When you have a successful blog up and running, doesnít it make sense to make a little money out of it? If you already enjoy writing and maintaining your blog, there are lots of things you can do to start seeing some financial rewards for your efforts.
Itís not as difficult as you might think. In setting up your blog, youíve already done a lot of the hard work. Youíve fine-tuned your knowledge of administrative interfaces and customizations, you already have an established voice and personality, and hopefully, by now, you have some devoted followers.
Ecommerce photo by Shutterstock
By following this step-by-step guide you can convert your blog effortlessly into a successful ecommerce site.
Discover Your Niche
The first thing you need to do is start thinking like a business. What is your brand strategy going to be?
To help you decide, answer these questions:
- Who is your audience? What do they like and dislike?
- How can you use this information to inform the feel of your brand?
- What is your unique selling point?
You could probably answer these questions without thinking too hard, but, if youíre not sure, it doesnít hurt to ask your readers.
Planning is the key to success, so before you get started, think carefully about your siteís informational architecture.
Products should be in logical groups, arranged and labeled. You also need to decide between horizontal and vertical navigation.
Try a WordPress Plugin
There are lots of ecommerce plugins to start out with, such as:
This is a great free plug in thatís easy to install and set up. You can customize the design as you like it, and itís compatible with all the major payment options like PayPal and Google Checkout. Unfortunately, however, WP ecommerce doesnít let you customize invoices.
Not free, but worth the $55 it costs to get started. Itís super flexible and allows those who use QuickBooks to transfer orders for easy accounting. You can also track sales, and it allows you to choose from various shipping methods. The support that comes with it is pretty good, too.
This plug in lets you host auctions on your blog. No longer will you have to worry about listing fees, seller fees, or fees of any other variety, because this easy to install plugin lets you turn your blog into an auction site for free.
All of these are great for testing the waters of ecommerce while you work on increasing your stock of products and customers.
Once youíre comfortable with the basics, you could even add supplementary plugins such as customer contact forms and customer forums, so that your customers can get in touch with you and each other (which can only serve to improve your customer relations).
Get Serious and Upgrade
Once youíre used to running an ecommerce store, itís possible that youíll make a great success of it. But what happens then? Using WordPress works brilliantly when youíre just starting out, but as your site grows, the likelihood is that youíll need to upgrade to more robust ecommerce services to give you the power and flexibility you really need to develop and expand.
… think big! Your blog readers already trust your opinion, or they wouldnít be reading your blog. They will see your products as recommendations, and this can really give you the edge over traditional online retailers. Transforming yourself from a blogger into a business person couldnít be simpler!
Author: Luke Clum is a Seattle based designer and web developer. Despite his local rainy weather, you can frequently find him out hiking and alpine climbing in the mountains. Follow him on Twitter @lukeclum