Generosity Pays: Results from Launching a “Pay What You Want” eBook

I like seeing numbers.

Today, I want to show you how generosity pays – not just in theory, but in practice (with numbers to prove it).

But first, a little background to help you understand the numbers a little bit better.

In the Beginning…

I started my blog less than a year ago.

To be honest with you, I didn’t really have a direction I wanted to take it – I just wanted to get certain ideas out of my head and onto paper (or screen). I was hoping that once I’d started writing, I’d figure out my ‘niche’ and the direction I was supposed to take would become clear. It didn’t.

So I kept writing.

Over the course of a few months I wrote a book, started a podcast and created a couple guides – and I gave it all away for free. People enjoyed my work, so I kept producing.

I was excited to see my audience grow, but there was a slight problem: I hadn’t made a cent off my website.

I wanted to change that, but not at the expense of my art or authenticity. I’ve always disliked pushy salespeople, so I wanted to find a way to sell to my audience without being a salesman.

A Project That Might Not Work

In April of 2013 I finished up with another product for my readers.

It was a book, but not by any conventional standards.

It wasn’t 200 pages, there was no story arc, it was purposely concise (almost to the point of being abrupt), and the truth is a lot of people probably weren’t going to like it.

It was a collection of my notes, sketches, and ruminations from 2 days I spent with Seth Godin in the fall of 2012.

Initially, I wasn’t going to publish this content, but as I began organizing my notes, I realized how much business-transforming material I had at my fingertips. It seemed selfish to keep it to myself, so I brainstormed ways to package and spread the information as generously as possible.

So I transcribed over 50 pages of notes into a word document. I figured I’d spend a couple hours putting the notes into a blog post and simply hit publish.

But, as with most things I create, one thing lead to another and pretty soon this simple blog post turned into a massive eBook project.

Instead of a few hours of work, it took months.

Shipping Generosity

After several months of writing, drawing, and editing I finally had something worth sharing.

I sent the PDF to Seth directly to see what he thought and to ask permission to share and spread the content. He graciously and generously said yes.

The next day, I threw up a quick splash page, an intro to the book and its purpose, and I hosted the file on Gumroad.com (the Paypal killer).

I planned on giving this product away for free, but Gumroad allowed me to do something even cooler: offer the eBook as “Pay What You Want.”

Now readers could not only grab the product for free, but they could treat me to coffee (or a steak dinner) if they wanted. 

I figured this was a fun, no pressure way to let my happy readers contribute to my creative work.

I didn’t expect many contributions. After all, who would pay for something when they can get for free?

As it turns out, more than you’d expect.

Generosity by the Numbers

First, my audience.

At the time of publishing this eBook in April of 2013, I had 166 subscribers (yes, that’s slightly embarrassing to admit – but we all start somewhere, right?!).

This is a miniscule number – a number most people would write off as not being worth the time of day to engage with or monetize.

166 subscribers. That’s it.

So when I finally published my eBook, I sent an email out to 166 people. 86 opened the email (52% open rate). 56 clicked through to the product page on my website (34% click through rate).

I also posted on a couple Facebook groups I’m semi-active in. I posted the cover art, gave a brief description of the book and told people to grab it for free. I didn’t do a good job tracking the conversion for this segment, but I estimated about a dozen people came to the product page on my site.

All in all, I was able to convince about 100 people directly through email and social media to come to my product page and check out the book.

Not very much at all.

But by the end of the first week I was blown away.

A Breakdown by Week and Month:

Here’s what the data looks like, as tracked by Gumroad:

Metric

First Week

First Month

Total number of views of my product on Gumroad

203

282

Total Sales

55

69

Conversion Rate

27.1%

24.5%

Total who took the product for free

28

35

Total who contributed $1.00 or more

27

34

Percentage who contributed $1.00 or more

49%

49%

Total Dollar Amount Contributed

$340

$493.50

Range of Dollar Contributions

$5 – $50

$2-$100

Average Dollar Contribution (all sales)

$6.18

$7.15

Average Dollar Contribution (of $1.00 or more)

$12.59

$14.51

First Week:

Untitled

First Month:

Untitled1

While there’s a decent amount of data here, the most important metrics (in bold) are:

  1. The percentage of people who chose to contribute
  2. The average dollar contribution of those who contributed $1 or more

Of the people who saw my product and decided to grab it, almost 50% contributed!

This is a number I never expected – I figured it would be much, much lower. But, as it turns out, 50% of people wanted to give something in return.

The next most important figure is the average dollar contribution of those who contributed: people, when they contributed, paid on average $15 for my eBook.

For me, this was an eye-opening figure.

The truth is, I didn’t expect many people to contribute and I never expected them to contribute, on average, $15 per eBook.

Yet, by giving the book away for free, I ended up making way more money than I would have had I sold the book on Amazon.

For reference, if I had sold the book on Amazon, there is no way I could have had the same success pricing the book at $15. Why? First, because many of the people who took the book for free or contributed under $15 promoted the book to their audiences. It’s easy to promote something that you can’t lose on (i.e. a free product). This brought more people to my page and resulted in more contributions across the board.

Second, $15 for the Amazon Kindle store is steep. The majority of self-published books sell from $2.99 to $9.99. Any higher (or lower) and Amazon cuts royalties from 70% to 35%. This means readers aren’t used to higher priced ($10+) Kindle books. A $15 self-published eBook from an unknown author would be largely ignored.

In the end, whether you sell through Amazon or Gumroad (or through a different marketplace or platform altogether), if you have an audience that wants to hear from you, allow them the opportunity to buy from you. Believe it or not, they WANT to buy from you.

Creating Sustainable Income

So what do these numbers mean?

Well, first and foremost, you can’t make a living on $493.50 a month.

Even if I doubled the amount of contributions and could make that amount consistently, I’d still be living at the poverty level in most major cities in the United States.

To make matters worse, the second month’s numbers were even less (much, much less), as I had already exhausted my core readers.

It’s possible some of you are in a similar situation, starting out with a small audience and wondering how in the world to make a living doing something online…

Well, I’ve come to realize it’s NOT by selling books…

Or, at least, not by selling books to a very small audience.

If, hypothetically, I had a list of 5,000 – 10,000 (or more) active readers, and could convert at a similar rate, I might be able to double, triple or quadruple this number…but again, these numbers probably wouldn’t stay very consistent.

So while you can make money with eBooks even with a limited audience, it helps to have a large readership (listen to Think Traffic – they can help you with that).

Success or Failure

So was it a success?

Absolutely.

How could this be, though? I invested over $2,000 attending the conference, not to mention the months of work that went into writing, designing, and formatting the book. I’ve barely made back a fraction of my costs.

Monetarily, this was a bigger disaster than Disney’s John Carter.

But, for me, it’s a huge success, and here’s why:

  1. I didn’t do it for the money. I priced this item at “pay what you want” for a reason. Making a few bucks from contributions means people support my creative work – money I can put back into creating more content and products – and that’s the greatest gift of all.
  2. The larger point is building products people want and find useful. The positive feedback I’ve received has been incredible. I had people write reviews on their sites for my book, I’ve had several people email me directly thanking me for the work I’d done, and I’ve even received a few offers for podcast interviews because of the book. At the end of the day, the positive response I’ve gotten for my book means I’m creating stuff in line with the audience I want to write for. For a person just starting out, that’s about the best thing you can ask for.
  3. I’ve grown my subscriber list because of the newsletter opt-in I put at the end of my book. At the back of the book is a small resource page and a link to join the Resistance (my weekly newsletter). I’ve had dozens of people find me through the book and now they’re supportive and passionate members of the Resistance – people who want to read what I write and spread the word to others. Having the ability to speak directly to a group of people who want to hear from you is more powerful than any dollar amount ever could be.

Applying This to Your Product

I hope this short analysis helps you understand the power of generosity – and how it’s possible to make money from the kind contributions of friends and strangers without having to resort to paid advertisements, forced sales funnels, or any other conventional sales techniques.

It’s like Amanda Palmer says in her status quo challenging TED talk: “I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question – how do we make people pay for music. What if we started asking, how do we let people pay for music?”

