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Setting a goal

One of the first things to do in software development is to set a goal. Simply saying, "I want to learn C/C++/VB/whatever" is not good enough. You will learn the syntax and the language, sure, but you will feel like you have learned nothing.

Instead, what you want to say is, "I want to advance my skills to build an application that I can use from my computer to blog with without having to go to Blogger to do so." Assuming you have knowledge of how to go about writing such a program, even if you do not fully understand the syntax of the language you use, you will succeed in making the program and learn new things along the way.

Now, however, let us say that you have completed said application and want to sell it. In order to sell the application, you need to simply say more than, "I want to sell this really amazing application." You are likely to enter into what I call "overhype mode" where you overhype the product beyond what it can really do and label it the next best thing since sliced bread. There are very few applications out there that really truly are better than sliced bread. The first step is to make sure you are not overhyping your product. Users pick up on that fact rather quickly and will not download it as a result, which translates to zero sales.

What you need to do with sales is build a plan. Some companies opt for dishonest practices such as locating competitor forums, scooping up e-mail address lists, and spamming people. The honest way is to utilize your signature in posts, visiting consulting firms in your local area, advertise in the newspaper here and there, and keep your product fresh in people's minds. Focused advertisements can do wonders for sales. So, if a target market is education, locate a journal or publication that everyone who is likely to buy it actually reads and advertise there. You can buy 2 to 5 advertisements in highly targetted publications to a wider audience for the same price you would spend on a trade show for a smaller, equivalently targetted audience.

If you have the spare change, feel free to drop $30,000 on a quarter page ad in PC World or PC Magazine (can't remember which one my jaw dropped on). There are better, cheaper ways to get into those print magazines. You will have to buy my book to find out how.

Oh yeah, the book is coming along. Chapter 1 is well underway.


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