Get real-time updates by following us on or .

How to Showcase Your Expertise through Content Creation

Travis Nichols on April 4th, 2014

For the second edition of The Gumroad Creators Studio, Poornima Vijayashanker of Femgineer gave a talk on content creation as a launching point for entrepreneurship.

Poornima started Femgineer.com as a blog to combine her interests in engineering and writing. After, much to her surprise, people starting reading it, she pivoted Femgineer into an educational business. Now Femgineer is speaking engagements, workshops, mentorships, online courses, and more.

We were happy to host Poornima at Gumroad HQ, and we’re glad to share her talk below. If you’re interested in leveraging your expertise in anything from coding to screen printing, from design to pet grooming, from technical writing to urban gardening, this is for you.

Making Great Videos with Caleb Wojcik

Travis Nichols on March 28th, 2014

Caleb Wojcik, co-founder of Fizzle.co, The Fizzle Show, and The Sparkline Blog, created a definitive crash course guide to making better videos. The DIY Video Guide takes you from gear (and the gear you don’t need) to audio to shooting to editing (with a trove of tricks to save on editing time), and everything on the software side. In addition to the book, higher packages include video tutorials, interviews, case studies and more. I talked to Caleb about the guide and video-making in general, and how I could have saved countless hours of my life if his book had come along just a little bit sooner.

image

Starting from absolute scratch, what’s it going to cost someone to make good-looking, good-sounding, engaging videos?

Assuming you have a smart phone made in the last few years, you can start making good-looking and good-sounding videos for about $100. The three pieces of gear I recommend for making great-looking iPhone or Android videos are a RodeSmartLav ($60), the Glif Phone Tripod Mount ($30), and a small Gorillapod ($18).

Engaging videos, on the other hand, don’t cost anything but time. Time spent planning and scripting a compelling video, time recording take after take until you land that joke correctly, and time during editing making sure the video is as concise and clear as possible.

What are some of the biggest DON’Ts you see in videos out there in the cultural milieu?

One of the biggest mistakes I see is publishing videos that are way too long. The French mathematician Blaise Pascal once said, “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” A video that is too long is one that didn’t have enough time spent making it. The creator didn’t plan it out well enough or edit out enough fluff. 

Think of a director’s cut of a movie. Even in Hollywood, at some point you can’t just leave everything in. Videos that take too long to accomplish what they set out to do are a waste of time for the viewers and ultimately show a lack of polish by the creator.

What are the least-used and most-used pieces of video equipment that you own?

My least-used piece of video equipment has to be an LED light that just sits on top of my DSLR. I always bring it just in case I need it but I always default to natural light or setting up a three point lighting kit.

The piece of gear I use the most would have to be my tripod or monopod. I can’t stand shaky camera footage. I don’t mind it in a movie or show that is using it stylistically (see: Bourne movies), but if a video is shaky when I go to edit it I almost always throw it out.

We’ve got some more content coming out soon on improving conversion rates. One of the things we looked at was conversion rates for products with different types of covers (product previews) - image vs. video vs. audio. However, the vast majority of creators on Gumroad who use videos for covers are filmmakers. What sagely thoughts do you have about using video previews for other types of projects?

Don’t be afraid to show your face. In my experience, people buy from people easier than they do from mysterious brands. Hop on camera and explain to the viewer what it is you’re selling, in your own voice, with your own quirks and mannerisms.

Also, show the inside of your product, service, or company. Buyers want to see behind the scenes. Show them the inside of the book, the membership site, the factory where you make the shirts, or kitchen where the sausage is made. Think of it like special features on a DVD.

Caleb, the three-snaps-to-signal-a-mistake technique (see the book, readers) is fantastic. I’m currently digging through stacks of raw footage for some upcoming videos, and that would have saved hours of work if I had known about it before. I’m absolutely going to start snapping my mess-ups. Do you have another other quick video hack that you didn’t mention in the book or accompanying materials?

Always do two takes when possible. Even when I think I nailed the line the first time I always say it again. More often than not I will have made a funny face, said a word incorrectly, or had some other audio hiccup that I didn’t expect. Hard drive space is cheap. Taking the time to set up all your equipment again just to say one line is not.

It’s been around a month since the release of the DIY Video Guide. You talk about hitting the record button every day. That’s a month of work for you. Have you leveled up in that time (streamlined a process or two, picked up some new skills, etc.)? Or, Caleb, have you peaked? Oh no. Did you peak?

I actually worry about this. After you do something for a while, in my case making videos, it is easy to stop learning new things all the time. So what I’ve been spending some time learning lately is color correction. I always make sure that the image of the footage I shoot into the camera is publish-ready, but being able to stylize and adjust the colors of a shot just a little bit can go a long way towards upping the production value of your videos.

What part of video-making do you still find the most challenging?

