portable DVD players also had good numbers. And I thought there would be an opportunity there. So I went over to Alibaba.com to see if anybody in China might be wholesaling portable DVD players.

There were more than 23,000 suppliers listed. Some had minimum orders of 100, 500, or even 1,000 pieces. But many allow you to buy 10 at a time. And most let you buy just one first (at a deep discount) to test it out.

The wholesale price was about $30-$50 at most of the places I checked. And based on current prices here in the U.S., you could double or triple that when you sell them. For other types of products, the margins can be much higher.

I chose a DVD player from Shenzhen Newsun Photoelectric Co., Ltd. in the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, China. They let importers buy just 10 units at a time.

My next step would have been to contact the supplier via e-mail (or a phone call, if I preferred) to get more information and set up a deal. In the case of Newsun Photoelectric, the contact is Mr. Cloud Chen. All the company information and contact info is provided on the Alibaba website.)

Once you’ve found the “hot” products you’re going to sell… you have to sell them. And that’s the next step covered in the China Wholesale Trader program.

Here’s a sneak peek…

There are hundreds of ways to sell online. But it’s probably best to start on sites like eBay or Amazon Marketplace. Listing your products with one or all of these marketplaces gives you a ready-made Web presence. At some point, you could consider opening an online store on one of these sites. That would allow you to sell hundreds of different products in one place. And eventually, you might decide to have your own website.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kind of advice and strategies you get with the China Wholesale Trader program. But you can see how easy it really is to get started. In the rest of the program, you learn how to negotiate with your suppliers, market your products online, and much, much more.

[Ed. Note: The opportunity is now for first-time entrepreneurs to get involved in the growing import-export market. With the China Wholesale Trader, you get the contacts and the knowledge you need to run your business — from negotiating with suppliers overseas to marketing your products back home.]