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Your Readers Buy Products! Do You Offer Them?

Recently I gave a presentation on monetizing blogs. I talked about how developing your own products to sell to readers can be an effective way to build a blogging income.

During a question-and-answer segment of the presentation, one blogger stood up and said:

“My readers don’t want to buy products! How else can I make money?”

It was a question that I’ve heard many bloggers ask over the last year—and one I used to ask myself.

I once was afraid that if I dared develop a product and promote it to my readers, they’d push back—and push back hard. However when I bit the bullet and did produce a product, I found that my fears were unfounded.

Readers buy all the time—we all do. We buy to survive, we buy be entertained, we buy to learn, and we buy to enjoy our lives.

I asked the blogger who asked this question what topic they blogged about, and she told me that she was a travel blogger. As a group, we quickly came up with 20 or so things that people interested in travel buy (guide books, luggage, accommodation, flights, and more). Her readers were buying products all the time—she just wasn’t offering any.

Readers do buy. Many even enjoy the process and go out of their way to be sold to. My lovely wife is one example: she amazes me with the amount of time she puts into researching and buying products online (she’s an online marketer’s dream come true!).

The problem isn’t that blog readers don’t want to buy—they do!

What readers don’t want is to be annoyed.

used-car-salesman.jpgIn my experience, it’s not that you have a product to sell that turns readers off—it’s the way that you promote it that has potential to offend.

  • Readers don’t like to be tricked.
  • Readers don’t like false hype.
  • Readers don’t like bait-and-switch tactics.
  • Readers don’t like finding that they’ve bought a low-quality product.
  • Readers don’t like aggressive and intrusive selling.
  • Readers don’t like being badgered and annoyed repetitively.

I think many bloggers balk at the idea of developing a product to sell on their blogs more because they think that to sell, they’ll need to use the above tactics, and annoy their readers. We’re so used to seeing these techniques practiced by internet marketers that we think it’s the only way.

It’s not.

I love what Sonia Simone recently said in a presentation at Blog World Expo. She said, it’s not about “selling” to your readers—it’s about making them an offer.

It’s not about tricking people—it’s about producing a compelling product that meets their needs and offering it to your readers in a way that represents a win/win transaction. It’s about making the offer in a way that allows your reader comes away from the interaction in a better position whether they buy the product or not.

There’s much that can be written about how to make these kinds of offers (and in many ways, that’s why we developed Third Tribe Marketing), however I think the starting point for many bloggers is shifting their mindset.

The starting point is to realize that in most cases is’t not buying that offends people—it’s the sales techniques that annoy.

PS: Brian Clark provides a good post on offers here.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. This is a great post. I know that, when you start blogging, it can be easy to assume that people will not want to buy your products or that they are just not in the buying “mode”. However, I like how you pointed out that it’s best to simply make the offer and let them decide. Make the offer, but don’t be annoying.

  2. Salma Jafri says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve just developed a video product that will be for sale on my site soon and it will be interesting to see how my readers respond. I dont have a huge mailing list; just 400+ people that I’ve been engaged with over the past year or so. Even though I take the time to respond to readers (comments, emails, FB, tweets, etc), the not buying bit is a very real fear. I have decided to bite the bullet and do it anyways though since you can’t lose the fear unless you’ve tried :)

  3. It’s kind of scary to ask someone to take up their credit card, but I guess that will become necessary in the end.

    I manage to get around that now by monetizing my blog with adsense and giving away freebies.

    I send my email list a letter of some new freebie and they have to go to my website. They land on a page monetized with Adsense and the clicks make me money :-)

  4. dotCOMreport says:

    This is a great post Darren and a lot to think about. The way we sell is as important as what we are selling.

  5. People never want to feel like they’re being sold to, people instead want to be offered something that they can’t refuse.

    Why? Because it helps *them* achieve their goals.

    I recently spent close to 4K on my site redesign (not yet launched) and was quite happy to do so. There was no question about being ‘sold’, it was a question of me wanting to buy.

    All the difference in the world….