Being myself on camera is something I still have an issue with when I’m working off a script. When I am just ad libbing or doing more of a tutorial where I can talk naturally it isn’t really a problem, but when I have to deliver a specific line or joke that I’ve written, it still takes me too many tries to not sound like a robot.

You offer the DIY Video Guide in three packages. What are some of the benefits of the packages that include more than the book alone?

What you get in the other packages are threefold. First, there are video tutorials from me on all of the more technical parts of making videos like the software you’ll use to edit and syncing audio with video recordings. Second, I have case studies of different kinds of videos I’ve made including book trailers and sales videos. Lastly, I have video interviews with online entrepreneurs that heavily use video day-to-day in their business, but do the majority of it themselves. These all add a more detailed and step-by-step look at how DIY videos are made.

The Gumroad team are big fans of Fizzle. (Readers, Fizzle creates products and content for indie entrepreneurs.) Anything exciting in the pipeline you can share?

We have some great “guest” courses that either just launched or are coming soon to Fizzle. One of which is an official course from Michael Port’s team called Book Yourself Solid. We’re also putting the finishing touches on an Advanced Podcasting course with John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire. And that’s not even to mention the great things our Fizzle members are accomplishing and sharing in the forum. I love all the Fizzlers. They rock.

image

Find Caleb Wojcik’s blog, podcast, and book at calebwojcik.com.

Your Meeting with a Room Full of Experts

Travis Nichols on March 18th, 2014

You’re an entrepreneur with a great idea. You and your team are huddled around your kitchen table 16-20 hours a day building an awesome product. You get an email from Dropbox. You’re out of storage space. Halfway through reading the message, your computer dies.

Alright. It’s time to raise money to get you out of the apartment and into the world.

We talked to Michael Simpson, DJZ co-founder, about the book he co-authored with Seth Goldstein, The Secret of Raising Money. This comprehensive collection of knowledge from top venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and beyond promises to help you spend less time raising, get your foot in the doors of top investors, and know what to say once you get inside.

image

Sahil, our founder and CEO, said, “If you can’t get an hour with Seth, read The Secret of Raising Money”. That’s what I find most striking. This is productized consulting. When you and Seth were working on this project, did you have that in mind? That this essentially puts the reader/viewer in a room of experts that they, frankly, likely couldn’t get meetings with otherwise?

Definitely. Raising money is very difficult, especially if you don’t have access to mentors to guide you. So we took the best knowledge on fundraising from Silicon Valley - from people like Fred Wilson, Naval Ravikant, Josh Kopelman and others -  and included their wisdom in the book. Seth has also raised $100m across a dozen companies over the last twenty years, and I got to learn from him at DJZ.

We also wanted to give entrepreneurs actual tools that they could use immediately. So we created cap table and financial model templates, a legal document explanation pack and a whole host of other items to go along with the book.

Fundraising is a game with very specific rules. The rules can be broken, but if you walk into the process unaware of what the rules are then you are at a huge disadvantage. The Secret of Raising Money changes that.

There’s a huge potential for productized consulting with ebooks, especially when bundled with templates, videos, etc., as you and Seth have done in The Secret of Raising Money. What should other consultants and would-be consultants think about if they’re considering packaging up their knowledge as a product?

Yes - there is huge potential in productizing consulting with information products. It’s never been easier to turn your consulting skillset into a product. In terms of advice - there is so much I don’t know where to begin! 

I’ll focus on one point: Remember that email is the best marketing channel. When it comes time to sell your product (and for many months before), email should be your top priority. There is a huge misconception that getting influencers to tweet  about your product (or post to Facebook) is a sure-fire way to get traffic. There are occasions where it works, but over the past few weeks we’ve learned that conversion rates from Twitter are very hit or miss, and depend on a lot of factors beyond your control. With email, you can communicate with your list repeatedly, and warm them to the idea of your product over a period of time, so when launch arrives, they are more than ready to make the purchase.

What’s the biggest mistake that people make when trying to raise money?

Failure to seek out multiple competing offers. There is a concept in negotiation theory called ‘BATNA’ - Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. The basic gist is that your leverage in any negotiation is a function of the viable alternatives you have available. This applies heavily to fundraising.  The leverage you have with any investor is very much defined by how much other investor interest you have. As a result, you must seek out multiple term sheets, not just one. And the way to do this is to condense your fundraising into a short time window, and approach many investors, all at the same time.

There’s a learning/cumulative part of writing. What’s something that you and Seth learned while writing the book?

The hardest part of writing is finding your flow. Often I would write a sentence, then rewrite it, rewrite it again, etc. This is the wrong way to go about it. The way around this is to  “Lower your standards and keep going.” (credit Sandra Tsing Loh). In other words: just write, even if the stuff that comes out is subpar. Suddenly you’ll find you’ve written a few pages. And only then do you go back and revise it. Much like product development, writing is very much an iterative process. The first version sucks. The way you get to something great is by going back over your work again and again.

