Marketing 101 for Developers

As a developer, you have the most sought-after skill in the world. You can actually build things! Being able to take something from idea to product is magical. You have that ability.

Your struggle? Finding paying customers.

How can a software developer make money?

Maybe, at the height of the App Store gold rush, you launched an iOS app. You were hoping for big sales numbers, but you only made $12.87.


Maybe you’ve built a web app. Your dream is to have recurring revenue. But when you launched it all you got was a handful of free users.


You might have tried selling your expertise. You saw your peers publishing books on Amazon, or creating online courses. You did OK, but nowhere near those big launch numbers you’ve seen other people get.

Your dream is to earn a real income from the products you create

You learned to code. Now you need to learn marketing.

The good news?

It’s waaaaay easier for a programmer to learn marketing than it is for a marketer to learn programming. You already have an advantage.

The challenge?

Programming is black and white; but marketing can feel like a world of gray.

Luckily; there are some parallels between the two worlds.

In programming, sometimes the best way to understand a framework is to learn the system that undergirds it. For example, if you’re learning Ruby on Rails, it helps if you know Ruby first.

The same is true for marketing.

How do you find and validate good product ideas?

You have to start with the right assumptions about why people buy!

Steps for finding a customer’s pain

Download the slides here.

1. Start with people

Choose an audience that…

  1. You know, understand, and like
  2. That buys things
  3. That congregates online

What group is already paying you for your time and expertise?

2. Research + listen

Places to do research online:

  1. Google (look at related keywords)
  2. Twitter
  3. Reddit
  4. Facebook Groups
  5. Facebook search

3. Create a hypothesis

As a math grad student I want an online course so that I can make it through my first year of grad school.

4. Test your hypothesis

What’s the smallest “product” you could create that could disprove your hypothesis?

What you learn when you launch a tiny version:

  1. How hard is it to find customers?
  2. Did I hit a nerve? Did I identify the #1 pain?
  3. How hard is it to get people to pay?
  4. How satisfied were people with the solution?
  5. Do I like the customers?


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