Recently I discovered the Permissionless Apprentice by Visualize Value. To put it into practice I decided to pitch Gumroad’s founder and CEO Sahil Lavingia a job application in the form of this blog post.
In case you don’t know what Gumroad is. It’s a powerful, but simple, e-commerce platform that allows your to sell digital services with no monthly charges. They only take a small cut of every sale, and their cut gets smaller as your sales grow.
I’ve been a Gumroad user since February 2017 and have seen many changes and improvements during all these years. One of the things I have noticed in the last few months is the lack of social media activity in all their channels.
O Social Media, Where Art Thou?
Sahil has mentioned some of changes from the last couple of years on his blog. I can assume they were also affected by the pandemic in some way. This might be some of the reasons why the social media channels have been neglected.
I can only speculate from what I see from the outside. Yet, I do know social media still represents a key growth factor in every business, specially in the creator economy.
Last Social Media Updates
I have done a little research on all the social media channels and have listed them by the date of their last update, including a few relevant discoveries.
- Facebook last publication was on November 26, 2021.
- Instagram last post was December 8, 2021.
- YouTube last video was on December 10, 2021. The username is “GumroadUniversity” instead of “Gumroad” as the other platforms. I assume this was used as a teaching tool in previous years, hence the name.
- Podcast hasn’t been updated since February 2, 2022.
- Blog last update was on May 22, 2022. The store has more posts compared to the actual blog and some have very good ranking on search engine results.
- Twitter last activity was on August 3, 2022.
- TikTok has no activity since August 8, 2022. It had a video a few days ago that is now deleted, my guess is account doesn’t belong to the company. Also the “@gumroad” username is now taken by another user.
- Newsletter the last e-mail was sent on August 15, 2022.
Social Media and the Creator Economy
We are living a time of transition in the creator economy, where things are changing from how we knew them. Today you can now make money in design even if you don’t know what Photoshop is, thanks to AI.
Creators have begun to sell prompts to DALL·E, GPT-3, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion thanks to PromptBase, not to mention the rise of NTF’s in the last years. And this rapid change will continue to evolve in the next couple of years and I am excited to discover what role Gumroad will play.
Social media platforms lay the foundations of the creator economy today. This makes me wonder what came first the chicken or the egg? the creator or the platform?.
A Match Made in the Pandemic Era
It’s worth remembering that the pandemic helped fuel the fires of the creator economy. With the whole world locked down and indoors for months on end, we saw a massive increase in the number of people watching online content—particularly TikTok content—helping to drive growth and cement the position it finds itself in today.
Because of this TikTok and OnlyFans are almost synonymous now. The more famous creators become on TikTok the more income they generate on OnlyFans. For this reason many Only Fans creators see TikTok as a marketing platform that can send regular people to fame.
The synergy of OnlyFans and TikTok is unique because of how adult related content behaves compared to other industries and the extreme circumstances of a global pandemic.
But we have seen this relationship happened before between YouTube creators and Patreon, and it’s only a matter of time before we continue to see more of them, in today’s world one cannot exist without the other.
That’s why, neglecting social media is neglecting the customers. Gumroad needs to be where the customers are, and be where they look and that is social media. That’s why social media is and will continue to play an important role in the creator economy.
With a Little Help from a Friend
Being a creator is not a walk in the park, it is an unpredictable journey that will give you the test before teaching you the lesson. Some of the struggles I have seen are impostor syndrome, fear of success, fear of failure, poverty mindset and fear of visibility. There are a few others, but these are the worst.
On top of that every creator comes from a different background and its on a different stage of their launch. This adds a little more complexity, I have met creators in Latin America, Africa and Asia who create digital products every night after a full time job to create extra income, some have limited time, resources or knowledge and some are starting from zero, taking a leap of faith.
I know this is not the case of every creator, these are some of the stories I have heard about. In contrast, I’ve seen some high ticket creators on Gumroad, that without a doubt have a thriving business. This made me wonder if the low ticket creators are the long tail and are more profitable in the long run to the company.
Zen and the Art of Empowering Others
I mention all this because one of Gumroad’s strength is that is build by creators to creators and this makes a huge difference. The company not only provides the best tools but also puts the creator in the driver seat, making it easy to start selling in minutes.
And that is what I want to keep doing, put the knowledge and the tools at the creator fingertips so they can build a side hustle, a passion project or a business. If the creators are successful then Gumroad will be as well, and I want to do that using the social media channels.
The Journey Begins With a Single Step
Gumroad understands the creator culture and challenges and does an exceptional job providing value with their product. This can be amplified on social media.
I’ll base a social media strategy based on 4 aspects:
- Educate: Give the customers ideas and guides of how they can use the product better.
