Create a sales funnel to monetize your blog? Sounds simple right? It is! Affiliate programs may come and go, but your email list of loyal subscribers will stay with you forever!
So how do you get people on your email list? You create a sales funnel using free resources and you only need a basic funnel to get started.
There is no need for fancy or expensive software to start using funnels on your website.
This post was originally published April 10th, 2018 and has been updated to be current with new information. This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure is here.
Welcome to Fearless Affiliate.
My name is Irma and I help new bloggers to learn the ropes. There is a lot to take in that first year of blogging, from choosing a niche to changing your mindset from worker bee mentality to that of successful entrepreneur.
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What Is A Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a marketing tool that you create to connect with your website visitors.
You have probably seen funnels in action and not even realized it.
Or you may have been in someone else’s funnel and not realized it.
Anytime you give your email address in exchange for something, like a free checklist, you went into another bloggers funnel.
When I first started my website, my plan was to focus on affiliate marketing. But that is not effective for new bloggers unless you focus on one product exclusively and market it ruthlessly.
To do that you need a great product, which can be hard for new bloggers to find.
When I discovered a whole ‘underground movement’ devoted to Pinterest marketing, my blogging outlook changed. I saw a new future.
I found a huge world of bloggers who were creating products of their own and they marketed those ruthlessly.
Much better idea.
They were using Pinterest to do the marketing, which opens up a massive world of customers.
Pinterest is different from other search engines, in that people are not shopping…they are buying. They did their research, and now they want the “thing”.
This creates a place for content creators to showcase their wares to people who are ready to buy.
There are a lot of successful bloggers out there creating their own digital products to sell to visitors.
Most of them are following a basic marketing principle: A sales funnel with effective email marketing in place.
Some people are still offering up crappy free stuff, the value being in the eye of the beholder.
But a lot people are offering up legitimate value within their free stuff. And the people who offer massive value with their free products get tons of people on their lists.
What are The Benefits of Using A Sales Funnel?
If you want to enhance the “know, like, and trust” aspect of your website, start an email list.
1. The main benefit of the funnel is being able to connect with your website visitors.
Having an email list of subscribers allows you to communicate with people who are already engaged with your content. That is a huge win.
Because seriously, most of us are trying to earn a living with our websites, am I right?
So why not work on selling to people who are already interested in what you have to say?
Most new bloggers hope that random visitors will arrive, fall in love with their stuff, click all their links and make them rich.
This is the idea that many people have about making money online. And some course creators perpetuate this myth to sell their content.
That doesn’t happen.
People give their money to people they trust. That’s the “know, like, trust” part.
- Get them on your list, so they get to know you
- Share helpful content, so they will like you and stick around
- Promote more extensive help in the form of paid products. If they trust you, they will buy.
Helping people with lots of useful content is your first priority.
2. Creating sales funnels causes you to prioritize your money-making projects first. #ROI
In the early days of your website, you have to create lots of content and get it out there. There is no point in creating a ton of content that no one wants to read, but you have to start at the start.
Check your Google Analytics a couple of times a month to see what’s attracting visitors. When you see consistent traffic going to one or two of your posts, you want to create more content like that.
Expand on that topic.
If you expand that topic and create more posts, you can keep watching your analytics to see that, yes, that topic is popular with your readers.
Or not. If the same one post still gets all the love, try to figure out why.
- Is it a “for beginners” post?
- Or is it a list post?
- Why is it special to your readers?
When you can see clearly that your visitors are mostly coming for one post, create an opt-in freebie on that same topic.
3. An effective sales funnel helps people
People are online seeking answers. If your blog post helps someone with a problem, then you’ve done your job.
You can expand the scope of that help with a great freebie, so not only do you help a person, but they will share how great your help was with others.
FYI: When you get any great emails about how your freebie helped someone, keep them for later testimonials aka social proof.
That will bring you more people to help.
Do you see what a huge time saver that is?
No more guessing what to write about. Happy ‘customers’ do your marketing for you. #win-win.
Let’s look at what happens without the email component:
1. Customer seeks a solution
This can be anything…a recipe…how to clean your headlights…how to trim your dog’s toenails. They are searching.
Someone is seeking a solution to a problem. You have a solution for this person, so it is only a matter of making a connection between you and them.
2. Customer finds your website or link from social media to your website
You write an awesome blog post offering a perfect solution and then put your links in social media. And people find you and come to your website and look around.
3. Customer assesses your solution
They may look at your post and scan the text looking for clues as to whether you can help them or not, such as inter-linked posts. The post is helpful, but they need more…
4. Customer leaves
Bummer. They got an answer but no way to get more of the same or an expanded version. Nothing left to do but seek more help elsewhere.
5. Lost Opportunity
So we can see that the problem happens at point number 3, when the customer assesses your solution.
