This post is about selling directly from a website. I decided recently to make all of Thinking Plainly’s ebooks available to purchase as digital files from our company and author websites. But honestly…. this wasn’t because there was any demand for them! It’s more because I love trying new things out, learning and developing, even if it won’t see any immediate benefit. There really wasn’t any need but part of the fun of doing things yourself is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to experiment.
The superficial reason for doing so is to add a bit of new content to our websites and attempt to make them look more professional. I’m not saying I’m unhappy with my website but it is very early days and there is a lot of work to do but as the bulk of the content is already there I’m limited to what I can add. I may change the overall look and theme as that needs some work but in terms what people can see and access it’s more or less there.
In terms of functionality it makes our websites slightly more interactive. A lot of the content is text and images that are purely for information, not for modification or playing with. All of our works are sold through distributors such as Amazon so aside from a few preview boxes it is all links. It’s nice now to have a commercial feel on the website itself.
More seriously though, the long term strategy is to make my digital footprint as big as possible and build the foundations of online sales technology so should there be an increase in our following we can maximize any opportunities. I’m not saying that’s going to happen and it’s nothing more than wishful thinking if I am being totally honest however that in itself is not a reason to not try it out. It is much easier and quicker to remove work than it is to add it and by learning all the integration stuff now I’m not really losing anything. It may prove to be a waste of time in the realization of the idea but I still would have learnt a lot and experimented with something I haven’t done before so as far as I am concerned it is a worthwhile adventure.
In short, I have set up an account with a digital download company called Send Owl, check them out here: https://www.sendowl.com and I have then integrated two payments solutions with them. The first being PayPal: https://www.paypal.com which I am sure you have heard of, and the second a company called BitPay: https://bitpay.com which unless you are interested in cryptocurrencies you may not have heard of. For a few years now I’ve had a layman’s interest in the world of financial technologies and have watched the rise of cryptocurrency Bitcoin as well as several other cryptocurrencies. I thought it would be a fun thing to do to practice more of what I preach and actually integrate a Bitcoin provider into the SendOwl payment system so as well as customers being able to buy our ebooks with bank payments or credit card payments via PayPal, they could also pay with Bitcoin. I don’t see it as a revenue stream because I don’t see my ebooks selling (I’m not purposefully downplaying our work, it’s just that without a serious marketing plan/budget and social media campaigns – which are some way off yet – there is no point pretending) but I do see it as learning something new that potentially could be very worthwhile later down the line.
When someone purchases an ebook they will receive an email confirming their purchase and a link to click on where they can download. They can download the .mobi version of the story (for Kindle), the epub version (for most other major ereaders) and a PDF version (in case they want to print it off and read). They don’t have to download all three but they can if they wish. It’s still just the one price, they don’t pay for each version.
The one difference to buying it direct from a distributor such as Amazon if you have a Kindle, is that you have to upload the file to your ereader yourself but I have done that many times myself and it’s not a hassle. Of course that means you could copy the file and send it to your friends but I don’t care about that at all. I’d be over the moon should someone feel it worthy to copy and share!
As I say, it’s early days but it’s been a nice distraction to work on something like this and get away from writing for a while (I realise that’s not the point but you know, we all need a break!) and you never know, it may prove a good move in the years to come if things go the way we hope they will.
Then again, you may think it is a terrible idea and that I have opened myself up to a tonne of paperwork and legal issues that could have waited and it’s a lot of fuss and expense for nothing. Perhaps you are right! If you have thoughts on the subject send me a message, I’d be interested to hear.
All the best,