I can’t even remember how I used to learn before the ubiquity of the Internet. I don’t mean academic learning—although in light of sites like Khan Academy (4 stars), we’re getting pretty close—but the day-to-day knowledge that I need to do my job and get by in life. YouTube taught me how to knit. With Lynda.com (4 stars), an Editors’ Choice for online learning, I picked up some invaluable photography techniques. AppSumo (prices vary; some free) is the latest addition to my learning toolkit, and it’s an interesting if hard-to-grasp hybrid, offering daily deals for technology products as well as videos that teach principles that are central to tech-minded businesses.
The site itself is a little rough around the edges, as are the production standards for some of the video content, but the content is killer. Organization isn’t the site’s strong suit either, though it’s been getting better little by little over the few months that I’ve had my eye on it. AppSumo has excellent content and very good deals on niche software tools—the kind of stuff you didn’t even know you needed—if you can find it.
What AppSumo Offers
It took me some time to suss out what AppSumo sells, exactly, and first-time visitors to the site or those who sign up for the daily newsletter may feel the same. The name isn’t exactly descriptive, and neither is the homepage. To summarize, AppSumo has daily deals on niche software products that you can buy through AppSumo and (usually) redeem from the provider with a code. It also has learning content in the form of videos, ebooks, and other digitally-distributed packages. All the software and learning content are suitable for people who work in the technology field to some capacity, which includes online marketing, website development, e-retail, and social media managers.
Some of AppSumo’s content, like ebooks and small software products, are free. The website has an entire section of Free Deals that remains well stocked. Other purchases vary widely in price.. For example, the Social Media Krash Kourse, a series of videos that explained how to use Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics, and SEO as a business, costs a mere $27. Another package of content, 35 Email Template to “Wow” Your Contacts Get Results, is currently going for $35. An hour session with startup advisor Andrew Chen, however, costs $699 through AppSumo. Some of the deals are essentially consulting sessions, which explains why at 50 percent off, An Hour with Chief Sumo Noah Kagan (one of AppSumo’s founders, who consults about growing one’s business) still goes for $1,000. Considering what you might pay for one-on-one consulting, many of the deals offer enormous savings. The crash-course learning content also packs into a few short hours the same things you (or your employees) might spend several hours teaching yourself. Calculate what your own time costs, hourly, multiply that by the number of hours you might spend searching online for articles and tutorials from which you might learn the same things (say, roughly anywhere from two to six hours), and see for yourself what the cost-benefit might be for buying a course through AppSumo.
The software deals seem to be offering real discounts, most being at least 50 percent less than the advertised retail price, but it’s tough to go into AppSumo knowing what app you need to buy and finding it. A better idea is to keep an eye on the newsletter to see if the kinds of tools you need surface.