It may be an awesome solution but it is not keeping them at your site and it is not encouraging them to come back for more.
How To Build Your Sales Funnel for Free
You need a few tools to create your funnel, but they are all free to use:
- Email service provider – MailerLite and MailChimp are free. I recommend MailerLite
- Graphic design program – Canva is a popular free product for this purpose
It is a good idea to get your email service provider set up first. Once you know how to create opt-in boxes and can connect them to your website, you can create multiple funnels.
1. Sign Up For MailerLite
MailerLite is free for the first 1000 subscribers, easy to use, and you can create tons of opt-in boxes for your website that you can customize with your brand colors. MailerLite has comparable features to ConvertKit, but without the price tag.
Related Post: How To Use MailerLite
Write a blog post about your freebie, i.e. “Today’s post is all about widgets! If you’d like a free guide to shopping for widgets you get one when you sign up for our mailing list”. Something like that and with your GDPR compliance items, if necessary.
An easy way to come up with freebie ideas is to reverse engineer your freebie from a final paid product. It looks like:
Higher priced paid offer > tripwire product aka low cost offer > freebie.
If you don’t have a paid product or tripwire idea yet, keep moving forward. Keep shopping around for higher priced products that you can reverse-engineer a freebie for. Or think about creating one yourself.
Research what other bloggers offer and look for holes in the market that you can fill.
An example is:
- Blog post: Cooking With Apples (listing one or two varieties that you can cook with but is more about how to cook with apples)
- Freebie: Checklist – Which apples are best for cooking?
- Low-cost paid item (tripwire): 25 recipes for cooking apples (pies, crisps, coffee cake etc.) for $7.
- 5 eBook package: Buying cooking apples; 30 pie recipes; 20 different pie crust recipes; Heirloom Apples You Can Buy Today; Carving apples for fun. $24
Another example might be:
- Dealing with back pain blog post
- Stretches for back pain checklist
- Eliminating Back Pain The Easy Way eBook for $9.
- Never Have Back Pain Again eCourse $67
In both examples, you can earn money from 2 different products at 2 different price points. Ideally, you have multiple products that can all link to tripwire and/or sales pages.
Think about what steps you took to learn about a topic and create a free and paid item that shows how to progress so that you eliminate the pain point.
Only create freebies for blog posts that already get decent traffic. Decent = More traffic, by far, than your other content.
Examples of great freebies are:
Coupons, Discount codes, and Special offers – Incentive to buy from you in the future!
Giveaways or sweepstakes – a great way to get a bunch of signups is a contest that you can promote on social media. They have to sign up for your newsletter to get their name in the draw (check your local laws for how to set up this type of giveaway so that you are not doing anything illegal!). The prize can be an ebook that you have written or a personal consultation for 30 minutes.
Checklist, Worksheet, Free Report, PDF, Infographic – These are simple to create in Canva, which already has tons of free templates. Just swap out your brand colors and pertinent information. Create a mock-up or screen shot the freebie and put in your blog post!
Free: Consult, shipping, upgrade, personal call (Value of $), strategy session – these are great for people who need to connect to a real person so that they can ask questions or gain clarity.
A free 5-Day email course – These are great because you can link to a different resource each day.
Think about creating an “enhanced” freebie
Beyond that one page free item, you can create something so awesome that you could charge for it. I’m talking 6 or more pages.
Using the ‘Cooking with Apples’ example above, you could have:
- 1 intro page that includes a couple of tips
- Shopping list with photos of the apples
- Printable shopping list, also with photos
- 2 free recipes
- A tips sheet on regular apples vs organic vs heirloom
- A tips sheet on how to quickly prepare apples prior to cooking.
- Plus a cover page and a final page with a CTA (this can eventually lead to your low cost offer)
If you know your topic well, it should be easy to figure out what kind of tips will benefit your customer.
Imagine putting a pin image on Pinterest encouraging people to sign up for your 8 page freebie of tips and recipes for purchasing cooking apples.
Versus someone else’s one-page dealio.
Guess who will be more popular…
2. Sign Up For Free Canva
Use free Canva to create your freebies. You can create webinar slides, workbooks, eBooks, etc. There is also Canva Pro, which has more options and folders.
Read my blog post A Simple Branding Tutorial on how to use the main features of free Canva.
If you want a more expansive option, consider purchasing templates for use with Canva.
There are free templates on the internet, but they will each have different formatting from each other.
Good for single page items, but no so much for eBook purposes.
For templates for bigger projects, go to Creative Market and search for “Canva eBook templates” that are for sale.
I recommend signing up for the Creative Market mailing list, because they send free stuff every Monday, like free fonts you can use on Canva!
If you think that you might want to create multiple eBooks, purchasing an eBook template package will save a lot of time. You can move pages around and duplicate them.
