The “Small Product Lab” was a 10day challenge to make and release a small product and put it for sale on gumroad.com. There were sushi recipes, how to podcast tutorials, templates and more.
“Over 2100 people went through or are currently going through the challenge. Of the 820 who were part of the inaugural contest (more on that below), 70 launched products on Wednesday, June 24th (the deadline). Yes. It’s legitimately and incredible hard to produce a product in such a short time.”-gumroad
I just want to say I’m thrilled to win, and quite surprised. I found out about the challenge by way of knowing about Gumroad via buying Kyle Webster’s art brushes there for Photoshop and I toyed with selling digital comics via gumroad as well but lacked the time to follow through with all my other commitments. I get the Gumroad email newsletters and this came in and I actually encouraged my girlfriend (Ally Monroe!) to write something up. I entered to challenge myself but to help her get started with this sort of informational product biz online. So I told her I’d help with her graphics if she wrote the copy to her deal. She wound up coming up with a GREAT automatic budgeting system for busy creators like us who also have full time jobs and busy lives. (btw her system is called BUDGET AUTOPILOT and it’s brilliant. Get it. Do it!)
My product itself was done much quicker than hers, seeing as how I decided to pretty much deliver something I already use almost daily. A great digital Photoshop template specifically configured for those who draw comics. It’s something I’ve built up slowly as I actually worked. I cleaned it up a bit and at one time I was actually overthinking it a bit, wanting to PACK it full of awesome! Like I wanted more color swatch sets specifically for comics, more brushes, etc…. it was Ally who suggested I put the brakes on and not overthink it. It’s the SMALL product challenge for a reason. So I spent the time cleaning things up and making the message pretty clear and then targeting my specific nice audience to tell them about this.
Now, in my case, I was SUPER NICHE. Not only is it for people who draw comics. It’s for people who draw digitally or want to. You have to have Photoshop. You have to have a graphics tablet. The price tag of $5 is a no brainer. There are seriously other templates out there now selling for $30 and $50 that are just generally basic files. I feel that price is a bit out of the target market… comic artists are generally poor! Believe me, I know!
Here are my initial launch notes (drawn in my trusty Field Notes!) :
I guess if there’s one “secret” or clue, it would be that everyone knows something that someone else needs or wants to know. In my case? I know about drawing comics and drawing them this way and I know other artists ask me about Photoshop and think it’s still super expensive. (it’s only 9.99 a month for the single program at Adobe Creative Cloud, do it!) – In Ally’s case, she knows that the budget system she put in place for us worked wonders for our busy lives, so she did that. I don’t suggest just making something up because you heard it sells well. It has to come from an authentic place. Sure, there ARE people selling a lot of stuff they don’t really care about on the internet…. that’s them. Don’t let that be you. Be real! It’s awesomer that way.
And secret two is… transparency+community. Since I joined this with a group of people who were in a closed Facebook group, there was a lot of sharing and encouragement for each other. Lots of people helping lots of people. I wish I would have had time to take more part in the daylight activities but I have a day job first and foremost. I was still able to do what i could to check in on lunch for the twitter chats, and scour through in the evenings. When I started to get some data, I shared a screenshot of my account hoping that others would follow suit or maybe we could gleam something or learn something from the data.
In my case, my niche is very small and generally very poor (artists), like I said. But to me, it’s really not about making tons of money. I can make a little on a little product. It’s a product I believe in and I know is well worth 5 bucks. If you’re going to pursue this further, keep thinking small. Because a little on one small product is fine. Start building more small products as you go. I’m going to guess you can scale that somehow. Right now I have ONE small product. But what if I had TEN? We’ll see… I have a lot of comics to draw first!
In closing I just want to say HUGE thanks to Gumroad & everyone in the Facebook Group. Also Kyle Webster and his brushes which made me hear of Gumroad in the first place. My girlfriend Ally Monroe who is amazing and smart and I can’t wait to share the prizes with you so we can make new stuff together!
Comic Creators who may have stumbled on this post… I was also inspired to begin a new newsletter via my Gumroad page where I will share tips and resources I find for comic creators and self publishers. You can follow me and sign up for updates at http://gumroad.com/djcoffman/follow
That’s all from me! BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD!