Who produces digital content in any format (software, ebooks, music, video, photos, …) and has a little bit of entrepeneur spirit, should think about selling his products, by himself.
It’s not said by me, but from every online marketing guru. I had a face to face with the “selling problem” two years ago, when I wrote the Newsletter plugin and I found it enough interesting to be sold (the Pro version).
I was full of doubts:
- what about if the plugin does not work?
- what about if customers start to complain?
- how can I sell it?
- what payment system?
- what software can I use? WordPress? A shopping cart?
- do I need a consultant to setup the whole thing for me?
- do I need a virtual server or the shared hosting will be enough?
The list of doubts can be infinite. I two years ago I was alone, no one with experience that can help me to make the right choice. More to make the first important choice: have I to start to sell my plugins?
Then I decied to start, but the first problem was: how I can setup a selling system? There are lot of shopping cart around many of them inadequate to sell files. Others were extremely expensive membership suites.
But what I needed was a simple method to sell two or three files!
More a decent plugin price was not less of 50$. 50$ were a lot of money (but that was false, as I learnt).
The free membership plugins was very unstable or complex. Finally I bougth one of them and it was not the right software to sell files, but enough good to create a membership area. So I did with a membership signup of 19.95… for all my files.
The plugin let me to protect some posts and with another plugin I made the files available to mebers. All files, the plugin where a membership plugin not a file selling plugin.
I was excited and worried the first time I open the subscription to the public, even if I made a lot of tests.
Some doubts were still there: what about if the plugin does not work? What about is customers want to be refund?
Gurus say: give customer a good product and don’t worry. Newsletter Pro was good… but good enough?
On first week I sold 5 copies of the plugin. The membership plugin was already paid, only after a week. Great! It was not so expensive! First lesson learnt.
The doubts start to disappear: I received (and still receive) support request, but most was due to lack of documentation. There were some bugs, nothing of exceptional. The second lesson for me: be verbose while explaining how things work, you save a lot of email. A lot!
And what about my doubts on disappointed customers? I had some and my first response on claims was always an offer to support, reconfigure, install the plugin. Most of those claims solved explaining were the configuration was not done properly.
But when the customer was really not satisfied, I suddenly asked them if they want a refund – because it’s stupid to keep a customer if you’re not able to satisfy him. Third lesson: if you sell to a lower price, just refund when the problem cannot be solved, because 19.95$ are too low to justify 2 hours of support (when the support is not for solve a bug and improve the product).
So why worry for refund requests? Just refund and the problem disapear!
Till today I refunded less than 0.5%.
Four lesson: a membership plugin is not what I needed to sell my plugins. There was a lot of problem in managing the customers, there was no way to (simply) manage multiple licenses, no diffrentiated file download periods.
Ecommerce solutions were designed for carts not for downloads files with access for a predefined period. Membership solutions have not a concept of product to sell.
What I really need was a plugin to sell files with some kind of membership features… and I wrote with Luca File Commerce Pro.