Are you thinking about contributing a digital product to a bundle such as Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle, or others like it through Ultimate Bundles? I contributed to the 2018 Genius Blogger’s Toolkit and I wanted to share that experience and dote on you a little wisdom if you’re considering participating in a bundle sale. Let’s get real… mistakes were made. Hopefully this post helps you not make the same mistakes I made as an Ultimate Bundles contributor.
You must identify your goals before you contribute
My ultimate goal as a contributor wasn’t just to make money (although that’s nice too), but to also grow my audience through the viral marketing I’ve seen from this bundle in previous years. I knew that just contributing to it would help me break through and reach more of the kinds of people I’m hoping to market my products to. And best of all… it wouldn’t really cost me anything since Ultimate Bundles is responsible for advertisement and making sales page adjustments to help with cart conversion.
When it came time to submit an entry for approval, I chose the most reasonable offer I had at the time – a Pinterest Hashtag Database + ebook Guide that I’d created and started selling earlier in the year. This contribution made the most sense to me because it felt like something I could use to attract people to my premium Pinterest course, Get Pinned Academy. That was my goal… to be able to market this course and other Pinterest-related digital goods that I sell.
My inexperience as a contributor, the time crunch (we were simultaneously planning our Star Wars wedding), and my failure to consider the schematics of my offering, or assess how it would help me reach my goals, is what lead me to the poor decision of contributing an ebook – rather than working to put something else together. (To be fair, I didn’t really have the time or resources at that point anyways).
An eBook wasn’t going to help me meet my goals
I’m not saying that anyone who contributes an ebook to a bundle is inherently wrong. I believe very much in the power of providing value and that it’s possible for your audience to seek you out further based on that. But after contributing the ebook and having some time to consider what I had offered, I recognized that I had essentially threw a lot of value out into the void in exchange for a one time deal of 5-70% of the bundle cost.
Let me explain…
When a customer makes a purchase through Ultimate Bundles, neither affiliates nor contributors get any personal information – no names, no emails. That means unless we have a system in place where that info can become available to us (such as some sort of enrollment or sign up), we really have no further communication with the buyer unless they seek us out themselves. And let’s get real… the number one complaint about Genius Blogger’s Toolkit is that there’s so much information and so much value that it’s overwhelming. I suspected I was about to just get lost among the bundle and maybe even forgotten.
Having purchased GBTK 2 years prior to contributing, I was familiar with just how easy it is to get lost in the sheer volume of learning materials… and with the exception of a few bigger names, I couldn’t tell you otherwise whose materials were in the bundles.
So… thousands of people were going to download my ebook, and I would never really have the chance to talk to them further about my premium Pinterest course, or to really offer them anymore value. My one and only chance to do that would be via the ebook, and frankly… no one is going to spend more time reading an ebook for my sales pitch. They are there for the information and were likely to digest that and metaphorically toss the ebook aside.
I made mistakes because I wasn’t better prepared
I thankfully had the foresight to offer a discount for my premium course, but when I submitted the ebook, I was still self-hosting my courses and things were just a real mess on my end. Honestly, it was embarrassing. Between the time I submitted my final product and the day the bundle went live for sale, I took advantage of one of the bonuses – 3 months of Podia. I moved my premium course.
My husband and I experienced great loss this year, and it happens that the time for submitting final copies of my product coincided with that really hard time… so understandably, I was pretty distracted when I compiled the bundle specific copy of the ebook. By the time the bundle was available for purchase, I’d completely forgotten that I had included any sort of way of buying Get Pinned Academy with a promo code.
The bundle was made available to contributors and affiliates well before the official sales date. My ebook was out for over a week being downloaded who knows how many times… and the promo code within it didn’t even work. Yikes.
I didn’t consider my topic when choosing a format
Pinterest changes so quickly. It seems like every week, there’s new information to consider. It’s part of why it took me so long to create Get Pinned Academy in the first place – I kept having to add in new information! That should have lead me to really consider my subject better before contributing an ebook too a bundle designed to be the most up-to-date blogging information.
