Gumroad October 21, 2020

13 Days Since Launch, $13K in Sales and What I Learned

Gergely Orosz @gergely

I launched my first ebook on Gumroad, and wanted to give an update on it. The book is this one: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/the-tech-resume-inside-out

I started writing the book late May, and opened a Gumroad page shortly after, taking preorders, and then shipping multiple, beta versions of the book.

I pushed back public launch several times, but launched 13 days ago. Since then I've had a bit over $13K in revenue ($18K in total). Some more details on the launch and more detailed revenue screenshots are in this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/GergelyOrosz/status/1318926645059833857?s=20

Here's what I learned so far:

1. It's a lot harder to gain traction than you think when you read the major success stories.

I didn't have huge expectations, but I shipped on day one with a few things that helped virality far more than most products: I offered it for free for people who would be my most likely customers, generating lots of goodwill, and some social buzz. But this buzz is less than you expect.

2. To drive sales (even free ones!), you need to drive eyeballs.

I get about 20% of visitors on my landing page tap on "buy now", and a quarter of them actually buys. But if no one comes to the website, no one will buy. For launch, you can utilize your network (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook): but this is is a one-off, and you need to have a good one to start with (I had a decent Twitter and LinkedIn audience).

3. Driving eyeballs is hard.

I am giving the book away for devs out of a job. No strings attached. There are probably tens of thousands of people like this. So far, about 200 have claimed their copy, despite many people sharing.

The same will be true for your product. You'll have lots of people who would get great value out of it. But they will never hear about it, unless they somehow come across it.

4. Having a premium product works.

I originally only planned to launch an ebook. Close to launch, I decided to add in a video of me giving my interpretation of the book, and partnered with Standard Resume for discounted, and quality resume templates (https://standardresume.co/). This tier resulted in 33% of my revenue.

5. Price low, then move higher.

I am optimizing for "engaged readers": people who will find the book useful. Either because they paid for it, or because they need the book. I've deliberately started with a lower price, to try to capture as many customers as I can.

6. Experiment!

This is new territory for everyone. So far I've played around with a custom landing page (see https://thetechresume.com/), PPP discounts, giving away free books or packages, and I'm looking at other, "out of the box" partnerships.

It's a really amazing time to create something, and figure out what does, and what does not work. Hope this was helpful!

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    To drive sales (even free ones!), you need to drive eyeballs.

    So how did you drive eyeballs?

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      1. I had a good size Twitter following (16K) and a decent LinkedIn (2.5K). I shared the launch there. I got 13K views on LinkedIn, 53K views on Twitter.

      2. I had contributing experts whom I mentioned and asked to reshare. They all did on LinkedIn and Twitter, where many devs are, who might be the target market.

      3. In return for a free copy, I asked people to share the news of the book on social media. Many people did.

      4. Existing customers: I sent out an email with the launch, asking them to spread the news.

      5. Hacker News. This one was a gamble, but the book was a good fit for the audience (software engineers). I did a Show HN and was there to answer comments as they came up, and made changes to the site, responding to feedback and (valid) constructive criticism on the fly: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24777640

      6. Newsletter affiliates: I'm working with a few newsletters, giving 50% affiliate fees to them for the mention. We'll see how this goes.

      7. For the future: I have a few guest posts lined up on relevant blogs, and I'll do a Product Hunt launch in a bit.

      8. Google / SEO: I added all samples of the book as HTML pages as well, both for easy reading, and for Google to be able to index it (see it here: https://thetechresume.com/table-of-contents.html ). I'm hoping this will lead to some passive traffic for people searching for weird combinations of words that these articles have.

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        Every day I'm starting to get more convinced that I need to get on Twitter. I have a similar audience I'm going after (people interested in improving their Python skills).

        I have a decent LinkedIn presence as well but a non-existent Twitter audience.

        Any tips on building your Twitter audience for the developer niche @gergely?

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          Developer Twitter is far bigger than developer LinkedIn IMO, and very active.

          I suggest chiming into conversations and sharing advice that is practical, and people can use. But it takes time, and it only gets easier as you have a larger audience.

          Examples of accounts who grew fast by sharing lots of great content are https://twitter.com/svpino (machine learning topics), https://twitter.com/RandallKanna (dev career growth).

          Daniel Vasallo has a course on how he grew his Twitter following. But don't forget he gave away information that was unique, valuable and enviable (e.g. his salary history, and him leaving the corp world behind). When you're interesting or share things not available anywhere else, you have a better shot at people wanting to hear more.

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    Congrats on the fantastic launch. You definitely checked all of the boxes for things that can make a launch go well.

    Having the free book option is great, I do it as well and it generates a lot of goodwill towards any pricing strategy.

    As you experiment, if you decide to try affiliates, I'd encourage you to model your program after mine (https://philipkiely.com/notes/affiliates.html) (which is itself modeled off of Daniel Vassallo's)

    The info about revenue breakdown over multiple tiers is in line with what I've seen elsewhere. Originally I was planning on multiple tiers for WfSD but I cut that early in the project to focus on getting the book written before graduation. My next major product will definitely have tiers.

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      Thanks for the really detailed write up on affiliates!

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    Congrats! Great writeup, thanks for sharing!

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    Awesome write up and congrats on the successful launch!

    I am in the early stages of a Gumroad launch so this has been wonderful to read.

    How did you decide when to move to the next price tiers?

    Experimenting is always key to discovering new things. Did you ever experiment with making the suggested pricing higher than the actual price? I experimented with it briefly and someone DMed me to say that I had increased the price without letting anyone know. Haha.

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      I announced upfront that the book would sell at $14 (then changed this to $15). I kept the price at $9+ for a few months, while I was writing it. Most people paid $9, but some all the way to $15 (very nice of them!)

      As the book was almost ready, I changed the price. I've delayed the final release a few times, so I don't think this was a big deal.

      Now, I have a countdown on the site: sale countdown

      Also, I made the mistake of not updating the price in an email and got a complaint. I always honour whatever comms I send, so I gave the discount to this person, and then some more, to acknowledge I messed up there. I'd rather have a happy customer who feels they got treated fairly, than a disgruntled one.

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        Thanks for taking the time to respond in detail, this was helpful!

        Agreed with you on the approach to customer service. Great creators truly want to make people feel like they got their money's worth. I respect that.

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