Make Money Blogging: Selling Products, Merchandise, and Expertise

[This is a part of the Make Money Blogging Series.]

Zelda Ring via Etsy

One of the best ways that a blogger can make money is by taking their expertise, either within the scope of the content that they create or some other unique skill and craft, and packaging it up into a product.

Sometimes this might just be some of the content that you’ve created but now formatted a bit differently (eBooks are a great example) or sometime entirely different that may or may not be related to blogs and blogging.

Here are just a few examples of successful products that professional bloggers have sold via their blogs:

  • eBooks
  • Traditional books and writing
  • Artwork, arts, handmade crafts (Etsy is an amazing example!)
  • Collectors items
  • Tshirts and other related items
  • Software (desktop/mobile/web apps)
  • WordPress Themes
  • eCourse Training Material
  • Toys
  • Music and CDs

And more. The list could go on and on and is as wide and diverse as the people that blog! There is probably something that you could sell today that could instantly put you on the road to paying for those hosting bills, right?

Pros? Cons?

To be quite honest, there are only benefits to selling your own product and any potential pitfall is small in comparison to the overwhelming value that you can create for yourself and your community.

But here are 3 things that might scare a few people (but not too badly):

  1. You’ll need a payment system or gateway, especially if you’re selling directly from your blog. Paypal works great.
  2. You’ll need a eCommerce solution, like e-junkie (I use this!), that will enable you to use a cart system to sell and deliver the product.
  3. You may need to create some type of support system if you sell a digital download and/or software. Managing that process and customers can be a hassle – are you ready for something like that?

And that’s the core essentials! Sure you could probably include a lot more but that’s to start.

Are you an expert at something? People will pay for it!

6 Tips to Selling Your Own Products:

Honestly, you’re only limited by your own creative juices when it comes to selling your own product, but there are definitely a number of key elements that have been proven to help successful bloggers move into this space.

Here are just 6 that you can’t forget:

  1. Expertise – Try to sell only that which you are an expert at, or where you have a unique perspective and voice. If you’re not confident about what you’re selling then it’ll show and people won’t buy it. You have to know what you’re doing and what you’re selling and why; it’s what makes someone purchase your product over the blogger next door.
  2. Do Your Research – Just because you’ve got a great idea doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been done before. In fact, it probably has already been done! Spending the time necessary to research your market and industry as well as possible entries of penetration is critical. Many people just launch without actually researching the market and this completely baffles me.
  3. Word of Mouth Marketing – Take full advantage of all of the social networks and social media platforms to get the word out. I haven’t spent a dime (yet) on any of the products that I’m selling and that means I get to save more (and put more in my own pocket). Use Twitter, Facebook, and whatever (or wherever) else your market is located!
  4. Hard Work – Let me be candid and tell you that selling a product is hard work – there are no shortcuts to this process and being a success can take a lot of time; in fact, it can take as much time (or more) than what’s required out of your blog (which will be a significant marketing channel). Don’t give up too soon or you may lose out, but don’t be fooled by anyone who tells you it’s easy!
  5. Your Focus on Value (Blog) Creates Opportunities for Products – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The more time you spend on creating value through your blog (and your expertise) the more it’ll illuminate the potential products that you might have to offer for your community long-term. For example, if you spend all your time creating value for your community through your blog posts about baking cookies then why not create (and sell as a product) your own recipe? In other words, what you’re already doing is a good indicator of what you might be able to sell.
  6. You Are What You Sell – In other words, it’s about trust and people buy from people whom they trust. You won’t have this relational equity with a new blog and it will take time to grow it. The reason I can sell the products that I do is I believe I’ve established that rapport, respect, and trust with my readers!

Those are just a few tips to get your juices flowing!

My Personal Perspective Products:

Erector Set!

I love building stuff. My parents would tell you the same and some of my most vivid memories of my childhood are that of me building something, whether it was an Erector Set, Lincoln Logs, Marble Works, Legos, and then eventually software for Fortune 50 businesses.

I also love blogging and I never thought that I’d actually be able to do it full time and actually earn a living off of it. It’s a wild ride and one that is continuing to evolve nearly every week.

It’s not easy but it’s extremely rewarding and I am blessed to find something that fits both my personality and my expertise!

Lincoln Logs!

And that was the key – I had two extremely powerful and native driving forces within me that would help sell products: Creating + Marketing ~~~> Building online web apps and products (Creating) and selling them through blogs (Marketing).

I love creating and I love telling others about my creations. I used to share my creations with my parents and now I get to share it with the world via my blogs. It made complete sense.

As I mentioned before, I used to build software products for others (Johnson & Johnson, Dell, Fox, and NewsCorp) but it was when I started building products and businesses for myself that I was able to finally tap into my real potential as a creative person and producer.

Marble Works!

And you can too.

In fact, I firmly believe that all of us have a “creator” inside of us that is either untapped or simply undiscovered.

And if you’re reading this blog post then you’re also a blogger (or will be one soon) and you’ve now got both sides of the equation that’s required for successfully selling a product online: Creation + Marketing!

Here’s the honest truth: A significant part of my yearly “salary” as a full time blogger comes from the products that I’ve built and now sell through my blogs.

One perfect example is the Premium WordPress Theme, the Standard Theme.

I love building products that matter and that are of exceptional value; I love it even more when I can provide opportunities for others to share in those creations, products, and value as well!

So, what do you think about creating and selling your own products? What ideas do you have? What’s stopping you?

[This is a part of the Make Money Blogging Series.]