Many businesses have succeeded in selling products online in the form of e-books, e-reports, and other downloadable content. Of course, it's not as simple as posting the product on your Web site and hoping buyers will come. The challenge comes in getting potential customers to your site in the first place.

Once they arrive, why should they buy from you? That's a question you must answer before they get to your Web site or landing page. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port covers building and selling online products and saves you many steps.

Let's put it this way: If you receive an email from MarketingProfs and an unknown company offers the same product for less money, which business will you buy from? Do you go with the one you know and trust, or do you go with cheap?

Current Marketing Challenge

Marketing a product online

I've written several e-books and e-reports that have received accolades. I believe I can do better in selling these products online. How do you best promote Web-based products such as e-books and e-reports? What can I do to expand my product reach online?


The following three steps help you and your business earn respect and gain credibility so that customers feel good about buying from you:

  1. Write articles
  2. Create a joint venture
  3. Build an affiliate program

Write articles

Writing articles and posting them around the Web and in email newsletters is the easiest thing you can do. Just create content and post it or email it. No set up or networking is usually involved. Articles accomplish several things:

  • Establish you as an expert and thought-leader on the topic
  • Provide a link back to your Web site through a byline
  • Get your name and brand out there

Next Marketing Challenge

How does an online business stay credible for offline sales?

Click here to offer your advice or here to ask a question

Maybe you have existing content from a presentation, report, blog entry, or article that you can recycle into a new article. If you have a long article, try splitting it into two or three parts so you get multiple articles out of it.

Are there newsletters or Web sites that provide value to readers, include your target market, and have your respect? Try submitting your articles to them.

Knowing newsletter editors and publishers or site owners, or forming relationships with them, can help the odds of having your submissions accepted. Once your article is accepted, inform newsletter or Web site content publishers that they can publish your story as long as they include your byline or a credit to you. Many article libraries also exist where you can submit articles.

Create a joint venture

Joint ventures give you the opportunity to tap into someone else's name and audience. Achinta Mitra, president of Tiecas, Inc., recommends partnering with owners of other Web sites:

Form a joint venture with owners of sites that are selling complimentary e-products. You want the owner to recommend your e-books and reports to his/her list in exchange for a commission. This is more effective than just an affiliate program because the recommendation is coming from a trusted source, and you get access to a captive audience.

The other business has built a relationship with its audience through its Web site, email newsletters, and other marketing efforts. The work is done for you. If you know the business, it should be a breeze to partner up and sell each other's products. Both companies gain the benefit of the other company's reputation.

Build an affiliate program

Creating an affiliate program may not sound appealing because it means your affiliate gets some of your profit. But ever consider how much profit you'd get by not reaching out to your affiliates' customers? Could be zip. So less profit is better than no profit; plus, you expand your reach.

Reflect on newsletters you've received in which the publisher promotes another company's product. You might see the same product appear in multiple newsletters. That's what happens when the business behind the product targets these publications and signs them up as affiliates.

The initial setup of an affiliate program takes some work, but once that's done—all you have to do is promote the program to the right resources. Targeting just any publication will waste time. Does an audience of plumbers want to buy a product that covers programming? No. In that case, it's better to target programmers, IT specialists, and Web designers looking to expand their programming knowledge.

Writing articles, doing joint ventures, and building an affiliate program all take advantage of relationships to help you jump-start your expertise and credibility. But trying to do them simultaneously may overwhelm you. Start small by submitting one article to five content libraries. Build up from there.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?

Online store sells more products face-to-face

Our company name is our Internet address and is generic like When we branded the company, our intention was to grow our online sales. But we actually sell more products in our bricks-and-mortar store. We've received feedback from customers that they think we're just an online company.

To work around this, we thought maybe it would help to come up with a prefix to the name to indicate we're not just an Internet-based company. How can we overcome this challenge?


If you have a situation or question needing a few hundred brains for ideas, 180,000 MarketingProfs readers are ready to deliver their thoughts to resolve your challenge. Share your question, and you'll get a chance to win a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Pu blishing.

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Hank Stroll ( is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.