This guest post is by k out Brandon Yanofsk of B-List Marketing.
If you’ve ever asked another blogger, “When’s the right time to start selling on my blog?”, you’ll know you never get a solid answer.
Some say as soon as you get one person visiting your blog.
Some say never to start selling until you’ve got at least 100 subscribers.
And some say selling before you have 10,000 people on your email list is premature.
However, I’m here to set the record straight and give you a solid answer.
But before I give you that answer, I need to explain something.
Don’t sell: provide a solution to a problem
Everyone thinks of selling as something nasty—something you shouldn’t do. They think of shady car salesmen or the cliched snake-oil salesman. Basically, someone trying to rip them off.
It’s no wonder then that people don’t want to sell on their blogs.
Instead of calling it “selling,” let’s call it what it really is: Providing a Solution to a Problem.
Now, let’s rephrase the original question:
When’s the right time to provide a solution to a problem?If someone runs up to you and says, “Hey, I need your help”, would you reply with, “Sorry, I’m not selling right now.”?
Of course not. You’d jump right in and help.
So, the right time to start selling on your blog is:
As soon as you identify a problem and create a solution to that problem.
It doesn’t matter if you have one subscriber, or 100,000 subscribers. Once you’ve identified the problem your readers are facing, it’s time to create a solution to it.
I know of a blogger who has a very, very healthy following. Yet he can’t manage to make one sale. The reason is: he isn’t providing a solution to a problem his readers face. He’s just creating products and hoping someone buys them.
On the other hand, I’ve seen bloggers who have very few subscribers. Yet they have a very healthy business selling products. Why? Because they identified a problem their readers face, and created the solution.
So, don’t let people tell you there is a certain number of followers you need before selling products. It doesn’t exist.
Instead, ask yourself only two questions:
1) Have I identified the problem? and 2) Can I provide the solution?
Looking for more tips on creating a blogging business? Check out Brandon Yanofsky’s site B-List Marketing where he’ll show you how to create a blogging business your readers know, like, and trust.
I agree with you Brandon. It’s not about selling products it’s about solving a problem our readers have using a business touch. If someone say a beginner blogger ask you to help with his blog, you can suggest a ebook and make a sale out of that simple suggestion. That’s great .
As soon as you start thinking of your readers as potential buyers, you run the risk of losing touch with them. Be very careful.
I have to disagree Vago. Whether you’re selling something for money or just selling an idea, your readers are always potential buyers (of products, services, or ideas). You have to sell to people.
Exactly right Chris!
I completely agree.. Well said.
I do agree with you Brandon and I would like to point that your link is not redirecting your blog correctly.
Thanks for pointing that out Shabbir. It should be fixed now.
Great post. Strikes a chord with me because three years into blogging, I’m not even breaking even. I do feel like I need to monetize or get out, but I don’t like thinking about it that way. In truth, my blog has enormous potential to solve problems – to help independent lodgings find local travelers, and vice versa. I need to reframe the way I approach monetization, and offer a solution to a problem. Thanks!
Perfect Lauren. That’s exactly how you need to think. Don’t try and find ways to get people to give you money. No one wants to give you money. But if you find that solution, people will gladly pay for it.
Excellent point brandon.
Excellent point Brandon.
We often forget while creating our products that people don’t buy our products, they buy solutions to their problems.
Right on Rana!
Well Said, you cant sell to everyone at night. only targeted group will see the value in serviced offfered.
I will not sell till my reader are well define, blooging is not about money first.
You hit on something very important: targeted groups. Not everyone wants what the solution you offer. Only people who have that problem.
Good tips here.
Create solutions. Readers seek solutions to their problems. This is when sales occur.
As for when to start creating solutions, start now. Even before you have a blog, start creating solutions. The person with the service oriented mindset prospers, because they develop a knack of IDing problems and providing solutions for these problems quickly.
Thanks for sharing your insight Brandon.
Yeah Ryan! If you see a problem, and know a way to solve it, start offering the solution. DOn’t wait till you have a blog. Start now.
Very rightly put. I agree there is no hard & fast rule when or whether to start selling. Why can’t bloggers concentrate on creating good content that will help the community before expecting anything in return.
Very rightly said. I agree with the fact that there is no hard & fast rule as to when or whether to start selling on your website. Why cant bloggers concentrate on creating good content useful for others in the blogging community without actually expecting monetary benefits from it.
