Selling Digital Products with Lemon Squeezy

In this episode, Gaby Galea talks to Jason Schuller and JR Farr, two of the four co-founders of Lemon Squeezy, a plugin that helps simplify the selling of digital products. Lemon Squeezy fits under the Make Lemonade product portfolio and the digital maker crew hopes to continually launch and build new products together.  

SUBSCRIBE

In this episode, Gaby Galea talks to Jason Schuller and JR Farr, two of the four co-founders of Lemon Squeezy, a plugin that helps simplify the selling of digital products. Lemon Squeezy fits under the Make Lemonade product portfolio and the digital maker crew hopes to continually launch and build new products together.  

Episode Highlights and Topics

  • What is Lemon Squeezy? Easy-peasy way to sell digital products online.
  • End-to-End Solution: Easily do everything online as a digital creator with one-stop shop.
  • Pain Points: Digital creators/makers can build things, the problem is selling those things.
  • Lemon Squeezy is and probably always will be a SaaS-based product.
  • WordPress Integration? Working on easy-peasy way to access, embed, and use plugin.
  • Other Platforms: Lemon Squeezy can be used with any platform – it’s pretty flexible.
  • Merchant Records: Creators upload products and Lemon Squeezy handles payments.
  • Marketing: How Lemon Squeezy helps companies add context to their email messaging.
  • Lemon Squeezy Price: Subscription depends on plan, customers, and features for now.

About JR and Jason

JR started using WordPress in 2006 before Pages even existed. He built and sold one of the largest WordPress marketplaces, MOJO Marketplace. He grew the marketplace to over 6M+ users, with 100’s of employee, and launched full integrations into some of the largest web hosting companies like Bluehost, HostGator, among others.

Today, JR is the Co-Founder of Make Lemonade which includes products like Lemon SqueezyDunkedIconic, and more. It’s a collective of makers and like-minded creators to build a suite of bootstrapped products.

Jason is a designer, maker, and entrepreneur creating an endless portfolio of minimalist products and services for the web and WordPress.

Resources/Links

Transcript

Gaby:
This week’s episode is sponsored by Castos. Castos is a podcast hosting platform that helps you grow your audience through public podcasts and offer exclusive content through private ones. The WP Mayor Podcast is actually hosted on Castos, and the whole process has been great from the very start. Check them out at castos.com.

Hi, this is Gaby Galea and welcome to WP Mayor Podcast. In this week’s episode, I speak with JR and Jason about their product Lemon Squeezy. We talk about how this plugin can help simplify selling of digital products. 

Today we’ve got JR and Jason from Lemon Squeezy. How did you guys meet? Tell me about it.

Jason:
I think JR and I go way back to about 2009–2010. We met at a WordPress conference called PressNomics. I believe it was one of the first PressNomics in Arizona. I was doing Press75 and Theme Garden, which was a WordPress theme marketplace. JR, I think you were also doing Mojo at the time.

JR:
Yeah, and we’ve kind of stuck. We’ve kind of stayed in touch ever since. Obviously, both
have done a few other things since then, but in almost over a decade we basically grew up in a WordPress space together.

Gaby:
And you’re both the co-founders of Lemon Squeezy. I know there are another two guys right on the team.

Jason:
Yeah, Orman Clark who has also got a strong history in WordPress. He had Themezilla back in the day and has Dunked now. Also Gilbert, who’s made his rounds in the WordPress space just as long as we have as well. He worked for Delicious Brains on their products and is now part of our team.

Gaby:
I guess you’ve done a number of projects together, right? I’m going to say stuck to you a bit on social media. You’ve got a number of products.

JR:
Yeah. Lemon Squeezy is part of what we call our collective but we all came together and started Make Lemonade. Make Lemonade houses all of our different brands underneath one, so lemonsqueezy.com is one of them. There’s dunked.com and there’s Iconic, which is an icon set. There’s Premium Pixels. Some of those come from Orman’s time and Jason’s time and all of us. Then we’ve launched and are launching new products together as well.

