How To Sell Products On Your Blog to Make Money!

Like many people out there, I’m sure you have a few (ok, a lot is more like it) items lying around the house that have no value to you whatsoever anymore. However, you don’t want to throw them away because the item is either still in good condition or still functioning as a whole. Well, why not consider selling them? Not only will you get rid of the items but you’ll also make a few bucks while you’re at it! You’ve most likely heard about eBay by now. Many users have actually gotten rich and started their own business by selling items on eBay. No doubt one of the first steps they took prior to being successful was by starting small and that included selling miscellaneous items they had lying around. Well, I can’t guarantee that you’ll become rich by reading this article but I’m hoping at the very least I’ll get you to start selling your things online. If you already have your very own self-hosted WordPress blog, why not consider selling your items directly from there? It’s like opening up your very own online store!

Why on my Blog?

You might be wondering why you would want to sell your items on your very own blog instead of on a popular platform such as eBay. By selling products on your own blog, you can list and advertise them any way you want to without limitation. You don’t have to worry about any listing fees, final values and all those other terms and values that comes with selling on eBay. With that being said though, selling on eBay is still very easy for a beginner, don’t get me wrong. However, selling on your blog allows you more freedom to do what you want. For example, you can post as many pictures as you want of your product without having to pay an extra fee. The other advantage is asking yourself, “Why not?” Your WordPress blog belongs to no one but you. It’s yours. You own it. So why not add another element to your blog and try to sell some products on it? This might even boost your reputation.

Why Not to Sell?

There’s really no major disadvantage to selling things on your blog. Like I’ve said above, you are free to do whatever it is you wish with it. Whether you’ll be successful or not is an entirely different subject matter though. One thing I might want to warn you is on how you advertise your eStore on your very own site. I know you want to sell your products but if you post too many advertisement links throughout your website, you’d come off looking desperate. Also, this might put some people off and make them not visit your site ever again.

Creating your PayPal Links and Cart

PayPalAs always, I wanted a simple system that I could integrate into my blog that will allow me to sell my products, whether new or used. I also knew that I wanted PayPal to handle the payment process. PayPal is widely known throughout the world as a trusted middleman when purchasing goods and services online. It didn’t take long for me to stumble upon a WordPress plugin called the WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart (SPSC).

You can download and read more about the Simple PayPal Shopping Cart plugin here.

This plugin is simply awesome because of how easy it works. Once installed, you can easily create “Add to cart” buttons for your products along with giving your customers a shopping cart to work with as seen on other websites. Here is how the work flow looks like once you have the plugin installed:

  1. List/advertise your product either on a separate page or on any of your blog post. You are able to advertise your products any way you wish to. Type as much or as little information about the product as you deem necessary.
  2. Use SPSC’s shortcode to place an “Add to cart” button near your product and type in that specific product’s name and price. This name and price will be reflected in the shopping cart.
  3. You can either place the shopping cart section either on your sidebar or have it integrated directly on the page as well. Once a user clicks on the purchase button, the product is then listed in the shopping cart.
  4. The customer then clicks on the PayPal button to begin the checkout process.
  5. You will receive an email from PayPal once the checkout process has completed. It is then your job to ship and deliver the product to your customer.

Selling a Product

If you are serious about selling online, I highly suggest that you learn about the differences between a PayPal Personal and Premier account. It is my understanding that you cannot sell online with a Personal account.

I’ll go through a quick run of how to advertise a product on your blog. The author of SPSC has created an awesome video tutorial going over how to use the plugin in more details which I’ve posted below. Click on the banner to view it.

Simple PayPal Shopping Cart

Once installed, go to the plugin’s settings page. You get to configure some basic settings for SPSC. You’ll get to specify your PayPal email address, the currency used, base shipping cost, return URL after a successful payment (thank you page) and others. By default, SPSC is configured to work without much tweaking. You just have to be sure that your PayPal email address is entered correctly.

