How Dave Bowden Started a Fashion Blog with 35,000 Monthly Visitors and Grew 131% This Year

How Dave Bowden Started a Fashion Blog with 35,000 Monthly Visitors and Grew 131% This Year

Ready to learn how to start a fashion blog?

Maybe you have an eye for a great outfit. Or are you always being complimented on your latest style and want to share your fashion tips with the world. 

You’ve decided that now is the time to “purse-shoe” your dreams in the world of fashion blogging. 

Today I’ve got some inspiration for you and perhaps someone that you can learn from.

Dave Bowden doesn’t run just any beauty blog; he’s the founder of Irreverent Gent, an online resource inspiring men with both fashion and confidence advice.

The Irreverent Gent has been featured in AskMen, HuffingtonPost, Business Insider, and Readers Digest. Dave also mentions that most important of all his articles were posted to his parent’s refrigerator.

Not only does Dave run the successful blog, but he’s written the Amazon #1 bestseller “Man in Command.” 

If your goal is to become a fashion blogger, you shouldn’t expect overnight success. 

In fact, it took years for Dave to start earning a real income with his fashion blog. But as he stuck with his goals, he was able to continually improve. In 2020 he was able to grow his web traffic by 131%. 

The Irreverent Gent is a successful fashion blog that gets over 35k visitors each month. The traffic and success came with some valuable lessons learned. 

Dave tells us about how he was spreading himself too thin. In the early days of his blog, initiatives such as social media, affiliate marketing, and creating brand partnerships consumed his time.

When he began to really focus and leverage professional tools, his fashion niche site began to take off. 

 

Hello! Could you introduce your background and why you choose to start a blog in the fashion industry?

My name is Dave Bowden, and I’m the founder and editor of Irreverent Gent, a men’s style and lifestyle blog that shows guys how to sharpen their style and improve their confidence.

I’ve carved out a niche for myself in the men’s lifestyle space by creating articles that are not only informative and insightful but also engaging, fun to read, and (as the name suggests) irreverent.

I also take the same approach to writing books, a space in which I’m best known as the author of Man in Command: How to Go From the Most Self-Doubting Guy in the Room to The Most Confident Man, which is an Amazon #1 bestseller (in Canada… but still!). 

Since I’ve been working from home over the past year, I’ve been pouring more time and energy into Irreverent Gent. The results have been rewarding.

My website traffic has more than doubled in the past 12 months, and my revenue is up by 10x. 

What’s your backstory, and why did you start your fashion blog?

I started Irreverent Gent to basically combine a few of my passions into one project.

The first is style and menswear, which I’ve been obsessed with for more than a decade. I’ve always been fascinated with the effect that style can have both on you as an individual, and on the way other people perceive you.

Irreverent Gent gives me an excuse to not only explore that topic further but share what I learn with guys who can benefit from it. 

The second passion it allows me to pursue is content marketing.

As a journalist-turned-blogger, I became a content marketer about eight years ago when I got a job running a travel blog, and quickly found that it’s the perfect way for me to combine my skill sets into one creative and professional endeavor.

What I love about blogging and content marketing is how I get to make both creative and business decisions. From what image to pair with a headline to what the overarching business strategy should be, I’m in complete control. 


Dave Bowden

What has worked for you to drive traffic to your sites?

My biggest traffic source is organic, and my blog really started to take off when I got serious about SEO and keyword research.

This year I finally stopped using free keyword tools and invested in a monthly Ahrefs subscription, which has already paid for itself multiple times over. 

To give you an example, my organic traffic in December 2020 is up 144% compared to the same month in 2019: 

The two biggest things that have contributed to this growth are:

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  • Learn how to build white hat links to your site without headaches
  • Finally have a proven method to finding profitable niches
  • Get access to our foolproof keyword research methods
  • Learn how to outsource high quality content

Get The Authority Site System

  1. Improved keyword research tactics – I’m now targeting more competitive keywords and creating content geared specifically toward those phrases
  2. Some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease, meaning that I’m producing more posts more frequently, resulting in a higher quantity of output.

It’s this combination of increased quantity and higher quality that’s really led to more growth. 

Building a fashion blog, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The most advantageous thing I’ve learned from building my blog is the supremacy of the 80/20 rule. Focusing on the 20% of activities that bring in 80% of the results.

Before this year, I was spreading myself too thin by devoting roughly equal amounts of time to content creation, keyword research, social media, link building, and brand partnerships.

Eventually, I realized that the two things that make the biggest impact on my bottom line are keyword research and content creation, so I doubled down on those, which resulted in exponential growth. 

I think it’s common for entrepreneurs and website owners to get bogged down by bouncing back and forth between the various hats they have to wear and tasks they have to manage, but the truth is that real growth comes from identifying your most valuable tasks and leaning into them as much as possible. 

How long did it take you to begin making money with your fashion blog?

It didn’t take long to make the first couple of bucks – I joined Amazon’s affiliate marketing program and started earning money almost right away, though very little of it.

What did take long was earning enough money that you could call it an income, or even a side hustle. It took a few years of consistent work to start earning a respectable amount of money from affiliate income, but what’s nice about blogging is that it compounds.

The posts that produced those first few dollars continue to produce a few bucks each month, but now I’ve got hundreds more doing the same. 

The other thing that helped was expanding my income streams.

In addition to affiliate ads, I now also run display ads on the site. The ads bring in a smaller but steady stream of cash each month.

I also write books that I self-publish on Amazon, which also generate a nice monthly sum.  

What platform/tools do you use for your fashion blog?

As mentioned, my favorite tool by far is Ahrefs, which has made my keyword research so much faster, more efficient, and more effective, leading to a lot of growth.

