Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lean Startup Ideas For Blender Addons

Blender Addons has been a fun hobby and a great excuse to play with technology. With some guidance from “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, it could become a profitable business too. Here are some ideas that might help towards that goal.

Build, Measure, Learn
My most successful add-ons are related to curves. I learned this by messing with the layout, making predictions, and scrutinizing the following week's traffic data. Experiments like this help clue me in on what kind of script to do next.

Waste Elimination
The Game PD project saved me money on games and helped sharpen my tech skills. Alas, by lean startup principles, it is technically waste work. It doesn't serve my users and it adds zero value to the business. This isn't to say learning tech skills on a just-for-fun project is a bad thing. What it means is that work that directly serves the user deserves higher priority.

User Community
It pays to spend time getting to know users better. In the case of Blender Addons, forum participation is one good way to get to know the kinds of things they think about. For example, linear algebra is one thing that matters a lot to my fellow developers. From that, I was able to make Khan Academy time on the topic a priority for the coming week.

Weekly Batch
Releasing project features in small batches may have some advantages. It's likely more satisfying to release a few things at once rather than put out each thing as it's finished. Furthermore, batches released at the start of the week make it easy to measure traffic for that week.

Growth and Pivots
Site traffic has been flat for the past 3 weeks because it's been that long since the last update. This is bad. To remedy this, I set a specific web traffic goal and deadline to shoot for. I also established projects and strategies for getting my numbers up. If it fails, the data I collect should help me decide my next move. This direction change would be my “pivot”.

Final Thoughts
Like all good intentions, I fully expect life to get in the way. Everybody, including startup founders, deals with that. However, if things go even half as well as I hope, this could be a major turning point for my site. It should make for some interesting future blog entries.

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