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Should you sell your digital products on AppSumo?
That’s what I wanted to know! As someone with multiple digital products, I wanted to know if listing on AppSumo would grow my audience and bring in some of that elusive passive income.
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What is AppSumo?
If you’ve been around the internet for a while, you’ve probably heard of AppSumo.
But if you haven’t, basically, AppSumo is an online marketplace where you can buy apps and digital products, typically for a steep discount.
But is it actually worth doing? Does it work for products that aren’t apps? Do you make money? Grow your email list? Get a bunch of trolls buying your product?
That’s what I wanted to find out!
Last February I decided to try listing Say What?!, my email templates and most popular product, ever, on AppSumo. These are actually a Google Doc file, with over 125 email templates for everyday and sticky client situations. It’s always sold really well on its own, and at the time I’m writing this, I’ve had over 2,000 purchases off of AppSumo.
My goal with this experiment was less about making money, and more about growing my email list. I figured AppSumo might be a good way to reach a new audience, while making a little cash on the side.
Now, a year later, I’m reviewing how it went, and whether it was worth it!
The AppSumo submission process
When you first submit your product to AppSumo, you’ll get it approved, and it will be listed in the marketplace. Products in the marketplace are required to be listed for a minimum of three months, and after that you can take it down or leave it up.
To submit you do a write-up of your product, list the original price and discounted one, add some images, and then you need to decide if you’re doing a digital download, or a redeemable code.
Since I was doing this primarily for list-building (vs. money-making) I didn’t use their digital download option. With the digital download you add the product directly to AppSumo, but you can’t collect email addresses. So that didn’t work for what I was trying to accomplish and I went with the redeemable codes.
Since I use Teachable I was able to just use the bulk coupon generator to make 100% off coupons and upload the CSV, which was really easy. AppSumo took care of the rest.
I know you’re curious about how much of each sale you make when you sell on AppSumo. I’ve used platforms before where you make basically pennies while the platform walks away with almost everything. AppSumo is not like this.
On AppSumo you earn 95% of revenue from new buyers you bring to AppSumo—all the profit minus a small 5% processing fee.
And you earn 70% of revenue from returning AppSumo customers referred by AppSumo, which still isn’t too shabby.
Of course, since AppSumo is a deal site, you’ve already discounted your product (normally by a LOT), so you’re revenue sharing a small amount anyhow.
For my email templates the price I sell them for on my website is $97, and the AppSumo price is $27. Most of my sales came from AppSumo referrals, which means I made about $18.90 on the majority of my sales.
Still, not bad for a product I made a few years ago and am still getting paid for!
You may know that on AppSumo that you get a taco rating instead of a star rating. I have had very few people bother to leave reviews, but all except one have been 5 tacos.
The 1 taco? A jerk who accused me of stealing all the email templates from around the internet and just sticking them in a Google Doc. But actually, I have a registered US copyright on these templates, and AppSumo denied his review.
One thing I realized I should have done was create a version of my templates on Teachable specifically for AppSumo purchases, so that I could trigger a custom email sequence in ConvertKit for them and ask them to leave a review and better sort them to know who came from where.
I didn’t do this, so I can’t segment people from the AppSumo deal out from people who bought through my website, so I can’t ask for reviews.
Oops! I’ll definitely organize this better if I do another deal so that I can encourage people to leave reviews.
Update: I did two other AppSumo deals and still didn’t properly segment. What is wrong with me?
I mentioned above that I initially chose to go with the option that allowed refunds because it enabled me to grow my list.
I think there are people who really take advantage of the 60-day money back guarantee that AppSumo offers. With the digital download option there are no refunds, so if I was just trying to make some money that would have worked fine for me and not been an issue, but since I was primarily trying to grow my email list, I had to agree to the 60-day refund policy.
Which had people downloading my templates and then requesting a refund.
Before this I had over 1,000 customers for my templates, and I can only recall ONE refund request in the 7ish years I’ve had them for sale. And that was more due to a tech problem that caused someone to freak out and think I was charging them multiple times (I wasn’t).
I made sure to remove the people who requested refunds from access to the product on Teachable, and I removed them from my email list, to prevent them from getting any future updates or taking up space on my list.
I had 40 requests out of about 190 purchases, and then I ended up switching to non-refundable. And because of the format of my product, AppSumo agreed to let it just be non-refundable but still sold through my site, so I still grow my list! No refunds may have deterred some buyers, but the list growth wasn’t amazing anyhow, so I think it’s worth it, which leads me to…
Adding another product
My first product on AppSumo was going pretty well, so I thought, why not add another?
So I decided to add my Intro Packet Workshop and Template.
This is another product that has sold well on its own, I’ve had thousands of students create Intro Packets, and I figured would be a great fit.
Aaaaand… it was a flop!
I’ve made a few sales, but nothing like my email templates. I was pretty surprised, honestly. I thought the workshop and template would be a great product for AppSumo that would funnel into my full systems course.
But I think it’s not as easily understandable as email templates.
