The following is a (heavily edited) conversation I had with a student who really didn’t want a store, so much as she did her blog. Sharon loved her topic, and was pulling decent revenue via ads. But she had an opportunity to turn her site into a store, and she had already been contacted by a manufacturer!
Sounds easy right? But she loved her custom WordPress theme, and couldn’t get it to play nice with WooCommerce. As luck would have it, I was in the process of doing something similar with some of my websites at the time. We’ll pick up the conversation right after her first contact…
I’ll be happy to share my solution. I have several sites where I am attempting to make a hybrid of ads and ecommerce, both to grow the site rapidly, and to provide more legitimacy in the eyes of Google.
I am using Shopify to set up a store on a subdomain of the blog. Say my site is SrewdriverStories.com
I would set the store up on Shop.ScrewdriverStories.com. The ecommerce subdomain holds all of my affiliate pages and the actual shopping cart.
For the project I am currently working on, I have a brand with about 25 products. But – with the products come manuals, drawings, .pdf files, a warranty page and more. All told, it is about 100 pages of new content. I will re-write the manufacturers pages for all the products – once for the cart, and once for a review on the blog.
Then I will re-write all the other material, where appropriate. It should get me around 150-175 pages of content. FYI, never use the manufacturers description as is. you will be buried under the sites of a 1000 other vendors doing the same. Like This:
So what can you do? It’s hard to come up with an interesting description for a screwdriver. Or is it?
“Why I switched to a multi-position screwdriver, or The Tale of the Busted Knuckle”
“Completing an “impossible” shed build with the new B&D 3-way screwdriver”
The key is to talk to your website visitor about the product as you would a friend. If Tom comes over and notices your new screwdriver, you wouldn’t start spouting out specifications. You’d tell him what you liked about it, and what it could do that your old one couldn’t.
Added bonus – the product page starts to show up in the SERPS. People search for some screwdriver keyword you never would have come up whit during research, and there you are.
As well, the new cart systems are very social, and a nicely written description can generate a few backlinks and social shares you would not have otherwise.
For instance, picture our Tale of the Busted Knuckle headline superimposed on an actual busted knuckle. That would make a great Facebook ad.
Now this is not free, but you can set up a Shopify store for only $29 a month with unlimited products. I know from talking with you before that one of the things you love about your blog is that it is essentially free. I get that – but what you have to look at is how much you’re going to get for that $29.
I have pared my stable down to just five blogs now, and every one of them has a cart, even if it only has 10 items in it. There is just too much content, site size, legitimacy, and profit potential not to do it.
Thanks for sharing. I’m going to have to mull over this b/c I’m not sure I entirely understand it all. Can it manage both products and affiliate stuff? Is the $25 per month per site? Sorry if these are silly questions, just trying to get the big picture before I dive in.
My site in question sells one small gadget. I want to expand into related types of products. I thought I’d add posts about products on Amazon and the whole thing would look like a store. I’d sell the one product directly and the others would be Amazon sales to test the market. If any sell well then I could look into selling them myself. Do you think your solution would work? Here’s my site: www…………………com
I actually love that little site! Very clean. If you want to blow it up, you will need a real cart, though. I’ve got the same dilemma with one of my sites. It brings about 800 / month in Adsense, but I only sell two products on it.
I am searching for other products, but until I get those figured out, I will have the dedicated cart, and just use amazon links to fill it up. So when you hit the ecommerce subdomain, you see the main products, and some other categories too.
When they go to buy any of the other products they bounce to Amazon.
I think that the cart on a subdomain is a good solution for a site that is mostly a blog / adsense.
In your case, your site OWNS that keyword, and I would run with it full tilt…find some similar / related products if you can and set up a cart.
Hi Dave –
I am still trying to understand this system. One thing I don’t “get” is why you need the ecommerce platform and why you can’t use your own theme and a PayPal button to accomplish the same thing. I’m sure I don’t get a lot of this because I’ve never worked with a shopping cart.
OK – The benefits to having a separate shopping cart on a subdomain, like Shopify or similar:
- The cart is PCI compliant
- WordPress installs by definition are not
- Some people don’t have Paypal
- Even starter carts will support 100 products minimum you have room to grow built in.
- People are a lot more ready to give up a credit card number when they feel secure, and real carts have a lot of “trust signatures”, like “128 bit encrypted” “verisign safe”, you get the idea.
- Good carts have auto tie-ins with twitter and facebook. You can even put a copy of your store on your Facebook page.
Now, a lot of this can be done on a blog, for sure. But I am not going to waste time learning php, html 5, and all the rest.
A decent ecommerce package will do all this and more right out of the box for 25.00 per month. I know, there are a lot of themes that do some of it – but NONE of them are PCI compliant, and PayPal is known for its security issues.
The next advantage – site size. I am working on a product site right now where I have landed a distribution agreement with a health / exercise manufacturer. I have a blog set up, and I will have categories for their products for sure, but also pages for the things their products do….Let’s say I am selling a line of denture products…
- teeth whitening
- denture care
- denture care on travel
- your denture kit
- how can you tell when it is time for new dentures?
- how often do your dentures need to be inspected by a dental technician?
- How does fitting for dentures work?
Just off the top of my head. For my site, the product line only has 30 or so items, but I will end up with an article for most every thing the product fixes or addresses. Each category will have multiple kw and I will have an article for each kw.
Each product on the blog has a “review” page at least 800 words long, with all kinds of detail, pictures, videos, you name it. The goal is for the product review to be THE resource for that product. At the end of the review is a link to the cart – and that;s not a bad place ot offer a coupon code in return for their email address either.
My cart is on a subdomain of my site. So the site is denturestuff.com and the cart is at denturesupplystore.denturestuff.com (note 2 kw terms in URL. yay!)
Every review page on the blog has a product page on the cart – with unique text.
Also on the cart subdomain: manuals, reviews – from customers, manufacturer guarantees, etc. In fact I am taking every single piece of content this manufacturer has, and re-writing it once for the blog, and then in a different way for the site.
For a lot of kw phrases, you will start to see double listings.
OK – say we have a manual for a denture polisher – on the cart site, it is written very straightforwardly, 1, 2, 3, etc.
On the blog, it is an article..”How to get the most out of your new XVB denture polisher” I now have 2 new pages of content, kw targeted to bring in product searches, as well as searches for the issues the product can help with.
Put it another way:
articles on issues the products fix…
A 150-200 page site will go up very quickly. Every single page highly targeted and relevant. And by the time you get through re-writing all the manufacturer’s stuff twice – you WILL be a subject matter expert.
I did this 3 weeks ago for one of the products – a new one. That page is now at #11 on Google, and I have built zero links to it.
I have to admit that this is a bit of work. My current goal is to keep all of my Adsense sites completely separate, so I will have a dedicated cart for each site that can sell a product. This will add up, admittedly.
So what? I am down to five blogs now, and they all already make a lot more than 25.00 per month…I think it is a small investment.
If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that gimmicks are short term fixes. What matters is good relevant content and hard work.
I think the site I am working on now will take about a month to get finished (mind you, this site already pulls 50-60 a month in adsense just sitting there with maybe 25 articles on it).
When I am done. it will have at least 200 pages of content and a full blown, professional cart on it.
If you honestly have a site that you are not willing to drop 25.00 a month on…maybe that site needs to be chucked.
“The easy way is the hard way. The hard way is the easy way.” – Old Chinese proverb
“Take the time to do it right, or make the time to do it over.” – US Navy proverb