The Secret of Raising Money is available in multiple tiers. Could you explain the different options?

There are three bundles - The Elite Bundle, The Bootstrapping Bundle and the book.

The Elite Bundle has everything you need for a successful fundraise: 

  • The book (The Secret of Raising Money)
  • 7 exclusive new video interviews with world- leading VC’s and entrepreneurs
  • 7 video transcripts
  • 6 exclusive written interviews
  • Cap table template
  • Cap table explanation pack
  • Four financial model templates (Saas, mobile, media, transaction revenue -  but fully customizable for any business)
  • Budget template
  • 16 beautiful pitch deck templates (keynote and powerpoint)
  • Legal document explanation pack
  • Fundraising cheat sheet for team

The Bootstrapping Bundle has the book plus a few other resources:

  • The book (The Secret of Raising Money)
  • 1 exclusive video interview with Josh Kopleman, Founder of first round capital
  • 6 exclusive written interviews
  • Cap table template
  • Cap table explanation pack
  • Budget template
  • 16 beautiful pitch deck templates (keynote and powerpoint)

And then if you just want the book, you can get that too (+ a little extra):

  • The book (The Secret of Raising Money)
  • 6 exclusive written interviews

Now that this collected wisdom is available, are you going to have to develop new money raising tactics in the future, or is there a benefit to widely sharing trade secrets?

No - we we won’t have to develop new tactics. Much of what we teach in the book are fundamental principles. For example - social proof. Social proof is the idea that investors are more likely to invest in a company if others are already invested, or at least showing interest. It’s the herd instinct. But this phenomenon isn’t just limited to investors, it’s an inescapable part of human psychology. People are more compelled to do something if others are already doing it. And what’s more, all investors are profoundly aware of this phenomenon. But they still can’t avoid being compelled by it.

Are you offering any sort of launch discount?

Yes! You guys at Gumroad (especially Ryan, Sahil, Jessica, Travis and Tuhin) have been so incredible in helping us through every step of this process. We are constantly blown away by how helpful you are. So we wanted to do a special Gumroad discount.

Get 20% off all bundles of The Secret of Raising Money on Wednesday, March 19th. Use the code “Gumroad”.

Quick Tip: Sell More by Giving More.

Jessica Jalsevac on March 7th, 2014

It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes the best way to sell your products is to give them away.

I recently took a closer look at Kyle T Webster’s stats for an in-depth case study (more on that soon!). Kyle has done a phenomenal number of sales of his custom photoshop brushes over the past several months.

A major pillar of his sales strategy is to give away some of his products. He does this in two ways:

Pay-what-you-want products:

Kyle has three small pay what you want products that give potential customers a sampling of his brushes. These products have generated tons of views and downloads since he started doing them in October. Here are the stats to date:

  • 57,000+ product views
  • 12,000+ downloads
  • 39% conversion

Not only did tens of thousands of people view and download the products, but many also decided to pay him for it, resulting in over $3200 in revenue! 

To download the free files, each of the 12,000+ customers entered their email address, allowing Kyle to add them to his mailing list and contact them about future product releases, pre-orders, sales, etc.

 Limited giveaways of regular products:

 Kyle also periodically offers a download of one of his regular products to three random Tumblr users if they reblog certain posts about his brush sets. He notes, “when the timing is right, these posts can lead to thousands of reblogs in a span of only a few hours.” This is a great way to get exposure to other people’s audiences.

image

Won’t this hurt my profits?

Consider all the famous chefs who post their recipes - their trade secrets - online, or the bands that release several singles before their album launches, or how you can practically eat a meal from all the samples at Costco.

Its all the same idea. Allow the world to experience your work and it will thrive.

The Harvard Business Review recently did a blog post on generosity as a growth strategy. In it the author talks about how “giving [customers] a little taste of something great will have [them] coming back for a lot more - at full price.”

There are three important outcomes of sharing your work freely:

  • You build trust and credibility with your audience by showing them what you’re about and the quality of your work.
  • You make your fans feel great and generate lots of goodwill. This, in turn, makes people want to talk about you and your work.
  • You cultivate long-term relationships with your customers. If you build trust and make your fans feel great, they’ll be more likely to support your future project

A few weeks ago we talked about using some sort of bait, or an “ethical bribe" to entice people to sign up for your mailing list. I hope this has expanded on that concept and got you thinking about other ways you can get your products out into the world.

Building Profitable Audiences with Nathan Barry

Travis Nichols on February 26th, 2014

We’re not afraid to say that our first Gumroad Creators Studio event was a success. Nathan Barry spoke on building profitable audiences and what he’s learned along the way. His presentation was followed by a chat with our own Ryan Delk and questions from the audience. There was delicious food provided by Chef Luis Estrada and a headshot studio courtesy of our new friends at 8:45a. The PARISOMA team was fantastic, and we look forward to our events with them in the future.

