The road to hell and all...
As a creator of adult content I’m always looking for new platforms and ways to sell my content. When Gumroad was brought to my attention it perked up my ears and I delved in to it to see f it was compatible with what I was doing. I read over the FAQs and the TOS and there was no restriction on adult content. Gumroad fees are 5% of the sale price plus .25 per transaction. At the end of they month if you have over 10 bucks in your Gumroad account they Paypal you your earnings. In the non adult world thats not exactly a bargain, in the adult world its well worth the time to look into this more. When you sell your work though clips sites they often take a very hefty chunk of your cash but clip sites also also bring traffic, Gumroad doesn’t, with Gumroad you need to bring your own traffic to the table.
Step one was done. Thats always the most frustrating step because makers of adult content are excluded from so many places. (Yeah, I know we have cooties) Step two was to test it out. I began in Aug 2012 uploading a handful of MP3 files and placing the links to them on my MistressDemilo.com website. I get a lot of people searching for hypnosis mp3s from that sites so I though it would be a good test. I made a couple of sales. I waited until the end of the month and the transfer of funds was made. It went smooth. I did this for a couple more months adding a blurb about Gumroad to my monthly newsletter to my customers and asked them for feedback if they purchased products though them, I also wrote blog posts about how you could get some files though Gumroad and I diligently used the Gumroad dashboard feature of tweeting my content to my close to 4k+ followers on twitter. It’s worth noting that feature automatically adds an @gumroad to its tweets. More files were bought, end of the month more smooth transactions were made.
In Oct I decided to expand with Gumroad, I had tested them out and all went well time to do more with this new platform to sell on. I added the ability to buy though Gumroad to two more of my websites, both Sissysluthypnosis.com and Eroticfemdomhypnosis.com, I devised a marketing campaign around Gumroad, I made a few files exclusive to Gumroad and my sites for the month of October. As a result of this added time and effort my Gumroad sales went up about 400% maybe a little more. I was pretty excited about the progress. I tweeted to and told other ladies who I know sell content about Gumroad encouraging them to check them out. I waited for my transfer of funds at the end of the month. It didn’t come.
I made sales on December 1st (2) but never got a notice that my money was transfered. On December 2nd I couldn’t access my account, it would say “logging in” but it never connected. I had a bad feeling. My better half told me I was panicking to early, though hes very sensitive to sex worker issues, until you walk a mile in a sex workers shoes you cant know what its like to have that powerless feeling that arises when your gut tells you someone is disrespecting you or taking advantage because if what you do for a living. I tweeted at Gumroad that i couldn’t access my account. In the afternoon when i still couldn’t access my account i investigated further, I found that Gumroad was up and running for other people, that other peoples items were still for sale on Gumroad and that links to my content was met with 404 errors. I also checked my public profile and though it was there there was no content listed available.
I sent in a email to support informing them of all this including the info that i hadn’t received any funds on the 1st. I was met with radio silence.
I waited 24 hours, still nothing. I sent in a second email this time I found the email address of the founder ( a 19 year old wunderkind of some sort the media tells me) Sahil Lavingia and sent him a note too just in case my gut as wrong and they were experiencing a bigger database or email issue. Hell it had been even suggested to me that maybe they had fired their IT or support person and were scrambling.
A little over an hour later I got a response. A two line email telling me my account had been suspended for “Illicit” content. No mention of the money they owed me, nothing addressing any of my questions just a curt yup, we deleted you. Let me break this down.
Illicit means Illegal, they were telling me they shut me down and from my perspective were going to keep my funds because my content was Illegal. Which of course its not. Its adult, its mature, its erotic but its not Illegal. I wrote Gumroad back a rather not nice email telling them such asking them for my money and accusing them of stealing. I then assumed I would need to get a lawyer in involved. I re-read Gumroads TOS and they had changed as of Nov 19th. it looked to me a catch all for deleting accounts had been added “otherwise objectionable” If your content was “otherwise objectionable” well that’s a pretty wide net. Translation “for any reason” including no reason at all or because you have red hair and gingers are scary. But sir i object!
This is why you don’t do business with 19 year olds. Who runs a business like this? Who thinks its okay to treat their customers like this. Is this how everyone is treated by Gumroad? No its not, they have good feedback, this is how Jenny DeMilo Sex worker was treated by Gumroad. I felt discriminated against, I felt powerless. Gumroad had my money and closed down my account, my inquires were met with silence and only after tracking down the founders email did I get any response at all and that was unacceptable in any business. Just because I’m a creator of erotica does not mean you are allowed to treat me any different then if my name was John Smith and I sold post it notes to the PTA. Business is business. Not for Gumroad though for them this is acceptable.
I then received an email from a customer who told me all the purchases he made of my content though Gumroad were suddenly refunded. Refunded with out my consent and not by any request from the customer.
What the motherfucking hell is that! Who does that. What business school did these morons drop out of. Who thinks they have the right to refund My money to My customers with out MY consent. My products were delivered, my customers happy but Gumroad though yanno they could give away my content for free. Gumroad had clearly forgotten their role in this arrangement. Shady Shady Shady. I started thinking that yep a law suit was definitely in Gumroads future. Because though I might just be a little guy, a small business and a sex worker, I am not going to allow you to steal my hard heard money from me. That is not an option.
Then the next Gumroad email comes though, this time obviously written by someone who had at least taken a class on customer service. it started with an apology which is customer service 101. It went on to tell me my funds would be transfered in 24 hours and that no they didnt think my content was illegal but that they couldn’t handle “some kinds” of adult material. That once an account had been “flagged” by their user base, it was gone. Well whoopdie fucking doo. My guess is their lawyer told them to pay the fuck up and that some idiot over there refunded my clients in a panic. They did the transfer in 24 hours and get this they even tossed in some extra cash as an oops we deleted your account with out notice and then were stupid about how to deal with you kinda bribe or something. Though it’s always nice to get a few extra free bucks…WTF. I wonder how that little item reads on their balance sheet.
So there ya have it, Gumroad is a great idea but its run by people who make terrible decisions, treat their customers like crap and have zero idea how to handle business. Oh as a side not they use Stripe for their platform. Stripe takes .30 a transaction and 2.9 on each sale so Gumroad is working on a pretty thin margin. Oh Stripe clearly states in their TOS no pornography. Gumroad neglected to incorporate Stripes TOS in their own. Another really bad business decision. Gumroad is run like a teenager who’s never had to think beyond himself. Impulsive, never thinking a situation though to its conclusion. Though i’m sad it all went down like this I had high hopes working with them and had invested a lot of time and effort to make something out of it. I’m sure my next months sales would have increased more then the 400% the last months sales had, and I’m pissed I was treated so poorly, as a business person I would never do business with a company like this. They will limp along but I cant be the only person who has had such horrible dealing with Gumroad. Im just not that special. They will run themselves into the ground or lose their financing. Though it might be cute to invest some bucks into a 19 year old “wiz kid” who is basically just making Stripe easier to use for more money, I find it hard to imagine any VC giving more money over to a group of kids who haven’t the first fucking clue about how to treat a customer. Oh as of this post my Gumroad Profile is still active.