Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tips on Selling Online Tutorials and E-books

I've had an interview with Greg Holden, a writer for Ecommerce Bytes, about selling digital merchandise online such as jewelry making tutorials, that I wrote and sell through my supply shop in ArtFire, PopnicuteSupplies. A part of the interview (combined with other artisans interviews) is published in his recently published article, Digital Content: Selling Merchandise You Can't Touch or Feel. After obtained his and EcommerceBytes' permission I publish the rest of interview in my blog as it might benefit others as well.

Q and A with Greg Holden 

Greg: How long have your tutorials been online? 
Me: My tutorials have been online for a couple of years now.

Greg: What kinds of challenges do you face when trying to sell a digital, non-tangible product on your storefront along with your tangible products? Do people ask, do I get a printed book, or *can* I get a printed book? 
Me: There are several challenges on selling digital tutorials. 
  1. Sometimes customers skimmed the description and assumed that they'd get physical books and expected the tutorial to be delivered to their mail box instead of their email inbox. Some did ask prior purchasing if I could send the books in physical form. 
  2. Spam Filters. Since I send the tutorials from my personal email address, high spam filter settings might filter my email to their Spam folders if my email hadn't been added to their contact list. 
  3. People expected it to be an instant download even though it's written in the description that I will email it personally within 24 hours of payment.

Greg: How do you figure out how to price digital goods? 
Me: I compare my tutorials to other digital tutorials of the same field in the market. The exclusiveness of the design plays the part too. Simple designs would be priced lower than the more elaborate ones. I also factor the originality of the designs when pricing my tutorials.

Greg: What kinds of copyright issues do you run into with selling an e-tutorial? 
Me: I can't control what people would do with my tutorials. Although I believe that most people would respect the Terms and Conditions stated in the tutorials, there's always someone who would break the rules so it's something to be expected. I put this terms of use inside the listing descriptions and inside the tutorials too.
Here's a sample of my Terms of Use:
You may sell any jewelry/crafts you make out of this tutorial.

© 2009 - 2011 by Popnicute.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Kharisma R. Sommers of Popnicute. You may NOT use the digital and printed tutorial as teaching material. This tutorial is an intellectual property of Kharisma R. Sommers. 

It would be nice if you give credit to me and/or my tutorial if you make something out of it.

Greg: How have sales been?
Me: Sales have been good. Especially the first few months after the tutorial release. No doubt sales would decline after people get more familiar with the techniques but there is always someone who needs one. If I wanted the sales to be better, I'd create new tutorials to keep things fresh. 

Greg: Do you talk about selling only on ArtFire or on the Internet in general? 
Me: I have several other websites where I sell my tutorials. A couple of them are dedicated to jewelry making.  I believe having several venues to sell my tutorials help with sales.

Greg: What kinds of advice would you have for people considering selling their knowledge or expertise in digital form? 
Me: I'd suggest them to provide high quality pictures and/or illustrations of the steps along with clear text instructions. Also I think it's important to state the level of skills needed upfront if the tutorial is intended for beginner, intermediate, or advanced users. And don't forget to include terms and conditions inside the digital copies, whether the tutorials are intended for personal use or if you're allowing people to sell their creations based on your tutorials. 

So that's the end of my interview with Greg. I hope it helps :)

© Copyright 2011 Steiner Associates LLC and Greg Holden, reprinted with permission.