At 6:00 AM this morning I hit send and waited. Within 10 minutes I had over $1,000 in my Gumroad account and it continued to grow throughout the day.
That email was to launch The App Design Handbook, my new book on designing beautiful iOS applications. I’ve been working on it for 3 months and had built up a pre-launch list of 795 people. Sending to that list is what sold the first $1,000 in books so quickly. Since then the sales have increased throughout the day to ~$6,000 where it is as I write this. Let me take you through my process.
The Launch Strategy
Everything I read about product launches said that you need to make a big splash when the product first comes out. So to do that I put together a plan that involved guest posts, giveaways, and gradually getting people to signup for the book.
My original goal was 15 guest posts to all go live this morning, but unfortunately I was only able to get 5. A combination of being to slow to submit posts, flat out rejection, and other content issues left me with a handful of planned guest posts that were never published. The good news is that all the sites that hosted my writing today are really high quality, so I was honored to be featured. Here are the guest posts:
- Think Traffic: From App Store Newbie to $35,000+ in Profit
- Pocket Changed: Why I Quit My Job to Design iPhone Apps
- Six Revisions: 5 Simple Tips for Designing Better iPhone Apps
- Web Designer Depot: Common mistakes when designing for mobile
- SpeckyBoy: 10 Tips For Successfully Marketing iOS Apps
My Google Analytics tracking isn’t very refined, so it’s hard to tell where everyone came from. But it looks like so far all the guest posts combined have delivered less than 500 visits to my site. Considering the readership of many of these sites that seems small, though guest posts are more about building relationships than they are about driving traffic.
Last fall I started building up a couple email lists as I started releasing apps. Here are the three lists I sent to (ordered by relevance):
- The App Design Handbook List: Everyone who signed up to hear when the book came out. Obviously you can’t get more targeted than this. Sent to 795 people.
- iOS Design Weekly. This is my weekly iOS design newsletter that I’ve been running since last fall. It now has 1,000 subscribers. I sent the regular weekly email with tips and tricks, but prominently featured the book launch.
- OneVoice Lite. In the lite version of my OneVoice app I have an option to signup for an email list. I am running a sale on OneVoice today ($50/off) so I mentioned the sale in an email to this list. I also included a small mention of The App Design Handbook. This list is not very targeted at all, so I don’t expect great results. It was sent to 1,600 subscribers.
I asked a few friends to share the book on Twitter and it slowly spread from there. I’ve picked up over 200 new followers in the last week or two, so a lot of them were interested in the book. A lot of people tweeted about the book after purchasing it. Because traffic from tweets reports so many different referrers (and a lot of it comes as direct traffic) it is hard to tell exactly how many people came from Twitter.
In the past I have received a lot of visitors from popular Hacker News posts (including hitting the #1 spot with this post). Today I submitted the book landing page and waited to see if I’d hit the home page. Luckily (so much of it comes down to luck), I did and the post started climbing the home page. After about 20 minutes on the home page it randomly drop from spot #20 to #40 (on the second page). Usually posts climb and fall gradually, so I think the post was moderated to the second page. I could be totally wrong. In that brief amount of time I received about 600 visits from HN.
I posted to the iOS subreddit (where I’ve been active in the past) only to have a single downvote and the post disappear. Oh well. I guess that wasn’t a good fit.
I started a YouTube channel a few weeks ago, which is now up to 27 subscribers and 4,000 total views. I uploaded a lot of tutorial videos and a short iOS tips series. Generally they were well received, but none of them generated a lot of traffic. As with all of this I plan to take a long term approach and slowly build up my video tutorials.
Overall I don’t think YouTube drove a noticeable amount of traffic.
Alright, this is probably why you came to read this article. You want to know the sales details. So far today I have sold $6,469.90 of The App Design Handbook. This comes from three different packages priced at $29, $59, and $129. Each one has additional resources included.
Having multiple price points is the best decision I made in this entire process. Take a look at the sales page to see what is included with each one. If I only sold the single package at $29 I would have grossed only $3,422 today. Just over half the revenue.
Take a look at this screenshot from Gumroad of the sales break down across the versions.
My goal was for the middle package (the first one to include videos) to be the best selling. If you look at the design you can see that the button for that package is more prominent than the others. For most of the day the middle package did sell the best, but late this afternoon a lot more people purchase the base package. Either way it is still a huge increase in revenue over just the base package.
I plan to continue to post more information about what I learned through this entire process. If you want to stay up to date you can subscribe to the RSS feed below.
My goal for today is $10,000 in sales. You should help me out by purchasing a copy of The App Design Handbook. So far the feedback has been extremely positive!
Update: I just passed $12,500 in sales. Thanks everyone!
Participate in the discussion on Hacker News.