Let’s talk sales and how I hate them, suck at them, but still sell things… and actually make money from it (and yes, I still hate and suck at selling).
Back in the early days of blogging, I used to fight the idea of “selling.” I was, and STILL am, horrible at selling. The whole idea that I’d need to sell anything to make money blogging made me absolutely sick to my stomach.
Nope… I was going to be different. I was going to change the way things are done. I was going to be the blogger who never sold anything & was still profitable!!
No way was I going to even try to make money from my blog through selling anything. I was going to make it from any other way possible.
At least… that’s what I told myself.
Fast forward to today.
Sales is still 100% not my thing. I’m not a fan of being pushy or of telling you that you NEED anything. Because, honestly, chances are that you don’t need it. My whole thing as a blogger is to get people to STOP spending! So doing the whole “YOU NEED THIS” approach always felt… icky.
The good news is that I still make money from affiliate marketing (aka: “sales”) even without being sales-y or sending you ONLY sales emails. And I want to share with you how that all works.
Honestly, when I started blogging (and there are still very few out there), NO ONE was teaching how to make money when you suck at selling (which, just being honest here, was exactly what I needed to hear).
Yes, I get it: in order to make serious dough blogging, you’re gonna need some sales. But what if you don’t even know how to do that.
Thankfully I have a friend who is killing it in affiliate sales. My friend Carly from Mommy on Purpose is this great example of how to make money from affiliate marketing without being sales-y or even having a huge email list!
I absolutely LOVE everything that she does. In fact, I spent months trying to figure out her “secret sauce.” What made her so amazing? What made her blog do so well!? How on earth did she make that much money from blogging!
Her posts and emails never came off as “sales-y” or pushy. She never told you that you need to buy everything right now or the world was going to come to a grinding halt. She basically just wrote for normal people.
And, here was my favorite part about Carly: never once did she send out an email just to try to sell something. In fact, she only started using email recently as part of her income strategy… and she’s been killing it ever since!
So why am I telling you all of this?
Because there is some truth to the fact that you need to sell something in order to make money as a blogger. But the best part is this: YOU get to choose what it is that you promote or sell.
Yup! If you worked for a company, then you’d need to sell whatever it was that they put in front of you. But because you’re a blogger, you get to decide what it is that you promote. And you can do it any way that you want.
There are some good and bad ways to sell on your blog.
The GOOD ways to sell as a blogger who hates selling
Michelle (MakingSenseofCents.com) – the Informational Approach
Michelle never pressures people to buy anything or sends emails telling people to buy things from her. She is 100% educative. This is kind of the “if you want to do this, then this is one way that might help” approach.
Her affiliate sales all come from her posts. She has A LOT of posts! She’s been blogging since 2011! This is a great example of how getting great content out there will pay off over time!
Carly (Mommy on Purpose) – the “Buy or Don’t Buy, That’s Cool” Approach
Carly from Mommy on Purpose takes the “I know you know this is a sales email, so here’s the facts; if you like it, buy it! If you don’t, that’s cool, too” approach. She is always helpful in a “best friend” kind of way instead of in a teacher kind of way.
It’s really refreshing to hear from a friend in a no-nonsense manner like this! Because, let’s be real, we all want to know what our friend thinks of something before we go and buy it, right? Carly is a master of this!
Rosemarie (Busy Budgeter) – The “
Rosemarie from the Busy Budgeter is another incredible example. She’s got more of a “get them with freebies and then point them in the direction of buying once they’re hooked” kind of model. Each year for the Elite Blog Academy sale, she dominates the sale because she knows that she gets a “forever cookie,” meaning that if they click on the link once in June and they buy the next year, she’ll still get the sale.
You’ll always read about Elite Blog Academy in one of her emails for that reason (plus, it’s amazing!). But it’s never in a pushy way; it’s more of an “I’m just like you and this is what change my life and it will work for you, too” kind of tactic. She’s also a master of selling her own products. Seriously, girl’s got this whole blogging thing in the bag!
The BAD ways of selling that you need to AVOID as a blogger
(Disclaimer: I don’t have any bloggers who I know who do these things. But in the early days of blogging, these are the kinds of things you get all the time! Because who doesn’t want to make money blogging, right?! It seems so easy when you get those super simple “swipe files” and all you need to do is copy and paste. But be very careful that they don’t land you in the BAD category!)
– The blogger who ONLY emails you when she wants to sell something. The one that makes you go “who are you and how did you get this email?” This is super common and leads a lot of bloggers to feel like sales just isn’t for them.
How to fix it: Email your list regularly. If you’re a stranger to their inbox, your email isn’t going to get read, it’ll get marked as spam, or they just won’t buy. You need to build a relationship with people before you can get them to whip out their wallets. They need to know, like and trust you. Take it slow and court them before you try to marry them! 😉
– The email that is TOO blunt. When the entire body of the email looks like a spam ad because it’s purely telling you to buy something. You’ve gotten the email that’s just too aggressively blunt from someone before. The email that basically yells at you to buy, and that’s it; there’s no framing for why they’re emailing you, it just kind of reads like yelling when you open it. Maybe this is your style! But it always put me off to get those emails. I’m just not a fan.
How to fix it: Know the kind of style your audience is expecting from you and go with that. If you’re always aggressive, then emails like that might work. But if you’re super mild-mannered and easy-going and then send one of those emails, you’ll confuse your people! Keep with your style.
– The “out of their niche” blogger. Have you ever gotten an email from a dog blogger talking about cat toys? Or from a DIY site trying to sell high-end clothes? It’s very confusing! Yes, it happens sometimes that bloggers will go out of their niche to get an affiliate income from another source. Sometimes the affiliate commission is really great and they want to see what will work. But more often than not, it won’t work. If you’ve got a following of dog lovers and you want them to buy cat toys, you’re going to fall flat.
How to fix it: Stick to your niche and know your people! This is tough sometimes if the affiliate commission is really sweet. But always remember that your list needs to be worth it. Your people are looking to you as a pro. They need you to keep them and their needs at the front of your mind. Steer clear of the off-niche affiliates, even if they have a commission that’s awesome!
Even if you are like me and hate the idea of affiliate marketing and sales, there are some real ways to make it work for you and your comfort zone and style. I lean a lot toward Michelle’s affiliate posting style, with Carly’s ease and “realness,”with Rosemarie’s email marking skills (I hope! 😉 ).
And what’s really cool is that, unlike what I did with trying to dissect all of Carly’s emails and posts, she has a course that does it all for you (I like to think she made it for me because she knew that I needed a more specific type of help 😉 ). She shows you EXACTLY how she maximizes every word for affiliate marketing without ever making the reader feel like she’s being sleazy or pushy.
Carly’s course shares how she uses affiliate marketing to make serious BANK without having a massive email list! No seriously – she is regularly in the Top 5 in leaderboards for big sales (including Elite Blog Academy & the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit!)
I’ve never done something like that and it was WAY out of my comfort zone. Sales and deals emails aren’t my thing at all! But thanks to the crazy success of those emails, I know exactly what I need to do for next year!
Carly’s amazing intro to affiliate marketing course covers the scariest part of making money blogging: sales. Especially when you aren’t a natural-born seller.
And if you’re like me with those limiting beliefs about sucking at sales (which, apparently, is really common!), this is a game changer. It’s the “AHA! Moment” that you’ve been looking for. No more saying that you’ll just never sell anything. I’ve been there and it sucks. You’re basically at the mercy of pageviews for your ad income… which really sucks – especially during this slow time of year!!
From someone who just “sucks at sales” to another, it’s time to get rid of that limiting belief and take your blog seriously!
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