You’ve reached the point in your blogging career that you are ready to put your blog to work. After all, you’ve raised and nurtured it. Shouldn’t it pay you back by bringing in a little cash? Or a lot of cash?
If you’ve got a sufficient following, you’ve probably thought of selling via your blog. We’re here to help you get a handle on all the aspects of online selling that bloggers need to know.
Why Should Bloggers Sell Online?
Obviously, everyone could use a little more mad money, right? But maybe in the past, you thought it would take more time than it was worth to earn income from your blog. That’s obviously true for some online sales models, but as a blogger, you actually have a leg up. In fact, bloggers with a loyal following of readers are better placed than almost anyone else to sell products online.
The Benefits of Selling Online
There’s a lot of buzz these days about passive income. Passive income is a “set it and forget it” method of selling online, meaning that you create something once (e.g., an ebook) and it can generate sales for you on an ongoing basis without any additional work on your part. But passive income isn’t the only thing that bloggers get out of opening an online store.
- Get paid for your work. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating the content on your blog and getting the word out about it. Don’t let that work go unrewarded.
- Support your hobby. If your blog focuses on niche interests or subcultures, selling items can help you pay for the hobby you’re writing about.
- Establish your authority. If you’ve got an ambitious goals, selling items or informational content in your area of expertise can prove you’re an authority on a topic.
- Get rid of your stuff. You can use your blog to promote what you’re selling on eBay or through local swap meets.
- Reward your readers. Selling doesn’t need to be all about you. Fair pricing on fan-friendly products can reward your readers for their loyalty.
- Donate to charity. You can raise money for your favorite causes in amounts you wouldn’t be able to match with your solo contributions.
What Can Bloggers Sell?
Almost anything you can imagine. You can even sell cars if you have a distribution method!
To stoke your creativity, here are some ideas for products:
- Digital products are probably the first things that come to mind when a blogger considers selling something. Ebooks, music, videos, memberships, subscriptions, online courses, and reselling other services (like web hosting) are great product ideas, especially since their inventory doesn’t take up space.
- Physical products are also worthy of consideration. You could ship them yourself from home or join up with a third party to handle your inventory.
- Donations are another type of “virtual product.” You can ask people to support your blog or solicit donations to your favorite charity.
Types of E-commerce Solutions
A few years ago, if a blogger wanted to sell something online, they had two choices: (1) Direct readers to their eBay store or (2) become a full-fledged business to sell items through Amazon.
Forget about selling digital products because very few individuals could afford the shopping cart functionality that was available to digital businesses like iTunes.
Today’s bloggers have dozens of options for selling almost anything. You can use many tools right on your blog, including:
- Standalone sites (eBay, Etsy) that you link to from your blog
- Store overlays you can add anywhere, including social media
- Blog plug-ins
- Embedded widgets
- Online store site builders
Using a Website Builder
While specific e-commerce solutions may seem like a no-brainer, going for an ultra-intuitive website builder plan can save you some dough. Many website builder plans, in fact, offer e-commerce themes with integrated payment options and niche specific features. Media Temple is a great starting point, starting at $10 per month, not to mention a 10-day free trial.
Bloggers often have different needs when it comes to online selling compared to other businesses, especially if you don’t have your own retail brick-and-mortar store.
If you’re just starting out with selling, you might easily be overwhelmed by all the available features. Don’t wig out! We’ll explain what features are available so you can find the perfect tool for your blog with a minimum of confusion.
Factors to consider for bloggers who want to sell online:
- Trial period — Does the host allow a free trial period to test your store?
- Setup fees — Does the online host charge an initial fee or a monthly hosting fee?
- Per transaction fees — Does the hosting company take a percentage of your sales? Also, does the payment provider charge fees on every sale you make? Do fees increase based on the price of the item sold?
- Ease and speed of setup — How easy is it to get your store up and running?
- Blog integration — Is it easy to make your store look like part of your blog?
- Availability of sales earnings — Does the store host or payment provider hold earnings in escrow or pay immediately?
- Existing sales portal integration — If you’re already selling online (e.g., eBay or Etsy), can you take advantage of your existing setup?
- Scalability — Do you need a store that will scale as your product catalog grows?
- Additional features to consider — customer reviews, marketing via email list, appointment scheduling for service providers, digital rights management, shipping options, sales tax/VAT, accounting services, donations, and handling product returns.
What’s Your Blogger Profile?
We know that when it comes to blogging, one size doesn’t fit all. So we’re going to break down each online store option we found by the type of blogger it’s best for.
- New bloggers
- Experienced bloggers
- Entrepreneurs who write blogs to support their existing business
- Geeky bloggers who prefer functionality over design
- Artsy bloggers who prefer design over functionality
Online Stores by Blogger Profile
We’ll take you through some of the most popular store options. Unless otherwise indicated, all the stores below come with:
- Stripe and PayPal payments
- Automatic shipping, tax, and VAT calculations
- No setup or transaction fees (doesn’t include fees from payment gateways)
- Sales of both digital and physical products
- SSL security certificates
- Responsive design
- Inventory management
- Coupons or promotional pricing
- Multiple currencies
- Extensive help and onboarding tutorials
- Demo stores or free trials