On my own website, people normally read a blog post and then head over to the Intro Packet sales page and make a purchase. They know what an Intro Packet is and are ready to buy before they even click to the info page.
On AppSumo, most people are just browsing through hundreds of products, looking for a great deal on something cool or useful.
If they can’t tell what something is or how it can help them without having to click through to the info page, they’re going to keep scrolling.
I think there are some tweaks I could make to the thumbnail and blurb to increase purchases, but I also think that my Intro Packet is not as strong of a product to have listed in a marketplace like AppSumo.
Email templates are understood instantly.
Intro Packet needs an explanation.
And there’s very little room for an explanation in a wall full of different products.
Revenue and list growth
Okay, so let’s get to the part you’ve been waiting for!
My email templates have sold a total of 220 times, with 40 refunds (before they were made non-refundable).
I’ve made a total of $3,512.16 from them at the time of this writing! Not too shabby.
After writing this post, several people shared my AppSumo listing and my email templates have now sold 557 times and made over $10,374 via AppSumo! (Plus three sales so far this month, it’s only the 2nd!)
My Intro Packet template on the other hand…
I’ve made 11 sales, and $202.42. Womp womp.
I mean, it’s better than nothing, but if I’d started with this product, I never would have considered listing any others. Definitely a case to test different things and see what works.
My original goal was to grow my email list, and while I did add new subscribers, my lack of proper tracking (making a specific product in Teachable for AppSumo so I could segment properly) means I don’t know how many have stayed on my list and/or bought anything else from me. So are they the RIGHT people to add to my list? No idea.
Note to self: Track things better!
Before you get too excited (or not) about my numbers, there are a few cons about listing on AppSumo I want to address.
You need the “right” product
First, if you don’t have the right product, I don’t think you’ll make many sales. Products need to stand out among hundreds of others and be understood at a glance. While you have some control over this with your thumbnail and one-line description, if your product needs any kind of further explanation… well, it’s unlikely to even get a click-through.
Along with this, AppSumo customers don’t know who you are, so they’re not buying your product because of YOU, they’re buying your product because it looks like a good product. Your product must be a VERY obvious solution to their problem, without them needing a description or knowledge of who you are.
Limited description space
Third, your description space is limited. With my email templates, I couldn’t list all the templates because I have so many that the text exceeded the character limit! I had to instead answer several questions and post the list as a response to those.
I contacted AppSumo and created a new “pinned” post in the questions with the list, but it’s still a little frustrating that I can’t just have the information in the description.
People take advantage of the refund policy
Fourth, people take advantage of the refund policy, so depending on your product, they could be running off with it, and not pay anything. As I mentioned before, AppSumo was kind enough to switch my email templates to non-refundable, but I don’t know that they’ll be able to do that with every product.
Fifth, you’re discounting your product. You do get to choose how much you discount your product. But because AppSumo does such big discounts in general, I suspect that to do well, you need to give a sizeable discount as that’s what AppSumo customers expect.
Not only does this put less money into your pocket than if you were selling through your own website, but it also trains every customer who comes through AppSumo that you offer steep discounts. This is something that I think needs testing to know how much of a discount you need to offer to do well, but regardless of how much you discount, you are discounting.
Update 9/22: Since listing on AppSumo and offering discounts on the products I put there, people now ask me if I’ll add my other products on AppSumo. They’ve definitely been trained to ask me for discounts, which is not necessarily the kind of audience or “vibe” I want to create.
But what about the pros of listing on AppSumo? There are definitely some good ones.
Get in front a new (huge) audience
First, you get to reach a new audience. As a creative entrepreneur, you know how hard it is to build your audience. AppSumo is a great way to get in front of a TON of people you wouldn’t otherwise, and funnel these new customers into your other offers.
Make some extra $$$
Second, you make money you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Because you’re in front of a new audience, you’re making sales that you wouldn’t have without being listed in the AppSumo marketplace.
Amazing support and easy setup
Third, the AppSumo team is really great. Have a question or problem? They are there to help! They honestly made it SO easy to get everything set up and have answered all my annoying questions.
Make money while you sleep (really!)
Fourth, selling on AppSumo is really passive as they already have a huge audience for you to get in front of. You literally make sales while you sleep!
So… is AppSumo worth it?
For me, I would say… yes. Although I didn’t get the results I was initially going for, I did grow my list some, and I made money I wouldn’t have otherwise made.
I wouldn’t say I’m blown away with my results. But I’m also not mad about them. Because it’s SO easy to list on AppSumo I’d be game for adding more products in the future. I mean, you can’t complain about making ~$3,500+ ($9,200+ now) for 30ish minutes of work listing a product you already have!
I don’t think I personally would make products specifically for selling on AppSumo, and I don’t think that’s what AppSumo is meant for, but I COULD see someone running a business where the majority of their sales and email list growth comes from selling on AppSumo.
So what do you think? Is AppSumo worth it? Not worth it? Are you going to try selling on AppSumo after reading this? Tell me on Twitter!