TL;DR – this became an epic post when I thought about and wrote down all the things I wish I'd known years ago before I first encountered what I now know is a “bundle sale,” and its companion, the “giveaway event.” Bundle sales offer multiple, frequently digital, paid products from a collection of contributors, all hosted by a bundle seller and offered for a low price. You get to choose from any or all of the ebooks, apps, planners, webinars, live trainings, or e-courses offered for a single payment. It's common to see a collection of products whose combined value is thousands of dollars, sold for less than $50.
While the concept of a “bundle sale” has become very popular among online business owners, and those identifying as ‘internet marketers’, I know not every solopreneur or small biz owner in my circles are familiar with these offers. It’s ok to have some questions!
(I can’t believe I read a post that said ‘you had to have been living under a rock to not know what a bundle sale is’ – hellooooooo, not every business owner is the same or lives in the same online circles 24/7! And to be honest, while buffets, samples, and bundles may exist offline, these online digital bundle sales are really only common in small portions of the whole web. Many small business owners, professional service providers, consultants and freelancers will not be intimately familiar with this concept. I don't like the assumptions that blog writer made. Sheesh. So I'm here to bust myths and assumptions!)
In the offline, retail, world – stores, manufacturers or sellers have put together collections of products to sell at a combined lower price than if you bought each item individually. And sometimes you may even see products from different manufacturers ‘bundled’ by a store or 3rd party seller. Think about places like Ulta and Sephora that may bundle small, nice cosmetics products so you can try them before you buy. Doesn’t it make sense to get a taste of several high-end products before committing to a pricey new makeup or facial care routine? Nintendo and game makers often bundle popular games with ones that haven't sold as well to help those move. Bundles have been around for some time and can give really good deals for all involved.
But they’ve really taken off among e-commerce, software and app sellers, and business owners who mostly create and sell digital products and courses. It's these bundles of digital products and online courses that I see questions about from solopreneurs I know. Those are the kind of bundle sales that this explanation focuses on.
So, a bundle sale is an online sale where you get a collection, or “bundle”, of products for a single (usually low) price for a limited amount of time.
Online product bundle sales include real, full-size items that are normally sold by their creators. These are products, books, courses, coaching or services that are already for sale, or soon-to-be-sold. Good bundle sales should not include freebies or items that a provider regularly gives away to build their lists. Bundle sales typically last 10 days or less – the most common is a week. Urgency is a real thing in marketing and it works on all of us! Sellers and contributors need enough time to tell people and promote, but short enough that people are encouraged to buy now and not wait.
Giveaway events are more like all the sampling booths at Costco or BJs – lots of folks giving away easy-to-consume tastes of their products. A giveaway host will often have one main signup or opt-in (to get you to join the host’s list) and that takes you to a page with a ton of free offers for you to choose from. Choose one, two, three, or all of them. You opt-in to the list of each provider in the giveaway and get their useful freebie – no cost.
Example: December Stuffed Stocking Giveaway – aimed at virtual assistants, freelancers and service business owners; from Tawnya Sutherland at VANetworking.com This is a giveway – you sign up for free, you get access to all the offers or gifts and then make your choice top claim/opt-in to free gifts from any or all of the contributors. [I don’t know if this was a one-time event in 2018 or if it will return]
Basically, because business owners figured out ways to collaborate to offer more and grow faster. It’s the power of many, folks pulling together, borrowing audiences, or however you’d like to think of cooperation and collaboration to advertise and sell. Everyone participating and contributing something to the bundle grows, they promote the bundle to their own communities, and all the buyers get to see business owners and products they may not have found on their own while experiencing tremendous discounts.
I like this quote …
“the ability to collaborate and bring together content creators and well-crafted digital products, like e-books and e-courses, and package them into something so big, so thorough, and yet so affordable, it sort of blows people’s minds”
If you’ve not encountered many bundle sales, I get that they could seem really salesy, or questionable, and maybe there are some out there that aren’t built with the customer’s needs in mind, or that have products of questionable value. But if the host follows good practice, gets high value contributions, and really keeps the customer in mind, they are GREAT.