We’re hoping over the next decade, we continue to make this big brand of portfolios and more people are joining and working together with us. It’s just a big, digital maker kind of crew that launches and builds things together.

Gaby:
I like the consistency as well in the branding. The design is really great. Is it all done?

Jason:
That’s all Orman Clark. He’s kind of heading up brand and product design for everything that we do. 

Gaby:
All right. Let’s talk about Lemon Squeezy. What is it and how did it come about? How did you think about this idea? Why was it built?

JR:
I’ll start. Jason probably has a lot of thoughts on this. Actually, the name was the domain of something that Orman had. The concept itself of selling digital products is something that (like we mentioned) we’ve always done. We’ve started back before Shopify or WooCommerce was around, so we built it custom from the ground up. We’ve also probably used all those products. Along the way, running our own businesses, we’ve kind of run into all the pain points. 

When it comes to digital products, it’s a very different breed of selling things online because there are license keys, there are ways to support it, there are different ways to deliver it, there are different ways to protect that delivery, there’s fraud, there are taxes and that. We’ve taken all those hits ourselves and those scars, so we just thought there’s got to be a better way today. If we reimagined everything today, what would that look like? We really started from the ground up saying, how do we make this easy-peasy? That’s kind of been the approach we’ve taken. 

It’s 100% focused on digital ecommerce. You can sell ebooks, subscriptions, license keys, software, courses, all the above. From there, we’re just going to continue to build on that. Jason, you can add more to that.

Jason:
I can reiterate everything JR said, but also, we’ve seen throughout the years, in the WordPress space, and in just trying to sell our own goods just how complicated things are. We started small. We started with a small set of tools that you can use to sell your digital products today. But the idea is long-term that you should be able to (easy-peasy) do all that you need to do online, including setting up landing pages, managing all your customers and all your drip campaigns via email. Everything should be able to be done really easily in one spot. The longer term goal is to have an end-to-end solution for everything you need to do online as a digital creator.

Gaby:
I guess that’s when it differs from plugins such as WooCommerce, EDD, or Freemius. It really ties everything together. It’s really the only plugin or service that you need to sell products online, right?

Jason:
Yeah.

Gaby:
So like you said, your target users, basically anyone who sells any digital products. I’m guessing you can sell WordPress plugins and themes, and then also music, arts, even services?

Jason:
Yeah. We have licensing built into Lemon Squeezy today. Even if you wanted to license your products through Lemon Squeezy, I know EDD has that feature as an add-on. It’s something that we want to get out the door with our v1. We did and it’s something that you can use to either build licensing for your downloadable software or you could even use our API to license your SaaS-based software. Iconic is an example of that, one of our other products that we’re using Lemon Squeezy to sell memberships.

JR:
I would say to anyone that wants to sell something digital to use Lemon Squeezy definitely, but if you’re more of a developer or you know what you’re doing, maybe you want to use Stripe or something. If there’s a big audience of people that really just want to not deal with the pain of setting all that up, just kind of make it a little bit easier for them, I would say the other direction that we’re headed is a lot of makers and digital creators have no problem building things. They want to build as much as they can.

The problem comes in when they have to go sell it, so a lot of the focus that we’ve shifted to is giving them marketing tools and insights into the business, and like Jason said, how to send emails and how do I actually get more sales with my product. We really want to make sure that people are successful on Lemon Squeezy. That’s a big focus of ours.

Gaby:
I’m going to sell my products online. I’ve got my WordPress site up and my products ready. How do I go about using Lemon Squeezy?

Jason:
You can use Lemon Squeezy right now with WordPress if you’re savvy enough. We have our embed tools that you can use to embed buttons and checkout overlays for any Lemon Squeezy products. We are working on version 1 of our official WordPress plugin, which you’ll be able to activate and tap right into your Lemon Squeezy database of products and use your existing WordPress workflow. You should be able to add and manage your product right through WordPress. 

We are doing restrictable content. A lot of that functionality that’s out there and wave plugins today. For WordPress, we’re going to add that via Lemon Squeezy as well. So v1 is in the works and we’re hoping to have that out before the end of the year.

