Chris has posted a couple of good posts on related topics over the weekend. Both focus upon bloggers adding income streams to their business through selling products and not just relying upon advertising or affiliate programs.
- Monetizing Through Packaged Content – looks at the topic of repackaging your blog’s content up into an e-boook.
- BlogCommerce – talks about selling products from your blog. It gives some of the advantages of selling electronic, subsriptions and physical products.
Both posts are worthwhile reads. As someone who has experimented with this a little in a similar way to what is described with the six figure blogging course (which has had some good sales since launching the home study version) I’d add that thinking of ways of repackaging content and adding products to your blog can be well worthwhile in terms of potential income.
However there are a number of questions I’d ask before rushing out and writing an e-book including:
• Do you have something of value to offer buyers? – it’s not just as simple as copying a few of your better articles into a PDF and slapping a price on it. Do you have something that people would be willing to pay for? Is the topic one where there is much interest at present? What are the main benefits of what you’ll be selling?
• Do you have a profile/readership to help you sell your product? – using the example of Six Figure Blogging – I think I could have put together a very similar course 12-18 months ago. The quality would have been quite similar (although there are obviously some time specific elements in it) but I very much doubt we’d have had many people sign up for it simply because most of those who signed up did so because they had some respect for Andy or myself. While we’re not the most famous bloggers going around the past year has seen our profiles lifted to a point where people were willing to spend money and time investing into our product.
• Are others likely to help you sell your product? – while your own profile is important in directly selling your product it is also worth considering where secondary sales will come from. The most • successful online products that I’ve seen have reached the heights that they have largely because of word of mouth, often helped along by affiliate programs. This is again partly about your own profile and whether other webmasters/bloggers respect you but it’s also about luck, networking and the incentives you offer others to spread the word for you.
• How will you collect payments? – I’m not the most technical person going around and so this question and those surrounding it of logistics was one of my major sticking points. Setting up an e-commerce system that is simple to use for both buyers and you is essential.
• How Much will you charge? – Pricing is always something of an unknown for any product. What is anything worth these days – especially when so much is available for free online? Some products won’t sell unless they are cheap – others seem to actually sell better when they’re more expensive as they are perceived to have more value. Is it better to have lots of sales at a low profit margin or a few sales at a high profit? I don’t have ‘the’ answer to the question of price but it’s definitely one to keep in mind right up front because it will help you work out how much time and energy to invest in your product.
• Do you need to do it alone? – While the temptation is to develop these products alone so as to maximize profits it may be worth developing partnerships to help both with the product writing but also the logistical end of things.
• Are their other alternative products? – In the same way that blogging has become a crowded part of the web, so too is the online product/ebook/course market. It’s worth doing some research into what others have on offer. What is their pricing? What gaps are there around their product?
• What level are you pitching your product? – Many successful online publishers of resources like these have multiple products at a range of levels. I chatted with one online entrepreneur a few weeks ago about her product range and she told me that she was very intentional about producing a number of products at different pricing points and entry levels. She has entry level/cheap products which then lead users onto her intermediate products which in turn lead users onto more advanced and comprehensive products (most expensive).
• Are you willing to offer support to users? – It’s one thing to lock yourself in a room for a few days/weeks to write an ebook or to develop a course – but are you willing to service those who buy it by answering questions, updating it over time etc? The more products you develop the more admin there will be around it. While I know some people argue that selling online resources is a passive income stream in my own experience this is not completely the case.
I’m certain there are many other questions to consider when putting together these types of resources but these are some that come to mind.
I’d love to hear what other’s experience of selling products online are. Do you have any? What success have they had? What products do you buy and why have you (or haven’t you) bought them?