Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience (Part 1)

Jessica Jalsevac on August 21st, 2014

This post is part one of Getting to Know Your Audience, where we focus on three free Google tools to kickstart your research. Stay tuned for more tools and tactics!

 market research toolbox

Who cares?

No really, its a serious question. Who are the people you’re making your product for? What do they talk about? Where do they hang out? What matters to them?

Luckily we have a plethora of tools at our disposal these days to uncover this information and test our assumptions with real data.

When and where do you use this information?

Knowing your audience helps you validate your idea and determine if you’ll be able to achieve your goals before you even create your product. Do you want to write the definitive how-to guide to making ukuleles out of cardboard? While a super cool idea, this might not be the best move if your goal is to actually make some cash. Sadly, there are just not enough people who care about making their own ukulele for this to be a hugely profitable business idea. Also, good luck getting people who want to make instruments out of cardboard to pay for your book.

Knowing your audience also keeps you in check throughout the creation process. With each decision you should refer back to your research and ask if this is something that people want, need, and are going to get excited about. Say you’re creating a fitness course for pregnant women. Each segment should be informed by the most pressing concerns expecting mothers have - is it safety, nutrition, weight management, relieving joint pain, or none of the above?

Finally, knowing your audience will help you - big time - with marketing and selling your product. The vocabulary you unearth during your research should get recycled back into your sales copy for your landing page and emails to potential buyers. Knowledge of where your target market hangs out online should guide your outreach strategy and help you decide how to target ads.

Basically, knowing your customers is the foundation of everything else that you do.

So now, let’s get creepin…er…researching!

 


1. Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Questions to ask:

Which keywords are more relevant to my content? What is the popularity and competition score for each of my potential keywords? What would be the cost of running an ad campaign for these terms? What websites already rank for my keywords? What related keywords might be a better fit for me?

How to use it:

To access the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, you’ll have to have a Google account and sign up for AdWords, but its a completely free tool.

From the Keyword Planner home page, click “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.”

 search for new keyword

Enter your product or service idea into the top box. You can also adjust the targeting filters for location, language, etc., in the fields below.

enter product keywords

Click “Get Ideas”. Once on the results page, click on the “Keyword ideas” tab. You’ll see results for average monthly searches, relative competition for ad placement (low, medium, or high), and suggested bids for your exact search team as well as related keywords.

As you can see, things aren’t looking too good for “make a ukulele,” with only 50 average monthly searches. Some similar keywords are more relevant, such as “how to make a ukulele”, and “how to build a ukulele”, but these are still quite low.

“Cigar box ukulele” is a surprising search term, but unfortunately ad placement is highly competitive.

 

keyword ideas

I ran another few searches about ukuleles, and came across one that seemed a lot more promising: 

keyword ideas

“How to play the ukulele” has 3,600 average monthly searches, and relatively low competition. This might be a better topic to write about than building a ukulele from scratch.

A quick Google search for this same phrase reveals the major competition in this area.

 google search

Takeaways:

  • Making a ukulele from scratch is not a common thing people are looking for. :(

  • A much more popular interest (with 3,600 monthly searches), is in learning to play the ukulele - might this be better entry point for a product?

  • There is still relatively low competition in all the keywords pertaining to learning the ukulele, which bodes well for this type of content.

  • With the top search result being from Wikihow and the second from YouTube, no one website is really dominating the search for learning to play the ukulele.

 


2. Google Trends

Questions to ask:

Is my topic increasing or decreasing in popularity over time? How does interest in my topic compare to related topics? What key news pieces have come up over the last few years? Where in the world are the people that are most interested in my topic? What are some related search terms that are trending upwards?

How to use it:

Google Trends allows you to see stats for your keywords over time. Below is the interest over time for the search term “ukulele.” The letters indicate large press pieces on this topic. Here we see that interest in ukuleles spiked due to  stories about Warren Buffet giving ukulele lessons, a world-record attempt for most ukuleles playing simultaneously in Oregon, and musical prodigy Jake Shimabukuro playing a show in San Francisco.

google trends interest over time

The interest in ukuleles is rising over time, which bodes well for our product idea. We can also compare the popularity of ukuleles to other small stringed instruments, such as the mandolin and the banjo. 

google trends interest over time comparison

Interest in both the mandolin and the banjo is declining, so it definitely looks like ukuleles are the place to be when it comes to small stringed instruments.

In the Regional Interest section we can see which cities have the highest search volume for ukuleles. The place with the highest search volume is always 100, and the other cities are ranked relative to that.

google trends regional interest

This map clearly shows Hawaii’s dominance in terms of ukulele popularity. In the contiguous US, west coast cities show more interest than other areas.

The third category displays related searches, which is interesting in validating our idea. By clicking on “Rising” in the Queries column, I get a few terms that are rapidly increasing in popularity, such as the musical instrument brand “Kala”, “uke”, the short hand for ukulele, and “youtube”, hinting that many people are searching for ukulele videos on YouTube. Perhaps these YouTube searches are for lessons, or perhaps they’re to watch prolific players.

google trends related searches

 Takeaways:

  • Ukuleles have been gaining in popularity since 2009  - yay!

  • A key person on this topic is Jake Shimabukoru, whose been described as a “ukulele pioneer/prodigy.”

  • Searches for ukulele songs on YouTube in particular are rising fast.

  • Ukuleles are very popular internationally, especially in Southeast Asia.

  • In the US, Hawaii is by far the most popular area, with west coast cities such as San Diego and Portland showing the most interest in the contiguous US.

  • Ukuleles are also called “ukes” for short.

  • "Over the Rainbow" is one of the most popular ukulele songs.

