biz ladies: how to sell your products on your blog

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Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from April Bowles-Olin from Blacksburg Belle, where she writes about marketing, blogging and increasing business success. April is currently putting the finishing touches on her Inspired Blogging for Creative Entrepreneurs program, and you can sign up to receive the first month for free on her website homepage.

Today she is helping us master the art of selling products on blogs. With some easy-to-follow steps, April guides us on how to effectively charm readers into buying products via our blogs. Thanks, April, for this useful guide! — Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

One of the most common questions I get from creative entrepreneurs when I’m consulting with them on their blogs is, “How do I get my readers to buy my stuff?”

I’ve found that there are 3 main reasons why readers never buy:

1. The blogger doesn’t have an obvious way for readers to buy.

You don’t want to make your readers work to buy your products. If they see something they like, you want them to instantly have a way to purchase. Some creative entrepreneurs get too cutesy by having a cryptic link to their online shop on their sidebar or navigation bar like, “Handmade Lovelies.” And the readers have no idea what that means.

If your reader has to hunt to find your shop or your products, you’re much more likely to lose the sale. She’ll get frustrated and move on to something else.

You need to have a super obvious way for readers to buy, and it’s even better if you offer multiple ways for your fans to purchase your stuff. For instance, you might have a link in your navigation bar that says, “Shop” or “Online Shop,” and link to products whenever you mention them in your posts.

2. The blogger doesn’t blog about anything related to her products.

If the majority of your blog posts are recipes and personal stories and you sell eco-friendly jewelry for women, there’s a problem. Someone who comes to your blog to print your mom’s famous meatloaf recipe is probably not interested in buying your jewelry. If she is, then it’s luck and coincidence, and you don’t want to rely on luck to sell your products.

You need a strategy. It’s completely fine to post recipes and personal stories if your goal isn’t to sell your products, but if one of your main goals of blogging is to make money, you’ve got to change your approach.

Blogging regularly, responding to comments and staying active on social media sites is a lot of work. If you’re going do it, you might as well make sure you can make some money from it. You can do this by blogging for your ideal market.

First, you have to figure out what types of people are in your ideal market. For instance, the eco-friendly jewelry business above might target fashionable women aged 20 to 40 who are passionate about environmental issues.

Second, you have to come up with posts that will appeal to your target market, help them solve their problems and give them valuable information. The eco-friendly jeweler might write the following posts:

  • 10 Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for the Women in Your Life (In this post, she would include one of her pieces of jewelry.)
  • Warning: Read This Before You Buy Your Next Piece of Jewelry (In this post, she would write about environmental jewelry issues.)
  • 5 Date Night Outfits That Will Rock His World (In this post, she would put together pictures of five date night outfits and accessorize them with her jewelry.)

3. The blogger only posts products as he uploads them to Etsy or his online store.

Nobody cares. Well, maybe your mother does, but nobody else cares. I know this might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. If that’s all you’re going to do, then you might as well not waste your time.

I recently talked to a blogger who couldn’t understand why no one left her comments, why her traffic wasn’t growing and why her readers didn’t buy her stuff. The problem was obvious. She only posted pictures of her products hoping it would lead to comments, traffic and sales.

If someone wants to know what products you have available, he could simply check out your online store. He doesn’t need to search through your blog archives.

I’m definitely not discouraging you from posting your products. Your readers want to see what you’re up to, and you should promote your stuff. But there needs to be more. You could post pictures of your newest line of felted brooches and detail the inspiration behind them. You could take pictures as you work on your next piece of mixed media art, and show your readers all that goes into creating one piece of art.

4 More Tips to Entice Your Readers to Buy Your Products

1. Never phone it in.

If you’re running a creative business, I’m assuming that you’re busy. You’ve got product pictures to take, descriptions to write, marketing plans to make, products to package and ship and more. That’s why it might be tempting to just post something fast to get it out of the way. STOP. Step away from the computer. Don’t do it.

When you start publishing posts that don’t appeal to your target market, don’t provide anything valuable and don’t solve problems, you lose readers and customers. Have you ever started following a blog because you found an amazing post, only to get posts in your Google reader that don’t live up to your expectations? What happens? You unsubscribe or you stop checking it regularly.

You want your potential customers to come back for more and more because most people don’t buy right away. These potential customers need to get to know, like and trust you. That’s what leads to sales, and that takes time and valuable content.

2. Let your personality shine through.

If you want to develop a following of loyal readers and customers, you’ve got to be yourself. Creative entrepreneurs are constantly fearful of their work being copied, but no one can copy you. You’re the real deal.

I often talk to entrepreneurs who are afraid of alienating potential customers by including their interests, humor and personality in their posts. Instead of dishing up mint chocolate chip with rainbow sprinkles, it’s all vanilla, and people don’t flock to vanilla. When you try to write for everyone and are too afraid of losing a sale, you’ll never build a tribe of followers who will repeatedly buy from you and constantly tell their friends and family about you and your business.

