Are you thinking about turning your blog into an online store and selling digital or physical products, services or subscriptions?
If you answered yes and aren’t sure how to add ecommerce to your blog then read on.
I’ll share with you some simple steps to turn your blog into an online store.
No excuses! You can start now
Now the good news.
You’ve already done the majority of the hard work in building a blog with an audience, so you’re not starting from scratch.
You’ve spent the time and effort in creating the content and promoting your blog and have already got your niche. The people following your blog are your target market, and this makes it easier to figure out your products or services you can offer.
This is an excellent example of a successful author, Joanna Penn, who’s worked hard at building a loyal following and is selling direct from her site theCreativePenn as well as the usual book marketplaces.
The longer you leave it, the more competition you’ll have.
Don’t hesitate any longer, you can follow these simple steps and turn your blog into your own online store.
First step: choose your products and services
We recommend you start with products that you’re passionate about (and your audience) and to focus selling on something unique.
This might be over simplified but you just need to brainstorm your product ideas. Checkout some other similar blogs and see what they are offering. You don’t have to copy them but it might spark some ideas. This checklist will help you break it down.
A quick product checklist
- What is the problem you are solving?
- Who is likely to want to buy it?
- How it will be used?
- What are the features of your product or service?
- Is it a physical product needing delivery, or a digital download or service?
- How does the user benefit from these features?
- Are there any alternative products or substitutes to your product?
- How much will it cost to make and ship?
- What price will you sell it for (how much profit)?
If you’re looking for more great practical advice from someone who’s been making a living from their blog since 2007, here is a post by Yaro Stark, “How to sell more products by segmenting your online content”.
Second step: test demand for your product
If your product will take a large amount of work or investment it’s a good idea to test the demand as early as possible. You want to see if your blog readers will buy your product or service before you spend your time and money on something that doesn’t possibly sell.
Here are three ideas on how you can test demand for your product.
A Kickstarter campaign
If you have a specific product in mind, you could consider a Kickstarter campaign. It takes a lot of effort and planning and it’s not for everyone as there are restrictions on the types of projects, but it can be a good way of judging whether people are interested in your idea.
For example Seth Godin had a Kickstarter campaign to raise $40,000 for his upcoming book.”The Icarus Deception”. He raised more than his target within four hours. Jim Kukral also crowd funded a book to the tune of $35,000, you can read more about Jim’s experience of crowd funding.
This is a good choice if you’ve already decided to create a product and service.
It has the benefit of providing you with some additional cash to fund making your product. It also gives you a good idea of how much inventory you will need when you launch and start taking orders. You can help create a bit of a buzz and urgency by offering a pre-launch discount.
Register your interest
If undecided on a product and want to gauge interest first. A fantastic way to do this is to talk about your product idea on your blog. You can ask for feedback or for people to register their email address to be notified when it’s available. You can then measure the level of interest before investing your time and money.
Testing before you create a product will help you make the right decisions before you move on to the next step.
Third step: pick the right eCommerce or shopping cart solution
If you want to make money this is a pretty important step. This is how you take orders, collect money from your customers and deliver your product or service.
You’ve got enough to do with running a successful blog so you’ll probably want to stay clear of coding, complex or custom eCommerce or shopping cart solutions. You want something that is easy, quick and requires the minimum cost and effort.
Selz.com is a top choice of selling your content directly. Own your customers and cut out the gatekeepers by going direct to your fans. This is the future for all content creators
Jim F. Kukral, author of Go Direct!
Here are 17 things to consider when choosing a shopping cart or eCommerce solution to use on your blog:
17 things to consider when choosing an eCommerce solution
- Does it support your products you want to sell? Can it handle selling physical products, digital downloads, services or subscriptions?
- Are there any restrictions on who can use it? Is there any limits on the number of products you can list?
- How easy is it to setup and use? How easy can I add a buy button, shopping cart or embed an online store on my site?
- Is there a WordPress plugin available (a lot of bloggers reading this will be WordPress users as WordPress powers more than 20% of the web)
- How do I manage product options and manage my inventory? Can I offer discounts or coupons?
- How much will it cost? Is there any monthly fees for using the tool?
- Does it handle payments securely ? Will I need to have a SSL certificate?
- Can I accept credit cards and PayPal? How much are the fees per sale?
- How quick and easy is the checkout process for my customers to use? Does the checkout need a customer to register first?
- Will the checkout, transfer the customer away from my site to complete the order? Does the checkout have lots of fields asking for unnecessary information?
- Is it easy for people to buy using a desktop as well as smartphones and tablets?