We’re also not afraid to say that we filmed the HECK out of the event. Caleb Wojcik would have nodded in silent approval at the sight of it all. Then… the unthinkable happened. The cameras and memory cards were stolen. Footage LOST.

However, a couple of the audio sources evaded the thief’s nefarious grasp, so they’ve been put together with the slides that Nathan used in his presentation. So please enjoy! Also, we’d like to think that somewhere, the perp is watching and re-watching the stolen footage and turning his life around. When you’re ready, friend, we’ll be happy to welcome you and your multi-tiered redemption memoir to Gumroad.

Shouts out to our friends at PARISOMA, 8:45a, and Chef Luis Estrada.

Nathan’s Photoshop for Interface Design is available now. Cut the fluff and learn skills you’ll use every day. http://nathanbarry.com/photoshop/

Anatomy of an Effective Product Page

Jessica Jalsevac on January 31st, 2014

You’re put the finishing touches on your killer product and are ready to take that great leap of faith - hitting the “publish” button and releasing your baby into the world. High five!

But, real quick, lets just make sure your product is looking its best for its date with success.

We’ve put together a handy checklist for you to optimize your product page. Each of these 8 points is geared towards converting your visitors into customers by removing uncertainty and building trust in your product.

To illustrate this checklist, we’ve enlisted the help of the prodigious Justin Jackson, a product manager and host of the Product People podcast. Here’s the product page for Justin’s Amplification course in all its majesty. The numbers are your Checklist of Product Glory.

image

Now let’s break it down.

image

1. Product Cover

Products with covers convert twice as well as products without. So whether its an image, a video, or a sound byte, don’t neglect this important element! Yes, it should be beautiful and eye-catching, but it should also give your visitor a good feel for the product with just a glance.

For a film, the obvious cover choice is a trailer, but the film poster, or an interview with the cast/director also works well.

For an album, you can include the album artwork, or instead link to a single on Soundcloud, footage from the recording studio, an interview with the band, or a music video.

Looking at this image, you can tell right away that the product is a bundle of items, including a course and a handbook. Some things could be improved, but overall it helps you get a good sense for the product, which is great. For other examples of phenomenal product covers, see here and here.

For photos, we recommend either a square (at least 700 pixels) or a wide rectangle (700 x 333 pixels).

2. Title

Like the cover photo, a title should be compelling, but also clear and specific. This title explains that the product is a) a course, and b) downloadable (as opposed to live-streamed or an in-person event). Another example might be, “Beauty in Disrepair (Signed Physical CD).”

3. Social Proof

Social proof is one of the most powerful elements you can include in a sales page. Awards, press quotes, ratings, interviews, testimonials, number of copies sold - these all work to validate your work and inspire confidence in your audience. 

In this case, the product has been featured in Inc. Magazine, a well-known brand. Plus, a real person was able to get 2 articles on the front page of Hacker News because of this course. This is the exact result that Justin’s target market is looking for.

4. Headline or Tagline

For tools and educational content, like Justin’s course, your headline should focus on your customers’ pain (in this case, not getting enough traction on a site or blog). Justin demonstrates that he understands that pain before he even gets into what his product has to offer. Because, at the end of the day, its all about your customers, not about your product. 

For novels, music, films, games, etc., aim for a tagline that gives your audience an emotional feel for the story. Think “A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere” from Fargo, or “Don’t go into the water” from Jaws. Did you just get chills?

5. Description

Again, the type of product is going to determine the format of your description. Novels, music, films, comics, and games should have specific and enticing descriptions of the product concept/plot. Use the language of your target audience and focus on what excites them. A table of contents, track list, or cast list might also be appropriate.

For instructional content and tools, illustrate the customer’s dream (what happens when their pain points go away), and demonstrate how your product gets them there.

Here, the dream is to have a bigger audience, and Amplification will help you do that by showing you how to tap into the right networks.

Descriptions can also overcome objections. You might wonder what qualification Justin has to be teaching you about getting traction. Ah, he’s made several posts go viral himself, and he’s going to expose his real data to prove it. Objection overcome.

6. Content Specs

Don’t underestimate the importance of explaining precisely what your buyers will receive when they purchase your product. You don’t want your customers to expect to be mailed a CD when in fact the product is a digital album.

With Amplification, Justin outlines exactly what files are contained in the product, and even gives the number of pages of the ebooks.

Pro tip: Want to include the length of a video or even a track list here? You can add as many custom attributes as you like. Check out this video to see how. 

7. Profile Picture

Let your audience know that you’re a real person. Give them something to connect with.

Justin is a real guy, with a real face (and a fake moustache). His profile picture shows personality, and that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s built up your trust a little bit more.