3. Google Alerts

Questions to ask:

What are the most current things people are talking about on my topic? How can I use this news as part of my content strategy? What types of publications contribute to my topic? What patterns are there in the words used to describe my topic?

How to use it:

Google Alerts couldn’t be easier. Simply type in your topic and click Create Alert to get emails sent to you with trending new content. You can adjust the frequency of results, and tweak other filters by clicking “Show options.”

I quickly set up an alert for “ukulele”, and got the following results:

google alerts ukulele

Takeaways:

  • Local news outlets come a up a few times in the results, announcing performances featuring a ukulele.

  • When the ukulele appears in serious news publications, it tends to be in a playful piece, such as this one in the Washington Post about baseball player Bryce Harper surprising high school students with a renovated locker room, or this one from Air & Space Magazine about a pilot who entertains passengers by playing the ukulele.

There you have three quick and easy tools for getting you started with your audience research. Next time we’ll look at how to use some social networks and other free services to do an even deeper dive into your audience’s psyche. See you then!

Disclaimer: If you really, really, really just want to write a book about making a ukulele out of cardboard, then you should absolutely do that. Don’t give up on your dream just because some Google tools told you not to. But be realistic about the potential demand (and thus potential returns) you can expect for your project.

Percentage-Based Offer Codes

Travis Nichols on August 19th, 2014

One of our most-requested features of late has been percentage-based offer codes. Well, we’re with you 100% and are excited to announce that feature today.

When setting up a new offer, you can now toggle between dollars off and percentage off by clicking the $ or % symbol.

Save your changes and you’re ready to go.

Click the Share button to copy the link to your clipboard and dispense it to your intended discounted crew. Otherwise, make sure the box for “Add offer field to purchase form” is checked so buyers can enter the codes you’ve sent out (in the above example, “buddies” or “newslettersubbers”).

In either case, your buyers will see the original price to your product and what it will cost to them with the discount. 50% off? Whattadeal.

Offer codes are a great way to promote a launch, rejuvenate interest in an existing product, or give reviewers and influencers access. How have they worked for you?

Learn more about offer codes here.

The 5-Step Countdown to Launching Your Product

Jessica Jalsevac on August 15th, 2014

You know you need a launch plan. You’ve heard time and time again that you need to build buzz and warm up your audience before asking them to hand over their money. But you’re overwhelmed with what to do and in what order. Should you throw a launch party? Reach out to press? Should you be posting on ten different social media sites? Oh gosh, should you have started two months ago? UGH.

Take a deep breath. Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a simple 5-step countdown to a great launch.

5. Assemble the minions!

Prepare the assets that are going to represent your product. Invest some time and resources to make sure these look professional because you want to make a strong first impression. Your assets will likely include:

  • Landing page/website
  • Trailer and/or pictures
  • Synopsis/description
  • Bio

For tips on preparing your assets, check out our Anatomy of an Effective Product Page post.

Ok, that was pretty self-explanatory, right? Onward!

4. Find the nerds

Instead of shouting to the masses, focus your efforts on people who geek out on what you do. For country rap (aka “hick-hop”) musicians like Lenny Cooper and Colt Ford, whose music focuses on themes such as hunting, fishing, and driving big trucks through the mud, this means that instead of going after the typical country music radio listener, they’re specifically targeting people who have an interest in off-road vehicles and attend mud bogging events (yes, this is a thing).

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You also want to find the supernerd influencers in your space and reach out to them directly. Send them copies of your work to tweet or blog about if they like it. Keep it friendly and give them a way to say no. No one likes to feel pressured to do something - make them feel good about supporting you and your work.

Artist Kyle T Webster sends free brush sets to influential digital artists and designers, many of whom create artwork using his brushes and share them with their following. Kyle then reposts their illustrations on his own social media - what could be a better endorsement?

3. Build momentum with content

Focusing on one or two main content channels (which should be dictated by where your core fans tend to hang out online), drip out free content such as songs, tutorials, sketches, or a sample chapter. Try to build to a cadence, releasing progressively more special content over time (i.e. first a single, then a music video).

Note: Its a good idea to start an email list no matter what, as its the most personal way to send followers updates on your project.

Filmmaker Emily Diana Ruth focused the marketing of her film, The Water’s Fine, on YouTube. She made a 14-episode video series on the making of her film, where she talked about everything from screen writing and casting to location scouting and budgeting. The content was not only educational but it also told high a highly personal and entertaining story of Emily’s journey to produce the film, making the viewer feel invested in her project.

The cadence built naturally as she moved from prep work through to shooting and editing. The 13th episode revealed the film’s trailer, and the final episode announced that the film was ready for purchase on Gumroad with a YouTube annotation linking to the product page.

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Nathan Barry recently wrote about a 5 week sequence that you could use to deliver educational content via email:

  • Week 1: Educational email, mention the product so they know it exists.
  • Week 2: Educational email, with a quick update on the product.
  • Week 3: Educational email, with more details on the product launch date.
  • Week 4: Short educational email, lots of product details including price and what is included. Reminder of the launch date.
  • Week 5, Monday: Provide every detail the customer needs in order to make a decision of whether or not to buy.
  • Week 5, Tuesday: A short email with link to purchase the product and a couple testimonials.

Both examples focus on providing valuable content rather than being purely promotional.

2. Incentivize

Encourage people to buy by providing some sort of limited time bonus for doing so. This could be a discount for the first week of sales, extra content for early buyers, or limiting the quantity of one tier of your product.