- How will my buy buttons or store look? Can I customize how they look?
- Is it compatible with my blog? Will it work with my blog theme or do I need to pay for any special themes?
- Does it have social media integration? How easy is it share products to Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest? Does it provide a Facebook Store?
- Can I choose add additional functionality if I need it? How much additional functionality is free and paid? How much will the apps or extensions cost?
- Does it have a WordPress eCommerce plugin available?Does the eCommerce solution integrate with other third-party tools that I use like Yotpo, AWeber or MailChimp?
- How much free support is available ? How responsive is support in answering my queries? What other resources are available to help me grow my sales?
Go through this checklist for each eCommerce solution you are considering.
As well as having the features you want , its important that the eCommerce solution you choose covers these.
You can set up on your blog yourself
Doing it yourself means you’ll have greater control over the work, the timing and keeps the costs down.
Is easy for your customers to use
You want a eCommerce solution that is quick and easy for someone to use to buy your product and service.
It’s estimated that mobile devices are responsible for 30 percent of traffic, and 15 percent of online orders. The reason that orders on mobile devices being lower than their traffic is the cumbersome nature of some mobile checkout experiences.
Try it out
It’s really important to try out any eCommerce platform yourself. Think about your customer’s journey from start to finish. Identify any potential conversion killers. Run a test order and go through the exact same process as your customers.
A simple and powerful eCommerce solution like Selz has been designed to help turn your blog into an online store without a lot of effort and gives you the tools you need to grow your sales.
Create a test product for a $1, add the product and shopping cart to your test page, and then buy it yourself. You can do this in less time than it takes to grab a coffee with Selz. If you can’t do this easily in a few minutes, then this is a pretty big red flag.
Fourth step: the final nuts and bolts before launching your online store
You’re almost ready to launch your online store on your blog. You only need to add your products to eCommerce solution, and then display them on your site.
You have the freedom to do what you want with your blog and to display your products and services however you want. Here is one example of how you can personalize things. The amount of time and work this takes will depend on the eCommerce solution you choose.
Checkout this video to see how easy Selz makes adding a product and eCommerce to a WordPress blog in only a few minutes.
Make your product descriptions irresistible
A basic product description will describe your product or service. A good one will make you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t buy it.
Focus on your ideal buyer and try answering the important questions of who, what, when, where, how and why. Talk about the benefits rather than the features.
This is a good example for Nalgene water bottles. The product description articulates well the product’s practical benefits.
Our most popular bottle. The large opening on our wide-mouth bottles easily accommodates ice cubes, fits most water purifiers and filters, and makes hand-washing a breeze. The attached loop-top never gets lost and screws on and off easily. Printed graduations let you keep track of your hydration.
Product photos that sell
High quality product photos sell, and the opposite is true, poor quality photos that are fuzzy, pixelated, or have flash glare will put off your potential buyers.
67% of online shoppers said that product photos are “extremely important”
This example is Jessica Sepel, a successful health blogger who has terrific photography on her blog and in her ebooks.
You can shoot your own fantastic product photos on a budget with an iPhone or a basic digital SLR camera. Here is more help with for taking better product photography and taking better product photographs for free.
Your site is more than just a store
You have some distinct advantages over other traditional online store websites.
First, you’re bringing content and commerce together by adding a shopping cart or eCommerce to your blog in one site. Too many online store websites have content bolted on as an afterthought and it shows.
You have the freedom to do what you want on your site. Sofia Cope on her blog sofiacope.com sells a digital product called “The pretty procrastinator planner”, which you can see her promoting on her homepage.
Her long product page for the pretty procrastinator planner is too long to include in this blog, but she does a good job of bring content and commerce together in her own distinct style.
Second, your fans get the best of both worlds. And you get to use your excellent blog content to sell more products.
Third, your turning fans into repeat customers. You already have a relationship with the people who like your blog. Show your face and tell a story. After all people want to buy from other people.
Encourage them with special offers, and let them know about your products and services.
Make sure you have a clear call to action on your home page.
This is an example from Angela Booth, and her Fab Freelance Writing blog
Test putting a few items on your home page. See if this makes a difference to your online store. Don’t give them too many options as this confuses people, and rather than clicking on something they leave your site.
You’re now ready to launch your online store on your blog, and to monetize your audience and make money from your blog.
One last tip. Remember that customer testimonials increase conversion rates by 18% and can tip potential customer that are hesitating across the line. So think about how you will collect these when you start selling your products and services. You can use stand alone applications like Yotpo to give you more features and control over reviews.