Amanda Palmer rightly believes that if you generously put your heart and soul into something, people will respond just as generously.

This has certainly been true in my experience.

My goal for the future: to continue to find new ways to let my happy readers pay for my art.

So how about you?

How can you apply this idea of generosity to your project, business, or writing?

Leave a comment below and let’s start a discussion on the merits of “pay what you want” and generosity as a sales strategy.

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  • http://www.whackseo.com maxime sincerny

    Most of the time I only have time to listen to your podcast in the subway, but this is a really great story that I opened in my email box.

    Thanks for sharing

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks so much Maxime! Glad it made the cut :)

  • http://masteringhealthandfitness.com Courtney

    Great post Tom! I, like you, love to write and have begun to build a small, but loyal audience. I have thought about writing an e-book compiling some of the content on my site, but always stop because I wonder if anyone would bother to download it. Reading your post makes me realize writing an e-book might actually be worth my time!

    I love the pay what you want concept! Right now, I love that my content is free, but at the same time I put a lot of work into what I do. It would be awesome if I could start making some money from my work. After reading your post, I’m definitely going to start thrashing some ideas around on how to implement “pay what you want” into my site!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks so much Courtney. Your kind comments mean the world to me!

      I’m so glad this article inspired you to try out generosity/pay what you want as a biz model. Hope you kill it!!

      - Tom

  • http://www.expertsenterprise.com Hugh Culver

    Brilliant. I love reading how one person took a risk, followed their hunch and were thrilled with small $ results. The learning for all of us from this article is huge. It’s time to rethink what we value and where we put our energy. Doing nothing would have resulted in exactly nothing. At least Tom did something.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Hugh – thanks so much for the kind word – they really mean a lot to me. I’m so glad you found this article helpful. I hope it inspires people to (1) take action (even if they’re not sure it will work) and (2) be willing to experiment and fail (painful no matter how many times you’ve been through it).

      Thanks for commenting Hugh!

  • http://deevranorling.com/blog-5 Deevra Norling

    Wow – this is so interesting! Thanks for sharing. Just goes to show that sometimes it’s not all about the money! :) And moral of the story – a lot of people don’t just want freebies and are willing to pay for something they consider valuable.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Exactly! It’s interesting – I definitely got some comments from people who didn’t like the model because they weren’t sure what to pay…which, I tried to tell them, misses the point – it’s pay whatever you want!! So take it for free if you want.

      I think deep down there are plenty of people out there who want to contribute to the success of others. At least that’s my theory…and I’m betting on it :)

      Thanks for commenting Deevra!

  • Joanne

    I think the same goes for any downloadable content-TV, movies, music etc. My feeling is: if people are going to download your content regardless, why not let them contribute IF, how much and the way they want to? It’s better than the nothing a lot are currently paying for the shows and movies they watch. Given the amount of work that goes into almost every kind of content, I can’t see people not paying if you give them the opportunity to and this shows.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      You hit the nail on the head Joanne. People are happy to pay if you give them the opportunity (and create a valuable experience for them, of course).

      I’m hoping we see a proliferation of this style of selling in the future.

      Thanks so much for the comment Joanne!

  • http://www.marriagepursuit.com J Poland

    Tom,

    Seeing this full disclosure on your e-book launch is very exciting. I saw your e-book on LYL and purchased it through Gumroad. I am so thankful that I did for both the content and experience gained. Your artful work has inspired me and many others. Keep it up soldier!

    JP

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Jeremy – thanks so much! Your words mean so much to me. Sincerely – THANK YOU!

      Hope I continue to inspire you and everyone else for as long as I’m able to write/publish/create.

      Thanks again for commenting Jeremy.

  • http://www.phuketastic.com Sebastian

    Very interesting. I opted to sell my first Ebook directly trough Amazons Select program. But I will give the pay-what-you-want tactic a try for the next one.
    Thanks for the insight!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Sebastian – great to hear. Let me know if you need any help throughout the process. Just shoot me a message or email via my website.

