On 7 April 2021, Gumroad promoted their #GumroadDay. It's one day when sellers on gumroad.com get to keep 100% of sales revenue.
While it looked like a great opportunity for sellers, some lamented that they didn't have anything to sell to take advantage of it.
So I wondered, would it be possible to create something to sell in an hour? That thought turned into a personal challenge.
Deciding what to sell
First step: what to sell?
I only had an hour, so I needed something I could create easily and quickly. And for customers I'm familiar with.
These came to mind:
In the last few months, I've been playing around with taking stock photos and uploading them for sale on EyeEm. I have a lot of photos and it would have been easy to pick a few, edit them, and sell them.
- I don't know the customer segment well and don't have an existing audience or channel for it.
- I don't think Gumroad is known for selling stock photos.
I could sell my time. I'm a freelancer after all, and I know how to sell this well.
- It's not a scalable product.
- I wanted to sell something that's cheap enough, and my time isn't cheap.
I'm a freelance web developer, and over the years I've built and refined various processes and documents I use for my day-to-day.
One of the documents is a "Standard Terms and Conditions" document I include in every client contract. I could repackage this easily and it can be sold at a cheap enough price. And freelancers are constantly looking for legal document templates to reuse for their own projects.
So a "Terms and Conditions document template for freelancers" seem to be the best option, because:
- There is a clear problem: creating a legally binding contract document is expensive, difficult, and boring.
- There is a clear target segment: freelance web developers, like me.
- There is an obvious solution: a template document that's quick to use.
- Execution is easy and obvious: just take what I've been using and refining for so many years and repurpose it into a template.
- There is a ready distribution channel: the small audience that I have and taking advantage of the #GumroadDay hashtag on Twitter for discovery.
I tweeted it...
and immediately got a positive response...
Creating the product
This was easy.
All I had to do was take the document, and replace all mention of my business name with this placeholder: [[ YOUR BUSINESS NAME ]].
I assumed that potential customers for this document template would be freelancers who are less experienced. So I needed to include a simple "user guide".
In doing so, I realised that Terms and Conditions document on its own is half the solution, because there's usually another document that accompanies it: a Proposal document. So I decided to also add a simple Proposal template into the package.
Again, this is easy because I already have one I've been using for my own client projects.
The result is a package consisting of a Proposal template and a Terms and Conditions template for freelance web developers, in Google Docs format.
Total time: 1 hour.
Packaging and sales copy
Next, I had to sell it on Gumroad. And this actually took a bit of time.
First I had to write the sales copy. Next I had to include a couple of screen grabs to show what the documents look like. And finally, I needed a cover image for the product.
For the sales copy, luckily I already had a prior product on Gumroad (an eBook) which I can refer to. I just used the sale copy structure from that product and tweaked it.
For the cover image, I went on Canva and looked for some ready made templates I can use. I did find one that I like, and spent 10 minutes just changing the copy. The result:
Once I've created the product on Gumroad and published it, I tweeted it out with the #GumroadDay tag for visibility.
I also shared it with a handful of forums and groups I'm a part of, on Slack and Telegram.
Only 7 copies sold, but, the first sale came in within 5 minutes!
I wasn't actually expecting to sell any as the challenge was mainly to see if I could create and sell in an hour.
But the beauty of creating a digital product is that you can keep selling it many times.
The whole process from idea to sale took 2 hours. I didn't quite meet the 1-hour challenge I gave myself, but 2 hours is still quick.
What I underestimated was the time required for packaging and sales. This took about an hour.
Giving myself a very tight time constraint was fantastic for focus. There was no time to waste time on "research" and there was no time for perfectionism. There was only one goal: ship.
This meant I had to work with what I had and what I knew, and this is something a lot of founders lose sight of, me included. Using what you know and selling it to people you already have access to can save you months of time.
Riding on a trend is also a great way to get exposure. In the case of this product, it was #GumroadDay in Twitter. I could also look out for other trends in future, for example #FreelanceDay and create a promotion for it.
So, in the end, 7 sales isn't much. But I can reinvest that money into ads and more marketing to try and sell more.
But the main lesson is this:
Building and launching requires less time than you think.