Have you considered some sort of an online presence for the buyers, to let them talk to each other? It seems like a really good idea. If a lot of people are trying to learn the same thing, letting them talk to each other could be amazing. I know I get some wonderful buyers of Rebuilding Rails and Mastering Software Technique. And I’m an old-fashioned geek. I always want to throw a party to get all my friends into the same room so they can meet each other.
My idol on this one is Nate Berkopec. In addition to being a great conversationalist, he sells the definitive ebook on Rails performance and runs multi-day workshops about it too. But if you buy the ebook, you get an invitation to the Slack workspace. And the Slack alone is worth the price of the book, because anybody who is anybody in Ruby performance hangs out there. They’re not all talking, but they’re available for questions.
His book is good. But it still pales in comparison to having everybody who’s interested in the topic centered in one place. There’s simply no way Nate could give you as much value as everybody else put together… So he doesn’t. He invites you to a group of everybody else put together. It’s a really good idea.
So I’ve sold you on it, right? It’s simple. Make a Slack workspace, all the cool people will hang out there, everybody will buy your product to get access and you can retire to Bermuda.
I recently purchased a Canon EOS 250d (also sold as the Canon Rebel SL3.) I thought, “hey, the 200d has been around forever, it probably won’t be hard to get it working for video streaming and recording my talks.”
I was naive. If you own one, you may have the same problem. (NOTE: I HAVE A SOLUTION...
Have a horrible revelation, from an appreciator of less sugar with my caffeine.
You can buy a brick of caffeine in pure powdered form for about $30. That’s for 500g – about a pound. Several years’ supply, easily. Weightlifters use it, so it’s going to be readily available for a long time. I got mine...
I might be a touch late, writing my 2015 end-of-year post in February.
It’s been a pretty good year in some ways, not a great one in others. First off, let’s hit some numbers:
Rebuilding Rails revenue: $7478.82 on Stripe, $2269.00 on Gumroad
Special summer sale revenue: $4500-ish
Rails Deploy In An Hour revenue: $1683.30 (there may be more refunds happening, though.)
These are net of refunds, Stripe and Gumroad fees and so on.
That’s pretty decent Rebuilding Rails revenue, very much in line with
the last two years. I also finally made the switch to Gumroad, so I’m
not doing my own invoicing any more. The remaining chunk of time I
spend on it week-to-week is debugging problems people hit with the
software, and that shouldn’t go down much – the whole point is
helping new people learn Rails. If they’re doing it right, they’re
debugging. And talking programming with me isn’t something I can foist
off on a remote assistant.
Some of you may remember Rails Deploy In An Hour,
a Ruby deployment class I tried selling last year. More of you
probably remember Ruby Mad
Science, the open-source software that went with it.
I’m not selling the class any more, though I haven’t taken down
Ruby Mad Science, and I don’t intend to. But it won’t be getting the
maintenance it would want… now that I understand just how much that
I wondered, “why aren’t there more good Ruby deployment products out
there?” And “why don’t people know more about the books there already
are?” And as I learned more I started to wonder, “why aren’t there
more Heroku competitors?” And “why did Ninefold stop supporting
These are interesting questions. I know the answers better now, and
I’m happy to share them. Perhaps they’ll help the next person fix the
problem better than I did.
What People Want
It turns out that programmers hate doing deployment. The programmers
I’m targeting (hobbyists, early developers, small startup guys)
extra-specially hate doing deployment. They just want it done and
working with minimal work.
My favorite article on salary negotiation of all
time talks about “fully-loaded costs” of an employee. The idea is
that when figuring what it costs a company to employ an engineer (or
whoever) it’s short-sighted to just take their salary and multiply by
time. Patrick suggests that “a reasonable guesstimate is between
150% and 200% of their salary” and that the “extra” tends upward
as salary does. Of course it depends on benefits and whatnot.
If your startup does certain things, you wind up with the same business model as Yelp. It turns out you really, really don’t want the same
business model as Yelp.
Let’s tell the story of the fictitious Emma Goldfarb founding a seed-stage startup called Review.ly (unrelated to the URL shortener.) Review.ly is going to be a site where people leave reviews of some kind of business. Emma isn’t quite sure about the details. She’s working on it.
Spoiler: she’s in an ugly situation because her startup wants to be like Yelp… And she really doesn’t want it to be.
Follow the Money
Where does Emma’s money come from? Advertising doesn’t pay much, unless you have people who are about to buy something online in a trackable way. Emma doesn’t. Most of her reviewers have already bought their thing. Users looking for reviews are (in her case) not going to buy through her, so she doesn’t get paid that way. Some sites can avoid that, but Emma can’t.
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Why this specific newsletter? You want to be an expert. Expertise comes from learning the fundamentals, deeply. And that comes from the best kind of practice.
I write with that in mind. I won't waste your time.
(Yes, I also sell things. They're good, but I'm fine if you don't buy them.)