  6. I do like this post and it states all the things i like to see when i am being offered a product. It doesn’t change the fact though that when marekters put ‘annoying’ things on their sales page such as not being able to back up out of the page that they get better conversions. This is a shame but something you must keep in mind when you are marketing your product.

    • tim says:

      Yeah, the same goes with those annoying pop-ups asking you to sign up for a newsletter. As annoying as they are, they improve subscriber numbers.

  7. This is an awesome post. As a relatively new blogger, 6 months, and I just launched a 2nd blog, which I hope to grow and monetize with my own products eventually. I currently have trusted affiliate products listed on my blog, but have not made any major pushes, as my blog just launched Nov 8. I will probably feature one affiliate product a week soon, and continue to build my readership and engage them in what advice my blog has to offer, with the intent to develop a product of my own by spring 2011.
    It is easy for me to feel like the person above, that people don’t want to buy, I have to build my confidence in myself and what I have to offer. I have to trust that the relationships I have built will bring sales, if nothing else, from loyalty.
    Thanks for the guidance Darren!
    Bernice
    http://livingthebalancedlife.com/2010/think-of-someone-other-than-yourself/

  8. I was one of those people who was afraid to sell to my subscribers, and it took a lot of courage to make that first step towards selling to them. So, I offered an entry level course at a low price to 20 people for my first attempt. The response was very positive. I sold out, and now I’m re-running that first course again.

    I love the points you make about how we promote our products and services. So true!

    Once you get over the “first time” jitters, selling gets easier. Just remember the key is to produce great products, because then people who buy will tell their friends and spread the word for you too.

  9. I think that maybe you can be afraid to sell if you don’t see an interest in your blog. As Seth Godin once said, once you have your 1,000 true fans you have unlimited sales opportunities!…

    It’s getting to 1,000 that takes time!,

    Awesome post!,

    David Edwards

  10. I don’t know what to sell. I have nothing to offer but my genius.

  11. Guts N Glam says:

    i will want to offer if i have something to offer even if i am scared, i still believe it’s worth the try. thank you so much for this post, this is very enlightening.

  12. Sven Graham says:

    This is always a controversial topic, I mean, there’s the content marketing approach which I love cause it’s pretty much what I believe in, giving away valuable information for free, and then there are bloggers desperately trying to sell something.

    I honestly think, the second approach usually ruins a blog, i.e. yaro starks blog is heading in that direction fast, he does tons of reviews on products, and rarely posts useful content anymore (though I love his interviews).

    In the end it’s about being honest from the beginning. You know you want to make money. So you gotta see what the people want to buy. You gotta give away free information, but you also have to get paid for your time, so you’ve gotta find a good mix.

  13. Re: “It’s not about “selling” to your readers—it’s about making them an offer.”

    Very well said! It’s about connecting with your readers to see what they’re problem areas are. Then, it’s up to you to connect them with a solution (the right solution).

  14. Thanks for the tips, I also used to share the thought that readers would refuse to buy what I offer. But as you’ve pointed out i think most times it’s the way we go about the selling that is often the problem. When you create an exciting and needed product for your readers as a result of your thorough knowledge and understanding of their needs, it literally makes selling unnecessary -they just buy because it’s been what they’ve been looking for.

  15. Hi Darren,

    About a week ago I compiled a selection of tips available on my site and put the tips into an ebook and offered it with an older ebook and put it up for sale on my site. The books save a lot of time so visitors don’t have to search on my site for money saving tips. So there is value. The site is very young yet two days ago one of the 12 readers I have who have subscribed for updates purchased the two books. In digital business I guess that is a high conversion ratio.

    Like Sonia said you just have to make an offer and your readers will decide.

    Thank you for the reminder Darren,
    David

  16. Thank you so much for this post. I agree that people are buying anyway. Now, I just have to figure out what I can offer to them on my site. Time to brainstorm!

  17. Mitch says:

    I’ve realized lately that I hadn’t talked about any of my products in over a year because I was under the impression that it would be somewhat smarmy to do it. But I got encouragement from some of my commenters so this week I’m doing a series highlighting all the products I’ve created. I really don’t expect any sales, which means if I make any I’ll be happy as a clam because I have no expectations.