JR:
I’d say there are three ways. Obviously, if you go to Lemon Squeezy, build your products, we give you simple shareable links you can add. Whether it’s embeddable or not, you can throw them right on your WordPress site. WordPress plugins come in. We just recently launched our public API, kind of web hook features and functionality. There are quite a handful ways that you could leverage it with your site.

Gaby:
Yeah, because it started off as a SaaS product, right? It’s positioning. Great to have everything integrated into WordPress without having to leave your dashboard.

Jason:
Exactly. And just to be clear, it still is and probably will be a SaaS-based product Lemon Squeezy. But for the WordPress side of things, we definitely want WordPress users to be able to use WordPress the way they like to use it instead of having to go back and forth between Lemon Squeezy and WordPress. We’re definitely taking that into consideration in our own kind of easy-peasy way for WordPress.

Gaby:
Does it work with other platforms apart from WordPress?

Jason:
Yeah. You can use Lemon Squeezy with any platform if you want to. You could use it with Squarespace today if you wanted to.

JR:
You can distill it down even simpler, too. Once you’ve launched a product, you can grab a link and literally post it right on Twitter and a newsletter. People can just buy going to a hosted checkout through Lemon Squeezy, or you could do it on your site with WordPress or wherever your site is, but it’s pretty flexible.

Gaby:
Yes, it is great. So you can just post it on Twitter and people can just go ahead and buy your product straight away. Don’t even have to… 

Jason:
Yeah, and that’s for version 1. That was the simplest form that we wanted to have out the door. If you don’t have a website, you just have a Twitter following, we wanted you to be able to copy a link and just share it wherever and be able to sell your product. But again, we want to expand that level of online presence. If you’re not a WordPress user and you do want to create a landing page for your products, you can do that through Lemon Squeezy today.

Again, I want to stress that eventually we want you to be able to fully manage your online presence through Lemon Squeezy down the road. And again, that extends beyond WordPress. That’s the non-WordPress user who wants just a really simplistic, easy way to get online and sell their digital products.

Gaby:
I guess it’s a great tool for someone who has an Instagram business, for example, without having a website. That’s amazing. Also, it also doesn’t tie you down to WordPress as such, so if you want to switch in the future I guess it’s easy to do that.

JR:
Exactly. Again, I really want to make sure, too, that with digital products, it’s a different animal because there is a lot of abuse that can happen. If you’re selling a theme or a plugin, it’s really easy for those download links to be abused. We’ve built in all the years, the last decade of being in WordPress and selling millions of digital products all together. We have learned so many different things.

Lemon Squeezy literally takes all of that out of the way for you. It’s already done so you don’t have to think about it. When you go back to why, there are a million ways and there are already products that we can do to sell digital stuff. I think we’re just trying to really hide all of the messy technical stuff and just let you just sell your stuff.

Gaby:
I see on your website you also mentioned that Lemon Squeezy works as sort of merchants of record. Can you explain a bit what that is?

JR:
Merchant records are nice for a creator because if you come onto the site, you upload your products, and you start making sales, they’ll immediately start coming into your account. The reason for that is because Lemon Squeezy is the merchant of record for you. We handle all the payment processing with Stripe or PayPal. We take care of taxes and fraud. We take care of that.

As soon as you add your payout settings, whether that’s your own bank account or PayPal, you’ll just start getting your funds directly deposited to you.It’s really nice because you don’t have to go through all the hassle of setting any of that up. The control is still with the store owner. 

I think in terms of our focus early on, that I think is very different with Lemon Squeezy is we have support for 79 countries for bank payouts as a partnership through Wise that we did. That’s a big deal because it really was a good thing that we did upfront. As soon as we started to expand the product, the whole idea of like, well, I’d love to use your product but I can’t get paid was a big one. We wanted to make sure we solve that at a global level. We offer PayPal payouts for 200+ countries and 79 bank account countries, which is a big deal.