The Eminem team did this extremely well for Eminem’s MMLP2 launch. They released limited bundles of signed merchandise such as lithographs and deluxe albums that created a sense of urgency amongst fans and sold out within minutes.

image

1. Announce!

Coordinate across all your channels on launch day, including any testimonials from your outreach. Its a good idea to make a list of all your channels and the exact copy/images/videos you’ll be using for each, so that all you have to do is pull the trigger on launch day.

That’s it. Five simple steps. Now get out there and prepare for launch!

Your Library Card: Reading on Gumroad

Travis Nichols on August 11th, 2014

No need to download. No need to sync. There’s a new option for reading ebooks, digital comics, magazines, manuals, and any other visual content purchased on Gumroad. The following file types can now be read directly in your browser.

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Streaming? For books?

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After buying a readable file, buyers will see the option to read your content via the receipt shown upon purchase and in the email they receive. It’s that easy. To read (or download) in a Gumroad Library, an account is needed. If a buyer doesn’t already have an account, there’s an easy way to set one up. All they need to do is create and enter a password on the receipt, and they’ve got a Gumroad account and a Library of their very own.

image

To check out this feature (yes, library pun intended), here’s a $0+ product that you can be reading in just a few clicks.

How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products (sample chapter)
by Poornima Vijayashanker

If you update or add to your products, your changes will immediately be available to your audience without their need to redownload the content (unless they’ve already done so or simply prefer to keep a local copy).

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Happy reading.

Gumroad Picks: Health and Fitness

Emmiliese von Clemm on August 7th, 2014

gumroad for health and fitnessHere at Gumroad, we’re always happy to see creators from different industries joining the platform. Lately, we’ve been really excited about the ways in which Health and Fitness professionals are using Gumroad.

Selling content online allows coaches and trainers, inherently limited by the number of clients they can see in a given day, to extend their reach and multiply their influence. At the same time, customers benefit from high-quality health and fitness content, accessible at all times, for a fraction of the price of personal training.

As the number of health and fitness products on Gumroad has grown, we’ve noticed some interesting trends:

  • Video Content: Do Yoga With Me and Black Belt at Home use video content to teach yoga and martial arts. Videos are great for teaching skill-heavy material and for guiding beginners. Multiple videos and a study manual can even be bundled together into complete courses.
  • Training Programs: Training programs are popular among customers who want to take their training to the next level. Krissy Mae Cagney, Brandan Schieppati, and Simeon Panda sell a variety of training programs detailing week’s worth of exercises (including sets, reps, and intensity) and nutrition guidelines.
  • Selling to Instagram Followers: Instagram is home to a large and growing health and fitness community. Krissy Mae Cagney, Brandan Schieppati, and Simeon Panda have built their Instagram audiences by motivating and inspiring followers. They now promote their products to these audiences through strategies like offering followers discounts on training programs.

What follows are five inspiring examples of health and fitness professionals using Gumroad in awesome ways:

sell training programs

Krissy Mae Cagney

Krissy Mae Cagney, an athletic performance specialist, registered dietitian, and Westside Barbell strength and conditioning coach, does it all. She’s passionate about changing the fitness industry, spreading her motivation and expertise through fitness and nutrition pop-ups across the country, online programs, and her lifestyle brand (Doughnuts and Deadlifts). She’s even opening her own gym at the end of the year.

Krissy’s website offers numerous training programs and nutrition guides, including Flex-i-ble Dieting, a guide to macros and eating for life, and She Hulk, a ten week strength and aesthetics program.

Want to offer subscription fitness content? For inspiration, check out Krissy’s Black Iron Training, subscription strength and conditioning programming released every Sunday night.

sell training programs

Do Yoga With Me

Do Yoga With Me is a collection of over 100 high-quality yoga videos, featuring a group of experienced yoga teachers. Do Yoga With Me’s creators are passionate about increasing access to yoga content, and all of the site’s resources can be streamed for free. Users who want to own yoga content and support Do Yoga With Me can purchase and download individual videos via Gumroad.

Do Yoga With Me also offers yoga programs to guide students through a series of selected videos. These programs, including Yoga for Runners and Yoga for Office Workers, are available as Pay What You Want downloads.

Interested in learning more about Pay What You Want pricing? We’ve written about it extensively on the Gumroad blog.

sell training programs

Brandan Schieppati

Brandan Schieppati, founder of Rise Above Fitness, is known for training that incorporates high intensity strength and conditioning. He created a series of online training programs to reach people who can’t train with him personally but still want to train the Rise Above way.

Brandan offers a range of programs and ebooks on his personal website, including 30 in 30, a different workout every day for a month, and The Rise Above Fitness Cookbook, which features 40 recipes submitted by Rise Above Fitness trainers.

Thinking about selling directly to your Instagram followers? See the strategies Brandan uses to spread the word to his Instagram audience.

sell training programs

Simeon Panda

Simeon Panda is a natural body builder with an impressive social media presence, boasting nearly 2 million followers on Facebook. He aims to motivate and inspire others through his hard work and dedication. Simeon Panda worked for years as a personal trainer and now hosts exclusive training camps as a Musclemania Pro.

Fans who want to train like Simeon Panda can buy one of his four training programs, including Mass Gain and Abs Solution. Each program details exercises, intensity, number of reps, number of sets, and rest time.

sell training programs

Black Belt at Home

Black Belt at Home makes it possible for students without access to martial arts instructors to earn rank and certification with an accredited organization. They offer home study courses in Shotokan Karate, Ultimate Bo, Krav Maga, and Tai Chi. Each course includes a comprehensive study manual and hours worth of video training content.

A digital version of each Black Belt at Home program is available through Gumroad, allowing students to download course content and start training immediately after purchase.

Thinking about selling a home study course of your own? Check out Black Belt at Home’s encouraging 10 Ridiculous Myths about Home Study Courses.


