102 Creators Who’ve Each Earned Over $100,000 Share Their Single Best Tip for Aspiring Creators
September 30, 2021
For aspiring creators, knowing what to sell and how to start can be overwhelming. And the path to success can be daunting.
That’s why we asked 102 successful Gumroad creators to share their best advice to those one or two rungs below them on the ladder. Their answers are filled with wisdom and experience, and we hope they inspire you to do what you love!
Use this article as a long-term reference and source of ideas. You now have a direct link to the Gumroad sales page of more than 100 successful creators. Study how they talk about their products and what’s worked for them, then apply what you’ve learned to your own work.
To quote Traf, “The only way to fail is by doing nothing.”
There are many tactical tips I could give, but there is one principle requirement for succeeding as a creator: MINDSET. The Internet economy is worth trillions of dollars. There are billions of people online. Your success as a creator is limited only by your ability to learn, take action, and your belief in yourself. Your mindset will determine your success more than any external factor.
Do what you love the way you love it every day! Be consistent and move a millimeter each day, not a mile. Sure, some days, it'll look like you're standing still but have patience, and I guarantee soon you'll see that good old hard work still pays off. If you don't like messing with social networks, having "an audience," or doing anything "you have to do" - don't do it! You have every right to do things differently, the way you want to!
My most effective tip is to understand your audience... know what their problem is so that YOU can provide them with a solution. Everyone, including your friends and family, isn’t your target audience.
Life is a game, and you are the main character in it. Doing what you love as often as possible, you will certainly pump your skill and achieve success. Don't forget to be in a good mood and appreciate yourself.
Take it from me, my first Stock Guru Master Course, I made in a jungle on a tropical island, with my phone and a tripod at the start of the global pandemic in lockdown, it now has over 2,000 students and more than 1/2 a million in sales. Start right now! Don't procrastinate, if you have the knowledge, share it right now!
Your audience will tell you what products to build if you listen carefully. Read every Twitter reply you get, every DM someone sends, every youtube comment on your videos, every email in your inbox. Pay close attention to THE PROBLEMS people are seeking answers to. If you can solve people's problems then you'll always have customers.
Always be learning so that you can apply what you've learned to your business and, if applicable, pass on your lessons to your audience. You're not going to be making money overnight. It took me 6 years of working on my side business to get it to 6 figures. Success is often boring and not always sexy, but you can play the long game and have fun along the way.
Just create. One of the biggest delays in creating a course is planning. Planning is important, but It means nothing without execution. You have a skill. You have the knowledge. Don’t be afraid to share whatever It is you know. You’re doing the world a disservice being afraid to teach.
Getting started is always the hardest part. Any project seems overwhelming at first. But try to convince yourself to put in just five minutes. In that time, make something concrete: take notes, sketch ideas, outline, etc. Chances are once you get started, you will feel excitement and inspiration; you will likely continue past those five minutes. Repeat that tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next…
Create the best product possible. The product should be so good that it markets itself organically. If you're not at that point yet, you need to go back to the drawing board. Basically create a product so good that your customers market it by positive word of mouth.
I highly recommend experimenting with the "name your own price" option, especially for items you might otherwise give away for free. This is a great way to build your email list when a new audience member decides to enter "0", and an even better way for existing audience members to denote what they think your product is actually worth.
Always be persistent. Users won't be lining up so you must be prepared to "live" your product until it is synonymous with the associated operation. When we started it was an uphill battle but with time and persistence we continued on and even now things continue to persist. So be persistent always. Don't measure success by sales. Measure success by customer satisfaction.
Make something you wish was available when you were first starting out. Make it concise, make it visually cool (the first bite is with the eye), and make it something you know you'll be able to complete to a high level. Then you won't be able to resist sharing it with everyone! Oh and also create some free stuff to go along with it so everyone can benefit. It's the perfect beautiful win/win endeavor!
A great product is created from a great community. Focus on building an audience, listen to their needs, and present them with the no-brainer solution. Focus less on trying to create something brand new and focus more on creating simply what works. People want results.