Gaby:
You accept many forms of payments. I think this is one of the issues that we face from time to time. We sell services online through WP Mayor. Not everyone has a PayPal account. It gets a bit tricky to handle different forms of payments.

JR:
Yes. If you set up your store, you can set up your store’s currency that you want to be paid in, then you can also set up your store’s currency for how you want your subscribers to pay. I think we support 95 currencies. You can sell across that many currencies as well. We really took a lot of time to start there, then as features add on it just opens up the door for so many creators to come onto the platform.

Jason:
We’ve already seen a global outreach and way of user base. People have latched on to Lemon Squeezy as early adopters just because we offer that solution in a way of multi-currency support. It’s definitely something that’s being noticed, I guess, in the space.

Gaby:
Once you’ve got some multi-currency website, would it also be easily translatable? I mean, that would depend on WordPress.

Jason:
That’s something we’re thinking about as well as we get into more of the online presence stuff we’re talking about. If you have WordPress, obviously you’re going to be taking care of that on your own using whatever WordPress tools and workflow you have in place for your website. But as we start thinking about Lemon Squeezy, and how you would build your online presence through Lemon Squeezy, that’s something we are definitely thinking about, and should be taking into account.

Gaby:
Does it also integrate well with any theme or page builder on WordPress?

Jason:
Yeah. Right now, as it stands today, you can use any of our embed tools to directly embed an overlay. If you wanted to create a button using Elementor, you could do that and then just integrate our checkout overlay with the click of a button. As we roll out our WordPress plugin, we want to make that as seamless as possible. We’re not having to go to Lemon Squeezy and copying, check out overlay code. It should just be click and done through the WordPress app. 

Gaby:
I imagine it would integrate well even with the design of the website itself, so taking fonts and all this.

Jason:
Exactly. We are also working on and thinking about how we integrate with Gutenberg as Gutenberg becomes more popular in WordPress. We’re thinking about Gutenberg, patterns, and how we can potentially leverage all the folks using Gutenberg today with Lemon Squeezy, so that you can directly create even a full-on storefront within WordPress just using Gutenberg, some patterns, and design that we’ve created.

Gaby:
Nice. That’s interesting. Looking forward to that. You also touched upon a bit of marketing, right? So you help business owners with their marketing as well. How does Lemon Squeezy sign into this?

JR:
There are a million companies that do email marketing, so we’re starting with email marketing. There are plenty of them that can send emails to millions of people, or a thousand, or 10,000 or however many you have on your list. The problem is that those tools lack context of what your base is. But Lemon Squeezy, we know who your customer is, how many times they purchase, if they haven’t purchased, if they’re only subscribed to your newsletters, or maybe they bought six times from you. Maybe they’re just a VIP customer, and you want to treat them differently.

We automatically segment your customers in that way, whether it’s subscribers versus purchasers, versus subscribers and purchasers, or this person’s purchase multiple products from you. Then from there, we give you the ability to email that way. So a little bit more smarter, like with the way that you’re communicating with someone and you get that context that you’re lacking from the other tools.

Gaby:
Is it similar to MailChimp, for instance?

Jason:
Yeah, and ConvertKit. ConvertKit is another really popular platform out there that does a lot of what we’re looking to do. We started reverse. We started with the selling of things, and now we’re kind of moving into the marketing of things. Whereas ConvertKit and MailChimp started with the marketing things, and both those platforms are now kind of escalating into selling things as well. 

JR:
I would say the biggest difference, though, is again, building a product like this in 2021. We have the unique ability to even break down things like pricing a lot differently. Today, if you want to go on MailChimp and send a newsletter to 100,000 people, or ConvertKit, that’s going to cost you a lot of money. We’re about to launch email marketing with a much different pricing structure.

Being creators ourselves, maybe this is a terrible business decision, but we’re trying to make this platform approachable for anyone, so our pricing will reflect that. It’ll be much, much more favorable to the creator. We think that that’s the way it should be, especially in 2021. We can (again) help people scale, be successful, and really enjoy using the platform. 