Want tips and tricks for selling health and fitness content directly to your audience? Email support@gumroad.com and let us know what you’re working on!

When compiling the Gumroad Picks lists, we look for creators who have had recent launches, lots of sales, or success using Gumroad in an exciting way. From there, we hand-pick creators whose work is especially innovative or creative. We hope to see you on this list in the future!

How to Use Email to Sell More Products

Travis Nichols on July 31st, 2014

We’re pleased to have designer, writer, and teacher Nathan Barry back for another guest post. Six months ago, he talked about his Lessons Learned Selling $355,759 on Gumroad. By the way, that number’s definitely higher now. The third lesson he shared in that post was “Build a relationship through email”. This time, he’s going to expand on that to help you sell more. Here’s Nathan.


Why Email?

Why did you click this article? It probably wasn’t because you want to send more emails. I’m guessing the part that got you interested was “sell more.” After all, who doesn’t want to sell more?

The #1 reason people read my blog is to learn how better market and sell products. I’m guessing you fit into that category. Then I’ll share my #1 tactic for increasing sales: use email marketing.

Building an audience with email has worked amazingly well for me in book sales and courses, but what I find more interesting is how well it works across industries. I was talking to a very experienced marketing friend about marketing, and said “It’s amazing how well email subscribers convert to sales!”

His response? “Um, yeah… I’ve known that for over a decade.”

I was so caught up in the idea that Twitter, Facebook, and other trendy social media sites were the future of online marketing that I overlooked the workhorse of the entire marketing industry—at least those that were focused on making sales.

“Gumroad sellers who use email marketing make 3x as much in a product launch as those who don’t.”

- Ryan Delk, Gumroad

Why is email ignored?

If using email to promote your product will make you 3x more money, why aren’t more people talking about it?

I think that’s because email is boring.

Everyone, especially tech news site writers, want something new and fancy to take over. It’s exciting to think that a new social media site could change the way we do business online. A few things have changed, but decades after being introduced, email marketing is the the best way to sell products online.

Why do you think Amazon puts so much work into their promotional emails? Why do you think Groupon has “Enter your email address” as their entire home page?

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Because they know email works better than any other channel.

Drive-by visitors

For the first six months of writing for my blog, I really wanted a post to go viral. I’d heard all the stories of YouTube videos with millions of views and blog posts hitting #1 on Reddit or Digg. Forget how unlikely this was to happen—I still wanted it.

Then it happened.

My blog post, “How I made $19,000 on the App Store while learning to code” hit the #1 spot on Hacker News. While it didn’t get millions of views, I did receive 50,000 visitors in two days!

I thought I’d made it as a blogger.

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Unfortunately, when you get a huge spike in traffic like that, it usually isn’t sustainable.

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Since I didn’t have an opt-in form or any other way to get contact information from my visitors, all that traffic just disappeared. Months later, when traffic started to reliably increase, I had an email list so I could push content out to readers instead of hoping they came back to check if there was a new article.

Takeaway: using email will make you considerable more revenue.

Before Launch

Using an email list to test interest

Is your product going to be profitable? Do people actually want it? Do you know how to pitch it effectively?

These are all questions that you really want to have answered before you sink hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars building a new product. The most effective way to test for interest is to ask people individually to pre-order (which I highly recommend). In addition to asking for pre-orders from individuals (you’ll get so much good feedback), I recommend setting up a landing page to collect email addresses.

Not everyone who enters their email address will end up purchasing your product, but with a good product and marketing, it’s safe to assume one in ten will purchase. That means you can figure out if there is demand for your product based on the number of subscribers you get.

The idea is to build the email list of potential customers before you actually build the product. By doing that you avoid wasting time and money on a product no one is going to buy.

How to set up a landing page

The first step in building an email list is to set up a landing page for your product. You can use any number of off-the-shelf tools (LaunchRock, Unbounce, a WordPress plugin, etc), but of course I recommend using ConvertKit, which is the landing page and email marketing company I founded.

With ConvertKit you can design a beautiful, high converting landing page, add email opt-in forms, and manage all your email broadcasts and campaigns in one tool.

Here’s a landing page I created in ConvertKit for my book Authority before it launched:

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You can then use the ConvertKit WordPress plugin to dynamically pull this page into the rest of your WordPress site. Soon you’ll be ready to start driving traffic to your new landing page.

What Makes a Good Landing Page?

When crafting your landing page, there are four things that are critical to get right.

1. A single call to action

Should people share your landing page on Twitter, join your email list, or pre-order your product? So many landing pages try to get visitors to do too many things. The more options you give the visitor, the less likely they are to do any of them.

Instead, have a single call to action and ask them in a sequence. Have everything on the page direct the visitor towards signing up for the email list. Then on the confirmation page ask them to share the page on Twitter and Facebook. Finally, pitch them on the pre-order over email.

2. No extra fluff

That means removing the sidebar, any extra navigation link, and anything else that could distract from your one call to action. Generally the easiest way to improve a landing page is to remove content.

3. A strong headline

Your headline needs to instantly capture the visitor’s attention and get them to keep reading. Speaking to a pain is often the best way to do that. For my book Authority, my target is authors who want to make a living from their writing. So my page headline is “The idea that authors can’t make money is bull****.”

Anyone who is tired of being a poor, starving author or wants to profit from their writing is going to be drawn in by that.

4. A “What is this page about?” graphic

Finally, I like to include a graphic that visually explains what the page is about. Imagine you click a random link on Twitter and come to a landing page. Is it for a course? A book? An iPhone app? Without context it’s hard to know at a glance.