SPSC Settings

If you want to created a dedicated location on your blog to advertise your product, you’ll need to create a new Page. At the moment, I have two pages created. The top level page is simply called Store. Beneath it, I’ve created a page to sell my used video games. In the future, I’ll create a dedicated page to sell books, electronics, etc. It’s up to you on how you structure it. As mentioned earlier, you don’t even need to create a page. You can sell products directly within a blog post. For example, you can write a review of a product you have on hand. You can then use SPSC to create a add to cart button directly at the end of the post so that users can purchase it.

PagesPages 2

On my Used Video Games page, I simply used a picture of the video game I am selling along with a short description. It’s imperative that you mention the price and the quantity of the item being advertised. This is one disadvantage of using a simple plugin such as SPSC. There is no management system of any kind. Next, I insert just one piece of code to finish the listing. Within the SPSC plugin settings page, there are two shortcodes to call the PayPal function. The shortcode you need is this one:

[wp_cart:PRODUCT-NAME:price:PRODUCT-PRICE:end]

Edit the PRODUCT-NAME so that it correctly reflects the name of the product you are selling. This is the name that will appear in the customer’s PayPal cart and is the sole identifier of the product. Edit the PRODUCT-PRICE so that it correctly reflects the price of the product. You do not need to enter in the $ sign. This basically is everything. If you haven’t implement the shopping cart on your sidebar, you’ll need to enter in the other shortcode for it on that page:

[show_wp_shopping_cart]

You only need one shopping cart per page if it’s not displayed on your sidebar. If you preview your page now, you’ll see your listing.

AdvertiseShortcodeListing

Checkout

Let’s see what happens when a customer decides to purchase an item from your blog.

I have my shopping cart placed on the sidebar. Initially, the customer will have an empty shopping cart. Once he/she clicks on the “Add to cart” button for a product, the shopping cart will be filled. In the shopping cart, the user is able to see the product being purchased, adjust the quantity, look at the price and being able to remove the product from the cart by pressing the big red X button. The customer can then purchase the product by clicking on the PayPal icon. They will be taken to PayPal’s website where they can login if they have an account to complete the purchase. Luckily, a customer can also pay with their credit card as a guest, though PayPal will take a percentage of it. This allows your customer to purchase your goods without having to create a PayPal account first, which might draw some people away.

EmptyFilledPurchase

Disadvantages of Using SPSC

As you can see above, it’s very easy to integrate your own store within your blog. All you need is some integration with PayPal and you’re set. However, there’s a lot to be desired.

– One concern of mine is the inability to adjust the quantity of your product. As seen above, once a user adds an item to their cart, they can adjust the quantity. If you don’t clearly state the quantity in your listing, a customer might purchase a product that you don’t have in stock. For example, I only have 1 video game for each specific listing. If a customer adds 2 in their cart and completes the purchase, I’ll need to issue a refund, which adds complexity. Also, if a customer purchases a product in which you only have 1 quantity and another customer purchases that same item prior to you taking it down in your listing, you’ll need to do another refund for the later customer.

– SPSC is not meant to be a product management system. Therefore, you will need to manually list your items for sell and in many ways, it doesn’t look very professional unless you put time and effort into it. If you are looking for a full management system for your eStore, please take a look at the WP e-Commerce plugin. This plugin offers a lot more than SPSC but it’s also a bit more complicated to manage and configure.

Good luck in your sells!

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Earn Money by Being an Amazon Affiliate!

Prior to working on AnotherWindowsBlog, I was already a huge fan of Amazon. Nothing has changed till this day. Living on an island makes it very hard for us to find products of various categories. We don’t have the luxury of being able to shun one store and hop to another to make price comparisons. This is especially true when it comes to electronics and computer parts. It was only recently when I started looking for ways to monetize my blog that I stumbled upon Amazon’s Affiliate (AA) program. Within this program, you get a small commission every time a visitor successfully purchases something through Amazon as a result of clicking a link on your website or blog. I’m going to go over how easy it is to get started and why this program is such a good idea for blogs that isn’t necessarily at the top of the blog chain.