Offer free content/assets to your Gumroad offerings. Not only is this a great way to give back to the online community, but it also helps drive traffic to your paid products. I have found that anytime I add free content to my Gumroad store, my sales increase.
Find a niche. Exploit that niche LOUDLY. If you're bad at marketing, use affiliates who are GREAT at it and have tons of followers/subscribers. Let them do all the hard work of promoting/showing/using your product. If they tackle that job, then you can focus on making that niche-exploiting product amazing and finding affiliates that can promote your product LOUDLY.
Stop trying to be perfect... Ship what you have TODAY! You can always make improvements down the road. Your first few sales will let you know if you’re on the right track, and they’ll help motivate you to continue honing your skills as a creator.
Always adjust and always control two things about your prices: 1) value for your customers and 2) your cash flow, even personal. You can’t value your eBook about drawing at $4,000 only because you have $4,000/mo rent. On the other hand, you’ll not be happy in life when your digital product is earning $200/month when your rent is $500/month. So… control, crunch numbers & always adjust!
The Golden Rule of tutorial videos is “Create for other learners as you would have teachers create for you.” In other words, make the product you wish you had when you were learning. Beyond that, there’s plenty of room for innovation in formats and presentation, and Gumroad’s platform makes serving our customers a real pleasure.
Find places where people who need your expertise hang out online. Observe their pains. Learn how they talk about their problems. Learn what they spend money on. Then use that knowledge to sell those people access to your knowledge via a course, book, software, paid newsletter, or otherwise. The place where your knowledge and their needs overlap is where your products should live.
The product creation process must be fueled by your passion and needs. You must love what you create in order to make the process as enjoyable as possible. When I create a product, I always do it as a gift for myself so even if it ends up not selling, I'm never disappointed because I end up with something that I wanted for myself in the first place.
Don't think that being a creator means that you have it made. You still need to live and grow so you have more experiences and skills to draw from. Plus, it helps you grow your audience by making you more relatable across a wider domain.
Give a TON of your content away for free!! I have given away literally thousands of copies of my book for free, and because it is actually GOOD, for each copy I give away for free I get at least two more downstream purchases just thanks to word of mouth!
Don't get bogged down on creating more content or more features. Find a simple problem, create a solution and package it as a product. That's it. 80% of your time and effort should go into promoting your product. Remember, sales is a numbers game.
My biggest tip is to give your potential customers something for free that is better than what they've had to pay for in the past from other companies -- even if it is just offering to help. If you can do this, they will be begging you to create products and services that are paid, and lining up to buy them when you launch.
After-sales support is more important than marketing. If you prioritize integrity over revenue and do your best to make sure each customer is happy and supported, they will come back again and again (and tell their friends).
Work on building a community first, and then creating solutions to their problems. Too many beginners start the other way around, building a product they think people want, then finding out they built something no one is looking for.
Start with a small product that addresses a very specific need or pain. When you describe the product in your marketing materials, don’t be generic or use jargon; use your audience’s own words so they almost feel shocked that you've read their minds. How do they describe their problem(s)? How would they describe the benefit of your product? Using the language of your customers helps create trust and turns lurkers into buyers.
Stop looking for perfection and get something out there. Your goal is to validate the market and to see if there is demand for the product you are selling. If there is demand then double down on creating an audience that you own. Create a social media account, provide value daily and make a goal to befriend people every single day. Notice how I said befriend and not "network", the reason for this is because networking is a chore that is fake. Befriend people and build an audience that you own so you can sell to them multiple times over.
My biggest piece of advice for aspiring creators would be to consistently give value. Don't worry about the dollar amount, focus on giving insane VALUE to your audience instead. Consistency, effective branding and marketing, and relatable content are a recipe for success. When you over-deliver, your audience will notice and they will support you.
Go out into the world and solve problems. That's how you really make money... by helping people. Listen to your audience when they say what their problem is, and then create valuable solutions to those problems. You get to make the world a little better and make some money, it's a Win/Win.
