People often view ecommerce as a big step that one doesn’t enter into lightly, and that’s mostly true if you’re making your first ecommerce site. However one thing people often do not consider is simply selling a few products on their existing content site as a way to boost content site profits.
SitePoint has been a model of this in recent years. SitePoint used to have more advertisements, but now they mostly promote their own books and software. While they don’t share revenue details with me I think its safe to assume that they wouldn’t be promoting these items unless they earned more off them than they did off advertising.
The thing about this is that ecommerce sites usually make so much money off their traffic that for a content site to compare it’d need to pull in around $100 CPM ($100 per thousand impressions) or more. Ecommerce sites simply make far more per visitor than content sites, as such you can usually drastically increase your profit per visitor by adding a few ecommerce items to your content site.
On one site of mine I have a footer ad for a related product, namely a survival kit/knife. This is a footer ad, so it isn’t taking up my main ad space, and yet I manage to make almost as much off knife sales in a month as I do off ad sales. In fact this has been so successful for me that I am building a whole new ecommerce site for selling hunting and camping knives.
On another site I simply sell CDs of my site content. I make a couple hundred a month off those CDs and I can manufacturer them with my CD burner. Compared to that site’s ad revenue is not a large amount, but for a cost of a text link in my menu it’s a nice revenue stream.
Of course, as I mentioned above with the knives, ideally what’s even better is when you have a content site and a full ecommerce site that you can cross promote. A SPF member did this to good success. His content site is Wannabebig.com a site about bodybuilding. A couple years ago he launched At Large Nutrition and he does cross promotion. When you can do this its great for a number of reasons. For one you have a built in customer base at launch, which for an ecommerce site is great. Also, its much harder to get things like incoming links for ecommerce sites than it is for free content sites, so by cross promoting you have a way to get your own links and PageRank for your new ecommerce sites.
Of course, in addition to the money earned by either building a related ecommerce site or by integrating ecommerce into your existing site, you’re also getting income stability. If the ad market goes sour, you’ll still have your ecommerce revenue. If more ad blockers start to be used, you still have your ecommerce revenue. Ecommerce revenue is just much more stable than ad revenue.
So start thinking of something to sell on your content site, it’s a great way to increase revenue. For payment you can simply use Paypal or an one of the various pseudo-merchant accounts like 2Checkout, you don’t need a full fledged shopping cart for a handful of products. For shipping, depending on volume a weekly trip to the post office or UPS would be fine, you can also process your shipments and request pickups online now for most major carriers. It doesn’t have to be hard or that time consuming.
I plan to continue this discussion on ecommerce in two future blog posts, one on choosing a product to sell, and the other on what it takes to get your first ecommerce site up and running.