That’s why all my book landing pages have a prominent book graphic. My iOS apps have an iPhone showing an app screenshot. These give instant context that the visitor can use to understand the rest of the page.

Doing each of these will noticeably increase your conversion rates. Though always keep in mind that traffic source is more important than anything on page when it comes to converting more of your visitors.

Takeaway: capture email addresses to validate a product idea before launch.

The Launch Sequence

A long-term relationship

When someone visits your site you are in a mad rush to sell them a product. Because if you don’t, they’ll be gone in a moment and will probably never return.

My favorite thing about email is that you can build a relationship with each subscriber over time. Once you get that visitor to subscribe, you can educate them gradually until they know and trust you. No longer are you in a mad rush to make a sale. Instead, you have time to develop the relationship and gradually convince them that your product is a good fit.

The more you teach, the more they will trust you. The better your content, the faster you can build that trust.

Anticipation

In addition to trust, you can also build anticipation. Anticipation is a key ingredient in every good product launch. It starts with casual mentions of the upcoming product in the educational emails, then over time you share more and more about how the product will help the them.

If you only had five or six weeks for a product launch the sequence could look something like this:

  • Week 1: Educational email, mention the product so they know it exists.

  • Week 2: Educational email, with a quick update on the product.

  • Week 3: Educational email, with more details on the product launch date.

  • Week 4: Short educational email, lots of product details including price and what is included. Reminder of the launch date.

  • Week 5 — Monday: Provide every detail the customer needs in order to make a decision of whether or not to buy.

  • Week 5 — Tuesday: A short email with link to purchase the product and a couple testimonials.

Before purchase

Note that in that launch sequence you can’t buy the product before the launch email. That means all those emails are building anticipation without the ability to make a purchase. This is critical, because it is hard to sell a product that is available at any time.

The final launch email is just the release of all that built up anticipation. This is how even an email list of under 1,000 subscribers can drive $10,000 in sales in a single launch day.

Urgency

Though in order to have that successful of a launch, you need perfect pricing (that’s a big topic we’ll save for another article) and a reason they should purchase right now (urgency), instead of putting it off for later.

There are a few different ways to create urgency:

  1. Discount the price

  2. Add a bonus

  3. Limit sales

They all boil down to convincing customers who are (almost) ready to buy that right now is the best time to make a purchase or they will miss out. Let’s quickly cover these individually.

1. Discount the price

I find this is the easiest to implement and often the most effective. Running a 20% off sale for anyone who purchases in the first 24 hours has become my default way to motivate purchases. Not only does it reward people who have been on my list since the beginning, but it also gets everyone to purchase right away rather than waiting until some future date.

In order to make this compelling, you need to offer a decent discount (as a customer I would find just 5% or 10% off to be insulting), but you don’t want to offer too much (e.g. 50%) since many of your biggest fans will purchase right at launch anyway.

2. Add a bonus

Many people say that you should never discount your products since that devalues them in the eyes of your customers. I agree that running sales all the time will encourage buyers to just wait for your next sale, but I don’t think a one-time discount at launch will hurt your reputation.

For those who don’t like to run sales, another method is to add extra content as a bonus. This can be an extra video or webinar, a bonus course thrown in for free, or code samples that are exclusive to just the early purchasers.

I have two problems with this method:

  1. I don’t think a bonus motivates sales as well as a discount. You will have to offer a very compelling bonus to match even what you would get from 20% off.

  2. Creating content is a lot of work. I want all the content I create to go out to all of my customers. The idea of creating something just for a few customers that won’t get used in the future really bothers me.

Take all that with a grain of salt since many people who are far smarter than I am swear by offering a bonus to add urgency.

3. Limit sales

If you don’t want to offer a discount or create additional content as a bonus, then another option is to limit sales. That can mean limiting for a set amount of time (the product is only available for 24 hours, then the sales page is taken down) or for a limited number of seats.

For ConvertKit Academy I limit each class to just 10 students. A small group means I can spend more time and attention on each student (a big win for them!). But it also adds urgency to everyone on the fence since they know the class will sell out and they might not get a seat.

On a time-based limitation you just take down the sales page and the product is unavailable until the next launch.

Sending reminders to drive more sales

It doesn’t matter which method you choose to add urgency if you don’t remind your customers about it. In fact, those reminder emails are what drive so many sales in a launch. That’s why it’s so important to add urgency in some way, you get to send emails saying “The sale ends in four hours.”

Those move sales. Take a look at this graph of sales by hour for the Authority launch. Can you guess when I sent the reminder email?

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Yep, sales were trailing off and the reminder email really kickstarted another wave of sales. If you don’t send at least one reminder email, you are really missing out on sales.

Driving Ongoing Sales

Email is especially good at driving ongoing sales after a launch. Instead of traffic disappearing entirely, you can continue to make sales off an email list. So how do you can you capture those subscribers? With a sample chapter.

Sample chapters and giveaways

On each of my book sales pages I give away a sample chapter. Just enter your email address and a minute later a PDF will be available in your inbox (which makes it easy to download onto your phone or tablet). This is great for growing my email list (about 5% of page visitors request the sample chapter), but visitors can also check a box to get a free course on designing better iPhone applications (or whatever is relevant to the book topic).

This course is timed to the date they subscribe, so it is customized to each individual and sends out automatically. In the first few emails I teach more about the topic with content related to the book, but then gradually work in a sales pitch for the book itself.

Many people go to the sales page and are interested in buying, but for some reason don’t make the purchase right then. If a visitor leaves without making a purchase, chances are they won’t come back. But, if they join the email course when they download the sample chapter, then you can gradually remind them about the product and overcome any objections that you didn’t have time for on the sales page, eventually making the sale.

