eCommerce Websites | Make the Move from Blog to Business

Set up your online store in the morning. Celebrate your first sale in the afternoon.

Most of us want the freedom to make something meaningful, and to share what we’ve made with the right people.

If you’ve already invested in a blog on your own website, you’ve been in the business of strengthening relationships since your first post. Now that you’ve found a loyal audience, the natural next step is to start exploring how to monetize your site. If you know what your audience needs and you have an idea for how to help give it to them online, you’re already halfway there.

Whether you’re newly committed to turning your passion project into more of a moneymaker, or you’re just trying to earn some extra income on the side, setting up an online store will make it that much easier for your audience to support you. Here are some suggestions for getting started with a WordPress eCommerce website, and how to get to your first sale quickly and affordably.

Start small

Running an online store is ambitious, but starting a business can also be just that: a start. 

Take it from someone who tried WordPress for the first time more than ten years ago, then dedicated himself to helping others get their start with WordPress. Before becoming our WooCommerce Payments Lead, Brent Shepherd built his own company, Prospress, which he founded to help new store owners prosper with WordPress. Brent now has more than a decade of eCommerce experience, and he still describes first installing WordPress in 2009 as “love at first site.”  

A WordPress eCommerce plan provides all the essential functionality you’ll need at an affordable price point, especially if you’re new to eCommerce or online sales. “You can sign-up with just an email and a credit card,” Brent says, “and be selling online even if you don’t know what a server is, or a domain name.”

Whether you’re selling a service or a pillow with a corgi in a hat, a site that takes care of each transaction for you is going to make your first sale that much easier. 

Celebrate your progress

I love reasonable goals. I’m fond of moonshot goals, too, when I’m feeling particularly inspired! But when I’m trying to make practical, everyday progress, nothing is more motivating than having a clear sense of what I want to achieve and a deadline that’s within reach. The easier it is to know that I’ve made progress, the better. 

I come up with all of my goals while looking at a calendar. Ultimately I choose a dollar figure for how much money I’d like to make each month, but focusing on the immediate next step is always more useful than fantasizing about the end of the road. If you made $0 from online sales last month, even one sale this month is real progress.

If you can plan out how you’ll make your first sale, you’ll be able to apply those lessons and experiences to the second and the third. “Emailing friends-and-family is a great way to do that,” Brent says. You can also share an announcement post on social media with a link to your first product page. “I’ve seen stores selling all manner of products succeed,” Brent says, “from monthly subscription boxes containing dog toys for power chewers, to gourmet ice-cream!” 

Simple Payments example for physical product on an ecommerce site.
The Pay with PayPal block from WordPress.com

Define success generously. Did you sign up for a crucial tool today that you didn’t have yesterday? Did you research eCommerce solutions and make a final decision? Pick manageable benchmarks that get you into a habit of tracking growth from one week to the next. A WordPress eCommerce website will help you celebrate wins along the way by providing you with timely reminders of how far you’ve come. “It will display a notice for special milestones,” Brent says, “like your first sale (or 100th) or a new sales record.” 

Try experimenting with the options in Payments block (available with all paid plans) to help you sell physical products, digital goods, or donations by connecting a Stripe account to WordPress.com.

If you’re planning to offer more of an ongoing service, like weekly lessons, monthly consultations, or annual subscriptions, you can also set up recurring payments or subscription charges with the Payments block. If you write product reviews or recommendations, it can be useful just to dip your toe in with affiliate links or sponsored posts to build up your confidence with selling online through partnerships. 

Once you’ve tackled your first few sales, different WordPress.com plans will provide a variety of features that can help you decide on the next steps to take with your online store. 

If you’re choosing between a Business plan or an eCommerce plan on WordPress.com, consider how far you want to be able to go with online sales now or in the future, and how soon you want to be able to unlock certain plan features. If you’re on a Premium plan and just want to install a custom plugin or theme, the Business plan has you covered. If you’re ready to expand your shipping options, access more robust marketing tools, or add unlimited products or services to your online store, a WordPress eCommerce plan is the way to go. You’ll be able to get personalized help with either plan.

Give yourself time to get the support you need

All of the most successful people I know do two key things: they ask for help, and they acknowledge their teams. 

It’s common to feel alone or isolated when you’re just starting out as a new merchant, especially if you’re working from home or you only have the resources to bootstrap your idea by starting solo. It helps to keep in mind that true “overnight” success stories are few and far between. Sustainability resists short-term thinking, by definition. Even solopreneurs benefit from outside expertise, assistance, and teamwork at every stage of their business.

One of the major advantages of WordPress.com’s 24/7 expert support is that the team comes with the tool. The same upgrade that provides you with an eCommerce website also pays for access to real people who are on call every day to help you set it up. Whenever you have a question or run into a new challenge, someone will be able to talk you through it, until it’s resolved. 

Start where you’re comfortable starting. Rest assured that if you upgrade to a WordPress eCommerce website, you can begin right where you are, size up as you grow, and access the support you need every step of the way. If you need help getting started, just ask!

Find out more about turning your blog into a business inside our free guide!

ebook cover - online payment technology for websites

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Cusick

Catherine Cusick is a writer, editor, and digital audience strategist based in Austin, Texas.

More by Catherine Cusick