  • http://healthywealthyaffiliate.org John Gibb

    Hi Tom

    Your method is incredible… imagine what have happened if you had 1,600 subscribers… possibly $3,000+ in sales, is it?… At least in theory, that’s why marketing is all about tracking and testing…

    I guess there’ll be zero refunds with such a practice, as people pay the pricing they think is “right”, isn’t it?

    Anyway…

    I’ll try this method myself, once I have my first info product ready… I’m still playing with the topic, but I think it should be around SEO or blogging, as I’ve built 300+ niche sites/aged domains over the past years, and know what I’m talking about…

    By the way, where can we see the eBook you’re selling with the “pay what you want” option?

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      John – exactly! You identified the true power behind something like this (and info products in general). Little overhead and almost all margin – so all that matters is getting qualified leads…i.e. happy readers, in my case :)

      I would love to find out more about your projects. And if you need any help creating a pay what you want product let me know!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Sorry – I missed the last part of your comment. You can find them at http://tommorkes.com/cache

      Enjoy!!

  • http://kellypratt.com Kelly Pratt

    Thanks for this inspiring post… i’ve been watching Tara Joyce – the Innerpreur (http://www.elasticmind.ca/innerpreneur/index.php/category/pay-what-its-worth/) who talks about the “pay what it’s worth” strategy for a while, and I keep getting drawn back to the concept. But it’s been too daunting to me to apply it to my business as a whole.

    Now you’ve shown what you can do with a similar strategy in a smaller less daunting way. Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’ll see what I can give away and “let” people “drop a nickle in the pot.”!
    thanks!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Kelly – so glad you liked it and so happy that it’s inspiring you to try it out! I want to know how it works out for you so keep me posted! If you need any help or just want to bounce ideas around, let me know.

      Thanks so much for commenting Kelly!

  • http://www.shoestring101.com Kurt Frankenberg

    I am SOOOO checking out Gumroad, right NOW!

    That’s fabulous. There is a sandwich restaurant here that has a menu but no prices. It’s a pay what you want concept.

    The owner says that there are a few that ‘game’ his establishment… but that many folks pay more than what he WOULD have priced the menu items.

    It’s a little scary when you have overhead like with a restaurant, but with info-marketing or publishing, it sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

    I’ll give this a shot, guaranteed. Thanks for the post.

    Keep Stepping,

    Kurt

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Awesome Kurt! So interesting to hear about a restuarant trying this…I’d be nervous to do it with too much overhead too. Really cool that it works out though!

      Let me know if you need any help getting a pay what you want product set up. And yes – gumroad rocks!

      Good luck and stay in touch Kurt.

  • http://www.howtomakeproteinbars.com Karen Wojciechowski

    Thanks heaps for sharing all the numbers Tom, this is really interesting. This has definitely made me start to think how I could apply this to my business. It was something I hadn’t really thought of. :)

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Karen – thanks so much! Glad you liked the look inside…I always appreciate seeing the real numbers (warts and all).

      Let me know if you need any help applying it to your business – would be happy to rap with you about it.

      Thanks again for commenting Karen!

  • http://energymatch.ca/ Ekaterina Ramirez

    Tom,

    I love your experiment. What I like about ‘Pay As You Want’ is that it gives power back to people (similar to crowdfunding.) That’s why they are happy to pay more. People feel good when they can decide whether they will take it for free, pay a buck or give generously.

    We human beings feel happy when we can give.

    The mind frame from Amanda Palmer is a gem! “How do we let people pay for …?” is a brilliant way to think out of the box. And again it gives power back to people.

    Good job, Tom! Keep experimenting!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Ekaterina – thanks so much for the comment. Yes – people do love giving. I’m certain that deep down most people want to help others succeed. Pay what you want is a simple model to test that assumption and I’ve found it to be true.

      Thanks for the comment and I will keep experimenting!

  • http://www.loransheart.com Loran Hills

    Tom, it’s been great watching you evolve from not knowing what you wanted to do with your blog/business, to where you are now. What comes up in this next year will be equally fascinating.

    I’m going to download that book now and pay you for it too!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Loran – thanks so much. So glad you could be a part of that progression!

