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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Google Analytics Campaign Tracking

Jessica Jalsevac on June 12th, 2014

Last week we looked at how to set up goals in Google Analytics to track conversions such as views and product purchases. 

This week we’ll learn how to track the performance of specific marketing campaigns by setting up custom campaign tracking in Google Analytics.

With custom campaigns, you’ll be able to see exactly how many conversions result from a given email blast, Twitter post, or Facebook ad, enabling you to make more informed marketing decisions.

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It’s important that you have goals already set up to make the most of campaign tracking. Check out last week’s post for a step-by-step guide on goals.

Disclaimer: Custom campaigns are extremely powerful. But, like your uncle always says, with great power comes great responsibility. If not done correctly, custom campaigns can mess up your analytics big time. So start simple with the guidelines we’ve provided here, and when in doubt, remember that its better to not tag at all than to tag incorrectly.

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What are custom campaigns?

The gist of custom campaigns is that you can add information (called “parameters”) to any URL you own that links to your site. This is known as “link tagging.”

The additional parameters tell Google Analytics more about your traffic, and help identify things that might not be reported properly. For example:

  • traffic coming from an email newsletter often shows up as “direct” because certain desktop mail apps and secure servers don’t pass referrer data.
  • banner ads get grouped in with your referral traffic, even through they’re ads.

You can overwrite this reporting with your own custom tags to ensure you’re capturing the correct information.

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There are five different types of information (parameters) that you can add to a URL:

Medium*: The type of marketing/advertising, in very broad terms. Examples: email, social, cpc, banner.

Source*: The specific site, publication, advertiser, etc. where the link lives. Examples: awaytogarden.com, newsletter, twitter.com.

Campaign Name*: The name of your campaign. Examples: small_gardening_launch, free_trial, thanksgiving_sale.

Term: Used for paid search campaigns to identify the keywords you bid on. Examples: small_space_gardening, urban_garden.

Content: Used to differentiate ads within the same campaign. Most useful for CPC campaigns. Example: logolink, textlink

* Medium, Source and Name are the only three required parameters. We suggest that you only use these three (plus Term when doing paid keyword searches) for now. Once you get more advanced you can add in the Content parameter.

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How to create custom campaigns

To illustrate, let’s enlist the help of the fictional Calvin Burns. Calvin recently published a product, “The Small Space Gardening Guide”, on his website. He’s ready for budding urban gardeners to buy it and create their own beautiful mini oases.

He’s decided to promote the guide in 5 different ways:

1. Newsletter emails
2. Twitter posts
3. Facebook ads
4. Google AdWords
5. Guest post on Awaytogarden.com

We’ll create some custom campaigns for Calvin so that he can analyze how well each of these promotions is working.

First we need to add parameters into our links. Google created a nifty tool to help with this called the URL builder. You simply plug in your parameters and voila! The link is created automatically for you. 

1. Newsletter emails

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As you can see, we entered Calvin’s website, plus his campaign Source, Medium, and Name. It isn’t necessary to include the campaign Term or Content here, so we’ll leave these blank.

Click Submit, and you’ll get a link that looks like this:

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Now Calvin can include this link in his email newsletter to get accurate tracking on the traffic and conversions its driving to his products.

Let’s run through the rest of Calvin’s promotions to see how we would tag the URLs for each of them.

2. Twitter Post

You’ll likely want to use a link shortener before posting this on Twitter.

3. Facebook ads

  • Website URL: http://calvinburns.weebly.com
  • Campaign Source: facebook.com
  • Campaign Medium: cpc
  • Campaign Content: planter_map
  • Campaign Name: small_gardening_launch

See how we included a Content parameter this time? This is useful if you are running different versions of ads. In this example, Calvin’s ad might feature a map of where to put your planter boxes. He might have another ad that features basil on a balcony, which he can call “basil+balcony”.

4. Google AdWords

Don’t tag AdWords URLs. Instead of creating custom campaigns, simply link your AdWords account to your Google Analytics account and enable auto-tagging. Auto-tagging provides more information than custom campaigns without you doing a thing.

5. Guest post on Awaytogarden.com

Don’t tag links back to your site in your guest blog posts. These links will show up in your referral reports, which give you more information than custom campaigns.

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Make a plan

To keep all your information organized, create a spreadsheet with columns for your original URL, all your parameters, and the tagged URL. You can see a great example spreadsheet here.

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Reading your data

You can slice and dice your campaign data in a number of different ways. The most common is to head over to Acquisition > Campaigns for an overview of all your campaigns.

Above is a screen shot showing Calvin’s Small Space Gardening campaign. As you can see, his Twitter post, newsletter, and Facebook ad campaign can all be compared against each other in terms of traffic, bounce rate, goal completions, etc.

By clicking on “Goal Set 1” at the top of the page under the Explorer, I can view how each source performed for various goals. For instance, we can see here that the conversion rate for purchasing the Small Space Gardening Guide from Calvin’s newsletter is 50%, vs. 33% for Twitter and Facebook. If this trend continues, Calvin might want to test different copy for his social media channels, or direct more effort towards getting people on his newsletter.

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A note on Medium vs Source

One of the most common mistakes we see is people mixing up medium and source. Medium is your largest bucket, so you should not use things like “twitter”, “weekly_newsletter” or “awaytogarden_banner” for it. These are Sources. Instead use “social”, “email” and “banner” for the Medium.

