You are an author. And while you’re perfectly happy to sell your books on Amazon (after all, those $$$s will eventually make their way to your bank account, after Amazon takes its cut), it makes better commercial sense for you to be able to sell your books on your own website and keep all the profits to yourself.
But isn’t putting an online shop on your website a complicated, techy business?
The short answer is no.
If you would like to sell ebooks or any other products on your website, it’s relatively easy to do so. And the best thing about it? You need $0 cash.
This post will focus on the two of the most popular options for creators: Gumroad and Selz.
Selling with Selz (our recommended solution)
Selz prides itself on making easy for people to sell online. I discovered Selz when I was researching online stores for abidemi.tv.
Signing up is easy. You’re given a 14-day trial:
The dashboard is intuitive (yours might look a bit different as I already have a live store).
Setting up your Selz store
From the dashboard, you go to Items and click on the green ‘Add an item’ button in the right-hand column.
Doing this will present future options:
Choose your item (I chose ‘digital’) and you can enter your book details.
At the top of the menu, you’re given various options to promote and maximise your shop’s visibility via categories and on search engines (search engine optimisation – SEO).
You can add as many items as you want.
And here’s what your backend will look like when you finish (this was when we were experimenting with different Cyber Monday price points last year):
Your Selz shop front
This is what it looks when it’s hosted on Selz’s platform (your shop address would be yourname.selz.com):
You can also host your Selz shop on your website. It’s incredibly easy with a WordPress website. Just download the plugin and away you go:
You can choose how your product looks on your website:
A simple pay button:
Or a widget:
Product listings on Selz
You can list up to five products on the free plan, which is more than enough for most authors. The more prolific might want to go with the Lite plan.
Tracking your sales
The dashboard analytics is pretty straightforward and visual, letting you know where your customers are and how they arrived at your site.
Global tax settings
You will also be relieved to know that Selz automatically calculates and adds tax at checkout for your customers, keeping you in the tax man’s good books.
Selz offers a discount code on the free plan, which is great, as most providers tend to offer this on a paid plan.
Unlike Gumroad, Selz does not offer a global marketplace to list your goods and services. But I don’t think see this as a negative, it’s all about how you want to manage your brand.
Supported currencies on Selz
This depends on where you’re located, and I must say, it’s quite extensive.
At the time of writing, Gumroad is used by over 31K creatives just like you. It’s the no-stress way to sell your books (digital or physical).
How you can use Gumroad to set up your online store and sell your books on your website
First, you have to ‘build’ your store on Gumroad’s website and then copy your store code to your website/blog.
Building your online store:
- Go to the Gumroad website
- Set up an account (this takes two minutes)
- Add your product
- Login, and you will see this screen. Ignore all the stuff about having followers. I’ve never bothered with it (you may beg to differ if you sign up for the service).
- At the top screen, you’ll see a menu, as highlighted in the image:
- To add your product (your book) to the store, click on Product:
It will expand to this:
- As you can see, you have a choice between adding a digital product or a physical one. I’m going to go with the digital product
- This expands the screen even further, to the below. At the same time, you can see how easy it is to add any products you have, like, for example, a subscription to your online magazine or membership site
- Because we’re adding an ebook, click on product
Once you’ve filled the details of your product (image, description, price), it will end up looking a bit like this (I’m showing half of the screen so you can better see how it looks like with the image, description and size. It looks a lot better live):
This is what the Gumroad back end looks like (the top half, anyway):
The great thing about Gumroad is that it automatically deals with the VAT issue for EU residents (here’s some more information about VAT on the sale of digital products), which should come as a huge relief.
Setting up your Gumroad store
So now you’ve added your products to Gumroad store, all you need to do is to add your store code to your own site (which takes five seconds), and that’s it: you have a fully functioning online store on your website.
And if you have a WordPress website, it’s even easier: just download the Gumroad plugin instead of adding the code yourself and you’re good to go.
Gumroad’s free plan offers unlimited listings (with Gumroad branding).
You can also:
- sell multiple versions of the same ebook (for example, Mobi, PDF)
- make sure your products aren’t being shared illegally by turning on the digital rights management facility
- offer discounts off your book (most providers offer this on a paid plan)
- stamp your PDF to make it harder for people to distribute.
Tracking your sales
The dashboard makes it pretty easy to track your sales: how much you’ve made and where your visitors are coming from, so you can adjust your marketing in response to the data you get.
You can also choose which currency you want for your store. With abidemi.tv, we use US$ even though we’re based in the UK, because that’s what our target customers prefer.
Launching your product with Gumroad
You can build anticipation for your book by taking pre-orders, which Gumroad makes it very easy to do.
Just set the date and Gumroad will deliver your ebook to those who have pre-paid. Easy.
Gumroad has a lot more but these are the basics you need to get you started.
Join Gumroad’s global marketplace
You can expand your market reach by listing your ebook in Gumroad’s global marketplace. I did a search for ‘coaching’ in the book section and this is what came up:
My recommendation for an easy way to sell your books and other products online?
Selz. Simply because they make it so easy to do so.
Also published on Medium.