THE GUMROAD GUIDE – How not to sell ebooks on Gumroad
This morning, I looked at my Gumroad statistics for the past year, and the result was insane.
I’m not going to make you wait for a big bang at the end of this article because I respect your time, and I know that’s why you’re here. So, here it is:
I’ve made a whopping $64.63 selling an ebook on Gumroad.
But I could have earned more. Way more.
I hope you won’t leave this article just yet because I want to share my failure on Gumroad. If you’re going to sell digital products online (using platforms like Gumroad), my mistake will definitely help you.
Every day, we read success stories.
But every success story has a backstory of failed experiments.
Now, I’ll give you mine.
My book was a passion project.
It was a story I wanted to tell.
I spent countless hours during NaNoWriMo to finish a draft of my book.
The draft ended up over 50K words which I edited it down to just about 37K words — it’s a length you can read within 4 hours.
During the editing process, I had to admit some parts of the book were more useful than others, and occasionally I was biased and shared too much about my personal life. So I cut the book short(er).
My book didn’t solve the big problems of my customers.
It’s 30% autobiography, 50% UX design-related topics, and 20% Notion library template with valuable links.
I received countless messages about the best part of the book, which was a how-to guide to solving whiteboard design challenges.
Funnily enough, this part was the only content you could find online at the time, as it’s one of my oldest articles on Medium from 2019.
Market research would’ve helped me
Doing market research would’ve been wise.
If I’m honest, I likely would’ve ignored the research findings because I felt strongly about writing this book. You know the feeling — the feeling when you can’t not write.
The title of my book is What I wish I knew before starting in UX design.
Is it an ok title? Meh.
Is it a great title that helps with selling? 1000% no.
It’s a title picked by someone who knew nothing about SEO or selling things online — after 18 months, I’m still only scratching the surface. However, I’m learning tons in the past couple of months.
A title should be relevant, short, memorable, clear, searchable, and keyword optimized.
I only had UX design in the title, but the phrase wasn’t strong enough to drive sales to my Gumroad product.
In a world of thousands of design products, where each competes for attention and buyers’ money, my ebook didn’t even stand a chance on Gumroad.
Instead, at least I should’ve done a 5-minute keyword research. It would’ve told me ‘How to become a UX designer — my story’ would’ve been a more searchable and sellable title.
Let’s take a look at the book cover.
I missed asking the following questions regarding the cover design:
If I asked these questions, I would’ve known the book cover won’t drive enough sales.
The cover is a reader’s first interaction with a book. It must be compelling enough for readers to click the ‘I want this!’ button.
I collected the email addresses of people interested in my ebook for a couple of months before launching my ebook.
I utilized the bird app for lead generation, using Google Forms to sign up for the launch.
I had close to 1000 followers on Twitter, and a few people shared my tweet about the book, so it eventually reached thousands. 240 people signed up, which made me super happy. That was exciting and more than I imagined.
Today, I know better.
My marketing efforts should’ve been more aggressive to attract buyers. Here are the mistakes I made:
When writing this article, the book received 1,273 visits and had 441 sales.
We can look at the referrer breakdown in different ways; however, I find money speaks the loudest. With a 29% conversion rate, the ‘Direct, email, IM’ source performed the best, resulting in 144 sales and $35.83 revenue.
Based on this result, I assume that people who know me would be interested in purchasing my products.
However, there are other avenues for profit. For example, ads could be a great option. ‘Recommended by Gumroad’ and ‘Google’ brought in $5.03 each, with 45.7% and 46% conversion rates, respectively. As an experiment, I’ll test Gumroad and Google ads next time.
Despite earning so little, my answer is still: Absolutely!
I’ve learnt tons since I started my online solopreneur journey.
I would do it again but in a smarter way.
I put my heart and soul into this book and produced the best writing I could.
The book has gone through a few price iterations in the past year. It was free for a short time. Then I tried to sell it for $5, and then I gave it away for free. Finally, I introduced a 2-tier pricing scheme:
I’m contemplating the idea of releasing a second edition of the book with a different title & cover, proper market & keyword research, and a sales funnel while putting my audience’s interest first. And, of course, with religious monitoring, tracking, and constant refinement of strategies to see what works best.