No South Africa, not our beloved Gumtree, Gumroad. It's a platform that enables creators to sell products directly to consumers founded by the first designer hired by Pinterest, Sahil Lavingia, who wanted to answer this question: What if selling online was as easy as social sharing? The idea came to Lavingia when he wanted to sell an icon he’d created and realised that the amount of effort it took to sell an item directly to consumers was considerable.
This has pretty much been my experience over the last few days. I asked the question, what if I have a once off digital product that I want to sell directly to the consumer? In my search for an answer I've gone from Etsy, past ClickBank, via Creative Market, and around and about various Paypal integrations with no luck. And then I found Gumroad. And this is what I'm learning from them:
1. Excellent product: user experience comes first
Go and have a look at their site. It's slick. It's well-oiled. It's organised. And it's beautifully designed. With artists like Eminem and Sara Bareilles selling their albums from this platform, and writers like Timm Ferriss and Chris Guillebeau on the sellers' roll, I feel confident they can manage my little contribution. I probably looked at about eight to ten other sites which I could have managed with, but none of them felt as good a user experience as Gumroad did. If you're going to build a product, you want your user to come away loving the experience. I certainly have.
2. Helpful step by step processes: even smart users need help
I'm not saying I'm a smart user, but even my mom asks me for tech help from time to time, so I must know a thing or two, right? Even switched on, tech-savvy kids need as much support and help as they can get when using a new product. Gumroad does such a great job of this. They have loads of supporting documentation written in simple, easy to read language, with helpful links to definitions, additional reading and tutorials, every which way you turn. When I encounter a platform as helpful as this, I want to stick around.
3. Online community: everyone needs a buddy
Gumroad has not only produced a winning product with a smooth user experience and loads of support, they've also added that magical element - community. Gumroad is all about a community of makers and creators working together on their next product. Community involves both makers and their audiences. On signing up I was presented with two community options:
- Join the "Small Product Lab" - As a creator, Gumroad challenges you to "put something small out into the world and go" by providing ten bite-sized lessons in the process of launching a product. There are great prizes as incentives, and a team of three mentors to guide you through the challenge, including writer Jeff Goins. What more does one need?
- The "30 Day Challenge" - A 30-day step by step guide to building your audience, so that when your product is ready your audience is too.
4. Concrete goals: get your first product out there
With the combination of the helpful tips, the online community, and expert mentors, getting your first product out there has never been more achievable. For those of us who dream big but fail to ever arrive at the destination, these kind of short term, community oriented goals are so very motivating.
5. Inspiration: examples that'll get you going
As part of their resource centre, Gumroad provides an in-depth look at successful examples of creators and their launches, including different types of products like ebooks, music albums and online courses. It gives you an idea of how others have devised, produced, marketed and launched their products, and runs you through the financials as well.
As you can probably tell, I'm in love. I'm working on my first eBook, "#31daystocreate" based on a month-long project (which you can read about here) I've been running in August, and can't wait to see how the next phase with Gumroad goes. If you're a musician, writer, designer, or film person, check it out and see if perhaps this is the space to introduce your work to a new audience.