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4 Ways to Sell More Products Online

This is a guest contribution from Rosie Scott of The New Craft Society.

As we discussed recently in this post, making money via blogging is far more than fanciful thinking; for an increasing number of dedicated bloggers, it’s a rewarding reality. But there’s a difference between, “Hey mom! I made 30 cents this month using nothing but my typing fingers!” and, you know, actually making a living. Whether you generate sales through coaching, services, eBooks, physical products or any of the many other ways bloggers can pull a profit, selling more products online means thinking more like a business. Don’t worry – it’s not as intimidating as it might sound, and you won’t lose suddenly turn into a heartless corporate shill.

1. Optimize Your Website for Sales

It may sound obvious, but if you’re going to sell products through your blog, you’ve got to get it primed for sales. This is intuitively done on business websites, where the focus is all on the product and there’s all of one section devoted to a blog. It can be a little less natural, however, when blogs are the central focus. Here’s how to get it right.

Make a separate tab for your store. Each product or service you’re selling should have its own, dedicated page. If it’s a digital product, it should be downloadable in as few clicks as possible. If you’re using a shopping cart, that should also be easily accessible, with few to no barriers to purchase, like long contact or sign up forms.

Don’t fear the long-form sales page. When in doubt, it’s better to give more details than too few. Don’t skimp on shipping policies, product details, contact info, technical specs, product FAQs – anything you can think of that a customer might need to know. You can separate this easily with on page grids or columns. However, even a long form sales pitch can be highly effective, as long as it tells a great story (and as a blogger, isn’t that what you do?). Take a look how writer and writing coach Alexandra Franzen does it for her I <3 Email course. That is one long sales page, but it’s broken up well with catchy headlines, all the essential details about the course, bullets, testimonials, and at one point, an easy sign up, but it’s off the site now as the course has sold out. The point is, if you’ve got the details, make ‘em known.

Take excellent photos. Customers may like the convenience of online shopping, but there’s just nothing quite like holding a product in one’s hands to really get a sense of it. Photos go a long way towards mitigating that problem, allowing customers a much more in-depth look. As such, it makes sense to invest in a good photographer to take clear, high quality product photos, from just about every angle you can imagine.

Make sharing easy. These days, having a social bar on a sales page is essential, so that customers can easily share products or services they think are great on their favorite social networks. Whether it’s at the bottom, on the side, or several places throughout the page, you’ll do best when sharing is one-click easy.

Encourage feedback. Reviews are by and large one of the biggest deciding factors for potential customers. In this social age, they’re also a form of social proofing (i.e. if that personable looking guy thinks it’s good, it probably is). Three weeks after purchase, email your customers directly to ask for a review, and feature the good ones prominently on a testimonial page.

Consider a third-party selling platform. Managing shopping cart software on your own can be difficult, not to mention handling payments. It can be a lot easier to simply integrate a third-party platform like Shopify into your site, as you’ll get to retain the look and feel of your site while Shopify does all of the backend heavy lifting. Alternatively, for certain kinds of bloggers, sending followers to a different site altogether can be an even better option, especially if you want to keep your blog from getting to sales-centric, and it makes things much simpler from a design standpoint. A good guide to Etsy, for example, will get you quickly set up to sell on that particular site without any of the work you’d have to do to fit a store onto your personal blog. Doing so will also enter you into a wider pool of sellers that customers already trust, thereby broadening your reach and doubling your efforts.

2. Up Your Content Strategy

As a blogger, you’ve already got somewhat of a built-in strategy; content is, after all, kind of what you do. But if you really want to up your sales, you’ve got to get organized about just what you’re posting, when you’re posting it, who you’re promoting it to and how you’re doing so.

Do some sleuthing to determine what readers want. Maybe you’ve already furrowed down into a profitable niche, or maybe you’re still just sniffing the ground to figure out where the best scents lead. Either way, it’s always worth doing a little detective work to determine just what your readers (or potential readers) want to read – all the better if that just so happens to tie into a service or product you’ve got for sale. To do this, take a look at some of the keywords that are bringing people to your blog, and be on the hunt for any questions you have yet to answer. Comments on both your blog and on other blogs within your niche are also a great place to look for this, as are trending topics on places like Google+ or Twitter. Or, hey, here’s something novel: just get on social media and ask your readers all about their deepest questions within your niche. Boom: you’ve got a wealth of posts, ready to go.

Change up your format. Sure, how-to blogposts and scintillating written stories are great to read. But why not change it up a bit from time to time? Videos, infographics, and especially contests and giveaways are a great way to engage readers, and they each provide plenty of room for your unique personality. Launching a new doggy daycare service on your pup-centric blog? (See, I can’t stop with the dog thing!). Have your readers send in cute photos of their pups for a chance to win free services. The more varied and creative you get with it, the more readers you’ll get sharing your work, the more products you’ll ultimately sell.

