When you hear the phrase, “Earn a living with your blog” do you automatically think about digital products? If so, you’re not alone.
Aside from ads/sponsorships (which all non-blogger-muggles believe is the monetization holy grail), most bloggers believe digital products are the best way to grow your business and find that sweet passive income. It is the obvious choice, right?
By creating digital products for your business, you have little overhead, you don’t need to worry about packaging or shipping, they can be easily updated, and your scalability is endless. You can also be relatively hands-off as your digital product customer base grows, leaving you time to create more and more digital products for your shop.
But while these information products in fact may be the backbone of the professional blogging industry, there’s still something beautiful and unique to be said about physical products. I’m talking tangible, hold-it-in-your-hands, feel-the-weight-of-it, and put-in-on-your-mantle kind of physical products.
The benefits of physical products
Yes, physical products will take up more of your time and money. You’ll have to get it manufactured, packaged, shipped, and stored. But don’t let that scare you. Creating a physical product for your blog can give you an incredible and unique advantage over all your digital product producing peers.
- Physical products generally have a high perceived value.
As you probably know, the perceived value can affect how much a customer is willing to pay for your product. So, in this case, a physical product will almost always beat a digital product. There can be an actual value placed on it because you can see it, use it, and know what it does.
- You can do demonstrations with a physical product.
Selling a digital product that you can’t see involves a lot of salespersonship. You often need to rely on social proof and faith in your brand to make sales happen. But with a physical product, a customer can touch it and feel it. They can actually see how it works, what it does, and how it will benefit their life. No brand faith required.
- Physical products can be used as an extension of your digital products.
Think of what you’re teaching on your blog in your courses, eBooks, etc. Whether you’re educating your audience on cooking, finances, wellness, or leadership, there is always a possibility to create a physical product that can correspond with your lessons.
“I look at the products in my Etsy shop as an extension of my blog. Through my blog, I encourage people to live positively, purposefully, and productively, and the products in my Etsy shop reflect that. I write a lot about productivity, and the notepads I create allow people to take that one step further and really implement my tips.
I also sell coffee mugs and t-shirts. For me, wearing a shirt or drinking from a coffee mug with a fun quote is certainly something small, but also something that can genuinely lift my spirits, and I hope others can take away the same positivity.”-Erin of Very Erin
- There’s an added personal touch when you create something tangible and hand it off to another person.
That bit of humanity is important to keep in today’s world as we take steps further and further away from how our grandparents did business. That personal touch can also help your customers feel like they're part of your community.
When I created my site back in 2013, I never thought I'd sell physical products. But I have found that the physical products contribute to the sense of community. It's something your audience can hold that represents the space you occupy online and in their lives. … It was and remains important to me to develop and maintain an authentic, non-pushy way to sharing our offerings with our audience. So we focus on providing value to our list, and in return they become an even more invested member of our community with the mug to prove it. – Tonya at MyFabFinance
There truly is a simplistic beauty to selling a physical product.
The downsides of selling physical products
But it’s not all happy customers and hand-crafted work. There are some big drawbacks to get over if you want to sell physical products.
Businesses that create and sell physical products operate on a very different financial basis than those creating digital products. They have to think about the cost of manufacturing and shipping. There’s overhead, inventory, and storing to also consider. After all, once you’ve created your product, you have to put it somewhere, and I’m guessing you don’t want your living room to become your warehouse.
The lack of scalability
Creating and keeping up with your physical product is going to take a lot of your time, particularly at the beginning. Prototyping, testing, creating, and manufacturing an actual physical product is no easy feat. Unless you can afford to hire a team that handles that day-to-day creation, packaging, shipping, and customer support, it will be difficult to scale your business.
While these are definitely big hurdles, they are by no means insurmountable. People do it every day. Are you ready to be one of those people?
How to sell physical products on your blog
Selling a product online is easier than ever these days. A newbie could have a storefront up and running in no-time with shops like Etsy and Shopify. And you really do have your pick of the litter when it comes to choosing an ecommerce platform. But when you’re selling a physical product, there are a couple other steps you need to think about.
