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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Profiting From Software (Even If You're Not a Programmer)

When thinking about creating a digital product, most internet marketers' first thoughts run to info products. But take a look at some well known marketers like Armand Morin -- while he has published info, most of his products are software based.

Probably the biggest reason people don't consider creating software is the thought that they have to do it themselves -- so if you're not a programmer, you're sunk.

Aren't you?

While I will admit that being a programmer can give you an advantage, it doesn't always. Sometimes it gets in the way of marketing your product, so don't let the lack of coding experience stop you. You can hire people to do the coding while you concentrate on the marketing -- most of the time that's the best way to handle it.

In this article I'm going to give you some hints that will make your software creation efforts smooth sailing, even with someone else doing the actual programming.

Spec It Out

Before finding someone who can code your application, you need to come up with the specifications, or specs, for your program. That means you need to know what the program will do and how it will act -- from the inside, out.

Of course, you can just give an outline of what you want your program to do and let the programmer go to town on it, but that's a recipe for disaster. The more detail you can give, the more likely you'll end up with what you want.

Even after years of writing specs sometimes I'll end up getting what I asked for -- and not what I wanted. There's almost no such thing as a spec that's too detailed.

When writing a spec, remember that you usually don't care about what goes on under the hood -- you shouldn't be concerned with how something is accomplished -- that's something the programmer will think about. You just need to make sure that each piece of the program is clearly defined.

A great way to make sure you have all your bases covered is to create a non-working prototype. If you have a program such as VB.Net Express, you can drag-and-drop controls into a window, and move them around until the screen looks the way you want.

Then, take a screenshot of that window and write down how each control should act, what each button should do, etc. A programmer can take a series of screenshots and explanations like that and come up with the program you're looking for.

Also, by creating a visual representation of every part of your program, you're less likely to forget something that's vital to have. And that will save you money down the road.

Finding A Programmer

Once you have your program spec'd out, it's time to look for a programmer. If you want to work with someone local, you can look on Craigslist or find someone from a local college. What I've always done has been to hire someone online, from a place like (friends of mine have said good things about, too).

You place your spec online and programmers from around the world will bid on the job. You can look at samples of their previous work, take their bids into account, and choose someone to write your program.

What's More Profitable, Info Or Software?

That's a question with a solid answer -- it depends. =;)

Really, there's no way to know -- people have made millions from info products, and people have made millions from software. I'll be honest, there are some costs associated with software products that info products don't have, such as tech support, but software can still be a big money maker.

I have launched software products and ended up making more than $250,000 over the life of the product. But I've also launched some products, stood back after the dust cleared, and said, "What happened?!?"

Case Study: Sonic Info Builder (Disaster?)

Let me give you an example of a software project of mine that flopped. I came up with the idea for Sonic Info Builder, a way to combine audio, video, PDF files, and HTML files into a single "multimedia ebook." Instead of writing it myself I used RentACoder and paid $450 for the first version.

By the time the first version was finished I realized the program needed better features (because I didn't spec it out well enough), so I hired the guy to make an upgrade. Total spent was about $950.

I launched Sonic Info Builder and made a huge marketing error (that may be the subject of another article) which literally stopped the sales after about 48 hours. After coming to my senses I tried to get the momentum going again but it was too late. The product fizzled.

Don't get me wrong, the product itself was (and is) good -- I used it myself quite a bit to create info products. But I didn't sell enough copies to make it "hot."

So, did I waste my $950? Not in the slightest. Because I ended up selling 81 copies at $97 each, for a gross of $7,857! Even after paying the programmer and the few affiliates that were left, I made several thousand dollars PLUS got a great new tool out of the deal!

The Moral Of The Story

I wanted to share that story to let you know that not every software product out there makes a zillion bucks. But if you know your market and create a product they want, it would be pretty hard not to make a profit.

Do your research into what kind of software is needed, create a detailed spec including screenshots, hire a programmer online, and then market the heck out of your new software!

See the Product Creation Station site to see how easy making your own software product can be. It's a complete step-by-step system to make your own software product -- or even PDF, audio, or video product!


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