Get serious about an editorial calendar. In the old days, you could get away with blogging about whatever interested in you from post to post. When you’re trying to sell products and services, getting organized with an editorial calendar is key. This way, you can better vary your content and spread out your product marketing, so it’s not all “buy, buy, buy!” one week and random blogposts the next. In fact, depending on your product, you’ll still want to plan so that you’re primarily focusing on your regular blogging, with your promotions more widely staggered.

Organize your audience into categories. Readers who follow you on Facebook aren’t necessarily drawn to you for the same reasons as Twitter followers, nor do they expect to engage with your blog or products in the same manner in each place. Take some time to research your followers on each social media platform, and to curate posts and shares, whether promotional or otherwise, that really make sense for each one. Even if the ultimate message is the same, it should be communicated differently on each platform. Taking the time to tailor your social media messages will make the much more shareable on each one.

3. Engage More With Your Followers

This may be something you already do, but if not, it’s time to start engaging at a much deeper level and more comprehensively with your potential and current followers. In one respect, it makes sense again to think of yourself like a business with need for customer service representatives; if someone comments on your blog or tweets a complaint about a product, they deserve a response, even if it’s just a “Thanks!” or a retweet. (Caveat: You still retain a blogger’s right to ignore trolls).

However, it’s important not to take the customer service representative idea too far and let yourself turn into an automaton. Big businesses, after all, are increasingly trying to sound just as personable as bloggers, so you’ve already got a real advantage in that department. Which is to say: respond in your characteristic tone of voice, using the full force of your personality. Just be polite and encouraging wherever you can.

And hey, if you’ve already got a loyal following, use it! As you promote your posts and products on different platforms, reach out to followers directly with @mentions, as long as you think they’d truly be interested in what you have to say. Pose discussion questions, or host a Google Hangout where you can talk issues of the day or simply, well, hangout. The greater the response your followers get from you, the more they’ll feel like they know you and that you’re on the same team, the more willing to buy they’ll be.

4. Cross Sell 

On the other end of the corporate vs. personable blogger spectrum, there’s the essential art of cross selling. Hey, if the big guys benefit from it everyday, why shouldn’t you? If it’s done right, cross selling is really just the process of giving your customers even more of what they need, not just randomly throwing more advertising at them. Think of what happens when you book a flight on Kayak. It’s not like when you check out, the site offers you low, low, LOW prices on used cars or trucks, for a limited time only! Rather, the deals they offer are on hotels or car rentals at your destination. You know, stuff you’re probably going to be booking anyway.

Just how you cross sell will depend entirely on the kind of product or service, and you will be the best person to determine just what matches well with what. Cross selling might be done, as we just saw in the Kayak example, at the moment of checkout. It can also happen in the form of a bundle, like when Amazon offers you a deal or sometimes just the convenience of packaging three similar items in one. It can come in the form of an incentive, or in the form of data, by suggesting similar products or service that other people bought in conjunction with the one the buyer added to their cart. It can also come in the form of expert recommendations, or in a 2-for-1 type of offer.

Don’t have anything to cross sell yet? That’s fine. You’ll still want to draw the purchaser further into your brand by suggesting they sign up for your newsletter or connect with you via social media as they check out. The goal here is to think beyond the single sale.

The Takeaway

Chances are, you came to blogging so that you could talk about your passions, and you dreamed, too, of that passion supporting you full-time. Well, in order for that to happen, you’ve got to sell products or services, and doing that requires a good dose of business savvy. With a little education and experimentation, I know it’s doable for you. So get going, and have fun!

Rosie Scott is a content strategist at a digital marketing company. An avid blogger, you can find her at The New Craft Society or on twitter @RosieScott22.

 

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Comments

  1. Alex Ivanovs says:

    Hi Rosie,

    great advice on cross selling. It hadn’t crossed my mind that something like that could potentially bring in more sales. I’ve already started thinking of strategies on how to implement such a method in my future products. Thank you!

    • Rosie Scott says:

      Thanks for your comments Alex! Glad the post was useful and brought up some new ideas for you.

      • Monir says:

        Very effective article , specially that 2 section named Engage More With Your Followers & Optimize Your Website for Sales ..yep, response is good what ever the clients are comments , atleast a thanks they deserved

  2. Hadi Nugraha says:

    I dont have anything to cross sell. Do you have strategies to get them?

  3. Kalen says:

    Hi Rosie,

    I agree with this 100%. I have created a couple of ebooks and other information products and thought that making them would be the easy part. the truth is that marketing is just as much (or more work) than making them. You need to execute a solid outreach strategy to get the word out and make sure that the product is easy to find on your site (or whatever channel you are selling it on).