Try to build a community first, before making a product, and be confident with what you do. If you can release a lot of helpful things for free - the more you do, the more confidence it shows that what you do is high quality and customers appreciate that! And make something awesome - obviously :)
Create content that will help others. As your audience grows, you will discover problems/pain points that both you and your audience may encounter. These are perfect opportunities where you can solve these problems. The solutions to these problems can become digital or physical products you can sell through Gumroad. I started creating in 2012, it took me about 3 years to "discover" how to sell a digital product to my audience. This year, 9 years later, I launched my first physical product. Don't be discouraged if an idea does not come to you right away, nothing happens overnight.
Iterate like crazy. Your ability to innovate is correlated with your ability to iterate. Don't spend 5 months on a project, only to realize that you never validated whether the world needed it. "The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas." - Linus Pauling
As creators, we often get fixated on dominating a market, or building something truly unique — this is a good mentality if you want to build a unicorn, but not useful if your goal is to build a lifestyle business. It’s not about taking over a market, but instead carving out a sustainable niche. A local pizza restaurant doesn’t expect to take over Pizza Hut, they just need to own the neighborhood around them. In that way, as Justin Jackson likes to say, ‘the market you target, matters.’ It wasn’t a fluke that people were discovering and using our product — we purposely tapped into a large market that had a lot of momentum, and those factors alone determined our growth trajectory.
Show your work. Leverage social media to share your process, the projects you're working on, and how you achieve your goals. Talk about the projects you're working on, be transparent and accountable and watch how well you resonate with your audience. Showing your work creates consistent brand advocacy for you and your work.
Don't let other people tell you that it's not possible to sell something online. When I built my product everybody said that it would be impossible for someone to buy a theme for developers. Remember - one is better than zero.
Be consistent. Spend the same amount of time every single day. Publish regularly. Give away free stuff to grow your customer base. Consistent production will slowly increase quality. Increased quality + increased customer base = increased money
Start small. Find your niche and stick to it. Don't try to get too big too fast. Start with something of great value and give it away for free. Once your customers realize that value they will come back to see what else you have. This is a great way to grow your email list and keep it growing. Make sure you use the Gumroad marketplace too. 1/3 of my sales come from the marketplace. It is also a great way of growing your business and email list. Your list is your lifeline. Protect it and nourish it. Then sit back and watch your sales explode.
When I wrote the Blender Secrets e-book, I didn't in my heart of hearts really believe anyone would buy it. So my advice is to do the thing you want to do even if you 'know' it will fail. Then once you have a minimal viable product start selling it - even if it's scary, don't hide behind perfection, because interaction with your customers will help to improve the product so much faster than working on it in secret until it's perfect.
People buy from people they like, people they want to be like, and who they respect and trust. It's imperative that you operate with integrity in all things as a content producer. It is through your consistent tweets that people formulate their opinion of you as trustworthy and a subject matter expert. Once this trust is solidified, your followers eagerly support your ventures.
Consistency is key, strive for consistency with your Gumroad appearance, the images you use as your product thumbnail should immediately telegraph what you're selling and why a potential customer should buy it. It also helps to make sure you can use your product images as marketing for easy and simple cross-promotion across social media platforms. Consistently with product releases also helps create a cadence with your audience and can help them time their purchases
Take that leap of faith. I launched my presets as a way to raise money to travel abroad to Italy; my parents and friends laughed because they had no idea what a “preset” was. It turned into growing my platform over 100k and making me financially well-off. Launching these presets through gum road has truly changed my life. So if you have a gut feeling about something creative, do it! It might just change your life for the better.
Use video as a form of promotion for your GumRoad products. By creating YouTube/Facebook/Instagram/TikTok video content related to your product, you will attract your target audience. In the video, you’ll then have the opportunity to pitch your Gumroad products in a highly personable way.
If your product satisfies a personal need you’ve succeeded–and there’s also an overwhelming chance that your well-built solution will sell well too! By making it personal, you gain an instant sharp focus on whether your product performs and has value. It also makes your final offering easier to explain and market.
