I'd like to share the strategy and tactics that helped my ebook launch, alongside with the data.
I built my first-ever digital product: an ebook to help write good developer resumes. You can see the history of how the product was built, and major milestones to the launch on The IH product page. I've shared some details in this Gumroad forum, and I'll add to those details that could help/inspire fellow creators.
I launched 2 weeks ago, and here are the numbers:
What's not shown on the breakdown is the distribution of sales:
Here are the top things I've identified that helped with a strong launch.
I then took it to Twitter to offer free ebooks for up to 1,000 people - before I had anything ready. These "spots" filled up in less than 24 hours, so I figured this is enough validation. Note that later only 350 of those 1,000 people claimed their free ebooks, so keep this in mind when offering something free: people can forget about it easily.
I could have just written the ebook all by myself. But then:
I reached out to recruiters and hiring managers in my network and beyond, asked for their support. I also made it clear that all beta book revenue is going to STEM and diversity related organizations (which I later did keep my word on.
The result was a book with lots of contributors, lots of reviewers, and probably the most credibility in 2020, in the niche of developer resumes:
Having these experts involved also helped amplify the launch, them sharing it with their network, driving interest and sales.
The people most likely to buy this book are people who are out of a job. I decided to not want to make money off these people, and give the book away for anyone in this situation. This was for two reasons:
I did have a few spammy requests early on, so I built a form to validate the identity of people using LinkedIn, or email. This is that form.
Implementing PPP / VAT reduction probably increased my sales 15-30%.
A day into the sale I got a complaint from someone in the EU about how VAT is added to the book price. However, ebooks are VAT-free in most of the EU. I looked into this, and my seller platform, Gumroad, doesn't have a separate ebook category or handle this edge case. So I quickly whipped up a solution:
I then also added PPP for several countries:
Results from this change:
My guess is that a good part of the PPP sales would have not happened otherwise: I added PPP a few days into the sale.
I let all contributors know ahead of time when roughly launch would be, and followed up with them afterwards. This didn't go as smooth as it sounded, as I had to delay the launch a few times. However, it did help that I sent an email after the launch, with links to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook posts.
Getting on the front page of HN is admittedly, luck. I got lucky with my Show HN post.
However, once there, staying on the front page is only half luck. I set aside everything, and responded to questions, and made live changes to the site, responding to (valid) criticism. This turned some of the most upvoted, critical comments into supportive ones, like this one. Listen to your critics, especially when they are right :)
The biggest learning for me is that especially after a successful launch like this, attention dies down. And without attention, your sales will dry up. Here's my landing page stats (that correlates exactly with sales: both paid and free)
This is simple maths. In my case, out of about 100 people visiting the site, around 20-30 people will click on the "buy now" button and about 5 will go through with a purchase. This means that if you want to keep selling, you need to keep having people come to your site.
However, following the launch, you have no search ranking, and people will rarely find you passively.
You should have a plan for if you are fine with this, or if you keep doing certain activities, that are different to "spamming" your social network with the same message again.
In my case, I have a few last "launch activities" lined up:
I hope these details were helpful for any creators thinking about products, especially on ebooks. Happy to answer other questions!