In addition to Ahrefs, I use ConvertKit as my email service provider, which was built for bloggers and works really well for capturing email addresses and dripping out content. 

What is your philosophy or strategy when it comes to link building?

I tend to differentiate between active and passive link building.

Active link building is anything that requires time, which pulls me away from my primary duties of keyword research and content creation.

I only pursue active link building with sites that have a domain authority of 50-plus. This goes back to the 80/20 rule. If I’m going to spend time pursuing links, I want to make sure they’re high value links that will help me build my own authority. 

Passive link building is done more through content creation.

Creating super high-quality posts that rank high in search also tend to get more linkbacks, so in that sense my content creation efforts don’t just help me build traffic, but also have a secondary benefit of resulting in more links. 

Advice for other online entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

My advice for anyone getting started is to maintain a long view and understand that consistency is key.

It can be discouraging to pour hours into content creation and publish something you think is awesome, but then not see any traffic flowing to it.

You have to power through that and remain undeterred. If you only have one piece of great content, it’s hard to get the authority and attention you need to monetize it. But it’s a lot easier when you have 10, and easier still when you have 100, 1000, etc. So keep going, keep creating and keep publishing. 

As your quantity of output improves, so does the quality. Building all that content requires putting in the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) “10,000 hours”. Making you more skilled as you go. 

So keep pushing, keep going, and keep at it.

Now that you’ve heard from Dave on what it takes to build a successful travel blog. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to start your own WordPress blog in the fashion world?

Here are a few steps you’ll need to know how to start a fashion blog. 

  1. Get set up with a WordPress web hosting service. We recommend using BlueHost. It’s cheap and easy to use for those looking to install WordPress for the first time.
  2. Choose a domain name for your new fashion blog. Something short and memorable is always best.
  3. Choose a WordPress theme that matches your fashion brand or personality.Here is a premium theme that can make your blog look like a professional fashion magazine.
  4. Get set up on social media. Be an Instagram influencer! Fashion bloggers have the opportunity to double down on their great content. Posting visual fashion content to platforms like Twitter and their Instagram feed is great for engagement.
  5. Write great content. As Dave mentioned, this takes time to get great at writing a viral blog post. Use WordPress Plugins like Yoast SEO and explore Ahrefs to take your content even further.

NOW GET STARTED BLOGGING!

If you have any questions about creating full-time income blogging, feel free to post your questions on the Niche Pursuits private Facebook Group. The community is always helping other bloggers and it’s a great place to bounce ideas off.

Another great resource when building your fashion blog will be our email newsletter. Subscribe to the  Niche Pursuits newsletter for more insights and inspiration for your blog.

Finally, If you are looking for step by step instructions on how to start a fashion blog and get your Bluehost setup don’t forget to check out our article on starting your blog here.

What is Affiliate Marketing & How To Get Started (Beginners)

What is Affiliate Marketing & How To Get Started (Beginners)

 What is Affiliate Marketing & How To Get Started (Beginners)

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we recommended.

What is Affiliate Marketing

In making money online, affiliate marketing is a skill-based approach, anyone could learn that. It is one of those segments of the online world, that doesn’t require any degree or formal education.

Want to understand what is Affiliate marketing?

Keep reading to learn everything about this popular passive income method.

My Journey with affiliate marketing started in 2008 when I accidentally read about it on a discussion forum. I was surprised to know how something so simple and powerful is not taught in college or very few talks about it.

With this guide, my aim is to help you understand affiliate marketing, so you can apply this technique in any field you are in to make money.

Before, you embark on the journey of understanding affiliate marketing, let me show you the possibilities of affiliate marketing.

Here is a screenshot of one of the affiliate program that I promote:

The above one took about 2 years to accomplish.

And here is another one:

This one was outcome of 2 and half years.

However, the real question is:

How did I achieve this kind of result, and can you do it too?

Well, the key here is your zeal to learn, and how badly you want to live a free life.

I have accomplished all this working only 6-8 hours a day on things that I like. Not even a single day of my online career, has felt like pressure or something I did not wanted to do.

The only thing that create a differentiator is, I did not cheat my way up. Those 6-8 hours of work was complete dedication, and based on my 10 years of experience, I could definitely say:

Anyone with decent IQ could start making $3000-4000 within 6-8 months by regular practicing every day for 2 hours.

How to do this?

Well, We will dwell into details, and more technicalities of affiliate marketing as we move ahead in this free course, but for now, lets learn the basics.

Before that…

If this is your first time here at ShoutMeLoud, you should know that…

In the last 11 years, ShoutMeLoud has inspired millions of lives around the globe to help them earn passive income via blogging and affiliate marketing. 

It would not have been possible if I took the risk of living my day job to pursue my passion. When I think about this, I find it amazing as for how my life unfolded when I took the courage of starting something of my own. I feel this is something you, and others individual should try once to go beyond our limitations.

With this Affiliate marketing guide, I want to provide you all the details about:

  • Basics of Affiliate marketing
  • How Affiliate marketing works
  • How to get started with Affiliate marketing
  • Affiliate marketing Terminologies

This is your go-to guide and you should bookmark this one along with all linked articles to master the art of affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing wherein you refer someone to any online product and when that person buys the product based on your recommendation, you receive a commission.

Every big company like Amazon, Apple, Google have an affiliate program, which is free to join by any individual across the globe. If you did not knew about this, then pay close attention to rest of this guide, my friend, you are about to discover one of the most interesting aspect of making money from home.

This commission varies from $1 to $10,000 depending on what product you are promoting.

