Blogging is an excellent way to share your ideas with others. Done right, a well-written blog is a great way of positioning yourself as an expert in your given field. And once you reach that point, you are in the perfect position to make the leap from blogger to ecommerce entrepreneur.
Find some cool products you want to share with your readers, and focus on creating quality content that positively contributes to your customer journey. Use the community building skills honed by your blogging to create a brand that’s authentic and founded on ethical principles. Here’s a content creator’s guide to building an ecommerce brand — leverage your blogging prowess and transform your financial future.
Why bloggers are primed for ecommerce
As a blogger, you can leverage your existing audience and use proven blogger growth tactics to help you find potential customers. All that email list building is about to pay off… You’ve already captured their attention – now you just have to sell to them.
A lot of people build ecommerce stores with the expectation that customers will simply find them somehow. Attracting organic traffic to a store with no previous following is not an easy task – it comes down to doing a lot of effective marketing. Just think back to the early days of your blog on a brand new domain…
While there are many possible ways of monetizing your content, ecommerce is considered one of the most sustainable ways to earn money online. It’s the next logical step for bloggers who advocate certain lifestyles (vegan, gluten free, fitness), but it’s also a fantastic creative outlet for pretty much any ambitious blogger. With a huge global product marketplace to choose from, you can curate products into your own store in no time at all (especially if you opt for dropshipping).
Nowadays, the technical and financial elements of ecommerce are much more simple than before — you won’t need to spend hours manually figuring out sales tax or configuring product pages. Be smart about the tools and systems you invest in and prioritize usability over anything else. .
Face your fear of ‘selling out’
Entrepreneurship is about stepping out of your writer comfort zone and trying new things. So if you want to make money from your blog, you must see it as more than a labor of love – you will need to maximize its commercial potential and turn readers into potential customers.
Bloggers often fear that entering into the world of ecommerce will somehow alter the brand they have built themselves. But ‘selling out’ only happens if as soon as you start selling, you completely change your tone and attitude towards your readership.
If you continue to manage the site as you always have and keep providing readers with the content they have grown to love – you’ve got nothing to worry about. See your new venture as an opportunity for your community to grow even more.
Settle on a product that works for your brand
You can sell almost anything these days. There are plenty of retailers who are just dying to find new outlets for their products – who knows, that could be you!
When deciding what products you’d like to sell, the most important thing to keep in mind is brand consistency. Whatever you sell should be relevant to the content of your blog, or it won’t resonate with your audience. Whether you only sell one type of product or a collection of different items, always consider whether they’re in-line with what your blog is broadly about.
Think carefully about the market you’re entering:
- Who’s my main competitor, and why?
- Do people mainly buy these products online?
- How often will they be in the market for my product?
- What are my margins?
- Think about how the products work together – is there a consistent theme? Room to grow?
- How is my brand going to stand out? What’s my USP?
Products can be bought wholesale in bulk and then customized, or they can be items you’ve entirely crafted yourself. For physical products, look into dropshipping as an option for order fulfilment, to save you doing all the logistical busy-work yourself.
- Into design? These days, it’s easy to print designs you’ve made yourself with an integration like Printful – you can print designs on canvas bags, t-shirts, caps etc.
- You could even sell digital products like printables, worksheets, ebooks, and podcasts. This is great for content evangelists.
- Stocking unique pieces from small local retailers is a great way to support local commerce – but you’ll have to make sure you can still make a decent profit after shelling out for their products.
Tailor your content strategy & keep it community-focused
The best type of content is user-focused and strategic at the same time.
As you move into the world of online sales, think about your content strategy. If you’ve been picking subjects at random to blog about, you might want to consider something more structured that ties in with buying habits and special occasions e.g. Christmas and Valentine’s.
Be real with your readers and the blogging community. Give back to people in order to maximize offline and online PR opportunities.
- Leverage your community to gain valuable feedback on your store as you develop it.
- Bring readers on your ecommerce startup journey with you and blog and vlog about your experience as you go through it.
- You could even ask other bloggers to review your products to gain valuable backlinks. (Perhaps offer to do the same for them)?
- Great content is a good way to humanize your brand and keep it close to your ideals and values
Be sure to make use of social media channels to promote your content and store, but avoid hard selling as it’s a real turn-off and users are wise to it. Keep it light, relevant, and interactive.
Set up your store on your domain
Setting up an online store is easy, especially for someone who is already familiar with maintaining a blog. It’s unlikely that you will need to enlist the help of a web developer because today’s purpose-built ecommerce platforms make it simple to do everything yourself.
- If you have a site already, and you want to keep it as is; only with a store attached, then your best option is to install an ecommerce plugin that will add shop functionality. This is a great way to get started as an ecommerce beginner, and it will keep your site looking consistent (and more like a blog).
- Want a website that’s more store-focused with a blog functionality? An out-of-the-box ecommerce solution like Shopify is an excellent option if you are building an online store from scratch, and it comes with a nice range of professional-looking (free) design templates that you can tweak and customize.
- Make sure that you’ve got a proper payment portal set up – nothing ruins the customer journey like a clumsy interface.
- Spend time lovingly crafting product pages when you upload your products photos and copy – keep them intensely user-focused.
Spare the inbox spam
As a blogger, your readers are your most valuable commodity. You have collected their emails over several years – you’ve nurtured that list until it’s fine tuned and primed for relationship-building. Once you fully launch yourself into the world of ecommerce, you should definitely let people know — but approach email marketing with caution.
People are quick to lose patience if they are bombarded by promotional content. The best way to proceed is to imagine what you would want if you were one of your readers. Give people the option to keep up to date with an email newsletter, but make sure there is an opt-out clause. And make sure they get what they signed up for. If you say it’s an email newsletter, it better be an email newsletter and not just a lot of product advertising. (For some really cool product email ideas – check out these awesome visual designs).
By communicating honestly with your audience and giving them first dibs on deals, you make it worth their while to keep coming back to you – treat your email subscribers like VIPs, not sales guinea pigs.
Monetize in other ways
If you’re keen to find other ways to make money from your blog, you could also try the following methods:
- Write sponsored content and product reviews for businesses. Remember to keep the content relevant to your readership and be transparent about your opinions.
- Use affiliate marketing to earn a commission on sales made via links clicked on your site. The same principles apply – only recommend products you genuinely like.
- Allow advertising to make money each time someone visits your page. It won’t be much at first, but if you have enough traffic, it can be effective. The main thing is to keep the ads small and unobtrusive, so your visitors don’t feel bombarded by sales material.
Stay true to what your blog is ultimately about, and you will have the best chance of successfully converting your reading audience into customers.
Was this article helpful? How will you approach your own ecommerce venture? Let us know in the comments.