SUMMARY: We have an idea for enabling forum members to sell plans for their homemade tools and we'd like to hear your feedback.
If you've been on this site for any length of time (or if you founded it ), you know that the #1, #2, and #3 requests from site visitors are for "plans" to build the listed homemade tools. This is evident everywhere from written user feedback to search keyword data, and it also satisfies common sense.
We've recently been wondering about the level of serious interest in creating and hosting a market where members could sell plans for their tool builds. Some of you may have seen existing online marketplaces where you can buy and sell 3D plans, or may even have bought or sold plans on such sites. Plans for homemade tools are a little more nuanced than 3D plans, but they're in very high demand.
Here's how it could work:
1. You would provide us with a bundle of files that collectively made up the "plans" for your homemade tool build. This would include any or all of the following: technical or CAD drawings, step-by-step instructions, parts & materials lists, photos, videos, etc.
2. We would package and touch up the plans a bit (add legal disclaimer, double-check spelling/grammar, convert to PDF, maybe add a cover, like we do for our ebooks). Where necessary, drawings might be upgraded by us, as part of the process, to a proper mechanical drawing standard.
3. We would handle all promotion, marketing, payment processing, and digital order fulfillment, and pay you monthly. We would promote the plans on various parts of our site, the forum, our email list of 25,000+ subscribers, the 6,000+ visitors to the site we get per day, Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest, etc. You could also do your own promotion if you wanted (see below). We would charge a flat percentage of your sales and would pay you your share on a monthly basis.
Other notes and details:
- When people say "plans", we think they broadly mean "more building details" - they want highly-detailed step-by-step instructions, parts and materials lists, photos, diagrams, and videos sufficient to reproduce the particular tool. Some folks want plans appropriate for first-time builders, while others are looking for something significantly beyond "tab-A, slot-B". Consequently, we can apply a difficulty grade to each set of plans (similar to that found on a model kit) so that everyone understands what's in the box.
- You would retain all relevant intellectual property rights to your plans, just like an author selling a book.
- You would get a summary of how many plans sold per month, and which ones, and a payment. Probably through PayPal, but we could pay by other means, especially for non-US guys.
- As you refined your build or created a Mk II version, you could update your plans accordingly.
- Authors would be able to set their own prices, but we could provide some pricing guidelines. $20 seems to be about average for a set of highly detailed plans available online for a complex tool. However, simple plans for a simple tool could be as little as $3. Authors also might even want to offer a couple of tool plans for free, as a means of promoting their other paid plans.
- What would our cut be? 30% seems to be common on existing plans marketplaces and digital goods marketplaces, meaning that the author would get 70%, and we would get 30%. We're shooting for closer to 25%, but we don't know the exact percentage right now. The important part is that the fee structure aligns our incentives, so that we don't make money unless you make money.
- We would create a page showing all available tool plans. Each individual author would also have his own page showing his tool plans.
- You could link to your tool plans page in your forum signature, in your blog, and in any plans you publish ("Click here to see my other homemade tool plans…"). If you post on other forums and they allow such promotion, you could link to your plans there, too. Likewise for any social media accounts you maintain.
- You could still post your homemade tools to the forum, just as you do now. If you wanted to sell accompanying plans for them, you could say something like: "To purchase detailed plans for building this tool, click here".
- You could create detailed plans for previously-posted tools and then update your earlier post to include a link to purchase the full plans.
- Plans purchasers would be encouraged to post on the forums, in a dedicated subforum, with any questions that may arise. If you wanted, you could answer their questions there.
What do you guys think? Would you be interested? How would you improve the above structure? Any constructive criticism (or non-constructive criticism) to offer?