Do you have digital products or books you want to sell online but don’t know where to start? In this expert interview, Amy Young shares how to use Gumroad to sell digital products online.
Plus, she’s actually making sales from her products. Find out how she’s doing it in this interview.
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Shelley: Welcome to Author Audience! Today I’m rolling out the red carpet and inviting you to join me for this expert interview with Amy Young. Welcome, Amy!
Amy: Thanks, Shelley, it’s such a pleasure to be here.
Shelley: I first met Amy at the Writers On the Rock Conference. It’s an amazing conference, so if you ever get a chance to go, it’s held here in Colorado.
You’re one of the main organizers, right? What’s your title?
Amy: We’re title-less, but we all have a card.
Shelley: It’s an amazing conference!
So we have developed a friendship and got to know each other. And now, I’m excited for her to share with you today. I’m just going to share with you a little bit of her bio and then we’re going to dive in. This is going to be a juicy one. I think you’re really going to enjoy this interview.
Amy Young is the author of “Looming Transitions: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service”. She lived in China for over 18 years – wow, that’s awesome! When she first moved to China, she knew only three Chinese words; Hello, Thank you, and Watermelon. That is so funny.
But she knows how to jump in without all the facts, and blogs regularly at the Messy Middle. She also works extensively with Velvet Ashes as a content creator and curator, book club host, and connection coordinator.
So for this weeks’ Center Stage Spotlight training, I’m going to have Amy share with you all about how to use Gumroad to your advantage.
So Amy, please start off by telling us a little bit of what Gumroad is and how you got started with it.
Amy: First of all, let me say that I’m not an affiliate of Gumroad. I, also, don’t know anybody who works at Gumroad, so if anyone is an expert and they’re like, “That’s not really what we do,” this is my understanding of what Gumroad is.
Gumroad is a website that allows you to sell all kinds of products, whether they’re digital or physical. They could be mugs, T-shirts and other stuff.
I found it because, as you mentioned, I wrote my book. Probably like many of your authors, one of the things I appreciate about you so much, Shelley, is how you’re always encouraging people to think beyond the covers.
Really! I think, too often, the enemy wants us to see the covers as a boundary line of everything. Then, that’s done. But I think God encourages us to see it as a starting line.
It’s just such a mindset that I hadn’t even realized how much I had fallen into it. I thought that the book was the finish line and didn’t realize. Probably like many of your writers, I’ve heard you say it, and keep saying it because it might take 400 times or more for someone.
You think, “Well, that applies to everybody else, but whatever.” Then you think about your book, “Mine is about –” whatever it’s about and you say, “This doesn’t apply to me.” I think that is just one of the great lies of the enemy.
We have the most creative God, and He gave you the idea for your book. Maybe He does want it to be just a book and nothing else, and that’s fine. And I don’t mean “just” but maybe your product is that just book.
But I think for more of us, there is more to our books than we realize. So, as you encourage people to do, just pray about it.
I wrote a book and I thought, “This is it”. And probably like many of you when you get to the end of the book, you’re kind of tired of it.
Shelley: Right! Oh my goodness, so much! You’ve proofread it, edited it, done formatting, and everything. You’re like, “I’m done!”
Amy: It’s like asking someone right after they’ve given birth or right out of surgery. So much had gone into it. It had been such a process, because it was my first book, that I thought, “This. Nope!”
Shelley: “I’m good, thank you”.
Amy: If it took that much effort to get this done, I just don’t have it in me to do any future products. But after it was birthed into the world and people started reading it, I got two recurring questions.
I think that could also be one way that God speaks encouragement. We don’t have to come up with this and that’s what makes it is so wonderful.
Shelley: I love that! The questions that people are asking you on a recurring basis. That’s either something you can create as free content, lead magnet, or other products. They are asking you those questions for a reason, and you can help answer and solve those problems.
Questions to Products
Amy: Yes! And I think for each of us, each person listening to this has their own product or their own book. And they will know what’s right for them. One of the questions I got repeatedly was, “Amy, do you mind if I print off those questions from Chapter Ten?”
On one hand, I didn’t because I really made this book to serve people. Yet, I also thought, “You know what, I also did put a lot of time, money, and effort into it.” I also believe if someone pays for something, even if it’s a little bit, they might be a little bit more invested in it.
