Successful Blog Lies: It’s Easy to Sell Products Online

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Successful Blog Lies: It's Easy to Sell Products Online - For Sale by Owner

I don’t know about you, but I get super-tired of listening to “Internet marketers” or people who like to say that they are Internet marketers make broad statements about how “anyone” can make money online.

It’s like saying that anyone can sell used cars.

The truth is that you need to learn how to sell online and selling products online is not easy.  It’s work, just like all entrepreneurial pursuits.

This year on 8 Women Dream, I’ve been discussing what makes a successful blog and different ways of using it for business purposes (to make money) or to launch your career.  Both are possible with blogging, but both require real effort.

Sorry to be the one to break that to you.

Selling online is still selling.  It’s a learned talent, a bit of luck, and lots of work.

Product sales that work for one online company may not work for another — even when they seem to have similar audiences. Think about Yahoo, Bing and Google — they are great examples of the reality that just because you have similar types of products (search engine, news and images) does not guarantee that you’ll be a success, or covet the number one position in your market.

The Internet has become a crowded place with plenty to distract everyone.

Understanding what your audience will buy from you takes real planning combined with a lot of trial and error (did I write A LOT?).  You have to  understand who your audience is and what they’d love to buy from you — and it may very well be something that they don’t even realize they need yet.

Understanding your audience isn’t you thinking about what you’d like to sell.  It’s about understanding what they’d like to buy.  What you feel you should sell often misses the mark because something you’re sure will sell fast — falls flat — while something you think is ridiculous sells like crazy — because you didn’t understand your audience.  Successful selling requires that you do your homework in the beginning and commit to learning about your audience for the long haul.  They should become like family staying with you over the holidays:  they won’t leave no matter what you do.

Yes.  This requires work.

There’s research before the marketing; marketing before the selling; selling correctly before the sale; and continued marketing efforts until the product has run its course before you move on.

You begin your product selling idea by asking your audience what they want with surveys and testing other online products.  This is the first step to finding out if there is anyone interested in buying from you, or if they even care enough about you to finish a simple survey.  The more work you do to analyze your market upfront and engage with your future buyers, the more you will save yourself time, heartache, and money down the road.

Where do you go to find other people’s products to test?

A great place to start your product research is to set up a Clickbank account and look at what’s hot in the Clickbank Marketplace –

 Sell Products Online with clickbank marketplace

Once you’ve set up your account you can look at other affiliate offers (products created by other people that you can test on your blog or through your emails).  In the Clickbank Marketplace you can sort affiliate products by topic. I decided (for this post) to look at the Self-Help: Motivational/Transformational category, since 8 Women Dream falls under this main category online. The “Grav” stats tell the number of people currently selling the product.  I tend to look at “gravs” over 30.

For the purpose of this post I located the “Go Big” program by Kristen Howe since she teaches what 8 Women Dream shouts every. single. day:

Let me ask you this…

How long have you struggled? How many years have you settled for less than you desire? How many dreams have you given up on and ignored because they were ‘Just Dreams’?

I know you are finally ready to transform your life, but if you are like most people out there, you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

Chances are you that you are sick of failure and feel like you have tried everything but have only ended up with no results and less money?

And in this day and economy you are probably scared that the ‘gurus’ and ‘experts’ will just take your money and leave you hanging with no one left to trust?

I want to introduce you to my friend Kristen.

When it comes to helping people get all of the money, success and happiness they desire, Kristen is the real deal…

Trust me when I tell you that she knows your frustration, she knows your fear — she’s been there and was living a mediocre life that seemed to just happen to her until she made the decision to live her life on purpose.

Most people put their lives on hold day after day.

I know how easy it is to do that…

I know how easy it is to tell yourself that once this or that happens you are going to change your life…

I know how easy it is to push your dreams back just a few weeks more and more and more…

I’ll tell you now, this email isn’t for everyone…

In fact, it may not be for you..

But, if you honestly feel like you can’t wait to start any longer, then this is for you.

And if you are really ready (and please be honest) then Kristen is ready to go all in with you!

Click Here!

Listen, I know Kristen’s Go Big Now! VIP Program will give you the tools, knowledge and accountability you need to get a massive jump start.

I’m going to be completely honest with you here…

The Go Big Now! VIP Program costs money…

But Kristen has made sure it will cost you much less than what it would for you to get a mocha latte or any other crazy coffee drink every day.

She’s not looking to get you into the program and then hope you forget that you are in it while you keep paying money…

And she’ll even let you use the entire program (including the group calls with her) Risk Free for 2 whole months. If you don’t like it or use it she’ll give you your money back…no questions,
no pressure, no stress…that’s it!

Click Here!

Go Big!

Catherine Hughes of 8 Women Dream

P.S. I’m serious that this program is only for you if you are completely ready to get clear, find your purpose and live an extraordinary life. If you aren’t quite ready to do what it takes then this isn’t for you, but if you are ready — I mean REALLY ready — then this is the program for you…

Click Here!