I'll share some sample bundles – including screenshots inside ones I've purchased and talk about how everyone involved benefits from a good bundle. At the end of this post I answer some common questions I've been asked by solopreneur pals or seen in communities with small biz owners.
Humble Bundle – sells games, ebooks, software, and digital content with proceeds benefiting charities. A little bit different from other bundles as they have a ‘pay what you want’ version and a ‘pay this much more and get these other items too’ kind of levels. (they have a cool cookbook bundle going on as I’m writing this post “eat like a geek”)
Courses/training on software often offered from Stack Social – e.g. Ultimate UX/UI Designer Bundle includes 8 courses (each normally valued at $199) for $29; the Essential Coding for Beginners Bundle ($1740 value for $19), the Complete Adobe CC Training bundle ($673 for $29), a Copywriting Mastery Bundle ($24) and so many more.
Design sites like Creative Fabrica, Design Cuts, Mighty Deals, Creative Market often sell bundles of images, patterns, fonts, or clip art – they handle the backend differently from solopreneur or small businesses running a bundle, because everything in those design-marts is centralized in one big site or marketplace.
I have seen, or am aware of, bundle sales for nearly every niche living, working, or buying things online. Bundles for:
Some bundles and giveaways (they are slightly different – one for sale, the other offered free) include a charitable component as well (the 5DayDeal for photo/video did, the Calhoun + Dunham gave to Kiva, Melissa Brown ran a bundle with all proceeds to charity BlinkNow).
Naturally I’m fond of the two bundles I’ve participated in – The Great Big Life and Biz Bundle from Kelly McCausey and the Laptop Lifestyle Business Bundle from Angela Wills. [Angela runs hers a bit differently – all the contributed products come only from those who are paid members of her membership/training program and she gives most of the bundle sale profits back to the members through increased affiliate commissions. Disclosure – I’m a happy member of Angela’s community, I’ve contributed to the March edition of the bundle and that is my affiliate link. 😊 ]
Full disclosure – I’ve bought more than bundles than I can probably count over the last 5 years, but in the past 12 months I have also begun to participate in bundles by contributing items to the sale. Here's my advice as both a buyer and a contributor.
When a digital products bundle is carefully thought out and executed well, they can be winners for the buyers, sellers, and those contributing the products in the bundle. They are a win/win/win. Keep reading and I'll show you how everyone wins.
You get products, downloads, e-books, licensed content, or live or recorded trainings generally worth hundreds more dollars than you are paying. It’s common for a bundle to have more than $1000 worth of items and sell for less than $100. You find out about thought leaders, content creators, and service providers you may never have encountered otherwise.
The product creator gets to reach a large audience of those interested in their products or services than they might if just selling something on their own site. They have tapped in to the community, audience, or list of the bundle seller as well as all the affiliate partners of the bundle seller.
The product contributor increases their customer and email list via all those who download or claim their product in the bundle. They may also be affiliates of the bundle seller and by using their affiliate links when promoting the bundle they could earn affiliate commissions. This is how the product creator/contributor makes money on a sale, as they are not paid to contribute the product to the sale.
**Note – for me and where the Mighty Marketing Mojo side of my business is, I participate as a way to be seen by more of my ideal audience and to build my email list. I hope that those claiming my products or offers in a bundle will become engaged members of my email community and be interested in the other services, training and offers I can send them long after the bundle sale is over.
Good piece of advice from my biz coach, and a host of great bundle sale ( the Great Big Life & Biz Bundle – coming back in October – join the list to learn more) – Kelly McCausey:
“You CAN overdo Bundle Marketing is you're not reaching out into new neighborhoods on the web, so do be aware of the opportunities available and choose what you can leverage into the most opt-ins.”
The seller handles the technical, back-end, e-commerce part, they get traffic, they build credibility as a leader in their niche, they build their list, they engage with their affiliates, and they can of course make a nice profit from purchases of the bundle.
Most of the bundles that involve digital products (or info products), e-books, courses, or webinars include a significant affiliate marketing and sales component. People who have signed up as affiliates of the bundle seller go out and promote the bundle sale, encouraging their lists and communities to purchase via a special, link that tells the bundle seller that a sale came from a particular affiliate, and the bundle host/seller then pays out commissions to their affiliates – i.e. a portion of the total sales of the bundle. Affiliates must disclose that they are using affiliate links in their emails, blog posts, or other promotions.