8. About You

Like your profile picture, you bio helps build a personal connection. But its also where you can reinforce your credibility. Justin’s bio tells you that he’s not just a mustachioed character - he’s got a podcast, he works at a startup, and he builds products. You can follow him on Twitter to get to know him better. All this helps to build your confidence that he actually knows what he’s talking about and that he’ll deliver a high-quality product.

You can update your profile information from your Settings Page.

Bonus

Background image: Justin’s cool image of a soundboard helps reinforce his theme, and makes the product look stunning and professional. Check out this video for more on how to customize the look and feel of your product on Gumroad.

Satisfaction guarantee: Justin goes the extra mile to build trust by including a money-back guarantee if his customers aren’t completely happy. We hope he doesn’t have to honor this too often, but if he does, Gumroad makes issuing refunds painless, plus there’s no fee attached.

Great work! These simple tweaks to your product page have primed you for much higher conversion rates. Now all that’s left is to hit that “publish” button…

Nathan Barry’s Lessons Learned Selling $355,759 on Gumroad

Travis Nichols on January 15th, 2014

Nathan Barry is a designer, writer, and teacher. He’s the author of The App Design Handbook, Designing Web Applications, and Authority. He’s the founder and designer of ConvertKit, and he was an early seller on Gumroad. Two of the most redeeming (and valuable) qualities about Nathan are his transparency and his desire to teach others. Here’s how much I made doing ___. Here’s how I did it. Here are some things you can do.

Nathan recently spent a few days at Gumroad HQ, and he dispensed an amazing amount of insight and experience. We’ll be releasing it over the next few months like the controlling board of a precious metal monopoly. The best way to stay apprised of these types of updates is to sign up for our weekly newsletter. We’re bringing you all sorts of tips and tricks to build your audience and sell smarter. Sign up through the links on this page.

Here’s Nathan Barry.

image

A little over a year ago, while trying to find a platform to sell my new design book on, I got an email from Ryan Delk. In his well-crafted pitch to get me to consider using Gumroad he ended with, “and the UX is exponentially better than other marketplaces.”

As a user experience designer I had to check It out. Marketplaces and payment providers are famous for having a terrible checkout experience. PayPal tries to trick your customers into thinking they can’t pay with a credit card and e-Junkie looks like the experience hasn’t been improved in a decade.

After using the checkout process for the first time my professional opinion was, “wow!” The “exponentially better” part of Ryan’s comment was an understatement. Gumroad’s checkout process was—and as far as I know, still is—the best checkout experience anywhere on the web. Since my book was about designing great software it would be hypocritical of me to use a payment with a second-rate checkout process.

Anyway, that’s the story of how I came to Gumroad. In the 16 months since that initial conversation with Ryan, I’ve sold $355,759 worth of books on Gumroad. In the process I’ve learned a few tips that I’m certain can double your revenue—no matter what type of product you are selling—if implemented correctly.

Lesson 1: Be able to contact your customers

Before writing books I made all my product revenue from selling iPhone apps on the App Store. Each day I would look at the previous days sales numbers. Unfortunately that’s all they were: numbers. I would be informed “You sold x copies of this app in these countries.” That’s it.

Without customer information I had no way of contacting any of my users. That meant notification about updates, asking for feedback, and any other contact had to be done through custom code through the app—something I hadn’t taken the time to build.

That’s when it really hit me: the people who bought my app weren’t my customers, they were Apple’s. Apple was just giving me a little bit of money from each purchase, but not the customer.

I often get asked why I, as a full-time author, don’t sell my books on Amazon or the iBooks store. The biggest reason is the lack of customer information. I want to sell directly to my customers so that I can email them to ask how they like it, know who is buying it and where, and be able to build on that relationship to make my next book launch more successful than the last.

Through Gumroad I get all the information on my customers—I can teach them through other emails and promote future products to them. Without that, I don’t think I could have built a business to the same level that I’ve been able to.

Lesson 2: Price based on value

How much is a book worth? The most common way to answer that question is by comparison. Print books often retail for $20, but Amazon will sell a copy discounted down to $14. Mine are just digital, so we should probably knock at least $6 or $7 off just because ebooks aren’t worth as much.

So is your newly published ebook worth $7? Well, those ebooks at that price are by professional authors from major publishing houses. You’re just a first time author who hired your mom to proofread your book (luckily, my mom is actually a professional proofreader). So your book should be priced at just $3 or $4.

But remember those stories of authors hitting it rich on Amazon by selling their books for $0.99 or $1.99? You want to sell tens of thousands of copies, so is that the right price?

Stop.

Seriously, stop thinking this way.

Whether you are selling books or any other product, comparison pricing like this is a great way to be a poor starving author/artist/creator/etc. Don’t do it.

What’s the value?