Just start, try out multiple niches & don't be afraid of change. When you’ve decided on what you want to focus on, be consistent and work for it, even when you don't feel like it. Constantly elevate yourself & your work.
Sales are directly related to your marketing efforts. The more leads you have and the more campaigns you send out the more money you will make. Leads are more important than SEO. Focus on growing your leads using tripwire or inexpensive products. Make sure to have a signup or subscribe form on your homepage. We have doubled our sales by simply doubling our number of leads.
Build something to offer that you would personally find valuable, then build an audience around that. If you find it to be valuable, then eventually others will too. Set goals and deadlines, and deliver – even if it's not perfect in your mind. Put your best effort with the time you have, and move on.
Don’t rely on a single big product to make a big impact and solve your life. Build different things, sell them on Gumroad, and they all together will sum up a quite nice amount of money every month (while you’re playing with the kids).
Localization is the key. Make sure you set the currency of your target region or country and write the description in the language your followers can easily understand. Even if similar products are already popular in other cultures, please don't hesitate to sell your content to your local fans.
Offer free content to your audience first to demonstrate what value you offer to them, once they receive value from this they will be much more likely to purchase paid content, become a fan, and follow your work in the future.
Remain persistent. There will be days when you don’t feel like putting out that piece of content, writing that tweet, creating that Instagram post, filming that YouTube video, but you have to overcome that “I’ll do it later” mentality and keep creating. People will start to follow, engage, subscribe, etc. and it will become a snowball effect and the growth will be exponential. Every single one of your favorite creators started at 0. It’s the ones that were persistent that made it to the top.
In order to be a successful creator, you must give more value than what people pay for. Don’t let money be the driving force that pushes you through your journey, but instead allow the passion for helping others get you there itself.
Be opinionated. Nobody likes dry content. You owe it to your audience to be opinionated. Your opinions might ruffle someone's feathers, but that's ok. They'll just disqualify themselves, so you don't have to do it.
Take advantage of the affiliate program. In addition to creating a course that is very simple to comprehend and apply, there is also no fluff. Very straightforward. The best form of advertisement is word-of-mouth, it’s free. Students are applying the information, getting results, and then organically sharing it with their friends, family, and followers, and earning commissions for sharing it. Which is an additional stream of income for them. The best part is, they don’t have to come off salesy, they have the results, so it sells itself. That has helped my course sales generate multiple 6-figures in 8 months.
Always focus on providing more value to the end-users. Don't focus too much on the outcome, pay attention to the process and ensuring that your client gets 10x more value than they paid for. 95% of my sales are generated by customers recommending me to their friends and family, so my goal is consistently adding more value to my courses.
Find your target, make good products, be honest and kind with customers, use social networks to advertise your shop, be strong during the first months, keep up to date with your work and you'll get a good income. The amount of income will depend on many things: some months you could have a higher income, some others you could have a lower income. Good luck!
People love valuable and actionable stuff. If you manage to wrap your product into something that's as actionable as a 5-year-old could use it and also showcase the value in it, then you should have not only a new customer but an enthusiastic one ready to advocate for your work!
Start selling a product that is not perfect and add extra content/polish/upgrades later on. Having access to these will show your commitment to customers and establish a better value for your products in the long term. It's also a good way to reach your audience with good news about updates or extra content.
Don't worry about not having an original product idea. Instead find successful products in markets that interest you and see if you can do them in a different way. Target a specific niche, offer a narrower feature-set, or apply some other twist.
Have a bold money back guarantee. Take the risk off the shoulders of your potential buyer and put it onto yours. For example, ditch the measly “7 day guarantee” and go with something brave like, “(Get desired result) in 30 days or we give you your money back, no questions asked!” Yes, you could have some extra refunds (this actually hasn’t been my experience) but the boost in conversion rates will almost always make up for them with room to spare.
There’s so much value in all of these tips!
We hope this inspired you and we hope to see you leave your mark in The Creator Economy.
Want to learn more?
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