    I would also add the importance of having a great list. You will definitely be glad that you took the time to build a subscriber list beforehand when it comes time to actually start selling!

    Kalen

  4. Right now struggling to make my living through my money making themes, right now,promoting through my blog.Your points had given me some proper ideas to enhance these chances a little bit more, I will try to apply all these methods on my digital products and will update you very soon. Thanks for posting this wonderful ideas for us.

  5. Samuel says:

    What I always say is first create a community based on your online business, blog, or brand.

    Communities are 100% always going to react in a positive way to your product in ways of sales and shares of your products.

    The traffic that’s coming into your website/blog can be encouraged to become a part of your own unique community through email or social media following.

    I do agree a whole lot with high engagement. High engagement, whether it be email – forums – social media, can build your reputation which can be crucial to your product’s sales.

    Engage on social media a whole lot and keep it consistent. Through social media, you’ll grab more followers that might be interested in what you have to offer.

    Product sales and increasing it is a huge topic that is based on each unique case of each seller.

    Thanks for the comprehensive, thorough post!

    - Sam

  6. I’ve always just thought that making money through blogging is all about writing content on a regular basis. Turns out, there’s more to it than that. Writing is just one aspect of the blogging process. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating products you are knowledgeable about and marketing them right to get to the right people.

  7. sneharoy says:

    hi thanks for this article some of the points mentioned were up to the mark and the selling takeaway procedures were well explained

  8. Separate tab for your store – I like. Thanks for that Rosie!

  9. karan says:

    Hi Rosie

    Thanks for sharing these informative points, i am also looking for something to increase sales through my blog, you article has many point which can be helpful to increase sales.

  10. Felipe says:

    I totally agree with you about getting more followers.
    I think everything becomes easier when you have a bigger audience to serve. It is hard to try to sell something when your reach is timid.

    thanks for the recommendations.
    take care!

  11. Aman says:

    Hello Rosie,
    I am agree with your points, We have to look our blog/website from a customer point of view. I will keep all your tips in mind, And i think to improve my sales, I need to redesign my web blog.

    Best Regards
    Aman Verma

  12. Hi Rosie, you’ve covered some AWESOME pointers in this post. Very detailed.

    I’m just in the process of adding a services tab to my navigation bar. Not quite finished my info product and found that offering services is the FASTEST way to generate cash (alongside affiliate marketing) from your blog.

    I think to really excel and make a GOOD living from your blog a good mixture of services, your own products and affiliate sales is required.

    Thanks for sharing
    Kerry Russell

  13. Jane says:

    Hi Rosie,

    I agree with this 100%. I have created a couple of ebooks and other information products and thought that making them would be the easy part. the truth is that marketing is just as much (or more work) than making them. You need to execute a solid outreach strategy to get the word out and make sure that the product is easy to find on your site (or whatever channel you are selling it on).

    I would also add the importance of having a great list. You will definitely be glad that you took the time to build a subscriber list beforehand when it comes time to actually start selling!

  14. Social media is important medium to increase your sale online..

  15. I agree with this. Great post.

  16. Nice post. This will help lots of people to make money selling products.

    I find that writing reviews on products as well helps to generate sales. Once you write a good review on products related to your niche you can make lots of money selling that product.

    Thanks for the other useful tips that you have provided in this article. Keep up the good work.

  17. I have a tech blog and I review some gadgets that companies send me. But till now I have not sold even a single gadget through my affiliate link. How do I design it for sales? Please guide.

  18. If you are out to sale then be prepared to sale, you don’t look like a party site and expect to sale. Optimize from the beginning to sale. Then the next thing is to get the word out there through your content marketing engaging with your audience through your contents and social media activities.

    Well explained concepts and a nice way to sell more products online. You have to earn the buyer’s trust before he can buy and to earn that trust you have to convince him through your contents and relationship and when you get these things right, your sales will greatly improve as well.

    Thanks for sharing. I found this post on Kingged.com and also left a comment on it.

  19. vibhuti says:

    Hey, I have been thinking for long time to start my e commerce website but couldn’t stratergize. But after reading this blog I really got some useful tips which i can use in future. thank u for sharing such a informative blog.
    Thank u :)
    Keep Posting

  20. Tanima says:

    I have read all of your points carefully and its really beneficial for me. I am developing a website recently and this article helps me to develop my website. I like your article very much. Thank you for sharing this kind of ideas.

  21. Sara James says:

    Post advertisements its an effective way to sell products online.

  22. Sasha says:

    I totally agree with you. Online business have big competition. We need to concentrate on everything.