Note: This is part 9 (the final part) of a multi-part series about writing a book and donating profits to COVID-19 efforts. Click here to read the other parts.
The final results are in!
After 30 days of launching my book, Fun Virtual Team-Building Activities, I made $3,294 in sales to help with donations.
I’m really pleased with the outcome of this project.
Not only because I donated the profits to COVID-19 relief efforts, but also because I encouraged a few people to write their own book along the way. I documented the entire journey and shared my thought process on this blog and on my podcast.
Most importantly, I created something in a few weeks that helped employees stay connected with their virtual teams during the lockdown.
So it’s a win-win-win, and all my three goals were accomplished.
In this post, I’ll share the details behind the final numbers, as well as some lessons learned from the experience.
Let’s start with the most interesting info.
Note: If you’d like to listen to this article on my podcast rather than read it, click here.
How Much Money I Raised (Breakdown)
Here are the details behind all the numbers from the book.
- $3,294 (from 140 book sales)
- Gumroad fees: $160.29 + $20 = $180.29
- Refunds: $112 (from 4 refunds)
- Editing Fees: $205.87
- Cover + Interior layout: $0
- Paid Ads: $0
Details Behind The Numbers
Here are a few details that expand on some of those numbers.
Source of Sales
Gumroad gives you the option to use “Discount Codes,” which help you create separate offers for your customers. Basically, each discount code results in a unique URL that you can share on different platforms.
So what I did was use those discount codes to track where the sales came from. I created one for each social media platform, as well as a few for my blogs and email lists.
For example, I used “twtr” as a discount code for my Twitter posts and set the “amount off” at $12 (i.e. a discount of $12 off the $37 price, for a total price of $25).
Here’s how it looks like in Gumroad’s dashboard.
The full discount URL looks like this:
The cool thing about discount codes is that the “Uses” column shows you how many people actually purchased the book using that URL.
In this example, six people used my Twitter discount code to purchase the book, which means that they all found out about the book through Twitter.
Here’s a breakdown of the other discount codes and their sources (for a total of 140 sales).
My highest source for sales was email (at 91 purchases). I have a couple of AWeber email lists that I used to announce the book, and they were my best channel. I still think that an email list is the most powerful asset you can have.
I talk in-depth about why authors should build an email list and how to collect emails in a previous episode.
The second highest source was my Couch Manager blog where I added a couple of widgets and mentions in posts and the author bio.
The third highest was organically through Gumroad, which means that people who purchased didn’t use a discount code. That was actually pretty surprising to me because I didn’t expect sales to come through that channel as a new content creator on their platform.
Others were my LinkedIn posts, my Writer on the Side blog (this one), my Twitter account, my Udemy courses (through the bonus lecture pages), and my Instagram account.
One other piece of information I came across when I analyzed the data was that customers from 23 different countries bought the book (screenshot below).
This was a pleasant surprise, especially since I only sold 140 copies and I didn’t do any special international promotions. This data also helped validate that this particular issue (of connecting virtual teams together over Webex or Zoom) is truly a global problem due to COVID-19.
I received four refund requests for a total of $112.
On my sales page, I listed a no-questions-asked “30-Day Money-Back Guarantee” section for people who were unsure about purchasing the book.
Here were the justifications given:
- One was an error (they ran the transaction twice)
- One person didn’t find a lot of value from the book (they read a lot of other guides and there wasn’t anything new that they learned)
- One person couldn’t get their company to reimburse them for the book (they liked it but didn’t want to pay for it out-of-pocket)
- One of them asked for a refund without any explanation (they requested the refund less than a minute after purchasing)
Four refunds out of 140 is not bad. That’s around a 3% refund rate (which isn’t very high).
I honored every single one of those requests and refunded the amounts immediately. I simply thanked them and issued the refunds through Gumroad (with a click of a button).
Other Lessons Learned
Here are a few other lessons I learned during the 30 day period.
The Book Needed Promoting
I’m used to publishing on Amazon KDP, where I launch the book and then “set it and forget it” by relying a lot on the marketplace for organic sales. However, with Gumroad, I felt like I had to continuously promote the book.
For example, when I tweeted or mentioned something on LinkedIn, the sales went up a little bit. However, when I took a break from social media for a couple of weeks, I felt like there was little to no traction on sales.
The Quantity Feature Didn’t Help Much
To help in facilitating the sale of multiple copies, I enabled a simple function in Gumroad that helps you add a “Quantity” feature so buyers can add more copies.
I wanted to maximize the number of donations by asking folks to buy one copy for every 20 members (i.e., if a team was comprised of 32 members, then my request/ guideline was to buy two copies).
No one ended up buying multiple copies, so this feature didn’t really help during those 30 days.
I Tried Affiliate Marketing
I reached out to a few folks (particularly those who endorsed the book) asking if they’re interested in a 50% affiliate deal for the book (meaning that if they sell the book, they get a 50% cut from it).
This wasn’t very fruitful. Most people didn’t feel comfortable (due to the fact that this was for donations), and others just had a policy against affiliate marketing.
However, a couple of folks agreed, and I did get one sale from that effort.
I Decided Against Paid Advertising
At one point, I was considering paying for ads to market the book. However, I didn’t feel very comfortable with that because I was just worried about gambling with money used for donations. I just didn’t want to risk paying more money than I would get out of ads. So I decided against that. I might experiment with that later.
I Made $69 from my Free Book
In a previous post, I mentioned that I listed my free book “Write Your Book on the Side” using a “$0+” or “Name your price” feature to help raise even more donations.
Most people downloaded the book for free, but I did get $69 in sales. Gumroad’s fees were around $6, so the net amount was $63.
This raised my net-net total donations to: $2,858.84
Where I Donated The Money
I decided to donate those profits to the “Cisco Next Horizon COVID-19 Relief Fund” to help the most vulnerable around the globe. This is a fund that supports 8 different nonprofits, including the United Nations Foundation.
The great thing about working for a company such as Cisco (note: views are my own and not those of Cisco) is that all donations to this fund will be matched by the organization, hence doubling the contributions.
So this was a no-brainer for me.
Here’s a screenshot of the relief fund receipt.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed!
This was a truly fun project, and here’s what’s next for me.
First, I decided to continue donating 10% of the profits of the book to COVID-19 efforts indefinitely. And when we’re (hopefully) over the COVID-19 pandemic, and the funds fizzle out, I will continue to donate those profits to a good cause. It really felt good to give back and help those in need.
Second, I’m writing a new book. I had such a good experience with Gumroad that I’m publishing my next book on that platform. This one is going to be a bit of fun and different from the other books I’ve published because it’s more of a guide than a book.
It’s called “Home Office Design Ideas.”
It will be a picture book with over 40+ pictures that will feature organization tips and gear that will help you stay productive.
If you’re interested in being notified when it’s out (at the lowest possible price), click the following link:
Click here to get notified when the “Home Office Design Ideas” book launches at a special discount