One day of advertising on facebook

Early this morning, my facebook advertisement campaign of the wall post containing the word “bullshit” was approved and went live.  A total of 8684  people were shown the post in their news feed thanks to this “Page Post Engagement” campaign.

Metrics: The measurable results of 8.6k impressions are 44 Website Clicks (mostly the link to gumroad), 33 Post Likes, and 23 Page Likes. Over at the analytics panel at gumroad I see 7 visits from and 23 visits from

Conversions:  Perhaps most importantly, none of these visits converted to any sales. 🙁   Though to be realistic, perhaps I’m expecting some of these visits to convert tomorrow or after tomorrow. I’m imagining the visitors downloaded the preview PDF and will check it tonight and tomorrow and those that like what they see will come back to purchase.

I’m thinking now the ad copy wasn’t the best. Perhaps students who read the post are not ready to be sold to yet and I’m sending them to gumroad too soon… I should probably make a proper landing page with the “get this book, read it, ace the finals” pitch front and center.

I was very optimistic about this campaign because I chose my target audience to be “college students graduating in 2017” which means they are in first year right now, which is exactly my target audience.

Costs analysis  The total cost of this campaign for today was $25. I would have to make 1.25 sales/day to break even with this approach, which, with some ad copy tweaking, should be possible. At least I got lots of likes on my page now. I still can’t get over how funny (or sad?) it is that I’m paying to be liked. Here is modernity for you: you pay to be liked.

The not-so-successful launch of v4.0

I recently announced the launch of the fourth edition of the book on hacker news. This re-launch was significantly less successful than the initial launch from January 1st. I’m a little disappointed from the whole experience, but I think there are lessons to be learned here.

Was it bad timing?  I worked until late the previous night to update the website copy, but I left some things for this morning, which meant I was only able to post at 11:30AM. The “best practices” suggest 9AM–11AM EST, so I was a little out of that range.

Should-I have chosen a better title? I went with the “No bullshit guide to math and physics, v4.0” since this is basically what I was announcing. Should I have mentioned the 34% off deal on the eBook?

The interesting take away for me is that, while extremely useful, hacker news cannot be my main channel for promoting the book. I need to come-up with a repeatable and scalable strategy for attracting members of my three target audiences to the webpage. I’m now playing with google AdWords and Facebook advertisements. Let’s see if spending some money will lead to a good return on investment.

I also posted the /launch40 URL to several channels on reddit where it was very poorly received. The redditors protested the advertisement-like nature of the post. I see their point. Though, honestly, I think my book could be genuinely useful to the students at McGill and UofT. Exam season is coming after all, and I know some students could use some help! The next time I post to HN/reddit, I post the updated mechanics tutorial: useful, educational, and fun, but ending in a little advert for the book.


I recently read an article about pricing which showed some interesting data from various gumroad products. The stats seemed to show that classical “trick prices” ending in 9, like 19, 29, or 39 have nearly double the conversion rates of the corresponding round prices like 20, 30, and 40. This got me thinking: maybe it would be a better idea to change back the price of the No bullshit guide to math and physics to \$29 as it was before.

But let’s not just guess. Let’s look at some data. I implemented the new price (\$33) on August 3rd. Let’s compare the sales/visits stats for the book between two-months-long periods before and after the price change.

At \$29     Jun 3rd — Aug 2nd

During this period there were 1402 visitors to the website, of which 45 clicked through to the gumroad page and 9 clicked through to the lulu store page.  Meanwhile,  gumroad reports 161 visits and 14 sales for that period. On lulu, there are only 2 sales.

At \$33     Aug 4th — Oct 4th

During 2 months period with the new price, there were 1734 visitors to the website, of whom 79 clicked through to gumroad, and 77 clicked through to lulu. Just looking at these numbers makes me think the comparison is not fair: after all this period includes September which is the peak demand time for calculus and mechanics. During this period, there were 208 views on gumroad and 12 sales.  On lulu, there were 13 sales.

Okay, what can we conclude from all of this? I’d say not much, given the small numbers. Still I find the conversion rate gumroad@29: 14/161=8.6%  and gumroad@33:  12/208=5.7% was affected. Indeed \$33 sounds like quite a bit for an eBook no? But \$29 sounds OK. Maybe I should make the eBook \$19?

Okay. So I think for the launch of 4.0, I will switch back to \$29. As for the eBook price, I will have to think about it some more.