Here is how affiliate marketing works in 4 simple steps:

  1. You join an affiliate program (Here is a list to get started)
  2. You pick a product to promote (You will get a unique affiliate link)
  3. You share the link via Social media, Blog, YouTube videos, Facebook ads or any other form
  4. When someone makes a purchase, you earn a handsome affiliate commission.

The below infographic will help you understand the lifecycle of affiliate marketing:

What is Affiliate Marketing

So, in simple words:

Any companies that sell products online, offers an affiliate program, which is free to join. It is as simple as creating an online profile.

You can simply sign up for the program and get your unique tracking link. Now, whenever you are writing about their product, you can simply use this special tracking affiliate link to recommend the company’s site.  If your readers/traffic buys anything by clicking your affiliate link, you will get a commission.

Is it as easy as it sounds?

Yes, and no!

Yes, because of 2 reasons:

  1. Joining an affiliate program
  2. Getting paid

Is super easy. Thanks to advancement in digital marketing, and services like PayPal and Payoneer, this all is automated.

The tough part is, how badly you want this.

To become successful in affiliate marketing, you need to train regularly (Daily). Think of this as learning to play cricket, and the only way you get better by showing up every day on the ground.

And then there is another part, as we gain more responsibilities in life like (job, kids, parents, spouce, weekend parties), we find it hard to dedicate time for acquiring learning new skills.

This is where the question comes:

How badly you want this?

How badly you need this?

If your want or need falls in “unsure” segment, take a 360 view of life, and ask what is that you have to lose and what are the possible gains.

If dedicating 1-2 hours a day for few months could give you financial freedom for life, it doesnot sound like a bad deal.

Moreover, it is proven method that works!

Moving on…

How to Start Affiliate marketing for beginners:

You can get started with Affiliate marketing in many ways.

Here are a few that you can pick from:

  • Start a blog in a targeted niche and use it to promote a product. This is by far the chepest and easiest way to start an affiliate marketing business. For example: Start a blog about Women shoes, Work from home products, and so on.
  • Buy traffic from PPC sites like Google, Facebook, Quora and drive traffic to affiliate products or services. This is called PPC marketing, and those who have taken a basic course of digital marketing, could understand it better. For rest, give it a little time and you will understand this.
  • Create a YouTube channel and promote products.
  • Create an email list by creating a mini-website. An example if Finshots

Here are steps to get started with affiliate marketing via your blog:

This is just a rough highlight, as we move ahead in this free course, you will understand everything in greater depth and length to create your own affiliate marketing system.

  1. Start a blog
  2. Select a profitable industry and then pick a niche for your blog
  3. Choose the affiliate products that you can promote
  4. Create content around those products
  5. Drive traffic to your website/affiliate post
  6. Use email-marketing services to capture email of visitors
  7. Create email-sequence to automate the funnel (We will discuss this in details soon)
  8. Focus on driving more traffic and repeating the process.

The reason blogging is one of the most effective ways to get started with affiliate marketing is because it requires minimum investment and you can learn everything around it in no time. From here on, what really matters it how much dedication, time and smart work you put in to grow your affiliate business.

Affiliate marketing terminologies:

Here are some of the common terms associated with affiliate marketing:

  • Affiliates: Publishers like you and me who are using affiliate program links to promote and make sales.
  • Affiliate marketplace: There are many marketplaces like Shareasale, CJ, and Clickbank. These work as central databases for affiliate programs in different niches.
  • Affiliate software: Software used by companies to create an affiliate program for their product.
  • Affiliate link: Special tracking link offered by your affiliate program to track the progress of your affiliate promotion.
  • Affiliate ID: Similar to the affiliate link, but many affiliate programs offer a unique ID which you can add to any page of the product site.
  • Payment mode: Different affiliate programs offer different methods of payment.
    • Example: Cheque, wire transfer, PayPal, and others.
  • Affiliate Manager/OPM: Many companies have dedicated affiliate managers to help publishers earn more by giving them optimization tips.
  • Commission percentage/amount: The amount or percentage you will be receiving in affiliate income from every sale.
  • 2-tier affiliate marketing: This is a great way of making money from an affiliate program. With this method, you recommend that others join affiliate programs, and you receive a commission when a sub-affiliate makes a sale (similar to MLM or multi-level marketing). This income is also known as a sub-affiliate commission.
  • Landing pages: A unique product sales or demo page used for the purpose of increasing sales. Most of the programs that you will be promoting have many landing pages, and you can run A/B testing to see which pages convert best for you.
  • Custom affiliate income/account: Unlike a generic affiliate account, many companies offer custom affiliate income to people making the most affiliate sales for them.
  • Link clocking: Most of the affiliate tracking links are ugly. Using a link clocking technique like URL shorteners, Thirsty Affiliates, etc., you can turn ugly links into links that can be read and understood by your readers.
  • Custom coupons: Many programs allow affiliates to create custom coupons which are also used to track sales. Custom discount coupons help you to increase affiliate sales as well.

For companies offering an affiliate program, this is one of the best ways to receive free promotion, thus saving substantially on advertising.

For example, whenever you see coupons or discount links, most of the time these are affiliate links, and when you make a purchase, webmasters make money.

Every affiliate program has a set TOS.

For example, payout condition, cookie policy and so on.

Let me explain cookie policy as it’s intermediate level topic but will give you an idea about the possibilities of affiliate marketing.

Many of the affiliate product offer 30-150 days cookie period, which means that if a visitor clicks your affiliate link to land on an affiliate product, now even if they don’t buy anything immediately, but re-visit the site in next 30-150 days, you will earn an affiliate commission.

How to find new Affiliate Program to join?

Finding a new affiliate program is challenging, and if you do it right, you will increase your chances of earning huge.