Gaby:
Nice. When it comes to (I guess) the most important thing of any business—the checkouts—you also address that issue and include upsells. I saw on your website that you also have bundles that you can create using Lemon Squeezy.

JR:
Yeah. Full flexibility to create all kinds of different products. You can do variants. You can do free downloads. You can do pay-what-you-want pricing. You can do all types of stuff. As Jason alluded to earlier with, as we extend further into the ability to customize—if you don’t use WordPress, if you want to use Lemon Squeezy—we’ll move further and further down the line of where you can not only customize your homepage, landing pages, or product pages, but also customize your checkout process, how you want it to feel and look, even your thank you pages and things like that. So taking it a further step, that way we think will be pretty powerful for people.

Gaby:
Now that we’re talking, I just thought about 10 different plugins that do all the things we’ve spoken about.

Jason:
There are a lot of WordPress plugins out there that do what we’re looking to do, but like you said, there are 10 different plugins that do maybe 10 different things really well. We’re looking to take the best of those things and put it into one house in a really simplistic way. 

Think about EDD and the amount of add-ons you would need to use just to do some of what we’re talking about, wave subscriptions, or software licensing. We’re looking to take the best of all those worlds and put it into a one-stop shop so you don’t have to scour the Internet to find out what those various plugins to kind of Frankenstein your website together. You should be able to do it with Lemon Squeezy in one stop.

Jason:
That’s the beauty of where we live on the Internet. If people want to do that, they should definitely do that, if that works better for their business. For people that just want to be able to just focus on being a creator and selling the products and not have to worry about having six different plugins—let alone pay for all the add ons they have to do—this is the solution (I think) for them.

Gaby:
Lemon Squeezy is quite new, right? I think you’ve launched this year, correct?

JR:
Yes.

Gaby:
How are you finding support for your current users? Do you have a dedicated support team? Are you available 24/7? How is it?

Jason:
We’re all kind of tag teaming support right now. To be honest, it hasn’t been too incredibly complex. Obviously, with a new SaaS product, you’re going to run into issues with bugs that you haven’t found in your own tests as a collective maker of the product. We’ve kind of been squashing those bugs as we find them. Overall, I’d say the experience has been pretty easy in way of support.

JR:
I think one of the things that we did was, it was difficult when we spent a year building it, then we spent another four or five months in a private beta. That goes all the way up to about 3000 stores. We had quite the testing environment to make sure everything was working. So moving into public release now, I think it’s made that transition pretty smooth for us.

Gaby:
It’s a pretty good number of stores for a plugin that’s so young.

JR:
For the beta, yeah. That was just beta. The store volume is much bigger now.

Gaby:
Let’s talk about pricing. How is pricing done for such a service? Is it a monthly fee or per transaction?

Jason:
Yeah, exactly.

JR:
I think our pricing will evolve, just like any business you grow. I would definitely say it’s a monthly subscription, depending on the plan and depending on the features that you have. Depending on the amount of customers that you as a business are supporting, especially as it relates to email marketing. 

I think we’re right in the process when we release email, we’re going to be releasing some new pricing plans that will reflect all the new features. Things like custom domains, utilizing the web hooks, or email marketing features.

Those will be segmented out across the plans. Then we’re going to probably streamline our transaction fee just to be prepared, 3.5% + $0.30, which I think is pretty standard across any platform, and then just have a monthly subscription fee for the product.

Gaby:
It’s strictly a premium product, right?

JR:
Yes. Your plan will include some email sends but if you go above and beyond that, there’ll be some add-on charges for your emails if you continue to scale your email sends. Like I said earlier, it’ll be much favorable to the creator.

Jason:
Especially when you’re talking about email, services like MailChimp and ConvertKit tend to get really, really expensive as you get into that higher range of email sends. We’re trying our best to look at all the pricing out there for all these various tools, and we really want to be competitive in that market so that Lemon Squeezy kind of comes out ahead for the creator, trying to balance pricing.

Gaby:
Nice. So that’s the thing going on. When are you planning to release the second version of the plugin?

