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#1
Gretchen Peterson

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After I posted about my new Colors For Maps booklet (available here), someone suggested I write-up my experience building a webpage to sell items online. I think my advice will only apply to those who want to sell electronic products, but you never know.

The short answer is: I hired a good web designer and she did all the work. :)

The longer answer is that the web designer chose from a variety of products and possible combinations of things. In the end we decided to use E-Junkie (terrible name but a good product) in conjunction with PayPal and Google Checkout. E-Junkie is only $5/month to sell up to 10 separate products as long as they are under 50 mb in size. I happened to find a 90 day free trial coupon as well. My booklet is about 3 mb in size so it was no problem. Large map files would be more expensive to sell through this site.

E-Junkie interfaces with PayPal and Google Checkout - you have to get accounts at all three of these places. So the user can choose which option they want to use to pay. My booklet has only been for sale for one week now but I can tell there's a definite preference for using PayPal - around 80% of the purchases are through PayPal. Both PayPal and Google Checkout charge you every time there is a sale. If you won't have a high income through your sales you're looking at something like 59 cents per item sold.

The nice thing about PayPal is that the buyer can use a credit card - there is no need for the buyer to have a PayPal account. Why not just use PayPal and Google Checkout - why use E-Junkie? Because E-Junkie handles the order fulfillment process. I don't manually send the purchaser anything. All these services give you the email addresses of the people who are purchasing though Google allows the buyer to use an encrypted email address so that the seller doesn't see the real address. Even though I have sold my GIS and Creativity webinar through Google Checkout for a long time now, I would never use the email addresses for marketing. Most individuals and businesses wouldn't - I hope! I sell the webinar through Google Checkout (it's a pretty big video file) and I have to fulfill the orders myself. Perhaps I will shell out the money to get this done through E-Junkie at some point though.

#2
MapMedia

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Thanks Gretchen for the great insight to your experience of online retail. I also use Google and Paypal, though wrote a PHP script to do the digital product fulfillment - which simply sends the customer an encrypted link to the map after payment is confirmed. Certainly making the retail system handsfree is absolute, letting me focus on map production.

Chris

#3
frax

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Thanks for the write-up! I am considering setting up something similar on my website, at some point!
Hugo Ahlenius
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#4
Jean-Louis

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For years I have been hearing about the potential of the internet to market 'specialty niche' products.

I would like to ask the forum if anybody here has an experience or knows somebody who has made any serious money selling some kind of paper product online: book, map, posters, cards....

By serious money, I mean a revenue source that would qualify as making a steady and decent living by itself.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#5
David Medeiros

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For years I have been hearing about the potential of the internet to market 'specialty niche' products.

I would like to ask the forum if anybody here has an experience or knows somebody who has made any serious money selling some kind of paper product online: book, map, posters, cards....

By serious money, I mean a revenue source that would qualify as making a steady and decent living by itself.


I think by setting the threshold at "serious money" as you describe it you are setting the bar too high and will negate some reasonable examples of online success that might be significant but not enough to live on alone.

Also why adhere to the sales of paper products (or products at all as opposed to services)? I have successfully used the internet to sell my services (mostly digital, though all end up printed in the end). It's meager income by most standards but has been a tremendous help while I struggle to shift gears from Cart to GIS. I consider it significant enough to be a successful- if limited - use of the internet to sell my work. I'm sure there are many more substantial examples where the internet has provided significant income that would not be enough by itself to live on. That may simply be our new reality for the short term, diversification.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#6
Charles Syrett

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I struggle to shift gears from Cart to GIS.


I'm curious...why are you doing this? Especially if it's a struggle?

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

#7
David Medeiros

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I struggle to shift gears from Cart to GIS.


I'm curious...why are you doing this? Especially if it's a struggle?

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com


Well, it's usually the case that nothing worth doing is easy right? ;)

I'm getting my Geog MA (a GIScience degree really) and that alone is a struggle with part-time work, freelancing and a kid. Why am I doing that? To get back to where I started partially, back to natural science and geography where my interests have always been. And to open up my potential work opportunities. There's little full time, stable cart work around but GIS and "geo" as a whole is a growing industry.

The real struggle is getting someone to hire me in transition so to speak. I'm a decent cartographer but my knowledge base extends well into the earth sciences, physical geography and GIS but without the MA degree (or a programming background) it's difficult to get potential employers to see past what to them look like nothing but "pretty maps" in terms of accomplishments or knowledge base.

So, it's a struggle, but a fun one that I hope will eventually pay off with more work and greater opportunity to do what interests me. We'll see I guess.

