This post is part 8 of a 10 part series on boosting your blog’s income.
You can find the first 7 parts here.
- How smart is your blog’s design?
- Selling on your blog
- Advertising – does it still work for blogging?
- Blogging for Brands
- Repurposing your content
- Product Reviews that are Remarkable
A lot of bloggers monetize their blogs by selling digital products such as ebooks, courses or software via affiliate links or by creating their own products to download. If you’ve followed this blog for some time, you’ll be aware that I believe you can sell anything from a blog – including physical products, consulting and other kinds of services.
From books and Amazon affiliates to promoting online retailers like EBay, there is something for everyone. You only have to look at Skimlinks and their 17,000 products to know this is a big marketplace. But a better, more profitable option is to create your own products. You will have a higher profit margin and you retain complete control, and of course you deal with the support and customer service aspect, so you get to know how effective your product really is.
At certain times of the year, gifts are popular and there are a number of sites through which you can sell your own designs. All you need to do is create the design and these sites handle the production, shipping and customer service for you.
Etsy is tailored toward crafts and vintage goods, but has a great international audience. Etsy works slightly differently to CafePress and Zazzle (two other sites that help with physical products). You pay the site to list your items and then pay a small fee on each item sold instead of getting a commission or royalties, similar to eBay. This means that you generally make more profit for your products on Etsy as compared to Zazzle and Café Press. The downside? You have to do your own packaging and shipping.
Zazzle lets you upload your own designs which are then put onto physical products of your choosing, like t-shirts, mugs, bags and shoes. My friend Anita Hunt has a fab Zazzle store where her botanical prints are put onto tote bags and ipad cases, as well as items of jewellery. The tote bags are robust and easy to use, just don’t let your children see them or they will steal them!
You can create your own Zazzle store and promote those goods on your blog, in the sidebar or in posts. You can even put the store directly on your blog using Zazzle’s API capabilities. Not only can you earn royalties on goods sold, you can also earn a referral income when people set up their own stores through your link. If you’d like to set up a Zazzle Store please use Anita’s link here, thank you
Products are created on demand within 24 hours, so you don’t carry any surplus stock. And the site accepts credit cards and Paypal making it very easy for customers to order from your shop.
Café Press works in much the same way as Zazzle. You only have to create an image and upload it, and then Cafe Press does the rest. You get a commission on all products sold through your shop. Café Press, like Etsy has an international market; you get the added benefit of a global marketplace.
Red Bubble is a free site where you can upload your designs to T Shirts, Calendars and Wall Art among other things, and has a nice range of kid’s clothes too. You can create your store and start promoting your products straight away; out of all the sites I’ve mentioned, Red Bubble appears to be the most social media friendly with Like and Pin buttons on every item that’s for sale.
Kunaki specializes in print on demand CDs and DVDs which can contain audio, video, ebooks, games, or data. Video and audio courses can be burned to DVDs and sold through your blog and dispatched by you or dropshipped by Kunaki. The costs to set up are low and a test product can be created free of charge. All that’s missing is the market place, but you can still sell through your blog and your newsletter.
Print on Demand Books
Sites like Lulu, Amazon CreateSpace and Blurb all offer Print on Demand. This means you can take your ebooks, reformat them and then promote them. When you have sold a book, it will be printed and dispatched. Again you hold no stock and have relatively low costs – all you have to do is market the product.
Your site or theirs?
These sites are a good place to test the marketplace before setting up an eccommerce site, ordering stock and selling directly to the public. If you cannot promote physical products and make sales through a third party, you’ll struggle to do it on your own site.
Another thing to consider is, the things you are selling might be seasonal. You may not want the costs and marketing associated with running your own site all year round.
What you can’t do on a third party site that you can on your own is build your email list.
How to Sell Physical Products Through Your Blog
- Approach selling physical products in exactly the same way you would with digital products. Do market research and keyword research. Make sure the products you’re offering are things your market wants and can use. Focus on solving problems and making life easier for customers with your products.
- There are many other marketplaces for your designs besides Zazzle, RedBubble and Café Press, but before you sign up and start selling on any, make sure the company is professional and reliable. Check forums and review sites to see what people say about those companies and then make up your own mind. You should pay especially close attention to the customer service aspect, because it can make or break your business.
- Use your blog to drive traffic to your shop. Although sites like Etsy make selling physical products easy, you need to have an aggressive, continual marketing campaign in order to get people to your shop. There are many sellers offering similar products so you shouldn’t expect a great deal of search engine traffic.
- Use Pinterest to drive traffic back to your shop – pinning your products on boards that are search engine friendly will give the products a better chance of being found, and your items always have the potential to go viral.
Digital products offer a few big advantages. There’s no shipping to deal with and they’re easy to produce. But with the services offered by the above sites, it’s easy to produce your own physical products, and many of the sites handle the shipping aspect for you. Like digital products, physical products can be sold online with low overhead to maximize your profits.
Share with us your experiences selling physical products.
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