E-Commerce Platforms

Whether you’ve already launched your blog or you’re in the planning stages, the option to sell products may be on your agenda.

Some of the reasons bloggers sell online include:

  • The opportunity to gradually build recognition of their blog by selling branded merchandise, like coffee mugs and t-shirts.
  • To help establish their expertise in the field, and sell their professional services, by offering digital products (such as e-books or gated video courses) that provide relevant and valuable content to their target audience.
  • To generate revenue to offset the cost of hosting.
  • The desire to make their blog a profitable venture.

You don’t need to decide up front: there are plenty of e-commerce solutions that enable you to integrate selling into an established blog. If you are set on selling online — perhaps your blog has been conceived as part of your content marketing strategy for an online store — then by all means assess the available e-commerce site builders. There are plenty that are designed for novices, so that even without experience you can create a visually striking store by starting with pre-built website themes that are professionally designed.

One function of blogging.com is to introduce you to some of the current e-commerce platforms on the market: software solutions that run the gamut from plug-n-play shopping carts to add to your blog, to DIY store site creators, to fully customizable solutions for big ventures.

When reviewing available options, you’ll want to consider the following basic questions:

  • Are you looking for something easy to use or do you want to “get under the hood” to tweak code?
  • Will you be selling digital (e-books, music, course) products, physical products, and/or services?
  • Do you need an online store to be created?
  • Do you need a way for customers to book appointments with you?
  • Do you want your store to be multi-lingual? (In other words, do you want your visitors to be able to choose other languages to view your site in simply by clicking a button on your site?)
  • How will you get contact information from your potential customers? (Do you need sign-up forms?)
  • How will you market to your potential customers?
  • Do you want to sell in multiple currencies?

Selling Physical Products Online

If you plan on selling physical products, you should consider whether you want to go the drop shipping route. Drop shipping enables you to sell products on your site without purchasing and storing any inventory. Here’s how it works: when someone orders from your site, your third-party product provider is automatically notified, they package the product, and ship it under your name.

Many drop-shipping options offer “on demand” product production. For example, you can create designs for t-shirts, hoodies, laptop sleeves, coffee mugs and more ahead of time and give them to your third-party merchandiser. When someone visiting your store orders one of these items, your third party merchandiser is automatically notified, they print the t-shirt, mug, etc., and ship it under your name to the customer. E-commerce builders like Shopify will enable you to easily connect with all sorts of third-party on-demand product providers like Merchify and Printful.

If you go this route, consider whether you’ll accept returns (and how you’ll handle them) or if you expect the third party to do that.

Build it and they won’t come

Don’t expect to build a store and suddenly have products flying off your digital shelves. The mere act of creating a visually impressive store filled with products is something anyone can do nowadays. You’ll need to bone up on digital marketing basics –especially search engine optimization, content marketing, and conversion optimization. In other words, you’ll need to learn how to attract your audience, grow your community, and sell to them.  And that’s where we come in: to help provide you with the best tools, insights, and practices to succeed, like “What is 10x Content?” written by former Newsweek reporter Ji Guo.

Some encouragement: there’s never been a better time in the history of mankind to become an entrepreneur. The barriers to entry are low: you no longer need a factory, a printing press, a distribution center, offices, and employees to start a business. With your laptop, an internet connection, a willingness to learn — and a commitment to yourself to not quit — you will advance, step-by-step towards your goals.

And we’ll be here, rooting for you all the way.

Sherrie is a digital strategist based in the northeastern U.S. A former magazine editor, she has worked in digital marketing and media for over a decade. You can find some of her recommendations at https://sherrieg.com/