Amy: So, I thought to myself, “On one hand, I don’t mind,” but on the other hand I saw an opportunity. You could take those questions. It’s like they were asking indirectly, “Do you have a workbook that goes with this book?”
Amy: They didn’t use that language. And that’s another thing for people to be listening to. Maybe your readers aren’t using exactly the words, but what’s the bigger idea?
So I wanted to make a workbook. But because I did live in China, my book is for people who are on the Mission field – we don’t use the “M” word in China. Most of my readers, a significant percentage, don’t actually live in the US. So, going the traditional route for a workbook wasn’t going to be cost effective, or even time effective for them.
Let’s say they’re in India and they do Print on Demand out of England, it just takes too long and it costs way too much money. By the time they ordered it, they felt that need right then.
So I thought, “How can I get the material to them in a timely, cost effective, and functional fashion where they can actually use it?”
Again, I’m not making this, neither are you, just to fill bookshelves or create stuff. We want to get material and truth into people’s hearts that God wants them to have – to meet them where they are. I’m going to play the role of people listening to this and think, “Well, I don’t have people living overseas, so I’m not going to need this.”
That’s not true. Stay tuned.
So, I contacted a graphic artist and I made a downloadable PDF. Why I really like PDFs is you can have text boxes. So if someone wants to do it on the computer, they can type in. Or if they want to print it out and where the little text boxes are blank spaces they can write it in.
It gave different options for those who either wanted to do it digitally or those who wanted to have a physical product. Then they could just print it out because everyone has a printer somewhere in the world. Everyone has a printer.
Another question I kept getting asked was, “What resources do you have for children in transitions?”
Amy: Yeah, and I was like, “Oh!”
Again, this is what I just love about God. What’s so humorous is that I’m actually single and I don’t have any children. But that didn’t mean that I don’t have something to offer to families in transition. So I wrote a companion guide.
I pulled out “Looming Transitions” and I just went through chapter by chapter and thought, “Okay. If this is the advice for mom and dad, how can we take this and create activities? How can I create activities that will help mom and dad take what they’re learning and incorporate it into their family at different age appropriate levels?”
Helping the family to create their own family vocabulary and they’re all going through this together. Again, I think the enemy wants us to go through this journey separate. But as much as we can have at least a shared vocabulary, the journey is going to be different.
So I made that, and that’s also a downloadable PDF on Gumroad. That one also got converted to a Kindle Book because that one was not a fill in the blank kind of thing.
Shelley: Awesome. So how many products have you created now?
Amy: I kind of got Gumroad excited then.
Shelley: So this is not the end of the story?
How to Use Gumroad: Easy to Set Up
Amy: Well, no, but I don’t need to say it all.
What I also really like about Gumroad is that as with other means, you have pricing control. You can make it free.
I’ve made some bible studies that are free on there. So then you can get good quality material into people’s hands for free through Velvet Ashes.
I wanted to have my book also be an Audible book. I know many people love Audible, and it’s a wonderful venue. However, what I’m not keen about Audible is that their pricing can sometimes be exorbitant.
So I just thought, “Well, there are ways to get quality material into people’s hands at a reasonable rate.” So I hired a voice over artist – she happens to be my sister.
Shelley: That’s handy.
Amy: It was handy. She recorded the book, and Gumroad has an option. You can upload all kinds of products.
So I uploaded each chapter. Gumroad has two different apps, one for me as the seller, and an app for the person purchasing. In the app, someone can listen to the book exactly as it is. That’s what I love.
They do all the professional stuff, and they handle all the financial stuff. So it’s ideal for those of us who have a product but aren’t ready or don’t want to invest our time, money, and effort into setting up a store and tracking all the financial stuff.
Shelley: Yeah! I have a lot of my Author Audience Academy members that want to get started and are not very technically savvy. Authors, typically, are not very technically savvy because we’re creatives, right?
Although I’m technically savvy, I don’t love it. But I can do it.
Gumroad is what I chose and recommended for my members to get started. I have a step-by-step training inside Author Audience Academy. It has the whole process on how to set it up.
You can set up a product in just 15 minutes! It’s not rocket science, and some of my members that did it were like, “Shelley, I don’t know why I’ve been waiting so long. It’s so much easier than I thought it was”.
But you know, we have these mental blocks and these things. So yeah, it just is such an easy way, low barrier entrance, to start selling products. Gumroad takes care of most of it for you, they have an affiliate program, so you can have other people promote you.
