Over the past few months we’ve done a number of theme based weeks that take a more intense dive into topics relevant to bloggers. Most recently we’ve had Beginner Week, and Content Week, but this week we wanted to turn our attention to monetization – specifically through creating and selling products.
My Journey With Creating Products (and why this week is important)
While I’ve been blogging for just short of 12 years, my own journey with creating products to help monetize my blogs only goes back five years since launching the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog eBook and creating my first Portraits eBook on dPS.
Before that time I had collaborated with someone on a product but never monetized my blogs with one a product of my own.
Previous to these first experimentations with eBooks, the income generated from my blogs was almost all from advertising revenue (from ad networks like AdSense and also a few ad sales direct with brands) and affiliate revenue (like Amazon and a few smaller programs). I also did a little speaking, consulting and had written a hard cover book.
In 2007 I was making a comfortable living from the above income streams but was a little worried about the economy and relying so heavily upon advertising income (which comprised more than 80% of what I was making).
I also had been watching the growth in popularity of eBooks and had for a year or so been dreaming of creating one myself.
My big issue was a severe lack of time. Between juggling two growing blogs and a growing family (we had just had our first child), I wasn’t sure how I’d ever write an eBook. I also had a long long list of other excuses to put it off.
I’d never written, designed, marketed a product of my own before… I didn’t have a shopping cart system… I didn’t know if my readers would buy…
In short – the dream of creating and selling an eBook of my own stayed in my head for two years until 2009. Ironically by that point I’d become even busier (we’d just had our second son and my blogs had continued to grow) but I knew if I didn’t bite the bullet and do it that I never would.
In 2009 I created my first eBooks – 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (which I’ve since updated into it’s second edition). That eBook generated $80,772.01 in 2009.
Later in the year I created and launched my first Portrait eBook over at dPS. That eBook generated $87,088.21 in sales in 2009.
As I regularly say when speaking at conferences about this experience – on the launch of these eBooks I was obviously very excited but also couldn’t believe how I’d put off creating this new income stream on my blogs for two years!
While obviously these two eBooks were financially profitable that immediate monetary reward wasn’t the best part – what was most valuable to me was that it sparked a whole new side to my business.
Since 2009 I’ve published 17 eBooks and 1 Printables set on Digital Photography School, and 6 eBooks and kits here on ProBlogger.
While I still sell advertising and do some affiliate campaigns on Digital Photography School, eBook sales now make up over 50% of my business today. Since that time we’ve also added two other income streams – membership (for ProBlogger.com) and Events.
I tell this story because many times I come across bloggers who are a little stuck in the mindset that the only way to generate an income from blogging is to sell advertising.
While it’s certainly possible to build profitable blogs through a variety of types of advertising and affiliate promotions, it’s not the only way.
There are a few other benefits of creating a product for your blog other than the obvious income stream that they provide.
For starters by using your blog to sell your own product rather than sending your readers to buy other people’s products (through advertising) you’re keeping your readers on your own site and within your own community.
Secondly when you create a quality product that your reader loves – you’re going to make a much bigger impact upon your reader. I’ve personally found that when I meet readers face to face at conferences that the ones who’ve bought and read my book or eBooks seem to feel a lot stronger connection with me. They often talk to me as if we’ve had a shared experience already.
Lastly – I find that when you’ve created a product of some kind that it seems to help in the authority that people seem to perceive you as having. I guess there’s something about having intentionally sat down to create something of note that people seem to admire. While having an eBook or course doesn’t mean you ARE an authority – it all goes to help build your profile.
Creating Product Week
This week on ProBlogger we want to walk you through a number of posts that will help you to work out:
- what you need to do before developing a product for your blog
- work out what kind of product might be best for your blog
- how to create your product
- how to launch your product
To walk us through this process I’ve asked one of my core team (and author of one of the ProBlogger eBooks) – Shayne Tilley – to lead us. He’s prepared four posts that will come in the following days that will tackle these topics.
I’m also going to chime in on each post to give my perspective and as always am keen to hear your perspective also, as I know many ProBlogger readers have created their own products too.
Have You Created a Product?
My story is just one of many many in the blogosphere. While I’ve majored on creating eBooks there are certainly many other directions to take (and much of this week will be relevant to them all). I’d love to hear your experiences.
Have you created some kind of product on your blog? What kind is it? How did it go? What did you learn?
Read More the Rest of this Series on Creating and Selling Products
Below we’ll share the rest of this series of posts as they’re published.