Over the last 5 years there has been a shift in the way that many bloggers try to monetise their blogs.
Rather than relying upon advertising and working with brands to make money – many have started to develop their own products to sell directly to readers (whether it be by selling virtual products or physical ones).
There are many reasons why selling your own product is a good thing to do. No longer will you be sending people away from your site – but they’ll be staying with you. You can also ensure that the quality of what you’re selling is high and you end up taking 100% of the profits of sale – not just a small part of it for the traffic you send.
Of course selling products on your blog takes a lot of work – more than many bloggers realise when they dream of doing so.
If you’re thinking of creating your first product – get ready to get focused!
For one you need to develop your product. At dPS our photography eBooks take a minimum of 3-6 months to write, edit, proof, design and launch (and we have a team working on it around the clock).
But it isn’t just a matter of creating a product. There’s a lot more that you should be working on BEFORE you launch a product that will help to ensure it is profitable.
The Sad Tale of a Blogger with a Great eBook and No Sales
I spoke recently to an eBook author/blogger who couldn’t work out why her eBook hadn’t sold well. She’d read of the success of other eBook authors making big money with eBooks and decided to create one of her own.
She worked hard for months on producing the best eBook that she could. Her problem was that she focused so much upon creating the eBook that other things too a back seat for the months it took to produce it.
- Rather than publishing five high-quality weekly blog posts, she slipped to being lucky to publish one mediocre one
- Her twitter account became a ghost town
- She stopped emailing her newsletter list
- Her Facebook page posting dropped away
- She stopped interacting with other bloggers in her niche
On the day she launched her eBook she did so with a fantastic product but a blog with very little engagement or reader goodwill. Her eBook barely made any sales as a result.
The Other Scenario I See – the other situation I’ve seen many times are people who create products and then when they’re ready to launch start researching how to find people to buy it which results in them starting a blog, email list, social media accounts the day they want to launch their product!
Believe it or not I’ve had quite a few confused emails from people in this boat over the years!
They end up starting out even further behind than someone with a blog that they’ve ignored to develop a product.
Having a Great Product Is Only Half Of the Profitable Product Puzzle
I’ve heard these kinds of story from bloggers many times in the last few years – in fact it is a challenge I faced in producing my own first eBooks (when I had to do it all myself).
There’s so much work involved in producing a product like an eBook – writing, editing, designing, marketing – that it is easy to let everything else slip.
The problem is that having a great product to sell is only half of the profitable product puzzle. The other half is having people ready to buy it.
If the sacrifice you make to create a product is looking after your readership then your efforts will be wasted.
If anything – in the lead up to launching your product you should INCREASE your efforts in serving your readership, deepening engagement and growing a positive relationship with those who could potentially buy what you’re developing.
Here’s what to Focus on BEFORE you Launch a Product on your Blog
Before I suggest some areas to work on before you launch a product let me say that this is always a juggle and it’s hard to get perfect.
Not only are we working on creating a product, keeping a blog running and engaging readers – on top of that there’s ‘life’ (family, other work etc).
It’s not easy but being prepared is so important!
Other than creating the product itself, here are four things I’d be working on to help me be ready for a profitable product launch.
1. Growing a ‘Warm’ Email List
By far the biggest source of sales for our eBooks have been email. Yes your blog and social media will product drive sales too – but email is likely to convert better. I’d estimate over 90% of our eBook sales come from the emails we send to our list.
There’s two parts of this task.
A. having people sign up to your list – promoting your email list is really important.
B. keeping your list warm – don’t just email when you’ve got something to sell. Keep your list ‘warm’ by sending them regular useful information. On dPS this means we send them a weekly newsletter with all our latest tutorials every Thursday night.
Regularly emailing your list with useful content grows the relationship, builds trust and gets them used to hearing from you.
It’s so important!
2. Growing Your Blog Archives
Most of the people who subscribe to your email list (and social media accounts) will have found you as a result of reading a post on your blog. Keep producing great content on your blog to keep them engaged.