Of course, you need to figure out how to manufacture your product. Will you make it on your own or will you outsource it? Or will you even be selling something you’ve created? There’s a ton of bloggers out there selling other businesses' goods. Think about all of your friends who sell essential oils or resell items on Etsy and eBay. They’re all selling physical products online!
But for the sake of not keeping you here all day reading this one blog post, let’s just talk about the beast that is shipping.
What is a fulfillment center?
Making the sale is nowhere near the end of your journey. Now it’s time to actually get your physical product to your expectantly waiting new customer. There are a couple ways you can go.
- You could handle packaging and shipping on your own/ with your team
- You could look into a fulfillment center
Going at it on your own has it’s benefits. It allows you to be flexible and it’s cheap (yes please!). Most bloggers selling physical products will start out shipping on their own. It’s basically wise to stay in this DIY stage until your business is growing and you’re creating enough revenue to expand your process.
But once your business has reached the point of your inventory taking over your living space, it’s time to look into third-party shipping and fulfillment. And it will be pretty obvious when the time comes.
- You’ll be too busy to spend hours boxing your product up.
- You’ll wish you were working on a new product instead of standing in line at the post office.
- You won’t know how to keep up with your orders with just you and your small team.
- And most importantly, you’ll have the wisdom to realize you have enough money to outsource so you can move onto bigger-picture, high-level thinking.
Moving your product to a fulfillment center is a big leap, but well worth it when the time comes.
- You can avoid long-term leases from renting your own warehouse space which also leads to saving money from not having to hire staff as you scale.
- Using a dedicated, efficient fulfillment center will also save you money in the long-run because they can leverage packaging and shipping costs.
- Finally, by letting a professional take care of all your logistics, you are free to put your mind on the creative side to your business. You’ll suddenly have more time to do that work that will keep growing your business.
The next step is to find the right fulfillment center for you and your physical product. All fulfillment centers function differently and many specialize in certain areas of business. Try to find one that specializes in your industry and already works with businesses similar to yours. This will help you know that they can handle whatever needs you might have.
Pros and Cons of Using Amazon’s FBA
One of the more popular fulfillment centers right now is Amazon. I mean, we use Amazon for everything from ordering granola bars to Christmas gifts, so it makes perfect sense to add them into our business process, right?
Amazon’s FBA can be your one stop shop for warehousing, packaging, and shipping. If you haven’t checked into their services yet for your physical products, it’s time to look now. Here’s a quick overview of the why’s and why not’s to choosing FBA for your fulfillment needs:
- No hassle shipping and returns. Never again waste your time at FedEx. Amazon will handle all your packaging, shipping, and even returns from customers!
- It’s cheap. No matter what stage you’re at in your business, it’s likely you can afford to work with FBA.
- Automatic Prime. When you use FBA, your products are automatically available for Prime delivery. Gotta love that 2-day, free shipping.
- Multi-channel fulfillment. You’re not limited to only selling on Amazon. You can point any storefront you have to your FBA account and Amazon will handle it all.
- Stale inventory. Once you reach the stage of shipping thousands of products, it’s possible you’ll lose track of what you have in the warehouse. You might end up storing more than you need and end up paying rent for product that will not end up selling.
- Difficulty in shipping to Amazon. Amazon has a strict ASIN/UPC system. This means you have to label each and every one of your products individually, pack them up into multiple shipments and then send them off.
- Limited access. You can’t just walk into the Amazon warehouse if you’re hearing that there are quality problems with your inventory. You will need to either have it removed and shipped back to you or rely on Amazon’s employees to double check the product inside their fulfillment centers. Not completely ideal.
Ready to sell physical products on your blog?
Now that your mind is buzzing with the possibilities of selling physical products, it’s time to make your move. Create a storefront, find a fulfillment center, and get selling! The world is waiting for your entrepreneur-focused books, cheeky coffee mugs, gluten free brownie mix, hand-dyed fabrics, beer-scented candles, essential oil starter packs, or whatever it is you’re selling.