If a sizable number of 8 Women Dream readers were to click through and purchase Kristen’s program, then 8 Women Dream gets a percentage of the sales and I get a feel for what my readers might looking for in an 8WD-based product.   If no one shows interest, then this is not the kind of product my reader is looking for or I haven’t connected emotionally with them enough to develop trust.  A sizable amount of purchases would indicate that I should consider creating my own version the product, except with a spin or an angle that is uniquely me.

You have to be careful how you analyse product sales data because your audience may be intimidated by price, by the delivery (videos – pdfs – podcasts – mail), by the  promise offered, or by what the product lacks.  It may have nothing to do with you at all.

The key here, my successful blog dreamers, is research.

I’ve used polls on 8 Women Dream to gain feedback for product development.  I’ve flat-out asked, “What do you want?” from our readers –and I got answers!  Imagine that.

This revelation lead to the creation of my very first, rather small ebook on how to figure out what your dream is.  It sold, but I was raising a teenage boy while working full-time which took me away from marketing after publishing (an extremely important step and more work).

The next product I tried after the ebook, (with Heather of 8 Women Dream) was a CafePress store.   But just because we put products up in an online store doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve nailed down exactly what our readers will buy.  Just because readers may have purchased a similar item form another site doesn’t necessarily mean it will sell well on 8 Women Dream store.

Prior to the launch of the 8WD CafePress store, we ran polls and held contests to figure out what our audience wanted from us and came up with a set of products with CafePress that we thought resonated with our readers. (CafePress is an online retailer of stock and user-customized on-demand products — thanks Wikipedia).  CafePress was easy to set up and since they handle everything (for a very high wholesale rate) it’s an inexpensive way to test potential product types.

I then set up an Amazon Affiliates account to test products I absolutely believe our readers would love and tested my ability at judging what they’d be interested in purchasing.

Top clicked on and purchased products featured on 8WD from Amazon —


Thought Cards

My First ebook

 Business Plans

Big Dream Plans

Inspiration Bling



These top Amazon clicks and purchases told me that our readers are looking for both solid information and inspiration.  In the future, they could be interested in how-to guides helping them plan and execute their dream and possibly some inspirational 8 Women Dream bands, but I make sure to take my time here by putting this idea out there and testing the reaction —

Next, I am testing video, because it’s quite possible that our readers would like us to create really fabulous videos and training video series on relevant topics just like like Seth Godin —

Seth Godin: The Art of Marketing


Doing video doesn’t require that your videos be perfect in the beginning.  You start small and invest time in offering some simple videos that offer a value to the viewer and see how they are shared.  Always start small and let your audience guide you.

Successful product launches are all about testing and testing isn’t “easy.”

Steve Jobs used to often share the story about how they kept getting their product launches wrong in the early days of Apple because they didn’t truly understand their customer.  Once they understood who their customer really was and what they needed, then appealed to them on an emotional level, the rest, as they say, “is history.”

They found out the cardinal rule of being successful with the public:  It’s not about you.  It’s about them.

Before you can even think about selling products online you have to spend time understanding and growing your audience along with your online presence. You have to focus on great content. You have to give stuff away for free.  You have to build trust and building trust takes time.  But most importantly, you must know who you really are and how in the h*** you are going to share your best self with the world.

They’re waiting.

Think Steve Jobs, Seth Godin…

and test on.


PS. Watch the video. It’s Seth Godin.

  • Bob Cummings

    This is a very information article on using Amazon to sell products as a preliminary product test. I would take this one step further by using the Amazon product that you wish to test sell. For example, if you want to eventually sell a recipe book on your website, then create articles showing how to use some of the Amazon cooking utensils that would work well with a recipe you will be placing in the recipe book. Maybe there is a type of baking pan that makes the recipe turn out the best. Use the Amazon settings for when people click to view the product on Amazon, that it shows the number of people who viewed the product that also purchased it. This way you can test how connected viewers are to your articles, the recipe, and recommendations from you. It will test if they will be interested in working your recipes and buying a recipe book created by you. You could even do this with video and share the pan and then have a place under the video where the viewer can buy the items used to create the recipe. This is just one kind of example, but try and figure out a way to incorporate your Amazon test products as part of the articles you are writing if you haven’t tried this already. Your articles are very good Catherine. Keep up the good work. -B

  • Lee

    Catherine, I would also recommend to your readers that they run a Google search for “best selling
    products on Amazon”. This will give you an idea of what types of products people are buying online. You will see categories like, electronics, books, clothing and video games, etc. I believe that selling digital products online is very difficult. To be successful doing this, you must really know what you are doing. Marketing physical
    products can be the better way to go depending on your audience. The average person wants to know
    what he or she is buying and that’s hard to do with a digital product.

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