Successfully Selling Your Own Products
Out Of Date Warning
Languages change. Perspectives are different. Ideas move on. This article was published on February 2, 2013 which is more than two years ago. It may be out of date. You should verify that technical information in this article is still current before relying upon it for your own purposes.
For years, the conventional wisdom for software developers has been that they can do their normal jobs during the day, and then offer their services on the side as freelancers or consultants. I bought into this notion for a long time, slowly raising my rates and offering my services to a variety of clients.
Yet I found that this was unsatisfying, and I knew that I wanted to do more. Not because I dislike my job or because I hate solving problems, but because I wanted to stop trading time for money.
The idea of selling products
Most developers who share similar thoughts with me move on to selling their own products. The process seems simple enough: have a great idea, post it on the internet, make money.
Unfortunately for too many people, this simply doesn’t work. They make mistakes. Their ideas are terrible. Their execution sucks. Their products don’t sell.
I wanted my experience to be different. My wife and I plan to have kids in the next few years and we know that will take a bite out of our income. We have house payments and we like to travel. Adding a small amount of money to our salaries was a lucrative concept, but I didn’t know how to go about it.
Enter 30×500 by Amy Hoy
About a year and a half ago I was introduced to Amy Hoy, product crusader and instructor of the 30×500 class. Amy’s perspective seems simple and straightforward: 500 people paying $30 a month provide a gross revenue of $180,000 a year.
Seems like a simple formula right? Well, Amy makes it clear in her class that this is anything but simple. Making products is hard work, and positioning them is even harder.
Amy starts from a unique perspective: ideas don’t matter. This simple concept is a hard one for most students to grasp, because to them, ideas are the whole ballgame. But ideas aren’t important; in fact ideas are a dime a dozen.
Amy instead focuses on figuring out what your audience wants to buy. Then, she focuses on making it. This is the secret sauce to Amy’s class.
The point is to provide real value to people who are willing to pay for it. This was always my goal: it’s why I’ve blogged for years. It seemed a natural fit to build a business around the concept of helping people I already cared deeply for.
So how does it work?
After taking the class, I worked on my very first project, a book called Mastering Object Oriented PHP. Using the audience I already had as a PHP developer, I did my research and found that people really wanted to boost their object oriented PHP skills.
My book has been a tremendous success. A little more than $6,000 in revenue has been generated through book sales. I expected I might sell 25 copies; I’ve instead sold more than 170. A couple of people had this to say about my book:
“Until now, there wasn’t a single object oriented PHP book that I could recommend (mainly due to them all being garbage). I’m glad to finally have one!”
“It’s always great to understand best practices in the field both for verification that I’m doing something right, and also to open my eyes to things I didn’t even know I was doing wrongly. Thanks for the great book, and looking forward to the updates!”
The 30×500 experience doesn’t end when the class is over.
One of the greatest resources I’ve had available to me is something called the 30×500 Alumni Mailing List. This is a mailing list open to all 30×500 alumni, where discussions happen about business opportunities and concepts.
The list has been a tremendous resource, even more than the class itself. On this list, I had help polishing my sales page, working through the language, and improving my overall presentation.
In addition, so far Amy has allowed every student who takes 30×500 to take it over again for free. This is a great bonus: it lets you keep learning and helps keep you motivated through interaction with new students. Plus, since the materials keep getting better, you get the cutting edge content!
So was it worth it?
Somebody asked me when they learned I was taking the class, “was it worth it?” I would say absolutely it was worth it. Not only have I more than doubled the cost of the class through sales of my book, I’m working on several new projects that I expect will build my business and provide true value to the people who I care about the most: PHP and web developers.
If you’re ready to move away from trading time for money, and into selling products and services online, I’d definitely recommend Amy Hoy’s course. Sure, maybe you could do it all on your own. I promise you though, the cost of working with Amy is money well spent.
30×500 is starting again soon
Ready to make a change in your life? Amy has told me that 30×500 is starting up again soon. Every class so far has sold out every time it’s been offered, and seats are limited to 75. If you’re interested, you should definitely check out the 30×500 page and sign up for her mailing list today!
I received no compensation, consideration or benefit from writing this post. Other than Amy’s gratitude, of course.