A designer or developer at a software company who buys my book Designing Web Applications can get thousands of dollars of value out the ideas in the book. Just implementing the ideas on designing first-run experiences could radically improve their trial retention rates and generate a lot more revenue. So is that self-published book worth $2? No, it’s worth hundreds. Maybe not to everyone, since people working on small projects without many users wouldn’t get the same value out of each improvement, but it’s okay to price some people out of the market.

A Photoshop plugin that saves a designer 10 minutes every work day isn’t worth just $15. If it’s core to workflow, you could easily charge $50. After all, good designers charge over $100 per hour for their time, so a good $50 plugin would pay for itself in a couple days of saved effort.

If your product is focused on business customers you can—and should—charge far more than you think. Since my business is teaching and training I like to think of it like this:

You can charge premium rates if you are teaching a skill that makes money to people who have money.

I teach design to professional designers and developers. They use those skills to make their companies easier to use and more profitable.

Whereas if you were to teach knitting to middle-school kids, they not only don’t use the skills to make a living, but also don’t have money to spend on your product.

Value based pricing doesn’t work as well when focused on consumers (they tend not to not think about purchases based on a return on investment), but you should still probably increase your price to focus on the higher end of the market.

A small audience

I’m going to make an assumption that you don’t have a massive audience (10,000+ fans) that is eager to buy everything you produce. More likely you are in the early stages of your online business empire and are working on those first 500 or even 100 followers. The percentage of any following that will actually buy is quite low—so you need to maximize revenue from each one.

If only 10% of your audience will actually buy from you, I doubt lowering the price by a couple dollars will encourage significantly more people to purchase. Conversely, in most cases doubling your price won’t cause you to lose 50% of your sales—meaning you come out ahead on revenue.

Pricing is something that is flexible and hard to get right. Experiment with it. But if your goal is to maximize revenue think about increasing your prices.

Lesson 3: Build a relationship through email

When I first started writing this lesson I wrote it as “Build an email list.” But that’s actually not what I want you to do at all. Instead each seller should be able to build a relationship with their customers over time, and email is the best platform I know of to do that.

The first step is to know how you are going to deliver value on a regular basis. In most cases, teaching is the best way to do this. For my books I teach design and marketing through blog posts, but just about every product has skills related to it that the owner will want to know. People love to learn, especially from a source they know and trust.

Let’s go with the Photoshop plugin example again. What does someone who is a good customer for a Photoshop plugin want to know? Well, how to use Photoshop for design of course!

So on your email list you are going to regularly (every week or every other week) share tutorials and resources to help designers. Once you have a basic strategy in place you need a way to stay contact your purchasers.

Choose an email marketing provider such as MailChimp, Aweber, or my own ConvertKit (best for quickly building an audience), then export any existing customers from Gumroad and import the list into your tool of choice.

If you don’t already have customers then you are in the pre-launch stage—and email works great for that too.

Using email to launch a new product

The first step when launching a new product is to put up a landing page with basic details about the product and an email opt-in form so that visitors can find out more information. After promoting that page like crazy (email friends, submit to link sites, share on Twitter, ask friends to share on Twitter, etc) you should have a handful of subscribers.

The next step is to write really detailed blog posts or tutorials teaching that content we already established your target customer wants to learn. I’m not talking about short list posts or fluff pieces—these should be detailed posts that deliver a lot of value and are worth sharing. 1,000 words is the minimum, but my best posts are usually 2,000-4,000 words.

At the end of each post should be an email opt-in form for your new product. The goal is to convert as many people as possible to get on your list. That’s where you will get a much higher conversion rate.

By promoting the landing page and more blog posts you will grow your list, but remember, we want a relationship. That means providing value on a regular basis.

So, take that blog post you just wrote and send it to your email list. They expressed interest in your product and your content is good, so why wouldn’t they love it? The best part is you can ask everyone on your email list to share it, then your list will grow even more.

Repeat that process several times. Write a new post, send it to your email list, use the post to grow your list, then start writing the next post.

When working on my first book, three really detailed tutorials—plus a lot of promotion—was enough to build an email list of nearly 800 subscribers. Enough to make $12,500 in sales on the first day.

Though the best part about email isn’t that first launch, it’s how your list makes your next launch so much easier.

Lesson 4: Sell in multiple packages

What if I told you one simple method could triple your revenue—would you pay attention?

I’ve used this method to triple revenue on two book launches and more than double revenue on two more. It does take some time to implement, but not nearly as much as creating the rest of your product.

What is it?

Selling in multiple packages.

You know when you go to subscribe to a web application and it asks which plan you would like? That’s tiered pricing—or multiple packages. They are segmenting their customers to allow those with larger budgets to pay more and get more value from the product. It’s common in software, but you can apply it to any other kind of product as well.