Since all this is automated (once you write the email course) you can continue making sales so long as you continue adding leads to the top of the sales funnel.

Future launches

As your email list continues to grow, the new subscribers will have missed out on that initial launch. Which means that even though they may have heard of your product, they haven’t experienced the full sales pitch.

In fact, last fall I started asking for case studies for my book Authority. I got some great responses, but a large number of subscribers in my audience asked, “What’s Authority?”

That shocked me! I thought I was talking about my books and products too much! Instead there were people on my email list who had never even heard of the book. That means it is time for another launch. Turns out, you can launch the same product multiple times!

Once you have everyone on an email list those future launches become so much easier. Instead of scrambling to finish a product and grow your list, you can focus on just making a great product.

Never start from scratch

But the best part of building an audience is that you will never again start from scratch. So long as there is even a little bit of overlap between your current product and whatever venture you pursue in the future, that audience will help you kickstart future success.

If you play it smart by focusing your next product on the same audience as your first product, you can make so much more money without any more promotion effort. My second book launch was more than twice as big as my first one because I was able to target the same audience (designers).

Selling more digital products

In order to sell digital products (books, courses, Photoshop plugins, or anything else) you should start using email. In order to do that effectively you need an email marketing provider that handles a few things really well. Here’s the basic list:

  1. Allows you to give away an incentive (like a sample chapter or video course) to new subscribers. This is actually surprisingly difficult in many tools. Companies like MailChimp force you to hack around their system in order to implement this best practice that will noticeably increase your conversion rates.

  2. Allows you to combine subscribers from multiple incentives into a single list. If you do get it to work in another provider you’ll quickly find that it forces you to create multiple lists, which is really bad since you can’t segment your subscribers across lists. As you get more advanced with the promotions you run, this becomes very important.

  3. Makes it very easy to create email courses or autoresponders. Email courses are one of the most profitable ways to continue driving sales with minimal work. But unfortunately they are really painful to set up in most providers (especially MailChimp!). You can do it, but you’ll wish you chose a different tool.

Once I learned all these tactics for increasing revenue—and just how powerful email marketing can be—I was shocked that the major tools didn’t support these best practices. So I created my own company: ConvertKit.

I used my background in designing easy to use software to solve each of these pain points and build these best practices directly into ConvertKit. You should definitely check it out and start building your list with ConvertKit.

What’s Holding You Back?

After growing ConvertKit for over a year I was surprised to find out that even with the right tool, people weren’t growing their lists as they should. That’s when I realized that to be successful you need more than just a tool.

After interviewing customers I wrote a brand new course called ConvertKit Academy, designed to take you from zero to growing a successful email list in just over a week.

Then I started asking customers, “What’s holding you back?”

With each answer I built something into the process to account for it.

When working on a coming soon page for a new book, these up and coming authors would get stuck by not having a good book graphic. So we included eight different Photoshop book cover templates in with the Academy.

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And then we asked, “What’s holding you back?”

For some the answer was, “Well, I don’t have Photoshop.” Easy! We jumped on a quick call, helped them choose an icon, and then within 10 minutes had a finished book graphic. They wouldn’t win any cover design awards, but are still very clean and professional looking.

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Again, we’d ask, “What’s holding you back?”

Here the answers got a little more varied. From “I don’t know what to offer as an incentive” to more complicated questions about email marketing or high level tactics. So we added two live Google Hangout calls with each class of ConvertKit Academy (limited to just 10 people). In these calls we talk through any questions that come up, help each student put together a final direction, and then deal with any implementation details.

Focused on success

The success rate has been fantastic! The best students go from zero email subscribers to over 100 in under a week! And those first 100 subscribers are the hardest to get.

Instead of just signing you up for a great tool (ConvertKit’s the best) and giving you some help documentation, we add a full training course, live coaching, book templates, design help, all focused on making the customer successful. What other email marketing provider does that?

This entire course is just $300. And just to make the offer irresistible we throw in six months of ConvertKit for free! At $50/month that would normally be $300, so that alone pays for the entire course.

Taking action

The students who go through ConvertKit Academy say that it was absolutely critical to get them to take action. They knew generally what to do, but hadn’t set aside the time and energy to actually get it done. The Academy provided everything they needed to really make progress. And anytime they got stuck, we were right there to answer questions and help them get going again.

Do you want to grow an audience and sell more products over email?

If so, consider joining ConvertKit Academy. We open up a class of just 10 students once per month and you can join the waiting list here:

Join the waitlist for ConvertKit Academy.

And if you join the list, I’ll send you more free training on how to profit from email marketing.

Subtitle Support for Films

Travis Nichols on July 29th, 2014

¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français ? With Gumroad, your film can. Vi är glada to announce subtitle support on Gumroad. Viewers of your film will now be able to turn on captions in the languages you provide.

When you upload a video file and click Add, you’ll be prompted to upload subtitle files. We accept .SRT, .DFXP, and .VTT (often called .WebVTT) formats. Add as many as you want.

A Subtitles file is essentially a text document with timing prompts. Miracle Tutorials offers a great lesson on creating subtitle files that can be found here.

There are a few options for creating and converting subtitle files. Here are some that we recommend:

http://www.jubler.org/ - free, all platforms
http://subsfactory.traintrain-software.com/ - paid, Mac only

If you already have subtitle files, but they’re not in .SRT, .DFXP or .VTT, convert them with one of the following:

http://subtitleconverter.net/ - free online tool
http://downloads.fyxm.net/SubC—44377.html
- free download, PC


On the buyer side, when streaming a video with subtitles, the activation and selection is simply a matter of pressing the CC button.

