Gumroad Case Study: Photoshop Brushes
Kyle T Webster is an artist for Time, The New Yorker, The Wall St Journal, Scholastic, ESPN, The New York Times, and more. He also creates and sells custom Photoshop brushes on Gumroad.
For the past few years, Kyle has been seeking out more opportunites to sell digital products to transform the way he does business. Rather than rely solely on commission work in his design and illustration practice, he has been finding passive income streams generated from the sales of prints, apps, and so on.
This motivation is what brought him to create and sell custom Photoshop brushes on Gumroad. Through his custom brush sets, he's able to reach a global audience and realize his goal of earning half of his salary each year through commissions and half from product sales.
"For years I went through thousands of photoshop brushes, trying to recreate the beauty of analog materials without sacrificing the precision and convenience of digital painting. Since Kyle began releasing his brushes, I only use his. They have completely changed the way I work. I use them exclusively every time I open Photoshop, and I recommend them to every digital artist out there."
Celine Loup, Illustrator for The New Yorker and The NY Times
Kyle has been so successful at selling his brushes that we asked him to share some of his secrets. Luckily he agreed, and we're excited to pass these on to you in this case study.
Know Your Audience
Kyle focusses his efforts on the social media platforms where his target audience is the most active. For him this has been Tumblr. Despite having a similar number of followers on Tumblr and Twitter, he sees four and a half times more views of his products from Tumblr.
Which social media channels will deliver the most value for you?
Plan Your Launch
Announce. Kyle announces his brush sets at least 2 weeks in advance with custom teaser images like this one. The images are created using the type of brush that will be sold.
Post content regularly. Kyle posts a mix of entertaining and informative content approximately twice a day on Tumblr to keep his fan base engaged.
Create a sense of urgency. Kyle incentivizes buyers to buy his new brush sets by offering a small discount (usually $1) for those who pre-order.
Promote. Kyle sends free brush sets to influential digital artists and designers, many of whom love the products and mention them on social media. Some even share artwork they’ve done using his brushes, which Kyle reposts on his own social media.
He also frequently does “reblog and win” campaigns on Tumblr. He asks his followers to reblog a certain post, and then selects three random winners to receive a free brush set at the end of the contest.
“Giveaways on Tumblr have been incredibly successful. I periodically offer three free sets to random Tumblr users if they reblog certain posts about my brush sets. When the timing of the post is right, these posts can lead to thousands of reblogs in a span of only a few hours.”
Experiment With Bundles
In June, 2013, Kyle released a bundle called the Brush Combo, consisting of his Ultimate Sets 1 and 2. The price was $10, which was a $2 savings off buying each individually.
In September he bundled up three of his brush sets (the Ultimate Set 1, Ultimate Set 2, and the Drawing Set) into a new product: the MegaPack. He priced it at $13, for a $4 savings.
These two bundles have since become Kyle’s best selling products, but the MegaPack has far outpaced the rest. While this is partly because of Tumblr giveaways, offer codes, etc., it is also because his buyers feel it is the best value.
Bundles are one of the most powerful ways to maximize revenue while also providing great value for your customers. And in Kyle’s case, he didn’t even have to create any new content. Bonus!
Use Video and Images
Kyle’s social media marketing consists largely of images created with the brush set, demonstrations of the brush strokes, and videos.
Kyle’s video ads in particular have thousands of retweets and views because they’re both informative and fun to watch.
Images and videos are not only more engaging than just text posts, but for Kyle they also served to demonstrate the product and boost trust in potential buyers.
Here are some of Kyle’s most popular posts across a variety of channels.
Give Something Away for Free
Kyle experimented with four “Pay What You Want” products to boost his audience. Each of these customers entered their email address to receive the product, allowing Kyle to contact them about future product releases, share offer codes, exclusive products, etc.
Many customers ended up paying him for the products, resulting in over $5600 in revenue.
Release Often and Stay in Touch
Kyle released his first three products over the span of 6 months. His most successful launch of 2013 was on June 5th, where he saw $2,191 in revenue with the release of both his Ultimate Set and the Brush Combo Set. However, his average daily revenue in June was only $197 per day.
He then increased the rate at which he releases new products to at least two per month. This has allowed him to draw more frequent attention to his brushes as well as cross-promote his older items after each new release. As a result, in March, he averaged $827 per day, more than four times his average in June.
Using the Gumroad Customer’s Tab, Kyle has been able to follow up with customers to thank them for their purchases, send updates to older products, announce new products, and provide special offers. As you can see below, these emails typically result in large sales spikes.
Try Offers Occasionally
Two of Kyle’s three most profitable days in 2013 were the result of an offer (discount). This can be a very effective way to drive purchases, but don’t do it too frequently or it loses its power. Kyle also uses offers in conjunction with pre-orders to help build buzz prior to a product launch. For instance, he offered $1 off to anyone who pre-ordered his Real Watercolors set.
Since Kyle launched his first product on Gumroad in April, 2013, he has seen huge growth in his online business. Leveraging his social networks, images and video, a well-planned launch strategy, and other strategies, he’s been able to earn over $100,000 in revenue on Gumroad in a year.