Here are a few ways to find new affiliate programs:

  • Affiliate Network and marketing platform: There are affiliate networks and marketplaces that would help you find new affiliate programs.
  • Affiliatizer: This is a chrome addon that would help you find the new affiliate program.
  • Competitor analysis: Analyze the top websites in the niche you are targeting, and make a list of affiliate products they promote. This will help you find high value and profitable affiliate products.

Affiliate Marketing: FAQ

At this point, you should have a basic understanding of what affiliate marketing is and how it works.

Now, let me answer some of the common questions asked by webmasters and marketers about affiliate marketing:

How much money you can make as an affiliate marketer?

“Limitless”.
There are affiliate marketers who are making millions of dollars a month via affiliate marketing. I personally make more than $30000/month from Affiliate marketing. Below you could see a screenshot of my earnings from one such affiliate program:

The key here is how you are approaching the whole process. Are you using a blog or using PPC to market affiliate products. The one that I have been using from the past 10 years, is via blogging. This has been the most effective one so far.

 

Is it important to have a blog for affiliate promotion?

Not necessarily, but a blog is really the best promotional tool. With that said, you can always use methods such as PPC or advertising to promote a product.
This is another popular method to grow in affiliate marketing. For me, the best way to make the most out of affiliate marketing opportunities is to have a blog. Learn how to start a blog here.

How much does it cost to join an affiliate program?

There is no charge for joining an affiliate program, however, your total cost depends on what promotion technique you are using. For example, a blog post doesn’t cost a dime, but PPC marketing, email marketing, and advertising come with various price tags.

What qualifications do I need to become an affiliate marketer?

There is literally no qualification required to become an affiliate marketer, though having good copywriting skills and marketing skills will be an added advantage.

Is affiliate marketing harmful or illegal?

No, it is neither harmful nor illegal, as you will simply be using the affiliate link provided to you rather than a direct link to link to any site.
However, in certain jurisdiction, you are supposed to disclose that you may be compensated for endorsing the product. Read our guide on Affiliate disclosure to learn more about it.

How do I find an affiliate link for any product?

Not all companies offer an affiliate program, of course, but for those that do offer affiliate programs, you can check their website for related information. When searching, be sure to check the company’s FAQ page if they have one.

Another way to find this information is to do a simple Google search. For example, one could place the following phrase into Google Search:  “(product name) + affiliate program”. (Replace “product name” with the name of the product you are promoting.) There is an interesting chrome addon called Affilitizer is available which makes this process easy.

This should bring you to a landing page. Many companies use an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale, CJ, or Clickbank. These are free to use and you can create a free account.

How do I find new products to promote?

Affiliate marketplaces such as those mentioned above are the best places to start your affiliate marketing research. You can browse your niche and see the top performing affiliate programs.

Alternatively, you can keep an eye on blogs in your niche and see which products they are promoting and what methods they are using.

Affiliate marketing and AdSense: Can we use both?

Yes, you can use both as affiliate marketing does not violate any AdSense TOS. In fact, for me, affiliate marketing works better than Adsense, and that is one reason you see fewer AdSense ads here at ShoutMeLoud.

How do I get started with Affiliate marketing?

Here at ShoutMeLoud, I and many guest authors have covered some of the best guides to help you to understand in depth about getting started, and some of the pros and cons.

I hope this beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing will help you get started. If you have any additional questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section below.

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How to Make Money With Ecommerce: Get Started for $200 or Less!

How to Make Money With Ecommerce: Get Started for $200 or Less!

The world of ecommerce may seem pretty complex, but at its core, ecommerce isn’t that different from the way business has always been done.

All “ecommerce” really means is buying and selling through the internet. Over time, this definition has extended beyond the computer to include transactions made through a mobile device, tablet, and even a virtual assistant like Amazon Echo.

While ecommerce may seem like a brave new world, the same basic functions of business – sourcing a product, branding, pricing, inventory management, marketing, collecting payment, customer support – are the same as they’ve always been, just applied to the web. 

 

So, why is ecommerce so powerful? Well, if you wanted to buy a pair of designer jeans in 1982, you would have just gone to the shopping mall, or you might have looked up local retailers in the Yellow Pages (for those readers born after the year 2000, the Yellow Pages was this giant book where you could look up the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people and companies). 😉

But today, if you want new jeans, you’ll probably start by searching Google, social media, online marketplaces like Amazon, or your favorite retailer to find them – at any time of the day or night! Even if you do end up buying your clothes in person at a local store, I’m betting you do at least some of your research on the web first.

My point?

Most consumers have adjusted their shopping habits to the web, which is why your business needs to be there as well.

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to get started. Let’s discover how to make money with ecommerce without breaking the bank!


We recommend Shopify for building your own online store. You can get a free 14-day trial right here!

Try out Shopify FREE for 14 Days!


Why Ecommerce?

Did you know that ecommerce is one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. economy today? According to this Statista forecast, we’ll see more than 2.14 billion people buying online in 2021. That’s up from 1.66 billion in 2016, a huge jump – and a clear sign that the shift toward ecommerce is only accelerating!

That means if you set yourself up to do business online, you can tap into a market that’s only going to continue growing.

What else makes ecommerce such a good way to build your business? Well, a HUGE advantage of ecommerce is the remarkably low barrier to entry. I’m not going to say that you can succeed without any financial investment, but the upfront costs are substantially lower than with a brick-and-mortar store. I’m talking hundreds of dollars versus tens of thousands, easily!

Here’s one more benefit of ecommerce: it expands your reach. Most physical stores serve a local crowd and close their doors each night, but a restless buyer could very well purchase your online video course about intermittent fasting at 3 AM on a Tuesday using his phone or computer. Even more impressive, that insomniac health nut doesn’t have to be in your town, or even in the same country as you!

