Blogging is a mainstay of the internet. Anyone, anywhere can set up a blog with ease and start sharing their thoughts, experiences, and dreams. There are over 400 million blogs now, in various forms.
More recently, e-commerce has grown in sophistication, scale, and accessibility. Accordingly, a lot of blogs have started to monetize. You may be thinking about doing the same. Setting up an online store for your blog is an exciting step, but it’s also one easily mishandled.
This piece will walk you through common mistakes bloggers make when setting up online stores, and what you can do to avoid making them yourself.
[bctt tweet=”Four Major Mistakes Bloggers Make When Opening Online Stores” username=”blogherald”]
1. Rushing in
It may sound obvious, but it bears mentioning every time. Don’t. Rush. In. Setting up shop online is an exciting prospect. You want to get your products out there. Maybe you’ve made prints of your artwork, or written an entire ebook. You’re desperate to share that with people and, ideally, earn some money in the process. Blogs can be set up in minutes, but online stores are best approached more slowly.
Healthy online stores live and die by planning. Shipping costs, refund policies, marketing plans (more on this below) — all this and more need to be accounted for before the store goes live. The humblest online store is still a business, which means it needs a business plan. Take your time, dig into every single detail, and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
2. Making a store that isn’t a natural extension of the brand
Blogs are brands. They have names, logos, themes, a tone of voice, but most importantly, an ethos readers connect with. A store should be a natural continuation of those qualities. If you blog about community gardening, an online store of drop-shipped (third party) dressing gowns isn’t going to sit very well.
If something about your blog resonates with people, it only makes sense for that to carry over into the online store. Hurrah for Gin is a great example of a blog which got this right. Wry, illustrated tales of parenthood is the blog’s focus, so it sells prints and cards of said illustrations. The store is an appropriate, tasteful extension of the blog.
An Organised Life is another positive example. The blog, as you’ve probably sussed out, is about keeping organized in modern life. Accordingly, its online store is full of calendars, diaries, and other stationery. The transition between content and commerce is seamless, because they’re both in alignment with the brand.
Really think about the products you’re selling and how they relate to your blog. Browse any online store worth its salt and you’ll see products in line with the tone, history, and content with the site as a whole – take note. Consider which e-commerce platform best compliments your needs. If a store feels out of step with the blog, then it won’t inherit the blog’s loyalty and goodwill.
3. No marketing plan
You could have the most marvelous online store on the internet, but if people don’t know it’s there business is going to be very, very quiet. Have a marketing strategy. How are you going to get the word out about your fabulous new store? This needs to happen in the planning stage, as a good campaign takes time to set up.
Effective marketing can happen on a shoestring budget. You’ll have the regular outlets of course — email list, social media, and the blog itself — but push further for the store launch, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Paid social media, guest posts on other blogs, and targeting aggregator sites like Reddit can all add up to solid launch campaign.
Paid social can seem a bit daunting, but it’s a super accessible way for blogs to get the word out. From Facebook to Twitter, you can set your own budget and work backwards from there. Plus, the better you know your audience the cheaper ads will be. As 3D printer company Robo recently showed, a savvy paid social campaign can return massive value.
4. Failure to warn readers
Don’t spring online stores on your readers out of the blue. Blogging is about communication and sharing. There’s no reason why your online store should be any different. Playing it close to your chest is at odds with the openness of blogging.
Setting up an online store is a great story. Share it! Involve your readers on the journey and be transparent about what’s worked and what’s been difficult. There’s a tendency to tighten our lips where money is involved, but that’s getting harder and harder to justify online — especially in the blogging sphere.
Not only does it reaffirm your authenticity (because you’re being authentic), but it addresses ‘selling out’ claims head-on. Beauty and fashion bloggers do this particularly well because products are integral to what they do anyway. From 5 Inch and Up’s tasteful collaborations to Fleur De Force’s pointed disclosure page, transparency strengthens trust.
No-one’s reading your blog because of how secretive and tight-lipped it is. A store is just another step in your blog’s journey. Treat it that way. Be open and honest about what you’re working on. Odds are your readers will respond with understanding and interest.
Are these the only mistakes bloggers make when setting up their online store? No. There are too many bumps in the road for one writer to cover them all. By and large, you’ll be ok. Kinks happen, and most can be ironed out.
The four highlighted here are major missteps that you should have on your mind from the outset. A strong foundation is essential to a healthy online store. In blogging the spirit is just as important as the business acumen.
This post was written by Fred O’ Brien. He is a writer and researcher at Website Builder Expert, a leading resource for helping people get online and learn more about growing their online presence, whether it’s for a blog or a new business. Fred’s writes about web design trends and is interested in the evolution and power of content marketing.