This is handy and makes the package an affordable option for creating resources to sell.
You can get basic book templates, books with pages for recipes, habit trackers, resource list pages, bio pages and more.
Pinterest Tip: Make a pin with a thumbnail of your freebie and put that on your pin.
- Use large easy-to-read fonts
- Emphasize the word FREE (call to action).
- Make sure that your website URL is on your pin as well.
Then link it to the blog post. Part way down your blog post you put the box with the freebie opt-in. Monitor the results.
Your freebie needs to encourage the people who see your social media posts to feel compelled to click on over to your website and check it out.
This creates the link from #2 in the funnel to #3.
Once you have people on your email subscriber list, you want to nurture that relationship. You send them:
- Great tips
- Links to blog posts – don’t assume they have read all your stuff already!
- Helpful information from other bloggers in your niche
- Strategies that they can use to help themselves.
Be consistent and helpful
You will get people signing up for your free stuff and then unsubscribing.
They may be at a very early stage in searching for a solution, but discovered that your freebie isn’t it.
Don’t let unsubscribes discourage you. Everyone who does email marketing has them.
But if the subscriber sticks around, THEY ARE YOUR FANS!
You can now nurture your relationship to them and have a better chance that they will make a future purchase.
In the early stages, during your welcome series of emails, you can promote something low-cost and not offend too many people with a sales pitch.
If you are doing 4 or 5 emails in a welcome series, promote your item in the last or second last email.
You want to do this after you have introduced yourself and explained how you can help the person.
More on eBooks and Tripwire Products
If you have series of posts, you can re-package them into an eBook and sell it for around $14, for example. You can just sell the book as is with a nice link on your website.
Or use it for a tripwire product.
If you sign up for someone’s freebie and the thank you page gives you a bargain offer with a timer, that’s a tripwire.
Tripwires are called that because of the urgency.
The timer is 15 or 20 minutes long and that offer disappears when the timer runs out. That’s the urgency part.
Tripwires are also called low-cost or no-brainer offers, because they are inexpensive and the buyers logic is that they won’t feel too bad if they only spend $7 and it doesn’t deliver.
So you can sell the eBook for $14 regular price and use it for a tripwire at a $9 price. #passiveincome
If your customer misses out on the tripwire price, they can still get the book, but at a higher price.
If someone buys the tripwire, they will likely buy again from you later.
You can also offer your subscribers a discounted (tripwire) price before offering it for full price on your website.
This gives your subscribers exclusive content which helps with loyalty.
Add in bonuses like checklists, resource lists (affiliate links!), or step-by-step instructions to entice buyers further.
You are not trying to make a fortune with Tripwire products
Instead, you want to give a little bit more of what you have to offer for a small amount of money.
You are kind of testing the waters with your subscribers to see what interests them and who wants to buy.
This also gets them used to purchasing from you.
A quick story…
This reminds me of when a tail light went out on my car and I could only find one YouTube video on how to fix it, and wow it looked complicated.
I bought the tool that I needed but when I started the project I gave up because it was clearly going to be a pain in the neck. I did not want to be hanging off the back end of my car in the hot and sweltering summer heat trying to figure it out.
A few weeks later, I went to one of those quickie oil change places. The guy there offered to fix my tail light for 5 bucks. I jumped on that!
At that point, I was very willing to pay 5 bucks for someone to fix my problem for me.
The point with my story is that people are at various stages of research and may encounter your website at any point.
The odds are that some people will see your offer and jump on it.
Never assume that you won’t sell any inexpensive products.
Many bloggers make full-time income selling only low-priced products. It’s about marketing and volume.
People will not mind paying $7 or $19 for a solution. Even if it is not too helpful, it is still not much of a financial loss, so it is easier to swallow that price.
You may surprise them by giving them super awesome value for that $7. Now you will now have a very loyal repeat customer.
And the best part is that if people do purchase these products, then it is likely that there will always be a market for it.
And that means you create it once and sell it forever. Evergreen passive income…yippee!
FYI: You can make steady income with low-cost offers. However you need a large volume of people coming into your funnel. To get this done, you should consider paid ads either on Facebook, Pinterest, or both.
It doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to do all the time. But pushing your landing page out into the feed will help get it in front of potential subscribers, who are potential buyers. Then get your buyers to help you promote it!
I hope that I have inspired you to start an email campaign and create the start of a sales funnel. You hear tales told of 6 figure bloggers who all say that they regret waiting to set up email marketing, and who knows how much money they left on the table because they did not take the time to “get ‘er done”.
An effective email system is hub of successful affiliate marketing and a sales funnel that will bring some cash for your hard work. And creating your own digital products to sell guarantees that your product is always available. Then you just have to keep working on step 2 in the funnel because everything else is done.
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Happy Blogging and follow me on Pinterest.