      Very excited for what’s to come. :)

      Thanks so much for grabbing the book and your comment!

  • http://www.smartbusinessrevolution.com John Corcoran

    Great piece – I’ve been really curious about the behind the scenes on how one of these types of pricing strategies would play out, so I appreciate you sharing all the detail, Tom.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      John – thanks so much. So glad you liked it. Thanks for being my inspiration to share w/ the Think Traffic community!

  • http://www.keepitequal.com Khrystle

    This is fantastic!!! I always wondered how people set up that scenario so THANK YOU for introducing my to gumroad.com! I would totally want to do this with one of my e-books. I love seeing the numbers and you explained everything so clearly. Generosity does go a long way :) I am so glad to hear that this was such a success for you! Keep up the great work! Thank you so much for the inspiration and success story!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Khrystle – so glad you liked it! Glad the numbers/details helped :) I always like it when people share everything (including the stuff that doesn’t work!).

      Thanks again for commenting!

  • http://carenbaginski.com Caren

    Really appreciated this behind the scenes look, Tom! “The larger point is building products people want and find useful.” <– Yes! Value is defined many ways, not just money. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Caren – thanks so much for pointing out that part of the article…that really is one of the major points off the article and what I do w/ my website. The better we understand how to create stuff people like/need/want, the better off everyone is :)

      Thanks so much for commenting Caren!

  • http://lifestoked.com/about Deacon Bradley

    Tom! Love it man! I saw all this go-down from the observers chair. It’s cool to hear what a huge success it was!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Deacon – thanks for being there from the beginning my man!!

      Keep doing great things and I look forward to more from you in the future :)

  • Steve

    I find the “pay whatever you want” concept interesting. Although I do wonder if there are certain industries/niches where you might want to specifically avoid it. I’m thinking about niches where they buyers might, for a variety of reasons, be more prone to not paying much if anything. Purely by way of example, perhaps your target audience is “people who need advice on whether or not to declare bankruptcy”. Any thoughts on this Tom? Aside from, “Don’t market to a niche where people don’t have money to begin with” :)

    I’m launching an eBook next Monday, and may split-test with both a fixed price and a pay-want-you-want model. i’m very curious to see how that works out.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Steve – great question.

      I would avoid pay what you want for any business with a lot of overhead…at least that would be my concern. As you can see from the numbers, they didn’t do so hot the next month (or beyond). If there’s no consistent income, it’s tough to maintain and grow a business w/ a lot of overhead. Luckily, I’m not in that position – that’s the beauty of online publishing :)

      I think in the comments above Kurt mentioned someone who has the same model for his restaurant! This blows my mind…I would never expect that to work, but somehow it does.

      So it’s really hard to judge what will and won’t work. I can say this though: pay what you want ONLY works if the customer knows you and appreciates you. So unless you’re willing to build a platform and a personality (i.e. expose yourself and be authentic real with people), I wouldn’t bother w/ PWYW (i just made up an acronym).

      At the end of the day, the model only works if you’re willing to create more value than you capture…but if you’re okay with that, I really recommend it :)

      Thanks for the comment and great question Steve!

  • Bill

    Tom – very cool.

    I’m similar to you in that theory is great, but I NEED details. Thanks for pulling the curtain back and sharing the numbers.

    And though you act like this was a minor victory, I think the strategy (and the brand/ business you’re building) will grow into something impressive.

    All the Best!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks so much Bill! Thanks for being a reader and supporter.

  • http://www.forthecreators.com/ Michaela Cristallo

    Great post Tom! Fascinating to see that this can work so well. I’ve never considered doing ‘pay what you want’ because I too thought very few people would actually pay anything at all but this post turns that assumption on its head. Thanks for your insights here :)

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks for the thoughts Michaela! It’s true…it is totally possible, if you’re willing to take a chance. Good luck with your efforts (and let me know if you need any help!).

      - Tom

  • http://www.kaizenjournaling.com Dolly Garland

    Tom,

    Great post. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s interesting how going out of the box creates results.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks so much Dolly!

