Make Your WordPress Site Profitable: Selling Products
There are really only three ways to earn an online income from your website or blog. Passive sources, providing a service, or selling products. We’ve already covered the first two methods, here and here, so this article will look at the third method, selling products.
“Products” come in two flavors:
- Hard goods
These are physical products. They can include items like:
- Coffee mugs
- Home decor
- Manufactured goods
- Gift baskets
In short, anything with a physical presence.
Of course, selling hard goods presents some challenges.
For example, unless it’s something you make yourself, like a hand-knit sweater, who makes it? How do you store it? How does the buyer order and pay for it? How do you ship it to the buyer?
Twenty years ago, if you wanted to sell toys, you needed a storefront and maybe even a warehouse to store them in. Fortunately it’s much simpler today.
Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s now possible for a small business owner or solopreneur (that’s you!) to source manufactured items and sell them to consumers without ever touching the items. Use a third-party fulfillment service, or a aggregated storefront like Amazon.com, and you can focus on selecting or creating the goods you want to sell and marketing them, leaving the shipping and often the invoicing and payment to someone else.
This article is not intended as an in-depth resource on how to do that, but here are some resources to get you started.
Etsy.com is a website for artists, artisans and craftspeople to showcase and sell their work. If you handcraft clothing and accessories, jewelry, children’s toys and accessories, dolls and accessories, art, sculpture, woodworking, photography, stained glass or other craft, Etsy might be the perfect outlet for you. Or use Etsy to sell vintage items or craft supplies that you source elsewhere.
You would use your own WordPress site as the hub of all your marketing efforts, but link buyers to Etsy to make the actual purchase. Etsy provides selling tools for you, and can take care of the payments. You’ll still handle your own shipping.
CafePress pioneered original screen-printed t-shirt manufacturing, making it possible for individuals or small businesses to print a single t-shirt or a small run. Before they came along, if you wanted your own design on a t-shirt you had to order large quantities.
Today, they’ve expanded from clothing (more than just t-shirts) to include drinkware, wall art, home decor, phone and laptop cases, “hobbies” — golf balls, luggage tags, and other odds and ends, greeting cards and journals, Scrabble and Monopoly games, tote bags, and more.
They provide the tools for you to upload your own design and apply it to the item(s) you specify. Then your customers can buy the item.
The entire operation is essentially print on demand, so there’s no inventory. Cafe Press handles the invoicing, payment and shipping, too. All you have to do is come up with the design and send the buyers.
Zazzle works similarly, and offers a similar — albeit somewhat wider — selection of goods to imprint with your design.
In addition, they also accept sellers of handcrafted items, and offer affiliate marketing arrangements.
Doba is a wholesaler and fulfillment center. They claim to handle the “tedious tasks,” so you can focus on your business.
They have a catalog of over two million products. Just:
- Choose the products you want to sell
- List them on your own website, or on an auction or reseller site
- Collect the buyer’s payment
- Then place the order with Doba for the wholesale price
- Doba ships directly to the customer, and your profit is the amount you charged the customer less what you paid to Doba
If you use one of their approved partners, like Amazon, eBay, or 1ShoppingCart, the process is even simpler.
You’ll find items available in these categories:
Here are some examples of how different online businesses might get into the hard goods arena.
- Support for fibromyalgia sufferers. In addition to providing quality informational content, this site could sell products like heating pads, ice packs, and special pillows to help relieve discomfort.
- Raising Rabbits sells cages for the furry creatures.
- A party planning site sells all-inclusive “party in a box” kits that provide all the partyware, tablecloths, games, favors, and activities.
- A vacation or tourist site sells area maps and activity guides.
Pros: Choose your products carefully to meet audience needs, and you can earn steadily.
Cons: Sourcing, marketing, storing, and shipping can eat up a lot of time and resources.
The market for digital products is exploding, and the rate of that explosion continues to grow rapidly. Online education has become a $15 billion a year industry. That’s billion, with a “b.” E-book sales exceed $5 billion annually.
And those are only two types of digital product!
A digital product is anything a buyer can download to his computer or consume online. At its heart is quality information, but most information can be presented in any number of ways. Here are some of the most familiar:
- Emails and autoresponders
- Live-streaming video from services like Blab or Periscope
- Online courses
The beauty of digital products is that storage and shipping are never an issue. Once you’ve created a digital product and made it available for purchase and download, it’s totally scalable. It doesn’t require any more time for 10 downloads than it does for a single one… or for 1,000 or 10,000.
You can also take the same information and repurpose it to work on different media, then market it to a slightly different audience.
- Redo a series of blog posts to make it an autoresponder course, or an e-book.
- Take written content and turn it into a podcast or a video.
- Create a webinar from an e-book.
- Take an e-book in PDF format and turn it into a Kindle book to sell on Amazon.
- Turn coaching sessions into a video instruction series.
- Parlay some how-to articles into a course.
In the previous article in this series, we talked about turning your service into a digital asset. There are lots more ways to create digital products, though.
Sometimes your path isn’t quite so obvious, though. If that’s your situation, knowing your subject area and your audience are key.
Keep in mind that, whatever type of digital product you create, it must solve a real problem for your audience and give them a lot of value.
Before you spend a lot of time creating something, ask your audience. Find out what kind of information would be helpful to them, and whether they’d be willing to pay for it. Then determine the format that will work best.
If your audience learns by watching YouTube videos, don’t give them an e-book. If they like to consume content during the daily commute, audio is probably best.
Some of us prefer to read.
You get the idea.
Start with a minimum viable product. That’s the simplest or smallest version of your offering. Once you know that’s working, you can expand on it, add to it, or make it available in a new format.
Pros: Extremely scalable.
Cons: Takes time to create and market.
When you sell hard goods or digital products, or both, your business will grow.
If you’d like to learn more about selling products online from your WordPress site, join SBI! for WP. It provides the tools and information you need to turn a website into a profitable business.
- Make Your WordPress Site Profitable: Passive Income
- Make Your WordPress Site Profitable: Selling Services
- Make Your WordPress Site Profitable: Selling Products