Should you start selling from day one, or should you wait until you have an eager and willing audience?
If there were an easy answer, this question wouldn’t keep coming up. There is no right or wrong; only what’s right for you.
Here are some thoughts on when you should begin selling.
Get Set Up As Early As Possible
Whether you want to review and promote affiliate products or put ads up on your site, you need traffic to make money. If people aren’t coming to your site, it doesn’t matter how many things you’re promoting.
Still, while you’re probably not going to miss out on many sales or clicks while you’re busy building your traffic, it’s a misnomer that setting up your accounts will take up too much of your time upfront. In fact, it’s probably a better idea to get set up as early as you possibly can.
Think about it this way. If you start your site with your ads and offers in mind, you won’t have to redesign your site and re-think your approach later. If you take the time to set it up right when you’re first getting started, you won’t have to think about it when your audience is growing. You can let the sales, ad revenue and commissions roll in.
So yes, while it is true that you’re not going to make any money without some traffic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have your promotions up and running from the get-go. Plus, you’ll be better able to make adjustments to your call to actions and sales style based on the lessons you learn along the way. If you only start once your traffic is built, you’ll have a lot more testing and experimenting to do later on.
Ditch The Fear-Based Mindset
Many people fear that their website visitors are going to be turned off by ads and offers, but there is no evidence showing that. Plenty of popular sites like Lifehack and Slashdot have ads on them (sometimes a lot of them too).
Now, it’s one thing if your website is full of pop-ups, animated GIFs and seizure-inducing Flash ads. That would be a turnoff for anyone (could you even be bothered to look at your own site?).
However, it’s something else entirely if your ads appear in the natural flow of your content, they don’t take away anything from your design, and they’re convenient for your visitors.
For example, if you have a review for an affiliate product that you love, it’s only natural to offer a link to that product at the end of your review (or even several times throughout your review). This is a service to the reader, not a sales pitch. If they’re sold, they’re sold. If not, no problem. There’s always next time. That’s what traffic is all about.
Plus, if you’re selling from day one, your intentions are pretty clear; there are no hidden agendas, and your readers or visitors aren’t going to question what you’re up to down the line.
What stops a lot of people from taking action is fear. They’re worried about what others will think of them. I would recommend ditching the fear-based mindset. Be bold. If you feel like you want to start promoting offers out of the gate, don’t let naysayers stop you.
Review Your Goals
If you have a review site and you have a guilty conscience for selling products and services, something isn’t adding up. The whole purpose of your site is to attract potential customers who might enjoy the same things you do, right?
So if you aren’t sure whether or not you should be selling, go back to the basics. Take some time to think about what the purpose of your website is.
Is your goal to build an audience? If so, why do you want to build an audience? More than likely, your end game includes monetizing that audience, right?
If you’re really worried, you can ask for permission from your audience. You can survey them or email them and ask them whether or not they would be comfortable with you promoting products on your site.
Just keep in mind that – historically – there have been many website owners that have had to start monetizing regardless of what their visitors thought of them. If you ask your visitors, a majority of them may say “no”, but once you’ve implemented promotions, they’ll probably realize it’s not as bad as they thought it would be. Moreover, they’ll probably understand your need to monetize.
If people like the information they’re getting, why would they stop visiting your site just because you’re now promoting a few offers here and there?
So take some time to review your goals. You may want to push products more or less depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, but if you have any aversion to selling, the problem is with you.
Go All-In Or All-Out
If you’re trying to figure out when the right time is to sell on your site, stop. This isn’t really a question of when.
It’s a question of whether or not you intend to promote offers on your site at all. If you want to sell affiliate products or put ads up on your site, you may as well integrate early. There’s no sense in waiting, missing out on opportunities, and having to rearrange your site later because you thought better of the idea.
If there’s something else you want to do with your site, that’s perfectly okay too. Just be honest with yourself about what you’re doing. Don’t expect the money to come rolling in if your website serves a function other than monetization.
You’re either all-in or you’re all-out. Don’t dip a toe in to check to see if the water is nice. You either want to make money with your website or you don’t. Isn’t transparency the best policy?
So there you have it.
Again, is there a right and a wrong answer here? No. Maybe selling early makes sense to you. Maybe selling later feels like the right thing to do. Just keep in mind that you’re going to have a lot of adjustments to make down the line if you choose to wait until your traffic is built up.
Just don’t get too caught up in what other people might think of you; especially if you have no evidence or data to back up what they might be thinking. Stop thinking about what others might be thinking!