I will soon be launching a new version of my download store, where I’ll be selling both DVDs and downloads together. This transition has been a lot of work, it’s not done yet, but I thought it might be interesting to pull back the curtain a bit, and give you a glimpse of the business behind StevieSnacks.
Since I started selling lessons in February of 2008, my premium lesson catalog has grown to 11 lesson series with over 50 individual lessons. Each of those lessons includes at least one video, and some include tablature, and others include mp3 files. My download store is where I keep track of all this stuff.
250 individual files, linked to over 60 products in various combinations, and each file and product has a name and description. It’s a lot to keep track of.
Right now, if you want DVDs, you need to buy them in the DVD store, which is run by a big company called CreateSpace. This has been the only efficient way for me to keep making lessons, without having thousands of DVDs sitting around my house waiting for buyers. Because they make DVDs on-demand, I could focus on producing whatever lessons I wanted, as quickly as I wanted, rather than having to sell off 1000 copies of a single series before moving on.
So my entire store is setup to sell downloads only. No shipping, no sales tax.
This worked quite well until CreateSpace stopped giving me information about who was ordering my DVDs. This meant I could no longer send out supplementary materials automatically. I was quite uncomfortable with this, so I began searching for another service to replace them.
I searched for over a month, made phone calls, sent emails, and even spent several hundred dollars and tens of hours preparing my DVDs for another service, only to find out that their quality was sub-standard.
I finally made the decision to buy my DVDs at wholesale prices directly from CreateSpace, and sell them myself, through my own store. This would be more work for me, but would allow me to control the customer experience, and provide the same level of support to all customers.
In addition, this change would allow me to offer DVD customers the option to download their lessons while waiting for the DVDs. Customers are typically excited to get started quickly, so I think this will be a nice feature.
This transition has meant a complete overhaul to my store. I had to incorporate shipping estimates, add a second DVD product for every lesson series, enter the shipping weights, buy DVD shipping materials, and the list goes on…. None of this is complicated, or difficult work, it just takes time. Time away from making lessons, and time away from playing guitar.
In addition, since some products are now DVDs, I needed to differentiate between DVD and download, whereas before, it was all just downloads. This meant I had to come up with a new convention for naming products, and of course, this resulted in hundreds of changes to product names and descriptions.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. Lots of boring, repetitive work.
The End Is In Sight
Anyway, most of the hardest work is done. It took a while, and I’ll be very glad to get this transition behind me. Making lessons is what I love to do, and all this administrative work allows me to keep doing that. A privilege that is not taken lightly.
So the next time you wonder what it’s like to run a guitar lesson site, keep in mind that there’s a LOT of stuff going on behind the scenes that has nothing to do with playing guitar. It’s not glamourous, it’s not exciting, but it’s part of the responsibility of taking care of your customers, and providing the best experience for them that you can :-)