For more best practices and troubleshooting, plus a great video explanation of the parameters, see this fantastic post on Annielytics.com.

How to Set up Goals in Google Analytics

Jessica Jalsevac on June 5th, 2014

If you’ve plugged your Google Analytics tracking ID into your Gumroad Settings, you might be wondering what to do next. How do you make sense of the data and actually use it to focus or adjust your work?

Gumroad’s Google Analytics integration enables you to get way more insight into your buyer behavior and how your marketing efforts are performing. For example, you can look at:

  • which keyword searches drive the most purchases of your products
  • what percentage of visitors to your website end up purchasing
  • which marketing campaigns result in the most revenue

But there’s one big thing you have to do before you can dive into all that juicy data. You have to tell Google Analytics which actions to track and log as conversions by setting up goals. So lets create some goals and get tracking!

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Finding the Goal Setup Flow

To get to the goal setup flow, click Admin in the top navigation bar of your Google Analytics account. Make sure the correct account, property, and view are selected from the three drop-down menus. Under the View column, click Goals.

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Click + New Goal. You’re now in the goal setup flow! 

Creating your goal

There are three types of Gumroad events that you can set as goals in Google Analytics: a product view, an “I Want This” button click, and a purchase. Decide which you want to track, and then follow the setup flow to create your goal.

1. Goal setup 

Here you have the option of selecting a template goal configuration or creating your own. We’re going to select “Custom” and click Next step.

Don’t see the option to choose between a template or custom goal? Don’t worry. This just means that you haven’t selected an industry within your account, and so Google Analytics doesn’t suggest relevant templates. Its not crucial to have these templates enabled.

2. Goal description

Name: Give your goal a clear and recognizable name (for example, “Bought Small Space Gardening Guide”).

Type: Select “Event” as the goal type. (there are four types of goals, but we will be working with events to track Gumroad product views, clicks, and purchases). Then click Next step.

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3. Goal details

Now we have to set up the event conditions. Again, there are three types of Gumroad events that you can track in Google Analytics: a view, an “I Want This” button click, and a purchase.

Here are the possible inputs to configure your event:

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Lets walk through an example. To set up a goal that tracks purchases of the product, “The Small Space Gardening Guide” (URL: https://gumroad.com/l/apUj), I would set the fields to:

Category - Equals to - product-apUj
Action - Equals to - purchased
Label - Equals to - purchased a product

We recommend leaving the “Value” field blank,  setting the “Use the Event value as the Goal Value for the conversion” switch to “No” and entering the price of your product in the field next to the switch. Note that the value you enter manually will be recorded even if an offer code or pay-what-you-want pricing is used to pay a different amount. Therefore, for exact sales numbers you should rely on your Gumroad dashboard, but Goal Values are a great way to assess the value of your marketing channels.

If you have created a custom URL for your product, you will have to use the original URL to set up the Goal. You can find the original URL under your custom URL, or in the address bar while editing your product. 

Then verify your goal to make sure that everything is set up correctly. Finally, click Save Goal and you’re done!

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Valuable reports

Google Analytics has a ton of standard reports that you can use to analyze your data and make strategic business decisions. Here are just a few to get you started.

Conversions > Goals > Overview: View goal completions, value, conversion rate, and other performance metrics for all goals at a glance. 

Acquisition > All Traffic: See which sources (Facebook, Google, your website, etc.) result in the highest conversions so you can focus your marketing resources on them.

Acquisition > Keywords > Organic: See which keyword searches are driving the most views and purchases of your products and use that to inform your SEO strategy.

You’re on your way to improved conversions!

Next, check out our post on campaign tracking in Google Analytics to see how you can measure the performance of all your marketing campaigns, from Facebook ads to email blasts.

The Afterlife with Nathan Barry

Travis Nichols on May 1st, 2014

A wise man once said, “One thing leads to another.”

When thinking about your second, third, or fourth project, you don’t have to start from scratch. What can you build on from your last product? It just might have a life beyond your original intention.

For example, Nathan Barry went from building apps to teaching/writing about designing apps to writing about writing and publishing to teaching about that whole process/marketing in blog posts, speaking engagements, etc.

Nathan spent a couple days with us a while back, and one afternoon we went to our favorite coffee house, Front, to talk about The Afterlife of a product. How something you do can become another thing you do.

It was loud. There were multiple construction sites on the block, the freeway was buzzing, the trucks were roaring by, the auto shop across the street was in full swing, the gossipers were gossiping, and the steam was gushing from the espresso machines. But the coffee was great and the words were flowing, and there was something about all of that commotion that just… made sense.

"I found that I was getting more and more questions about how to sell books, and how to make money from teaching than I was actually getting about design. So my third book, called Authority, was actually on how to write books and sell them and make a living from that. And that’s something I wouldn’t have thought, early on, that I could write about, or was even interested in, but because of the response from the first two books, and because of the things I learned, it just opened up so many new opportunities.”

So what’s it going to be? Remember, when you aren’t starting over with a product, you don’t have to start over with your audience.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

[Edit: As of May 2014 Product pages no longer include creator bios]

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.

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Now let’s break it down.

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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…

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