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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle, Russell Nohelty

In related news, Patreon just announced a free tier for membership and sales of digital download products right from the page. Cool stuff! :)

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Oh, didn't hear this!

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Nice!

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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle

Why does it feel like the two of you are doubling down on the anti-Shopify message? It comes across as heavy-handed to me, especially when on one hand you praise the capabilities of the platform (calling it the "Rolls Royce" option) yet on the other hand seem to suggest it's the worst platform out there for authors. Maybe you're not really saying that at all, but the "I don't like Shopify" message coming from both sides, from individuals who *teach* direct sales feels a little personal somehow? Like Shopify kicked your puppy? Like you're digging your heels in because someone suggested you're doing it wrong if you don't use Shopify? (Which is silly, since it's all so subjective.)

It's fine not to like the platform but it's feels somewhat critical of people who DO like it. I suppose I'm one of the few who loved it "out of the box" and have had a great experience with it from the start. I feel like I demonstrated it well enough in your Direct Sales Accelerator too (though I didn't find the special offer landing page strategy sustainable for me, but I am trying other things that I think will be sustainable). I had no problems setting it up, and was especially happy about how easy it was to make it seamlessly integrate with my website (which is technically still separate and will remain that way).

In indie publishing we are faced with a multitude of options to manage almost every aspect of our businesses, and it can definitely be hard to choose. But I think it's important to recognize that what works for one author may not work for others, and it's not necessarily a reflection on the technology. It's a very subjective choice and each of us are trying to find the best option for our continued success. Shopify just happens to be *my* best option.

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Jun 21, 2023·edited Jun 21, 2023Author

I am thrilled if you love Shopify. Nothing makes me happier than authors having solutions that work for them.

Authors need choices and to not be told that any solution will be the magic bullet for them.

I had no intention of writing this post until I saw the reaction to Monica’s post and felt the need to weigh in with my own opinion. The last thing I wanted to do while on safari in Africa was write a 5000 word piece about a platform I don’t even use, but I am happy if Shopify works for you. For the record, I am not anti Shopify.

As for the Rolls Royce comment, I don’t like Rolls Royce. I find them gaudy and way too much car for me. That said, I can appreciate their quality even if they are not right for me.

The same is true with Shopify, I can appreciate the vastness and complexity of their solution even if I don’t think it is a good fit for me.

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Hey Ophelia,

I think Russell just wanted to share his thoughts on the same subject in his own words. There are two of us so there are two perspectives. He also wouldn't have written it if it weren't for the attacks received. ❤️

I also can't stress enough how much we do not care if people use or love Shopify.

About your challenges, I have a few thoughts:

1. Could you turn your special offer into an evergreen offer by taking out all the countdown and timer elements?

2. Could you get the messaging that converted from your special offer onto the product page(s) so it's evergreen?

#2 is what I tried to do on Shopify but found too obnoxious to continue. YMMV but to me, if I always have to use a landing page and can't get that info onto a product page, it's too much work for me.

I'm really glad you love Shopify out-of-the-box, but if I may make an observation, it does seem like your landing page worked pretty well and got you good results. Perhaps your books actually benefit greatly from having more text on the page. Some books can sell well with a little text, but we have seen that many/most don't.

I don't know, happy to chat about it more privately, as I want to help!

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To Monica’s point, oneof the things that is very helpful for me is an evergreen countdown timer on my offer pages. This allows me to treat every new subscriber as it’s own special offer.

I also added most of my kickstarter messaging to the product pages. They are each very thorough; which is what I meant by treating them differently then Amazon.

Whatever your solution, I do believe in offering things your reader can’t get on Amazon so you are not in competition with retailers.

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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle, Russell Nohelty

I can see why it didn't work for you. And why you hate it. It's a PITA to set up.

However, as a forest using Shopify, it is the first solution I have found where I can incorporate my different "seeds" (art, novels, art books, merch...) into a single space. But also as a forest, I am okay with things taking slower to watch it grow 🤷🏽‍♀️. And I have a double dose of stubbornness to draw from.

I'm not at a point where you are yet, probably because I have too many things going on at once and haven't taken the opportunity to just sit down with it. Plus I am at the start if my journey so it's easier just to start with this and grow through the process.

I do believe there's more than one way to do direct sales. And it's okay if you guys decide it doesn't fit your business model.

Or that you don't want to teach it. You can always direct your students who want to learn about it to other experts in the field.