How Amazon’s Affiliate Program Works

To cut to the chase, AA’s program is very simple to understand.

  1. You first tell Amazon that you want to join in on the program. This can be easily done by signing in to your Amazon account and filling out a short form. In this form, you basically tell Amazon what your site/blog is about, where it’s located, how many visitors average do you have per day, etc.
  2. Amazon will then investigate your site. This is done more to prevent unprofessional blogs from being in their program. These most likely include blogs that promotes pirated software or pornography and the likes. Once you have been approved (which I’m sure you will as long as everything is legit), you’ll receive an email from Amazon welcoming you into their program. You’ll have your very own associate’s ID which ties in to all the links and banners you serve on your site.
  3. You then start to create product links to place on your website or blog and hope that not only does someone click on them, but to click on them in addition to purchasing an item. Amazon includes a myriad of ways for you to build links, banners and even fully customized widgets to put on your blog to attract potential customers. The HTML codes Amazon provides allow you to simply copy and paste them into your site. Everything else is done from Amazons side.
  4. Once you’ve earned enough money, Amazon can pay you in one of three ways. First, you can request an Amazon gift card/certificate. The minimum amount you would have to earn is $10. The second method is via a direct deposit to your banking account. Again, the minimum you would have to earn is $10. The third method is for Amazon to write you a personal check. This payment method requires you to earn a minimum of at least $100.

It’s important to understand that you will still earn a commission even if someone clicks on your links but doesn’t actually buy the product you’ve advertised but something else instead. For example, I could create a link to a specific camera model I have reviewed. A visitor is first interested in the camera and clicks the link to Amazon. However, after some research, he/she decides to buy a different model. You will still earn the commission for that product. Here is a more specific definition of how Amazon actually tracks referrals:

Please know that we do not use cookies to track the activity of Associate links. Even if a customer uses Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0, with their security settings on “HIGH – Block all cookies,” we can still track referrals coming from your links during that customer’s visit to Amazon. If a customer uses the “HIGH – Block all cookies” security setting or adds Amazon to his or her list of Restricted Sites, that customer’s Amazon session ID (and hence the Associate tag on the session) last no longer than that browser visit. All eligible purchases made during that visit will be properly credited to the Associate. If the customer does not complete an order between the time they click through to Amazon and close their browser, then the Associate does not earn a revenue share because the customer’s session is lost. Referrals are tracked for 24 hours for customers who use Internet Explorer’s default settings, even if they close their browsers.

Why Use This?

There are literally many different ways to monetize your blog. One such popular method is through Google’s own Adsense program. These types of advertisements work, or rather how you get paid, when a visitor clicks on the ads displayed on your site. The more clicks you receive, the more you earn. Sounds good right? Well, here’s the problem. Unless you know what the heck you’re doing, each commission you get on each click is relativiely small. I’m talking just a couple of cents. If your blog can only attract a small amount of visitors each day, then you’ll have even bigger problems. You’ll need a huge amount of clicks just to earn a couple of dollars. Also, because your primary method of earning commission is through visitor clicks, there are a ton of rules that you have to follow, otherwise your account will be banned and all commissions earned up until that point will be lost. Amazon obviously have their own rules as well but it’s much more easier to comprehend because you don’t get paid for a click. It’s much harder to “persuade” users to actually buy something than it is for a simple click.

With AA’s program,  a visitor must actually follow through and purchase an actual product for you to earn a commission. This might seem negative at first but the commission you’ll earn is a lot more than what you’ll get with Adsense or other similar type advertisements if you don’t have a high ranking site with thousands of visitors per day. You’ll start off small with just a 4% commission rate but as you get more referrals, the percentage climbs up. The maximum is is 8.50%. It’s definitely difficult in the beginning (isn’t everything?) but I’ve earned more money through AA’s program than I did with Google’s Adsense program even though I’ve implemented the former a lot earlier. If you don’t have a lot of visitors to your blog, it makes more sense to become an AA. You’ll earn more money if you get your visitors to purchase items from Amazon through your affiliate links.

