Gumroad is a great platform, but I’ve decided to pull all my products out of it and bring them back home. This journey through Art SaaS has been an epic one. It simply turns out that home is best.
I’ve decided to leave Art SaaS. Forever.
Over the past ten years, I got swept down the art software-as-a-service plughole. Each platform promised a substantially similar thing. As I swam down the river through them, I discovered that the promises were all largely similar, and nearly all of them simply shifted the grind.
You may recall my experience with Patreon. Or my experience with Substack. I haven’t really played with Deviant.Art, but that’s only because I see Deviant.Art as a different beast altogether… more as a giant gallery. However, its functions are becoming more standardised and I suggest that the Deviant experience will join the others.
The journey began, truly, with Gumroad. And this is where it ends.
I got so excited about Gumroad’s new development, and with Sahil’s (and his team’s) attitude and direction, that I even invested in the company.
Soon after I invested, Sahil announced that his vision would be for Gumroad to become a type of software development incubator. For me, this was an immediate red flag. It said to me that the focus of Gumroad would very quickly become diluted, and that its fabulous growth and shift into an effective products platform for artists was going to disappear.
Now, that hasn’t happened yet. But I’m calling it out early.
When I closed down Brutal Pixie and nuked the corporation, I took every one of my digital assets and I put them up for sale on Gumroad. Since then, I’ve made one sale.
You see, I am not interested in putting all of my content into someone else’s site. I’m not going to post blogs there when I have this one. I’m not going to use Gumroad as a community nurturing site, when I have my own newsletter. I’m not even going to use Circle–a sister company to Gumroad–to build community when I genuinely prefer Telegram.
Building any kind of digital sales profile in the 2020s requires a type of grinding that I’m simply not willing to do. It’s a type of bone-crushing, time-consuming, all-consuming annoyance that only people without children (or lives) are willing to engage in. I’d rather be creative, or bake bread, or manage a market stall in person than waste my life doing shit that isn’t going to matter.
The truth is that selling anything online is not what it was ten years ago. Any of these platforms require you to grind.
And they require you to grind for them on their servers and in their platforms.
And they disallow you the apparent luxury of exporting your materials very easily.
But what they very cleverly do is tell you that X number of artists made X amount of money doing XYX. They tell you that they have communities who can help you. They tell you they have built all these whiz-bang somethings that are wackydoo and capable of helping you to make megabucks too.
If you’ve got the time to waste trawling forums, anyway.
Thus, it is after much pondering that I’ve decided to pull all my assets out of other people’s websites and bring them home.
Gumroad is a nice platform, but Art SaaS has had its day.
When it comes to real assets, ownership is nine-tenths of the law. The same is true of digital assets. If you own your real estate, you control what you build and what the world sees. If you own your real estate, you’re not at the whim of other companies and what they decide to do.
Think of all those people whose Facebook pages are shut down out of the blue. Or that drop out of visibility. Without separate websites, they’re always in a position of disaster. This type of thinking ought to inform everyone’s approach to the internet, in my opinion.
When I bring everything back to my own domain I control a number of factors.
- domain visibility
- SEO function and capability
- subscriber functions
- email marketing assets
- stores, downloads, and blogs
It also to control my payment gateways (and the fees I, or others, pay–and how that happens).
More importantly, nobody can cancel my site or my store unless my website host suddenly decides that they’re going to do that. And if they do, I can simply spin it up again on my own server. Because I have backups.
This level of personal management seems like overkill for some people. For me it just rings of sensibility.
For anyone who can manage their own website (which is easy, honestly), there is no reason to go into an Art SaaS platform. The most enticing factor is the ready-built audience. The so-called ‘discovery’ factor. But even that is not what the promises suggest it will be. If you understand the basics of search engine optimisation–or you have a plugin to guide you, or both!–then ‘discovery’ can be much more effective on your own site. If you’re managing your own site, plus social media, plus Art SaaS, then you are suddenly a slave to the tech.
Don’t be a slave to the tech. Make the tech work for you.
In my case, making it work means having a single location for everything. A single location, one asset to manage, minimal spread, higher relevance and visibility for my own brand. It’s powerful juice.
This means I have more downloads on offer
As I pull products out of Gumroad, I’m adding them to my own online Downloads store.
Keep an eye on what’s available. As I write this, I have five items on offer. Pretty soon there will be more like 15. They range from my writing and audio (such as Ultimatum) to guides for corporate and content professionals.
If you’re thinking about doing something similar, you’re welcome to contact me
Deciding how and where to put your materials isn’t easy. And if it’s part of your own professional practice, getting outside eyes on what you’re doing can be invaluable. I offer a free coaching taster of one hour, and this falls neatly into appropriate topics for just such a call.
You can Contact me here.
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