Yes, this does lead to more competition, but it also leads to much greater opportunity for a savvy business owner. How cool is it to be able to sell something to a customer across the world, 24/7? 

Getting Started With Ecommerce

Etsy store home page

By now, you’re probably saying, “Okay, I get it… Ecommerce is great! But how do I do it? I’m here to learn how to make money with ecommerce!”

Well, it’s actually pretty simple: figure out what people want to buy, and then sell it to them.

I know that isn’t necessarily easy, but that right there is business in a nutshell. For an ecommerce business, we’re just going to take this principle and apply it online.

Your first step is figuring out a niche or angle where you can enjoy a competitive advantage. It’s easier than ever to sell your own product or find a fantastic existing product to sell, but it’ll take time.

Fortunately, you can do your own research online and find all kinds of opportunities! As an example, Spencer developed a method for uncovering profitable niches using keyword searches.

 

Spencer relies on an SEO tool like Long Tail Pro to discover the competitiveness and volume of different keywords in the space he’s interested in. This work is invaluable for virtually ANY ecommerce business model, from an authority site to a dropshipping brand, because organic search is still one of the biggest drivers of traffic online.

Differentiating Your Brand

Differentiating your brand for ecommerce

Let’s dig a little deeper into this idea of finding an angle for a competitive advantage.

You can often tell from the beginning whether an idea will succeed or not simply by considering its unique selling proposition (USP). Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer – when they have a universe of choices out there, what will make them buy YOUR product? 

If this is your first ecommerce business, try to stick with a niche that you’re familiar with. It’s a lot easier to succeed if you ARE your ideal buyer, because you’ll intuitively know what they want and how to speak to them.

Next, it’s important that you think about what’s already available in the market, and what kind of buyers are out there, so that you know where there’s an opening for your business.

In a nutshell, there has to be SOMETHING unique about your brand and/or your product in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace. There are a ton of ways to differentiate yourself, and you may end up with more than one, but here are some of the most powerful differentiators to consider.

Product Quality

Duh… If your product or service offers something that competitors don’t, or that does the same thing better than the competition does, you’ve got a differentiator that can help you make sales! Maybe you’re a web developer whose claim to fame is responsive sites that ACTUALLY work on mobile, or a portable umbrella that dries really fast.

Quality can be less about an individual product in your store and more about your overall brand as well. A brand USP might include 24/7 customer service, an extended warranty for your products, free returns, or a fantastic loyalty program.

And these days, “quality” doesn’t just refer to functionality. People are so busy that convenience and ease of use are sometimes more attractive than the “best” option – DoorDash and Uber, anyone? 

You also need to remember that your product images, videos, and listings are a huge part of whether people make a purchase. Sometimes, these are more important than the quality of the actual product. Great marketing is key, especially online!

Price

How you price your products will be a MAJOR factor in your success!

If you’re generally targeting the mass market, you’ll want to set your prices lower and make up for it in volume. With physical products, you may have to focus on sourcing and distribution to keep costs low.

Alternatively, you can focus on a higher price point with goods that are either much higher quality, or that offer some kind of “cool” factor. Apple is arguably a master of offering a solid product with some unique features, but also successfully charging a premium price for the “coolness.” 

Personalization

There are businesses that succeed because they make it easy for consumers to get exactly what they’re looking for.

A great example of this is Etsy, where your handmade goods can be personalized with a design based on what the customer asks for. When it comes to physical goods, aesthetics are a huge reason why customers pay a premium. 

Personalization can extend to services as well! See if you can think of a way to customize your service to more closely match what each customer is looking for. That personal factor can be a powerful differentiator. 

Scarcity

Yes, exclusivity can be a USP too! There are entire business models based on this, such as eBay, where you’re bidding for a product that is about to get bought and get taken off the market. With exclusive or limited-edition products, there’s an element of fun and a feeling of superiority for customers who make the purchase – after all, not just anyone can have this product! 

How does this work in YOUR ecommerce business? Well, if you’re selling information, you could offer your consulting services just once per year to keep the experience exclusive. A membership site could open its doors to new members only periodically. And if you’re in software, you could make lifetime access available for a one-time fee for a limited time – otherwise, the software is only available as a monthly subscription.

As you define your ecommerce business, don’t forget about the power of scarcity, both as a USP and for more effective promotions.

Mission

Some buyers are very conscious of WHERE they’re buying from. You can make headway with a certain segment of the population by embracing a unique mission, such as only using renewable energy, keeping a small carbon footprint, or giving 10% of your proceeds to a certain charitable cause.

This may turn off some potential customers, but you can’t target everyone anyway!

Methods of Making Money with Ecommerce

Now that we’ve thought about a unique selling proposition for ecommerce, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of different ways you can actually make money online.

Unfortunately, the old phrase “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t usually work as a business model in ecommerce. Simply setting up an online store and expecting sales to magically come in is a recipe for frustration.

Your initial research phase is key, because you need to think carefully about how you want to make your money. I’m going to share several different ideas for how to make money with ecommerce – and any of these approaches can work, but it’ll most likely take you a fair amount of time and effort to get profitable!

With that said, here are 10 general business models you can follow to start making money online.

Content sites and social media

It’s a model nearly as old as the internet itself: build your own website and publish a bunch (at least somewhere between 20 to 50 articles’ worth) of search engine optimized content on it. This will help you attract consistent traffic, which you can then monetize via digital ads, affiliate products, and even your own products or services. This is a business model that works – in fact, it’s pretty much the whole idea behind Niche Pursuits!