It’s really great. You pay them a small percentage to do all that work for you.
Amy: I know!
Shelley: It’s definitely worth it.
How to Use Gumroad: Automation
Amy: For people are already selling on Amazon, Kobo, or other places, you actually get a higher percentage from Gumroad.
I’m a person who’s very willing to pay Gumroad to do the parts I don’t want to do. Then, it frees me up to do what I want to do.
Shelley: I have people that will tell me, “OK Shelley, I’m taking payments through PayPal. I’m manually sending it out. I’m manually doing this, I’m manually…”
And I’m like, “You can automate all of that! When you set it up on Gumroad, it’s all automated. You don’t have to sit behind your computer delivering even digital products, or whatever, looking for sales. You can actually just breathe.”
It’s like passive income. You can relax and it’s all automated. If you’re selling products, that’s the thing that you must find a system and Gumroad is the easiest one to start with. But I’m not saying it’s going to be the solution for everyone.
Shelley: It’s automated – they do it for you. They deliver the product and hand the money, so it’s a really great option.
How to Use Gumroad: Marketing Tool
Amy: And when you create a product, you’ll see on your product page there are three tabs: The first tab is Product then the second one is Options. On Options, they give you options like, for example, you could set a percentage off (25% off), or a dollar amount off ($5 off). They’ll give you codes for that.
You can also set a number. So, like, the first 100 will pay this price. Then, on the product page it will have the countdown – 87 left at this price, 17 left, and you’ll be like, “Oh, I better buy the product.”
Again, they build all that in that helps you as a new-ish author, or just kind of learning about products, get started and look really professional.
Shelley: Anytime you do a promotion, you’re giving them a reason to buy now. If you’ve heard any of my podcasts in the past, I’m always talking about, with book launches or whatever, give them a reason to buy now; an incentive.
If you have some sort of timer or countdown, that’s even better. Coupons and all of those things work really well. And I love that it’s all built in.
As we’re coming to a close, do you have any last things that you want to share about Gumroad?
Amy: Well, another advantage in using Gumroad is you can upload multiple things. Let’s say you’re a fiction writer, and you’re thinking “This has nothing to do with me.” You could make a PDF map of the town where your story is placed in, and record a brief tour.
You can upload the PDF of the map and the MP3. So that’s what I love. There are a lot of options for bundling. Then you can bundle all of your books or all of this. So if people want to buy it separately they can pay more, but if they want to bundle they can.
It’s fun to play around.
At first, it just feels intimidating, but Gumroad is so user-friendly. So, if this is triggering things in you, the Spirit is stirring in your heart, I just want to encourage everyone to try. Tell Shelley what you tried.
Shelley: Yeah! Let us know. I love it when someone takes action and puts it into action. It’s definitely for fiction or nonfiction. I’ve told all my authors, you can sell PDFs, you can sell the audiobook version, even if it’s just your book.
Fiction there is so many other things that you can also offer, so I love that you shared that.
What is your take action tip for us today?
Take Action Tip
Amy: My take action tip is, take one of your books out that you don’t have any other products for and just brainstorm a few. Just see where the Spirit leads and then try one of them.
Whether it’s on Gumroad or somewhere else, try to create another product from one of your books.
Shelley: Awesome! Yeah, and I have a couple other podcast episodes all about products. You can search my website ShelleyHitz.com. I have Brainstorming Products for Christian Nonfiction authors, and for other authors. Definitely look for those resources, too, if you’re stuck.
I’m available in AuthorAudienceAcadmey.com to brainstorm with you, and we also have that step by step training on Gumroad in there.
Thank you so much, Amy, for sharing your experience and what you have learned. Are you making sales?
Amy: I am! Again, I love it. Every two weeks I get “You’ve earned this much” from Gumroad.
Shelley: So you’re making consistent income?
Amy: I’m making a consistent income.
Shelley: How awesome is that?! I love that.
So what is the best way for people to connect with you online if they’re interested in what you’re doing, your books, and your products?
Amy: The best way would just be my blog, which is MessyMiddle.com.
Shelley: I love it. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing.
Thank all of you for being here. We truly do pray that you don’t just listen or read to this, but you actually put it to action.
Pray about it, ask God, brainstorm, and do something with this information. It’s powerful! It’s so powerful when you grasp a hold of this concept.
Thank you all for joining us today, and I will see you next time!
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