Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thoughts on Python, Marketing, and the Future

I have a confession to make.  I'm a better programmer than I am a business guy.  However, much of the focus last week was on marketing, design, and the business angle of Blender Python Tutorials.  Here is some of what happened and the conclusions I came to.

Marketing and Design
Advertising is a key component to marketing with Blender Python Tutorials.  Failure of past ads to generate revenue lead to changing to an approach based on text ads instead of graphical ones. More layout improvements with respect to ads may also improve the situation. Time will tell how effective this will be. However, even if it fails, the site design is still improved over what it was.

Knowing one's audience is also an important part of marketing strategy.  Time with the Blender Artists forum helps me better understand the concerns of other script developers. My posts include a tag line that links to my site which helps drive traffic. However, I only post when I have an answer to give or something real to share. Otherwise, I lurk quietly and listen.

The Business Plan Is Wrong
My business plan focused on training on a specific case of software-embedded Python. The idea was to make ad money on tutorials and the occasional example script. It failed.  Some research as to why was in order.

Here's what I noticed. Python is embedded in a lot of software projects. Blender, Inkscape, GEdit, Houdini, and Gimp are a few that come to mind. Those projects reaped the benefit of hundreds of extensions and plugins. These improvements may not have happened to this magnitude had the developers not made the decision to embed Python into their code bases.

However, a few Google searches on tutorials for Houdini Python, Inkscape Python, and so on produced some interesting results. Results ranged from single blog posts to master classes. What I did not find were successful businesses based solely on script training for a specific application.

There is a reason for that. Once you know a programming language, any good developer will pick up what they need as the need arises. This isn't to say tutorials are a waste of time. However, most learning comes from looking at examples and API references, asking questions, and writing your own code.

The Future of Blender Python Tutorials
My time spent working on Blender Python Tutorials was worth it. The site is a good resource and I'm a better programmer for having done it. It's also my way to give back to the Blender community that made such an excellent 3D package free for me to use.

However, there is only so much further my tutorial site can go. There is still more Youtube work to be done. Aside from that, the focus will shift more to developing software that's useful and solves real problems. Come to think of it, there might be a business plan in that.

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