I included “social media” here because social is more popular than ever. These days, you can mimic the monetization model of a content site directly on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram with sponsors, posts about affiliates, and posts pitching your own products.

Of course, you can always use social sites as an intermediate step to funnel traffic to your content site, where all of the monetization strategies we just mentioned will apply.

Informational ebooks and courses

People will always pay good money for knowledge, especially in the evergreen topics of health, finance, dating, careers, and hobbies. You can package information into ebooks, audio courses, and video courses – then sell them on a third-party platform like Amazon and Udemy, offer them on your own site, or both!

The content format that works best will depend on your audience, your topic, and your overall business model. And don’t forget, many people will use ebooks or videos as the entry point into their sales funnel, with premium services like mastermind groups or consulting at the very tip. There’s always a way to extract value from quality information.

Membership sites

If you’re in the information business, a membership site is a great way to secure recurring revenue and build a sustainable business.

Rather than selling a single course or ebook as a one-time transaction, the membership site model provides customers with ongoing access to a growing repository of resources, including ebooks, videos, audio recordings, and more. It’s also a great way to build an exclusive community. You can charge a one-time fee for lifetime access, but many membership sites thrive by charging for monthly or yearly access.

ah pro home page

For a great example of a membership site – and a place where you can learn a LOT about ecommerce – check out Authority Hacker Pro!

Check out Authority Hacker Pro

Software

Got an idea for a software product? Spencer started Long Tail Pro as an SEO tool and turned it into a profitable business on its own. He’s done this again with Link Whisper, a great internal linking plugin.

The beauty of software is that it actually solves problems for people. This means the value proposition can be really clear, and you can usually set a decent price for it as well.

Once you have software to sell, you can offer it via your website, third-party marketplaces like Envato, app stores, and more!

Digital assets

You can make a great living by selling media assets to

businesses. I’m talking about selling photos, video, music,

motion graphics, spreadsheets, and so on.

You can decide whether you embrace more of an entertainment model – such as trying to make and sell your own music tracks to listeners as an artist – or whether you’re providing the building blocks for other content creators or business owners who are selling something.

For example, if you can get good at creating or sourcing great content assets, you can sell them to bloggers or businesses online! Depending on the format, you might sell stock assets through third-party marketplaces like Adobe Stock, or directly on your own website. 

Check Out Adobe Stock Here

Dropshipping

Most of what we’ve covered so far is on the digital side, but what if you want to sell a physical good?

Well, the concept of dropshipping is simple: you list someone else’s physical product for sale on your ecommerce store, and that brand or manufacturer fulfills and ships the order for you. Whether you go with a self-hosted Shopify store or Amazon FBA, dropshipping is a HUGE opportunity!

If you’re not inclined to purchase warehouse space or manage an inventory, dropshipping is an affordable way to get involved with selling physical products. As with many ways to make money online, dropshipping can be done through a website you own, through a marketplace like Amazon, or both.

Print on demand

There are countless companies out there that will make it easy for you to sell physical goods via print on demand. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: you’ve created a design that gets “printed” on a physical product, but only when there’s an order. You might do this with books, T shirts, mugs, hats… anything that can be printed on.

In a way, print on demand is just a more niche form of dropshipping. Rather than selling any physical product  under the sun, print on demand is focused around promotional items and merchandise, which means your print on demand business is heavily dependent on branding and design. After all, most people don’t REALLY need a new mug or T shirt – what they want is a mug or T shirt with a visual look or a funny saying.

One great example of a print on demand service is Printful, which you can easily connect with on your own Shopify store!

Retail arbitrage

While we’re on the topic of physical goods, consider the possibility of “flipping” products for profit. The technical term is “retail arbitrage,” which just means taking advantage of the difference in pricing between a local retail store and what someone will pay for a product online.

We see this every year during the holidays. Someone buys a hundred units of the same popular toy or game console, knowing it’ll be sold out, and then he can turn around and sell it online for a significant profit – because supply and demand. 

But you can implement this exact process year-round, as long as you do your research on different types of products and use your own Shopify store, eBay, or Amazon to sell them. 

Inventory Lab

For an authoritative way to sell on Amazon and source profitable inventory, check out the suite at Inventory Lab.

Check out Inventory Lab

Freelancing

Some people choose to sell their own labor online. You can be a freelancer in all kinds of skills, such as writing, design, coding, SEO, and more.

Yes, you can use a bidding site like UpWork, but you can also turn your venture into a bona fide business by creating your own website or store and marketing your freelance services to others directly.

And of course, don’t forget that freelancing may be only one facet of your business – you can also sell information products or digital assets within your area of expertise on your store!

Services

Want to sell some other kind of service? Many people in the ecommerce space make money selling “productized services,” such as a music lesson or an hour of consulting. Content Refined is a good example – they write content for people, but they’ve created packages for content writing, keyword research, and so on. 

Productized services are easy to sell online because you’ve defined a deliverable, making a consistent “product” that can be purchased right on your online store. From there, you can treat it like any other product and focus on inbound marketing and paid advertising to generate sales!


That’s a lot of different options, but it’s good for you to really think about what you’re going to sell, because this decision will dictate a lot of your ecommerce strategy from here. 

That’s also why I recommend you start with just ONE business model and stick with it for 3 to 6 months. Unless you already have experience in several areas, you can’t be an expert at all of them right away, and it’s easy to sap your business’s momentum if you bounce around from one idea to the next all the time!

Where to Sell Online

Once you’ve decided which method you want to focus on for making money – and ideally, the specific products or services you want to sell – then you have to figure out how to reach your potential customers.

As you probably know, there are a LOT of different ways to sell to customers online. I’m going to focus on just four primary channels for reaching an audience, but there are certainly others you can explore as well.

