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 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).
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 â€˜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
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 e-commerce. 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.
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.