I’ll note that for many of us solopreneurs who have service businesses, work with clients 1:1 or in small groups, or who are earlier in their business building – participating as a contributor is great, but we aren’t necessarily prepared to be a bundle host. And that’s ok. But I thought you might like to see the wins from all three perspectives.
Generally because you are getting a ton of value on useful products or courses for a really low price, especially relative to the value of everything in the bundle. You may want to buy because there are several courses included so you can boost your skills or learn something totally new. You may buy because there are products that can save you time, which saves you money.
Don’t ignore that buying a bundle can introduce to you new communities, new service providers you may need for yourself or your business, new authors, thought leaders, and coaches. I’m pretty sure I got on the mailing list for the person who has become my business coach, Kelly McCausey, because she offered something in a giveaway or event years ago. I know that’s how I found Angela Wills years ago when she was primarily teaching WordPress courses. You never know who you might meet via bundle and how they could help your business even years down the road!
Bundles are like all-you-can-eat buffets – do not overload your plate or belly!
Well done bundles include a LOT of great products and offers around their niche. Those ebooks, planners, journals, webinars, or courses all look so tempting! If you’ve never bought a bundle before, I guarantee you will be tempted by the buffet to over eat, or over-download. You will think you want to, or need to, claim every offer, download all the products, or grab every freebie in a giveaway event.
PLEASE DON’T DO THIS! As your mentor, advisor, person who has ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’, I can say no matter how tempting, don’t grab everything. Just like you can’t eat everything at the buffet without getting sick, you can’t claim everything in a bundle sale without losing all your productivity and having a ton of stuff collect digital dust. Don’t over eat and don’t over download.
I get it, FOMO is real. So is being overwhelmed by too many choices. There WILL be other sales and ways to invest in your training, your life, your business. Maybe not these exact products or courses, but there will be other opportunities. Be selective right now.
I’ve learned these lessons so you don’t have to. 😉 What I recommend in approaching a bundle sale:
I.e. What happens after someone enters credit card or PayPal info on the main bundle sales page and pays their $27.
After your purchase of the bundle you'll get an email(s) from the seller with information and links to a download or details page.
On the download or details page you will see descriptions of each offer in the bundle, sometimes a product picture and/or picture of the product contributor. There will be a button or link to claim each product.
Clicking the button/link will do 1 of 2 things depending on how each product contributor has things set up in their business and handles things on their own back-end.
1) You will go through a simple email opt-in form on the contributor's website (usually at a landing page specific to the product you are claiming) You enter your name and email and the contributor sends you the product information.
2) You will go through the contributor's e-commerce shopping cart and enter a coupon code to receive your claimed product for free.
No matter which way you get to your product, you are claiming a paid product with monetary value; generally as a rule, bundle products are not offered free anywhere.[Giveaway events have free registration and may include smaller value products or ones usually given away free. Online biz owners need to use the right term for each event they may host or participate in – Bundle/Stack vs. Giveaway]
Why you will often need to claim each product/offer from a bundle (or freebie in a giveaway) separately?
That’s how many bundle sales work. You pay a low price and get hundreds of dollars worth of products, assets, or training to use to improve your life or boost your business. You claim (via coupon codes) or opt-in to each of the ones you want. If that’s too much trouble, then don’t buy bundles. 😀
Great quote from a kindergarten that can apply to online sales too … “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” LOL! But seriously, what it means is that for nearly all bundles, there are no refunds. You buy as-is.
No no no no! You only have to BUY the bundle before its deadline ends. (and those deadlines mean business – don't wait til 11pm on the last day to check out the sales page for a bundle. You may not be done reading and checking things out in time before it closes – says someone with experience 😄) There will be a separate deadline, usually at least a month or more out (often up to 90 days), for when you must choose and download or opt-in to get the items you want from inside the bundle. Pop a note into your calendar for the next week to spend some time on the download page and make your choices like I advised above.
