3 Ways to Turn Your Blog into an E-Commerce Business
One of the hardest things for any online business is getting traffic. You need people reaching your site to make sales, so often this necessitates spending a lot of money on ads, or hiring sales/outreach staff.
This is why anyone who already has an audience, such as an influencer or blogger, is in a great position to launch an e-commerce business and get paid. If you’re already getting traffic, you’ve overcome the hurdle that causes many e-commerce businesses to fail.
E-Commerce right now is booming. With more people shopping online, a trend exacerbated by the events of 2020, now is the best time to start selling products online. This means you could stand to build a really powerful business out of your hobby or side-hustle.
Let’s explore how you can go about turning your blog into a business with e-commerce.
Considerations for Selling Products on Your Blog
There are some things to put some thought into before you go all the way and launch an online store out of your blog. By jumping headfirst into e-commerce, you can burn your blog’s audience and damage your chances of building a successful e-commerce business.
What to sell?
First, and the most important consideration for an e-commerce business, is what you’re actually selling. Having an audience is great, but it matters for nil if you’re trying to sell products that people don’t care about.
The ideal case is that your blog is centered around a specific niche. This way, you can sell products that belong to this niche, which should be a great fit for your audience. You’ll want to use your knowledge of the niche to see what kind of products your audience is buying, and what’s popular right now.
You can also use tools like Google Trends and Exploding Topics to find topics related to your niche that are growing in popularity. These are generally great ideas to jump on, as you may be one of the first movers in the market.
We could go into extreme detail on how to find winning products to sell online, but the main thing to take away here is that you should always choose products to sell that are related to your niche. This will result in your audience being much more receptive when it comes time to sell.
The hard sell is not always best
When you’re turning your blog into an online store, you want to take care of how you start selling to your audience. A hard turn from blog posts to sales pitches can result in turning your audience away. People don’t like it when you blatantly sell to them, especially if your tone used to be purely informative or friendly.
Try to work in your online store gradually, while keeping the same tone your blog had previously. You can launch your site and add unobtrusive sidebar widgets or a call to action at the bottom of posts leading to your product pages.
You may also want to add a friendly line like, “to help support the blog, check out the range of products we have for sale.” This frames it as a no-pressure ask, a way for people to support the content they’re getting for free, and lets your existing audience know that you have products for sale now.
After a while, you can start integrating product recommendations contextually into your blog posts. But don’t go all-in on sales pitches right away, or you’re going to lose your audience, fast.
3 Ways to Build Your Online Store
There is an ever-expanding number of ways to sell products online, from a self-hosted online store, to selling on social media or other online platforms. To simplify it, we’ve narrowed down the three best ways to pivot your WordPress blog into an online store.
A great way to start selling products via your blog is to open an online store right on your WordPress site. The best way to do this is with WooCommerce, a free plugin that turns your WordPress website into an e-commerce store. The plugin has over 5 million active installations, powering a huge number of e-commerce websites.
If you’ve already got a site running on WordPress, WooCommerce is the easiest way to add e-commerce capabilities to your site. It’s secure, friendly for non-developers, and it comes with additional plugins to customize or add extra features, from pricing tables to product sliders to EU VAT compliance.
The lowest friction way to convert your blog into a business is to build on your existing site, which is why WooCommerce is a great option.
Sell on a Marketplace
Another option is to start selling products on a marketplace, like Amazon. With this option, you’ll recommend your products to your audience, and send them to Amazon to purchase, instead of managing orders on your own site.
There are some big advantages to operating this way. First, you can utilize Amazon FBA, Amazon’s storage and fulfillment service, to handle all fulfillment-related tasks like picking products and shipping them out. Going from managing a blog to managing logistics tasks like these can be a huge hassle, so it’s amazing if you can put this in the hands of Amazon’s huge shipping network.
Another plus is Amazon has a huge audience themselves (more than 2 billion visitors per month). Selling your products on the Amazon marketplace gives you access to that audience. You can even use your readers to get more organic sales on Amazon. By sending referral traffic from your blog to your products on Amazon, you’ll rank higher in Amazon search, and get more sales as a result.
There aren’t a lot of downsides to launching products on Amazon. While you may think it’s an extra level of friction, compared to selling on your own site, Amazon’s brand name carries a lot of weight and social proof with consumers. You may actually find that more people buy your products if they’re sold on Amazon, compared to your own site, because of that social proof.
One other option, that’s a little different to starting a conventional e-commerce store, is to “sell” products via affiliate marketing.
What this means is that you’ll recommend products to your audience, and send them to another business to actually buy the product. When someone you refer makes a purchase, you earn a commission.
You can start integrating affiliate-focused posts into your blog, such as individual product reviews, or roundup buyer’s guides, like this:
The money you’ll make per referral, or per “sale” is naturally a lot lower with this model, than if you were selling your own products. But there are some big benefits:
- No overhead (shipping costs, inventory costs)
- No time spent on fulfillment & product-related tasks
- Easy to start, easy to switch between products to find what resonates with your audience
While there’s a fairly big learning curve involved in selling your own products, that learning curve is a lot lower when you adopt an affiliate selling model. Yet it’s a great way to slowly transition from a purely informative blog into a product-focused blog. Then, in time, you may want to look into launching your own products, which will be less of a jump if you’ve been promoting affiliate products already.
Turning Your Blog into a Business: In Summary
There are a number of ways you can make money from your blog. With e-commerce growing bigger and bigger each year, it’s as good a time as ever to start transitioning into selling products online.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, and it may take a while to get off the ground. But having your own, engaged audience from your blog makes getting started and making sales a whole lot easier. And if you want to make a gradual transition, starting with affiliate offers, then moving into your own products makes a lot of sense.
One thing to consider is that you can use a combination of all three of the methods above. There’s no problem with using WooCommerce to add a store on your site, launching the same products on Amazon, and also promoting or “selling” products for affiliate revenue.
Andrew is in charge of marketing at LandingCube, a simple landing page tool and marketing platform for Amazon sellers. He’s also a freelance writer, focused on delivering SEO-optimized web content for online businesses.