I have a few irons in the fire (the most important one being my new job). Another one of involves starting an online business.
Well, I guess that last iron isn’t in the fire until I finish my Cloud Computing assignments, but it’s near the fire. It’s leaning against whatever it is that the fire is in. It might even be getting slightly warm due to it’s proximity to said fire. I’ll be putting it in that fire on March 15th, when my Cloud assignments are due.
What with my new job, my commute, things around the house I need to take care of, my classwork, and all that stuff I keep in and around a metaphorical fire, I don’t have a lot of free time. I do, however, have time to listen to podcasts while I drive and do chores.
One of those is The Smart Passive Income Podcast hosted by Pat Flynn. It’s one of the resources I’ve found in my search for information about creating online business that have little to no sleaze factor.
So far Flynn is sleaze free.
Most of his content revolves around creating sites that provide valuable information for free, and then, for those who want to dig deeper, offering more in-depth products and services for a fair price.
That approach is exactly what I’m doing with my Python tutorials. Those tutorial posts will always be free, but I will use them as a kind of first draft for an ebook and online course once I’ve finished them. It’s also my hope that the blog will be useful to people in its own right, and that a smaller set of those people will find my future ebooks and courses valuable enough to pay for them.
But there’s a different and more general approach to software businesses (and perhaps all businesses) that two of Flynn’s podcasts describe. The core of the idea is something I first came across in Seth Godin’s blog. I wish I could find the quote, but I’ll paraphrase it here:
Look for the pain points and provide solutions to those problems.
They go into detail, but the basic idea is that you simply ask people what their problems are. Now, you’ve probably guessed that it’s not as simple as that, and it’s not. But the process of actually finding out what the true difficulties a person is grappling with is not rocket science. You have to ask probing questions, get inside the other person’s head, and try to think about things from their point of view.
That’s a useful skill to learn for all sorts of reasons, but in this context, once you’ve found some pain points you can use software to provide a solution, often in the form of a web application that customers pay a monthly fee for. If the application truly solves their solution and is reasonably priced, customers will save money by using your product and will be happy to pay for it.