Tips and Advices

– This is not a get rich scheme nor an easy way for you to earn the most amount of money in the least amount of time. Amazon, I’m sure you would agree with me, is a trusted source. By that I mean that they are a company who has a good standing reputation as an online merchandise provider. Be glad that they even offer the AA program so that individuals like you and me can hep generate some revenue through our website. You help them make money and they do the same for you. Fair enough right?

– In order to have even a small amount of success through the AA program, you have to work for it! Everything, and I mean everything, depends on the wellness of your website. If you don’t spend time maintaining and updating your blog, don’t expect to draw a huge crowd of visitors. The less visitors you receive, the less chances of you succeeding in your advertisement campaign. You can simply do a search online on how to legitimately attract more visitors to your site and I’m sure you’ll be able to learn a lot on the subject matter.

– Target your Amazon ads based on your website as best possible. There are two modes of thinking here. If your blog or website is all about new gadgets and technology, then it would make sense for you to place Amazon banners focusing on that category. This allows your campaign to be more successful because your readers are more likely to click on your ad and buy a certain product that they can actually relate to. Why would a reader click on your banner for automobile parts when your blog is about plants and gardens? This leads to the second mode. You can choose to advertise products that are hot in the market even though it might not have anything to do with your blog. For example, smart phones are all the craze now days. Therefore, you can place a banner for that category or for a specific phone product on your site in hopes to entice users (the sidebar is the best placement for this type of ads). You need to find out what works best for you and your site.

– Try to place your ads in a location where your readers can see them the best. The top of your blog along the space between your blog title and where your post actually begins is also a good location. Your sidebar area is also an often used space for advertisements. The other important factor is choosing the correct banner/widget size for each ad placement. Again, you’ll have to play around with it for a bit before you feel comfortable. My rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t look or feel right upon first glance, then go with your instinct and change it.

– Try not to bombard your site with advertisements. This is always the rule of thumb. Rather than placing 5-6 different banners and links to Amazon in random places, you’ll be better off placing just 2-3 links in highly “noticed” areas as mentioned above. Go overboard and not only will you risk the visitor not clicking on your link but also from them not visiting your blog ever again.

By default, ads served through Amazon’s servers are automatically blocked by ad-blocking software. A simple way to bypass this is to host the advertisement images yourself while still earning the commission should someone purchase something through your link. I’ve talked to Amazon and they have confirmed that I am definitely allowed to host the Amazon advertisement pictures myself, just as long as I don’t modify anything on the original banner image itself. I am allowed to re-size the picture, however. This also means that you can even create your own custom advertisement banners and logo images! If you want to know how to accomplish this, simply send me an email and I’ll gladly show you.
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Are Advertisements Really that Evil?

This issue has been debated for quite some time already, yes, I already know that. This article is just another opinion from yet another “dude” somewhere out there in the world with a website/blog to his credit. Take it for what you will. Anyways, I thought it would be interesting for me to blog about this topic and dig deep down inside myself to see how I personally feel about this issue. Sometimes, people can be very hypocritical preaching one thing and then doing the complete opposite. I’m not going to lie. I can be like that as well at times and that’s why I like to write. It allows me to think before putting something down and so it allows me to reflect more deeply on the issue. Words on paper can sometimes be just as powerful as a voice.

What is it?