What do the Jersey Shore cast, Sarah Palin and Tom Cruise have in common? They’re all polarizing. You either love them or you hate them, but they all have an enormous loyal following. I’m not saying you need to go that far, but try adding a drizzle of hot fudge and a sprinkle of dark chocolate slivers to your blog and you’ll see what I mean.

3. Use social proof to your advantage.

Psychology has proven over and over that people want what other people want and have. Make this work for you by including testimonials from happy customers on your website and blog, highlighting your best-selling product and bragging (in a classy way) about your accomplishments.

If your product makes it to the front page of Etsy, write a blog post titled, “Such and Such Made It on the Front Page of Etsy.” Write the inspiration behind the product in the post, and if you sold ten of them because of it, include that too.

If you’ve sold a bunch of a specific product, like 100 felted bracelets, you could write a post highlighting a felted bracelet, announcing that you’ve sold over 100 and suggesting a handmade skirt and top by another seller that looks great with the bracelet.

4. Write about your big idea.

Every blog needs to have a big idea behind it. It should be the backbone of your posts and something that your readers can easily share.

For example, my big idea is that artists and other creative entrepreneurs can make lots of money doing what they love to do. They don’t have to be broke and miserable. So, what’s your big idea?

It should relate to the big idea behind your creative business, and it should be evident from the content that you publish on your blog. This is another way that your readers become loyal fans of you and your business, and loyal fans buy.

If you write your blog for your target market, publish content that helps your readers solve problems and give your readers an obvious way to buy, you’ll be much closer to making money from your blog.

I hope this helps you make some more money, honey!

linda

soo true about #3. I find that when i post things about my products, but also give a little behind the scenes story of how the project came about, people are more responsive. people like stories, not “advertisements” that give little to no new knowledge about you as the blogger/designer/crafter.

great stuff. thanks for sharing!.

riye

Great advice–especially because I think we’ve all seen those bad example blogs, sadly. Customers respond to people who are real people. I can’t tell you how often people have raved about some product and added triumphantly “And she’s/he’s so nice!”

Akame

This has been really helpful. I’ve been on a serious quest to improve my blog and this post is right on time:)

susy

couldn’t agree more! this was fabulous!!!

altho i AM going to miss the occasional “Handmade Lovelies” shout out. haha. : )

Casey

What a great informational article! I just started blogging a few months ago and have found it to be a lot of fun, but I think I need to keep my big idea and target market in mind. Thanks for the tips!

ruhi

I dont have a blog and am toying with the idea of starting one.Your article couldn’t have been published at better time for me:) Thank you!

Bess | English Muffin Shop

Very helpful article! I have to admit, I am often afraid to bombard my readers with my products and worry that that is what might turn them off making a purchase.

I will however try to focus at least one post a week on what’s happening in my studio, generating a bit more interest for my own work.

thanks biz ladies :)

Melanie

Wonderful post! I especially enjoyed the section on personality, and can attest to how true that is. I can think of a few blogs that only update a few times a month, but when they pop up in my RSS feed, I IMMEDIATELY rush to see what the update is.

Kat

some good pointers…especially for me #4, a big idea…i feel like i’ve been kind of directionless lately…gotta correct that! thanks for the advice!

Melissa Hill

this was a great post, I especially need to work on integrating my product into my blog more. Working on finding what that target market is and how that fits in with my underlying message of sustainable and beautiful is a challenge, but it’s good to hear that I’m on the right track. Sometimes it’s hard to keep that blog quality up. I’d love to see a post about how to do that.

Brad

Completely off topic, but for those curious about the woman in that ubiquitous “We Can Do It!” poster, I was sorry to hear she just passed away at age 86 in Michigan.

Her name was Geraldine Doyle… which just seems perfect for someone from that generation.

Lisa @MindfulBIZ

I think that not knowing what to blog about is such a common dilemma. I really liked the sample blog post topics in #2 to illustrate your point. Awesome post!

Justine

Lots of useful pointers that I wish to reflect onto my blog! Can’t wait to utilize ‘em :)

kate hart

Biz Ladies- thanks for making Tuesdays so great. And April, thanks for the excellent advice! I completely agree that it’s important for a blog to have personality. I’ve purchased products from bloggers because I loved reading their blog so much… AND been excited about their product. I’m still trying to find the balance between personal/business posts, and this advice was wonderful!

Hannah

Thanks April, some really helpful tips here. It seems it is important to make the distinction between personal or business blog – I think I need to give mine much more business focus with elements of personalty – instead of the other way around.
Thanks again!

Cristina

Great and very useful post, it made me rethink and redefine the concept of my blog, and it gave me several bright ideas… thank you very much!

Yvonne

This is the kick in the shorts I needed. Thank you April for wearing your steel toed boots just for me. I just got my blog up & running & I’ll be referring back to this article often.

Lynn Minney

April, you are the best! You totally opened my eyes
& gave me direction that I so clearly lacked. THANK
YOU!

verymerryvintagestyle

Another fabulous post… I have been wanting to delve into
sales with my blog (it’s been for fun and just has freebies, now)
and this is an excellent resource. Now… to make this a resolution
and a priority! Please keep posting blogging for profit advice-it
is so helpful! I’ll have to do a search to see if you’ve done
anything on shopping carts & checkout on blogs. I’d really
love to avoid some of those fees although I do realize the sites
like etsy would drive business to me as well.