Lawyers, Doctors and all other professionals are paid for providing solutions and it should not be different for us bloggers. The idea that you can make money from doing something is a big motivator to give your best. I know there are people who are motivated by higher ideals(e.g Mother Teresa) but these angels are few.
If I followed your advice, who will pay for my mortgage & family expenses?
Capitalism might have it’s flaws but there is no alternative that has worked.
Greed is Good!
Like Constantine said, you don’t expect Doctors to give you free check ups. You don’t expect car mechanics to fix your car for free. And you certainly don’t expect a restaurant to give you a free meal.
Why should blogging be any different?
It is very important to build that trust with your audience. Even if you are trying not to sell but provide solution, they still need to know that you are the authority. Great Tips!
Very true Jennifer. That’s what I’m all about. Getting customers to know, like, and trust you so you can make the sale.
Elegantly put, in the scientific sense of the word. Thanks!
Is there any other sense of the word? lol. Kidding.
That’s a really great way to look at it! That’s always what customers are looking for: a solution to a problem!
Thanks Marie. It’s one of the main rules of business, the other begin you need your revenue to be higher than your costs.
Your right – We do solve a problem. Often many problems ,so in a sense we need to educate rather than sell. Trouble is -to get the point across!
Educating can be seen as a form of selling. You’re selling ideas.
Very well put, Brandon. Putting the focus on the solution makes you feel good about the work you do, and can give you a road-map on your strategies.
I look forward to reading your blog!
Thanks Peter. And let me know if there’s any way I can help you. Send me an email and let me know what you do: brandon [at] blistmarketing [dot] com
Hi Brandon ,
This is compatible 100% with my own personal experience!
“Providing a Solution to a Problem”, I love that! In fact this is what makes you do good sales!
I started to promote and sell products in only a few weeks after starting my blog, I don’t see any problem with that as I don’t really blog for fun!
And, I remember that I started to sell my own design products when my blog readers and friends offered to pay me for it, they were the ones who pushed me to this path letting me know that my stuff solve a problem they were having!
One thing I will add, you CAN blog for fun AND for money. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
One brilliant post I have not heard from the blogosphere in a while :) Thanks for this information I really needed to know this because I’m soon up the stage to monetize my blog.
Thanks Harrison. And please let me know if there’s any way I can help.
An excellent piece of advice! Providing a solution to a problem…I like it!
Good article, readers will be much more receptive to buying from a site if it provides highly relevant products in a non-annoying way (ie: doesn’t get in the way of the usual blog content). I think it also depends on the topic of the blog as to how appropriate it is to use the site for ecommerce.
If you’re providing a solution to a problem your readers experience, I don’t see how it’d be inappropriate.
I’m currently concentrating on providing quality free of charge, with no strings attached. I actually wrote an article about it. I have no plans to monetize my blog in the near future. I would much rather provide far too much value to my detriment, then try and jump in early and muddy the waters.
One thing to think about Tom: people actually value things they pay for more than things they get for free. If you offer a free ebook, they are less likely to read it than a $100 ebook.
Just something to think about.
Thanks for responding to my comment Brandon! You’re absolutely right – there is so much information freely available these days that free information has bencome devalued. But as I say, I’d much rather go too far in offering quality content with no strings, than vice versa.
I’m still working on solving my own problems. Hopefully, when I figure me out, I’ll be able to offer a solution to others as well. That’s probably when I’ll start thinking about “selling” to my readers.
You may be surprised David, but I’m sure other people out there have the same problem as you. When you discover a solution to your problem, offer that same solution to those people.
I absolutely agree with your idea. I see a lot of people who can make money with a blog use this method. It will increase possibility that people will click on the ads and that they will buy them.
Hey Yingjie, this doesn’t only apply to ads. You can also MAKE and PROVIDE the solution yourself.
Excellent post Brandon. Thanks for that!
Thanks for the comment Russ
Thanks ..Great post..
i worried by having adverts etcs i would be seen as selling out no pun intended :)
but if i look at this way im giving a solution then maybe it isnt so bad!
Itz not only for blogging but applies for everything else in life.
That’s a great way to put it. People today are tired of something being sold to them day in day out. If we indeed provided solutions, they’d be thankful and will actually be ready to pay for solutions (out of a grateful heart).