It’s one thing to write, code, paint or create. It’s another thing to pay the bills. I guess thats why many people abandon projects in favour of a steady, nine to five job.
That might all seem a bit dramatic, and maybe it is, but beneath the main economy of white collar workers flows an undercurrent of online enterprise desperate to find its feet. Individuals and groups, creating and sharing.
Sellbox, by way of its simplistic features caters to this underworld yet keeps the style and professionalism of the main market. By enabling users to sell their Dropbox files, they’ve created an ingenious marketplace with no start-up overheads for the creators. But how is it really any different from other online file markets? And, in business terms, is it worth your while?
The show starts with a pretty basic welcome page. Simplicity being the style these days. We’re invited to sign up via Dropbox, allowing them some friendly worded permissions to access our files along the way. Presumably they can only retrieve the files we select to sell.
It’s worth noting at this point that putting your music collection (unless you composed it yourself) up for sale is probably a bad idea. I can imagine that would lead to the premature termination of your Dropbox and Sellbox accounts.
I really wish I had more to say about the next part. Unfortunately, Sellbox have made the whole process so easy a technophobe could do it. Basically, you select a file for sale, you get back a short url which can then be shouted at potential customers on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and rooftops.
One feature I particularly like is the ability to allow customers to pay extra for a file. Many bands selling EPs, artists selling pictures and writers selling novels have cult followings who enjoy funding content creators with donations. This is like the PayPal ‘Buy me a beer’ donation button. Sellbox take a 5% cut of all sales. You get the rest, minus PayPal fees.
Sellbox know that many startups acquire users rapidly yet the accounts are never used. They’ve circumnavigate this problem by getting us right into selling our stuff. Before we know it we’re pushing fan fiction at Twitter followers before we’ve even considered the prospect of getting paid.
A small notification did appear to attach a PayPal account but it was easily ignored. Nevertheless, it had to be done. All that’s required is the input of your email. Nothing more. I applaud their head on approach to pushing users into trying out their app. I also applaud their integration of PayPal whereby the user isn’t redirected or asked to approve API. That said, I think that a little more functionality and prominence of a settings menu would enhance the users experience and lend a sense of legitimacy to the business side of things.
Your Customer’s Experience
Just like any checkout procedure should be, the customers interaction with Sellbox is simple. When you tweet the link to your file’s page, the customer is directed to the landing page below. On it lives a quick preview of the files being sold along with the information. If they like (and you have it enabled), they customer can up the price of the file by whatever amount they like as a donation to you, the creator.
Once they click ‘I want this for $X”, a PayPal login screen appears. When the transaction is completed the customer is granted access to the file.
What I like
- It’s extremely easy. You can begin selling in seconds.
- I don’t have to pay for the privilege and it’s easy for someone with no money to set up.
- It’s focused on viral marketing and small time business.
- The auto suggestion for Sellbox on my Galaxy tab is ‘Hellboy’.
What I dislike
- For anything larger than an individual, Sellbox doesn’t make business sense. They could use a premium business pricing plan without a commission.
- It only works with Dropbox. What about Google Drive users or someone who only wants to upload and sell one file?
- No customisation or branding available on the sell page. This could be a crucial failure for individuals who depend on their good name to sell.
The design is simple, practical and obvious. Two years ago I would have been drooling all over this. I bet the first guy to suggest ‘plain’ as design got a promotion, but by now the whitewash has worn off. This isn’t necessarily to say that Sellbox has not done a good job. The website looks and functions just fine. I just miss the days when start-ups really innovated when it came to how they looked. It seems lately big letters on white paper counts as inspired. Dazzled I was not.
I like Salesbox and I hope they do well. I may even avail of their services should I ever complete any one of the ebooks wallowing somewhere in my Dropbox account. I think by using Dropbox’s API to save both themselves and the customer hosting costs will pay off in the long run for them.
As a user I have to say what impressed me most was their understanding of how creations are sold online. Easily.