Adam Wathan is a popular full-stack developer and entrepreneur who writes code and books for a living. He can easily whip up his own payment processing system with Stripe’s API—something he did for his first product, a video course about Laravel. But for his most recent product, Refactoring UI, he instead chose to use the ecommerce platform Gumroad.
Why? Because, by using existing software, he was able to focus on the product and its marketing instead of reinventing the wheel. Gumroad had the features Adam needed, including support for PayPal payments in addition to credit card processing. And, as an added bonus, it acts as the "merchant of record," which means they sell his products and collect sales tax, freeing him of those burdens too.
The faster you can get your own software out the door to paying customers, the faster you’ll become profitable and can start building traction. Existing software is either free or cheap until you need to scale it—and if you’re scaling it, it means you’re generating a decent amount of revenue! For Adam, giving Refactoring UI as much attention as possible paid off, generating over a million dollars from it in the first two months.
When starting a small or independent business, especially one that’s based online and selling software, it’s important to have the right digital tools in your toolbox. Most of my business runs on existing platforms or other software—from using Laravel Spark as the scaffolding to handle subscription billing and password resets, to using Mailchimp to send newsletters for marketing.
I release at least one product a year—from books to software to online courses—and while they’re quite different from one another, I mostly use all the same basic online tools to get them launched, promoted, and most importantly, made so people can buy them from me.
Here’s the software I’ve currently got in my own “software stack” for starting a small digital product business:
With these 11 pieces of software you’ll be able to focus almost entirely on building your unique solutions, and not a lot of time building things you don’t have to. Building a digital product business can be difficult enough – any way you can make it easier (like using the software in this list), will help get you to profitability and beyond much faster.
Want more Paul? Join us March 19, 2019, from two P.M. to three P.M. EST, for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) as he discusses his latest book, Company of One, exploring why a bigger digital business isn’t always better, and shares his knowledge with the DigitalOcean community. RSVP today.