These days, “sales” is perceived as a negative five-letter word.
Sales has gotten a bad rep. When you hear the word “sales,” you probably think of pushy salespeople or telemarketing calls.
The stigma of sales affects bloggers too. Lots of bloggers are afraid to sell to their readers. They don’t want to lose the audience they worked so hard to build.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can successfully use your blog posts to sell without being salesy.
And no, I’m not going to recommend ads. (Surprise!)
You might be wondering how blog posts can increase your revenue.
The answer is simple: reciprocity.
Reciprocity happens when you give immense value to your audience. In return, they feel compelled to help you out. In our case, that happens when they buy from you.
It’s a simple formula. If your blog posts are top-notch, your readers will be open to buying from you. But they’re not just “buying.” They’re supporting a resource they love.
And when you pair reciprocity with blogging, the results are powerful. You’ll sell, but your readers will never think you’re selling to them. It’s a friendly offer.
I know, it sounds too good to be true. Let me prove it to you with these 9 ways of using your latest blog post to generate sales.
1. Provide a ton of value
Value should be your number one priority as a blogger. I’ll even go a step further and say that it’s impossible to run a truly great blog without providing a crap ton of real value.
But can you sell based on value alone?
It’s a good question. So let’s look at what happens when you take price out of the equation.
Tom Morkes had a blog that people really liked, but he realized it wasn’t profitable. So he wrote an e-book and released it to a whopping 166 subscribers. Don’t laugh yet—the results will astound you.
Tom chose a pay-what-you-want method so his readers would have a choice. And lots of his readers chose a price of $0.
But Tom’s readers contributed an average of $15 per e-book. And he made an impressive $493.50 in the first month by offering something free.
See the numbers for yourself:
This is a fantastic case study to show just how well value can sell. If you have immensely valuable content, you can sell like crazy even if you offer it free.
2. Link to a relevant product
Linking to one of your products is a simple but effective strategy for getting eyeballs to your storefront.
But here’s the catch: you have to share a relevant product.
If your blog post is about making the best pumpkin pie and you include a link to your guide to wine tasting, the conversion rate won’t be very high. That’s because your readers are there for the pumpkin pie.
But if you share a link to your guide to pumpkin-pie-making with those same readers, you’ll see much better results.
Here’s Carol Tice from Make A Living Writing using this strategy:
To give you some context, Carol’s post is about a freelancing scam. By sharing this product at the end of the blog post, she’s letting readers in on a surefire method of revenue.
Solve your readers’ problems by sharing relevant products with them, and you’ll make their day.
3. Describe an insanely valuable use of your product
It makes sense why no one would want to buy your product unless they saw its benefits.
So don’t beat around the bush—show off your products’ benefits.
But it’s important that you’re not just praising your product as the best thing since sliced bread. You have to give readers specific, detailed reasons why your product is great.
MailChimp does this excellently. Their post “Why Clients Render Email Differently” mentions their Inbox Preview feature, but it doesn’t read like an advertisement for that feature.
Instead, it talks about the similarities and differences in email clients that readers should be aware of.
This part is crucial: You can get value from this article even if you don’t buy their product.
Your blog post should still be value-packed. You’re simply letting your readers know that your product provides a shortcut to the results they want.
In other words, don’t dangle your product in front of your readers’ faces and say, “You have to buy this to get anything good.” Give them the good stuff in the post itself.
4. Blog about your customers
Sharing your customers’ experiences with your product can work wonders. Your readers get to see how your product is benefiting real people, and they’ll become more interested without feeling pressured.
TOMS does this with its “Locals Who Give Back” blog post series. Each post profiles a TOMS customer who is making a difference in their local community.
Don’t worry—you don’t have to be TOMS to do this effectively.
All you have to do is make heroes out of your customers. Listen to ordinary people’s stories, and broadcast them to your audience. Your readers will instantly connect with these stories, and that means they’ll connect more with your brand.
5. Do affiliate marketing (the right way)
There’s a reason why tried-and-true methods are tried-and-true. Affiliate marketing is no exception.
But you know what I can’t stand? When bloggers try to hide the fact that they’re using affiliate links.
If your readers really love your blog, they’ll be more than happy to help you out by buying something they were already interested in anyway.
Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income has two great rules for affiliate marketing:
Don’t be an intrusive salesperson who hawks products to their readers. Be your readers’ friend, and recommend products that will improve their lives.
6. Fix a problem
People will always have problems, and they will always want to fix those problems. That’s where you come in.
By fixing your readers’ problems with your blog posts, you’re earning their trust. Eventually, they’ll want to check out what you have to offer.
SumoMe does this by regularly posting monster guides that cover a subject exhaustively. And if you look at their articles (like this guide on content upgrades), you’ll see they go over everything. They leave no stone unturned.
But you don’t have to write thousands of words to fix problems—shorter can work too. No matter the approach you choose, make sure you’re thorough when fixing your readers’ problems. Don’t give them a temporary duct tape fix—give them a long-term remedy.
7. Give away a preview
You know what the trouble with a lot of products is? They’re all talk. Any product can sound great with a well-written description.
But if you know you’ve got something good, give your readers a free preview. Let them in on the action so they can see for themselves just how great your product is.
If you have a subscription service, give your readers a free trial. If you have an e-book, give away the first chapter.
Here’s my challenge to you: Give away more than you think you should.
When Seth Godin released his book Permission Marketing, instead of just giving away one chapter, he offered the first four chapters free. (And the offer still stands!) That free preview didn’t stop the book from creating a legacy with marketers all over the world.
And make sure your free preview is packed with good stuff. Don’t give away a limited free trial or an introduction. Give your readers the good stuff, and when there’s no more free content, they’ll likely pay for more.
8. Hold a contest
No one can resist the offer of something free. You can leverage this by holding a contest on your blog.
You’re probably thinking, “How can I generate sales if I’m giving something free?”
This is how. Contests help you grow your audience and build interest in your brand. After a successful contest, you’ll have a lot more people to share your products with.
To get the best results with your contest, go social. For example, use Rafflecopter to give extra entries to people who perform certain social actions, such as liking and sharing your page:
(Bonus tip: You can also use contests to get tons of user-generated content.)
9. Give your readers an exclusive deal
Every time your readers make the choice to check out your latest post, they’re investing their time in your work. By giving your audience an exclusive deal, you’re thanking them and giving back.
Don’t make the offer public anywhere else. Make it a readers-only deal, and say so. You want your readers to feel special.
Selling doesn’t have to leave you feeling slimy.
When you do it right, selling equals helping your readers. Only promote products you know will improve your readers’ lives.
After you’ve been blogging and interacting with readers for a while, you’ll realize it’s a small community. These people aren’t facts and figures. They’re humans with problems that need to be solved, and you can help.
It’s all about helping. If you’re focused on providing value, the selling part becomes a lot easier.
Your readers want to support you. All you have to do is ask.
How do you use your blog to generate sales?