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!