I do it with books. I sell just the book for $39 (that’s me pricing based on value), then for $99 I include video tutorials, expert interviews, and some other resources. Finally at $249 I include a top package that has even more resources (Photoshop files, code samples, and anything else that will save the customer time) as well as double the interviews and video tutorials.

I already spoiled the surprise by saying this method doubles or triples revenue over offering just the book at $39, but let’s look at exactly how.

For my book Authority (which is on exactly how to write and profit from your own technical ebook), I used the package method mentioned above. When looking at the sales count (number of copies sold) this was the distribution between packages:

  • The Book ($39) — 48%

  • The Book + Videos ($99) — 26%

  • The Complete Package ($249) — 26%

So just the book by itself sold nearly 50% of the copies. So was it worth doing the other packages? Definitely! Here’s the breakdown when we focus on revenue:

  • The Book ($39) — 16%

  • The Book + Videos ($99) — 24%

  • The Complete Package ($249) — 60%

Despite making up nearly 50% of revenue, the book only accounted for 16% of revenue. The real revenue came from the 24% of sales in The Complete Package that made up 60% of revenue!

image

Without excluding anyone

Raising prices almost always increases revenue. So why don’t we just keep raising prices to ridiculous amounts? Because each time you raise the price you exclude some people from buying. For some products that’s good: low paying customers have higher support costs in general. So in that case getting more revenue from fewer, higher quality customers is a good thing.

But with my books and training I want them to still be accessible. While businesses have plenty of money to spend, I don’t want to price freelancers out of getting my training.

That’s the beauty of tiered pricing. You can get all the benefits of selling a high priced product (the top package) to customers who have money (real businesses), but people just getting started can still afford a version of your product (the lowest package). Something for everyone—and you maximize revenue from the entire market!

One more thing

A really important, but very in-depth, topic I didn’t get a chance to cover is product launches.

I’ve launched a book to an email list of 800 and sold $12,500 in the first 24 hours, and I’ve also launched a design workshop to an email list of over 5,000 and sold zero seats. For the book I got the launch sequence right, and for the workshop I got lazy and screwed up the launch.

A good launch takes time to go through, so I’ve written a free, ten email course called Mastering Product Launches. It starts with topics like how to gather subscribers and build interest and finishes with using urgency to drive even more sales.

Sign up for Mastering Product Launches.

image

We love hearing from you and getting your feedback. Let us know what you think here.

Picking the Right Niche — Sacha Greif

Travis Nichols on October 23rd, 2013

Sacha Greif is a designer, coder, and entrepreneur from Paris who lives in Osaka. Sacha graciously allowed us to publish a post about how he and JavaScript expert Tom Coleman dove into (small) uncharted waters and wrote a book that became a definitive guide for a new and increasingly popular framework. Here’s Sacha Greif:

image

The word niche comes from French, where it means roughly the same thing as in English: a small, somewhat isolated space.

But in French, the word has an additional meaning that’s just as common: a niche is a doghouse, like the ones with triangular roofs that you’d put in your backyard.

So one could infer that according to the French language, niches are best left to dogs. And even in English, niche is often used to dismiss a product as too limited and lacking in usefulness.

However, I’d like to explain why, despite all that, niches aren’t always such bad places to be in after all (once you get used to the dog-breath smell).

Finding My Niche

First of all, a little background on me. I recently co-authored Discover Meteor, a book about the Meteor JavaScript framework. The book has been doing really well, and nearly 6 months after launch, it’s still bringing in enough monthly revenue for both me and my co-author to live on.

image

I’m not saying this to brag (well, ok, I might be a little), but because it’s very relevant to the topic at hand.

If the above made you go, “Huh, what’s Meteor?” you’re not alone. Although Meteor is rapidly growing and getting more popular, it’s still a relatively new and unknown framework. In fact, it’s the perfect example of a niche.

So why did we decide to work on a Meteor book rather than address a larger market like, say, JavaScript, or web apps in general?

Big Fish & Small Ponds

Now sure, part of the answer to the previous question is that we both liked Meteor and were already familiar with the technology. But the deeper reason is that we actually picked Meteor specifically because it’s a niche.

From the start, our goal was to be a big fish in a small pond and not the other way around.

Being a dominant player brings many advantages. The first one is that once people stumble on your niche, they’ll easily make the jump from there to your product.

What this means in practice is that we don’t really need to promote Discover Meteor directly. If we can simply get more people to use Meteor in general, we can trust that they’ll find their way to our book sooner or later.

And this in turns means that anybody helping promote Meteor is also indirectly helping us.

Contrast that with writing a book about Rails: there are already so many other Rails resources out there that there’s no guarantee that new Rails users would find your book, meaning you’ll have to work much harder at making sure your communication efforts target your product specifically.

Helping Hands

Another unexpected benefit of being in a niche is that smaller communities tend to stick together.