Cowgirl Coley

I just started a blog two weeks ago. I wasn’t real excited about the idea of social marketing either, but I am warming up to it. Perfectly timed post, thanks!

Erin @ Dear Edna

Fantastic advice! Now that you point it out, I realize that these are all the reasons I like to read other blogs: focus, personality and little glimpses into an artist’s every day life.

Erika

This is what I needed to read today. I enjoy what I post but I have been thinking that it is not tied directly to the product I want to sell.

suzanne

Thank you April! This post answered several of the questions I’ve been struggling with for sometime. It’s one thing to be creative, it’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to selling…and NOT selling out. This was great info!

Jeanie

April I love so much of what you write, it’s like you’re writing directly to me. I loved reading that this takes time to do things well, cause gosh it all takes four times longer then I expect it to. You’d think I’d adjust. Thanks for the great article.

storybeader

great read! I started my blog to entice buyers to my etsy site. Then I began to have more fun on the blog than anything else {:-Deb

Rita

Great article. Interesting though, I only clicked on it, as Rosie (The pin up girl who the picture above was of), recently passed away, and thought you might’ve had something in here about her! Lol

Tammy/FancieStrands

Wonderful article and a real eye opener for me. I am in the process of a shop/blog redo due to a name change and I will be using
these great ideas. Thanks for the info.

Mary Anne

Thank you for the info. I am also toying with the idea of starting a blog and this will point me in the right direction!

Deborah Mazarakes Art & Design

Thanks, April for a very helpful and interesting article! You make a lot of great points. One that stands out to me is #3 because I have seen this one many times on blogs. No text at all just the product with a link. I’ll definitely be putting these tips to good use!

Nache

Great post! I know I’m guilty of a few of these. This article will definitely influence future post. Thanks!

Jen M.

This was an excellent post, and incidentally, I love BOTH blogs! :)

I’m having trouble figuring out my blog’s flow or voice. I tend to go more-business-less-personal, but I do write inspirational posts from time to time. I tend to avoid sticky topic areas, for fear of alienating customers, but I DO try to give a picture of who I am.

My problems are coming up with ideas and knowing who my target market is. I’m still trying to figure that out after 2 years in business. I know it takes time, though.

I know a lot of my peers like to do tutorials and giveaways, and I’m just not the type to do that. I can see doing work-in-progress posts, though.

Hm…Need to think about this. This post has given me some great ideas!

Jen M.
JenniferLynn Productions, LLC

Jenny Hoople

This is interesting because I felt like I was trying to convert readers into buyers with my blog, but I try to post ANYthing that will be useful, and only sometimes does it have to do with jewelry.

But I think I would go absolutely stark raving mad if I tried to make every every post about exactly what I’m selling in my Etsy shop, because it’s only a part of what my business may become and only a small part of what my business means to me. Sure, it’s mostly jewelry right now, but there’s so much more to life.

I wonder if my blog’s purpose is still what I thought it was? I do try to write tutorials and how-tos and anything I think will be useful to my ideal customers, as well as some posts specifically about work I’m making and the story behind it.

Just when I think I’m getting somewhere, I start to feel a little confused and stuck.

Rachael Tapping

I’ve recently set-up my business, website and blog having been on a start-up business course designed for women, so firstly I love the We can do it! poster, so true of course.

I’m intrigued by who reads a blog, and why, and how to make mine relevant and precious time well spent. The advice you give in this post is invaluable, a great big girl power thank you.

P.s. does anyone else just love the bright and breezy feel of the Etsy emails? I look at them for a colour fix, waiting to pounce on something turquoise.

Laila's Handmade Laces

Thank you so much for this post. I just opened my Etsy store and have been toying with the idea of starting a blog. The prospect has been a bit daunting. This article has really given me some insight as to how to do it. :)

Andrae Mueller

Thanks for the great advice! My husband & I have just started a new online store & struggle with the blog concept. We might take a step back & re-evaluate!

Alan

Thanks so much for your insight as to what to accomplish with my blogs. As an artist I always tried to include the inspiration behind certain products but it never turned into a sale, not once I’m ready to make this work

Melissa

Great article – so true that you need to maintain that balance between providing value to your readers like you always have. and offering a product when it comes to selling on your blog. I also think that the way that you actually deliver that sale can be important – you don’t want to have a good looking and well branded site that’s then killed by an ugly sales page that doesn’t reflect your brand at all. Lots of design bloggers either link off to Etsy or amazon to sell their product, but there are option like selz.com that let you just add a button and popup in your color choice to your site so your readers don’t have to leave to buy your stuff. I’m in the process of setting up a site (www.etandback.com) for my products but because I’m really only offering 2 products at this stage I don’t really need anything too complex, and I imagine its the same for bloggers that just want to sell a couple of things rather than have a whole online store happening.

Jayden Rabin

Appreciate it pertaining to share………. I hope in upcoming it will be definitely ideal for us all……

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