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#8
Jean-Louis

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I,m not inquiring about using online marketing to offer services or to 'complement' regular marketing.

I have known many people and companies that make a living distributing paper products in brick-and-mortar stores.

I would like to know if there is anybody who knows of somebody that sells or distributes any kind of paper product- a printed consumer item with a price-tag - not a service- directly to institutions or the public at large the way that say, Amazon does and has a steady, reliable and significant revenue from it.

I just have been hearing for the last 10 years that 'this is the way to go' but I have yet to encounter any actual person that does this.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#9
David Medeiros

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Getting back on topic... are there any other forum members who do similar (or different) online product sales to Gretchen? I'd like to see who else has had some success at this type of direct sales and maybe also what doesn't work. I for one have had map online for a while now with Maps.com that I don't think has sold a single copy!

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#10
David Medeiros

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I just have been hearing for the last 10 years that 'this is the way to go' but I have yet to encounter any actual person that does this.


You've been hearing that specifically with regard to paper products and not just marketing or niche sales in general?

My take on using the web for print sales is that it does not work very well for small producers. The primary culprit is not the web itself but the cost of printing short run or on-demand maps and books. Quality is low compared to offset printing but costs are still too high to capture many casual potential buyers. The seller is forced to either pre print a huge run of expensive but high quality prints in the hope that they will sell or use on-demand and hope that people will pay close to retail prices for a lower quality print.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#11
MapMedia

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We should pool our best maps together and start a net marketing strategy. Print per order, or small quantity prints

Cartographers, as I see it, MUST do the following to maintain a livable wage (60k + /yr)

1. Start a 'firm' with others - pool resources - bids on larger projects - have a marketing plan/funds, etc.
2. Diversify - in addition to making maps, do GIS work, Google maps/earth jobs, web map programming, flash maps, etc.
3. Sell products - in addition to custom map jobs, sell printed maps, sell licenses.
- this requires: printing budget, tabling at industry conferences, direct mail programs, and client management

Selling printed maps has been something I've wanted to do, known I SHOULD be doing, but never sat down and made a plan to do it. There are ways to print and market your own maps while maintaining a decent margin - but you have to accept that quantity is key to profits - which emphasizes marketing - getting LOTS of web traffic or spending $ on direct mail and conferences.

#12
Jean-Louis

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[quote name='MapMedia' post='35187' date='Dec 2 2010, 02:49 PM']We should pool our best maps together and start a net marketing strategy. Print per order, or small quantity prints

Cartographers, as I see it, MUST do the following to maintain a livable wage (60k + /yr)


60K a year!!! You are more optimistic than I am!

Mapformation does what you describe and has had good success from it. But it does not sell actual prnted products

Like I mentioned before, I am sick of hearing people tell me that I should or hear others plan 'to sell maps online' . I just want to know if anybody has done this or seen it done.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#13
MapMedia

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Like I mentioned before, I am sick of hearing people tell me that I should or hear others plan 'to sell maps online' . I just want to know if anybody has done this or seen it done.


I was responding to Dave's comment. You might want to check out IMTA.

#14
razornole

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I just have been hearing for the last 10 years that 'this is the way to go' but I have yet to encounter any actual person that does this.


You've been hearing that specifically with regard to paper products and not just marketing or niche sales in general?

My take on using the web for print sales is that it does not work very well for small producers. The primary culprit is not the web itself but the cost of printing short run or on-demand maps and books. Quality is low compared to offset printing but costs are still too high to capture many casual potential buyers. The seller is forced to either pre print a huge run of expensive but high quality prints in the hope that they will sell or use on-demand and hope that people will pay close to retail prices for a lower quality print.


I"ve always felt the opposite in that offset is low quality. It is all about quantity. If I want quality I am going to use an inkjet.

As for selling paper products online, I've done ok selling photos. However, I have always done much better in galleries and shows. I'm currently in the process of producing a map that I will attempt to sell as fine art (i.e. archival ink and paper, signed and sold as a limited addition). I'm not too optimistic that it will work/sell, but sold as a print on demand it will have only cost me my spare time to try.

kru
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Strabo 22AD

#15
David Medeiros

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I"ve always felt the opposite in that offset is low quality. It is all about quantity. If I want quality I am going to use an inkjet.


I wonder if this depends on the output, if it's mostly vector based or has a lot of raster imagery?

For our CSAA street maps with little to no raster, offset was clearly the highest quality we could get and it was astoundingly sharp compared to ink or laser output. But if the map had a cover image it usually didn't look good on the paper we used and could be produced better on a good ink or laser printer.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 





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