Just like KS isn't for everyone.

Plus, why fix something that isn't broke for you. No need to go through the pain of learning a new system when yours work.

My goal is to find a way to incorporate both your direct sales lessons and my Shopify and make it my own. But then that's also a forest trait of making it our own and saturating ourselves into the system 😉.

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Jun 21, 2023·edited Jun 21, 2023Author

I agree. As I stated multiple times in the article, I have no opinion on whether you use Shopify. If you love it I am very happy for you. Authors need choices, and to not be told any platform is a silver bullet. I said that explicitly in the article. I have previously also stated that I was wrong to try to push everyone to use Kickstarter bc it isn’t for everyone.

I am glad Shopify works for you. This was about my personal experience with the platform.

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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle, Russell Nohelty

Oh, I wasn't disagreeing with you ^_^ I am sorry it came across that way.

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Yes, and we did have Steve on last month, actually, and Pierre is hopefully coming on for August. I would love to do more with them but they are both really busy guys. We will see. I agree with you about what we discussed earlier, that Pierre has a method that can pretty much run parallel to what we do. I'll chat with him more about this and see how we can get more resources flowing.

I'm with you--there are tons of ways to do direct sales and I would argue that we need significantly more people contributing and creating resources for the author community. We love sending people to other people. There's no need to be threatened by someone else who is doing things in your same realm.

My personal opinion is if you are trying to do something big you should read all the books and all the courses. I know there are time and money constraints so obviously go at your pace. I want to take both Pierre and Steve's courses and haven't because I know I don't have time.

But yeah, I pretty much believe it's a huge gift when an author decides to package their process to help others. The bigger threat is actually that so few people have time and energy to share their knowledge.

I'm a little biased of course.

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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle

Agreed, the more people who teach it, the better. Maybe one day I will put in my two cents from an artist/photographer turned author perspective. Because heavens know there is nothing for artists that I can find. But first, I need to walk the walk ;) So in the meantime, I am taking courses from everyone and then taking what I glean from them to make it work for me.

I do think one of the reasons Shopify will work for me is because I have a lot of "other" products. Unlike most authors. So I never really fit in only the purely "author" world. Until I read Pierre's book. And for the first time, I saw myself fitting in somewhere with everything I offer. But I think that is because art books are more like poetry books than novels or even non-fiction. And it allows me to combine my art/photography prints and my novels.

I am sorry for the negative feedback you have both received. But like I said, I think there is room for everyone. I just wanted to add that even 'forests' can use Shopify. Though I 100% agree it is not a user friendly to set up. I would have happily stuck with Wix if it had the integrations I needed as the web design was way easier.

And yes, I think you guys are teaching a system that crosses platforms regardless of the tools you use. And I greatly respect that as one of your students.

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This would be awesome! You have a unique take since you sell art, but I will be curious how you sell your oracle decks as I'm doing several of those and I think your art experience applies really well to this! I have friends who built their whole businesses on that, and coloring books, and merch, and some use Shopify, some use WooCommerce, some use Wix, some use SquareSpace. Ironically I think all or many of them have hit very big numbers using each of those platforms :)

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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle, Russell Nohelty

Great summary of hard won lessons. Shared!

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Thanks!

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Jun 21, 2023·edited Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle, Russell Nohelty

I’m the poster child for “I paid for an expensive Shopify course and a Shopify site and have spent far too many hours beating my head against it without any real movement.” ;)

Yes, I could make it do everything I want it to. But it will cost me more, and TBH I find the platform a pain in the ass compared to some alternatives. Heck, I’ve ever considered just using a Payhip page to sell books so I can hook in Book Vault that way. It works. It saves me bundles. So why not?

Russel, how are you doing print? That’s the sticky spot - drop shipping print books seems to have limited platform options, namely Shopify, WooCommerce, or maybe a Payhip page.

I was, frankly, APPALLED by the behavior of some of the more…fanatical…Shopify fans. Some folks were literally making stuff up, and clearly hadn’t actually read what she wrote at all but just wanted to bash her over it. Not even vaguely professional behavior, that.

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I only offer print books for my offset runs and during Kickstarter campaigns. I tend to only offer books/packages you can’t get on other platforms, so to keep the signed books special I only offer them at certain times. I think most people use either lulu or book vault, which integrates with most platforms.

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Yeah, that’s the issue: Lulu and Book Vault integrate with WooCommerce and Shopify. BV also does Payhip, but I haven’t looked into all the details of what that looks like yet.