Unlike with my email list now, I couldn’t just email customers with an updated book – I wouldn’t have a way to do that because the customers weren’t buying directly from me and making their way to my list.
A few days before the sale ended, my worst nightmare came true when Pinterest made new recommendations regarding hashtags that greatly affected the information found in my ebook. In good conscience, I couldn’t keep marketing the bundle as being up to date if in fact my own contribution wasn’t!
Fortunately, I was able to work things out with Ultimate Bundles and we addressed the issue. I gave buyers free access to my mini-course on Pinterest hashtags (which I’d put together after submitting my ebook contribution), and I was able to solve this problem, as well as address my issue of the ebook not being appropriate for my goals. By providing a course, I would have some sort of further access to buyers thanks to their enrollment in the course.
That means… not only was I now able to keep the information up to date, I could further market Pinterest related learning materials to them. Also, the list growth has been really nice!
You have to prepare marketing ahead
Like years before, I spent time putting together some emails and evergreen social media posts ahead of time. Two weeks before Genius Bloggger Toolkit became available, I started running a sort of “Coming Soon” campaign on Twitter, and mentioned it in passing to my Facebook group.
I had a strong social media presence during this campaign. I was all over Twitter, Facebook, even LinkedIn (where I surprisingly picked up some traffic and sales). But I went into the email portion of my campaign a bit loosely. I knew how much I wanted to email and when, but I fear I missed out on some opportunities by not planning it ahead better.
Decide who you are as a marketer and stick to it
I don’t follow the email marketing philosophy of Ultimate Bundles. It’s just not something I am comfortable with personally. Clearly, their way of doing things (emailing people multiple times per day) works… but it isn’t my style and it isn’t how I like to do things.
I feel like, especially towards the end of the sale, affiliates get desperate. They email their list more in hopes that somehow that’s going to make them a sale. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a small percentage of the time that this actually works. But I subscribe to the idea that if someone didn’t open an email from you an hour ago, maybe they just aren’t sitting in their email tab refreshing all day. Maybe they… I dunno… aren’t even at their desk.
I got a little more gutsy this year however and I did do a little extra emailing. I didn’t stay true to who I am. I sent some re-send type emails, to try to entice those who hadn’t opened an email from more than 24 hours prior. My experience marketing this bundle tells me that sometimes emails get missed during the GBTK marketing chaos.
Unfortunately… that means that I sent out 3 emails that day and it really hurt my list. My subscribers are accustomed to hearing from me once a week, on Thursdays – twice at the most.
Without a plan, you’re going to make mistakes
I didn’t make concrete plans for pre-launch week and made some ridiculous mistakes… like totally mixing up the dates and times for the webinars. It was so bad that I emailed them incorrectly TWICE, then wrote them wrong in my Facebook group. I had a really rough time of it because I was doing the work on the fly, rather than taking my time and planning this ahead as part of my campaign.
I had resolved to do more of my marketing as things went along, making adjustments based on what was and wasn’t working. I sort of stand by that, I think it’s important to assess how your campaign is going while in the mix of things… but your email marketing (when you will email, what you’ll talk about, etc) probably shouldn’t be one of those things.
Don’t waste valuable time on 2nd tier affiliates
Since I was contributing, it was important to me that the bundle be as successful as possible. The more bundles sold, meant more money in my pocket. With that reasoning in mind, I decided to put together a little free Mastermind group for my 2nd tier affiliates – those who had signed up to become an Ultimate Bundles affiliate using my link. While there’s great resources available via the Ultimate Bundles affiliate group, I wanted to really work directly with this small group of affiliates to help them make sales.
Out of 25 affiliates, only two of them made sales.
I’m sure some of the blame is on myself, but I also realize that most of those 25 people never got around to posting about the bundle at all. So essentially, I wasted time writing posts, putting videos together, and encouraging people for almost no return. In fact, by signing these people up as affiliates, I cost myself money in the long run since affiliates get to buy bundles at 40% off.
I think 2nd tier affiliates are great to have, but I wasted time trying to help others sell the bundle, when I really should have been focused on myself.