Keep in mind, these are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, I very much recommend that you eventually have all four: a blog, an account with different online marketplaces, your own ecommerce store, and an email list. Let’s take a quick look at each one.

A Website (With a Blog)

Website with blog for ecommerce

The most obvious option for selling online is just to build your own website. The website is still pretty much essential for almost any business – even if you’re a brick-and-mortar store – and I suggest you make the website a key part of yours!

A big reason for having a website, of course, is hosting a blog that can attract organic traffic in your niche. You’ll use this blog as a hub for your inbound marketing strategy and to build your brand.

The good news is, it’s nowhere near as difficult or expensive to get started with your own blog as it used to be. We recommend building your site with WordPress and a premium WordPress theme. We really like Thrive Themes, which streamlines the process of turning your site into a money-making machine!

Check out Thrive Themes Here

An Online Marketplace

It’s possible to get started in ecommerce without even having a website! All you have to do is establish an account with a prominent third-party marketplace.

Basically, if you list products for sale on an online marketplace such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or even Craigslist, you can start selling immediately. Most marketplaces support sellers just like you.

The best thing about a solution like Amazon is that it already has potential buyers for you on day one. You get access to people who quite literally have their wallets out, and you get to piggyback off of the trust people have built up with a prominent ecommerce retailer.

On the other hand, competition is fierce, and you’ll have a much more difficult time differentiating your brand from all of your fellow vendors clamoring for attention on the same platform. 

Ultimately, a marketplace like Amazon is very likely to play a role in your ecommerce business, even if it’s not the primary place you sell, because it helps you build your brand where buyers already are. If you want to figure out how to sell on Amazon – the king of ecommerce marketplaces – then we recommend Jungle Scout for product research. 

Learn More About Jungle Scout

An All-in-One Ecommerce Store

BigCommerce Essentials

There’s a third option: building your own store with an all-in-one ecommerce platform like BigCommerce or Shopify. This is a quick way to launch your very own online store, where you can build your own brand and list products and services as well. It’s similar to a website, but you pay for these services on a monthly subscription basis, anywhere from $29 to literally thousands as a big enterprise customer.

Now, don’t get me wrong – you can be very successful with a store through one of these platforms. Just don’t be under any illusion that your store will be a direct competitor with Amazon, eBay, Jet, Etsy, Walmart, Overstock, or Target. According to BigCommerce, nearly 50 percent of all online shoppers will go straight to a large ecommerce marketplace when they’re looking to make a purchase.

Instead, if you have an online store of your own, you can use third-party sales channels as great marketing opportunities to build brand awareness and maybe drive some additional traffic back to your store. Even big brands like Microsoft don’t turn down the chance to be found on a massive marketplace like Amazon – so why would you?

An all-in-one store is also useful for local businesses and any business owner who has a way to reach customers, but needs a way to actually process payments and fulfill orders. We recommend Shopify for building your own online store. You can get a free 14-day trial right here!

An Email List

“The money is in the list.”

There’s really nothing like an email list to help your ecommerce business hit new highs.

Obviously, your best bet for building an email list is with an opt-in box on your own website. You’ll want to sell people on signing up with a “lead magnet” – some kind of really enticing giveaway like a guide, checklist, or worksheet. This offer needs to be good enough that you COULD sell it, but you’re choosing to give it away instead.

You’ll also need to have useful content to share in your emails regularly, so that it’s not off-putting whenever you do try to sell something to your list.

The reason an email list is so important is that you’re collecting a group of people who have raised their hand and said, “I’m interested in what you have to say.” These are ALL potential customers – they’ve demonstrated that they trust you and will be predisposed to purchase from you, especially compared to cold traffic online.

An email list will never replace other sales channels, but it’s a fantastic asset and can lead to a lot of additional revenue. We really like Constant Contact as an email provider.

Try Constant Contact FREE for 60 Days!

Making Sales in Your Ecommerce Business

Make sales in ecommerce

Even after you’ve picked a method of making money, figured out a product or service to offer, and decided on the channel(s) for selling, your work is only JUST beginning.

You might have a shiny, brand-spanking-new online store on your website or Amazon, but now, it’s time to get some sales!

First things first… Are your product listings optimized for SEO and complete with professional images and irresistible copy? That’s an important start, but the bigger part of this equation is going to be TRAFFIC.

On your own ecommerce website, the two primary ways of getting traffic are SEO and paid ads. 

Search Engine Optimization

Getting comfortable with search engine optimization and keyword research is key for any online business. You aren’t going to succeed unless you reach buyers who are interested in what you have to sell.

That means you need to think like your ideal customer and ask yourself: what topics would I be interested in? Then, use an SEO tool to conduct keyword research and uncover some suggested keywords you can target with quality content.

Whenever possible, focus on buyer-intent keywords for users who are ready to make a purchase: For example, instead of the keyword “who invented shoes,” you’d want to rank for “best shoes for Christmas gift,” because the second term sounds like someone who would actually buy the right pair of shoes if they found them!

Ultimately, SEO is a longer-term strategy, but it’s essential for your business, because your ROI from organic traffic is much better than continually investing in paid ads. You won’t really see significant results for six months to a year, but it’s a much stronger foundation for your business compared to alternative traffic sources.

To do thorough keyword research, we recommend the SEO tool Long Tail Pro.

Try Long Tail Pro Today!

Paid Ads

If you’d rather not wait for SEO to start bringing decent organic traffic to your website, then paid ads through Facebook or Google might be on the table for you! 

One of the best things about this approach is your ability to split test and optimize everything. In effect, you can use the copy and creative on your paid ads to help you test your assumptions and discover what works.

