Issue #238

Our tech stack (part 3)

The Blog Marketing Tech Stack (Part 3)

In part 2 of our series on the perfect blog marketing tech stack, we left off with a discussion of membership site plug-ins. This is all part of the ecommerce section of our stack, and so we left off our tech stack here:

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But, membership site plug-ins are not the right fit for everybody. So, our discussion of the ecommerce chunk of our stack would be incomplete if we didn’t discuss other options.

Let’s first discuss the idea of a “shopping cart”. A lot of people get a little confused over these things and think they need one. So, what’s the deal?

See, a traditional “shopping cart” is designed for a traditional ecommerce business selling physical goods. That usually means being able to buy multiple units of the same thing (in other words, order quantity) as well as being able to add multiple items to a cart and proceed to check out. In other words, it works sort of like how Amazon works. If you are selling physical goods, then certainly this kind of shopping cart would make sense.

Truth is, most blog marketers are selling either digital goods or services. In these cases, order quantity doesn’t really matter. Essentially, an “add to cart” button simply goes to checkout for one offer at a time. This is a different – and much simpler – animal.

For a Wordpress plug-in, the standard shopping cart solution is WooCommerce. It is very well known and very well supported. However, I do not recommend WooCommerce unless you are going to be requiring traditional Amazon-style shopping cart functionality. For most information-focused businesses, WooCommerce adds unnecessary complexity.

Now, there are third-party services that provide robust shopping cart functionality of both types. For instance:

There are numerous others and I won’t waste time linking to them all here. Of those, ThriveCart is the only one I have personal experience with. It is indeed a very powerful piece of software and it integrates with pretty much everything (excellent for making our full stack work). It does a fantastic job of creating order pages, processing orders, managing orders and customers, etc. ThriveCart, however, is only for the ecommerce layer and doesn’t take care of product delivery. For instance, if you were to sell online courses, you could manage sales and customers with ThriveCart, but you’d still need a setup internally on your site for controlling access and presenting courses.

For most of you, ThriveCart is overkill right now. However, it makes for a great addition to a tech stack. While I have a ThriveCart account, I do not use it here at the Blog Marketing Academy because Membermouse takes care of it. But, since ThriveCart does integrate with MemberMouse, there may be instances in the future where I use ThriveCart.

There are some other potential solutions for making sales that are worth noting:

And like regular shopping carts, there are a ton of potential solutions for selling digital products. GumRoad and Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) are both great options for people just getting started. You can do quite well with either one.

It is important to note here that there’s a distinct difference between the ecommerce layer and the delivery layer. In other words, there are two distinct “departments” here. One for making the sale and managing the transaction… and the other about what happens AFTER the sale.

If you’re selling straight up files (like an ebook), then something like GumRoad or EDD is the simplest way to go. Both take care of both departments for you.

If you’re selling online courses, then regardless of whether you use a membership plug-in or a full cart like ThriveCart, you’ll still need separate solutions for actually managing your online courses. We’ll get to that, so stay tuned. 🙂

So, as you can see, this ecommerce section of our tech stack has a lot of options. And it can be a little confusing. Put simply, there is no “best solution” here. It all sorta depends on your intentions. But, let me do my best to try to cut through some of the clutter…

  • If you are going to be selling physical product, then I would go with WooCommerce or a managed solution like Shopify.
  • If you will be selling online courses, I would go with a membership solution like MemberMouse or MemberPress.
  • If you will be selling one-time downloads (like ebooks) or courses without much likelihood for recurring billing, then GumRoad is super easy to get started with. EDD is also pretty simple.

So, let’s now re-visit our evolving blog marketing tech stack. This time, I’ve moved a few things around.

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Next up, we’ll talk about the delivery side of things. For that discussion, I’ll assume you intend to do online courses of some kind. As I said, if you’re selling simple downloads, I’d recommend you use something simple like GumRoad or EDD. But, the other primary type of digital product is the online course.

We’ll go there… on the next issue of The Edge. 🙂

BTW, if you have any questions at all about anything we’ve discussed so far this week, feel free to hit that reply button and ask away. 🙂

– David

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