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.
In 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.
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.