For years I did not have a plugin installed on my WordPress.org sites that allowed me to create membership sites or to provide courses and products via members-only technology. Instead, I sold my products and services on a typical webpage and then from blog pages without a member-only plugin. You can do the same until you are ready to grow your business beyond simple products, like one or two audio or videos, a few ebooks or consulting or coaching services.
How I Started
Initially, I created pages on a regular website, not a blog site, for all my products and services. In fact, that site still exists: www.copywrightcommunications.com. (My other website, www.purespiritcreations.com is also an old-school website, but I manage both of them.) I posted all my products and services there, putting some of the more complex products on “hidden” pages only accessible to those who purchased them.
I then set up a PayPal account. This allowed me to create “Buy Now” and “Add to Cart” buttons. PayPal also allows you to send buyers to a particular URL after they purchase a product.
I integrated my email provider, Aweber, with PayPal, so that every time someone purchases a product, they are signed up for my mailing list.
I also used PayPal to have coaching and consulting clients pay for sessions from my site.
Later I added in ejunkie.com. I put one or two products there in case someone wanted to become an affiliate. When I installed Premise this year, I signed up for Clickbank, which I have not found as easy to use. (They have an approval process for each product.)
For a long time this system worked for me. In the last year or two I have added pages to all my blogs that either feature my products and services with PayPal buttons or that link to my products and services pages on my other websites. This has allowed me to sell right from the blogs.
I know it sounds stupid given that I write about monetizing your blog, but for a long time I didn’t think to actually have products and services pages right on my blogs. (As the saying goes, we teach what we need to learn.) I was trying to drive traffic to my other sites instead where I already had those pages. The blogs were related to those sites and were supposed to bring awareness to them, but because I didn’t first create a website with a WordPress.org blog I had the issue of wanting and needing to drive traffic back to the original sites. And those websites have been around too long to integrate into the blog sites. (Yes, I’ve considered this and been advised not to take down either www.copywrightcommunications.com or www.purespiritcreations.com.) So now the blogs have their own products and services pages, most of which link to my other sites or to Premise landing or sales pages.
I then discovered that it was possible to password protect a normal blog page. This makes it like a mini membership site. You can create a product and place all the information on that page—your audio or video and content—and then only share the page with those who purchase it.
Every time you publish a post you have several options. You can make it public, which is what you typically do if you want all of cyberspace to read it. You also can password protect it, if you want only certain people to read it, or you can make it private so that only you or those with whom you share the URL can see it.
If you password protect a post and someone tries to access it, it will look like this when someone arrives at that URL:
If they have the password, they can access the post. You could, of course, choose to make a product page private and then put your URL on the PayPal page and send the buyer there after purchase. That works as well.
In both cases you need to send buyers an email with the URL and/or the password for their files.
I have used this method once or twice. It’s quite simple. If you can blog, you probably can implement it. You do need to learn to navigate PayPal, but that is pretty manageable, and the people there are quite helpful if you call and ask for assistance.
What I Do Now
When I began learning about the power of members-only sites, I decided I wanted to head in that direction. I saw Premise by CopyBlogger on sale, and purchased it. I didn’t use it for many months. When I tried, I found it hard to set up. I got a little help from a colleague, but stalled out quickly. That’s when I hired Kathleen Craig at www.thegoodgirlsguide.com to help me. She also taught me a lot, and now I have the ability to do quite a bit with the plugin on my own. I plan to keep learning, set up all my products and services on Premise’s sales pages and landing pages and start some members-only sites before the end of the year.
The advantage of using a membership site plugin is that it integrates everything: PayPal, your email service, the purchase of the product, and even unique passwords. Each time someone purchases a product or service, they “register” and create a username and password. They become “members” and get access to whatever they purchased. Plus, you have the ability to create nice sales pages, landing pages and so much more.
One Step at a Time
Everything is a process. I’m still learning and taking my own baby steps. I’ve started and stopped with many of my products. But I think that if you are going to spend so much time blogging you want in the end to monetize that blog—to make money from your efforts.
Yes, if you are blogging a book, you want to end up with a book and to increase book sales. But you want to look beyond the book to how you will make money from the book and from your blog long term. Books tend not to be large money makers; the products and services you sell that relate to the book bring in most income for authors.
Starting a blog is not a short-term venture. That’s why it’s good to have a plan when you begin for how you might want to monetize your work. To find out how to create a business plan for your blog and blogged book, check out my newest product, How to Build a Business Around a Blog.
Have you found other ways to sell products and services off your site? Share them in the comment section below.