We Launched a Digital Product on Gumroad for Passive Income: Here’s What Happened
Tutorial & results 1-week into this lucrative, no-inventory, online side-hustle
The Citizen Upgrade team is very interested in digital products. In 2020 we launched a target practice accuracy web application. In early 2022, we launched a math worksheet generator. We also have two print on demand books available for sale on Amazon via the Kindle Direct Publishing program (a cookbook and a home maintenance log book). Both the apps and the books have generated small but steady streams of income since their launch, but we’re still in learning mode related to these products.
One of the goals behind these products is to generate passive income, which we define as income generated from a project that requires some degree of up front work, but then minimal to no recurring effort. Another goal was to learn more about online marketing and platforms that cater to small-batch creators.
With that in mind, we decided to explore Gumroad, an online platform designed specifically for digital products. We only started learning about this platform via twitter and other social media sites over the past year, but the site has been active for over a decade. Here we share our experience launching our first Gumroad product: a digital travel planner!
Step 1: Creating a Gum Road Account
This is pretty standard stuff for anyone who has progressed beyond the 56 kbit/s modem. Go to the Gumroad website, sign up with your email, and set a password.
One key point here is that you will then be asked to customize your profile username. This username will also feature in your customized URL so pay attention to what that would look like. We chose our usual handle, “citizenupgrade”, making our Gumroad URL “citizenupgrade.gumroad.com”.
You will then enter a customer support email address to be listed on customer receipts, and you might want to choose a custom email separate from your primary address.
Add a brief bio and upload a brand logo, and you are now in business! You can also add your payout information now by entering your bank account or paypal information. Or you can save this until after you’ve made a few sales and have some income to withdraw.
Here’s our account page which lists the product we launched: https://citizenupgrade.gumroad.com/
Step 2: Uploading a Digital Product to Gumroad
Hopefully you already have a digital product or two that you’ve developed to list on the Gumroad platform. A few examples of digital products include daily planners, habit trackers, checklists, spreadsheets, templates, graphics, applications, audio files, courses, videos, and e-books. Browse the Gumroad Discover page for more examples of products being sold on the platform.
When you’re ready, go to your Gumroad dashboard and select “products” from the left menu bar. Select “new product” and then enter the product name/title, product type, and price. Next you’ll be able to customize the listing with a detailed product description, 1280 x 720 px cover images, and a 600 x 600 px thumbnail image.
Then you’ll upload the content that the customer will be buying. This can be a file (.pdf, .docx, etc.) or URL (e.g. a link to a google sheet).
The “checkout customization” feature allows you to collect additional information from your customers when they complete a purchase. If you ignore this step all you will get is their email.
After “publishing” your product (making live), you can optimize your listing within the Gumroad Discover platform by selecting a product category and up to 5 tags/keywords. For our digital travel planner, we selected “self improvement: travel” for our category and the keywords “travel”, “travel planning”, “travel hacking”, “travel tools”, and “digital nomad”.
You can also boost your product’s visibility by setting a percentage of proceeds to go to gumroad for any sales generated via Gumroad Discover site. The minimum boost fee is 30%, but Gumroad will improve your product’s visibility if you set the boost fee to a higher number.
A final note on product-pricing. You can list for free ($0), or consider the amount you enter as a minimum allowable price. You can then toggle on a feature that will “allow customers to pay what they want” and enter in a “suggested price” that will pre-populate the price field. As an example, you could list your product for $0, but suggest a price of $5.99. Customers will see the number $5.99, but can purchase your product for any amount they select (including $0 or free). If you listed your product for $1, a customer would only be able to “suggest” a price equal to or greater than that amount to purchase your product.
This is a unique feature of Gumroad so we’re excited to learn how to optimize the best pricing model! We set our minimum price to $0 for now, but planned to raise that over time. We set the suggested price at $2.99, but will also experiment with that over the coming months.
Our Product is Live… What Next?
Once the product listing is live, it’s time to lean back in your chair and wait for the shower of dollar bills to rain down on your head.
Or at least that’s what one might hope. Our income one week into the Gumroad game has come to a grand total of zero dollars when listed exclusively through their “Discovery” site. According to our product dashboard, the travel planner has been viewed 10 times and downloaded 4 times. All of these downloads were Citizen Upgrade team members who were testing the functionality of our product. All of us opted for the zero dollar price, but we hope that organic customers will throw a few bones our way for the product.
We’ll keep the floor price at zero dollars (i.e., free) with a suggested price of $2.99 for the next week after this article is published. Anyone interested in evaluating the product can access it for free for now, though we’d certainly appreciate good reviews!
Future articles will explore the impact of marketing our digital product via this Medium article and our Twitter, Facebook, and email newsletter subscribers. We will also share any user feedback on the product and other marketing ideas we try. Stay with us as we explore a slow marketing campaign via multiple platforms to see which can actually drive interest!
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