We talked to Michael from Yuzool about his successful Selz store. Michael sells themes and add-ons for RapidWeaver and CMS for Pulse CMS.
Learn about how Michael started Yuzool, and the advice he has for hopeful entrepreneurs.
Tell us about yourself, Michael from Yuzool
I’m Michael. I’m originally from the UK and now live in Japan where I’ve been for quite a few years as a temporary full-time base. I run a themes and add-ons shop for a Mac web building platform called RapidWeaver and also a CMS for any operating system, called Pulse CMS.
I work from a mixture of cafes and home and I belong to a co-working office space. I’ve been running online stuff for about 10 years and dabbling in design and computer thingies since I was a kid.
I’m an 80s child so I started with an Amstrad, then moved onto a PC then went Mac and never looked back. But hey, if you can code or design then I’m good.
What is Yuzool?
Yuzool is my online presence or persona.
It was 2007 and I wanted to start freelancing and making websites for clients and needed a brand name. I wanted something that would come up first on Google if someone typed my company name in (I was thinking long-tail SEO back then) and came up with Yuzool.
There’s no such word and it’s short so I just said ok that will do. I think in the end nobody really cares, but people do often ask me “what does it mean” so having something unique or catchy is probably an advantage when you meet people in person so I’m glad I went for it.
Although the trend these days is to put two nouns together this gave me some flexibility to pivot and not be attached to one particular business. I would say don’t overthink it and just pick a name and go. Here are some name ideas: “SeventyTwo”, “Hipio” & “Fravana” – it’s fun, right?
How did you get started creating Yuzool?
I just put up a simple page and advertised my services under “yuzool.com” – it was a pretty terrible website. The first iPhone had just come out so I have heavy into reflections and gradients. Wow, ?.
I printed some business cards and went to some business card events and meetups and said, “Hey I’m a web designer, let me know if you need anything,” and it went from there.
There was no Squarespace or Weebly at the time so making a website was still sorcery so it was perhaps easier times. That said, I still struggled and was living month-to-month and didn’t know where my next paycheck was coming from.
It was stressful and I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody but I went all in and have lived to tell the tale 10 years later but if I met my old 25-year-old self I would say:
“Get a job and earn some income and start to build something moonlighting on the side. Use Selz to sell it and when it comes close to your day job in terms of revenue, jump ship.”
The route I went you have to be prepared to lose everything and everyone. It’s La La Land out there.
How did you come to be doing what you do now – what was your journey to become Michael from Yuzool?
I was building websites at the time using a Mac app called RapidWeaver.
WordPress hadn’t really taken off and clients didn’t mind not being able to edit the site themselves. So I knew lots about being a customer for RapidWeaver (buying templates, add-ons, etc) and supplying clients.
I started to understand quickly what tools I needed and couldn’t get, along with the support I needed and also what made clients excited and got the job done. I was broke and just decided to finally go for it and make some add-ons (templates) of my own.
I didn’t expect much, was squashed against the wall and just felt I needed things that don’t exist in the way I wanted them and other web designers must be feeling the same way. It’s a cliche but I just scratched my own itch.
So I launched yuzoolthemes.com in June 2012 and then went onto apps (yuzoolapps.com) and now run my own CMS (content management system – such a geeky word but means “software to edit a website online) called pulsecms.com
How important is being able to sell online to your business?
It’s the life and soul of my business. If the internet didn’t exist I wouldn’t have this business and selling online is really the only way.
Why do you use Selz?
I’ve gone from selling using WordPress plugins, self-coded methods, and manual delivery – but Selz is the best by far. I wish I found it sooner and wish it existed sooner!
Selling digital products online is really hard from a technical point of view.
You have to think about digital delivery, how to automatically send out the product, to make it safe so the whole world can’t just download it, serial numbers and a whole other bunch of things. Selz does it all for you so it’s really a no-brainer.
I use Selz over other providers because firstly the UI was so nice. It has to be nice to look at. And the customer experience is really good. This was a key reason for me.
Selz can also allow me to charge PayPal or Credit Card – customers need both options as not all are available worldwide. And I needed a few key things that were causing me stress from previous solutions:
This had to be solid. Customers needed to get a download link straight away and not be emailing me, “You’re a fraud! where’s my download!!!” Yeah, it happens.
Selz is solid on this and has a cool save in Dropbox action.
Quite often I get, “My computer blew up and I need to re-download that thing I bought xx years ago,” (eh… backups?!)
Anyway, so Selz has a cool feature where the customer can look up their order and re-download without needing to contact me.
When selling Pulse CMS I needed serial number generation. Selz automatically generated customer serial numbers so Pulse could be locked to a customer or domain and not freely shared. Pulse at that time was sold as a per-domain license and this was a perfect combination for allowing this.
This is really important. Quite often customers put something in their cart and walk away.
Selz emails them a nice reminder and sometimes pops in a coupon code and this gets orders you might have otherwise lost. It will increase your bottom line.
What advice do you have for hopeful entrepreneurs?
Just start. Really.
You might hear this a lot but it’s true. Just put one foot forward and the rest will follow.
I waited too long to start creating a business to sell digital products. You don’t need to be poor and have a few days to go before your rent is due to kickstart, you can start today. We’re living in really exciting times.
Today you can start a business for little capital (or zero) and through platforms like Selz reach any customer in the world without having to do all the old-fashioned business marketing techniques.
It’s really wonderful and if your goal is to create a little extra side income, travel whilst working or create a whole new business I believe you can do it.
You don’t need much of a plan, you’ll mess up enough to think on your feet and will learn every day as we all do. It doesn’t have to be perfect and please don’t care what the other guys (or peers) are doing. Just do your way and don’t care about competition or critics.
If you do good work it will all fall into place. And if you’re reading this, you’re already halfway there.
Want to know more? Make sure to check out Yuzool.