  • http://www.twonontechies.com Jesicka Labud

    Tom! What an inspiring post. Before meeting you through the TB community, I was actually one of those people who bought your book for money. I thought it looked very useful, why not pay you for it. You were generously giving it away after all to many people.

    It’s very refreshing that you posted your numbers here, and very helpful for people like me just starting out. Thanks so much for this. I only have subscribers in the two digits (haven’t reached 100 yet) but it’s really encouraging to see how far you’ve come and how much you made with 166 subscribers. You’re right, it’s not about the pure profit here but the process of testing your theory and getting paid for it, however small the amount might be. And by the way, the numbers are great compared to how many people you reached out to. Congratulations and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your work!

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Hey Jesicka – I can’t believe I missed your comment! Thanks so much for being one of the first to contribute to my art. It really does mean the world to me and I’m eternally grateful.

      It’s tough starting small, but most of us do, and so I hope this gives hope to the smaller bloggers, writers and business owners – you can succeed…the road is tough, but it’s doable.

      Thanks again for the comment Jesicka!

      - Tom

  • http://AfricaInside.org AfricaInside

    This is so interesting because a couple of months ago I came up with an idea to offer a 30 minute consult with me to answer all of your questions about going on an African safari. And I said, you can donate any amount you like after the consult. Well, several people picked my brain for a couple of hours and donated nothing. I am not sure how to handle that. I was very clear about the deal and they said I was so very helpful etc but then they never donated. So, for me it has not worked out yet.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks for the insight.

      It’s true – I don’t think this can necessarily work for every business model. And things like consulting I’d be hesitant to offer up as a pay what you want unless you’ve already built a reputation for charging a certain amount (then people would subconsciously expect to pay you around the same amount). It may also help in your case to offer up recommended amounts of donations as I’m sure most people wouldn’t know what to pay for that kind of consultation.

      Definitely let me know if you experiment any further. Good luck!

  • Tadpole Jones

    Hey Tom,

    Excellent article. I never realized what an amazing (and strange) option “pay what you want” is, not to mention the results. I’d be interested in seeing the stats on this book over the course of a year to see the long term success – though I’m sure it would be good regardless. Hoping you publish more works soon.

    - Tadpole

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Thanks Tadpole!!

      I’ll definitely keep people posted on how things pan out over the course of the next year – stay tuned!

      – Tom

  • http://www.kingged.com Riza

    Hi, Tom!

    I’ve initially read your post on the IM social networking site, Kingged.com, where it has been shared. Awesome post! No wonder this has been shared. So I left the following comment there too. :)

    First of all, I’m a new reader. :) As I was reading it, I thought it was written by some awesome, intelligent newbie writer. That’s not an insult, let me be clear on that. It is actually a compliment. It is because I feel like the writer is so unassuming, and humble.

    I find the idea of “pay what you want” interesting. The highlighted numbers showed how successful your idea was; that it was a risk worth taking. Keep it up!

    http://www.kingged.com/generosity-pays-results-from-launching-a-pay-what-you-want-ebook/

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Riza – thanks so much for sharing and for the comment. I take that as a great compliment too! Glad you liked it and glad it resonated for you :)

  • http://sminso.com/ Chris Hufnagel

    Wow! That is incredible how generous people are. This is a great way to get your content in front of people that may not have the chance if you charged for it, but also allow those that have the money to pay for it! I would be curious to see how this would work in other niches, anyone else tested?

    -Chris

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Chris – exactly. I completely agree. And yes, I’m doing research into other ways to incorporate PWYW and how it works in other niches.

      I’ve mentioned in earlier comments that I don’t think it can really work w/ a lot of overhead…but even that’s an assumption that needs validation.

      I’ll keep you posted with what I come up with.

  • Jack

    This has shaken things up for me. I was initially planning on using the strategy used by Nathan Barry. He talks about using packages and pricing in terms of value.

    I’m in the teaching niche, so I feel that this may work (especially with the success of Teachers Pay Teachers).

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      I love Nathan Barry’s work. I DEFINITELY think it works. In fact, based on his results, you would probably make a lot of money doing it that way.