People from the Meteor community have been hugely supportive, not only by buying our book, but also by contributing corrections, screencasts and guest posts.

And the Meteor folks themselves have been a big help, sharing the word about our book and even hosting our launch party in their company offices.

Growing Niches

Remember when I mentioned being a big fish in a small pond? The thing is, we made the bet that this pond was special and that it would keep expanding. And just like a goldfish in an ever-bigger aquarium, we would hopefully grow with it.

It was a risky bet (after all, Meteor could’ve fizzled out), but it paid off. Meteor is slowly progressing towards 1.0, and as it gets more mature, the ecosystem around it is growing as well.

I believe this is why our sales haven’t followed the usual pattern of a big spike at launch followed by a slow, painful descent into oblivion as one saturates the market, but are instead holding pretty steady.

And the best part is that since our book directly targets beginners, new members of the growing Meteor community are the ideal customers!

image

(above: a page from Discover Meteor)

Lessons Learned

Of course, niches do have one big problem: their market size is by definition smaller. But a lot of the time, their inherent advantages can be enough to offset this downside.

What’s more I believe that by picking a growing niche, you might even be able to get the best of both worlds.

So hopefully this article will inspire you to look around for a niche of your own to conquer!

image

You can get a copy of Discover Meteor in multiple editions featuring screencasts, special chapters, case studies and more at discovermeteor.com.

As always, we love hearing your feedback — feel free to get in touch.

Put on Your Sunday Best: Setting up Your Profile

Travis Nichols on September 17th, 2013

Many of our users only sell a single item. Because Gumroad is so easy to use for sellers, those projects and products go online and get shared in Facebook and Twitter feeds with just a few clicks. They’re out the door and into buyer’s download folders. Ah, e-commerce.

But what about a second item and beyond? What about long-term foot traffic from search engines?

image

The above is a project uploaded by a user with no profile and no username. Sure, the project is sellable and sharable, but when the seller isn’t actively sharing their project, it essentially sits in the dark.

image

Here’s the same project, but the seller has filled out his bio. Potential buyers who find the project now have a little bit of information about the seller, but if they want to see what else he is selling, they’re out of luck.

image

A-ha! Calvin created a username. That simple step gave him a profile page (notice the underlined and now clickable name).

image

Now when potential buyers go to any item sold by this user, they’ll be able to click on his name and go to a page where every item sold by him is shown. Looks nice. Makes discovery easier. And it’s still really quick to set up.

Ready to take it to the next level?

When logged in, click on Settings in the upper-right of the page. Fill out your bio, add a photo, and pick a username. It’ll take two minutes, and it’s one of the best ways to reach your audience.

We’ve found that sales that happen on a profile page are 50% larger than the average. A profile and username can mean the difference between a front yard lemonade stand and a franchised juice bar.

Making Test Purchases: Your Product from a Customer’s Perspective

Emmiliese von Clemm on August 22nd, 2013

Once you finish setting up your product, you can make a test purchase to check that the entire payment and download process is ready for your launch. Test purchases can also give you a great feel for the buyer experience your customers will go through on launch day.

Making a test purchase simply requires that you be logged in to your Gumroad account — all purchases (of your own products!) made while logged in are considered test purchases.

Completing a Test Purchase

To make a test purchase, follow the steps below:

1) While logged in to your Gumroad account, access the product page for the product you want to test purchase. Go right to the product page by clicking on the link in the sidebar while editing a product, or by typing in the shortlink, which is customizable under the “Options” tab.

image

2) Once you reach the product page, you can double check that you’re logged in because of the user toolbar on the right side. Start the test purchase by clicking “I want this!” A payment box will pop up.

image

3) In the payment box, a “Test Card” banner will be visible on the credit card — this indicates that you are making a test purchase. Enter your buyer information and then click “Pay” to complete the test purchase.

image

4) After making the test purchase, you can download the product by clicking “Download now.” You’ll also receive an email from which you can download the product. The text at the bottom of the receipt should verify that the purchase you made was a test purchase. You can also try opening the download to make sure you uploaded the correct file when you set up the product in the first place.

image

Going Further 

Throughout the entire test purchase process, you can also pay attention to additional details about your product.

Check that your product cover image is the desired size or that your cover video plays, depending on the type of product cover you’ve chosen to use. 

Decide whether you want to add a background image, change the highlight color, or otherwise style your product. Background image and highlight colors can be updated in the Style section of the product’s user toolbar. 

Make sure the product description and receipt text is accurate. You can edit your receipt in the text box in the Buying Flow section of the product’s user toolbar. 

image

The test purchase is your chance to see exactly what your customers will see. After completing a successful test purchase, you should feel confident that your customers will experience a straightforward purchase experience on launch day!

As always, we love hearing your feedback — feel free to get in touch here.

← Older