As we wrap up this short series of posts on product blogging, let’s take a look at a strategy for those who may not have a product of their own to sell. We’ve looked at selling information and niche e-commerce, and you can obviously use those strategies with products that you sell on behalf of others.
Two Ways to Work on Commission
Selling for others online basically boils down to two options:
- Affiliate programs are a logical choice. They’re easy to find and join via various affiliate program directories, and tracking and payment systems are already in place. However, you have competition. The key to successful affiliate product blogs is to add independent value, as we’ll discuss below.
- Joint ventures or representation agreements are another option, and can be hugely profitable if structured and executed properly. In this case, you find a product that is not currently being marketed online, and strike a deal with the owner that allows you to sell the item on a negotiated commission basis. You’ll also need to be familiar with affiliate program software, as you’ll likely be advising the seller on how to set up a way to track your sales.
Add Value and Build Credibility
With the crack down on the “Google Cash” method of sending searchers directly to affiliate merchant sites via pay-per-click, plus the most recent AdWords landing page shake-up, the situation is clear — the pressure is on to actually add value, rather than simply drive traffic. Plus, as the Internet itself makes consumers more savvy then ever, some of the older affiliate marketing techniques have become less effective.
- Adding value means offering something to the potential buyer beyond a link to the merchant site. This could be free bonuses you deliver with a purchase, or even a rebate that comes from your commission. But it need not be anything like that. Creating content that caters to the lifestyle surrounding the product, or that shows how a product solves a problem, is a value-add strategy that is perfectly suited for blogs.
- Creating “review” sites monetized by affiliate links is a strategy that goes way back, but it may not work very well going forward. Savvy consumers can sniff out your profit motive, and discount your review and go looking elsewhere. Blogs like Engadget and Darren’s own digital camera review blog forego hard selling of the product and rely mostly on advertising instead. You’ll want to be transparent about wanting to sell the product if that’s your model, and by no means be ashamed of it.
Learn the Product, and Don’t be Afraid to SELL It!
It’s impossible to truly add value and maintain credibility without really understanding what you’re selling. In-house copywriters live and breathe the details of the company products, and the first thing freelance copywriters do when starting a new assignment is become exhaustively familiar with everything they can get their hands on about the item to be sold.
Once you really understand a product, and believe in it, selling becomes much easier. Your enthusiasm is genuine, and people can pick up on that in your writing. Combine your knowledge and that excitement with good copywriting, and you’re on your way.
If you’re interested in learning more about copywriting for product blogs, affiliate marketing and joint ventures, I’ll be digging in deeper over at my place.
Otherwise, thanks to Darren for letting me guest post during his paternity leave — his biggest adventure is only just beginning. :)