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9 min 17 sec

Wedding App Founder Exchanges Vows for Coding Book Biz

After running from tedious computer science lectures, a self-taught developer decides to help others learn through a series of “friendly” coding tutorials.
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What It's About

A developer writes a series of beginner-friendly books on coding.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Communication & Writing
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Tracy loves to recommend Kickstarter (she doesn't work for them, she just loves them!) because she considers it a great marketing tool. It shows that there is demand for your book before it is written, and it gives you an advance if successful.

Fun Fact

A year ago, an order came in from Reykjavik. Tracy was already headed to Iceland for vacation and jumped on the opportunity to hand deliver the book. Friendly as ever, Tracy and her delighted reader toured the town and talked design over drinks.

Notes from Chris

Episode 712
Tracy Osborn initially pursued computer science back in college. She bailed out to avoid what felt like boring lectures and transferred into art and design. She was convinced her initial interest had been a simple mistake.

Still, a few years later she ended up running a business called WeddingLovely. It was a planning app for brides, and it reintroduced her to programming. While teaching herself Python in order to build the app, she noticed that most tutorials assumed she already had a grasp on programming tools and resources.

Dedicated to cracking the code, Tracy pushed through the challenges, past the theory and straight to the play by play ... and found the fun in coding. She also recognized a problem. Surely, there must be other would-be coders who were ready to create, if only they had a more friendly guide.

Feeling inspired, she ran with her new idea—and wrote the tutorial she wished she’d had for other right-brained designers with no back-end programming experience. She called her new venture Hello Web Books.

Researching formats, Tracy decided to package her just-what-you-need web app development blueprint as a book. She opted for self-publishing based on the track record of similar authors. She also knew she could more easily update the material if she published it on her own, and she could sell it in a variety of formats and for a range of prices.

Once the first book was done, she was hooked, and wanted to write more. She used a similar model of crowdfunding for the next two: an intermediate version of Hello Web App, and Hello Web Design.

For each of the three books she’s written so far, all tailored to designers and other non-programmers, it’s taken Tracy nine to twelve months of dedicated work. Even with her early Kickstarter success, she still doubted whether her work was wanted, never sure if each book would sell.

Despite those doubts, Tracy has knocked out four successful Kickstarter campaigns, refining her marketing and now experimenting with zines as a shorter format for quick learning on-the-go.

Tracy continues to offer physical books that readers can treasure. Before graduating to a drop-shipping warehouse from her initial closet full of book stock, she amused her local post office clerks. She was a frequent visitor, shipping single copies in between the yearly expedition to dispatch 300+ copies to eager Kickstarter supporters.

Tracy is now earning enough to live off of her side hustle. She’s letting her other business, the wedding app, fall by the wayside in order to pursue the bigger idea of practical programming for regular people.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Hello Web Books: If you're interested in learning how to code, head on over to Tracy's website to check out her books!
  • WeddingLovely: Tracy's first app that helps others plan their wedding and helps them find wedding vendors

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Niches are better! I thought that it would be a good thing to market my design book as broadly as possible, but in hindsight, this was a mistake—marketing is more powerful when you can find a small segment and really focus on that.​"
—Tracy Osborn #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau