Monetization always seems to be a hot topic with blogging these days. Today, I’d like to talk to you about physical products. For good reasons, many consider it one of the more difficult ways to monetize your blog, but for some sites I think they are a natural fit.
I’d like to walk you through some questions and considerations to help you decide if physical products are right for you, either right now or in your blogging future. I have used many on my page, PlumDeluxe and I know that the ladies here use them on their pages, as well.
1. What kinds of physical products are of interest to your typical reader?
This is the most important question when considering physical products – or any monetization method, for that matter. If your offering does not offer any value to your reader, solve a problem for them, then why would they purchase it? If you’re not sure, why don’t you survey your readers – or ask yourself, what products could be paired with some of your most popular content? Or, if you run network advertising (e.g. Adsense), take a look and see what types of ads appear on your site often.
Here are some real-life examples to get your creativity flowing:
- Food Blog: While ebooks are the rage, you can still have success with physical products – Lucy Saunders had a successful Kickstarter for a print cookbook. Krista Bjorn send her blog readers to her Etsy shop with custom kitchenware. I’ve also seen blogs selling their own dry spice packs.
- Travel Blog: Beers and Beans made their own travel scarves. Very unique (and probably easier to have made than their own luggage).
- Lifestyle Blog: The site I founded, Plum Deluxe, launched an online organic teashop to appeal to the “slow down” lifestyle promoted on the site. The site you’re on right now has a section on selling essential oils, which appeals both to the “balanced” life & is something readers may want to use on their own blogs and businesses.
I suggest doing some serious brainstorming here and come up with several concepts or options to choose from.
2. What are your options for sourcing your physical product?
Ok, now that you have some concepts for physical products that might work well, it’s time to think about how you would actually get those products made. Thanks to the Internet, there are options. For example:
- Make it yourself. To ensure you have a unique product, you could just make it yourself. The travel scarves above are a great example of that. If you make it yourself, you also need to design packaging, as well as house inventory and ship it.
- Wholesale it from someone else. Maybe your ideal product already exists. You can simply purchase product wholesale and then sell it on your website with a markup. This takes away some of the hassles of product creation, but also means you now have a dependency on a supplier & are selling something readers could find elsewhere. Google “<product name> wholesale” to explore your options.
This is a point where I should mention you have another option. If you come up with a great physical product that already exists, and none of the options above feel good to you, you can simply go with the affiliate marketing model – where you send people to the manufacturer/brand to order the product, and you get a portion of the sale.
3. What are your options for fulfilling your physical product orders?
This is where the rubber meets the road – you need to outline how your customer will order and receive your physical product. I could write another whole blog post about this – do not underestimate this piece! Some things you should think about:
Payment Processing: How will you take payment? If you take payment on your website, you’ll need to secure the site for credit cards.
Inventory: Will you have inventory in your house? How do you make sure you have enough inventory but not too much?
Shipping: Will you ship everything yourself? How much will shipping be – you need to charge customers correctly. Will you partner with someone like Amazon.com or another drop ship supplier to have items sent?
4. How will you perform customer service?
Last but not least is the customer service piece. What happens if a customer has a problem – with ordering online, with their shipment, with questions about which product is for them? The internet comes to our rescue, making it easier with emails, but don’t forget to ensure you have policies and processes in place to support your customers after they’ve made a purchase.
With all that to think about, why even bother with physical products? It sounds like a colossal pain in the rear end, right? Maybe – but my most successful monetization strategy in the past 8 years has been my physical product.
The main reasons I would choose physical products: 1) they give you an opportunity to put a unique product out into the world, and 2) they allow you to build a stronger relationship with your readers.
Physical products are not for everyone – but they’re worth looking at!
Bio: Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of PlumDeluxe.com, the website that helps you create moments that matter. He runs the company’s growing organic, loose leaf tea line, based in Portland, Oregon. He also teaches the popular How to Improve Your Website & Make More Money course on Udemy, with nearly 1k students.