One of the ways we tried to better monetize our food blog was through the creation of physical products. We tried to create products that would meet their needs and make cooking easier for them.
In sous vide cooking, one of the main ways you determine how long to cook something is based on its thickness. There are a lot of charts out there saying "if it's 2 inches thick this is how long it'll take" but you still need to figure out the thickness, then look the chart up on your computer, find the right column, and match them up.
We decided to create a Sous Vide Timing Ruler that would do this task much more efficiently. It would be a tool that people could use in their kitchens as they were preparing their food.
The ruler makes it easy to measure your food and has all the times on it a sous vide cook needs. It's made of plastic, so it is easy to wash off in the sink, which is important since it is around raw food. It is also something that we would personally use, which I think is important when creating products.
So we designed the ruler, found a printer, and had the rulers created. We also had a small instruction sheet made to go with it. We decided to have 500 of them made initially, based on expected demand plus the discounts you get for having more printed at one time.
Our total costs were:
We sold the rulers and collected the money using E-Junkie, which interfaces with PayPal. We pay $15 a month for E-Junkie but that is spread out among about 20 products we sell and is basically negligible.
So our total initial investment was about $500 since we don't buy the stamps until we sell them. That cost could have been reduced if we went with a smaller amount to start with, though the cost per ruler would go up. For example, to get 250 rulers printed it cost $300, or $1.20 per ruler, almost $0.50 more.
All told, it currently costs us $1.49 to get a ruler into the hands of our readers. We sell the rulers for $7.99 which leaves us a profit of $6.50 per ruler sold. In order to recoup our initial investment of $500 we needed to sell 77 rulers.
Our initial marketing push was an email to our newsletter subscribers announcing the ruler and a giveaway of some rulers to our readers. Here is a look at that email:
You can see that it isn't very "salesy" and it still contains information that is useful to our readers even if they don't purchase the ruler. That's something we often try to do to make sure our readers stay happy and we don't come across as just trying to exploit them.
The day we sent the email we sold 192 rulers for a profit of $1,250, which fully recouped our initial investment. Over the rest of the year we sold another 182 rulers bringing our total profit to $2,400.
So our initial experience selling a physical product for use in the kitchen worked out very well. We won't get rich off the Sous Vide Timing Ruler but it was a good way to help put some money in our pockets while giving our readers something they really enjoy!