Also, not every thing offered in a bundle will be a download. Sometimes you are getting credits or coupons to claim items for free in the contributors e-store (common for coupons letting you choose licensed content/PLR). Sometimes the product is a webinar (or series of webinars) and you will register to attend those. You may be getting a plugin to download and install on your website. Maybe it’s a free registration for software or an app (e.g. a recent bundle I purchased offered extended free trials of Acuity, a calendar/appoint scheduling app). An offer may even be a course delivered through a platform like Udemy or Thinkific – you’re getting access to the that class for free as part of your bundle purchase. An offer could even be a service, such as creating a simple logo, animating your logo (I’ve offered that), editing a podcast episode, or 30 days of website maintenance. Follow the instructions from each contributor.
Nope, doesn’t work that way. You purchase access to everything inside. But you don’t have to claim everything. Claim what resonates most with you and your situation right now. Ignore what doesn’t fit your business or needs. Really! Products inside bundles or stacks are worth more than the low price charged for the entire bundle so you should easily be able to get your money’s worth.
They do seem to be increasing in popularity! But no, they aren't all the same. See the long list earlier in this post about the different types of bundles I’ve seen or purchased. There seem to be bundles for every niche or interest! Homeschooling, paleo cooking, software coding, printable journal or planners, social media, you name it and there are bundles dedicated to those topics or including items for biz owners specializing in those areas.
Now, there are many bundles aimed at small business owners and solopreneurs, for sure! And I’ve seen many by hosts/sellers who know each other and have overlap in their audiences, communities served, and email lists. They may have similar products in each of their bundles or even the same contributors. But hosts strive to give good value and access to things you might not have any other way. Hopefully there’s not tremendous overlap between bundles in the same niche. Definitely check the offers – you may see a few that are the same if bundles are being sold near each other on the calendar – but I hope not. And there will be more that's different in each bundle than the same. You should also know it’s not uncommon for you to receive multiple emails from different people promoting the same bundle. That bundle must be a popular topic!
Well done bundles bring you fresh ideas and products for each collection and offer. Some sellers may bring back a very popular or high quality product, but it doesn’t happen often. I mentioned earlier that I've purchased at least 3 BC Stacks over the years, including the last two – and they did not contain any of the same offers. That's something that bundle hosts/sellers who do annual or frequent sales make a priority.
No. I’ve not seen any refunds offered by a bundle seller. Once you’ve purchased a bundle you will have access to many digital products that you could download (if that’s how they’re delivered). There would be no way for the contributors and the bundle host to get those back from you if the seller had to issue a refund. To protect the experts who have graciously, generously contributed their paid products to the bundle, the bundle seller won’t issue refunds. But they will work with you make sure you’re satisfied. If you have questions, reach out the bundle host/seller.
No, that’s not cool. 😛 These are copyrighted, protected, paid products offered by small business owners just for the education and use of those directly purchasing the bundle. Your purchase doesn’t entitle you to share files, upload them anywhere else, or give away access to others. If you love the items in a bundle and think friends or colleagues would get a lot of value from it too, by all means share the link to purchase the bundle! You could even ask the bundle seller for an affiliate link and you could earn a commission (or % of sales) from anyone who buys through the link you share with them.
One more tip – back up, offsite (away from your computer’s hard drive) any digital materials you receive through a bundle. Good advice for ALL digital purchases! After the deadlines for claiming and downloading offers from a bundle, those pages will go away. Bundle sellers will not be able to send you copies of any lost digital purchases.
It will be up to you to evaluate each bundle sale you come across, just like you evaluate other offers and ways to invest in yourself and your business. Not every sale will have overwhelming value for you at that particular time. Resist shiny object syndrome and the urge to grab all the new things! Don't eat everything at the buffet. 😄 Think about if offers in the bundle can help you right now and will return more than the cost of the bundle. Often it only takes 1-2 well-implemented items from a bundle to more than make up for the low bundle price. Well done bundles, with products implemented well by you, can create a big win for your solopreneur biz!
I want all of my solopreneur pals to feel confident and mighty in their marketing - sharing what makes their work special and so vital to their clients. No B.S. or fluff here. I do the digging and research for you, translate "marketing-ese" into simpler terms, and help you avoid marketing headaches.