Some ad gurus even optimize to a point where the money they spend on their ads leads to a consistent positive ROI. I’m not a paid ads guru, but I believe there’s still value in conducting some paid ads to help jumpstart sales and learn real data points about your audience.

An Online Marketplace

If you’re selling on a marketplace like Amazon or Etsy, it’s a little different than with your website or Shopify store. You’ll set up your own product listings there, and they’ll take a percentage of your profits, as well as a monthly subscription fee or an upfront payment for listings. These costs can be significant, so you shouldn’t list anything you’re not committed to selling!

But you should recognize that these third-party marketplaces are great marketing channels for you. Just like you might try to pull visitors to your website from social sites like YouTube or Facebook, you can do the same with these online marketplaces. Amazon is a huge search engine in its own right… Selling products on Amazon with SEO in mind could help you raise your overall business profile fast!

When Will You Make a Profit?

The reality is, ecommerce isn’t easy! Our fellow internet users are inundated with opportunities to buy online, and until you and your business have built a trustworthy reputation, your potential customers may not be inclined to pay a stranger like you for any product or service. 

Fortunately, you can put the odds on your side through social proof: a high numbers of followers, an actively engaged community, positive product reviews, and plenty of authoritative content. But still, you should expect that your ecommerce business isn’t likely to make a profit immediately. Like with most businesses, there will be an initial investment upfront – but you should hopefully see a break-even point within a handful of months.

It’s obviously faster to turn a profit if you sell a service as opposed to products, because you’re just capturing a profit margin rather than trading your labor for dollars. On the other hand, products can sell without you, which makes them a lot more scalable. You’ll have to decide which balance of products and services is right for you – but don’t worry!

All of the money and effort you put in now will help you see which products perform best, raise awareness about your brand, help you build an email list, and collect data about who your ideal customers are. You have to start somewhere!

Advanced Tactics for Ecommerce Success

Ecommerce success

You don’t always get all of the fanciest tools and techniques when you’re new to ecommerce, because you need a solid foundation for your business first.

But as you grow and start to bring in some revenue, you’ll want to invest in some additional tactics that can really help you optimize your business! Here are a few advanced techniques to be thinking about.

Analytics

At first, you just won’t have a lot of numbers to work with. But as you start to build an online presence and make sales, you’ll collect data on a lot of different metrics:

  • Total monthly sessions
  • Bounce rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Time on page
  • Revenue per thousand (RPM) visitors
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)

The list goes on and on, trust me! Every business is unique, so the key performance indicators (KPIs) that YOU find important will probably differ from those of other businesses.

However, it’s important that you do follow the numbers using Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website. You’ll also want to have a solid tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to track your SEO.

If you have an online store with Shopify, you’ll be able to follow all of your metrics there. Any social media site or online marketplace will have analytics as well, particularly if you’re running paid ads.

Lastly, if you opt for a landing page builder like Instapage, you’ll get plenty of data to work with there as well.

Conversion rate optimization

The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who land on your page and complete a desired action (in ecommerce, that’s usually making a purchase).

According to BigCommerce, the average ecommerce conversion rate is between 1 and 2 percent. Regardless of the average, your goal should be to have the highest possible conversion rate you can get, because that equates to more sales and returns more money for every marketing dollar you spend.

You can use tools like HotJar with heat maps to help you see what a typical user does on your site, including clicks, cursor movement, and scrolling. In conjunction with Google Analytics, HotJar lets you pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t.

Good conversion rate optimization starts with making sure that you’re providing the best possible user experience, including quality images and videos, scannable text, and fast page loading speeds. From there, you can conduct A/B tests of designs, layouts, colors, headlines, and more to continue improving your conversions!

Abandoned cart recovery

Abandoned cart recovery is built-in to popular all-in-one ecommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.

The way it works is pretty simple: when a user adds an item to their cart, but doesn’t fully check out, the software sends them an email reminding them to finish their purchase.

This simple reminder can boost conversion by 30 percent! I can’t stress enough how important it is to implement abandoned cart recovery for ANY ecommerce store you run. This one feature could mean the difference between profitability and closing up shop.

Retargeting

Similar to abandoned cart recovery, many site visitors will quit their session before they make a purchase, but they’ll still have an interest in your products or your content. If only there were a way to get in front of them again…

Well, that’s exactly why retargeting is such a great tactic to invest in! Both Google and Facebook offer their own retargeting options, allowing you to place targeted ads on other websites based on certain triggers from your own.

With an ecommerce site, for example, you could retarget someone who visited your store page or a specific blog post, but didn’t make a purchase. This is incredibly valuable, because it lets you sell to people who are ALREADY warm leads.

Retargeting may not be something you do right away, but the better you get to know your audience and their particular buyer’s journey, the more effective you’ll be when it’s time to retarget them!

How to Make Money With Ecommerce Wrap-up

Well, that’s probably plenty of information on how to make money with ecommerce for one post. There are almost as many ways to make money online as there are online users… Okay, maybe not QUITE that many, but there definitely are a LOT of options out there!

What this means is, you need to be very deliberate about which approach you take. It’s a delicate balance of avoiding shiny object syndrome, but not being SO single-minded that you refuse to pivot when a better opportunity presents itself!

My recommendation is to start with a fairly solid plan and stick to it, but be flexible enough that you can take some risks and test your strategy over time.

Remember the four components you need for a successful ecommerce business:

  1. Decide on your unique selling proposition.
  2. Pick a business model (ie products and services to sell).
  3. Set up your sales channels.
  4. Execute tactics for getting traffic.

By employing these key steps, you’ll be on track to get your business going and make money with ecommerce. Please let me know if you have any questions – just comment below!

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