Making money by doing what you love might not be as complicated as you think.
If you have a book, movie, comic, podcast, class, craft or any other creative project you want to share with the world, you can put it up for sale in about five minutes with Gumroad, an online platform that lets artists, writers and other makers sell their projects.
However, before you dive into Gumroad, know that creating a product is one thing, but actually making sales takes time, effort and know-how.
How to Use Gumroad
This guide will lay out the steps you’ll need to follow to start making money with Gumroad.
1. Make Something
Gumroad is a marketplace — it’s only worth using if you have something to sell.
There’s no reason to let that discourage you, though! A wide range of products are on offer on Gumroad, including movies, books, music and courses. Your passion project almost certainly fits in there somewhere.
Check out some of the top-selling items on Gumroad to see some examples of this range. Pose, priced at $39, is a web app that lets digital illustrators draw characters better and faster. An illustrated ebook of essays about Scrubs is $20. These plans for a cornhole board go for $5 a pop.
If you have a digital product, like a podcast, film or software, Gumroad makes it easy to distribute it. They handle digital hosting, they process transactions, they send the file to clients — all you have to do is create.
You can also sell physical products on Gumroad, as long as you’re willing to take on the cost of shipping.
It’s easier to talk about what you can’t sell on Gumroad. Here’s a list of banned items:
1. Non-original works: You can only sell your original work on Gumroad. That means no vintage clothing or furniture, unlike the other creative marketplace, Etsy.
2. Racist, sexist, or other discriminatory items: Gumroad does not permit any work promoting discrimination, including Nazi ideology.
3. High-risk products: This is the big one. Gumroad doesn’t host products flagged as “high-risk.” It doesn’t deal with event tickets, jewelry, credit repair e-books, or pornography in part because those transactions often get reversed, leading to higher operating costs. If you want to sell homemade diamond earrings or explicit, adult films, you’ll have to go elsewhere.
Other than these banned products, creators are free to share their work on the platform.
2. Set Up Your Shop
To sell your product on Gumroad, you first need to create an account. By default, a Gumroad account is free, although if you make a sale, you’ll pay a fee of 8.5% + $0.30 per sale.
A Premium account, which starts at $10 a month, shrinks Gumroad’s cut to 3.5% + $.30 per sale. In addition, Gumroad will remove its branding from receipts, allow custom domains and enable bigger file uploads for digital products.
The premium features are useful, but the free account is a perfectly functional place to start.
Once you’ve got your account, you can customize your storefront, which displays your name, bio, products, and updates. Gumroad makes this part pretty easy:
- Choose one of the eight themes available.
- Pick a background color or image, making sure it’s pleasing to the eye and doesn’t visually distract from your products.
- Fill in all your information: tagline, website, social media handles, etc. Don’t leave anything out. More information means more engagement and more credibility.
And you’re done! It’s relatively simple to make a pretty and professional storefront using default settings.
3. Price Your Product
You’ve got your product, your shop is set up — now it’s time to set your prices.
You can set a standard price, or you can use one of Gumroad’s unique features for creators, which is its flexible pricing tool. This lets you offer products for free, for “pay-as-you-will” or for a set minimum.
Flexible pricing allows newbies to gauge how much an audience is willing to pay for their work.
That said, there are pros and cons to each pricing strategy. Here’s what you’ll want to consider for each model:
Offering Products for Free
Offering products for free is obviously not a long-term solution if you want to make money.
In the short term, however, it can help build your audience and prove your credibility. Nothing wrong with a free sample!
Pay-as-you-will products are basically free with an option to pay. By listing your price as “$0+” you allow customers to download the product for any dollar amount they choose, including nothing at all.
This is a good alternative to listing your product for free, because it allows supporters to contribute while allowing prospective customers to try the product out.
A variation on pay-as-you-will pricing is set minimums. With set minimums, you’ll list the product price as “$1+,” “$5+,” “$20+,” etc.
If someone wants to buy your product, they have to pay at least your set price. Then, once they’re at check-out, they can pay extra. For example, if you list a product for $3+, and a friend wants to show their support, they can pay $10.
Then there’s good old-fashioned standard pricing. But how do you choose the right price for your product?
Economics 101 tells us that higher prices could mean lower sales and vice versa, but psychological factors can affect sales too. For example, if your product seems chic or upscale, customers will raise an eyebrow if the price is too low. No one will believe they are buying a legitimate diamond ring for $5. Make sure the price fits the product.
Depending on your product, it may also make sense to explore a subscription model. You can read more about pricing options here.
The takeaway? Experiment with different strategies and see which earns the most revenue for your products.
4. Market Your Work
While people can find your product organically through Gumroad’s search function, chances are you’re not going to make many sales that way. Sure, Gumroad hosts the product, but you still have to market it.
Not sure where to start? Make sure you have an online presence, which could mean a website or social media pages for your business. By posting engaging content regularly, you can build an audience who will be more likely to check out your products.
Gumroad also offers an e-commerce widget. That means you can easily set up an online shop on your personal website by embedding Gumroad’s code.
Gumroad also offers some useful built-in marketing features for free and Premium users. First off, it can feature your product on its Discover page. If a user buys your product from there, Gumroad takes an extra 10% cut, for a total of 18.5% + $.30 for free users or 13.5% + $.30 for Premium users. But hey — a sale’s a sale.
Gumroad also offers affiliate marketing. Here’s how it works: You generate a link on Gumroad’s affiliate marketing page and share it with an influencer. They, in turn, share it with their audience. If someone clicks, the influencer gets a percentage of the sale (you get to decide how big).
Finally, you can communicate with followers of your Gumroad profile using the newsletter function, building a relationship and encouraging repeat customers.
Gumroad’s features aside, standard marketing techniques are key for success. It’s a business, so act like it — tell your friends, get on social media and spread the word.
5. Made a Sale? Time to Cash Out!
You’ve listed your product and made some sales — congratulations! If you’re from the United States, UK, Canada, or Australia, your payment is en route via direct deposit. If you live anywhere else, it will come through PayPal.
Don’t forget to keep records of sales — it’ll come in handy when taxes are due. Gumroad only issues a 1099-K if you make over $20,000 in gross sales.
Keep in mind that the payout could end up smaller than you expect because of the aforementioned fees, charges and Gumroad’s standard cut. Treat it as a learning experience and consider upping your prices next time.