If you build it, they will come
I love Field of Dreams as much as any other red-blooded American baseball fan. "Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom." says James Earl Jones after seeing deceased ball players scrimmaging in Kevin Costner's corn field. "Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come." he says in a prophetic tone only JEJ can pull off. When I first started building my content management system, this is how I felt. I thought I had a good idea and there was a niche. How hard could it be? Design it, code it, wrap it in an installer, get it on the web, and watch the money start rolling in. As you can imagine, this isn't exactly how it's worked out so far. It's been available on my website for about 1.5 months and there's not been exactly two trial downloads. Barely anyone has even looked at it. I'm rather discouraged. Jones may have played an intellectual, reclusive, and revolutionary writer in the movie but right now I feel more like trusting, naive farmer Costner plays... I'm feeling a little crazy, like all that work was a waste of time.
Going the distance
I'm being a little sarcastic here. I haven't heard any (new) voices in
my head in the last few months. And I've not seen any dead baseball
players. But I did spend a ton of time working on getting my content
management system shipped. I'm not naive though. I'm well aware how competitive the market is for content management systems. You can buy content management software for many thousands of dollars or download different types for free. I should also mention that I've not done much in the way of marketing. My marketing has consisted primarily of this blog, my website, and word-of-mouth. Clearly this isn't enough. It is probably obvious to most entrepreneurs but let me reconfirm the lesson: just because you built it, doesn't mean they'll come. That applies even if you've got a fancy website that's optimized for your target search engine query.
For me, it seems a big part of learning how to be an entrepreneur is conquering my fears. I'm scared as hell to release software to the world. It took some chutzpah to commit to a date when I would actually ship the release. I know that I need to market the damn thing but I hesitate because when I compare it to some of the other well-established CMS's there's no way ePortfolio competes in terms of the number of features. In short, I'm afraid someone will find it, think its crap, and never give it another thought. I guess its fear of rejection.
Winking at the pitcher
It's been said though that fear is the most worthless emotion. I know what I need to do. Now that my software is out there, I need to tell others about it. Can I go feature-for-feature with the other big name content management systems out there? Nope, sorry. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But guess what, I've used it and I know it's got a few advantages that nobody else has. And I'm not about to give up on it either. I will market the software, add features, and continue to improve it. I'll wink at the pitcher just before he goes into his windup... hopefully I won't catch a high, hard one in the ear!
The timing of Joel's article about start-up static is very apropos.