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-BÖIKZMÖIND, with English captions

For downloads, subtitle files will be listed on the download page in addition to the video file. To watch the film with subtitles, open the film with VLC player (free and open source) and select “Add Subtitle File” from the Subtitles menu.

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Now you can make the enjoyment of your films available to viewers around the world as well as to those with hearing impairments.

Let us know what you think of this new feature, or if you have any other questions about selling your film with Gumroad. We’re here to help.

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-The Hooping Life en français

In-Stream Buying with YouTube Annotated Links

Travis Nichols on July 24th, 2014

Instant gratification holds a special place in our frenzied hearts. That wonderful, addictive feeling of getting what we want, when we want it diminishes in the face of obstacles. That’s part of why we work to make buying on Gumroad as streamlined and simple as possible.

Now there’s a new way of doing that in the most shared and embedded website on the internet.

Annotations have long been a part of YouTube, but until recently, they have primarily been used to add background information or to link to other videos and channels. Now, Gumroad is on the short list of commerce platforms authorized by YouTube to be linked to via annotation directly within a video’s stream.

What does that mean for you? Viewers of your film/book/game trailer, music video, poetry reading, software patch, etc. can click an in-stream link and easily buy your product. It’s faster, it’s easier, and early evaluation is showing that this trimming of the fat can result in more product views and sales for you.

While logged in to YouTube and on your channel, click Edit on one of your videos. Then click the Annotations at the top. Choose the type of annotation you want, and what you would like the link to say (the Label box). Move it around to where you want the link to go. Then you can choose your colors and font size. The timeline at the bottom will help you find the place where you want to put your annotated link, as well as the Start and End boxes. Finally, enter the URL of your product on Gumroad or your Gumroad Gallery URL. The Link box will automatically check, and the default Video drop down will automatically change to Merch. Play back the video to make sure the link is where and when you want it, double-check your link, and you’re all set. Hit Publish and start sharing.

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Previously, using a video to share and promote your project meant embedding the video in your Facebook feed or blog and linking to it in a tweet along with a separate purchasing link. Suddenly that feels like sending a telegraph to place an order via Pony Express.

Your videos can now be a direct call to action. To learn other ways you can connect your audience with Gumroad, see our Integrations page in the Help Center.

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Kiwi Juice: The Power of Community

Travis Nichols on July 17th, 2014

When Gumroad was founded, there was a conscious decision to not be a marketplace. We believe that direct-to-audience sales is superior to setting up in a packed bazaar and hoping for the best. Ten years ago, one could chuck something at the internet and it’d be found. Each page was like a much-desired service station in the middle of the southwest. Now the internet is an endless Times Square (shudder) and everyone is screaming to be heard.

It’s more important than ever to build an engaged audience and make it as easy as possible to get your work in front of them. Additionally, it’s easier than ever to put oneself in a position to generate income selling creative work; a double-edged sword since it’s not just easier than ever for you, but for everyone. That’s why we’re so interested in helping creators take advantage of and maximize the leverage they now have.

That doesn’t mean we’re all in it alone. There’s power in communities. A group of like-minded creators can band together and, in a unified front, help each other promote to a much larger audience and accomplish much more than any of the individuals on their own. That’s exactly what the founders of Kiwi Juice are doing for professional tutorials in the the concept, illustration, and 3D fields.

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We talked to Anthony Jones, who got things rolling on the commerce and gospel-spreading side of Kiwi Juice. Anthony has done work for Activision, Blizzard, Hasbro, Disney, and many more. He personally has almost 30 tutorials on Gumroad ranging from design to painting to Photoshop techniques, and Anthony is just one of dozens of professionals on Kiwi Juice. These videos, brushes, tool presets, and hi-res graphics are packaged and offered affordably to amateurs and pros alike. Their roster and numbers continue to grow, and for good reason. Check out a tutorial and see for yourself.

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Who built Kiwi Juice and why?

Gavriil Afanasyev Klimov built the site. He was working with other artists on the structure in which it should be run, but he put it all together himself.

What I did to contribute was start using Gumroad and convince others to use it too. So with our powers combined, we were able to let Kiwijuice.net become what it is now. A place where artists can build their own custom store and create affordable content for their fans and supporters.

Do you consider Kiwi Juice to be a community, a hub, a collective, a marketplace, something else, a combination?

It is all of the above. It is something that is run by the community of artists who put together their own individual stores, and it’s a collective for supporters to browse through and learn from the artists that they care about at an affordable price.

What is your curation process?

Kiwi Juice doesn’t take a commission, but we do review and take into account the quality of the work/instructor and try to ensure that those who we showcase on Kiwi Juice have good information to spread. And all of this is free.

Tell me about one or two of your favorite tutorials.

My personal favorites are definitely the ones done by John Park and Maciej Kuciara. These guys are good friends of mine, but also great instructors. I’d highly recommend both, especially since they created a great place on facebook for people to work together on improving one’s art. It’s called Brainstorm.

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-from Mech Rendering by John Park

Is there a lot of overlap between professionals and consumers for the types of work that you are curating tutorials for? Are things already happening fast enough that you have seen new artists become professional artists and teach others? 

Like most things, to become a professional takes time and effort. But what I have personally seen is an increase of ability and confidence amongst amateur artists. Also, the fact that there is a sense of light competition amongst the instructors gives us more fuel to create higher-quality content. The better the content, the better the response. I love this model of business, because it keeps everyone honest and hard working and accountable for great products for our fans and supporters.

What has surprised you most in this endeavor? 

