The days of earning an income by slapping some ads on your blog are gone. Online advertising might pay your hosting bills, but it won't let you realize the dream of taking your blog to the next level. In order to do that you'll have to change focus from selling your readers' attentions to advertisers, to selling products directly to your readers.
Making the switch
The transition isn't easy by any means. It means many changes for the blogger. When working with CPM ads, the blogger's incentive is to maximize page views. More page views means more paying impressions, and can also lead to higher CPM rates. That is to say, when making money via CPM ads, there is no such thing as bad traffic. Every page view makes the blogger equal money.
When selling products, a blogger's goal is to attract the right audience. That means focusing marketing efforts not on generating the most page views, but attracting the people most likely to buy. Only intensive research will reveal to the blogger how to attract that particular audience. But the efforts will pay off; instead of attracting more and more people, no matter their intentions, bloggers can seek out the people who will benefit most from their products.
What products to sell?
For most bloggers, seeing up manufacturing operations is a nonstarter. Who has the time, resources, and space to create physical products? In modern times, though, the lack of manufacturing capabilities is no real hindrance. There are many ways to sell products without having a physical inventory.
Affiliate marketing: There are companies that will pay you to refer sales. Affiliate marketing is a way for bloggers to earn money by selling other companies' products. It takes plenty of work, hence the term "marketing," but done properly it can earn far more than CPM advertising.
Drop shipping: Some companies take matters further than a mere affiliate relationship. Some offer bloggers a way to sell their products in a more direct manner. The company then takes care of processing and shipping. The TechGyo Editorial Team wrote a nice introduction to drop shipping, so it's probably best to start there.
Information products: This is where bloggers can really shine. Anyone can create an information product, but bloggers have an advantage. They already have areas of expertise. If they can leverage those areas of expertise they can create unique products such as ebooks, videos, and audio guides that they can then sell to readers. It requires more work than affiliate marketing or drop shipping, but the rewards can be much greater, too.
How to create and sell
How can bloggers create and then sell products? First, of course, they must decide on what type of product works best. Since bloggers already write on their blogs, ebooks are a popular option. They are versatile and easy to produce. Articulate speakers might want to produce audio programs. Bloggers who focus on how-to items should add video courses to their product lineups.
Once you decide on the type of product you want to create, it's time to get down to the tools you'll need.
- Research. Make sure you know almost everything about your topic before you sit down to write. That will make the writing process go more smoothly.
- Outline. Before you write a single word, you need to structure your ebook. Pick out the biggest topics and create chapters for them. Then figure out what points will be included with each chapter. Having a strong outline will make it easy to continue when writing gets difficult.
- Freewrite. When you first sit down to write, concentrate on getting as many words on the page as possible. Write what you know, and make notes for what you don't know. You'll go back and edit everything later.
- Revise for content. After you're done writing, go back and read your ebook. What seems unnecessary? What could use more elaboration? Chances are you'll cut a good chunk of your book, but that's a good thing. Include only what is necessary.
- Revise for style. The final step is to polish off your manuscript. Check it for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure everything makes sense and is coherent. If possible, read it aloud to yourself.
Once you're done with that you can follow the conversion process, set up a sales website with a solid landing page. You'll then need to market the product on your blog and elsewhere, but that's an entirely different topic.
Audio and video programs require a bit more production. You can still follow the same creation process as for ebooks: reserach, outline, record, revise, polish. You won't be speaking freely into the mic and on camera, because editing audio and video is more difficult than text. You'll need audio and video editing software, and plenty of hardware: video camera, microphone, sound board, and more. It's quite an involved process for the professional. But it can also pay off far more than an ebook, because audio and video learning programs are not as common.
You'll also need a selling apparatus. Most bloggers don't think of this. They make money off ads, and are paid by the ad network. Selling products means handling customers throughout the entire process. That requires them to sign up for services such as Intuit credit card processing service. Don't worry, though: they work on commission. You don't pay until people buy from you.
Yes, it will take a lot of effort to create and sell products on your blog. But the payoff is far, far greater than it is for CPM ads. It's even greater than the potential for affiliate sales and drop shipping. Selling products requires bloggers to change focus and spend much time on content creation. Done properly, selling products is the most effective method of makign money online.