- Entertain: Post content that entertains and grows in engagement.
- Inspire: Tell the audience that we understand their struggles and move them to act .
- Promote: Show the value of the product by being authentic and just selling out.
This is to promote brand awareness, build community of advocates, enhance public relations and drive sales and leads.
Below I am including some broad ideas and notes of aspects I’ll consider based on each social media channel.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok
These are some of my ideas that can be implemented with the content that already exist on Gumroad, some of the content ideas are:
- Create a content calendar to plan and organize upcoming content ensuring that all the tasks actually happen.
- Content cross pollination, share content in different formats on different social media channels.
- Use comments to gather ideas for future content.
- Feature up and coming creators.
- Share creator’s testimonials.
- Use the different months of the years to promote the different Discover categories.
- Create challenges several times a year, like what NaNoWriMo does for writers in November.
- Promote free downloads from creators, because everyone loves free stuff.
- Teach users how they can use Gumroad tools better and give them template or frameworks for them to use.
- Build up the Gumroad’s creator community online.
- Use holidays to have an opportunity to create engaging marketing campaigns.
- Share trends with creators and products that are trending.
- Create online “create-a-thons” in specific countries and/or creator categories, like the 30 day challenges Gumroad had years ago.
- Explore the possibility of having social media channels and/or blog posts in other languages where creators are growing and we can help them learn how they can use Gumroad better.
- Share and discuss relevant books or summaries.
- Leverage the TikTok community since there are creator in many languages building content about Gumroad.
The blog can teach creators how to leverage the tools inside Gumroad and also share helpful articles, some article ideas I’ve are:
- 5 Ways to Increase Holiday Sales
- Increase Your Revenue by Upselling and Cross-Selling
- What Makes A Great Online Course
- The Most Powerful Gumroad Tools You’re Not Using
- Earn Money With Our New Global Affiliate Program
- The Email Sequence That Earned $10,000 in 30 Days
- Overcoming Resistance & Why Talent Doesn’t Matter
- Build your Marketing Funnel with Gumroad
- How to Generate Leads for Your Business
- Top 5 Mistakes that Course Creators Always Make
I’d love to research and discover new topics and guest for the podcast. The podcast shares some similarities with some of the favorite resources and inspiration for this post like:
- How I Built This with Guy Raz, I love learning about other entrepreneur’s journeys and see how they have overcome challenges.
- Colin and Samir, I love their take on everything they create being creators themselves and sometimes asking questions of their current struggles.
- #buildinpublic, there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors and Twitter has become one of my favorite sources of wisdom with their active community.
- Open Startups, currently I am following Yongfook‘s journey building Bannerbear and learned a lot from his open metrics since launch.
- Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, before reading this book for a long time I thought I was the only one with a different work schedule.
It’s the most underutilized tool, since the last time I remember getting regular e-mails was when the last crowdfunding happened. It’s no secret that email marketing is effective, but success depends on the ability to build and nurture the email list of engaged subscribers. Some of my ideas for the newsletter are:
- Send regular email newsletters to the subscribers, that informs the audience of the latest news, tips, or updates relating to Gumroad.
- Motivate the subscribers to read your latest blog post, sign up for an upcoming online event, check out a new case study or customer story, take part in a prize draw or giveaway, buy something from an online store.
- Share recent interviews with industry experts.
- Promote news about upcoming sales, promotions, and deals.
- Create automations to activate inactive users or users without a product on their store.
Website and Marketing
I use Gumroad everyday and will love to help improve its functionality and the community of the creators around the world.
- I’ve read a lot of comments from people in South American countries requesting features or asking for help on specific topics. The same is happening in countries where their currency loses value everyday agains the US Dollar and becoming a creator is becoming a better solution to their economy. I want to help these creators, I’ve hired people in Iran, Turkey (now Türkiye), Venezuela and Argentina and think it can be a growth opportunity for Gumroad.
- I have found some parts of the website in Spanish when you change the store language but the rest of the text remains in English, would love to help with these details since it might be happening with the other languages as well.
- I’d also like to help translating the missing documentation and website frontend in Spanish or other languages where the translation is missing, I speak Spanish (Native), English and Portuguese (Beginner).
- Convert the current University from downloads to the new course functionality when it becomes available.
- Reply to customer support tickets to get a better understanding of the customer needs to include it on the social media content.
- Build content for the website to improve the SEO, like a comparison table of Gumroad against its competitors.
At the end of the day I understand the main goal is to improve Gumroad’s GMV and believe social media can play a role in this. My goal with this post is to share my passion and willingness to improve Gumroad as a product and my passion as a creator. If you want to learn more about my professional experience, I am on LinkedIn.