      It’s definitely a stylistic choice and you may need to test a little bit…teachers paying teachers is def interesting and could work.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!

      - Tom

  • http://Www.angeljewellery.ie Linda

    I love this idea. I am just starting out, small and insecure, and I need this kind of iniration, thanks Tom

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Linda – thanks for the comment. Definitely go for it! Good luck.

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  • http://riomobooks.com Tate

    Tom,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and insights. After reading this and The Paypal Killer? post, I’m giving Gumroad a shot. Signed up today and had my first ebook available for free/pwyw this afternoon.

    I’ve also been looking for a way for people to give my ebooks as gifts since it’s not exactly possible in the iBookstore. Maybe there are other ways, but I’m giving the PWYW option a trial as a way for people to give my ebooks as gifts.

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Tate – awesome! I hope you kill it! Please keep me posted and let me know how it goes. Just remember – the whole point of PWYW is giving things away and letting people pay YOU for your work, not pay for the work itself…I know that sounds like a trifling difference, but it’s important.

      Good luck and keep creating!

  • http://frankonlinemarketing.com Tema Frank

    It is great to hear how well it went. I just have one comment, though: is there some way you can let people defer payment (or add to it) until after they’ve read the book? I just gave a small amount up front (and it is a pain to have to input credit card info for that), but if I like it, I’d happily pay more.

    I’ll go check out your podcast now. (You might be interested in mine too: frankonlinemarketing.com/show . The show focuses on Canadian e-commerce, but I’ve got listeners in the US, France and elsewhere too.)

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Tema – great question…as far as I know, Gumroad.com doesn’t have that function. It’s kind of a bummer. Of course, the solution I’ve seen is people will often take the product for free up front and then download it again + contribute later. I’ve had a half dozen people do this and it’s always very much appreciated.

      Thanks so much for contributing Tema and good luck with your podcast!

      - Tom

  • http://www.annieprovencher.com Annie Provencher

    Hey Tom –
    Thanks for sharing! I found this very helpful – and also encouraging as I’m just beginning my own online endeavors. Love what you’re doing at your site – hope your business continues to grow!

    (And thank you for your service to our country. Jumping out of helicopters is no small thing – especially over a war zone.)
    Annie

    • http://tommorkes.com Tom

      Annie – thanks so much for the kind comments. Glad you liked it. If you have any questions about how to implement it into your own site, let me know. I’d love to help.

      - Tom

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  • http://letsreachsuccess.com/ Lidiya K

    Great post! It’s just what I needed right now.
    I have 2 free ebooks on my blogs, and many ideas for new ones. Some of them are for big projects. And this is a great reminder that if you offer something valuable to people, something you’ve done with passion and desire to help, they would love to pay for it.

    • Tom

      thanks Lidiya! that’s exactly the lesson I learned from this…I still continue to use PWYW pricing and really enjoy using it :)

  • Troy Roache

    Loved the post, Tom. Some things to think about here, for sure. Thanks.

    • Tom

      thank you Troy!

  • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

    I’ve read this article like five times. And your eBook on PWYW pricing as well. My wife is launching her first product (33,000 word ebook) on June 10th and we keep going back and forth on PWYW pricing or not. Still haven’t 100% made up my mind but I think we are going to test it and really work hard positioning the product so people aren’t confused.

    • Tom

      Donnie – I saw the results from your PWYW experiment – well done! you guys killed it :)

  • Vincent Russell

    I am in the final stages of finishing my eBook and was determined to sell it for $9.99. My push for getting people excited about it was to give it away for free to the first 50 subscribers to my blog, then anyone else after that would have to purchase it. After reading this post and seeing the numbers, I think I’m going to do what you did. Thanks for great write-up!

    • Tom

      Thanks so much Vincent! Keep me posted on your results!

  • Tom

    For those who are interested, I wrote about how my book performed on Amazon.

    It’s available for anyone interested in learning how I launched the book on Amazon and my results relative to the experience I had selling on my own

    platform: http://tommorkes.com/thinktraffic/

    Hope you enjoy it!

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