JR:
Just to be clear, Lemon Squeezy today is strictly a SaaS, so 100% you got to go over there, sign up. The plugin will probably be released here shortly, the official WordPress plugin for it. At the end of September, 1st of October, we should be releasing all these new features and new pricing. We’re kind of trying to gear up for Cyber Monday or Black Friday to make sure that the product is pretty mature and pretty comparable to all the other options out there. That’s kind of our goal.

Gaby:
I think by the time this podcast is out, it probably might be very close.

JR:
Yeah.

Gaby:
Is there anything you guys want to talk about? Anything else?

Jason:
Again, I just want to reiterate because we’re all historically creators. We’re not a bunch of people who had an idea to just create an online platform for selling goods. We all come from this background of creating digital products, digital services, working with WordPress. We’ve all had our struggles throughout the years. Me, JR, Orman, Gilbert, we’ve all been in the weeds with the other creators out there trying to just do their thing. I just want to reiterate that we’re a collective of creators who are creating tools for creators. It’s not just an idea shot without any perspective in that space.

As we navigate these waters, moving forward, everything we’re building our services and tools that we want to use for our own things. Again, Iconic is one of those things. An icon platform for any creator out there that wants to go and copy icons. We built this app, and we’re using Lemon Squeezy to sell the icons. As we develop all the functionality and online tools for creators out there, we’re really thinking of it and how we would use those products and what are the struggles that we’ve seen. So we’re definitely taking it from that angle.

Gaby:
I think the best products come out of necessity, really. It’s great that you’re actually using it yourself.

JR:
I would just say one of the things for us as it relates to WordPress, looking at Lemon Squeezy from the view of the WordPress, we obviously all came from that. We’re 12 years in, 13 years in as a team. All of us are using WordPress, building on WordPress, and selling products. As you look back when we first built our stores and our marketplaces back then, like I said, EDD, WooCommerce, Shopify, none of that was around. We built it custom. Then you saw this wave of tools and plugins being built for that.

Now everything’s being intercepted with Gutenberg, patterns, and blocks, and all this is coming out. I think what we’re most excited about, especially as it relates to WordPress, is it’s a fresh take on how to actually sell things. Rather than trying to force it into WordPress or make someone forced to come over to Lemon Squeezy, we want people to feel like this is very fluid. If they want to do everything within WordPress and make sure it feels more native as Gutenberg and blocks are maturing, we’re building it with that in mind for the future WordPress rather than where some of the things may feel outdated.

Gaby:
I think that’s a good step in the right direction. We’re seeing many companies do this as well, keeping Gutenberg in mind. Themes, especially. Yes, that’s great. You’ve answered all my questions really quickly. If there’s anything else you want to focus on—we’ll edit this part out—if there’s anything else you want to focus on?

Jason:
I think we covered most of it, JR. I can’t really think of anything extra. We’ve talked about Lemon Squeezy. We’ve talked about the WordPress part of it. We’ve talked about some of the other projects we’re working on. So unless there are any other questions you have there.

Gaby:
Okay, then I’ll just conclude it. That’s given us a pretty good picture of what Lemon Squeezy is, and I’m quite excited to get my hands on it as well and try it out myself. Like I said, we’ve worked with a number of plugins, so it would be quite refreshing to just use one. Very interesting. 

Thanks, JR and Jason. Thanks for coming on the show. Thanks for telling us all about your products and the team behind it. You seem to be quite a knowledgeable group. Very excited to check out your products.

Jason:
Thanks for taking the time to have us on. I appreciate it.

JR:
Thanks, Gaby. Good luck to you guys and WP Mayor and everything you guys are doing as well. Thanks for the time.

Share this episode:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Show

Join us as we introduce you to some of our friends in the WordPress community.

Learn all about their products and services and discover business techniques to help you enhance your WordPress business.

Meet your host

Meet your host

Gaby Galea

Gaby is the Content Manager at WP Mayor and your new host on the WP Mayor podcast! She is passionate about learning how to start, maintain and grow a WordPress business. Follow her on Twitter @GabriellaGalea.

Follow us on
Social Media