If you’ve ever managed a social media account with more than a few thousand followers, you know how crazy things can get in the DMs. I’d like to highlight a tool (Element) that aims to solve this problem (among others) for personal finance creators.
Note: I’m currently Element’s brand ambassador. Accepting this role wasn’t a decision I took lightly; I’ll share more in the “Is Element legit?” section.
What is Element?
In its own words, Element is “a financial services marketplace for real people.” Having played around with Element (and consulted with its founder) for a few months now, I’d break this statement in two.
First, let’s talk about what Element is for creators
If you run your own personal finance brand (i.e. blog or Twitter account), Element is a place where you can sell content and microservices. It’s the most viable alternative to Gumroad I’ve come across.
For example, here’s what my profile looks like at the moment:
As you can see, the microservices I’ve got listed on the site are:
- Budget consulting ($29)
- Debt repayment consulting ($39)
Note: At the moment, Element doesn’t support investing-related microservices since letting unregistered users promote investments would run afoul of regulations. Just about anything else (i.e. budgeting and consultation regarding major expenses) is alright, though.
Meanwhile, the product I have (which is just a test; I haven’t published an actual eBook yet) is an eBook about index investing.
As a creator, Element lets you spruce up your profile in a number of ways, including adding a profile photo, header, and bio. The app also connects with Stripe (an industry-standard payment processor) for transactions. The money you earn through Element will land directly in your bank account.
Next, let’s talk about what Element is for consumers
If you’re looking for guidance regarding your finances, Element is a place to connect with creators who may have applicable content and microservices.
In my opinion, this is especially useful during COVID-19, when traditional means of getting financial advice (i.e. making an appointment at your local branch) aren’t as viable as they used to be.
Note: Element is currently in the beta testing stage. Its developers are very open to the idea of adding new functionality based on what early adopters have to say. In other words, if you read this article months from now, Element will likely offer more features than what I’ve described above.
How much does Element cost to use?
If you’re a personal finance creator, Element costs nothing to use upfront. The app will simply take a percentage of every sale you make (5% for content and 15% for microservices – on the content end, that’s lower than what Gumroad charges).
If you’re a consumer, you’ll only pay when you find a microservice or product you’d like to purchase from a creator on Element.
How Element compares with Gumroad
When it comes to platforms that facilitate personal finance content sales, Gumroad is the big kahuna. Element differs from Gumroad in two ways worth mentioning.
1. Fewer negative connotations
Gumroad is so ubiquitous it’s practically become a negative meme on Money Twitter. Whenever somebody launches a Gumroad product, many people assume they’re just looking to make a quick buck repackaging free information from elsewhere.
It’s unfortunate because there are certainly creators who buck this trend and sell great content on Gumroad. However, the platform’s reputation tends to precede content sold on it.
Element doesn’t carry this negative connotation. That’s partly because it doesn’t offer affiliates (which, in my opinion, is the most abused feature on Gumroad). I actually recommended this stance to them. While I think adding affiliates later will likely be a good idea, avoiding becoming too Gumroad-esque early on is a good thing.
2. The ability to sell microservices
Gumroad is geared towards people looking to sell content. Element, meanwhile, arguably prioritizes microservices (although you can sell content as well). So if you’re looking to engage with clients via customized consulting-type services, Element is the way to go.
Is Element legit?
As mentioned earlier, I’m currently Element’s brand ambassador (a paid position – although I wasn’t explicitly paid to write this article).
This wasn’t a decision lightly. As you probably know if you’re a creator, trust is paramount in the personal finance space. The line between being engaging and coming across as spammy or too sales-y is very thin. I’m very careful about who I associate with for that reason. I want Rinkydoo Finance to be a brand people trust in 10 years, even if that means not making much money today.
I ultimately agreed to work with Element in an ambassador/advisor role because of two factors:
- The app’s Y Combinator backing: Y Combinator, if you’re unfamiliar, is a globally-renowned startup incubator. When I met Element’s founder, the app had just joined Y Combinator’s latest round of funding and incubation, giving it some credibility.
- The founder’s genuine drive for helping personal finance creators: Element’s founder, Or Ben Oz, is the real deal. Prior to launching Element, he conducted surveys with several personal finance creators to find out what tools they actually wanted (that’s actually how I met him; as a participant in one of those surveys). He’s been playing the long game, not looking for quick riches but rather meaningful engagements on the platform.
Want to give Element a try?
Head over to Element’s website here and click “Join the pilot.” You’ll just need to enter your email and someone will get back to you about beta testing.
If you still have questions about Element, feel free to drop them in the comments below. I’ll try to respond as quickly as I can.