OK, to kick things off, let’s see how casual users like myself view commercials and advertisements in general. When we see a commercial on TV, there are a couple of emotions that can be emitted depending on the type of person you are. Well, actually, now that I think about it, it actually boils down to whether you like them or not! Some users may view it as a complete waste of time and want nothing more than for their regular programming to air again. On the other hand, there are some users that don’t mind the commercials in general but view it as just a intermission. They can either go about their restroom break during these commercials or in other cases, look for actual services and products of interest offered in the commercials. In the end, commercials are a form of advertisement. I think that much we can all agree on. While that might not hold true for 100% of the commercial content out there, it does hold a significant portion enough. Why? Well, it’s very simple. Money. Companies pay big bucks to have their commercials run on TV in hopes of getting you interested in their product or services. The more chances of your commercial being viewed (think during Superbowl or one the many popular TV dramas)  will obviously cost you a lot more compared to a commercial being broadcast at 3AM in the morning where everyone is most likely asleep. Heck, I’m sure there are many commercials out there that cost more to have it put out to public for broadcast than it is to actually create the video commercial itself! Bottom line is, commercials cost money.

So what about online advertisements? They can be considered somewhat like commercials but in many cases, much less intrusive in that it doesn’t take you completely away from the page you are viewing (although there are exceptions to this). Also, you have an option of whether to view the ad or to skip it entirely. That part is important to keep in mind when reading the rest of this article. With commercials, you have no choice but to watch it unless you are watching it pre-recorded from your DVR in which you can then fast forward it. With advertisements on websites, if an advertisement excites your interest, clicking on it will take you to a different website for more information on that product or service. If the advertisement fails, then nothing usually happens. The advertisement might be a bit distracting depending on the type being used but generally, it’s just going to sit there.

Site Adverts

How it Works

With all that being said, advertisement sucks! Well, at least that’s what a lot of people think. It’s a distraction and a complete waste of time. However, they don’t realize the importance of those advertisements. Once again though, it comes down to money and revenue. Many services can continue to offer you content because they have a generous revenue earned through their advertisement partners. A very simple example is Hulu. Hulu allow users to catch up on their favorite TV episodes online for free as long as they have a decent broadband connection. Yes, free. What many of these users don’t stop and think about is how this is made possible. Surely the giant TV companies and production studios isn’t going to give Hulu a free pass and allow them to freely stream their content on their site for free. Come on, money talks.  Hulu must pay some sort of licensing fee and whatnot to be able to give you those content. But how is it going to earn the money to pay those big companies if they don’t charge users a single penny?! I’m sure you catch on by now. By accepting to show advertisements to these users, Hulu is getting paid by these actual advertisement companies and earn revenue. Because Hulu is such a big name service, I’m sure many third-party services and product companies out there would love to pay Hulu to broadcast their commercials in hopes to reach a larger audience base which in turn would lead to more people hopefully purchasing or spreading word about their product.

Hulu Advert

Now let’s switch over to the web. Many freelance bloggers write content for everyone to read. In many cases, these content is generally of some help to the readers. These bloggers typically do not get paid whatsoever and they create content purely on their own free time. Is there a way for some of these bloggers to generate some revenue in hopes to either pay for their monthly web host or even go as far as generating their sole monthly income? Well, advertisement is the answer once again. By place adverts throughout their website in hopes of users clicking on them, they can generate some revenue. How much they earn is completely dependent on how effective their advertisements are and the amount of visitors they get on a daily basis. Advertisements is an easy way to help the content owner earn some revenue for taking the time to put together articles and other informational pieces for the general public.

Site Advert 2

The Problem

As mentioned earlier, many people don’t take too well on any form of advertisements. Many users expect everything out there on the Internet to be freely available. Therefore, advertisements are viewed not as a revenue channel for the source provider but as just an annoyance. Hardly would users stop and think about how it is possible that they are getting the content in the first place when it comes to television shows or that the actual person who wrote that helpful article they’ve just read is a human being just like them and they need to make a living as well, no matter how small or big. I’m sure there are people out there who would immediately dismiss a blog article the first chance they see an advertisement banner. For some reason, they either believe that the site is not reputable or that the owner of the blog is just begging for money. Commercials are nothing more than a “plot” by the big evil companies to brainwash us into buying yet another product we don’t really need. It sounds funny but I can assure you that it’s happening out there.

Page 2: My Opinion + AdBlock Plus –>

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