The amount of positive feedback from the masses. So many people approve of this because of how artists who were radio silent have now become way more engaged and involved with their fanbases. It’s a win-win. But more importantly, it’s allowing some people to actually leave their day jobs and pursue this, making their own content and helping the community get better as a whole, full-time. It’s fantastic and inspiring for everyone.

What’s next?

I have always been an advocate for people to pursue their dreams and aspirations. I think the next step is to create a more fluid experience for users of Kiwi Juice.

Also, we have plans on putting together a miniature convention for people who have something to show and something to prove. It will be a place where people can meet their favorite artists and learn from them on the pros and cons on building your own content and things you should do to achieve this. I want people to start realizing that you can make money off your own hard work, and I want to help create strategies towards doing so.

I think it’s time to give more power to the content creators of your favorite movies/games/entertainment and really build a better economy for them. Artists tend to get unfair reimbursement and percentages by going through some third-party distributors. Gumroad/Kiwi Juice provides an opportunity for artists to sell their own content and keep practically all of the profit. And because of this we can sell it for much cheaper. Like I mentioned before, it’s a win-win. 


There’s strength in numbers, especially when a team is overflowing with amazing talent. Look around. You might be able to find what can become your community. Join up and work for the common good. We look forward to hearing about it.

 

Introducing Gumroad Picks: June 2014

Jessica Jalsevac on July 9th, 2014

Here at Gumroad, we’re continually awed by the creators we see joining the platform each day. As part of an ongoing effort to showcase their work to the world, we’ve put together the first ever Best of Gumroad list. 

We looked for creators who had either a strong launch, a high number of purchases, or high gross revenue in the past month. From there, we hand-picked 10 whose products are especially innovative or exciting.

As the list came together, we noticed some interesting trends emerging: 

  • Niche Films: Two documentaries (Motonomad and I Am Road Comic) appear in the top 10, both aimed at very niche audiences (motorbike enthusiasts and comedy nerds). The filmmakers took very different approaches to distributing their films - Motonomad relied heavily on YouTube promotion of extended trailers, while I Am Road Comic used Twitter, comedy podcasts, and a few art house screenings. These different strategies reflect a clear understanding of their target audience, where they hang out online and offline, and what type of content is important to them.  
  • Art Tutorials: Artists Anthony Jones and Eytan Zana experienced a lot of success with the launch of Kiwi Juice, a new site devoted to the collection and listing of independent art tutorials (most of which are from Gumroad creators!). We love the concept of this community and hope to see a few more popping up organically in different verticals in the near future. Watch out for an in-depth piece on Kiwi Juice next week. 
  • Software/Tools: We’re seeing more software being sold on Gumroad recently, such as Pat Flynn’s Smart Podcast Player and ThinkDev’s Quickres 4.0. This is in part due to our new license key feature, but also seems to be part of an exciting trend where content creators are expanding their product offerings into the software realm (think Laura Roeder with the recent release of her app, Edgar). 

Without further ado, here are our 10 Best of Gumroad Creators for June 2014, in no particular order:

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Motonomad by motology Films (Film) 

Two motorcycle racers, Adam Riemann and Mark Portbury, endure a 7000km mission across Europe, in hope of reaching the Pyramids of Egypt.

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Color and Light by Eytan Zana (Tutorial)

A three hour long video takes you through Eytan’s thought process on applying color, light, and mood to a painting. Also includes a PSD file, brush set, and perspective tool plugin for Photoshop.

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Skift Trends Report: The Rise of the Silent Traveler by Skift (Report)

Skift is proposing a new model to look at the mobile-first travel consumer. The silent traveler is the travel consumer who turns to their mobile devices first, seeking a solution to in-trip challenges that used to be the primary domain of customer service staff.

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flex-i-ble dieting by Krissy Mae Cagney (Book)

Krissy Mae has compiled every iota of guidance she has on becoming a healthier and happier person into this book. 

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“Country Club Rejects” Polo by Shady Records (Tshirt)

Wreak havoc on your local golf course with the “Country Club Rejects” pack from Shady Records.

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I Am Road Comic by Jordan Brady (Film)

A first-hand look at working the road as a comedian. This funny documentary includes interviews with more than two dozen fantastic comics discussing the nuts and bolts of working the road in bars and clubs. 

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Smart Podcast Player by Pat Flynn (Software)

The best media player solution for podcasters who are tired of clunky, confusing players that are ugly and hard to install. Note: The beta launch of the Smart Podcast Player is sold out, but you can sign up to be notified of the public release here

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Paint with Color by Anthony Jones (Tutorials)

Anthony Jones started painting in 2007 when he was 23 years old. As someone who wasn’t initially a painter/artist he had to start from the beginning. He tries to spread as much good information to as many artists as possible, always trying to inspire people and let them know that even if you are a total newbie, you can still become a great artist. 

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Kyle’s Ultimate Dry Media for Photoshop by Kyle T Webster (Design Tools)

This great new set from illustrator Kyle T Webster contains 25 tools: 20 brand new Dry Media brushes with great effects, as well as the Bone Dry Brush and the Deliciously Dry Brush from the Drawing Set / Megapack, a new ‘rough’ eraser, and two new blenders for great smudging and edging effects.

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ng-book: The Complete Book on Angular JS and Complete Source by Ari Lerner (Book)

The most comprehensive guide to AngularJS available anywhere. Includes the book, all source code for every example in the book, 3 hour long Angular screencast for beginners, the sample app mini-ebook, and complete source code for the sample app.


When compiling the Gumroad Picks lists, we look for creators who have had recent launches, lots of sales, or success using Gumroad in an exciting way. From there, we hand-pick creators whose work is especially innovative or creative. We hope to see you on this list in the future!

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