This will give you content that you can email to your list but also will help you to keep growing that list (fresh content gives people more to share on social and via word of mouth).
Also use your blog to take your readers on a journey towards your product launch. For example:
- Telling your readers that you’re working on something for them
- Involving them in the journey of creating your product
- Using blog posts to research and test ideas in your product and building anticipation of your launch
3. Building Your Social Presence
While I’ve not seen a heap of sales coming directly from social media for our eBooks I do find social media to be a great way to keep our readership engaged and to build our brand – all of which can help when it comes time to email our list and launch a product.
I also love using social media to understand our readers and research products.
In the lead up to a product launch I quite often ask questions that relate to our product to help me understand what our readers needs and problems are and what might trigger their interest. This is golden information when creating sales/marketing material (sales pages, emails etc).
I don’t tend to sell too hard on social at the time of a product launch but do include a little messaging on our social accounts to support our emails.
4. Grow Your Network and Affiliate Relationships
Your readership, list and social network is probably where most of your sales will come from but there’s also potential to go beyond that if you have relationships with other influencers.
This might simply be friendship type relationships (another blogger who simply wants to support you) or commercial relationships (where you offer commissions to those who sign up as your affiliates).
Either approach works best if those relationships are warm and engaging ones.
Think about when you would promote what another blogger is doing? If you’re like me you’re more likely to promote then if they are engaging, friendly and communicating regularly with you.
So keep interacting with other bloggers in your niche in natural ways (don’t overwhelm them). This might simply be by engaging on social media but it could also be private industry groups on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Also consider promoting what they are doing to help grow trust and relationships. Find win/win ways to benefit from supporting each other.
How to Get your Dreams Into Reality
Again – I understand the juggle it takes to create a product without letting your blog suffer. It isn’t easy but let me finish with two pieces of advice from my own personal experience.
1. Take Action
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve met bloggers with a dream to create a product that they’ve not actioned.
Get that dream out of your head! I spoke at World Domination Summit on how to do this (the video is below) but the #1 thing you need to do is ‘take action’ – even small actions.
I put off creating my first eBooks for over two years because I couldn’t see how I could keep my blogs running AND create those products. I was juggling a lot (we were also starting a family and newborns/sleep deprivation didn’t help).
So for over two years I took no action on my dream and in doing so missed out on two years of a new income stream and learning.
When I finally did take action and launched my product my first feeling was one of regret that I didn’t find a way to do it earlier.
Don’t allow yourself to be paralysed – you need to take action, even if it is very small steps. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Take Your Time: Small Steps Can Still Get You There
Telling your to ‘take your time’ might seem at odds with my last point of ‘taking action’ but I think it can co-exist. Let me explain.
If creating product means you need to sacrifice the relationship with your readers – don’t do it. Find a way to take action that doesn’t cost you that relationship.
After two years of taking no action on my dream of creating my first eBooks I decided I needed to do something – anything – or give up the dream.
The only way I could do it was to get up 15 minutes a day earlier every day and get it done.
15 minutes a day isn’t much (although when you’ve been up settling babies in the night it feels like a sacrifice) but it is more than 0 minutes a day. Over time it adds up – 15 minutes a day over a month is 7.5 hours (an extra work day a month) and over 3-4 months you’ll be amazed what you can achieve!
In 15 minutes a day I took small but steady steps toward my goal of launching an eBook. I initially spent it on writing, then on editing, then on design, then on researching and setting up shopping carts, then on writing sales copy etc.
It took me months to get there but in 15 minutes a day steps I launched that first product WITHOUT sacrificing the relationship I had with my readers.
In fact I grew the relationship I had with my readers even stronger – so when those first eBooks launched (here on ProBlogger with 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and on dPS with a Portrait eBook) they blew my mind with the sales that they achieved.
You don’t need to make a choice between creating a product and looking after your readers!