Are you not bothered by not being able to do direct sales of print on a day to day basis? I mean, for me print is less than 1% of retailer sales, so IDK how much of a loss that would be…

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Yeah, I don’t bother with it. I would imagine there is a way to integrate through zapier, but print sales are so infrequent that I don’t bother unless I am in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign.

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You're doing Kickstarter every month or two months, so it makes sense that your audience just gets print through there still.

But yeah, also just different stages of life.

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True. If I did offer them it would likely be on my series offer pages as a complete set too with a discount like Lydia sherrer does. Though, at her level I am sure they are offset printing by now.

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Yeah. I definitely love the POD integrations, but a print run is going to be such high quality and you can do more. I will do POD but I think the majority of what I'll do is the special offers as limited editions.

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Well, I don't know how long you have had Shopify, but it does seem like 2-4 months is normal (even with the help of the course you have).

I thought Russell was crazy for using Gumroad, but he's made a ton of money on it already. I mean, there are merits to just getting it up there, especially if you know you are NOT going to use all the bells and whistles. We also made tens of thousands in 2021 on my jenky WooCommerce site, selling just books, with few plugins, few emails, no advertising. Would have done it again in 2022 but I shut the site down halfway through the year to focus on Kickstarter.

I do think Shopify has some feverish fans and that contributed. It is odd to me, because I'm not excited about any web store platform. Like, people think I am anti-Shopify but by that standard I'm anti-WooCommerce too 🤣

I think another part though was that there were some things in the tone of the post, more so the first than the second, that caused the "making stuff up" comments—which, btw, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment there.

The first post promised "serious factual errors," "inaccuracies were significant," "errors made," "spurious claims," etc. At that point I think you encourage toxicity. Especially if you tell people the person in question is not in the private forum with them. It becomes not about the topic but about trying to discredit the other person.

If she had just said, "There's a post out there and I disagree with several points in it, here's why," that might have tamped down a lot of it. I wouldn't have liked that post still, but it centers the topic rather than becoming a teardown of a person.

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Jun 21, 2023Liked by Monica Leonelle, Russell Nohelty

Brilliant, insightful read. I definitely need to go back to how I automate for new subscribers.

I pick up loads from people on the fence at comic cons, but haven’t got the process in place to convert them into sales after the fact.

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Nice! Yeah, it has been super helpful for me over the years. I tweak them after every campaign.

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I used Shopify for years when I was designing and selling meditation aids. I loved its functionality, but I didn’t love paying a monthly fee before I was earning anything. I was a slow starter, figuring out too many aspects of the business at once. Honestly, I think I might have had better success if I had waited to open my store. Youthful optimism led me to dive in fast, believing my beautiful online store (which truly was lovely) would naturally attract customers.

Then I always felt behind the 8-ball, struggling to catch up. Eventually, I closed the shop. I think so much about success has to do with timing and having support.

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100%

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I’ve just started using Shopify, the basic $5 per month plan because my needs are quite small for the moment. I haven’t explored much yet, but I’m trying to imagine what hundreds of dollars of add-ons would be.

I’m platform agnostic. Whatever works for someone works for them. Operating systems. Storefronts. There’s no one size fits all.

When I build out, I’m going to want to sell paperbacks alongside ebooks and audio. That limits me to Shopify or maybe Payhip. I don’t know Bookvault well yet. I like Payhip though.

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I don't think that's true. You can integrate lulu with lots of places, and you can integrate Bookvault into woocommerce or shopify. https://bookvault.app/category/integrations/

You can also integrate with more places through Zapier or Pabbly.

I also like Payhip. I have no allegiance to Gumroad, except for what I mentioned. I said several times in the article that I don't care what people use, so I agree with you.

Glad you found something that works for you.

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Shopify works for me… for now. We'll see once I have to expand it, but I'm not there yet. I just discovered Bookvault yesterday, so I don't know much about it. Lulu I'm familiar with.

If I can integrate Bookvault with Payhip, then I'm more likely to use Payhip than Shopify when I expand my store needs next year. I like how they do things.

Woocommerce requires Wordpress, and I don't get along well with Wordpress. I've been down that road several times, and it's not good for me. Obviously many many people use and love it, but I had a couple of bad experiences back in the day that ruined me on it.

I'm just glad we have lots of options and that the options seem to be expanding.

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