How to Turn Your Blog Into An Online Shop

This is a guest post by Trevor Ginn.

If you’ve put in all the work required to create a successful blog you might as well make some money out of it! One monetisation option is to offer things for sale which are related to your niche. Indeed, many large community sites such as NCT and BabyCentre incorporate an online shop to generate additional revenue.

Before You Start

Setting up an online shop alongside your blog is very easy and requires little technical expertise. Before you start you should think about the kind of shop you want to run as this will determine the requirements for your online shopping cart. Here are some questions to think about:

  • Number of products you want to sell.
  • Payment methods you wish to take.
  • Nature of products, ie. physical or digital.
  • Future plans for your business.

Write down a list of your requirements and compare these against the available options. If you only want to sell a few products you can set up a very simple online shop using PayPal. However, if you want to sell a wider range of products and offer products which can be downloaded, it will be necessary to opt for a more complex arrangement.

Finding Products to Sell

Choosing the right products to sell is a huge topic in itself. As someone who sells online for a living (see bio) here is the benefit of my experience:

  • Experiment. Buy a range of stock from a wholesaler and see what sells.
  • Dropship. Some companies will deliver products directly to consumers. This is great as you don’t have to have money tied up in stock.
  • Create your own products. Why not write a course or book about your area of expertise and sell this alongside your other products.
  • Copy shamelessly. See what other people are selling and figure out how to make something similar. Only fools and cowards don’t follow trends!

Selling Using Online Ecommerce Software

There are several ecommerce software solutions that allow you to sell products online. The key is to find one that is at the right price point for your needs and works with your current website.

Selling on Your Blog Using PayPal

paypal-website-merchant-services

PayPal is the most popular online payment system and provides a secure, one stop shop for online payments. There are two ways in which PayPal can help bloggers to sell through their sites:

Buy Now Buttons

PayPal provides a number of Buy Now buttons which can be easily inserted into a post or page and when pressed take the user to PayPal where they can make a specified payment. These buttons are super simple to set up though naturally you will need a PayPal account. Buy now buttons are suitable for people looking to sell a very limited number of items (less than 10).

PayPal Checkout

For those looking to sell more products, PayPal’s Website Payments Standard product provides simple checkout functionality where users can add items to a cart and them pay for them at the end via PayPal. The WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart plugin is an easy to use plugin which enables this system to be easily set up on a WordPress blog but inserting ‘Add to Cart’ buttons on any post, page or sidebar. The plugin provides a simple basket and for the checkout the user is directed to the PayPal site.

While Website Payments Standard is free and easy to implement it is not very flexible giving the merchant very limited customisation of experience, look and feel. You are also limited to accepting PayPal as a payment method.

Using a WordPress Ecommerce Plugin

wordpress-ecommerce-plugin

If you are looking to move your business beyond selling a few products you will need an online shopping cart which offers the following features:

  • Inventory management.
  • Managing orders.
  • Accept multiple payment types e.g credit card, PayPal, Google Checkout.
  • Customisable design.
  • Multiple shipping options.
  • Confirmation emails.

There are a number of plugins which can enable bloggers who use WordPress to set up a sophisticated online shop. The ones I recommend taking a look at are Jigoshop, eShop and WP ecommerce. These plugins are available for free with paid for upgrades and this model allows you to try out a plugin in depth before committing before parting with any money.

Next Steps

If selling on your blog is successful, you should consider expanding your product range and using other sales channels. eBay and Amazon are an excellent way to expand your online sales as they have a huge, international audience and require very limited technical expertise.





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Comments

  1. says

    Hey Kristi, great guest post, and Trevor, great work :)
    I was just today toying with the idea of creating and selling my own products for one of my sites, without using services o other sites like Zazzle or Cafepress. So this is a great timing for me to research all options before getting into it. Even though it is usually more work than being a re-seller, it sure means a lot more money, so thanks for this. I knew a little on the topic, and now I can getting into it a bit more.
    Brankica just posted Author hReview Plugin premium launch

    • says

      Hello Brankica. Having a shop is great. I read everywhere that Woo is having a great promotion check them out. I have a ‘partnership’ with them. They’re membership is great and a large part of my business plan.

      Hello Trevor, I like your simple breakdown of what to do to get it done. Your experience shines through and it’s refreshing to see different ways to monetize a blog.
      Ivin just posted Spam On an Unmanaged Blog

  2. says

    This is a most welcome post for all bloggers who are thinking of more ways to monetize their blogs. And you’ve got some really great tips on coming up which products to sell. As bloggers, one of the best things that we can sell is e-books. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. says

    Hey Trevor! I am of the opinion that once you’ve built your blog, it just makes sense to offer SOMETHING, be it an offer via an affiliate program, an eBook, a service or something unique you have made yourself. Even if a blog is getting a modest 50 visits a day, there’s always a chance someone will respond to an offering. Several years ago I ran one small ad for an affiliate program for a year with just ONE customer – I received commission of USD $60! I never had another hit on that particular ad, but that money was put to good use!

    Blog On and Prosper!
    Dave Lucas just posted Pop Clips » 09 July 12

  4. says

    WordPress has certainly come a long way with it’s capabilities. I used to use osCommerce to develop on-line shops. The WordPress eCommerce plugins and make setting up and on-line store very simple. All you need is a product and PayPal account to accept payments.

  5. says

    That is one cool idea. Exactly, if you’re already blogging might as well make some money out of it. But before you do it, make sure you know exactly what products you wanna sell.
    Andy Floss just posted Couch Commerce

  6. says

    Hi there,

    Trevor has given all vital information to help bloggers turn their blogs into online shops. The process can be simplified, if the products to be sold are priced moderately and also serve a purpose. The prospects are smart enough to choose a product of sense and worth for them. One should not forget that there are umpteen number of sites out there offering similar products for lesser prices. You need to see what is unique in the products you sell.

    Thank You Trevor for the valuable tips,

    Sanjib
    Sanjib Saha just posted Top 5 Best Antivirus Software of 2012

  7. says

    It is extremely important to put on an ecommerce theme on your blog before setting off, as these make it extremely easy to turn your blog into a place where you can sell stuff. A good theme + plugins will make your life a whole lot easier and streamline the whole process!
    Marlon just posted 10 Must-Have Premium Plugins for WordPress

  8. says

    Hey Trevor, Great post and I like how you gave some actionable steps with the PayPal shopping cart plugin link. I’ve actually been hunting around and it does seem a bit hard to find the right plugin that will do the job the way I want it to that is customizable. I’ll definitely download and experiment with this plugin.

    Another easy way to go is to become an Amazon affiliate or signing up with Adsense. This is a good way to earn some income, but ultimately selling your own products is going to bring in more revenue.
    Heather just posted 9th sphere speaks at Toronto’s leading SEO Conference



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